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Banana Muffins with Blueberries

paleo-banana-blueberry-muffins3I’ve always loved banana muffins and I’ve always loved blueberries. Mix them together and the love is twice as big. I’ve been experimenting with a paleo-style recipe based on specific criteria to suit my needs. The ideal recipe had to have natural sweetness without adding sugar or artificial sweeteners. It also had to be paleo-style, gluten-free and grain-free. And it had to be pleasant enough to enjoy as a “treat” with my cup of tea, or a breakfast-style muffin to go with my bacon and eggs. As many of you already know, Gluten-free and Paleo food can be kind of like a brick, so to soften the texture of the muffins I added a bit of tapioca flour and the full-fat version of coconut milk. Paleo eaters have learned the difference between healthy vs unhealthy fats, and we aren’t afraid of organic oils and fats. We understand the “no fat” agenda and we don’t buy that meme anymore. We know now that  eating fat doesn’t make you fat.

On the other hand, eating bread, sugar, and artificial sweeteners DOES make you fat.

Furthermore, eating overly processed, GMO oils will make you fat — and sick. I suggest you consider removing those oils from your kitchen. Food Babe says it much more forcefully.

cooking-oils-2
  
Oops, pardon me. I digressed with a short rant. Without any further delay, here’s the final recipe I came up with!

paleo-banana-blueberry-muffins1Ingredients

2 ripe bananas*
3 eggs
¼ cup of coconut milk, full fat
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
½ tsp organic vanilla extract
½ cup organic coconut flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line 12-muffin pan with parchment papers.
In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then whisk in the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, and maple syrup.
In a second bowl, combine coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until fully combined.
Gently fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the batter into the parchment lined muffin pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 17 – 20 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven and transfer muffins to wire rack.
Enjoy hot or cold, with a pat of pasture-raised cow butter.

Yield: 12 muffins

* For best results, please use all organic ingredients.

Try organic food, or as your grandparents called it: food!

Drop me a comment below if you have a question, or to let me know how yours turns out!

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Sauerkraut

Choosing Ingredients

There are just a few basic ingredients necessary for the fermentation process, depending on your preference:

  • Vegetables (I prefer cabbage and carrots, mixed together)
  • Sea salt

We grew up on a farm and I learned at a young age how to make sauerkraut; after all, my father was of Ukrainian descent. As a family, we ate it almost every day and I got to enjoy it. Of course, coming from a family of nine, Father’s idea of sauerkraut production meant making it in a wooden 50-gallon barrel. Not to fear, I have scaled down production significantly since then. I have a nice little crock pot now, which I use specifically for sauerkraut production.
  
As you can imagine, having the highest quality ingredients is imperative. Look for organic heads of cabbage or other selected vegetable(s). Organic is of prime importance in fermentation. Using vegetables drenched in glyphosate (found in Roundup) is counterproductive to restoring gut flora. As well, toxic chemicals will alter the natural fermentation process resulting in unsatisfactory flavors, unwelcome textures, and generally substandard fermented vegetables. Not to mention, toxic. Remember, “natural” is not the same as “organic” ingredients. Look for the five-digit product code starting with “9” to ensure that what you are buying is indeed organic produce.
  
Himalayan Sea salt
High-quality salt such as unrefined Himilayan sea salt or other sea salt is another important ingredient. Sea salt imparts extra minerals to the ferment while leaving out nasty chemicals. Sea salt is a vital component to the fermentation process, as it preserves the flavor and crunch of raw vegetables. Please opt out of using anything less than real sea salt of some kind.
  
Some people add water, but usually I don’t. My father never did, either. Instead of adding water, I press down the shredded vegetables for about fifteen minutes with a potato masher, until I see water expelling between the masher prongs. This process draws out the natural juices of the vegetables and gives a good start to the fermentation process. If you do add water, be sure the water is pure. That means it is water without chlorine, fluoride, and any number of chemicals as a result of runoff into the water supply. Remember that chlorine is often used as an anti-bacterial agent, which lets me know at once it is not an ingredient to encourage healthy growth of bacteria. If you feel you must use water, choose only filtered water, spring water, or water from a healthy well.

Bottom line: once you go through the fermentation process once, you’ll see it’s not that complicated. Your tummy will thank you. So, now it’s recipe time!:

Recipe: Three-Ingredient Sauerkraut

Equipment Needed

  • 1 large crock pot with lid
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Food shredder or food processor
  • Fermentation weight (I use a stone, pre-washed in the dishwasher)
  • Potato masher or kraut pounder

Ingredients for Home-Made Sauerkraut

  • 1 medium head organic green cabbage, preferably with loose outer leaves
  • 2 organic carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Any brine leftover from previous sauerkraut batch (optional)

Directions

  1. Remove the loose three or four outer leaves of the cabbage and set aside for later.
  2. Cut the cabbage in quarters vertically. Remove the core from each quarter by slicing around it in an upside down V-shape.
  3. Slice the de-cored cabbage quarters in ¼” widths (or use food processor).
  4. Prepare carrots (by removing stems, ends, and skins) and thinly slice.
  5. Place prepared cabbage and carrots in crock pot.
  6. Add the sea salt.
  7. Mix it all together with clean hands. The desired taste will be well-seasoned but not overly salty. Add more salt if desired.I slice carrots into the cabbage for sauerkraut
  8. Press down the mixture with a potato masher (or kraut pounder) for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until the liquid leeches out between the prongs of the potato masher. This begins the birth of the brine.Press down the ingredients until the natural juices appear between the masher prongs
  9. Cover the mixture with the excess loose cabbage leaves ensuring complete coverage.
  10. If more liquid is needed, mix 1 T sea salt in 1 cup water and pour on top. I weigh down the sauerkraut with a stone
  11. Like my father, I add stone on top. His stone of course was much larger to suit the barrel size.
  12. Place lid securely on crock pot. Be sure the lid is NOT air tight, as the fermentation process requires “breathing room”. That’s why I love my crock pot so much. 🙂My beloved crockpot for sauerkraut
  13. Place in a secluded spot (like on top of a cupboard) at room-temperature location for seven days. That is my preferred length of time, but if you like softer sauerkraut, leave longer. Personally, I like crunchy sauerkraut.
  14. After seven days, remove lid, stone, cabbage leaves, and any mold.
  15. The sauerkraut is now ready to be placed into jars and refrigerated. Using clean hands, simply take handfuls of the sauerkraut and transfer into mason jars. After every couple of fistfuls, compact the cabbage into the jar with a fist.
  16. Top off the jars with any left-over brine from the bottom of the bowl.
  17. Put lids on the jars and place into fridge or cold storage. The cooler temperature will slow the fermentation process. A little bit of browning may occur on top, if the brine does not cover the kraut at some point. This is fine, but it can be thrown out if desired. Just be sure to cover the remaining kraut with brine by weighting it down. As I said earlier, add more salt brine solution in a ratio of 1 Tablespoon salt to 1 cup pure water, if required. I don’t recall if my father added more liquid, but he might have done so.

Yield: 4 pint jars

yield 4 pints of sauerkraut

If you have questions, please drop me a line in the comments below. Otherwise, I’d love to know how your sauerkraut turns out!

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Peanut Butter Cups

No matter how strict a diet I’m on, I still allow myself the occasional treat, whether a sweet, or whatever. But I also realize how important it is that the treats be organic, too, just like all my other food selections. I’ve worked diligently on my health since 2005 to get to where I am. From now on, I’ll guard my health by eating only organic. To allow myself an occasional treat is only reasonable, and I promised myself it will always be organic.

On the long road to restoring my gut health, I have learned a lot about our “conventional” food industry and what exactly it does to hurt a body. For example, all sugar, unless specifically labeled as “organic” is genetically modified, and will destroy your gut health. Sugar beets and other foods now contain the Bt-toxin. Years ago, the Bt-toxin could be washed off. But, thanks to genetic modification, it is now bred directly into the plant and will do to your gut what it does to bug guts: split their guts open and they die. Hard to believe that this toxic chemical is allowed in our food these days. Yet, the sad truth is, it is permitted, as long as we keep buying “conventional” produce. As a result, I’m allowing my food dollars to speak clearly about this important issue by buying organic food.

Before I knew better I used to like “conventional” peanut butter cups. After getting ill, I have gone without. Until now. I have now perfected my home-made peanut butter cups and here is the recipe for anyone who wishes to make this delicious and actually nutritious chocolate treat.

delicious peanut butter cups

Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients

Chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa butter* (shredded)
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup (raw) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey (or more for desired sweetness)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Filling
1 cup Peanut butter (chunky or creamy, as preferred)
Drop of vanilla (optional)

Directions

Line a regular 12-muffin pan with parchment muffin cups.
Melt ½ cup shredded cocoa butter, ½ cup coconut oil, ½ cup cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of honey in a double-boiler (set a glass Pyrex measuring cup in a pot of simmering water on the stove, if you don’t have a double-boiler).
Pour 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate into each muffin cup for chocolate base.
Cool pan in fridge for 15 minutes or until hard.
Leave remainder of melted chocolate to simmer gently on stove.
Mix peanut butter so that oil is well blended.
Remove cooled chocolate muffin pan from fridge and set on icepack to keep chocolate base from melting while working with peanut butter and hot chocolate mixture.
Scoop ½ teaspoon into oiled palms (using coconut oil), form into a ball, then flatten into cooled chocolate bases.
Tip: make into “sandwiches” by flattening peanut butter right to edges of parchment or else leave room to surround peanut butter with chocolate edges, just like a real chocolate.
Pour remainder of chocolate mixture into parchment cups, making sure that all peanut butter is covered with chocolate.
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
Let cool in fridge.
Wrap individually for a quick snack.
Eat within 1 week.
Yield: 12 snacks.

* For best results, always use organic ingredients to avoid toxins and chemicals used by conventional farming methods.

organic produce has five-digit number starting with 9
Tip: A five-digit number beginning with a “9” in their product code means it is organic.

A five-digit number beginning with an “8” means it’s genetically-modified and contains harmful Bt-toxins.

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Yummy Baked Yam

I learned to love yams and sweet potatoes only after I moved to a gluten-free and organic diet, due to severe allergies. And only after I found out how really easy it was to make yummy organic home-made oven-baked food. And only after I discovered how really delicious these are with my scrambled eggs or over-easy organic pastured eggs breakfast!

After much resistance and arguing, “I can’t give up my breads!” I finally got to a point where I simply had to find a healthier way to eat. No more glutenous breads or grains for me if I wanted any semblance of a quality of life again.

My Naturopathic Doctor gave me a pdf list of suggested eating, which helped me let go of any resistance in order to surrender into my new state of becoming healthy. Fortunately, after a week or so I knew I would never go back to eating bread again, because I began feeling so much better. No, I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I just knew that if I stuck to this new way of eating, I would regain my health. I then bought a paleo cookbook and began experimenting in the kitchen.

Apparently, in generations past, our ancestors didn’t eat grain. Rather, they seemed to know intuitively what to eat and what to avoid as far as food. This video claims that grains possess a strong outer layer that breaks down the gut villi and microvilli, which are small hairlike structures in the intestines. One illustration I heard that helped me understand what that might look like is to compare my gut villi to a shag carpet. If I eat grain, the shag will get worn down, not unlike a smooth office carpet. From that image, I realized I couldn’t have proper digestion if I lost my “shaggy” intestinal villi.

At the beginning of the agricultural age, the “fake-food industry” began mis-informing the population in order to promote gorging on grains. In fact, the industry-promoted food guides tells us over and over that grains are the most important diet ingredient we “should” be eating: “And eat mostly grain!” Look at the results of that propaganda. I’m here to tell you that grains can be very harmful to certain body types. One in four adults and one in 10 children in Canada are now living with obesity. This means roughly six million Canadians are affected by this condition. Please do your own research because I’m not a doctor. I only know what works for me. I would have likely died already if I kept on eating grains because it was killing my gut flora and degrading my health.

Oh, how I do digress. Back to this yummy baked yam I’ve been making since working with my Naturopathic Doctor.

yummy baked yam with herbs

Yummy Baked Yam

Ingredients

1 large yam, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (or Sweet Potatoes)
2 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Oil
Sprinkle of Herbamare Original (or sea salt)
Sprinkle of organic garlic powder
Sprinkle of parsley leaves

 

Directions

Set oven at 350 degrees
Melt the Coconut Oil on a cookie sheet, which only takes a few minutes
Distribute yam chunks on cookie sheet
Sprinkle Herbamare and organic garlic powder on yam chunks
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees
Turn yam chunks over
Bake for another 10 minutes
Remove from oven place in serving dish
Lightly sprinkle with parsley leaves

I suggest using all-organic ingredients to avoid unwanted herbicides or pesticides used by today’s food industry.

More about The Effects of Grains, Legumes and Dairy on Your Body

Yams fried with onions and eggs make a great healthy breakfast

If you’re wondering what to do with the baked yams, I fry them with onions and enjoy them with a couple of fried eggs. It’s a delicious, nutritious paleo-style breakfast!

I welcome your comments!

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Baba Summer Salad

My Baba's Fabulous Summer Salad

I miss my Baba. She’s been gone from the planet for many years now. I still remember her awesome home-made summer salads directly from her garden. She always grew a huge vegetable garden, even while in her 90s. She would never dream of using poisons on her precious vegetable patch. Now, that woman knew how to grow an organic garden even before the word “organic” was used to describe produce. It was just real produce, none of that GMO stuff and none of the toxic sprays used these days so liberally on our food. Most unfortunately, sometimes what is called “progress” is anything but progress. Baba just knew how to grow real food — healthy food. In fact, she never served a hamburger once to us grand-kids. I never even knew what a hamburger was until I left home and went to live in the city at the age of 16. In the past several years I began fondly remembering how she had a special way to make her most delicious salad. I have never tasted a more delectable salad before or since those fabulous summer salads she lovingly prepared for us grand-kids. She would pick all the ingredients she needed from her wonderful, flourishing garden, put it in a big bowl, and serve us kids the most luscious salad. Oh, how I looked forward to those delicious salads.

Okay, so I have now resurrected the recipe and have been making it for myself and my partner for several years now. It’s so good I decided I can’t keep it to myself. Here’s what I do:

My Baba’s Summer Salad

Ingredients

1 package of bacon, chopped into bits and fried
1 head of lettuce, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 or 2 collard leaves, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 sticks Celery, chopped
handful of fresh chives, chopped
handful of fresh dill, chopped
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
6 radishes, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large container of cottage cheese
2 tablespoons of whipping cream
juice of half lemon, squeezed
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and serve!

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

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Favorite Greek Salad

I don’t know who else eats Greek salad the way I eat Greek salad — with lettuce. While I have been served awesome Greek salad on a bed of lettuce on occasion, I prefer my lettuce chopped up and mixed in with all the other wonderful ingredients. Ever since I visited Athens (yes, the one in Greece) I have been a huge fan of Feta cheese. Of course, when I’m at home I always get to prepare a salad just the way I like it, and with all-organic ingredients, so that makes it much more special — and healthy besides. I only know of two restaurants that serve organic food in the city where we live, and they are both a long way from home. As a result, we don’t go out that often to restaurants anymore, except for special occasions. Funny thing is, I don’t miss not eating out. Just knowing that the food served in most restaurants is “conventional” meaning it could have pesticides and/or herbicides all over it like some strange dressing, makes it easy to say goodbye to eating out. At least I know the food I serve lovingly to myself is minus toxins. So now, let’s get to the part about how I make my favorite Greek Salad.

Satinka's Favorite Greek Salad made with all organic ingredients

Satinka’s Favorite Greek Salad

Ingredients

2 leaves of lettuce, broken into bite-sized chunks
1 Roma Tomato, cubed
½ Field cucumber, peeled and cubed
¼ Sweet pepper, seeds removed, cubed
1 slice Spanish onion (sweet), chopped
1 slice Feta Cheese, cubed
6 Olives (stuffed with garlic), cut in half
Juice of half a lemon
Shake of oregano, parsley, and basil to taste
Shake of sea salt to taste
Drizzle with organic Olive Oil

Directions

As I cut up all ingredients, I just add them onto my plate. Nevertheless, since this recipe can be doubled, tripled, and otherwise multiplied to serve friends and loved ones, ingredients may be mixed in a bowl. The other great thing about preparing your own food in your own home is that you get to choose how much of each ingredient you favor. This recipe can be adjusted easily to suit your own food preferences.

My Greek Salad goes superbly with my husband’s Paleo Greek-style Baked Chicken, coming soon! Besides the great food duo, I must say my partner and I make a great team in our own right. 😉

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Butternut Squash Soup

butternut-squash-soup2

I love this time of year when the leaves are turning all those magnificent shades — everything from Sunshine Yellow to Deep Wine colors dripping from the trees. As a result of the seasonal change, my palate is drawn to more hot foods like soup. I love butternut squash soup but am unable to eat the ones out of cans or cartons in the grocery stores. Not sure why, but when I muscle-test, my body says, “No.” Finally, I decided I would experiment and make my own. I have been looking at some recipes lately and ended up altering a paleo recipe I had on hand. For a first try, it turned out really wonderful, and it muscle-tests strong! Here’s what I did:

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

1 large baked butternut squash*
1 onion, diced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 large green apple, cored and cut into chunks
2 tsp coconut oil
4 cups home-made chicken broth
½ tsp sea salt
Add a pinch of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to taste

Directions

Cut butternut squash in half, butter, and bake on a greased pan at 350 degrees F in oven face down for 40-50 minutes, depending on size of squash.
Cut squash into slices, remove skin and cut into chunks.
In electric frying pan, melt coconut oil, add diced onion, carrots, and celery slices
Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until onions are transparent (add some broth to prevent sticking).
Add apples and remainder of broth.
Add cooked squash chunks.
Simmer 15-20 minutes or until softened.
Blend till smooth.

Yield: Makes 4-6 servings.

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* I buy all organic ingredients in order to avoid pesticides and herbicides found on conventional produce.