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Grape & Chicken Salad

In storage bowl ready for my husbands lunch box (he puts on bread before eating so it doesn't get soggy)

Processed lunch meat? Thing of the past! Ok, well, not completely, but we at least minimize our consumption because our family loves chicken salad. If you remember from my Crockpot Chicken post, I make a lot of chicken and have a lot on hand at all times! Here we can put it to use! 5 simple ingredients and you have a healthy filling terrific sandwich!

Grape & Chicken Salad

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/3 cup homemade mayo (adjust amount to suit taste if using store bought, as they are different consistencies).
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine ingredients and enjoy! Serve on bread as a sandwich or on romaine as a lettuce wrap. I also recommend drizzling a bit of mayo on the second or third day. The chicken keeps absorbing that mayo and it can seem dry.
My mother-in-law inspired this recipe when my husband and I were first married. It has been a go to favorite of ours for years!
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The juice from the salsa adds so much flavor to the salad!

I broke up my earlier post and this post because I wanted it to be easier to look at this for the recipe and not have to scroll down. I LOVE THIS SALAD. I have fresh lettuce in my garden and it is growing faster than I can use it so I have to keep making new salads. This is so easy (if you have the ingredients – you may see now why my previous posts have been building blocks to some yummy easy to assemble recipes). You will need:

  • Romaine or Butter Lettuce
  • Cold, cooked quinoa
  • Cold, sprouted lentils
  • For the dressing:
  • Homemade mayo (you can of course use regular but it is very thick so perhaps dilute with some red wine vinegar to make it more of a dressing consistency).
  • Homemade salsa (the specific taste of the Lacto-Fermented Salsa found in Nourishing Traditions is what I love but any salsa fresca will do.
Build and enjoy! This is so filling (with the Quinoa and the Lentils) but I have made without the Quinoa and it is still super great. The combination of these flavors is my current go to favorite for my lunches and side dinner salads!

You can sprout grains, nuts, seeds – what does this mean? That beans will taste better than ever! Before I tell you how I sprout my beans, I want to share with you some of the reasons for sprouting. If you have Nourishing Traditions than by all means, please read the chapter “Sprouted Grains, Nuts and Seeds” on page 112. Either way, here are a few items that stand out to me:

  • Vitamins B, C and Carotene are produced during this process. It helps us fend of sickness and strengthen our immune system!
  • Most grains “used” to be sprouted (sometimes even started sprouting before they were harvested) but now the farming has become so standardized as to make sure this does not happen…so we have to do it on our own! (And it is one of the easiest things you can do in your kitchen).
  • Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid which makes it possible for our body to absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. This is crucial as our body needs these in their natural form and they are not absorbed by our body when the levels of phytic acid are higher. This actually KEEPS us from absorbing nutrients. If we don’t absorb them and it doesn’t all go to “waste” what does that mean? You have got it…it builds up in our digestive tract and can cause serious illness, and disease. We can easily change that problem and get even more benefits from grains, nuts and seeds.
  • This process makes beans less “gassy”!  Yes, you feel a gas build up and bloated after eating beans? This is a result of complex sugars. They are broken down during sprouting. Now your body doesn’t have to try to break them down – it can simply utilize them!
  • Digestive enzymes that assist us with overall digestion are produced during this process (much life lacto-fermentation) so it helps your body digest and absorb all of the other food on your plate!
This is just a summarized list of the benefits. But I hope it is enough to get you started. Again, this is so easy and they keep well in the fridge and can be used in so many different ways!
How do you sprout grains, nuts and seeds? Here is a lesson in Lentils (my personal favorite):  
  1. Rinse, sort, and place in a bowl.  Cover with water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning, pour into colander.  Rinse well! Place colander inside a bowl (to catch the drippings) and cover with a towel.
  3. I shuffle the bowl a few times during the day to get the lentils mixed up.
  4. In the evening, put colander in the sink and rinse well. Return to counter and cover.
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 until you get your desired tail length (about 1/4 inch).
    I typically do two full sprouting days.  So, soak overnight on day one, sit out day two and day three.  Morning of day 4 rinse and ….
  6. Put sprouts into well sealed mason jars and store in fridge.
Steam and serve as a side dish! Put on a sandwich, wrap, or salad! The possibilities are endless!
What grains or nuts do you like to sprout? Stay tuned for my favorite recipe using these lentils!

Simple Tomato Sauce

Photo courtesy of whatscookinginamerica.net

I believe every cook in the kitchen needs to have a go-to pasta/pizza sauce. In our house we do “Pizza Friday.” One of the things that makes pizza Friday so much fun for me is that I do most of the work ahead of time and then freeze it! Thursday evening or Friday morning I just pull the items out of the fridge and I am ready to go!

The main staple for our pizza Friday is tomato sauce. There are a million ways to do it and a million ways to modify this recipe. I have found this one to be just the perfect amount of sweet, salty and fresh tomato-y (that is a word!). Modify it how you will and please share with me so I can try it out!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil(several turns of the pan, enough for sauteing the onions)

1 onion, diced

1 Tablespoon dried basil

Pinch of Nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne

2 cloves of garlic, mashed

Add olive oil to pan and allow to get hot over medium-low. Add onion and saute for a minute or two. Add basil, nutmeg, cayenne and garlic. Stir and continue cooking until translucent.

2 – 26 ounce box strained tomatoes (I use Pomi and believe it tastes the best and I like that it is not in a can).

Pinch of sweetener to taste (I use Stevia, but honey and maple syrup work as well) – cuts some of the bitter/acidity of the tomatoes.

Salt and Pepper to taste

Add tomatoes and stir until mixed together well. I would add a very small amount of sweetener and S&P. Let it simmer for a bit (turn heat to low). Taste after the flavors have a chance to meld together. Adjust as desired.

Use amount needed for dinner and freeze the rest in 2 cup portions in quart sized freezer bags. Make a great quick meal by adding the freezer bag to a bowl of warm water when you need a quick sauce. Could not be easier to bypass buying the pre-made tomato sauce!

Meal ideas? We had this sauce last night with spaghetti squash and meat balls and a simple salad with this dressing. Yummy!

What is your favorite tomato sauce?

Enjoy!

Nikki

I love following other blogs…this recipe is happily shared at Monday Mania Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter and Fight Back Friday and Homemaking Link up

Condiments are a great starting point for getting healthier in the kitchen. One of the first ingredients in most condiments is high fructose corn syrup. While this may not be the case for mayo, mayo is not a condiment usually associated with a healthy diet…until now! Homemade mayonnaise imparts valuable enzymes to sandwiches, salads and more! I have been using this mayonnaise as part of my salad dressing and it is so good! If you choose to add whey it will add additional enzymes as well as stabilize it. Mayo made without the whey will last about 2 weeks in the fridge whereas made with whey will last several months (good luck keeping it in the fridge for that long).

If you were not a mayo lover, I would still recommend trying this out. It has a different taste, texture and consistency than store bought mayo (since it doesn’t have artificial thickeners and food coloring!).

One of the main things to learn when shopping is how to interpret the ingredient list. Rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it, it probably doesn’t need to be there. Part of eliminating processed food from our diet means just that…keep the ingredients SIMPLE and easy to pronounce! Here is what I found on my mayo container (and keep in mind, this is the Olive Oil version of Best Foods so it is already a “better” start since it doesn’t have as many of the bad oils:

“Water, Oils (Soybean Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil), Vinegar, whole eggs and egg yolks, modified corn starch, sugar, salt, lemon juice, sorbic acid, calcium disodium edta (used to protect quality), xanthan gum, citric acid, natural flavors, oleoresin paprika, beta carotene (color).”

I have highlighted the ingredients that are necessary (even if not for my recipe listed below, they are acceptable for a mayo recipe). The rest are “fillers”. Pretty sad if you ask me. There are 11 extra ingredients! Paprika is found as an optional ingredient in mine, but Paprika in the form “oleoresin paprika” is a paprika concentrate and is primarily used for coloring. Again, why these unnecessary additives?

Your body doesn’t need these additives and in fact it confuses your body. Items not needed can turn into fat, or build up on the intestinal tract causing a lifetime of damage. Stick with simple, whole ingredients and when possible, make them at home!

Nikki’s Simple Mayonnaise

1 whole egg, at room temperature

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon whey, optional (but it will keep longer and add more benefits if used)

1/4 rounded teaspoon paprika, optional (does change color slightly)

3/4 to 1 cup sunflower oil, expeller pressed coconut oil (not virgin), sesame oil, olive oil (or combination thereof)

1/4 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)

Add all ingredients, except for Sunflower oil and salt, to food processor. Blend well (about 30 seconds). Add a slow steady stream of oil. Add salt and taste. If you used whey, leave out 7-10 hours to let “set”. The mayo will thicken and develop more flavor over time.

Enjoy!

Nikki

This post is shared on Monday Mania and Traditional Tuesday’s and Real Food Wednesday’s, Pennywise Platters and Simple Lives and Fight Back Friday

I absolutely LOVE quinoa. It comes in different forms: pasta and also the grain itself (and I am sure there are others, but these are the only two that come to mind right now). I am just addressing the actual grain itself. This is such a fabulous little morsel of goodness. It has a very distinct flavor all it’s own, yet it also mixes so wonderfully with whatever you may eat it with, or by itself of course. It is strong, yet light. I am going to address my two ways of cooking quinoa.

1. Day 1: Regardless of your cooking method, you need to start by soaking the grains overnight. Some may groan “Nikki, we already do so much in the kitchen and you always want me to do these overnight or 3 day processes!” Yes, yes I do. In reality it takes almost NO time to prepare. The biggest challenge is remembering. Perhaps we need to plan ahead? Ha ha. Ok, anyway…here is how I soak.

First of all, rinse and drain 1 cup of quinoa (a mesh colander works best). Put in a nice sized pot. Cover the one cup of quinoa with 2 cups of filtered water. Add 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and stir. Put the lid on it and leave it over night.

2. Day 2: Rinse well! Put back in the pot.

Option 1: Add 1 and 1/2 cups water. Add 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil or Coconut Oil plus salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon). Bring to boil, cover, reduce to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Option 2: Add 4 cups of water (clearly way to much, we are cooking this like pasta people). Cook on medium high for 20-25 minutes or until it is to your perfect consistency. Feel free to taste as you go to find the perfect “al dente” cooking time for you!

Option 3: Once soaked, put into any soup or dish you would typically add rice, noodles, or potatoes to as a fresh change! They can cook right along with everything else!

3. Later on Day 2: Why did I cook this in the am? Well because I almost exclusively use it as an addition to another meal. Throw it in the fridge and break it out as an addition to your favorite already cooked soup, salad, or reheat as a side (Simply throw it in the pan with a little chicken stock to flavor it up!)

How do you like your quinoa? 

This post is shared on Pennywise Platter Thursday , Simple Lives Thursday , Fight Back Friday, and Monday Mania and Traditional Tuesday’s and Real Food Wednesday

My mom asked me a good question after reading my post about the grape drink, in regards to whey. It made me realize that I need to share how to make whey so you can make lacto-fermented drinks, veggies, etc. and also soak grains. It is so easy…here are the steps…

1. You need a living dairy product (raw soured milk (clabbered) or yogurt). Using a clean bowl lined with a tea towel (I use the potato sack cloths from Target) pour the yogurt or clabbered milk into the bowl. Gather the tea towel and secure with a rubber band. Hang on a kitchen knob over the bowl (the solid stays in the cloth and the liquid, aka the “whey” drips down into the bowl).

2. The amount of time varies based on your desired cream cheese consistency.

Yogurt:  I do a quart of yogurt and leave it for several hours (a good part of the day) and it yields about 2 cups whey and 2 cups cream cheese. The whey will last for about 6 months in the fridge (but I can’t actually vouch for that as I always run out of whey with all my drinks and veggies). The cheese will last for about 2 weeks but let your nose be your guide.

Raw Milk: If you are using clabbered milk – take raw milk, place on the counter on its side for about 24 hours to “clabber” it (it gets chunky). Then pour it into the towel lined bowl as mentioned above and let it sit for several hours to desired consistency.

3. Transfer the whey into a mason jar and secure tightly with a lid (any glass storage container will do). I divide the cream cheese and make one cup sweet (throw it in a food processor with maple syrup and walnuts; or fresh strawberries or other seasonal berry) and one cup zesty (season with salt, and fresh dill or chives to taste).

For recipes using whey visit the lacto-fermented recipes. The benefits for whey can be found (in the future once I get around to updating) in the “traditional lifestyle” section.

How do you make your whey? What do you use your cream cheese for?

This post is shared on Real Food Wednesday , Homemaking Link Up , Monday Mania , Pennywise Platter , Fight Back Friday