Willow Bark Tea and Homemade Lemonade

If you are on blood thinners or pregnant or nursing this recipe is not for you because of the possible blood-thinning result.  The reason I post it is to give an alternative to pills (with their colors and fillers) while getting the metabolic benefits of aspirin.  White willow bark contains salicylic acid, similar to the active ingredient in aspirin, and can be taken as a tea.  In fact, willow bark has a long history since Hippocrates’ time when people chewed the bark to treat fever and inflammation.  We all know about aspirin’s pain relieving/anti-inflammatory effect which is valuable in itself, but I am also interested in its metabolic effect–increasing oxidation (clean burning) of carbs that avoids increasing triglycerides.  I have been following the reports on the scientific literature that Georgi Dinkov posts concerning metabolic dysregulation and they are very interesting!

The effect of the tea is said to be longer lasting but not as strong as aspirin. I like to make a quart of the tea as described below and then add 1/2 cup of this concentrate to the lemonade drink that we sip at work over the course of the day.  This quart of tea will last a few days in the refrigerator.

4 Tbsp. dried, cut willow bark (I order a pound from Frontier Co-op)

1 quart water

In a sauce pan bring the water to a boil.  Add the willow bark, cover with a lid, and remove from heat.  Let steep for 30 minutes.  You will notice the bark pieces  drop down to the bottom of the pan and the tea will have a reddish color.  Strain the tea through a strainer into a glass quart jar.  Cap and store in the refrigerator.  To make the lemonade follow the directions below.

In a glass quart jar, add :

1/2 cup of willow bark tea

3 cups of water

juice of 1 organic lemon or lime

40 drops of Concentrace trace minerals (optional)

1 Tbsp. honey or more to taste

Cap and shake well.  Do not heat honey–it will dissolve in the water after some minutes but shaking will expedite this.  Sip over the course of the day to stay hydrated and avoid low blood sugar.

September Salad

The heat of August usually leaves my garden by September with lots of tomatoes and no lettuce or leafy greens.  But a good salad can be had with a few items in the refrigerator to go with the tomatoes.   It’s a good idea to keep some fermented veggies around for just such an occasion.  Also, the dressing is quick to make–follow the link for the recipe but I used balsamic vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for this batch.  If your fermented veggies have a good mix you may not need the crispness of the cucumber slices that I list as optional.  I made a batch of sauerkraut back in June with Chinese cabbage, carrot, and daikon radish so that is the mix I had and the radish provides a crisp texture.

Serves two:

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup fermented veggies (any home-made or store bought mix)

2 Tbsp. roasted sunflower seeds (I used soaked and dried “crispy” sunflower seeds)

miso mustard dressing

cucumber slices optional

Mix the tomatoes with the fermented vegetables and divide into two salad bowls.  Top with sunflower seeds and 1-2 Tbsp. dressing per bowl.  Garnish with cucumber slices if desired.  Serve immediately.




Blueberry Sorbet

You will need a food processor or vitamix to make this sorbet.  Very quick with few ingredients, this one makes a simple dairy-free dessert whose chief ingredient is real fruit.

2 cups frozen blueberries

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

2-4 Tbsp coconut milk

Process the frozen blueberries in the food processor until all blended into an homogeneous mixture.  Add the maple syrup and process again until well blended.  Now add the coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time (processing after each addition) until you get the right consistency.  Serve immediately.

Easy Omelette with Sardines

Sardines are a good source of omega-3 fats and are low in mercury so why don’t more people eat them?  I think it’s because they don’t know what to do with them.  Also, the bones and skin in most brands may be a deterrent.  I buy the boneless and skinless packed in water.  In fact, sardines are an excellent protein food to stock up on for emergencies and as long as you are eating them regularly you will be rotating your stores (not wasting your money on dehydrated, shrink-wrapped foods of questionable nutritional value which you will likely never eat).  You just need to know what to do with the sardines!  Well, here is one idea.

Since we have lots of eggs with our current flock of chickens, omelettes are often on the menu.  There are many possibilities to vary this recipe depending on what vegetables you have.  Nothing fancy here–no flipping–just broil it in the oven to finish.  I used yellow zucchini here because of the abundance coming out of the garden.  It’s fun to add fresh basil when you have that too.  Getting back to the sardines–they add a meaty texture to an omelette and complement without overpowering.  Give it a try!

Serves 2:

4-6 eggs, from pasture-raised chickens

1 cup chopped onion

2 Tbsp. ghee

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, optional

1 cup chopped zucchini or yellow squash (I have added more at times–up to 2 cups)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 can sardines, boneless and skinless

1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

Heat ghee in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and stir for a few minutes.  Add squash and stir.  While the vegetables are heating up (give them a stir every few minutes), blend the eggs with the salt and basil in a blender just briefly enough to get the basil chopped up and the eggs mixed.  Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the skillet.  Turn the heat down to medium low.  Drain the water out of the can of sardines.  Use a fork to break up the sardines into pieces while still in the can and then distribute the pieces evenly into the egg mixture–just drop them in.  Top with the grated cheese.  Let it cook about 5 minutes–don’t let it burn on the bottom (you’ll know you got it right if your skillet is super easy to clean afterwards!).  It does not need to set before broiling.  To finish, place the skillet on the middle rack of the oven set on low broil.  Broil until slightly browned.  It only takes a few minutes so keep an eye on it to avoid burning.  Serve immediately.


Turnip Taters

Potatoes are so starchy that I usually add other vegetables like turnips when I want to enjoy them.  In the past, I’ve posted a few recipes using turnips so please check them out for more description and other ideas.

If you garden, consider growing turnips–they are easy, quick to mature, and you can plant them in early Spring because they are cold tolerant.  They’ll be ready to harvest in early summer.

You don’t need to peel the potato or turnip.  Just scrub well and cut out bad/dark spots.  Thick skin around the top of a turnip should be peeled off.

Serves two:

1 medium-sized red potato, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise in 1/4 inch slices

1 cup turnip slices, cut the same way as potato

1 cup chopped red or yellow onion

2 Tbsp. ghee


Melt ghee in a large skillet pan on medium heat.  Add onion and stir.  Saute for 5 minutes stirring a few times.  Add potato and turnip slices.  Use a spatula to loosen every few minutes to keep the slices from sticking.  Keep a lid on between stirs.  Cook until slices are tender and slightly browned–about 10 minutes.  Salt to taste.  Serve immediately.  The picture below also shows steamed green beans with basil oil   to which I added chopped chicken.  This was a light meal perfect for summer.



Egg Dip

There are a variety of ways to fit eggs into your diet and as long as the eggs are from healthy, pasture-raised hens fed organic feed they are a very nutritious food.  I do not care for the texture of cooked egg whites so that is why I came up with this recipe.  Whether that is an issue for you or not, it’s fun to have a dip to have with vegetables– makes a nice light meal if you are not that hungry but know you should eat something.  It is best to have the cultured veggies and juice to make this dip but raw vegetables and vinegar (perhaps the vinegar from the marinated onion or daikon radish mentioned in that linked recipe) would be fine substitutes.

Serves 1:

2 hard-boiled eggs (place eggs in a sauce pan and cover with cold water; bring to a hard boil, cover and immediately remove from heat; after 10 minutes rinse in cold water and peel.)

1 tsp. prepared mustard

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. sauerkraut juice (the liquid in your cultured vegetables) or 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 1 Tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. tamari

1 carrot, cut length-wise into sticks

daikon radish slices, preferably fermented or marinated

Place the chopped eggs and all other ingredients except the carrot and daikon in a blender.  (I have a Tribest small blender that has worked great for years now.  It has 1 cup and 2 cup-size blender containers so no need to use a big blender container for small jobs.  Also, it’s great for grinding flax seed, coffee beans, etc.)  Blend until smooth and place in a serving bowl.  Garnish with carrot and daikon.  Serve immediately.

Chicken with Turnips & Snow Peas

Vegetable gardening is becoming more popular and that is a good thing.  Nothing like getting your hands in the soil and reaping the bounty of physical work outdoors.  The best thing is you can grow vegetables organically successfully (I’ve been doing this for years) and you can grow vegetables not so readily found in the stores.  This year I got some turnips started early along with some edible-podded peas.  Turnips are in the cruciferous family so they are cold hardy and grow easily and quickly–like radishes.  The roots are a great addition to stir-fries or roasted vegetables.  They are low in starch and nutrient dense–and you can enjoy turnip greens.  Definitely worth growing if you are a gardener!

We had this dish with a big salad last night.  It’s easy when you have leftovers–chicken broth and cooked  chicken from a roasted chicken.  It was delicious with the hot pepper sauce.

Serves 2

2 Tbsp. of ghee

2 medium or 1 larger turnip chopped (no need to peel but scrub well)–this is about 1 cup chopped 1/4″ quartered rounds

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup snow peas–if not available, use frozen green peas

1-2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1/2 cup chicken broth

salt to taste

tamari to taste (optional)

hot pepper sauce or cayenne to taste (optional)

Melt ghee in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add onions and stir a few times as they cook through for a few minutes.  Add turnip pieces and stir again.  Cover for five minutes stirring a few times.  Add snow peas and cover again for a few minutes.  Don’t overcook!  The peas should remain a bright green but the turnip pieces should be tender.  Add chicken broth and chopped chicken and stir well.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and tamari as desired.  Serve immediately.


Oven-made Ghee

Ghee is my favorite fat.  I use it for sauteing, searing, soups, cooking eggs, and baking, plus I use it instead of butter on pancakes, etc.   Since I no longer heat olive oil –I only use it raw on salads, in salad dressings, in pesto, and in homemade mayo–ghee has become much more prominent in our diet.  Also, we use some coconut oil but I find no need for using any other oil.

Organic ghee is expensive but you can make your own and save money.  Use organic butter–preferably from grass-fed animals.  The traditional method is on the stovetop but I have found that the oven method is much easier.  Just be sure to bake it long enough to denature all the milk in the melted butter; the pools of milk will  transform into light brown sediments which are easily strained out giving you pure ghee or clarified butter.  Be sure to use a baking dish that is deep enough to prevent spills–the melted butter should not fill your baking dish by more than half.  And store the ghee in glass mason jars–pint or quart size is best for ease of handling.

The best news is that ghee is very stable.  I keep it in the refrigerator where it can last up to a year.   Write the date on the top of the jar in order to rotate your stock.   When you hear people talk about the wisdom of having some food stored for emergencies, think of staples such as ghee that you use regularly.  It’s very practical to keep a couple quarts on hand.

Makes 3-4 cups of ghee:

2 pounds organic butter, salted or unsalted–your choice

pyrex baking dish

fine strainer (use a large one about 4″ in diameter) lined with a double layer of fine cheese cloth or clean fine, plain-white dish towel

quart-sized pyrex measuring cup

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.  Remove the wrapper(s) and place the butter in the baking dish.  Place dish in the lower rack of the oven.  Every 15 minutes give the melted butter a gentle stir with a fork to assist with the coagulating and browning of the pools of milk.   Do not overbake and let the sediment burn–it should just brown, not blacken–or the ghee will have a burnt taste.  Once all the milk is gone (it may take up to 2 hours), remove the dish from the oven very carefully and pour the mixture through the cheese-cloth lined strainer into a quart-sized pyrex measuring cup (this makes it easy to pour the ghee into the mason jar after it is strained).  If any trace of milk settles out in the bottom of the baking dish as you strain, don’t pour it into the strainer as it will go right through and your ghee will have some milk in the bottom of the jar and will not keep as long.   To remedy this problem, either discard that last bit of ghee that has the milk in it or place the dish back in the oven and continue heating until all the milk has browned and complete the process of straining.   The ghee will be very hot so always place a spoon in containers that you transfer the melted ghee into.  After 15 minutes, remove the spoon, cap the jar and place in the refrigerator.  It will solidify once cooled.

GF Pumpkin Bread

Well, it’s actually butternut squash bread but it’s as good as pumpkin bread and people know what that is!  I have found butternut squash to be a perfect and practical substitute for pumpkin.  It is easy to bake whole in a 350 degree oven for an hour; let it cool, cut in half lengthwise,  and remove/discard the skin and seeds.  The flesh that is left can be used directly or kept in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for later use.  I use it for pumpkin pie, soup, sauteed vegetables (see previously posted recipes by searching butternut squash).  This bread recipe is quick once you have the cooked squash.  I use a food processor but hand mixing works fine.

Makes 4-6 serving

1 cup of cooked butternut squash

1 cup shredded dry coconut

1/2 cup tapioca flour or arrowroot flour or equal parts of each

1/2 cup tigernut flour (if you don’t have it, use rice flour)

1/4 cup brown flax seed ground in a blender or food processor

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup raisins, optional

1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds, optional

Place all dry ingredients except raisins and seeds in a food processor or bowl and mix well.  Add squash and mix well again.  Add eggs (beat separately in a bowl first if you are mixing by hand).  Mix very well.  Stir in raisins and seeds if you desire.  Transfer the mix into a muffin tin or baking dish (greased with a little ghee first).  Bake at 350 degrees F until a knife in the center comes out clean.  Let it cool before cutting or removing from pan.  Better the next day, just like pumpkin pie.

Which Eggs to Buy?

Eggs are good for you when they come from healthy chickens that have free access to grass pasture, are fed an organic feed, and are properly taken care of.  When the yolks are golden yellow–almost orange–and the shells hard, these are good signs.  Very often even organic brands have pale yolks and thin shells.  When we don’t know about the farm where our eggs are produced, it is difficult to know which brand to buy.  If you don’t know your farmer and his/her practices, visit Cornucopia Institute’s organic egg scorecard.  Their list and the ratings will help you make a good choice at your local, natural foods grocery.  Once you find a brand that you have available locally, go to the scorecard and click on the name to open the criteria list with individual ratings.  The long list of criteria which determines the rating is very educational!  Check it out!