RECIPES & STORIES
"It's the Simple things in Life"
Our other “kid” in the family, Ziggy Stardust Marley Valentine III (yes Steve did name him that, but it’s Zig for short) has been with us for almost 9 years. Steve found him through Linda Blair who runs a rescue called "World Heart Foundation". It was love at first sight.
Ziggy is great with the kids, very playful, patient and kind, and I love to spoil him with this homemade dog food. This meal is so easy and inexpensive to make! I started preparing it for Zig long before fresh dog food chains came on the scene, and he gobbles it up eagerly every time. (check out the drool in the picture below!)
Ziggy is also a picky eater. There is only one type of treat he will eat (the chewy kind) and when I started making him this recipe, if there wasn’t just the right amount of meat to veggie ratio in this recipe, he would not eat it at all. So I refined it over time and got this final result. It’s chock full of plant based protein and the carrots are a great source of fiber and beta-carotene. If you are worried about nutrient content you can add a supplement powder of your choice to it. *
A rice cooker takes the guessing work out of preparing this food. All you have to do is add and mix all the ingredients in the rice cooker, turn it on and walk away. This simple little device eliminates worry about burning the food or the need to continually check on the dish while it’s cooking. When all the water evaporates and everything is cooked through, the rice cooker will automatically switch into “warm” mode and wait for you. A rice cooker is an essential in my kitchen. I use it a couple of times a week to prepare either food for Ziggy or to cook rice and quinoa for myself and my family.
2 pounds of lean ground turkey
1 cup of green lentils (rinsed)
1 cup of uncooked rice (rinsed)
2 medium sized carrots, shredded
5 cups of filtered water
dash of salt
drizzle of quality olive oil
Divide and keep half of the cooled food in a wide and shallow, glass container, with lid, in the freezer.
Keeping the homemade pet food in these types of containers allows the food to defrost quicker for when you are ready to use it.
Ziggy weighs about 15 pounds and for his weight I feed him twice a day; 1 cup for breakfast and 1 cup for dinner. One batch lasts us about 3 days.
*Always consult your veterinarian for your pets specific dietary needs before introducing new foods.
Mix all the ingredients with water and turn the rice cooker ON.
Food will prepare while you are doing your thing. There is no need to "babysit it" thanks to the rice cooker!
Keep half in a jar, in the fridge and half in the freezer until ready to use.
I caught Zig drooling in this pic.
Makes: 6 servings
Kids love popsicles and yours will never know you are secretly getting them to eat ones that are healthy. These popsicles are full of protein thanks to the nut butter and the coconut milk. The raw chocolate supplies a bit of magnesium and the potassium comes from the bananas - which also help naturally sweeten the pops.
I have a huge jar of hemp seeds on my counter and I throw them into everything: salads, oatmeal, smoothies, all my baking, and now these popsicles. I’m obsessed with how much nutrition these tiny little gems provide. Their flavor gets lost between all the nutty creaminess and chocolate, but they deliver a powerful set of nutrients, including zinc, iron, folate, magnesium, and manganese (almost 20% of an adult’s daily intake in one ice pop!).
Since discovering “Chopped Junior” on Hulu (an addictive Food Network show where kids compete in the kitchen) Evie loves to join me when I cook -especially when there are sweets involved!- and whatever Evie is interested in, little Theo is right there kicking and screaming to be allowed to do what she’s doing. I recently had to purchase this handy device: GuideCraft Kitchen Helper, so my kids are no longer pushing each other off stepping stools while helping me cook. We have a tiny kitchen and the way the kitchen helper folds flat is really useful for us.
I use Tovolo Pop Molds for making these popsicles. I like how I get 6 nice sized servings and the clever design of the handle helps catch any dripping. If you have a brand of pop mold you enjoy, please let us “Little Daily Gem” know. We always delight in the gems our readers share with us!
1 - 13.5 fluid ounce can of coconut milk or 14 ounces of half and half
1 ripe banana
4 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp peanut or almond butter
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 Tbsp raw cocoa powder
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1. Place the coconut milk (or half and half), banana, peanut (or almond) butter, hemp seeds, maple syrup, raw cocoa powder and sea salt into a powerful blender.
2. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
3. Pour the blended mixture into pop molds.
4. Place in freezer for at least 8 hours.
5. Remove the popsicle from the freezer and place it in a tall cup of hot water for 20 seconds to help dislodge the mold.
6. Enjoy on a nice hot day!
I have a giant jar of hemp seeds on the counter and I try to sneak them into everything; smoothies, salads, oatmeal and now these pops.
Submerge the popsicle mold into a tall glass of hot water to help the popsicle slide right out, after it comes straight from the freezer.
GuideCraft Kitchen Helper has help bring sanity into our kitchen! No more pushing, shoving and competing for a little step. It also serves as a snack bar. Sometimes Theo stands there eating berries or drinking iced tea, as Evie and I cook. And it even came in handy during an art session involving yogurt paint.
In case Theo decides to eat the yogurt paint I use natural coloring for this art project, made with hibiscus, turmeric and other plant extracts.
Things quickly got out of hand. The kids had a blast, but we are taking this outside next time.
We gave Evie our old i-pod to listen to. She feels like such a big girl. Here she is listening to some tunes and enjoying the popsicle she helped make.
Serves: 6 sides
When I was a kid, during the summer school break I would travel from my home in Magadan, Siberia to go visit my grandparents who were living in Southern Russia, where the climate is very similar to that of California. I spent a big chunk of my time with my paternal grandmother, Babushka Galia, helping her out in her garden and soaking up warm summer rays my body desperately needed after a brutally long and cold winter in Siberia. Babushaka had the most excqusite garden and I would watch her lovingly work with her plants all day long. She had everything growing in this little half an acre sized lot; walnut, hazelnut, peach and golden cherry trees, as well as many different herbs, berries and of course cucumbers and tomatoes, the must have essentials of any Russian picnic basket.
When it was time to break for lunch, my Babushka and I would venture into the garden to pick sun kissed tomatoes, red peppers and cucumbers to prepare this classic Russian summer salad.
There is only a handful of ingredients, the stars being cucumbers and tomatoes, which are at the peak of their freshness during the summer. In fact the ingredients in this salad are very similar to those that make up a classic Greek Salad, but what makes it authentically Russian is the sunflower oil and the dill used as garnish.
This salad is typically served with boiled or pan fried potatoes (which are also dressed with sunflower oil and sprinkled with dill) and “Shashlik”, a pork or beef chunks marinated in a myriad of spices, vinegar and raw onions and cooked outside over hot coals.
Whatever you choose to pair this salad with, I hope you enjoy discovering it this summer (or rediscovering it if you are Russian and haven’t made it for a while!) as much as I enjoyed sharing it with my family and connecting to my heritage.
3 large ripe heirloom tomatoes
3 small cucumbers (ones you readily find at any local farmers market)
1 green onion chopped into small thin rings
1 red bell pepper
2 small radishes, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of fresh dill, chopped
3 Tbsp organic sunflower oil
sea salt to taste
Enjoy cucumbers, red peppers and tomatoes in the summer, when they are in season and taste heavenly.
Dressing this salad with Unrefined Sunflower Oil makes it taste authentically Russian.
Check out these yearly calendars for inspiration to eat in season. Cook Smart 2017 Wall Calendar and Farm Fresh 2017 Wall Calendar. Each calendar lists in it’s own unique way what is selling at the farmers market and hence is at the peak of it’s freshness for you to enjoy.
And this article from “Real Mom Daily” blog post that gives us very compelling reasons to shop for produce at our local farmers market.