RECIPES & STORIES
"It's the Simple things in Life"
Homemade play dough is truly a gem! It is super environmentally friendly to make your own, rather than buy it in plastic containers, it requires only a handful of ingredients, costs pennies to make, lasts forever and has the magical gift of keeping most kids under 10 years of age occupied for hours. This midnight blue version is different from your typical brightly colored play dough. Sometimes different is good! It short circuits the brain and creates wonder. In our house we flatten this play dough out to create “outer space” and then roll colorful play dough into little balls to create planets or starts that go on top. Substitute basic food coloring for the activated charcoal to create play dough of any color you want.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cups salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon activated charcoal powder (or a few drops of food coloring)
2 cups of warm water
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Add to a heavy bottom pot all the dry ingredients and mix well using a whisk. Combine all the wet ingredients and pour them into the pot with the dry ingredients. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk all the ingredients together while they cook, making sure to consistently scoop the dough up from the bottom to the top.
You will notice your arms will feel like they are getting a work out. They are!
The mixture will slowly get thicker and thicker to the point where you won’t be able to mix anymore and all the dough will clump. This takes about 3 and a half minutes if using a gas stove range. Allow the dough to cool. Kneed it a bit and transfer to a tightly sealing jar.
Recently, on a warm Sunday afternoon, I had lunch at our friend Guddy’s house. While our daughters frolicked in their pool under the watchful eye of her husband, us girls enjoyed a cooking adventure in the kitchen. Guddy was showing us a really cool appliance she uses in the kitchen called the ThermoMix. She is originally from Germany and was telling us that the ThermoMix [by Vorwerk] is very popular in Europe to the point where nearly everyone now owns one. It’s new to America, but is quickly gaining notoriety.
So what is a ThermoMix?
It’s an appliance that is able to perform 12 different cooking functions.
Imagine if a rice cooker had a computer attached to it, which carefully walked you step by step through a recipe, measuring things for you, blending, chopping the ingredients for you, and letting you cook up different things separately yet all at once. When Guddy first told me about the ThermoMix I couldn’t get my brain around how it could possibly work. It sounded so mysterious, so complicated. So there we were, a small gathering of us, in Guddy’s beautiful kitchen, with gleaming counters upon which reigned the ThermoMix, so she could show us what all the hype was all about.
She showed us how to make fresh lemonade, mango sherbet, rice salad and the most delicious bread I have ever tasted. We were allowed to press all the buttons and follow the recipe as the ThermoMix presented it to us.
I was blown away by how simple the ThermoMix made the cooking process and how clever this machine was. I will probably get one soon. In the meantime, I have been craving the freshly baked bread Guddy whipped up that afternoon. She brought it fresh out of the oven for us to enjoy and I was extremely impressed and very inspired. At first delicious bite I immediately thought, “It truly is the simple things in life!”.
Guddy was kind enough to send me the recipe intended for the ThermoMix and I converted it from the metric system (hence the weird flour measurement of 3 ½ cups + 5 Tablespoons) and adapted the recipe for someone that doesn’t own this special appliance. Using the ThermoMix took one (1) minute plus some additional dough resting time. Making it without the ThermoMix took a bit longer, involved measuring all the ingredients by myself without the help of the digital scale that is part of the ThermoMix and mixing by hand, but the end result was very similar.
The texture of this delicious bread, which can easily be made vegan*, is just perfect. It’s soft, but not too soft so you can easily cut it into thin slices and use it to make sandwiches and French Toast. My kids love eating it toasted and topped with a bit of honey or slices of avocado.
Best of all I love to have the opportunity to control the ingredients that I use and know exactly what I’m putting in my body, opting for fresh yeast*, raw and organic local honey, filtered water and organic flour.
A big thank you to Guddy for sharing this homemade bread recipe and introducing me to the culinary world of the ThermoMix.
1 Tablespoon of honey
1 heaping Tablespoon fresh yeast*
1 teaspoon of sea salt (Real Salt is the brand I like to use)
2 ounces of unsalted butter*
11 ounces of filtered or spring water
3 ½ cups of unbleached all purpose flour + 5 tablespoons
In a large bowl combine the honey with the raw yeast and set aside.
Combine the filtered water and butter in either a microwavable bowl or in a small saucepan for the stovetop. On low temperature, gently melt the butter, then slowly add the filtered water to it and heat up the mixture until it’s tepid.
Pour the water and butter mixture into the honey and yeast bowl and whisk together.
Add the salt and the 3 ½ cups + 5 tablespoons of flour. Use a large spoon to mix all the ingredients together as much as possible and then switch to using your hands to knead the dough in the bowl until you get a smooth ball of dough that springs back when you gently press it with your thumb. I like to knead the dough right inside the bowl to avoid scrubbing a whole countertop later.
Allow the ball of dough to rest in the bowl covered with a clean towel for 1 hour.
After the hour has passed, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for about a minute before dividing it into 3 equal pieces. Roll and shape each dough piece into an 18 inch long strand.
Arrange the 3 strands of dough rope on a parchment lined baking sheet with the strands pinched together at one end and braid toward the other end.
Cover the braided bread with a clean towel and allow to rest again for about 30 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 F.
Bake for 25 to 30 min.
Allow the bread to rest and cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before serving.
You can use this bread to make sandwiches, present it on a beautiful platter during an appetizer round at a dinner gathering or bring a freshly baked loaf as a gift to a friend.
To keep the bread fresh store it in the fridge in a Gallon sized Ziploc Freezer bag to toast up a slice whenever the mood strikes you. You can prolong the shelf life of the bread by cutting it into ½ inch thick slices and storing them in the freezer in the same Ziploc Freezer Bag. Simply pop the frozen slices out from the freezer and right into a toaster oven or toaster and in a minute you will have beautiful, warm toast to eat.
*Fresh yeast, also known as cake yeast or compressed yeast, makes a world of difference when it comes to baking bread. I purchase mine at a local bakery for $2, but you can find it at any well stocked grocery store. Keep in mind that fresh yeast only keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
*To make a vegan version of this bread you can substitute vegan butter for regular butter.
*While bread made with white wheat flour is super delicious I do use it for baking only once in a while as a special treat, opting to more often bake with gluten free flours like oatmeal, buckwheat, almond meal and coconut. For some people, especially small children, consuming too many wheat products can be tough on digestion. That’s why I love to accompany a meal involving pasta or pizza with a big fresh salad as a starter and seasonal fruit for dessert, both of which help support fiber intake and aid in digestion.
If you are interested in finding out more about the ThermoMix by attending a cooking demo class please contact us at Little Daily Gem.
This is our go to vegan stew during the cool winter months and when one of us is down with the cold. The warm fragrant spices and nutrient dense veggies are truly welcomed by our bodies.
Like I mentioned in my article “Cooking with the Planet in Mind”, pre-cooking garbanzo beans in a big batch and storing them in the freezer in these easy to stack and clean containers, helps keep the carbon foot print of this dish tiny and saves you a lot of money. I use the pressure cooker to both pre-cook the garbanzo beans and cook this Indian Cauliflower stew, but even if you don’t own a pressure cooker you can still easily make this stew by using canned garbanzo beans and cooking the strew in a pot on a stove.
In this Indian Cauliflower Stew recipe the garbanzo beans serve as a hearty base for the stew, which is superb served over top of quinoa, couscous or rice. Even though a lot of spices are used in making this dish, it’s very mild when it comes to heat. My 2 year old really enjoys eating this stew. You can serve this to the pickiest of eaters pureed in a blender in order to hide the kale and the cauliflower. They will never know the nutrient dense veggies are there, but will get all the benefits of eating kale, which is high in calcium content and antioxidants and cauliflower, which is high in folic acid and vitamin C. For a grown up version with a lot of kick add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and you will be sweating buckets.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion finely chopped
6 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 tbsp garam masala*
1 to 2 tsp of sea salt (to taste)
1 - 13.5 fl ounce can of coconut milk
1 - 24 ounce jar of Bionaturae Organic Strained Tomato Pure**
1 medium sized head of cauliflower chopped into tiny pieces
1 - 2 cup container of cooked garbanzo beans straight from the freezer (or two 2 - 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans)
1 bunch (2 packed cups) of kale, cleaned, stemmed & chopped into small pieces
*garam masala is mix of different Indian spices and essential to this dish. I purchase this spice by weight at my local Sprouts grocery store, but you can also buy it online.
**If you don't have this brand of tomato pure available on hand you can use canned crushed tomatoes. My local Sprouts sells it for a very reasonable price and I have also seen it sold at Whole Foods. Personally, I'm head over heels in love with Bionaturea Strained Tomato Pure because it's so pure. Just organic tomatoes, which come in a beautiful, tall glass jar, which I then reuse for storing and freezing a big batch of veggie broth I make in my Instant Pot, holding (and sometimes gifting) freshly whipped up Cashew Milk or use as a vase to hold flowers. We love eating pasta and pizza in our family (what kid doesn't love pizza or pasta?) and I simmer down this jar of tomato pure with lots of garlic, basil and salt to my taste to create marinara sauce. These strained tomatoes are also an essential ingredient in my Borscht recipe.
In a recent Time Magazines article titled “World When the Taps Run Dry - What it’s like to live through an urban water crisis” writer Aryn Baker vividly recounts living on a 16 gallon a day water ration. According to Baker, Cape Town, a gorgeous, world class city with a thriving tourism scene lived in denial that they were facing a crisis until it was too late. And now locals must go through great measures to access, stock up on and save water.
Baker reveals how Capetonians have learnt that simple things like grilling food when cooking and showering over a plastic tub, and then using the water to wash clothing, saves water. These little acts of preservation add up and allow the residents of Cape Town to get through the day.
This Time Magazine article really made me question: Beyond recycling and being smart with the water use, where else can I make a difference in terms to helping out the environment? I realized that one of the most important jobs I have and truly enjoy as a mother is cooking for my loved ones. I’m responsible for choosing the menu and most of the grocery shopping in our family. When I go to the grocery store I see isle after isle, shelf after shelf of packaged food. In order to cook anything I have to buy it in it’s package and the part of the package that can't recycled ends up in the landfill. It’s a vicious cycle that I decided I need to get out of in order to make a difference.
I have been working at it and here are 3 things that (no joke) help me save a lot of money and time. These simple things also help me practice environmentally friendly shopping and cooking habits and allow me to quickly and easily prepare healthy, wholesome meals.
These 3 things are:
1.The Instant Pot
2. Purchasing grains, nuts, beans, legumes, fruits and veggies by weight in bulk and bringing them home in these reusable mesh bags and
3. These really user friendly containers for storing food
A combination of using these 3 things have tremendously decreased our family’s carbon footprint.
1. The instant pot. It's basically an electric pressure cooker. You may have heard of it. You might already own one. It’s a sensational piece of kitchen equipment that has reached a tipping point in popularity. On my street alone 3 of us bought ourselves one during the holiday season. Instant Pot recipe books are everywhere and new bloggers are arriving on the scene constantly (including me!) to share their latest recipe discoveries with the world. I have enthusiastically been taking all our families favorite dishes and “Instapotizing” them.
I first heard about The Instant Pot from a mom of a boy my daughter attends school with. She is a full time Italian teacher who not only finds time to work, raise an amazing kid, but also cook everything from scratch; bread, pasta, yogurt, Kambucha and the most incredible Italian desserts. Oh and did I mention she is eat a vegetarian diet while the rest of her family eats meat? That means double the work in the kitchen when preparing a meal.
When she told me she can make a delicious meal out of frozen chicken for her husband and child in under 30 minutes flat I was intrigued and impressed. So I got myself an Instant Pot. And I adore it. As I continue to discover all it’s amazing potential here are a few things that tickle me:
Which brings me to my next point. Buying in bulk and eating more vegetables. A lot has been said about how much the meat industry contributes to global warming via greenhouse gas emission. So avoiding eating too much meat is one sure way to help out mother nature. What’s even more amazing is how darn good beans and legumes are for us. And lucky for us a lot of recipes that our body craves when we are feeling under the weather call for satiating beans, peas and legumes wrapped in a blanket of warm spices like cumin, ginger, turmeric and garlic. All these can be purchased in bulk and by weight for way less then it costs to buy a packaged item.
Purifyou Premium Mesh Bags from Amazon and class jars from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
I have been purchasing in bulk things like rice, oatmeal, chickpeas, split peas, cashews, walnuts and lentils and bringing them home in these Purifyou Premium Reusable Mesh Produce Bags. Along with avoiding using a plastic bag to bring my purchases home in I have also been saving money, because it’s cheaper to buy by weight in bulk. I store my bulk items in big glass jars, freeing up the mesh bags (which conveniently come in three sizes, from small to large) to be used again and again in purchasing not only bulk items, but also fruits and veggies.
All the bulk items can be used to cook with easily and quickly, except black beans and garbanzo beans, which usually take a long time to soak and a long time to cook. Well this is where my instant pot has been coming in very handy. You see you don’t have to presoak the beans for long (or at all) if you don’t want to when using the Instant Pot.
4 pounds of garbanzo beans for about $5
I rinse the garbanzo beans well, soak them for 30 minutes, drain the water, transfer the beans to the Instant Pot, cover them with water, close the lid and set the timer for 20 minutes of pressure cooking.
About 45 minute later you can open the lid to the Instant Pot and check out the beans. But you don’t have to rush back to them in 45 minutes you can come back whenever you want. Upon opening the Instant Pot you fill find all the water that you covered the garbanzo beans with has been soaked up by the beans. Compare that to soaking for a few hours or over nigh and then cooking for 45 minutes on stove top in 4 quarts of water. You have saved water and time.
After allowing the garbanzo beans (or black beans) to cool I transfer them to them into Ziplock Twist n' Loc containers with screw lids. Each container holds 2 cups of cooked beans.
The 4 pounds of uncooked garbanzo beans, which cost about $5, will end up being 22 cups of cooked chickpeas or 11 - 2 cup containers. Rounding up the cost of all those chickpeas is about 45 cents per container. The containers themselves cost about $1 each, but you get to reuse them over and over again as they are really easy to clean. Over time that cost will work out to be nothing. I used to use glass jars for storing cooked food, but they are harder to stack, clean and the metal tops end up rusting. That’s why I’m such a big fan of this new design.
Just love how easily Ziplock Twist n' Lock containers stack. They are durable and easy to clean and perfect for storing cooked beans and soup in the freezer and leftover in the fridge.
You might be wondering what I’m going to do with all of these garbanzo beans.
I keep all my containers of garbanzo beans and black beans in the freezer and use them when I want to make bean dips, salads and bean soups. I don’t even defrost the beans in order to make freshly made Hummus, which takes me under 5 minutes. My kids love to dip carrots and cucumber in this dip and it’s wonderful to be able to bring a freshly made batch to a gathering. The action of blending the frozen garbanzo beans into hummus warms them up so you don’t have to wait for them to defrost.
And I also add a container of chickpeas straight from freezer into the Instant Pot when making my Curry Lentil Soup and Indian Cauliflower Soup. Both soups take me literally 15 minutes of prep before closing the lid, turing the machine on and walking away. These two soups are a huge hit with the kids. The soups are vegan, warming, hearty and immune boosting. You might have an occasional can (coconut milk) or glass jar (tomato pure) leftover to recycle or reuse when cooking these recipes. Other than that you are being good to the planet, while cooking really healthy meals, saving money and making space and time in your life to play a board game before a meal is ready for your family to share. What can be better than that?
I know these ideas may seem small and insignificant acts compared to everything that is going on in the world, but all small, simple things add up. One little step at at time, one meal at a time, one smart, conscious purchase at a time we will tip the scale the other way and make taking care and preserving nature an absolute not a maybe.
*Note: If you are handy and have time you can easily saw your own reusable bags.
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.
Serves 4 adults and 4 kids
This family heirloom pie recipe was passed down from my husband Steve’s grandmother, Lulu, who lived in Portsmouth, England. Steve grew up with this dish and our family still enjoys it today. Thanks to his mum June, who sent this recipe* to me, I am able to prepare it for our family and share with you. I love this dish for a number of reasons. While it’s satisfying for the adults and older kids, it’s also great for little kids who are just learning to handle a spoon. Everything in the dish is bite size and the sticky nature of mashed potatoes allows the children to have the satisfaction of feeding themselves - with the added bonus that more of the meal ends up in their mouths than on the floor!
Because this dish can be prepared ahead of time, and also frozen and saved for future meals, it's great for busy parents.
Cottage Pie is the perfect bake for spontaneous gathering of friends and family at the house and you can serve this nourishing home made, family style meal and still be a part of the party.
Just pop the pie in the oven as guests arrive and enjoy a glass a wine with them as you catch up. Simple dimple!
6 medium sized potatoes or 4 cups diced into ½ inch cubes
1 ounce of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of salt
4 ounces of sharp grated cheddar cheese
6 cherry tomatoes
1lb ground beef or 1 pound frozen corn (if making a vegetarian dish)
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 finely chopped onions
1 – 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes *
1 pound of mixed frozen veggies (peas, carrots, cauliflower)
2 Massel Stock Cubes*
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of sea salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
½ teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence
To make the mashed potatoes: bring 8 cups of water to a boil and throw in the diced potatoes. Bring back to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Reserve 1 cup of water from the boiled potatoes and set aside. Add to the drained potatoes salt, butter, and reserved water (if needed) and mash together. Set aside to cool while you prepare the pie filling.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium fry or skillet pan, heat olive oil over med/hight heat and saute the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and golden in color; about 10 minutes.
While the onions are cooking, boil up some water and dissolved the stock cubes in half a cup of boiling water. Add the ground beef to the pan of stir-fried onions and cook until the meat browns. Once the meat is cooked through, add the stock, mixed frozen veggies, a can of diced tomatoes and seasoning; garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, and Herbs de Provence. Bring pan to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer pie filling to ovenproof 13 inch x 9-inch dish. Allow the pie filling to cool for 10 minutes.
With a spatula or spoon spread the Mashed Potato Topping evenly over the top of the pie filling, sprinkle with grated cheese, paprika and decorate each corner of the pie with three halved cherry tomatoes, creating a three petal flower effect.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.
Remove from oven and allow the pie to rest for 5 minutes before bringing it to the table.
A side salad would go well with this pie, but because there are already a lot of veggies in the pie filling, it’s really not necessary.
The simplest and easiest dessert to follow this meal up with is simple vanilla ice cream with berries.
Mario Batali, who grew up in a family that highly valued their time to eat together, beautifully stated in "Molto Mario, Simple Family Meals"; 'Eating together makes you confident and responsible-'. He believes his discipline as a child to be dressed for dinner, ready and seated at the table with his family, helped him appreciate the gifts of cooking and the joy of sharing food together. Mario’s spectacular success in the world of cooking is a testament to the power of these family traditions.
I’m so happy to share our family recipe for this home cooked meal. I hope it will help make entertaining and eating together a little bit easier and a lot more fun for you in this fast paced world.
As the Brits say, "CHEERS!"
*If you prefer your tomatoes to come in a glass jar, you can substitute one can of diced tomatoes for 2 cups of Bionature Organic Strained Tomatoes.
* I have tweaked the original recipe slightly by substituting 2 freshly grate carrots and 1 pound of frozen peas for 1 pound of mixed frozen veggies, which includes the carrots and the peas. As a busy mom it makes my life really easy to have this one pack of veggies in the freezer, ready to be used in this recipe.
Makes 4 servings
This lactose free Iced Chai Latte makes an exotic, immune boosting and refreshing summer drink. The cashews are loaded with tons of good fats and minerals such as magnesium and zinc, which are responsible for building strong, healthy teeth. In fact these minerals are even more important than Vitamin D and Calcium when it comes to tooth health*.
“On Guard” oil is sold by “DoTerra” and has a powerful combination of cinnamon bark, clove, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.
The pronounced notes of cinnamon and clove are delicious, aromatic blends of healing, anti-inflammatory gems used around the world as curative spices. One drop of this blend of oils makes this drink insanely good for you.
If you double the recipe you can serve this drink in a decorative carafe with an array of delicious Indian cuisine, such as Curry Lentil Soup, Slow Cooked Chicken Tikka Masala and steamed rice .
3 cups of filtered or spring water
1 cup of ice
1 cup of soaked raw cashews*
pinch of salt
5 dates (pits removed)
1 teaspoon of alcohol free vanilla extract
1 drop of DoTerra's On-Guard Blend of Essential Oils*
Combine all the ingredients in a powerful blender and blend on high for 1 minute.
Feel free to use cloves and cinnamon powder found in your nearest grocery store (or already in your pantry), if you are not ready to purchase On-Guard Essential Oil or want to make this drink while you are waiting for the oil to arrive in the mail. Just substitute 1 drop of On-Guard Essential Oil for 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and 2 freshly ground cloves.
*CASHEW NUTS: It’s important to soak the cashew nuts first before using them in the recipe as this process removes the physic acid from them. Too much phytic acid in a diet is said to be responsible for leaching minerals out of bones and teeth. If you are interested in learning more please take a moment to read this article on Westin A. Price Foundation website.
*MAGNESIUM and ZINC: Additional information that supports the understanding that magnesium and zinc minerals could be even more important than Vitamin D and Calcium when it comes to tooth health can be read in the following article.
Makes 12 servings
A big thank you to my friend Christena for sharing this super healthy, delicious and easy to make banana muffin recipe with me. Every time we meet for a play date Christena brings these freshly baked gems to treat us with and we gobble them down with great pleasure.
This recipe was passed down to Christena by her mother, and she has been making these muffins for so long now that she simply measures her ingredients by eye. I begged and pleaded for the recipe and finally Christena relented! She came over one day and in whipping these muffins up together in my kitchen we finally got all the measurements down on paper to share with you.
The recipe is so forgiving when it comes to the ingredients these muffins are great to make with young children. It allows them to practice their measuring skills (and even knife skills depending on their age). As long as you have your salt, baking powder and baking soda measured (but even that you can guide your kids through doing on their own), the amount of the rest of the ingredients really doesn’t have to be precise.
*If you want to make a gluten free version of these muffins substitute gluten free flour for the all purpose flour.
4 ripe bananas
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon of sea salt
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cups chocolate chips
Pre-heat the oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.
The muffins will come out super moist and naturally sweet because of the ripe banana and a bits of chocolate.
Pack as a treat in your kid’s lunch box, enjoy with a cold glass of vegan Iced Chai Latte as an after school snack, or use muffins as the base for healthy Banana Cream Cupcakes.
These muffins also make for a great gift when you are visiting someone. Just arrange them in a decorative basket and include some organic, locally made jam, or a creamy nut butter.
I use these reusable silicone muffin liners, which I grease with coconut oil before filling with batter. Allow another 8 to 10 minutes of cooking time if you are using these to bake the muffins.
Fill the muffin liners or tins 3/4 ways full.
If you decide to make a vegan version of these muffins, by eliminating the egg and replacing the chocolate chips for vegan ones, the muffins will still be delicious, but just won't have this golden color to them.
Perfectly moist muffins. I just love these!
If your bananas ripen/brown before you have time to use them, you can place them, with skins removed, in freezer safe zip lock bags and take out and defrost as needed. It's takes a few hours to defrost and if you get impatient, like I do sometimes, you can blend the frozen bananas with a bit of water to create something that looks exactly like ice cream to use in the recipe. You will need a "pump" to help push the bananas safety toward the blades to be able to do this.
Here Theo is enjoying "ice cream" for breakfast.