Cheater Persimmon Coconut Yogurt

A perfect Fall treat, and one that the babies and kids will love. I made this yogurt for my 11 month old son since we had run out of his usual sheep’s milk yogurt (which I have mixed fresh persimmon pulp into in the past). But it’s super simple, yummy, and there is no fancy store bought yogurt maker needed.

First off, procure your persimmons. This might be an easy thing to do depending on where you live, but here on the west coast, in Northern California, many people have persimmon trees in their yards. They are beautiful trees and usually grow one of two kinds of persimmons: Fuyu or Hachiya. Fuyu are more squat than round, and ripen quicker (they just need to be a bit soft, like a ripe pear, for you to enjoy their sweet flesh, eaten like an apple, skin and all). Hachiya’s are tricky; this is the variety that you have to be more careful with when it comes to ripeness. They are taller and more of a rounded heart shape with a pointed end. They are not ripe unless they are extremely soft and pillowy to the touch. The skin can break very easily and can let pulp ooze out very quickly if you don’t process them or eat them right away upon ripening. Here are two videos, one of how ripe a Hachiya must be to use it for cooking and another shows me blending the pulp and skin into pure persimmon liquified gold!


Many people make persimmons cookies or persimmon pudding; delicious for the holidays. I find that the actual taste of the persimmon is lost is some baked goods since too much sugar is added and, arguably, not enough actual persimmon is added to the recipe for you to even differentiate the persimmon taste from just a sweet taste. But persimmon pudding, in all of it’s buttery, sugary and boozy goodness, is delectable. Now for the yogurt…

We will be using the pulp (skin included) of the Hachiya persimmon for this yogurt, because it is so sweet and has the texture of jelly. You don’t need much of it to make something taste very sweet and fruity.

Blend together the coconut milk, persimmon pulp and probiotic powder. Eat right away, or store in fridge and let thicken a bit. Either way, you have yogurt.

Now you can say you made your own yogurt! Embrace your probiotics.

 

 

Hello Again and Mash ups

The first time I heard the phrase “mash up” was during a Glee episode when certain songs that might or might not seem like they had anything in common were intertwined to make an (obviously) danceable mega-song. I like this concept. And organically, this is how I have been making my 7 1/2 month olds’ food since he started eating more solids (we started around 5 months).

And, this is my first blog post in quite some time. In the past year we took on a puppy and a baby, and I chose to step away from my nutrition practice for a while (at least full time) and take care of the LG (“Little Guy” as my friends’ kid calls him). Yep, it’s hard, shakes your nerves, forces you to run on very little sleep and makes you question who in the heck this person is in the mirror with saggy boobs, dirty hair and milk stained clothes, but is it worth it? Yes. It is. And I have no complaints but just to say how you don’t know what you don’t know until you know what being a parent is all about. It’s quite the ride already. Ok, on to the food.

The LG’s first food was a simple liver pate, via Nourishing Traditions (runnier than a traditional pate). Yes, I wanted to make a point and feed him a very iron rich food that wasn’t iron fortified rice cereal. Baby’s iron stores start to diminish around 6 months, so I took the opportunity to see how he would respond to such a taste and texture as this. I ended up mixing it with a touch of apple sauce (no sugar added) and then rotated between that and avocado for the first couple of days. He started to love it and really eats anything (I think he is just really motivated by food). I am lucky.

I should also mention that I make a lot of the baby’s food from the food I am making for our household. For example, when cooking salmon for dinner, I just take chunks from our food and make his concoctions. Note: it has taken me (still a work in progress) a couple of years to make cooking a major priority in our house. Our largest household budget line item is food, and we cut back elsewhere to afford the quality of food we want. I think we are also lucky I like to cook.

Sardines and peas, made ahead and frozen

Sardines and peas, made ahead and frozen

IMG_5898

The last of the sweet potato and kale mash up

Other (in no particular order, no added sugar, water and cooked on lower heat if possible):

  • Peaches (with skin) and pastured egg yolk cooked in raw coconut oil
  • Steamed broccoli with goat butter
  • Avocado alone, or with a bit of apple sauce, mashed banana or just cooked pear (sometimes mixing in beet kvass, or fermented beet juice)
  • Cow (St. Benoit) or sheep (usually sheep) plain yogurt, plain, or with apple, pear, banana, or pickled figs mixed in (a yummy Good Eggs product). Also have added ground cinnamon, ginger and clove to this concoction
  • Liver cooked in goat butter with homemade chicken bone broth, with apple
  • Sweet potato (with skin) and kale, steamed and mashed together
  • Butternut squash plain, or with coconut oil, curry and homemade broth
  • Wild Planet canned sardines in olive oil, blended with steamed frozen peas
  • Spaghetti squash steamed with goat butter
  • Wild King salmon, mashed up
  • quinoa cooked with broth not just water, alone or mixed with banana and avocado (this is the only grain he has had thus far)
  • sauteed pear in goat butter, mashed up and mixed with sheep’s milk yogurt
  • blueberries to help him start to find his his pincher fingers and practice picking up food that size

I also add in an infant powdered probiotic from Klaire Labs to some of the cold mash ups that aren’t yogurt every once in a while to get other forms of healthy bacteria working in that little body of his. And the kid hasn’t been sick yet!

We haven’t checked peanut butter, strawberries, other beans or grains yet, but will get to strawberries and peanut butter (homemade) in the coming week or two. I can’t help but be nervous about peanut butter, but I have a feeling he won’t be allergic.

The next foods I want to try will be beets in some form or another, and chicken with some kind of vegetable. Excited to see how things progress!

Embrace a nourished palate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Dog Food: It’s What You Should Eat, Too

Last Saturday, we picked up the first new addition to our growing family: Jasper the golden doodle. He is a joy, a challenge and…the most precious dog I have ever seen (as anyone says about their dog or pet).

jasper

With his pick up from the breeder, we received a lot of lovely things to help him grow into a great family dog, including a bag of very nice dog food. It has a lot of added nutrients and, along with the multi-vitamin the breeder recommends, we feel all set to provide our dog with vital nutrients.

Yesterday, I went on to order more of the dog food. It isn’t terribly expensive, but I was curious about DIY dog food, as I have been curious about everything DIY and from scratch. There are tons of resources and recipes, and they are fairly simple. I compared to the list of ingredients in the dog food that was provided for Jasper to what it would take to make my own, and here is what I came up with:

Store bought dog food, high quality brand:

INGREDIENTS:
Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oat Groats, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, a natural source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp, Brewers Dried Yeast, Flaxseed Meal, Natural Flavors, Dried Egg Product, Catfish Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Lecithin, Potassium Chloride, Dried Carrots, Canola Oil, Monosodium Phosphate, Dried Celery, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Salt, Dried Blueberries, Fructooligosaccharide, Taurine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium thermophilum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Dried Broccoli, Dried Beets, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Pomegranate Extract, Dried Parsley, Dried Lettuce, Dried Watercress, Dried Spinach, Manganese Proteinate, Beta-Carotene, Niacin Supplement, Manganese Sulfate, Inositol, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zinc Oxide, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Selenium Yeast, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Vitamin A Acetate, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid.

Contains a source of live (viable), naturally-occurring microorganisms.

Many of the homemade recipes call for ground chicken or turkey, brown rice, carrots or pumpkin and peas or broccoli, and maybe flax meal. Sounds like a yummy dinner for a human! Here is how the portions should be weighed out per ingredients:

MEAT/PROTEIN: (2 1/2 cups) At least 50 percent of a dog’s diet should be composed of protein. Organ meat, such as liver and kidney, should be fed to your dog a few times a week. You may use ground beef, chicken, lamb, turkey or any other type of meat your dog likes. Add a bit of olive oil to cook, but no spices, salt and pepper.

VEGETABLES AND GRAINS: (2 cups) Dogs may also eat grains, root vegetables and green vegetables, as long as these items are thoroughly cooked. Use white or brown rice, mashed potatoes, oatmeal or barley. Cook a few minutes longer than you normally would to make it easier for your dog to digest.

OTHER VEGETABLES AND FRUIT: (1 1/2 cups) Use fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, spinach, peas, carrots, bananas, or berries. Boil them until they’re completely soft, then transfer them to a blender and puree until smooth.

CALCIUM: (1/2 tsp) Dogs need a lot of calcium to build healthy bones, so its important to add it to their daily diet. Crushed eggshells or bone meal you can buy at pet stores.

Place the portions you don’t serve right away in airtight food storage containers and refrigerate them until serving time. Of course, organic ingredients are ideal, and the amount of food you feed your dog in one sitting should be checked according to his/her size.

Inspired by http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Dog-Food

 

A Hearty Breakfast in 5 Minutes. Seriously.

walnut muffin bf

Breakfast can be tough. It has been hard for me lately because eggs used to be a staple for me: the perfect food with nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, choline, selenium and biotin, not to mention a perfect combo of protein in the white and healthy cholesterol in the yolk. But I can’t eat them anymore – all bad things happen, I will just leave it at that. I was eating a lot of eggs, and I think became pretty intolerant.

So…I made egg free muffins ahead of time yesterday to toast and serve with coconut milk and blueberries this morning. This is a great way to plan ahead and set yourself up for a filling and satisfying breakfast. I found this recipe that sounded delicious and filling, with a base of fresh almond meal made from raw almonds and lots of banana goodness. I added ground clove, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, because I love that combo of spices. Want a new breakfast challenge? Make the muffins ahead, maybe on a Sunday afternoon, and have for the rest of the week, freeze the muffins you don’t eat right away and feel good that you thought ahead!

To serve, I sliced a muffin in half, toasted in the toaster oven, smothered in ghee, added blueberries (in season, they aren’t very expensive – even the organic ones) and coconut milk. A nice yogurt would also be an awesome addition of more protein to the mix.

Embrace breakfast!

 

Makeover Valentine’s Day: A Heart Healthy Indulgence

A colleague of mine emailed me for this recipe today. She reminded me of (1) how delicious it is, (2) how interesting it sounds to skeptics (chocolate and avocado? Really!?) and (3) how good it is.  Did I mention how delicious it is?

This is one of those recipes that helps my clients make the emotional transition between feeling like eating healthier means taking every “bad” food out of your diet and depriving yourself, and having your cake (a healthier version of) and eating it too. The infamous Chocolate Mystery Pudding in a tart form is always a crowd pleaser…and they’ll never know what’s in it.

I should mention, on the nutrition education side, how good for you avocados are. First off, they have higher levels of potassium than bananas. So if you are having a muscle cramp, grab for an avocado or a banana (avocados aren’t as hard to digest for some). And while avocados are about 85% fat, that fat is nourishing, filling and helps to properly absorb various carotenoids (anti-oxidants, or anti-rusting agents). Avocado are also high in levels of vitamin B6, vitamin K and folate. Avocados are good for fighting inflammation, as well, due to their phytosterols omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid. More research is being done about the combinations of two of an avocados properties working together towards heart health. And in the same vein, if you are arthritic, make avocados a part of your life!

Chocolate Mystery Tart

pudding

Crust:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • a pinch of salt
  • a dash of pure vanilla extract

Toss everything into a food processor and combine until just before it turns into a nut butter. Spread the crust into a greased pie pan or tart tin (with false bottom) and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until the crust turns golden brown.

Chocolate filling:

  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 Tbsp. real Grade B maple syrup, raw honey or coconut nectar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut oil (gently melted)
  • 1 tsp. coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Spread out in baked crust, put in fridge to set or enjoy filling as is. Top tart with hemp seeds (pictured above), cherries, banana or berries.

Happy Healthy Heart Day. Embrace your health.

Scrumptious Turkey Apple and Squash Winter Stew

Need lunch ideas? Make a large batch of something soup or stew-ish, and you have at least three lunches for the week (skipping days in between so you don’t get bored). My colleagues and I at Simple Family Health eat lunch together every Thursday (a habit created by my friend and colleague Dr. Jennifer Strider, and, embarrassingly, not something I was doing enough of: actually taking a break and eating lunch). It is a time to relax for an hour, check in with my colleagues and eat home-cooked, nourishing foods – we take turns cooking for one another.

I am on lunch duty this week, and wanted to make use of some of the odds and ends in the fridge, plus I had a sweet-salt taste profile I was trying to satisfy, paired with a craving for cinnamon and apples. Throw all of that together and you get this tasty Turkey Apple and Squash Winter Stew.

turkey apple stew

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil or ghee
  • A few hefty shakes of ground cloves, cinnamon, oregano, small shake of ground cumin
  • 1 large Fuji apple, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 heaping cup of butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos (I don’t eat soy, so if you do, you can use liquid amines, soy sauce or tamari)
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetables broth/stock (preferably homemade bone broth)
  • 3 handfuls of baby kale

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil on medium low heat in a cast iron pot with a lid. Add salt, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, cumin and stir to coat.

When onions are translucent, add apples and butternut squash (if you don’t have squash, no worries. Just leave it out. I just wanted to use mine before it got moldy). Add in capers, vinegar, aminos, stock and stir. Bring to a boil.

When pot is boiling, add baby kale, turn heat off and cover lid for 15-20 minutes. Taste for flavor, add more sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

Makeover Mondays: Simple Sausage Soup

Winter means it’s cold (well, maybe not in the Bay Area), it gets dark earlier (I feel like I want to go to sleep at 3pm), and we make more wintery soups and stews. I attended the lecture of my colleague, Nikole Maxey, L.A.c two weekends ago at our Integrative Health Fair and she described how Chinese medicine teaches about nutrition, dampness and relating certain earth elements to emotions, internal organs, etc. Super fascinating topics of interest…that make perfect sense. For example, I am told it is better for my personally, my emotional well-being, my personality and digestive issues, or my “constitution”, to eat a lot of cooked foods, warming foods. This not only makes sense to me, but that is usually all that I crave. Cooked, warm, nourishing broths, soups and stews, even cooked fruits.

Here is a quick soup I made for friends, using really, really good sausage from Market Hall’s Marin Sun Farms meat counter.

Simple Sausage Soup

sausage soup

  • 2 handfuls small, brown Mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4-6 cups chicken or beef broth (I had homemade already in the freezer. Broth is super nourishing to just drink, too!) – buy low sodium if store bought
  • Fresh or dried oregano (I had fresh – I always love fresh whenever possible)
  • 3-5 really good sausage, cut into 1 inch chunks (I got Sweet Italian at Marin Sun Farms, but any kind you like will do!)
  • 5-8 leaves of kale, de-stemmed, diced into strips
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper

Sautee onion in olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add salt, pepper, oregano, mushrooms and sausages, cook another couple of minutes until coated and mushrooms and sausages just start to cook and brown.

Pour broth over mixture, bring to a boil. Toss in kale, cover lid for 2-3 minutes, turn off heat and serve hot. Serve with rustic bread to dip, or just enjoy on its own. Super comforting!

Makeover Mondays: Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones

I felt like a scone yesterday. I hadn’t had a scone in…I don’t know when the last time I had a scone was. Scones are definitely thrown into the pile of terrible for you, guilty pleasure, treat foods, much like doughnuts. However, the concept can be used to make a tasty, protein rich version. Throw in a little play on the Nutella concept, and you have a scrumptious combination of tastes.

The base recipe for these scones can really be used to include any add in (chocolate chips, fruit, homemade jam, cheese and bacon, seeds and nuts, etc.). I have been a bit obsessed with (mostly) grain and gluten free breads and baked good lately and can’t wait to make Sarah Britton’s bread that will supposedly change my life (I have not doubt as many of her recipes and concepts already have).  : )  So this is a prelude to that experiment.

These scones are egg free, dairy free, gluten free, soy free (if you use chocolate with sunflower lecithin instead of soy lecithin, which is the most common emulsifier used in hard chocolate bars and such). I did not make this recipe up, but it was hard to find one without eggs or butter.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones (adapted from alexandrajamieson.com)

scones

  • 1 1/2 cups of almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 egg replacer (I used 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds paired with 3 tbsp of warm water)
  • 2 tbs of maple syrup or honey
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened milk of any kind (I used hemp and coconut)
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup at least 70% cocoa chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and milk.

Combine the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until blended together. If the dough seems too dry and isn’t sticking together, use another tablespoon or two of milk.

Add the hazelnuts and chocolate. With a large spoon or your fingers, scoop out evenly sized scones and place on baking sheet and gently press down to flatten to 1/2 in thick with palm.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Serve while chocolate is still soft and warm, and serve with favorite preserve or jam, if more sweet is needed. Yum!

Thank you to Alexandra Jamieson for providing such a friendly recipe. I can’t eat eggs whites, and dairy and gluten always hit me wrong. This was scrumptious and filling.

 

Makeover Mondays: A Chocolate Experiment

I have found that chocolate, in its most popular forms (bars and chips) makes me angry, irritable and makes my heart race. I think it’s either the theobromine, a chemical in cocoa, tea leaves and and cola (the kola nut), and paired with sugar often accompanying cocoa, it makes for trouble. Theobromine can have similar effects on people as caffeine, which I think is what happens to me – I get super irritable and jittery when I have any kind of caffeine.

I give myself breaks from chocolate (long breaks) often, but I love it. I joke that my love for chocolate is genetic. But, I feel so much better, in the longer term, when I don’t eat it often. Today I wanted to use the cocoa powder in the house to play around with a baked good – a chocolate cookie. I have also been eating a very restricted diet, just to see how my blood sugar stabilization evens out without certain heavy carbs. Some would say it’s a modified paleo diet, but I don’t love labels because they feel restrictive. Labels always make me feel like a bad person; if I tell myself I am going to do something restrictive, even for a limited time, putting a label on it seems to sabotage any hope of me actually getting anything done and establishing a new routine. Sound familiar!?

In this case, my love and I are thinking about trying to have kids soon, and I have been wanting to take my time to get my body in gear. We have been working with our naturopath, Dr. Jennifer Strider, working on some deficiencies of mine, and some questions we have about our health in general, ensuring our blood work is better than normal.

Thus the restrictive diet. Today’s recipe is a chocolate coconut paleo-ish cookie. Here goes!

cookie 1

  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 5 tbsp coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 4 large eggs (or flax eggs = 4 tbsp ground flax seeds, plus one cup of water or coconut milk) + more if needed
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 bag mini chocolate chips (I love Enjoy Life)
  • ALSO OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup hemp seeds (“hearts”)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together. Separately mix flax and water/milk together, and add coconut oil. Mix all together, adding chocolate chips and/or hemp hearts, optional. If the batter seems too dry and hard to mix, keeping adding coconut milk or water until the batter is easier to mix, and looks like brownie batter.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet, and mash down with a fork slightly (they won’t melt and spread out themselves). Bake for 15 minutes (no more). Enjoy with a glass of (coconut, almond or any other kind of) milk.

cookie 2

With hemp hearts, no chocolate chips this time.

 

Makeover Mondays: Lunch is Important

Just over two years ago, right before my love and I got married, I realized (in retrospect) that I was trying, as many people do, to look my most svelte and feel my strongest in a bit of an unhealthy way. I rarely ate lunch. I was good at breakfast, and scarfed a ton for dinner, but lunch got lost.

Often times we aren’t aware of how we aren’t taking care of ourselves. We can lose sight of the smaller, easier habits we can put into place easily, or just remind ourselves of. As kids, we didn’t forget to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. Breaking for meals was obviously important for our parents to instill in us as kids. Meals were scheduled events that we were raised to take part in; if you are a functional parent at all, you ensure that the kids get breakfast within a short time of waking, eat lunch at lunch time (remember old fashioned lunch time? 12pm?) and eat dinner at least one to two hours before bed. We have let fall some of the most fundamental and simple habits. And we have replaced these simple, instinctual habits with complicated, expensive devices, plans, diets, pills or products that often times have side effects, aren’t sustainable and aren’t, well…fun or delicious. So, I raise my hand and confess. I lost sight of lunch. It is one of the things I have been working on over the past couple of months to get back and find again: making a balanced meal, sitting down and eating it for at least half an hour. What a concept!  : )

As your personal nutritionist, this is one area where I say, “Do as I say, not as I do…” Now, I will try to do as I say when it comes to lunch. So, for this weeks’ Makeover Mondays, I am making over lunch, or rather, I am making over the absence of lunch in my life to prioritize its presence. Maybe you should too!

Leftover Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks with Leftover Roasted Butternut Squash (for lunch). Easy – just reheat! 

Add other veggies such as celery or carrots to your slow cooker if mushrooms aren't your thing.

Add other veggies such as celery or carrots to your slow cooker if mushrooms aren’t your thing.

  • 2 lamb shanks: go to your local butcher (grass fed, organic)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large heaping handfuls brown mushrooms, chopped in half
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup bone or chicken broth (made mine from scratch)
  • 1/4 cup any cheap, dry red wine
  • Finely hopped fresh thyme and rosemary (about two branches each)
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Rub lamb shanks generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large, wide pan over medium-high heat. Add lamb to pan and cook until browned on all sides, turning often, about 5-7 minutes. Add onions, mushrooms, garlic and herbs to bottom of slow cooker. Place lamb on top of vegetables. Pour broth and wine over lamb. Set timer on slow cooker for 6 hours at on HIGH. If you remember, turn the shanks occasionally and spooning juices over the exposed meat over the course of cooking time.

Using tongs, transfer lamb to platter. Ladle juices over lamb and serve, allowing some extra juice to be poured over lamb into individual plates. Eat fresh, or reheat the next day for lunch, possibly with leftover baked butternut squash cubes with roasted pepitas (one of my favorite sides).

Wishing you peace this holiday season.