Mother Earth Living

Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food


4/11/2014

With spring brings fresh ingredients. And what better way to use fresh harvested herbs than in a flavorful homemade pesto. Whip up this snappy pesto and pair it with buckwheat for a delicious grain salad. This recipe, courtesy Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods and Melanie of Nutritious Eats, uses Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Groats and was an entry for the 1994 Buckwheat Recipe Contest.

The buckwheat groats, hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant, only take about 20 minutes on the stove top to fully cook, so you won’t have to brace the heat for very long. Although buckwheat is what makes this dish truly unique, you can easily substitute with another one of your favorite grains such as millet, wheat berries or quinoa. Serve alongside a slice of crusty bread or sliced veggies for a simple spring meal. Check back next week for another great recipe from Bob’s Red Mill.
[Photo courtesy Melanie of Nutritious Eats.]

Buckwheat Pesto Salad 

Buckwheat Pesto Salad

• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat Groats
• 1 tablespoons butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1/2 cup chopped Bob’s Red Mill Walnuts Baker’s Pieces
• 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
• 2 teaspoons dried basil
• 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup sliced black olives
• Salt, to taste
• 1/2 cup soy bacon bits, for garnish (optional)

1. Boil water with salt. Add groats, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and leave pan covered for about 5 minutes, then fluff with fork. Set aside.

2. Mix butter, olive oil, garlic and walnuts together. In a separate bowl, combine parsley, basil, cheese and olives. Add butter mixture to groats, then add the parsley mixture. Salt to taste. Toss and serve. Sprinkle soy bacon on top, if desired. Serves 6.


Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods offers a diverse line of more than 400 all-natural, organic and gluten-free flours, cereals, meals and mixes for pancakes, breads and soups that are available all around the world.



4/2/2014

If you are looking for a fruity treat that’s also high in fiber, look no further. The following recipe, courtesy Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, uses a mixture of whole grains and dried fruit to create a moist cookie similar to oatmeal raisin cookies.

Although this recipe calls for dried blueberries, apples and roasted hazelnuts, you can trade out these fruits for dried versions of your favorites. If you’re looking to cut sugar from your diet, this recipe also performs well with up to half the sugar. Check back next week for another great recipe from Bob’s Red Mill.

Granola Cookies Recipe

Whole-Grain Apple Blueberry Granola Cookies

• 1 cup butter, softened
• 3/4 cup white sugar
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 3/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Honey Almond Granola
• 1/2 cup dried blueberries
• 1/2 cup diced apples
• 1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda, then stir into the creamed mixture.

4. Finally, stir in the granola, dried fruits and nuts.

5. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Enjoy this whole grain treat! Makes about 24 cookies.


Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods offers a diverse line of more than 400 all-natural, organic and gluten-free flours, cereals, meals and mixes for pancakes, breads and soups that are available all around the world.



3/27/2014

There is something about the combination of crunchy and salty from chips that just makes snacking better.Editors Pick But when the snacking urge strikes us here at the Mother Earth Living office, we like to indulge in better-for-you options. Sure it would be easy to take the short trip to the vending machine, which hosts a seemingly unlimited variety of chips, but why choose chips that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), partially hydrated oils and unhealthy amounts of sodium when there are tasty, healthier options that are better for us—and the planet?

In order to bring you some of the best and tastiest snack chips out there, we’ve embarked on the onerous task of taste-testing each of these varieties here in our office. Check out our favorite picks for organic chips.

Organic Chips

Late July Mild Green Mojo

They may be mild, but they’re also bursting with flavor! This unique variety was one of our favorites. Once the bag was open, it didn’t take long to finish them off. I’m excited to try these chips with a guacamole dip in the near future. Late July chips are family-owned and are certified USDA Organic and non-GMO.

Cost: $3.49

Kettle Brand Sea Salt

These should be your go-to chips when you just need the simple salty crunch of a potato chip. Kettle Brand Organic Sea Salt potato chips contain just three ingredients: organic potatoes, organic vegetable oil and sea salt. But those three simple ingredients combine to make one mighty tasty chip.

Cost: $3

Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips

What makes Jackson’s Honest potato chips unique is that they kettle fry them in organic coconut oil—a much healthier option than many vegetable oils. And in case you are wondering, the coconut does not present itself in the flavor. These chips offer just the right combination of salty and crunchy. Jackson’s Honest chips are certified organic and non-GMO.

Cost: $5

Good Boy Organics BOPS Sour Cream and Onion

Sour cream and onion is a time-honored classic, and I was excited to discover that Good Boy Organics truly mastered the conventional “ruffle” chip in my favorite flavor. Good Boy Organics bakes their chips instead of frying them. They are certified USDA organic, non-GMO verified and gluten-free.

Cost: $3.49

Honorable Mentions

These following chips are not organic, but we have chosen to include them in this list because they are a healthier alternative to conventional potato chips.

Beanfield’s Bean and Rice Chips Pico de Gallo

I was pleasantly surprised by Beanfield’s chips. The Pico de Gallo packed a nice mix of flavors with just the right amount of crunch. The company has a variety of flavors that are also quite tasty, but Pico de Gallo won my heart. Beanfield’s chips are non-GMO and vegan, as well as dariy-, soy-, corn-, and gluten-free.

Cost: $3.49

RW Garcia Barbecue Tortatos

RW Garcia has managed to perfect a chip that’s part tortilla chip and part potato chip. The infusion is fascinating and delightful. In every bite you taste a little tortilla and a little potato. It’s the best of both worlds! And, although these chips are not organic, they are certified gluten- and GMO-free.

Cost: $3.49


Victoria Pitcher is Web Editor at Mother Earth Living. Find her on .



3/25/2014

Tomato soup is delicious any time of year. I find it to be both hearty and refreshing. My favorite tomatoes are Italian; I’m a local food advocate, but I bend the rules when it comes to tomatoes…there is a perfection to the Italian tomato. I prefer the San Marzano fruit, however any “Made in Italy” tomato will do. This staple of Italian cuisine is picked from the vine at the peak of ripeness and therefore packed full of sunshine, a touch sweeter than all other tomatoes.

Buon Appetito!

Homemade Tomato Soup
Photo by Victoria Greenstreet

Victoria's Tomato Soup Recipe

• 28 ounces preserved chopped tomatoes (If not your own preserves then preferably San Marzano)
• 2/3 cup evoo, divided
• 1 large yellow onion, diced
• 1 celery stalk, diced
• 1 small fennel bulb, diced
• 3 large cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 Parmesan rind 
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Strain the chopped tomatoes, reserving the juice and spread on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/3 cup of evoo and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in 425 F oven until caramelized, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the onion, celery, fennel, garlic and thyme until softened and transparent, about 10 minutes.

4. Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved juice, chicken stock, bay leaf and Parmesan rind.

Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender about 20 minutes.

5. Remove the remaining Parmesan rind and using an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth. You can also use a traditional blender, make sure to only fill the blender half full of the hot soup otherwise you will have a hot mess splattered all over your kitchen.

Season to taste and garnish with grated Parmesan, a glug of evoo and fresh fennel fronds (if your bulb had any attached).


Victoria Greenstreet is inspired by seasonal ingredients. Her focus is whole foods and gluten-free cookery. She is a classically trained chef, freelance food writer, stylist and photographer.  She is currently working on her first cookbook. Visit her blog Honey Dumplings for more recipes and culinary adventures.



3/24/2014

Scottish oatcakes, delicious and crispy crackers that taste wonderful with jam, have been a staple since the 14th century. If you’re looking for a gluten-free take on this traditional treat, check out the following recipe courtesy Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, a distinctive stone grinding miller of whole grains.

The amount of sugar in this recipe is minimal so that the cakes can be used in both sweet and savory applications. If you want a sweeter oatcake, increase the amount of sugar to 1 tablespoon. Alternatively, omit the sugar completely for a truly savory concoction. Check back next week for another great recipe from Bob’s Red Mill.

Scottish Oatcakes

Gluten-Free Scottish Oatcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

• 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Scottish Oatmeal
• 6 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill Sorghum Flour
• 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
• 3/4 teaspoons Bob’s Red Mill Evaporated Cane Sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon butter, melted
• 1/2 cup hot water

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Scottish Oatmeal in a bowl with Bob’s Red Mill Sorghum Flour, tapioca starch, Bob’s Red Mill Evaporated Cane Sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir until combined.

3. Add butter and stir until evenly distributed. With a fork, mix in water just until moistened; let sit for 5 minutes.

4. Gather dough into a ball and flatten slightly.  Place dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. With a 2- to 3-inch round cutter, cut dough into rounds. Re-roll and cut scraps. Place oatcakes about 1/4-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake until Scottish Oatcakes are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Enjoy plain, serve with jam or cheese, or use to build hors d’oeuvres. Serves 12 to 16.


Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods offers a diverse line of more than 400 all-natural, organic and gluten-free flours, cereals, meals and mixes for pancakes, breads and soups that are available all around the world.



2/20/2014

Seventy-six percent of honey sold in major supermarkets is untraceable because it contains virtually no pollen, according to Food Safety News. Pollen in commercial honey is filtered to keep it liquid, but ultrafiltered honey from China has been found to be contaminated with antibiotics and heavy metals. (For more on honey read 15 Household Uses for Honey and The Health Benefits of Honey.)

Best Honey

Know Your Honey

If whole foods are important to you, avoid mass-produced supermarket honey. Opt to buy honey that is closer to the land, and keep the beneficial compounds in the sweet substance in your food. 

Read the Label: Some honey, especially the kind that comes in a to-go packet, is actually flavored high-fructose corn syrup. The ingredient list will spell it out for you.

Opt for Raw: Raw honey is the consistency of peanut butter because it is unfiltered and has crystallized. Honey that stays in liquid form longer is generally Grade A honey, which means it’s been filtered, so many of the healthiest natural compounds are gone, too. Plus, you are guaranteed to avoid inferior, superfiltered honey by opting for raw.

Where is it From? Choose honey that is produced close to home, if possible. Artisan producers are often available to discuss how they process their honey, if you give them a call. Your health-food store employees may be able to help you select a high-quality product, also. Even better, find a beekeeper in your area to buy from.


Plant for Pollinators

No one knows what causes Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious phenomenon of bee nests dying en masse, but we can do our part to save these crucial creatures by growing plants the pollinators love. Bees are attracted to brightly colored day-blooming flowers full of nectar, especially those tubular in shape. They also need a flower structure that acts as a landing platform. Plus, bees like a sweet or minty scent. Plant these five herbs to help bees thrive.

• Lavender
• Thyme
• Mint
• Borage
• Bee balm


How to Make Infused Honeys

Follow the flow chart to make three types of infused honey: ginger, chili and, for the adventurous, garlic. Stir it into tea, add it to toast or heap it on waffles! (Garlic honey makes a good cold remedy or an unusual topping for vanilla ice cream.)

2 cups local honey + 1/4 teaspoon citric acid + 1 tablespoon ginger powder or 4 tablespoons dried chili flakes or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh garlic

Mix all ingredients in a large jar, cover tightly and allow to sit away from sunlight for up to three weeks for best flavor.

Excerpted with permission from Honey Crafting by Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes, F+W Media, Inc. 2013. Buy this book from our store: Honey Crafting.



2/6/2014

If you are up for something different this Valentine’s day, then make sure to save room for dessert! Pots de crème translates to jars of cream in French. This dessert is a type of custard that is velvety smooth and traditionally served in an adorable petite pot with a lid.

Dress it up for your sweetheart with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, grated chocolate, a drizzling of My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce and a few of your favorite cookies.

Chocolate Pot de Creme
Photo by Victoria Greenstreet

Chili Chocolate Pots de Crème Recipe

Ingredients:

• 4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus more
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1/2 dried guajillo chili pepper
• 3 large egg yolks
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• Garnish: whipped cream, grated chocolate, My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below), cookies

Special Equipment:

• Two 8 ounce ramekins or  four 4 ounce ramekins

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Put the chocolate and the sugar in a medium heat-proof bowl and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan bring the cream, milk, cinnamon and guajillo chili pepper just to a boil, cover with a lid and let sit for 5 to 20 minutes, the longer you let this mixture steep the more spice you will detect, so adjust time to your spice preference.

4. After steeping is complete, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass measuring cup and add more cream if necessary to measure 1 1/3 cup.

5. Discard the chili pepper and the cinnamon stick and put the cream back into the small saucepan, bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the chocolate and sugar.  Let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes then stir until well mixed.

6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla and salt. Whisk this mixture into the chocolate mixture. Strain the mixture once more through a fine-mesh sieve.

7. Pour into two 8 ounce or four 4 ounce oven proof baking vessels. Bake in a water bath at 300 degrees until the center is nearly set, about 25 to 30 minutes. (You are aiming for firm sides and a touch wobbly in the center).

8. Carefully remove the cups from the water bath and let cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

9. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to serving. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings

When ready to serve top with freshly whipped cream, grated chocolate, a drizzle of My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below) and your favorite cookies.

My Favorite Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1/3 cup water
• 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
• 3/4 teaspoons fleur de sel

Tools:

• Large heavy-bottomed deep saucepan
• Long-handled heat resistant spatula
• Clean pastry brush
• Cup of water
• Oven mitt (please wear if you are concerned about burning yourself with the steam or the hot sugar)

Instructions:

1. In a large heavy-bottomed deep saucepan, add the water to the sugar. Put over medium flame and let the sugar dissolve, about 5 minutes, do not stir.

2. Once the sugar is melted, turn the flame up to medium-high and boil uncovered. Resist the urge to stir, if the sugar is crystallizing on the sides of the pan, simply use the clean pastry brush dipped into the cup of water and brush down the sides, this dissolves any sugar crystals.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil until the sugar turns a deep amber color, pull the pot off of the burner and slowly stir in the cream and butter, the mixture will rise and splatter so pay special attention not to burn yourself with the steam (this is when your tall pot comes in handy!) Stir until well mixed. The caramel may harden a bit, that's okay.

4. Stir in the vanilla bean seeds and fleur de sel.

5. Put the pot over low heat and stir constantly until the caramel is melted, about 2 minutes.

6. Let cool to room temperature and it will thicken up a bit, about 3 hours. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Makes 1 3/4 to 2 cups


Victoria Greenstreet is inspired by seasonal ingredients. Her focus is whole foods and gluten-free cookery. She is a classically trained chef, freelance food writer, stylist and photographer.  She is currently working on her first cookbook due during the winter of 2014-2015. Visit her blog Honey Dumplings for more recipes and culinary adventures.





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