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11/14/2014

I love Chai. The sweet, the spice, the warm milk (in a chai latte)…it’s all the happy feelings of fall in a perfect little bundle of warm drink. Unfortunately, most cups of chai that you buy at a coffee shop, or pre-made packages of chai latte mix you could buy at the grocery store, are loaded with artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and just a bunch of things you don’t need in your cup of tea.

Here's an alternative: Let’s make our own chai!

Chai (Starbucks image) 

Making Your Own Chai

A bit of background: Masala chai is a combination of many spices, black tea, milk and (if you so desire) sweetener. Though these spices and flavors vary across the globe, “masala” means “mixed spice” in Hindi, where this variation of tea originates. (Also, note, “chai” is a variation of the Chinese word for tea, “cha,” but was culturally preferred unadulterated. Most of what we consider simply “chai” today is in fact Indian spiced Masala chai). The result is beautiful and harmonious drink that will warm you from your fingers to your toes.

In terms of health, tea has been drunk since the 3rd century in China for medicinal purposes. WebMD also supports that black tea, dried fermented tea leaves, has been shown to protect the lungs and may also reduce the risk of stroke. Masala chai also packs in a lot of antioxidants and goodness from the spices you are using, many of which can be used on their own for their potent aroma-therapeutic and anti-inflammatory benefits.

There are some different types of chai we could make. A normal chai tea bag will make a basic spiced tea; in fact, you could divide these spices into six equal parts and store them in tea bags, if you wanted to. But chai concentrate is what you want for a chai latte (my favorite!). Think of it as the espresso of chai. Then the chai concentrate (mixed beforehand with the following recipe) can be brewed directly with the milk of your choice.

The spices for chai are best when prepared fresh, meaning, using the whole dried spices, then toasting them together to release maximum flavor, and then steeped whole. But we don’t always have time for that. This recipe will work as well with any ground spices you may have in your cupboard. The following recipe indicates the amount of whole spice needed,

This masala chai concentrate recipe will ensure your steaming cup of masala chai is just moments away from brightening up your fall afternoon.

 Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate (PrairieHomestead)

Masala Chai Tea Concentrate

Yield: About 1 quart chai concentrate

What You’ll Need:
*All spices and tea can be found in your local grocery store or natural-food store

• 6 cups water
• Sauce pan
• Strainer (or reusable (muslin) tea bag if you don’t want to fish for your spices afterwards)
• 1/4 cup raw sugar or honey, or natural sweetener of your choice
• 2- to 3-inch fresh ginger, sliced
• 5 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon peppercorns
• 2 vanilla beans
• 3 star anise
• 15 cloves
• 5 allspice (optional)• 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
• 5 black tea bags, or about 10 grams (1/2 ounce) loose leaf plain black tea
• Milk of your choice (dairy, almond, soy, even sweetened condensed milk all work well)

 Spices for Chai (PrairieHomestead)

Instructions:

1. In a medium pot, bring the water and sweetener to a boil and simmer until the sweetener is fully dissolved.

2. Add all of the spices, and continue to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

3. Remove the mixture from the heat, add the tea bags, and let them steep for 10 minutes. Then strain out the spices and tea bags. Store your chai tea concentrate in the fridge, it will last for several weeks

4. To serve, mix the chai tea concentrate 1:1 with milk. Gently heat in a small saucepan until it reaches the desired temperature. Pour into your favorite mug, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from The Prairie Homestead

Variations:

• Use a few tablespoons of organic sweetened condensed milk instead of milk and sugar

• Use green tea, or a mix of black and green tea

• Use coconut milk for a Thai version, spiced with anise, tamarind and cardamom. *Add a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk as well for best results

• Create your own “Masala,” or mix of spices. Many recipes include whole black, pink, or green peppercorns, almonds, saffron, fennel seeds, and/or rose hips, and some even have unsweetened cocoa powder for a chocolaty version. You could even try adding orange peels, apple slices, or apple juice for a fruity take.


Taylor Nutting is an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living, who loves to find new ways (especially if it involves cooking!) to live a healthy and happy life.



11/10/2014

This hearty dish has all the health benefits of acorn squash, rich in Vitamin C, Potassium and Magnesium, and all the warm scents of fall or winter, with a touch of exotic flare. This will leave you satisfied, and your home smelling wonderful. It’s also gluten free, and easily adapted to vegan dietary preferences.

 Stuffed Squash from Prevention RD

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Serves: 4 to 5 people

Ingredients:

• 4 servings cooked brown rice *prepare beforehand
• 2 acorn squash
• 1 pound grass-fed beef
• 1 large onion
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic
• 1 large bell pepper or equivalent
• Spices to taste: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon curry, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, dash of cayenne pepper, dash of cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 cup raisins or cranberries

Instructions:

1. Prepare rice.

2. Cut squash in half with checkered slices and de-seed. Then roast for 30 to 40 minutes.

3. While squash is cooking, brown ground beef. Add onions and garlic, to brown; peppers and any other vegetables; salt and spices; until fragrant; and raisins last.

4. Combine beef mixture and rice, then add more spices or salt if needed.

5. When squash is cooked and tender, add a heaping ladle-ful of beef and rice mixture to the hollow of the squash. It’s okay if some spills out—it adds to the charm!

6. Serve hot, and enjoy!

Variations:

• Chop up an apple, sauté with onions and peppers

• Add more vegetables: peas, carrots, spinach

• Add some nuts: toasted pine nuts or pistachios add a nice nutty flair

• Mix up the meat: Make with sausage, chicken or bits of bacon

• Chop up squash and mix together with other ingredients for a “one-pot” meal


Recipe by Taylor Nutting, an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living and cooking experiment enthusiast who loves to try new ways to live a healthy and happy life.



11/7/2014

This delightfully filling soup is warm and inviting, a little spicy, a little sweet and a lot delicious. Butternut squash in itself is high in vitamin A (1 cup has almost 300 percent of your daily recommendation!), vitamin C, potassium and fiber, so this healthy dish will warm you up and keep you satisfied.

 Bowl of Squash Soup

Time: 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours

Serves: 4 to 6 people

Ingredients:

• 32 fluid ounces (1 container) chicken or vegetable broth; or apple juice for very sweet soup (vegan variation)
• 1 large butternut squash
• 1 large onion, chopped*
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic
• 1 apple, chopped*
• 1 large carrot, chopped*
• Spices to taste: 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper

*This soup will be puréed, so the pieces don’t have to be finely diced. A rough chop is fine, though the smaller the carrots especially are chopped, the faster they will cook. I once grated the carrot into my soup as it was cooking, which worked well.

1.  Roast butternut squash, cut lengthwise in half and face down on  baking sheet, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender.

2.  Sauté onions and garlic. Add chopped apple and spice to taste (use about half of your measured spices, and the rest will be added to the broth)

3.  When squash is cooked and tender, carefully (squash will be HOT), peel skin, chop squash into chunks. Then add to soup pot with broth and chopped carrots, followed by onions, apple, spice mixture.

4.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, and add additional spices as it cooks to taste, until fragrant.

5.  Using an immersion blender (or regular blender in reasonable batches), carefully blend together ingredients. If you want a squash stew instead of soup, don't blend as thoroughly.

6.  Garnish with a dollop of cinnamon crème fraîche, or sour cream, or apple slices, or cinnamon, or cilantro, or parsley, or bacon; and serve hot.

Variations:

• For vegan variation, use apple juice instead of chicken broth.
• Stir in half a cup of milk or cream when blending to make a cream of butternut squash soup.
• Add more vegetables (like spinach, kale, peppers) for an even better veggie boost, or chickpeas for added protein.

Looking for more? Find more delicious Soup and Stew Recipes on our collection page!


Recipe from Taylor Nutting, an editorial assistant at Mother Earth Living and cooking experiment enthusiast who loves to find new ways (especially if it involves cooking!) to live a healthy and happy life.



11/4/2014

Harvest season is upon us, and one of autumn’s most beloved harvestable foods is the pumpkin. This infamous orange gourd tastes great in just about everything, from savory meals to desserts. Best of all, it has numerous health benefits. It’s rich in fiber, which can slow digestion; it’s high in vitamin A, boosting eye health; improves immunity; can help you achieve younger-looking skin with its high beta-carotene content; and may even lower cancer risk. If you love all things pumpkin, try these six delicious fall pumpkin recipes.

Pumpk

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes

If you’ve got a hankering for carrot cake, indulge in this sweet treat by pairing it with pumpkin pie spice. This twist on the classic carrot cake recipe is loaded with veggies, fruits and nuts. It also uses a tofu cream “cheese” frosting, although you can certainly use the real thing if that suits your tastes better.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I hope you saved those seeds from the pumpkin you carved last week. This delicious and super simple recipe makes a roasting pan filled with sweet-tasting pumpkin seeds. The blog post also includes a link to a recipe for spicy pumpkin seeds.

Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte

The seasonal drink that has everyone most excited for scarves and boots, this pumpkin spice latte recipe is organic, dairy-free and sugar-free. Use coconut milk and stevia to create a PSL that’s delicious and nutritious.

Pumpkin Pie

A Thanksgiving classic, this pumpkin pie recipe features a jazzy cookie crust as well as a rich topping.

Pumpkin Scones with Cranberries

Brighten up your brunch with this seasonal favorite. Stuffed with pumpkin and cranberries, this crumbly scone is both sweet and savory.

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soup

Butternut squash, another seasonal favorite, pairs especially well with pumpkin. This low-fat soup is filled with heart-healthy antioxidants, carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Have fun with the presentation by serving the slightly sweet concoction in miniature pumpkins—your guests will love it!



11/3/2014

I’ve had a hankering for carrot cake for a few weeks now. I was too busy baking pumpkin this and spiced that to cure the craving. The other day, I held open the pantry door and stared at probably 10 cans of pumpkin purée and my ever-growing collection of alternate flours, along with the other dry goods on the shelf. Seeking inspiration from all of my friends in the cabinet, I began to dream about the carrot cake again. I love its hearty garden-filled cake and would gladly indulge in cream cheese frosting anytime.

Day dreaming away, I took a second glance at the row of canned pumpkin. “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” I’ve been making pumpkin versions of everything else in the world, why not carrot cake? And just like that, the spirit of fall was still alive and a pumpkin carrot cake was born.

Still riding on my grain-free wagon, I made a flourless version. It’s also gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free. I used a tofu cream “cheese” for the frosting, which is amazingly similar to regular cream cheese. If you steer clear of soy, your favorite cashew cheese recipe would work just fine. And of course, traditional cream cheese frosting would pair well if you prefer. I load my carrot cake up with a hefty amount of veggies, fruits and nuts, but you can substitute or add in anything you’d like. Carrot cake is really a “kitchen sink” kind of thing. That’s what I love about it.

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe 

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe

For the cake:

• 3/4 cup coconut flour
• 3/4 cup almond flour
• 5 small (or 3 large) carrots, peeled, grated
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup pumpkin purée
• 1 cup Grade B maple syrup
• 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained well
• 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
• 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 5 eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with papers or grease with coconut oil.

2. Sift the coconut and almond flours into a large bowl.

3. Add the grated carrots, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, shredded coconut, raisins and walnuts, and mix with a fork to thoroughly combine. Set aside.  

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, pineapple, ginger, coconut oil, vanilla and eggs.

5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a spatula until combined.

6. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to divide the batter into the cupcake pan. The batter should fill each tin to the top.

7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

Note: If you’d like to bake a cake instead, grease two cake pans with coconut oil and divide the batter evenly. Bake for 1 hour.

For the frosting:

• 8 ounces tofu cream cheese (or regular cream cheese)
• 1/4 cup raw honey
• Pinch ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup almond milk

1. Using an electric mixer, whip all ingredients together until smooth. Should only take 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Frost the cupcakes after they are completely cooled. Cupcakes will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Carrot Cupcakes Aerial

Pumpkin Carrot Cupcakes
Photos by Rachael Bratene


Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog, Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.



9/18/2014

A grain-free diet is becoming increasingly popular. It’s common to also be dairy-, soy- and refined sugar-free. Some make the full leap to the Paleolithic diet. There are dozens of reasons why people hop on this wagon: autoimmune disease, autism, mental health, fitness goals—the list goes on. Recently, I told my story about a health battle and my decision to go grain-free, as well as my commitment to raise my daughter the same way.

Coming from a classically trained chef, former pastry chef and bread-lover, going grain-free sometimes has its disadvantages. I’ve been restricting gluten from my diet for years now. But going-grain free is one step further and I found myself missing certain items. The hardest to give up at first were the gluten-free breads and pastas that had already found a permanent spot in my pantry. While experimenting with grain-free baking is as thrilling as “regular” baking, it does tend to exclude familiar tastes and textures.

I began to think of staples I could create, make at home and have on hand. “Granola!” I thought to myself, knowing a good granola doesn’t last long in my house. There are a few grain-free granolas on the market out there today that are excellent, but they are hard to find. Also, granola is always something I suggest people make at home, as you can customize it to your liking and add ingredients that benefit you and your personal condition.

Grain Free Granola
Photo by Malorie Davis

This is the recipe I created and find myself recreating again and again. The recipe makes a brown-bag full and I breeze through every batch. It pairs nicely with almond milk, or your choice of yogurt and fruit. I even enjoy it as a snack on its own, or on top of almond milk ice cream. Mine includes chocolate, because I’m a chocoholic. You can substitute berries, if you’d like. It’s also loaded with healthful nuts and seeds, which always makes me feel my best. Try this one or make your own version. Either way, it’s a healthful and simple homemade recipe you can keep going back to.

Granola With Berries
Photo by Malorie Davis

Chocolate and Coconut Grain-Free Granola Recipe

• 1 cup sunflower seeds
• 2 tablespoons chia seeds
• 1 cup chopped walnuts
• 1 cup coconut flakes
• 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
• 1/3 cup raw honey
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

2. Toss ingredients in a bowl to thoroughly combine. Make sure the honey is distributed evenly.

3. Spread out the mixture on a baking sheet in a thin layer. 

4. Bake for 10 minutes, or until coconut flakes begin to slightly brown.

5. To store, this will keep in a brown bag or glass jar for several weeks. 


Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog, Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.



9/3/2014

There’s something about cooked plums that makes me weak in the knees. Sure, biting into a ripe plum at the peak of the season, with the juices running to your elbows and the tartness hitting the front of your tongue, is a blissful experience. But something about the richness and depth of a cooked plum makes it a whole new and delightfully thrilling eating experience. It still reminds me of a beautiful stone fruit freshly picked from a tree, yet it takes on a more luxurious texture and taste. Cooking with plums offers a smooth, rich and sweet taste, along with a tart flavor that comes at the end. When paired properly with spices, the bar gets raised even higher. 

I have an aunt in Northern California who grows her own plum trees. She’s also a wiz at canning and preserving foods. Wouldn’t you know, she makes the most delicious plum jam I’ve ever tasted. That jam is perhaps what made me fall in love with plums. I don’t attempt plum jams or jellies because I know I won’t come close to how I remember hers. But I cook with plums any other way I can.

I’m coining the term “Butter Baby”. It’s a combination of a Dutch Baby and a Tart Tatin. It’s also gluten-free. Essentially a pancake batter baked in the oven, it begins with a generous amount of butter, which reminds me of the French technique. I make these at home often and they’re always a hit. A “Butter Baby” can be made with any fruit and alternate flours. The “traditional foods” lifestyle is gaining a large amount of followers and bringing health enthusiasts back to butter. This recipe is an excellent way to make use of your pasture butter or ghee.

Since it’s the peak of plum season, I bought a large amount of plums at the farmers market with the intention of making more than one recipe. I made stewed plums with the rest, which is quite similar to my aunt’s plum jam but simpler and made with honey instead of sugar. I like to keep various stewed fruits in my home. If I have leftover seasonal fruit, I make a small jar of stewed fruit to use in place of jam. I use it to top oatmeal, porridge, yogurt or breads. It’s healthy, easy and always a great addition to my weekly menu.

Plum Butter Baby
Photo by Malorie Davis

Plum “Butter Baby” Recipe

• 1/2 cup brown rice flour (You can substitute wheat flour or buckwheat flour.)
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup almond milk (You can substitute whole milk.)
• 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 5 to 6 small plums (or any other fruit), sliced
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch ground cloves
• 6 tablespoons butter or ghee
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, cornstarch, honey, salt, vanilla extract, eggs, almond milk, coconut oil and lemon zest. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, toss the sliced plums with the cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.

4. In a cast-iron skillet, dollop the butter or ghee around and drizzle on the maple syrup. Arrange the plums in a single layer over the butter and syrup. Heat the skillet over medium until the butter is melted and the syrup begins to bubble. Turn off the heat, and pour the batter over the plums.

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and looking crisp. Cut into pie slices and serve.

Stewed Plums
Photo by Malorie Davis

Stewed Plums Recipe

• 6 plums, sliced
• 2 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons honey
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Place all of the ingredients in a cast-iron or heavy-bottom pot and stir with a wooden spoon. Heat over medium-high with a lid on, and cook until the plums become tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Remove the lid, stir and cook for 5 minutes more, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the consistency is fairly thick.

3. Store in a glass jar. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.


Malorie DavisMalorie Davis is a classically trained chef, holistic nutrition counselor, wife, and mother. She created the True American Diet and has a passion for natural homemaking. Malorie offers up recipes and nutrition tips on her new blog Malorie Davis Nutrition, as well as online nutrition counseling services.





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