Food Matters
All about fresh, flavorful food


Crispy Rice Patties Recipe

Rice is a staple food of India. It balances all the three doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It's easy to digest and nourishes the body tissues.

Here's a snack to satisfy your sweet tooth and is crispy and delicious.

fresh rice crisps with coffee
Photo by Arya Krishna

Ingredients:

• 1 cup white rice, soaked in water overnight
• 2 tbsp boiled rice
• 7 tbsp powdered sugar, more if needed
• 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
• Pinch of salt
• Oil for deep frying

Method of Preparation

Blend all the ingredients well in to a smooth paste. The consistency of the batter should be slightly watery like a pancake batter. Keep this batter to ferment for at least 8 hours. After 8 hours heat oil in a stuffed pancake mould. Pour the batter to each mould and fry until crispy and soft.When its getting cooked, flip it over to the other side with a spoon or a skewer. Let the other side get cooked uncovered. Once cooked well transfer to Paper tissue and serve warm.

This recipe is my personal favorite and it is tasty and definitely your kids are going to love them.

Baked Fruit Desserts: Crisps, Cobblers, Betties and More

For a true locavore, spring is a time of transition.  Roast the last of the stored beets, chop up any lingering cabbages and scour the freezer for remaining fruit.

Leftover fruit?  That’s a bonus!

And what better destination for icy sliced peaches, frosty blueberries or even fresh fruit than a baked fruit dessert!  When you combine the health value of fruit and the joy of dessert, how can you go wrong? 

Of course, baked fruit desserts come in many different varieties. Crisps, cobblers, buckles, Brown Betties…How’s a baker to decide?

A Guide to Baked Fruit Desserts

Crisps

A crisp, sometimes called a crumble, is a fruit dessert where fruit is topped with crumbs of flour, oatmeal and sugar, then baked.  One of the most basic fruit desserts, it is super-easy and amenable to changing up for special diets.  Gluten-free?  Use a gluten-free oatmeal and flour.  Sugar-free? Sweeten with maple syrup or stevia.

freshly baked cobbler
Photo by Inger Wilkerson

Cobbler

A cobbler is a baked fruit dessert crowned with a clumpy, biscuit-like topping.  In one version, the dough is dolloped atop oven-ready fruit, while in another, dough is spread on the pan bottom and magically rises over the fruit while baking.

A slump or grunt is a variation on a cobbler that is cooked stovetop in a lidded pan rather then baked in the oven.

Clafoutis

A clafoutis (pronounced KLAH-foo-tee) is a fruit-studded, slightly cake-y custard—kind of like a sweet fruity quiche. Although it isn’t usually included in baked fruit dessert lists, it fits perfectly into a brunch menu (or as an elegant dinner dessert), so I had to include it here!

homemade buckle on plate
Photo by Inger Wilkerson
 

Buckle

A buckle is kind of like an uber-fruity coffee cake.  Loaded with berries or other fruit and topped with streusel, it may be your answer when coffee cake feels guilty!

Brown Betty

By now, I thought I’d made every kind of fruity dessert imaginable.  But I’d never made a Brown Betty.  A Brown Betty is a baked dessert of fruit layered with bread crumbs or bread cubes tossed with sugar and spices.  I went with the bread cube version after hearing reports the bread crumb style can get soggy.

Probably the simplest fruit dessert of all, the Brown Betty blew me away.  The amount of flavor you get is amazing and it’s super easy (especially if you have a tub of frozen apple slices).  It’s even relatively healthy, low in fat and sugar.

Like the crisps, you can change up a Brown Betty for special diets, using gluten free bread and the sweetener of your choice.  Want to give it a try?  Check out the recipe below!

Other Fruit Dessert Options

Of course, these desserts just scratch the surface of baked fruit dessert options.  We’re all familiar with fruit pies, but did you know you can top a single pie crust with fruit, then fold in the sides for a galette?  Then there are kuchens, pandowdies …

So many baked fruit desserts, so little time!

brown betty with ice cream
Photo by Inger Wilkerson

Apple Brown Betty (serves 4)

Ingredients

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 2 slices sandwich bread cut in 1/4-inch cubes (I used honey whole wheat)
• 1 tablespoons melted butter
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest
• 3-4 cups apple slices (about 1lb) – no need to peel
• 2 tablespoons apple cider or water

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the cinnamon and the sugar and set aside 2 tablespoons. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and toss with the rest of the sugar mixture, the melted butter, and the lemon rind.

3. Line the bottom of a casserole with half of the bread cubes. Layer the apple slices over the bread and sprinkle with the cider or water.  Top with the remaining bread cubes and sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Cover the casserole and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until apples are tender and the topping is brown.

4. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for a special treat!

Serving a crowd?  Double the recipe, use a larger casserole, and make with five layers instead of three.  Easy-peasy!    


Join Inger at Art of Natural Living for great local food, gardening fun and green lifestyle tips. From (mostly) healthy recipes to natural body care, living naturally is an art

Have You Heard of the Macrobiotic Diet?

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If you’ve ever meditated, then you likely appreciate balance — balance of the mind and balance of the body. Meditation originated in ancient Asia, as did the macrobiotic diet, so it’s no surprise that, like meditation, the macrobiotic diet is based on balance. This diet is more than a particular combination of healthy food; it can have mental benefits as well. Like meditation, the macrobiotic diet has been around for centuries, and it’s based on the principles of eating to meet your body’s needs.

What is the Macrobiotic Diet?

In the modern world, eating is seen as an activity. You go out for dinner with friends, you cook family dinners and have one-on-one time with your kids, or you order something different, possibly strange, for the experience. Comfort food and junk food are always a temptation, and eating when full is a common occurrence.

The macrobiotic diet, however, is based on your bodies needs more than anything else. A few of the principles include eating enough nutrients, but not eating until you’re full, eating healthy food rather than indulgent food, and eating natural food without artificial ingredients.

Unlike other diets, the macrobiotic diet has recommended guidelines, but you also need to adjust for your own body’s needs. As much as possible though, you should stick to the following breakdown:

  • 60% whole grains
  • 30% vegetables
  • 10% protein

When picking out your meals, you should keep in mind that the macrobiotic diet is pescatarian and eco-conscious. Though you can eat fish, like salmon, it is recommended you only do so 2-3 times a week. The rest of the time, you should be eating tofu or tempeh, or seaweed. Not only does seaweed tie in with the pescatarian them, but sea vegetables are also a surprisingly great source for protein.

When eating your food, you should take the time to eat slowly, and chew your food extensively before swallowing. One factor that sets this diet apart from other diets and diet recommendations is about drinking water. You should only drink when thirsty, and be careful not to drink excessively. When it comes to what you drink, you should essentially only drink water, tea, or coffee.

The Macrobiotic Lifestyle

In order to make any diet work, you need to make it more than a temporary mix of food guidelines; it needs to be incorporated into lifestyle. However, when talking about the macrobiotic diet, it truly becomes your lifestyle. As mentioned before, the macrobiotic diet is based on the same philosophies as meditation, and there is a lot of focus on balance.

In this diet, you want to listen to your body and feed it right, but you also need to treat it right apart from that.

  • Yoga, martial arts,
  • Practice being grateful
  • Drink liquids in moderation
  • Do not eat a few hours before bed
  • Spend time outside, but be careful of sun exposure

In addition to those guidelines, you want to make sure that you use natural products around your house. The macrobiotic diet emphasizes eating whole, natural food, and extends that to your lifestyle. For example, you should opt for clothing made out of cotton over polyester and other synthetic material, and you should keep ceramic dishes over plastic ones.

Is the Macrobiotic Diet Right For You?

Whether or not you should take on the macrobiotic diet depends on your lifestyle. If you already incorporate or have a deep interest in meditation, yoga, martial arts, and other Eastern practices, it is a good sign that this diet is right for you.

If you have kids, you should consider how this diet will fit into their lives. While it may not be a good idea to have them on this diet, you can introduce them to healthy eating habits in a few ways. For example, juice is a major source of sugar for children, so you can give them water and tea to drink most of the time over juice, or even soda.

While forcing healthy diet habits on them can lead to struggles with healthy eating, teaching them little by little about the needs of their bodies is a great lesson for them to learn. Just keep in mind that you may have to cook separate meals for you and your kids at times.

One great thing about the macrobiotic diet is that it passes through the tests of Jennifer Brown, a registered dietitian and faculty associate at ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. She offers advice for eating healthy — aimed for her students at ASU, but can be applied to anybody trying out a new diet on a busy schedule. These include eating mindfully, finding a long-term diet, listening to your body, and not choosing an unhealthy, trendy diet.

Once you have jumped into the macrobiotic lifestyle, you will be on your way to a more balanced, wholesome life. This lifestyle can help with your physical and mental health, as well as providing delicious and nutritious foods for your stomach.

Lemon Pudding Recipe

Lemon has many nourishing elements in it like Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Folate, Niacin, Thiamin, Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Protein, and much more. Along with the rich nutrients, the tartness of lemon is liked by children and elders equally. It soothes, cools, and has detoxifying effects on the body.

4-Ingredient Lemon Pudding

The highlight of this recipe is that it just contains four ingredients which are readily available in our kitchen cabinet. When my toddler comes asking for sweets, I prefer to prepare a fresh dessert to give her rather than giving her junkies. I found this recipe on the popular YouTube channel, Mia Kitchen. Another important thing is the pudding is steamed, so can be eaten hot or cold according to one’s taste.

homemade lemon pudding
Photo by Adobe Stock/yuliiaholovchenko

Ingredients:

• 1 tbsp. freshly squeeze lemon juice
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup condensed milk
• 1 tbsp. corn flour

Method of Preparation:

In a bowl mix all the ingredient together without any lumps. Pour this mixture in a greased mould and steam for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes clear. Remember to close the mould with a lid or foil paper to avoid water droplets falling in to it. Cut in to desired shape when cooled.

If you are looking for a much healthier version of this recipe, substitute milk with almond milk and instead of condensed milk you can use 1/2 cup organic brown sugar.

This is a simple recipe and I assure your children are going to love it!

6 Ways to Embrace Seasonal Produce

We're always looking for new and exciting ways to get more fruits and vegetables into our diets — and our children's diets, which can be a challenge in and of itself, but buying off-season produce means you're shelling out a ton of extra money for peaches from Chile, or avocados from Mexico.

Eating local, seasonal produce can be a great way to improve your diet without breaking the bank, but if you're like most of us, you've probably got no idea where to start. What fruits and vegetables are in season at any given time? What grows locally? How can I find all this information?

Don't worry — we're here to help. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you embrace seasonal produce as part of your daily food intake.

farmers market produce display
Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

Join a CSA

CSA, or community-supported agriculture, programs put you in direct contact with local farms. For a fee, you can get all your produce delivered either weekly or biweekly from local farmers. This way, you never have to worry about what's in season at any given time. All you have to do is pick up your delivery, and you've got enough fresh seasonal produce for the week.

What appears in your CSA bundle will depend greatly on where you live, and what season it is. Most CSAs deliver between June and October, but you may have local farms that handle winter crops as well, so your CSA may continue through the fall and winter months as well.

Learn Your Seasons

Yes, we all know the four seasons — spring, summer, fall, winter. The trick here is to learn when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season. Strawberries, for example, are only in season during spring and early summer, while arugula gets harvested in either the spring or the fall.

Thankfully, that's why we have the Internet, and the wonderful tool that is Google. Just pull up your search bar and type "Is (insert produce name here) in season?" to get all the answers you could ever need.

Reduce Your Weekly Food Budget

You know the law of supply and demand, right? How when the demand for a product is high and the supply is low, the price will go up, and vice versa? The same thing applies to seasonal produce. When a fruit or vegetable is in season, it is available in abundance, which means it's cheaper to purchase. If you preserve your leftover vegetables, or make jam with the fruits, when a plant is in season is the best time to stock up so you can enjoy fresh, canned, or frozen produce for the rest of the year.

It's Better for You: Part One

Studies have shown fresh fruits and vegetables are better for you, containing more of their respective nutrients than canned or frozen produce, and even more nutrients than fresh fruit you're purchasing from the supermarket. This is because supermarket produce gets harvested before it is fully ripe. This allows the produce to ripen during transport, but it also doesn't allow the fruits and vegetables to collect all their nutrients from the parent plant before they get harvested.

Supermarket produce can work in a pinch, but the best way to get the most out of your fruit and vegetable intake is to get it straight from the farm or your local farmers’ market.

It's Better for You: Part Two

You can't turn on the news today without seeing at least one article about food recalls due to various types of contamination. You can't eat a Caesar salad without worrying if your romaine lettuce is going to kill you, and don't even get us started on the hundreds of millions of eggs that were recalled earlier this year — and that's just in the United States. In Australia, in 2017, they even had a problem with frozen berries coming from China that were contaminated with hepatitis A because overseas agriculture isn't regulated as strictly as it is here.

By sticking with local seasonal produce, you always know where your food is coming from and how it was handled, and if you have any questions about harvesting, processing, or farming techniques, you can just ask the farmer.

It Makes You More Creative

One of the big perks of buying seasonally is that it makes you more creative in the kitchen. You won't always know what you're going to get, especially if you enroll with a CSA group, where you're guaranteed to get a big box of random seasonal veggies and fruits every week, so it's up to you to come up with something to do with all that tasty produce to keep it from going to waste.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get creative — add spinach or kale to your chili or spaghetti sauce for a nutritional boost that won't change the flavor of your sauce. Greens, which you’ll receive in abundance from a CSA, are good for salads, savory sides, or for adding to your scrambled eggs, quiches, or other foods. Take a good look at your tasty produce, and once you've figured out what you have, start experimenting. If you're not confident in your cooking skills, don't worry — again, Google is your friend. A quick search will have you Martha Stewart-ing it up in the kitchen in no time.

If it's available in your area, seasonal produce is easily the best way to make sure you're getting your daily fruit and vegetable servings. Not only is it kinder to your wallet, it's better for you in the long run. Start by Google searching local farmers’ markets in your area to see what options you have close to home. It's not always possible or feasible to eat all seasonal produce all the time, but when it is available, you should absolutely take advantage of it.

How to Create a Perfect Pizza Herb Garden

Growing herbs in the garden is a great way to easily produce tasty herbs that will add flavor to your cooking. Skip the added preservatives of frozen store bought pizza and consider making your own this summer. Pizzas can be very adaptable to different tastes and preferences but adding herbs fresh from the garden is a great way to add flavor and interest to your meal.  Create an herb garden with these flavorful herbs to make perfectly fresh pizzas at home.

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Sweet Basil

Growing basil in your pizza garden is a great way to add flavor and beauty to your pizza. Basil is also great for many other summer dishes and provides a unique and amazing taste that compliments a wide range of cuisines. Basil is easiest to grow as a starter but can also be planted as seed if started indoors.

Make sure that basil plants get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day and are planted in well-drained soil. Pinch off flower heads as they appear to encourage the plant to continue growing. Harvest basil as soon as the plant is at least 6 inches tall. The plant will continue growing as long as you pick the leaves on a regular basis.

Place full leaves on top of pizza or chop them up to sprinkle over the pizza. Basil is excellent when combined with tomato and mozzarella for a fresh taste.

Oregano

This is another pizza staple that combines well with many different pizza flavors. Oregano thrives in part to full sunlight and can be started from seeds or a plant. Once the plants reach about 4 inches tall pinch the leaves to help the plant grow large. Regular trimming will allow the plant to continue growing. Don’t worry about watering oregano too much as it doesn’t need extra or damp soil. Oregano is a self-seeding plant so it will grow back every year. Harvest the leaves as you need them for pizzas and consider stripping the leaves off of the branches if desired.

Oregano tastes best on pizzas with a savory meat such as sausage or with mushrooms, simply sprinkle or crush dried oregano on top of the pizza as desired.

Parsley

This is a delicious addition to pizza and can come in both flat and curly leaf varieties. Parsley is a slow starter so purchasing small established plants is a good way to make sure that you have enough parsley for pizzas. Parsley needs to be watered on a regular basis and enjoys moist soil conditions. You will know that parsley is ready to be harvested when the leaf stems have 3 segments. Cut the leaves off the plant and use directly on pizzas. Outer leaves will be the most mature while inner ones will need time to grow. Rough chop the leaves to make them smaller if desired.

As parsley gives off a delicately refreshing flavor, use it with toppings that have a more intense flavor like pancetta, figs, and gorgonzola cheese. You can also use parsley to make a wonderful parsley pesto sauce base.

Rosemary

This perennial evergreen shrub is an herb that has more of a definitive taste. It is very easy to spot and should be used sparingly on pizzas as a little goes a long way with this herb. Rosemary can grow up to 4 feet tall so it should be grown in a spot that will allow it a lot of space to spread out. Rosemary loves well-drained soil as well. Trim the plant on a regular basis and harvest the trimmings to use for fresh rosemary. Strip the leaves off of the stems and chop up to use on top of pizzas. For the freshest taste, harvest young stems as well.

Rosemary has a wonderfully potent flavor that really adds to a savory dish. For a pizza variation, use rosemary on a  white pizza (olive oil sauce base) with garlic, thin red potato slices, and a cheese such as goat or ricotta.

Growing an herb garden for use on pizzas is a good way to incorporate bright flavors along with your favorite pizza toppings. Consider growing sweet basil, parsley, oregano, and rosemary in your garden to use in summer cooking.

5 Healthy Hacks for Busy Families

“I don’t know how you do it all!” 

A statement I frequently hear as a working mom of eight children, ages 2-15, who keep me just a little bit busy. My husband Ryan and I live in rural Tennessee where we chose the simple life which includes gardening, raising chickens, and other rural life chores. Ryan flips houses and manages rental properties, I teach and write, and we recently created a non-profit organization called The Lucas Project.

Yes, I’m probably in desperate need of a nap, but really, you may be wondering:

How does she balance it all?  Work and play and family and laundry and dirty toilets and feeding a crew that requires at least three solid meals a day and healthy, homemade meals at that?

Jess Ronne and family
Photo courtesy Jess Ronne

I realize we aren’t the only busy family in the world.  Sure, we have most people beat with the sheer number of children, but we do seek to eliminate busyness in other areas such as being selective with our social calendar, allowing each child to pick one extracurricular activity (and only if it fits into the family calendar) and prioritizing dinner time together at home over most other opportunities.

Part of this dinner time routine involves making healthy choices so that we can avoid the additional stress of illness and/or doctor appointments—as they tend to produce a domino effect in our life when one person becomes ill—and two, we like to have energy to do the activities that we love and parent so many children!

It’s not too much of a battle to get most of the family to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—things that are “good for our bodies” as I tell our youngest Annabelle; however, we do have two picky ones—little Miss herself and Lucas our special needs guy. I often have to find creative ways to sneak in nutrition with these two.

Here are my go-to healthy hacks—not only for Lucas and Annabelle, but for the rest of us as well.

These five hacks are easy to implement, almost completely disguisable (except for the little green splashes of color with spinach) and allow for better health and vitality—which is what most of us are after, right?

table with healthy homemade food
Photo by Jessy Smith on Unsplash

1. I always swap out the vegetable oil in a baking recipe with either an equal amount of coconut oil or applesauce.

2. I almost always swap out the sugar in a recipe with 1/2 the amount of maple syrup. Another little trick in tomato-based sauces includes using cherry tomatoes to add a sweeter taste. Simply blend a few cups of these right into the sauce.

3. I add a little flax seed, chia seed or wheat germ or a combination of the three to almost anything. Meatloaf, bread, muffins, cake, pie crust, pizza crust. These three healthy additions are virtually tasteless and add fiber, improve digestion, skin, and cardiovascular health, cholesterol, hormones, and help fight cancer to name a few of the benefits

4. I also add a bag of chopped up spinach to most of our main dishes.  Spinach has tons of health benefits including skin care, anti-cancer properties, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone density, iron regulation, and on and on and on. If your family is really particular, throw this bag of spinach in a food processor and chop it up very finely. Add this colorful ingredient to lasagna, casseroles, pasta dishes, burgers, whatever you can think of.

5. This is my own little hack that doesn’t really serve anyone but me but—to serve myself is in a way serving my family. This is my go to cocktail.  Pour half a glass of cheap chardonnay, add pineapple sparkling water and then a splash of elderberry.  Makes for a healthy(er) cocktail option with half the calories!

There you have it! Five healthy {EASY} hacks for busy families.