Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lentils! ...and a Recipe for Soup

I have "decided" to cut our food budget to almost nothing, which really means that finances have gotten super tight & I have decided not to get deeper into debt, kill myself or neglect my son trying to wok a second job, or any number of other less-than-happy things that I might do if I were someone else or in different circumstances. I have no desire to buy mac-n-cheese, Ramen noodles, or other junk foods (made with harmful ingredients & severely lacking in nutrition) just to fill our bellies. So...

If you make a list of foods that you can buy for $1, you'll find that lentils are a killer deal! I know, because I made just such a list. ;)

At current retail prices in my area, $1 will buy approximately:

2 cups of raw milk
OR 3 ounces of grass-fed ground beef
OR one organic apple
OR 1/3 cup of hormone-free/grass-fed whipping cream

It was looking pretty dismal, considering I have VERY few dollars to spend feeding two voracious real-food appetites. I don't know EXACTLY how few, but probably about 1/10 of the amount I've been spending on food until recently, so $1 needs to cover a lot more than a little snack, to say the least. The garden is pretty well done for the year except for some kale & a couple of things that will store for a while in the cold. My colony of honeybees died or moved away, and their honey was taken by other bees, wasps, etc. I have some more squash to sell, and a small amount of food in storage "for emergencies," but it's not much. I still felt that there must be a way to make things work without doing crazy or drastic things that will harm us in the long run, but I didn't really know what I would do yet. Then I figured out that a whole pot of cooked lentils costs a dollar or less. Those things are CHEAP! Being diabetic, I don't do well eating a lot of starches, so I haven't used the 50 pounds of lentils I bought several years ago, but I decided to add plenty of good fats & see if I could make good use of the lentils I've had in storage.

I made lentil soup today.

It is fabulous! The taste is wonderful, and it had enough fat & protein that I didn't get loopy eating all the lentils. It is as perfect as I think I'll get on this crazy budget, which is just perfect. :)

As usual, I didn't measure ingredients, but here is a rough estimate that will give you a place to start:

2 1/2 cups dry lentils - soak overnight, drain & rinse
Cook lentils (in a huge pot) in 2 quarts of chicken stock (aka bone broth) - with 1/4 cup Italian Seasoning and 2 crushed cloves of fresh garlic - over medium heat until tender, adding water if needed to keep the lentils just barely covered. Reduce the heat to medium-low as you add the remaining ingredients.

In a blender, combine 1 quart of chicken stock with 1 cup of fat & blend well. I used drippings from roasted chickens, but you could also use bacon grease, coconut oil, ghee, etc. Add this mixture to the soup, then add:

1 pound ground mild sausage, browned first (you can brown the sausage while the lentils are cooking)
1 can pizza sauce
3 Tbsp. Real Season Salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Real Salt to taste

Let it simmer a few minutes longer to blend all the flavors. Add cream to each bowl just before serving, and enjoy!

A sad update: A couple of hours after eating the soup, I have elevated blood sugar & no energy, which is a typical effect of my eating cooked starches. I thought that adding the good fats & a little meat would help prevent that. I guess I'm learning...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cheesy Kale Chips!

Okay, so there's no actual cheese (or any other dairy product) in these kale chips. Somehow, there is magic in the combination of nutritional yeast, red bell pepper, lemon & salt that creates a delicious cheesy flavor...

Cheesy Sauce
2 cups raw cashews
1 red (or orange, or yellow) bell pepper - seeds & stem removed, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 lemons, juice only
1 Tbsp. sea salt (I love the Real Salt brand!)
1/4 - 1 tsp. cayenne - adjust to your taste
water to blend to desired consistency (you'll want it thick - add just enough water so your blender can handle it)

Put all ingredients in blender (you will need a good blender but a high-speed blender is not necessary), bell pepper first. Blend, adding water as needed to help blend & thin the sauce, until smooth & creamy. Stays good for a few days in the refrigerator.

I apologize that I have no idea how much kale goes with this batch of sauce.

To make the chips:

Wash kale, drain well, remove stems, and tear into pieces. Combine kale pieces with cheesy sauce in a large bowl. Mix well (get your hands in it & get messy!) until kale is well-coated with sauce. Place on parchment paper-lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 105 F for 24 hours. It might work to bake these chips if you don't have a dehydrator, but I haven't done the baked ones with anything but olive oil & sea salt. If you're going to try baking them, I'd suggest starting with baking them at 350 F for 15 minutes & then check to see if they're crispy.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Gluten-Free Coconut Flour Muffins

Coconut Flour Muffins – by Angie, adapted from Vivian, who adapted it from the book “Cooking With Coconut Flour”

Basic muffin recipe:

12 eggs
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or coconut milk)
1/2 cup butter (or ghee, or coconut oil), melted
1 1/4 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Real Salt

Sift dry ingredients together & set aside. With an electric mixer, beat together eggs, palm sugar, coconut oil and coconut milk. Keep the mixer running while you add the dry ingredients and mix all together until smooth. Work quickly because it gets pretty stiff as the coconut flour absorbs liquid. Fill 12 greased muffin cups to the top with batter, or use non-stick muffin papers – the regular muffin papers stick and will tear away a lot of your muffin. Even in greased muffin cups, the muffins will usually stick & tear a bit. Bake at 325° F for 20 - 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10+ minutes. They are good as they are, but I also like mine cut in half with some real butter...melting from the warmth of the fresh-baked muffins. Yum!

What to add for flavor variations:

Blueberry muffins:
2 cups frozen blueberries – stir into batter just before filling muffin cups

Chocolate muffins:
1/3 cup raw cacao powder – sift in with dry ingredients
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (add this much extra because of the bitter cacao)

Coconut muffins:
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes/shreds – stir in just before filling muffin cups

Gingerbread Muffins - I’m still playing with the amounts of spices for this variation:
2 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses – blend in with wet ingredients
1 1/2 tsp. ginger - sift all spices in with other dry ingredients
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves