Sunday, June 12, 2016

Purslane - Weed It or Eat It?

For years I would "weed it." Until, I found out that you could "eat it." And, that its nutritional benefits are extensive. I had forgotten about it this year since we moved from the country and into town (although still a New England country town); it doesn't grow in my yard, yet. I stopped by a local farm today to pick up some asparagus and strawberries, and there it was! Freshly wild gathered.

  • Full of minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium - most American's eating a MAD diet (Modern American Diet of processed and fast foods) are deficient in these important minerals
  • One of the few plants offering a high amount of  omega-3 fatty acid in ALA form (other forms DHA and EPA are obtained from seafood). Omega-3 fats are not produced in the body and you must get them from food. They play important roles in brain health and are the building blocks of cell membranes.
  • High in Vitamin E (provides 6 times more than spinach)
  • Rich in vitamins A, B, and C. 
How to eat it?
  • raw in salads
  • lightly steamed
  • lightly sauteed with a little olive oil, garlic and salt
For more information:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Mother Earth News
Edible Wild Food

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Seafood and Kale...Its what's for dinner!

Seafood...its what's for dinner! Mussels are a great value ($3.99/lb; 1 lb per person for a main meal is plenty) and nutritious, especially for feeding the brain with Vitamin B12, DHA and EPA (Omega-3 Fats), Selenium, Vitamin C and protein.

A healthy brain needs Omega-3 Fats found in seafood. Some Omega 3's (ALA) are found in greens, flax seeds, and chia seeds but the benefits from the type in seafood are better absorbed by the body and greater than plant-based to prevent depression, dementia, and heart disease.

Vitamin B12 is found only in animals and seafood; and is a common deficiency in those that are vegan or vegetarian. Low levels of B12 can cause irreversible brain damage and deficiencies cause depression and anemia.

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and is needed for metabolism and thyroid function.

Check out Drew Ramsey's book Eat Complete for detailed information about these vitamins and for the mussels recipe.

Kale! I love kale! I eat it sauteed, raw, grilled, and crispy from the oven. Kale, a cruciferous veggie is full of nutritional benefits. And, spring kale from a local organic farm is sweet and tender. Kale contains a large dose of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and Vitamin A and many trace minerals. Kale supports brain and bone health, cardiac health, and supports the immune system.

Here's my kale Caesar salad recipe:

1 bunch kale, washed and leaves pulled from stems and torn
1 head of romaine, washed and leaves torn

4-6 anchovies
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 cup olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Blend first 6 ingredients in a jar using an immersion blender (or small food processor) until garlic and anchovies blended. Add in olive oil and blend.

Mix dressing (not all will be needed) and greens and add Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Whole Chickens - Use the livers to make Liver Pate

In an effort to save money, reduce my impact and produce less garbage, get rid of plastic (especially from my food items), and eat healthy without wasting food I now only buy whole chickens (usually organic) and cut them up myself. If you don't know how to do it, just go to You Tube and find a video, it's simple as as long as you have a good sharp knife and/or a pair of kitchen shears. So much cheaper to buy than parts and gives you many different cooking options. Organic whole chickens in my area are $2.99-$3.99 per pound compared to parts which run $3.99-$7.99 per pound and I get the bonus of the bones to use for broth, neck, giblets, and livers. So, the livers. Yes, they are small and you could just fry one up and give it to your dog or cat (they'll love you for it)! Or, you can do what I them in a glass jar in the freezer.

At Thanksgiving I added my large turkey liver to the jar which I had to pack in to get it to fit and realized I needed to use these up sometime soon. The perfect time....New Year's Eve! I was invited to a couple parties and what better than to bring an appetizer of liver pate! Cheap, easy and quick to make, yet an elegant treat.

Here's my recipe (adapted from several that I've used):
1 pound organic chicken livers (or combination of chicken/turkey)
10 tablespoons organic unsalted butter at room temperature
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh minced)
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (could use white wine as well)
salt and pepper

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat*. Add onions, garlic, thyme, bay, and livers. Cook about 5 minutes (cooked through but still slightly pink). Add 2 tablespoons cognac, salt and pepper to the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to a food processor or bowl (if you have a food wand) and add the rest of the cognac. Process livers until chopped. Add in the rest of the cognac and remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time continuing to process after adding each tablespoon until smooth and creamy. Transfer to ramekin(s), cover airtight, and place in refrigerator. If not using right away, melt a little butter and pour a thin layer over the top of the pate before covering airtight. Keep in the refrigerator for 1 week and frozen up to 2 months.
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*Some recipes call for simmering the livers in water instead of sauteing so they don't dry out. Maybe I'll try it next time and compare.

I enjoy it on herb spelt crackers or fresh bread with a little mustard and cornichons.

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Stay tuned for more on cooking and using the whole chicken.

My Waste:
Livers from whole chickens - no waste except for the times my chicken comes in shrink wrap. I usually buy from the meat market and have it wrapped in paper which I then use as a fire starter. I suppose I could just bring a small stock pot with me to the store and have it put in there. Hmm, maybe next week. It will be interesting to see the looks I get.
Butter - wrapper goes in the trash; cardboard box gets recycled.
Onion - grown in my garden; when I run out I just buy bulk and don't use a bag (or use a cloth bag)
Garlic - bulk produce
Thyme - from my garden fresh or dried; when I run out I bring and refill a small glass herb jar from bulk containers.
Bay, salt, pepper - refill a small glass herb jar from bulk containers.
Cognac - glass jar gets recycled; plastic top goes in the trash.
Cornichons - buy in a glass jar that gets reused or recycled; plastic top is trash. I wish I could get them from the bulk olive bar. I'll have to ask.
Crackers, Bread - Tend to be the most wasteful since they are packaged in plastic trays inside a cardboard box. The plastic and box get recycled. Buy fresh bread and bringing your own cloth bag for the bread produces no waste.
Mustard - buy in a glass jar that gets reused/recycled or make your own (that's another recipe for another day)

Monday, November 11, 2013


How many different types of deodorant and/or antiperspirants have you tried over the years? How much money have you spent on them only to throw partially used containers away because you couldn't stand the smell or it just didn't work and you couldn't stand your smell? Did you switch to "natural" deodorants to get away from the aluminum and other toxic chemicals that are in these products?

Over the years I've probably tried most major brands of antiperspirants out there only to realize after really looking at the ingredients that I didn't know what most of them were; and, when I did look up the ingredients I was stunned and wondered how some of these are allowed in a product we put on and is absorbed by our skin every day.

Twelve years ago I met a fabulous fit woman at a library with our then year old daughters. She is an amazing athlete and a yoga and health/fitness coach and believes in sweating and letting your body do its natural thing. Sweat gets rid of impurities. Okay, so sweating and stinking while exercising I can handle but I can't handle smelly pits any other time. So, for ten years I've tried various natural deodorants (and not all are really natural) from the rock to expensive brands such as Dr. Hauschka, Weleda, Tom's of Maine, Nature's Gate, Desert Essence, JASON, and more. These all smelled nice but after a few hours of a normal work day (not even exerting myself) but sweating a little, I smelled! Yuck! It took some time to get used to, but I can handle a little sweat in my pits but not the smell. I worked around a lot of kids (and while middle school kids smell I didn't want to smell like them).

So, finally, 2 months ago I finally found a deodorant that works ALL day and into the next day. Expensive? Nope. Cheap, and I make it at home thanks to the woman I see for my indulgent organic facials every few months. If you live or visit Litchfield County or Berkshire County you must make an appointment to see Ren at Renew Skin Wellness.

Here is her recipe (adapted from research and testing it on herself):

  • 1/8 cup baking soda (I use aluminum free from the bulk bin at my local co-op)
  • 1/8 cup arrowroot (bulk bin) (can also use cornstarch)
  • 2-3 tablespoons organic coconut oil
  • 2 drops tea tree oil (I buy organic)
  • 3 drop lavender oil (I buy organic)
Or, use any combination of essential oils that you like. 

Mix it all up and put it in a pretty glass jar or stainless steel container (I don't use plastic). Use your finger to scoop out a little bit (about 1/4 tsp per pit) and spread it on. It rubs in nice and clear. The deodorant will liquify at temperatures about 75 degrees making it a little messier to put on; but, it works just as well. So, what are you waiting for? 

Monday, October 21, 2013

School Snacks

My daughter, like most kids I know, prefer to eat small amounts of food throughout the day. To me, a snack is a piece of fruit, a handful of almonds, or a small piece of cheese and a couple crackers. To many kids, a snack is often times something filled with sugar and not much nutritional value: a cookie, granola bar, and yogurt in a plastic tube (gross), chips or some other salty concoction. These snacks appeal to kids because they like sweet and salty and "everyone" eats them. Parents tend to like them because they are quick and easy to pack. With a little planning you can prepare healthy snacks and save money.

Below are some of the snacks that my daughter enjoys. I purchase these items come in bulk without plastic which saves money and waste. Snacks are packaged in small stainless steel containers or an insulated stainless container.

  • cheese (bring my own container to the deli and have them slice a hunk off their big cheese rectangles or rounds) and rice crackers.
  • hummus with crackers and carrots
  • applesauce (home made or purchased in large glass jars)
  • fruit: apple, pear, etc.
  • plain yogurt (Berle Farm in glass) with berries and/or granola and a little maple syrup
  • slice of homemade pumpkin or banana bread with apple butter
  • plain or dark chocolate almonds and/or raisins
  • granola pieces
  • an 8 oz. smoothie made from plain yogurt and fresh/frozen fruit
Any other ideas? Please share them.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Plastic Free Pantry (almost)

I wish I had done a "before" picture! I love my new almost plastic free pantry. It's simple and everything is easy to find and I can quickly determine what I'm low in when creating my grocery list for the week.

So, here is my "before" and "after" pantry overhaul. Some of my glass jars are repurposed, such as my glass yogurt containers (with the names of the cows listed on it) with plastic lids courtesy of Berle Farm. Others are Mason jars (cheap and made in the U.S.A) which I also use for some canning. And, I did purchase some 2.1 quart hermetic storage jars (made in Italy) and 12 oz. french terrines from The Container Store (they had great prices and shipped in paper packaging as requested). For my bulk bin shopping I bring my own cloth muslin bags (see previous post).

Pasta in plastic bags or boxes with plastic “windows”
Pasta purchased from the bulk bin and put in a glass jar (no plastic)
Rice in plastic containers or plastic baggies (from bulk)
Purchased in bulk and put in a glass jar (yogurt container w/ plastic lid)
Almond butter – purchased in glass jar or in plastic tub from bulk bin
Bring my own glass container and fill it at the bulk bin or at the grind your own machine
Honey – purchased in glass jar
Bring my own jar and fill from bulk
Cereal – purchased in boxes with plastic liners or from bulk in a plastic bag
Bring my own bag and fill from bulk bin
Baking supplies such as powder, soda, flour, sugar – in plastic bags, paper bags, boxes, or plastic containers
Bring my own bag and fill from bulk bin. For cleaning I use cheaper baking soda and buy in large cardboard box.
Cocoa powder – plastic container
Can’t find it in bulk ( yet) so still buying in either plastic or plastic lined cardboard container.
Crackers – box with plastic inserts
Can’t find a way around this yet and not sure I am going to spend the time to learn how to make crackers. Trying to find alternatives instead to cut down on crackers.
Tortilla chips – paper bag lined with plastic
Love these and haven’t found a solution yet. I was going to try and buy from a local restaurant but they closed/moved.
Nuts and Snacks – in plastic bags or containers purchased or from bulk.
Trying out new snacks from the bulk bins such as sesame garlic crackers, rice crackers,  or mixing my own using granola, chocolate or yogurt raisins, almonds, etc.
Sardines – cans lined with BPA
Now buy from Wild Planet (awesome company!). Sardine cans are BPA free and recyclable.  Sustainably caught fish.
Seaweed – plastic bags
Can’t find non-plastic and not in bulk. Seaweed lasts quite awhile in my house since we use it more as a condiment or in cooking (Khombu for beans) and the bags can be recycled. So, will keep looking for options.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ice Cream


We've had some gorgeous days lately and the desire for ice cream on a warm fall afternoon. However, since we are trying to go plastic free buying ice cream in a container (the most economical) is out since the paper containers are lined with plastic.  Yes, we can just go to the local ice cream store and purchase it in a cone, but I do like to bring a pint home to share. So, I have contacted our locally made ice cream store (SoCo Creamery in Great Barrington, MA) to find out if they will pack ice cream into a stainless steel pint container for me at the same price they sell their pre packed pints. I'll keep you posted. Please comment with any other ideas you have; but not making my own ice cream because that isn't going to happen. I'd go without or go with just buying a cone once in awhile.