Thursday, June 16, 2011

Make It Yourself: Lime Rice (Like At CHIPOTLE GRILL)

Our family LOVES Chipotle Grill. I mean, we looooove it. For its tasty food, of course. And because they are fairly cheap. But also because of their green practices. The use quality pastured meats, some organic vegetables, and other natural products. All their food is simple and freshly made which of course makes for a DELICIOUS product.

Okay, okay... I think you get it.

Now, one of our favorite things is their Lime Rice. Corky adores it. That and the "green dip" (guacamole). So, of course I had to find a way to recreate it at home. I've made this recipe several times and it has always turned out perfect.

Lime Rice (Like Chipotle's)

2/3 cup Basmati rice
1 T butter
1 lime
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

*Rinse the rice in cold water to remove excess starch. This step is important so that your rice won't be too sticky.
* In a sauce pan (use one with a lid), melt butter and add rice. Toast rice just a little.
*Add the juice of the lime to the rice and cook for a minute over medium heat.
*Add the water and salt, bringing everything to a boil.
*Reduce heat, cover and simmer until water is evaporated.
* Stir in cilantro and serve.

Try not to lift the lid while cooking or you will end up needing to add water and your rice will be less fluffy and more sticky.

I used brown Basmati rice so mine didn't turn out white like Chipotle's. Also, I only had dried cilantro on hand so you can't see the pretty specks of bright green that is usually there.

I served it with BBQ pork oven tacos (one of our favorites).

And since Corky is afraid of tomatoes... she got a quesadilla and frozen peas (she loves them-- but only frozen).

Today I'm participating in the Pennywise Platter Nourishing Gourmet. Click on over there and browse around!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Using Lemon Balm To Treat ADHD Symptoms

While searching for natural ways to treat my daughter's ADHD symptoms I came across various herbal remedies. One of the most commons herbs used is Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa Officinalis. Lemon Balm has been known to promote a calm demeanor, reduce stress and anxiety, ease the digestive system, and help maintain proper blood pressure. Lemon Balm can be easily purchase in capsule form, however I couldn't imagine trying to get Corky to swallow a pill.

So.... I bought this:

... a Lemon Balm plant.

The leaves (dried or fresh) can be used to make tea which should be easy enough for Corky to drink. Also, the leaves can be plucked and frozen to preserve until needed. This is definitely a trial period to see how this works so I'll post results later.

Here is a recipe for Lemon Balm Tea:

1 heaping tablespoon of dried leaves or
2 tablespoons of fresh leaves 
1 cup of boiling water
(Or make sun tea by placing herbs and cool water in covered jar in the sun for a few hours.)
Strain before drinking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Make It Yourself: Homemade Cream Cheese

Homemade cream cheese? Oh yeah! Well, I guess you could call it yogurt cheese (I think that's the technical term). It's so easy, and with the added bonus of aquiring whey which is extremely beneficial when used to soak grains.

First, I make plain yogurt in my crockpot . Refrigerate overnight. The next morning place a fine sieve over a large mixing bowl and line the sieve with a tea towel. Pour the whole crock full of yogurt into the sieve and wait. The whey will drip into the bowl. It takes a while... sometimes all day...

When the yogurt is fairly thick, tie the corners of the tea towel so that you have a neat little package of cream cheese. Tie the contraption around a wooden spoon and hang it from... well, somewhere. I used my kitchen cabinet handles. Make sure the bowl of whey is still underneath because it will continue to drip. Leave it hanging until it is no longer dripping.

When it stops dripping whey, unwrap the towel and using a spatula, scrape the cheese into a container. This makes somewhere between 16 and 20 oz. of cheese depending on how much you strain it and how thick you like it. In this last batch that I made, I got over a quart of whey!

By The WHEY...

Whey can be used to soak grains for easier digestion (for those who have trouble digesting wheat -- like myself -- this can be especially useful).

Whey can be used for lacto-fermented veggies, salsas, and other condiments (I use it for pickles and sauerkraut).

Some people swear that drinking a few tablespoons of whey every morning cures a host of ailments (I haven't had the guts to try this yet).

Whey can be used in smoothies for added nutritional benefit.

Whey can be used as a fertilizer (50% whey and 50% water).

There are probably a million other uses for whey but these are just the ones that I know of!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Natural Air Purifiers

Looking for a natural way to clean the air in your home? It might be simpler than you think...

Yep. Houseplants are the best natural defense for filtering toxins out of the air. All green things work magic with the air during their natural exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. But certain types are especially beneficial. For example, the Snake Plant (Sansevieria) helps filter formaldehyde and benzene (both known carcinogens) from the air. These contaminants can be in your home without you ever knowing about it since they are found in household cleaners, paint, adhesives, foam, and various building materials.

Below is NASA's list of the most beneficial houseplants for air purification.

1. (Philodendron scandens `oxycardium') heartleaf philodendron

2. (Philodendron domesticum) elephant ear philodendron

3. (Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana') cornstalk dracaena

4. (Hedera helix) English ivy

5. (Chlorophytum comosum) spider plant

6. (Dracaena deremensis) `Janet Craig', Janet Craig dracaena

7. (Dracaena deremensis) `Warneckii', Warneck dracaena

8. (Ficus benjamina) weeping fig

9. (Epipiremnum aureum) golden pothos

10. (Spathiphyllum) `Mauna Loa', peace lily

11. (Philodendron selloum) selloum philodendron

12. (Aglaonema modestum) Chinese evergreen

13. (Chamaedorea sefritzii) bamboo or reed palm

14. (Sansevieria trifasciata) snake plant

15. (Dracaena marginata) red-edged dracaena

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Easy Spring Dinner: Crockpot Chicken Cheesy Potato Soup

Here is a super yummy, super easy meal for the crockpot. It was one of those let's-just-try-it-and-see-how-we-like-it recipes...

6 medium potatoes, diced
1 chicken breast, diced or sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best) + 1 cup of water
2-3 bay leaves
1 cup half and half (could use less if you want)
3 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar and swiss)
1 cup frozen corn

Add the potatoes, chicken, onion, stock + water, bay leaves to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add the half and half, cheese, and corn. Cook until the cheese is melted and smooth.

... as you can see by the almost empty crockpot, we LOVED it!! Yum, yum, yum...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Frugal Finds: The latest...

Here are my latest frugal finds... proving, yet again, that you don't have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy. You just have to keep your eyes open!

~ Grass-fed* Organic Ground Beef: $3.81 per pound (Target)

I usually get beef from our local meat shop. They offer grass-fed* beef from a local farm but not organic (which isn't as important as the fact that this stuff was cheaper and organic) so when I found this bargain at Target, I snatched it up!
* Did you know that cows that eat grass instead of corn do not contract ecoli?

~ Zevia Diet Rootbeer: $2.99 for a six pack (Whole Foods)

I LOVE this stuff. It's all natural and made with Stevia instead of aspartame or splenda so it is safe for Corky (I will post later about why ADHD kids should never have aspartame). Oh, and I forgot to mention that it tastes great.

~ Applegate Sliced Ham: $3.99 BOGO (Whole Foods)

I like this because it is nitrate free and it is from certified non-antibiotic, pastured pigs. That is hard to come by in our area and it was cheaper than the Oscar Meyer lunch meat (which I find tastes a little like plastic). Though I'm not a big lunch meat person, my husband loves this stuff. So... yay.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Your Kids ARE What They Eat... so stop feeding them junk!

Since Corky started preschool, I have spent a lot of time worrying about what she's eating. I pack her lunch every day but the school provides snacks. At first I thought: Oh, this is good. Schools have to serve healthy snacks, right...

Cupcakes, cookies, candy, Cheetos... just to name a few of the more prominent options. There's also chips of all sorts and various other "snacks" that Corky has never liked. Oh, but she likes them now....

Yes, gone is the child that loved broccoli and carrot sticks. Say adios to the kid that would choose a banana over a piece of chocolate. They have corrupted my baby!!! *boo hoo*

Anyway, I could go on and on about how awful the eating habits are in our tiny town and how disappointed I am in the schools... but that would take all day. So, I've been trying to make the best of things by reinforcing our eating style at home...

When we were at softball practice the other day and the coach announced that the team would be provided fruits and vegetables for game snacks, I was ready to whoop and holler (that's southern for "shout with excitement"). Actually, I kind of got vocal about it...

"Yeah, that's great!" I said, way too enthusiastically.

You could have heard crickets chirp. There we were, a group of about twelve parents, and I was the only one who was glad about the fruits and veggies. Several (and when I say several, I mean more than half) of them made comments about how their kids wouldn't eat the fruits and veggies. Several of them suggested snack cakes as an option.

I was mortified. Horrified. And most of all angry.

This is the health of our children we are talking about here, people. Good eating habits start at a young age. Your kids will like what you like. They will eat what you feed them. They will value what you value. I understand this well, being someone who has struggled with being overweight my entire life.

My experience with the school taught me that good eating habits have to start in the home. My experience with the softball parents taught me that the schools (and other public associations) will change their good intentions to suit what the kids will be more inclined to eat...

So where does the buck stop?

When does someone put their foot down and quit feeding kids junk?