Cast Iron Toast

If my experience is any indication, once you toast your bread in an iron skillet, you’ll never go back to the dried-out toaster toast again! The crunchy grilled outside with the soft-fluffy inside is an amazing way to start the day, and no more difficult than using the toaster! Simple instructions below.

Cast Iron Toast

How to make Cast Iron Toast:

Heat a cast iron pan over medium high to high heat – you want your toast to sear! If desired, add a bit of coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, or butter to the pan – you don’t need much, and actually don’t need any at all for most breads.

If you’re slicing your own bread, cut a slice a little thicker than usual – this allows you to really enjoy the layers of crispy outside, warm chewy inside, then crispy outside. I’m a huge fan of long-fermented sourdough from my local farmer’s market, but any bread will be delicious.

When the pan is really hot, drop the bread onto the fat if you’re using it, and let it cook a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. Enjoy immediately!

If you’re making bread to go with dinner, feel free to add spices, garlic, etc. to the oil before adding the bread. My favorite, though, is just a tiny dab of olive oil or ghee … amazing! Enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts below!

7 Tips in 7 Days: Eating Consciously, Day 2

Another unconscious eating trap I’ve seen (and experienced) is forgetting about the visual part of eating. Marketers know that if you have a beautiful table setting and food arrangement, diners will mistake fast food for haute cuisine. And many dieters have reported that when they involve several senses in their meals, they feel full faster and longer! So, it’s worth the few extra moments it takes to think through how to make your meal more visually appealing: thoughtful plating, a sprinkle of fresh parsley, or similar! And just in case you’re interested, the simple recipe for the mushroom salad is below.

Eating Consciously Tip 2

Super-Simple Mushroom Pasta Salad (pictured above)

Serves 2

3 cups (or more if you like) of fresh mushrooms – whatever you have on hand – cleaned and chopped if they are large
3 cups (or more if you like) of greens – a mix of bitter winter baby greens is delicious with this
1 cup of cooked pasta (dried or fresh)
Couple of dashes of vinegar (I prefer white wine vinegar)
Two “glugs” of high quality olive oil – one for the pan, one for the salad
Salt
Pepper

Prep the mushrooms and heat a cast iron or similar skillet with a bit of olive oil. When hot, toss in the mushrooms, and cook for about 10-15 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring/flipping occasionally, until slightly browned.

Note: do not use a nonstick pan if you can help it. In addition to releasing chemicals, these pans keep the mushrooms from browning properly.

In the meantime, wash the greens, cut if necessary, and dry. First toss in the vinegar, then a pinch of salt, then toss with olive oil. (Order is important – if you start with the olive oil, the vinegar will slide off.)

When the mushrooms are ready, toss in the cooked pasta (great way to use cold leftover pasta) until the pasta is warmed through. Add fresh ground pepper, taste, add salt if needed, and then plate the salad with the mushroom/pasta mix over it.

The Most Delicious Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices

Anti-inflammatory Herbs and Spices

Inflammation is healthy when it’s a response to a specific threat – it’s the body’s healing response to injuries and some illnesses. But our modern diets and lifestyles introduce persistent stressors, including emotional stress, environmental toxins, and foodborne chemicals, that can keep our bodies chronically inflamed.

Chronic inflammation is increasingly being implicated in studies as the root cause of many serious illnesses – including heart disease, many cancers, memory diseases like Alzheimers, and autoimmune diseases … as well as being seriously taxing on our energy levels and mood.

A diet rich in fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, especially when combined with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like the ones shown above, can help heal your body, and help it preserve your inflammation response for those times when it is needed to fight specific, acute, stressors like injuries.

And – it’s a delicious way to eat … notice that you have all the spices for a pumpkin pie in this chart! Need a recipe? Try this one: Pumpkin Pie Baked in the Pumpkin.

Mediterranean Feast in <5 Minutes!

Weeknight Mediterranean Platter

With just a little planning and some common prepared foods on hand, weeknight dinners can look like this Mediterranean Feast – in under 5 minutes! Be sure to plate them in a way that pleases your eye as well as your palate (yes, it matters) … those fast-food places on your way home won’t stand a chance.

Plus, this kind of eating – little bits of several high-nutrient and high-quality foods – is a great way to give your body a variety of nutrients to support your health!

What I used:
Organic Hummus
2 organic peppers – red, and purple
2 pickled hot peppers (I made these over the weekend in a simple vinegar brine)
A couple of bits of cheese – I had a goat brie and a bit of Iberico
Bagged greens – I love the Cruciferous Crunch Collection that Trader Joe’s sells, but you can use kale, chard, or lettuces if you prefer
A bit of wine vinegar and olive oil to sprinkle over the greens
sliced mini-cucumber
sliced tomato
A few wheat crostini
Salt and fresh ground pepper
100% grape juice

What I might have also used, if it were handy and sounded good:
Any other in-season veggies – avocado, chickpeas, carrots, celery, etc.
Herbs to mix into the greens
Raw, organic almonds, cashews, etc.
Leftover grains of any kind – quinoa, freekeh, etc.
Wine

Good Morning Groats Recipe!

Groats Recipe - Eat Yourself Well

Nothing is better than waking up to a hot, delicious breakfast that is already cooked. Start these groats in the evening, and that’s exactly what you’ll have when you wake up on a cold morning!

Groats have a delightful chewy texture, are extremely high in fiber, and also high in zinc (great for cold season), bioavailable iron, selenium and vitamin E, among other nutrients. If your grocer doesn’t carry them, they’re easy to find online, at Amazon and other sites.

Pressure-Cooker (fast and simple)
Put two cups of groats with 6 cups of liquid (water, or a mix of water and coconut water or milk, apple juice, green tea, or just about any other liquid you like) into your pressure cooker. Allow to come to medium pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Add any add-ins you like, below, and serve!

Slow-Cooker (like the universe making you breakfast in bed)!

For easy cleanup, lightly grease the slow cooker with coconut oil. Add 6.5 cups of liquid (water, or a mix of water and coconut water or milk, apple juice, green tea, or just about any other liquid you like) to two cups of groats in the slow cooker. Put the slow cooker on low heat and cook for 8 hours. Stir, add any add-ins you like, and serve!

Add-Ins (This is where it gets REALLY fun) – pretty much whatever is in season!
Apples (chopped)
Raisins
Almonds (whole or chopped)
Peaches
Bananas
Coconut Flakes
Cranberries (dried or fresh, chopped)
Vanilla
Cinnamon
Berries: blue, black, straw, etc.
Walnuts
Hemp Seeds
Goji Berries
Chia Seeds
(You get the idea – whatever you like!)

Note: Though oats do not contain gluten, they are frequently processed in the same factory and can be contaminated. If you are sensitive to gluten, choose groats that say “gluten-free.”

Bittersweet Winter Greens Salad

Winter greens are delicious, with stronger flavors than most summer salad choices. That’s a good thing, so that they can stand up to the heavier winter flavors of root vegetables and so forth … but for small children and others that are more sensitive to strong, bitter flavors, you may want to balance the flavors with a slightly sweet dressing.

This recipe uses a quick “cheat” that is probably already in your fridge.
Bittersweet Winter Greens Salad

Bittersweet Winter Greens Salad Recipe

Go to your local farmer’s market or grocery for a large bag of winter greens: escarole, sorrel, swiss chard, arugula, etc. Just before preparing the salad, wash the greens and let them dry in a colander. 

 

In a small mason jar, mix 1/4 c olive oil, 1/4 c red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp jam – apple, berry, or other sweet flavor. Add a pinch of salt, a twist of pepper, and then put on the top and shake until well mixed. Pour over the greens (to taste), toss, and serve immediately.

Optional add-ins: any nuts, feta cheese, purple onions, dried fruits (cranberries are delicious), oranges or mandarin bits, or avocado (of course). Also great served over leftover quinoa or other grains.

Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits

This is not a fussy recipe – feel free to experiment and learn what you love the most – it will ALL be good.  For example, I used freeze-dried pomegranates in the last batch and they added a great sweetness and an unexpected extra crunch.  If you have a favorite nut butter, you can add it instead of – or in addition to – the nuts. Think about seasonal flavors as well!

This is also a great recipe to make with kids – they can use their (clean) hands to mix.

Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits from EatYourselfWell.com

 Ridiculously Good/Easy/Healthy Granola Bits

  • About 4 cups grains; oat flakes, barley flakes, wheat flakes, rye flakes or similar 
  • 2 handfuls of seeds; for example, sunflower,  hemp, chia, pumpkin.
  • 2 cups nuts;  for example, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 -1/2 cup sweetener: maple syrup, honey, agave, or brown sugar
  • Optional: 1 cup dried or freeze-dried fruit; for example,  cranberries, apple, strawberries, banana, raisins, plums
  • Optional (but delicious!):  handful of cacao nibs
  • Optional: Spices of your choice: cinnamon, vanilla, etc.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Place the nuts, seeds, grains, coconut and dried fruits (if using) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to break up and mix.  (Do not over-process, or you’ll wind up with nut butter!)  Move to a large bowl.  Mix the melted oil and sweetener (and spices, if using) in a smaller bowl, then add to the big bowl and toss really well with a big wooden spoon – or a couple of kid hands plus your own.  

Form into spoonful-sized bits and place onto a large, parchment-lined baking sheet.   Tap them down to flatten slightly. Bake for about 40 minutes, but watch carefully for the last 10 minutes or so, and take out when they look lightly browned and feel firm.

Store it in an airtight container for up to three weeks (at least, I think so … it never lasts that long for me). 

From  Jennifer Silverberg at www.EatYourselfWell.com and facebook.com/eatyourselfwell  Please maintain link as you copy and share recipe with others!

February 28 is National Chili Day – Here’s a Great Recipe to Celebrate!

kidney_beansParts of the country are getting blasted with late-winter snowstorms, making this a GREAT time for chili – just in time for National Chili Day!

There’s really no wrong way to make chili, other than opening a can full of who-knows-what ingredients. If you’re missing anything below, feel free to experiment with something similar …. the recipe will probably still turn out fine.  And if you’re trying to minimize the prep work, feel free to sub in Hooray Puree packets as noted below.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • A couple of carrots, chopped, or one packet of Hooray Puree Carrot
  • 1/2 butternut squash, diced, or 1 packet of Hooray Puree Butternut Squash
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chopped bell peppers – green, yellow, or red
  • about 1 cup chopped celery 
  • 1 tbsp chili powder 
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
  • 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp dried oregano
  • Chopped cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, green onions, or anything else that sounds good to you!

Heat oil in a large pan (not cast iron, or it will react with the tomatoes) over medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, butternut squash (if you’re using puree, wait until you add the tomatoes), and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook about 5-6 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.

Add tomatoes and kidney beans and stir well. If you’re using purees for the butternut squash or carrots, add that now.  Season with cumin, oregano, and salt. (If you’re feeling adventurous, add a little cinnamon and/or dark chocolate to bring out a big, deep flavor.)  Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with chopped cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, or anything else that sounds good to you!

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