Brrr….Bring on the Broth!!

It’s been a beautiful fall season and I’ve really been enjoying the crisp air and crisp apples.  But before we know it, the heat will be on and our bodies will be seeking warm, hearty food.  Soup is a classic winter food and I’ve talked before about how easy it really is to make your own.  No need for that canned stuff!

But there is one secret that makes good homemade soup into great homemade soup…homemade broth, or stock, or best of all, bone broth.  I have to admit I didn’t know the difference between the three of these until now, but here it is. They all start out with the same base; vegetables, herbs, and some sort of animal carcass.  Broth is made with meat and a small amount of bones, and simmered for a short period of time, usually a couple of hours.  Stock is made with only animal bones that are usually roasted first for extra flavor. Stock is typically cooked for a medium amount of time, 3-4 hours.  Bone broth is also made with only bones, but is cooked for very long periods of time, sometimes 24 hours or more.  This long cooking time helps to extract as many nutrients as possible from the bones.  Bone broth can be made from the bones of chicken, beef, fish, or other animals.

In my opinion, bone broth is where it’s at, because it contains so many amazing nutrients while imparting wonderful flavor to any dish you use it in.  Bone broth is rich in amino acids, which help support the body’s detoxification process and healthy digestion.  Bone broth is also high in collagen, which helps with digestion as well as healthy skin.  There are also components in chicken stock that help to lessen the effects of colds and flu.  So your grandma was on to something!

Bone broths are less expensive than their store-bought counterparts, are more flavorful, and do not contain any additives or other weird ingredients.  If you don’t make enough of your own bones you can always ask a butcher or one of the meat producers at your farmers market for bones, which they would probably give you or sell you at very low price.

Here’s how I make my chicken stock (I guess it’s not quite bone broth because I usually cook it for 10ish hours):

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Save the bones, skin, and drippings from roasted bone-in chicken pieces or whole chickens in the freezer.  When you have enough (approximately 2-3 chickens worth of carcasses) put them in a large deep pot with a few stalks of celery, a few carrots, a large onion, whatever other vegetable scraps strike your fancy (just avoid ones that could impart a bitter flavor like broccoli or cauliflower) and a few cloves of garlic, all roughly chopped.  Alternatively, you could use vegetables scraps, such as carrot and celery tops, and onion and garlic skins.

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Add about ½ bunch of parsley or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, about 10-20 whole peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, whatever dried herbs you like, and enough filtered water to cover everything well.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar and let the whole pot sit for about 30 minutes before turning on the flame.  The vinegar helps to draw more nutrients out of the bones before cooking.

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Turn the stove on high and bring the stock to a boil.  Skim off any scum that comes to the top, cover, lower the heat, and simmer all day, or up to 24 hours or more.  When mine is done I strain the solids through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth.  You could just use a colander for this, but I find that if I don’t strain it well there is grittiness at the bottom of the stock that I really dislike.

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I then either use it immediately or freeze it in containers for later use.  One thing I love to do is freeze my stock in ice cube trays so that I can just use a little for sautéing or sauces when I need to.

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Once the stock is chilled, the fat will rise to the top and it can be scooped out if you like.  Traditional foodies believe you should leave it in or use it to cook other dishes with.  I usually scoop some and leave some.  It should also be noted that the sign of a good chicken stock is that it gets gelatinous when chilled.  I used to be put off by this, but recently learned that this means that there is lots of gelatin from the bones along with other goodness in my stock.  Lastly, I want to mention that the more “parts” you use for your chicken stock the better.  Many people use the gizzards as well as chicken feet, which are very high in gelatin.  I just haven’t been able to go there just yet!

I hope that this inspires you to make some of your own broth, stock or bone broth, and that it keeps you warm and healthy through the winter!

Here is my recipe for this week, mmm, mmm. Simple and packed with flavor.  And you could use your homemade veg or chicken broth!

CARROT GINGER TOFU SOUP

(gluten free, dairy free, grain free)

Adapted from the Vitamix Whole Food Recipes Cookbook

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 medium carrots, diced*

¼ c onion, diced*

4 garlic cloves, minced*

1 Tbsp fresh ginger root, minced

½ tsp salt

pinch of white pepper

1/3 c silken tofu*

2 cups low sodium (or homemade!) vegetable or chicken broth

Directions

Sauté carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger in oil until onion is clear and carrots are very tender.  Add salt and pepper.  Place carrot mixture in a blender or food processor with tofu and broth and puree to desired consistency.  Return to pot and heat through.

*Available NOW at the market

Nutrition Facts (per 1 cup): Calories 107; Total Fat 6g; Saturated Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 348mg; Total Carbohydrate 8g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sugars 3g; Protein 4g

Sweet potato hash..a great way to stock up on beta-carotene

Fall is definitely in the air, and fall vegetables are showing up at the market.  I find it just amazing that just as the weather begins to turn our bodies naturally begin to crave warmer, heartier foods.  And it is so fitting that the harvest provides us with foods like winter squash and pumpkin.  Both of these vegetables happen to be high in a very important nutrient called beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene belongs to a group of pigments called carotenoids that can be red, yellow, or orange.  It is found in many fall fruits and vegetables and is considered a ‘provitamin’ because the body is able to convert it to the active form of vitamin A.

We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucous membranes, a hearty immune system, and healthy eyes and vision.

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Eating beta-carotene in our diets is a very safe and effective way to get vitamin A.  Caution should be used in taking vitamin A in supplement form, as it is fat-soluble and can be toxic in large amounts.  Eating vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene is very safe because the body converts only what it needs.

Carotenoids are antioxidants, which help protect our cells from damage by free radicals.  Some studies have even suggested that those who consume at least four daily servings of beta-carotene rich fruits and/or vegetables have a lower risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

So come on down to the market this week and stock up on the following beta-carotene rich foods:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Pumpkins
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes

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Sweet Potato Hash

(dairy-free, gluten free, grain free)

Adapted from The Neelys, www.foodnetwork.com

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch cubes*

3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil, divided*

1/2 red onion, chopped*

1 red bell pepper, chopped*

1/4 cup green onions*

2 cloves garlic, chopped*

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

¼ tsp Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley*

 

Directions

Add the potatoes to a large saucepan of salted boiling water and simmer until tender. Drain and dry completely with paper towels.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red onions, bell peppers, and garlic, and saute until tender and lightly golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the green onion and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and remove to a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, and then add the drained and dried sweet potatoes. Cook in a single layer, stirring occasionally, on medium heat until they are tender, about 6 minutes. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the potatoes are golden and crisp, about 2 more minutes. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and gently stir in the onion mixture and parsley.

*Available NOW at the market

Nutrition Facts (per serving for 6): Calories 130; Total Fat 7g; Saturated Fat 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 135mg; Total Carbohydrate 16g; Dietary Fiber 3g; Sugars 4g; Protein 2g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking for the Jewish holidays

I have to admit I haven’t been very big on cooking for the Jewish holidays in several years.  But our close friends came over this year with their kids and we had second night of Rosh Hashana, which was so nice.  Of course it’s always a little hectic with young kids in the house, but it felt good to be celebrating by just having a nice, yummy dinner with friends.  And there really is not much I enjoy more than cooking for others.  At first I couldn’t even remember what the traditional dishes were, and my friend and her kids are vegetarian, and she and I both have some dietary limitations.  After a little thought, here is what I came up with for the menu:Brisket (my nana’s recipe)

Gluten Free Spinach Noodle Kugel (recipe below)

Chickpea Stew (recipe below)

Green Salad

Cheese and Crackers

Fresh vegetables and homemade ranch dip

Bread

Apples and Honey for dessert

I figured with the cheese, crackers, veggies, dip, and apples, there would definitely be something for the kids to eat.  With 3 year olds you never can tell what they will be willing to eat on any given day.  I knew my son may or may not eat the brisket and kugel, and he ate neither.  He tried the brisket but didn’t like it, and would not try the kugel.  However, we had leftover kugel for dinner tonight, and once we mentioned that it was similar to mac and cheese he did try it, and liked it, for a few bites that is…

Anyhow, I wanted to share the kugel and stew recipes with you.  I gave them a bit of a makeover as I went along, and they came out quite good.

Hope everyone who celebrated had a wonderful time with friends and family, and wishing you all a sweet new year!

Unfortunately I cannot share the picture of the kugel, it just didn’t capture the deliciousness at all.  But really, what dish that contains sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs, and butter could be bad??  Yum.

Gluten Free Spinach Noodle Kugel (vegetarian, gluten free)

Adapted from Saveur Magazine, Sept 10, 2011

Serves 8–10

Ingredients

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup low-fat cottage cheese

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

3 eggs, lightly beaten

10 oz. gluten free noodles (I used Tinkyada brown rice fusilli)

Kosher salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large yellow onion, minced

1 10 oz bag baby spinach

Directions

Heat oven to 350°. Whisk sour cream, cottage cheese, 5 tbsp. melted butter, and eggs in a casserole dish; set aside. Bring a 4-qt. pot of salted water to a boil; cook noodles until al dente. Drain; stir into cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

While the noodles cook, heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions; cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Transfer the garlic and onions to a bowl and return the skillet to the stove.  Add the spinach to the skillet and wilt the spinach over medium high heat.  Add a little water if necessary to prevent scorching.  When just wilted, transfer the spinach to a colander to drain.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze as much water as possible out of the spinach and chop well.  Stir the spinach, onions, and garlic into the noodle mixture, and bake, covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the cover and bake until browned and bubbling, approximately 25 more minutes.

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This stew was a true knockout, so much flavor, and super simple to make.  I used fresh tomatoes because my friend can only eat low-acid tomatoes, but using a can would be even easier.  If you want to use fresh, blanch them for a minute in boiling water, peel the skin off, core, chop, and toss ’em in!

Chickpea Stew (vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, grain free)

Adapted from www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com 

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 medium yellow onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tbsp curry powder

½ tsp cinnamon

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with their juices

2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 medium zucchinis, diced

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

½ cup golden raisins

1/3 cup dried apricots, quartered

½ lemon, juiced

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

In a large stock pot, heat coconut oil and sauté onions and garlic until translucent.  Add curry powder, cinnamon, and a few splashes of stock and cook until spices are well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and zucchini and just enough stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer approximately 30 minutes uncovered, until some of the liquid has evaporated.

Place the raisins and apricots in a shallow bowl and cover with warm water. Soak for 20 minutes or until the fruit is rehydrated and plump.  Add to the pot along with the cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice.  Cook another 10 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Since we are going away this weekend and my son is still dairy free, I thought I would load up on some good snacks to make sure he has enough to eat.  I came through with an even better gluten free muffin today than the ones I have made in the past, and this one is dairy free too!  He ate 2 this afternoon for snack, and asked for a 3rd  (I said no!),  so they are definitely kid approved.

You might notice that they have similar ingredients to my pancakes, but hey, we got a lot of overripe bananas hanging around here, and I’m just loving coconut oil and chia seeds lately.  This is a great recipe to have the kids help with, there is lots of measuring and stirring, and you really can’t mess it up.  My son helped me make them and even ate plain chia seeds and loved them!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

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Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes about 18 muffins

4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

¾ cup non-dairy milk

2 eggs

¼ cup applesauce

2 medium bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup gluten-free oatmeal

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour

½ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

¾ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix coconut oil, milk, eggs, applesauce, bananas, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Make sure the milk is not too cold to avoid the coconut oil clumping up.  Whisk until well combined.  Add the oats and chia seeds and set aside for about 15 minutes.

Mix the rest of the ingredients except chocolate chips in a separate bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into a greased muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool and enjoy!

Gluten Free Banana Chia Pancakes

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Well, it is just a bonanza of successful cooking over here this weekend!  I guess that what a rainy weekend with no big plans will do…

My son is a big fan of pancakes, so I usually use the 365 Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancake mix and make a big batch for the freezer once every week or so.  We have him on a dairy free trial right now though, so I couldn’t use the mix because it has buttermilk in it.  This morning I thought I would just make a batch of pancakes from scratch without dairy.  So I mixed up all the wet ingredients and then realized I had no regular flour in the house.  Doh!  I did have some gluten-free all purpose flour, but most of the gluten free recipes call for xanthan gum as a binder and thickener, which I didn’t have either.

Thinking quickly, I decided to try chia seeds (read about the health benefits of chia seeds) in place of the xanthan gum due to their ability to thicken and bind..total experiment…and it worked out great!! As long as you don’t mind the little seeds in your pancakes, they don’t change the texture much at all, which was a nice surprise.  They were lightweight and very flavorful with a hint of coconut from the oil (read about the health benefits of coconut oil).  You might leave out the sugar if you are going to eat them with syrup though, as they came out a bit sweet. But I like ‘em like that just straight up!

Gluten-Free Banana Chia Pancakes

Adapted from Basic Pancakes, Everyday Food, September 2006

1 banana, mashed

2 Tbsp coconut oil, butter, or other vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 cup milk or dairy-free milk**

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour* (I used trader joe’s)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Melt the coconut oil or butter.  Add the mashed banana, egg, milk, vanilla, and chia seeds.  Whisk together until well combined. Let mixture stand 10-15 minutes for the chia seeds to soften and thicken the mixture.

Add other ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  Lightly oil frying pan with an oiled paper towel.  Spoon mixture into pan and cook 1-2 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface of the pancake.

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Flip and cook 1-2 minutes more, until lightly browned on both sides.  Serve as is or with pure maple syrup.

*If your gluten free flour mix contains xanthan gum, omit the chia seeds, as the mixture may become too thick.

**If you are using a solid fat like coconut oil or butter, let your milk come to room temperature first so the fat doesn’t clump up

Fantastic Falafel

I just had to post about tonight’s dinner.  It was a good one!  I usually have a little more time in the kitchen on weekends, so tonight I made homemade falafel.  I don’t think I have made falafel since that powered mix from the bulk bin I used to buy when I was in college.  That shit was nasty.

The ones I made tonight from this recipe from Vegetarian Times were light, crispy, and delicious.  I substituted all-purpose gluten free flour for the flour (since I am gluten free) and I fried them in coconut oil, which worked out great.  Also I think I would add a pinch more salt than what the recipe called for (although I did use unsalted beans).

I realize that homemade falafel is basically fried hummus, so I guess topping them with hummus is a little redundant, but we did it anyway and it was delicious.  Besides I felt certain my son would not try the falafel, and he always loves hummus.  Somehow daddy convinced him to take a bite and he did, and he loved it AND even ate his own falafel pita!  And he also tried a RADISH, which he hated. Oh well, you can’t win them all.  Besides, radish is a tough one, spicy and a little bitter.

I did it up with all the fixins; feta cheese, yogurt sauce, pita, lettuce, hummus, and a plate of raw veggies for dipping.

YUM!