Hi, it’s me, just checking in from the comfy confines of my house, the good news is that I know I’m not alone and there are people all over the world doing the same thing, it kind of makes it easier to handle that way. It seems like staying home has become the cool cousin to going out, and I feel like I’ve been training my whole life for this, at least in a roundabout kind of way. I mean, I spent ½ of my teen years grounded and the other ½ doing stuff I should have been grounded for. Then moving to young adulthood and I spent a lot of time hung over and feeling like death warmed over and then later in my adult hood, I was raising a young family along with working and trying to socialize when all the while I just wanted to stay home curled up on the couch with the kids watching movies and eating bon bons. Fast forward to 2020, I’m grounded again not by my mom but by my MS and here I am now, killing it if I do say so myself.
Anyway, I have spent more time than normal (or that my waist recommends) in my kitchen so if you are looking for some inspiration, here is a roundup of things I’ve put together (and loved) recently. Enjoy!
Ultimate Green’s Smoothie
This smoothie is our go to in the mornings if we haven’t had time for breakfast, in the afternoons if we need an energy pick me up and in the evenings if we want a little sweet treat to end the day. I’ve tried many variations for the milk portion (coconut, almond, skim, whipping cream) but our new favourite is called Milkadamia. It has ONLY 1 carb for a cup and no sugar and is a perfect base for this silky smoothie. I found mine at Costco!
For some reason, stores in Canada don’t carry Barleans Greens Chocolate Smoothie (you can get the berry one but really? Who’s going for berries when you can have chocolate, certainly not me!) So, I order mine from Vitacost (along with some other supplements that I can’t get here in Canada). The thing I love about Vitacost is that they have everything you need and lots you probably don’t need. They have excellent Vitacost brands. They have great coupon savings deals. And, shipping is fast, I mean really fast. I don’t think I have ever waited longer than 5 days for an order to get here. I think the only rule is that you can only order enough for your personal usage, again I’ve been training my whole life for this….. the opportunity to be selfish because you HAVE to be that way.
Another ingredient that I have recently discovered is Peanut Butter Powder – at first, I wasn’t sure about this stuff, but now that I use it regularly, I can’t believe it took me this long to get on board with it. Again, it’s a lower carb alternative to Natural Peanut Butter (which has always been my first choice) and it has 85% less fat calories than peanut butter. There are no additives, but it does have 1 gram of sugar for 2 Tablespoons however that is less than the natural peanut butter I buy anyway (1 gram of sugar for 1 Tablespoon). I love this stuff – (I bought this at our local health food store).
Frozen avocado is also a great way to add some healthy fat and you never need to worry if your avocados are too ripe or not ripe enough – it takes all the guesswork out of avocado’s!
Ultimate Green's Smoothie
- Magic Bullet or Blender
- 1 Cup Unsweetened Milkadamia Beverage I got mine at Costco
- 1 Scoop Barleans Chocolate Greens
- 2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt I use honey or vanilla, but plain is fine too
- 1 Tbsp Powdered Peanut Butter Can use 1 heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter if you don't have powdered, but honestly, I would invest in the powdered stuff (especially if watching carbs as 1 Tbsp of powdered has 1.5 carbs as opposed as 3 to a tbsp of natural creamy PB)
- 1 Tbsp Honey Can be omitted if you are using a sweetened greek yogurt
- 1 Banana I freeze mine so I don't need to use ice cubes
- 1 Handful Frozen Avocado If you don't have frozen avocado, use ½ fresh avocado
- Add all ingredients to magic bullet, add ice cubes or more Milkadamia beverage depending on preference.
Next up that I have been making regularly is Sourdough Bread. Covid’s got me in my kitchen trying to make things I have not had the courage to attempt before and sourdough bread is one of those things!
First things first is a Sourdough starter. I am thankful for the starter my daughter passed on to me (it was actually her discard that I used for my base) that she got from one of her friends. I remember attempting the sourdough thing over 30 years ago and it was just too stressful,. I was newly married and raising a family and did not come from a family that did a lot of cooking or baking so I gave up and threw it away resigning myself to never become a bread maker. But I grew up and so did my kitchen confidence and here we are 30+ years later with homemade sourdough bread every week! Yay me! Don’t let it intimidate you! Here is a link that I have found that breaks the whole starter thing down so it is easy to understand. The Clever Carrot knows her stuff – I’ve been looking to this site for inspiration for awhile now and I know you will find the recipes easy to understand and easy to follow too!
A few other tips that I have found helpful are:
- Use a room temperature and unfed starter. I’m purposely not going to give a recipe for the starter because honestly, it looks a little confusing and time consuming so if you have someone who can give you some discard to start your own starter with, do that.
- Don’t be afraid to add more flour while you are kneading the dough in the mixer. You don’t want it to be super sticky – but you will know when you have enough flour because it will be easier to shape into a round shape for rising and baking.
- I use a large round, deep cast iron dutch oven (but my daughter has an oval one that works just as well), it’s all depending on what you have or like.
- I also sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment paper before putting the dough on it and then on top of my bread before putting it in the oven. This is what gives it a nice crunchy crust. It just needs a little bit, so don’t go overboard!
- I know it will be hard, but please be sure to let the bread sit after you take it out of the oven as that is part of the cooking process! It’ll be hard, but if I can keep my husband away from the bread immediately out of the oven, then you can do it too!
Super Easy Sourdough
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- 3/4 Cup Sourdough Starter Unfed and room temperature
- 1 ¼ Cup Lukewarm Water You may need more or less depending on your starters hydration
- 3 Cups Unbleached Flour You may need more for dough to stick together
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 1 ½ Tsp Kosher Salt
- In a stand mixer, mix ingredients with bread hook until just combined. Let rest for 10-20 minutes. While it is resting, lightly coat a medium - sized bowl with olive oil. The bowl needs to be big enough to allow the dough to double in size.
- Knead dough with bread hook for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from mixer and shape into ball and put into the oiled bowl flipping it over so all sides of dough are covered with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let rise for 6 hour, folding twice during this time. The long rising time is important especially for those with gluten sensitivities.
- After the 6 hour rising time, form the bread into a round loaf and place on a square piece of parchment paper. With a wet serrated knife, cut a couple of slashes on top. Cover loosely with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- In the last 30 or 40 minutes of the last rise, move your oven rack to the bottom 3rd of the oven. Put a cast iron dutch oven with the lid in the cold oven and pre-heat to 450° for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid from the dutch oven and put the loaf in by picking up the corners of the parchment paper and gently setting it in. Be careful as the dutch oven is piping hot!
- Put the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 12-13 minutes
- Uncover the dutch oven and bake for another 12-13 minutes.
- Remove and place on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. DO NOT SLICE for a full 30 minutes as this is part of the baking process.
I like to save the best for last and the best is without a doubt…….. POPCORN! Seriously, if I could only choose 3 foods to eat for the rest of my life, popcorn would be on that list. And I don’t mean that it would barely make the cut, it IS the cut that all other cuts have to be compared to, in fact it may be the only thing on that list. With the whole wanting to be healthier business, I no longer am buying microwave popcorn, that’s a good thing, right? I’ve tried an air popper, a microwave popcorn maker, a brown bag in the microwave and multiple on the stove methods but I believe I have finally found the granddaddy of all popcorn recipes. And because I like sharing (recipes, not my popcorn), I thought the least I can do is share the recipe with you.
Easy Peasy Popcorn
- 2 Tbsp Avocado Oil
- ½ Cup Popcorn
- Butter Amount would depend on how buttery you like it
- Salt To taste
- Put avocado oil and 2 kernels of popcorn in dutch oven with lid on stovetop on high heat and wait for them to pop
- Once popped, remove the dutch oven from the heat, take out the popped kernels. Add rest of the popcorn to the dutch oven and leave off the heat for 1 minute allowing all popcorn to be at the same temp
- Put the popcorn back onto the heat, shaking and until the popping slows. Take it off the heat and wait for a minute or so to allow those last little poppers to join the party
- Empty into a bowl, add butter and salt to taste
- Sit down with your favourite movie and enjoy!
There you have it, next recipes will be all the canning I have been undertaking, because I am not about to let my garden work go to waste by not using the stuff I’ve worked hard to grow! What have you been doing to keep busy this summer?