karen's blog


Posted by karen
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It's not simple. It's not one size fits all. It's not one specific diet/food plan for now and forever.

With the myriad of diet options and foods available, how can a person possibly choose the course of nutrition that is best for them?

Holistic nutrition adds to the "mystifiying" mix with its big-picture approach of body, mind and spirit: with food sharing the stage with exercise, sleep patterns, emotions, matters of the mind, stress, spiritual disciplines. 

Some selections on the diet buffet: not all inclusive and in random order.

 Fad diets.

You've probably got a common sense handle on these but in case you need some advice for your friends, here's some fad diet red flags:  focusing on only one food or a certain location demographic, promoting/selling a certain product, recommendations that ignore differences among individuals and groups, offering quick fix solutions, sounding too good to be true. I can't resist some examples: Apple Cider Diet, Acai Berry Diet, 3-Day Diet, FatLoss4Idiots Diet, Hollywood Diet, Beverly HillsDiet, (New) Beverly Hills Diet 

High-protein, low-carbohydrate.

Focus is usually weight loss. Typical proportion of protein is greater than in the average diet - calls for a large amount of water for metabolism. This water can be obtained by drinking but can also be "siphoned" from body tissues - resulting in an initial weight loss, which is in reality, mostly a loss of water weight.

Low fat.

A popular diet choice for disease prevention, e.g. heart disease, cancer. The "low fat" catchword and label doesn't always give the facts about different kinds of fats (our body needs "good" fats). It can also convey a false sense of "healthy" when the product may truly be low fat but high in sugar and salt.

Juicing.

The juice from raw, whole vegetables and fruits supplies nutrient-rich food directly to body cells. Live enzymes boost the immune system. Most often used for short-term fasts, cleansing and de-toxification.

Raw.

Often used to heal the gut and clean out the digestive tract. Called the "living food" diet, basically consists of uncooked whole foods. Provides good vitality and nutrient content, but might be low in protein, calcium and iron.

Gluten-free.

Eliminates grains with gluten and the foods containing products that have been processed from those grains. Most often in response to gluten intolerances or sensitivities: or tried as a test to determine those intolerances.

Vegetarian.

Some types are ovo-lacto, lacto, vegan - depends on the inclusion of animal products: only milk and eggs, only milk, or the exclusion of all products of animal origin. Balanced vegetarian diets are most often based on fruits and vegetables; nuts and seeds; whole grains, beans and lentils - with attention needed to get all the amino acids for complete protein.

Metabolic typing (or nutritional typing).

A nutritional program that focuses on an individual's unique dietary needs, based on a variety of factors. e.g. gender, genetics, hormone levels, age, culture, blood type, stress levels, seasonal changes, and many others.

Yikes - it's complicated...and your choice can compromise your health.

Where does one even start?

-- whatever the diet, eat a variety of foods within the different food groups, e.g. switch up the vegetables, choose different beans, grains, etc. This broader spectrum can ensure a greater range of nutrients and help to reduce the risk of allergies. Variety also makes meals more yummy and interesing! 

-- feeling unwell or "yucky" after eating certain foods are likely indicators that dietary changes may be necessary. 

-- never say never - be prepared to be adaptable to change, then accept responsibility for food choices and continue learning.

-- don't be scared to try something for a brief test (assuming you're not taking medication, which will affect your eating flexibility) - e.g. introduce your body to a two-day juice fast,  eat raw for a few days  experiment with gluten-free(GF) eating by discovering new grains

-- a general healthy diet overview: low in fat and salt; minimal to no processed sugar; reasonable amounts of whole grains, beans, fresh veggies and fruits, lean animal proteins

-- read, read, read: research food facts and reviews; read nutrition blogs :)

--  seek the help of a qualified nutrition practitioner to help address nutrient imbalances and assist you through the diet maze. They can give you recommendations that are personalized to your specific nutritional needs.

Wrapping it up.

Annemarie Colbin in Food and Healing summarizes it this way: food is our helper, not our master. It's a facilitator and tool, our ally and teacher. Food can nourish us well if we choose well; if incorrectly chosen, food can teach us lessons about our body that we may, or may not, heed. If we experience negative results from our eating choices we should take that as information, not punishment.

As a nutrition coach and educator, I spend a lot of time thinking about food: appreciating its pleasures and grateful for its nutritious, healing powers. But in all the search for the right food, the right diet, the right nutritional formula, I need the regular reminder that food is a part of our sense of well-being. Whole health also includes aiming our lives positively, following our individual path in meaningful work, being thankful for life, and living with love and relationship.

Be well - let me know how you navigate the diet maze.

Posted by karen
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If I were asked to name a humble vegetable, cabbage would get my vote. This versatile veggie, grown since ancient history and included in cooking worldwide is, however, anything but ordinary.

Why so crazy about cabbage?

It has good family connections. Cabbage - and broccoli, bok choy, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnips, collards, watercress, aragula - belongs to the cruciferous vegetables. So.....?

Not a new idea but a good idea: eat a diet rich in these vegetables for the defense against, and the possible prevention of, cancer. According to Sally Errey in Staying Alive! Cookbook for Cancer Free Living, scientists weren't sure why this vegetable family had this distinction - until recent studies which have shown their ability to help the body's toxic waste-disposal system. Certain plant chemicals, like sulforophane and indole-3-carbinol, trigger the release of a protein that causes the release of several toxin-fighting enzymes that either neutralize cancer-causing chemicals or help the body excrete them.

Phytochemicals ("plant"- chemicals) = good source of antioxidants. 

If  you catch your weekly media version of "Your Health and You" you're probaby familiar with these health buzzwords. 

The tiny phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables have unique abilities to modify human hormones and to prevent toxic compounds from binding to human DNA - possibly preventing damage that could lead to cancer. Studies have even shown that genetic defects that may lead to cancer are suppressed by the consumption of green cruciferous vegetables.

Over-dosing on one food group (even vegetables) is not a cancer-free guarantee.  

But I'm convinced about the superior goodness of cabbage and its kin. Some variety of this family is a regular at my table: raw, cooked, or sometimes - fermented.

Fermentation deserves a post of its own.

But until later, this is the short version on the benefits of fermentation:

- preserves food/nutrients

- breaks nutrients down into more easily digestible forms

- creates new nutrients

- some ferments function as antioxidants

- removes toxins from food 

I learned the ways of a gardener from the example of my mother - an extraordinary worker who preserved the fruits of her labour by canning, freezing, pickling - but never fermenting. Perhaps it wasn't in her Scottish upbringing or she'd heard stories of smelly brine bubbling out of crocks lurking in dark cellars. Whatever the reason, the only sauerkraut I ate growing up was bought at the grocery store and that pattern remained after I had my own kitchen.

Two years ago my nutrition studies piqued my interest in making my own. I bought Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and got all excited reading how to make live-culture foods, e.g. kimchis, sourdough breads, miso, yogurt  - and when I saw "sauerkraut is easy to make" on more than one page I was ready to go for it.

So you get the picture - I'm not the expert with years of experience. But based on how my sauerkraut (and kimchi) has turned out, I do agree. It is easy.

What you need. 

Food: Cabbage and salt (I use coarse sea salt). Utensils: A sturdy knife, a crock, a plate that is slightly smaller than the opening of the crock, a large rock.

Buy good solid heads of cabbage. I've learned from shopping at our garden markets that "fall" cabbage is the best type to use for sauerkraut. I don't know the proper name of this particular cabbage, but living in a county that boasts both home-style and commerical sauerkraut operations, I do what the experts advise. Except on the next point. Sauerkraut should be made as the moon is waxing. Unfortunately, my hankering to fill the kraut crock doesn't always line up with the lunar cycle, so here I do my own thing. 

Steps to Sauerkraut:

Chop cabbage into threads, as fine or coarse as you like it.

 

Place in large bowl as you chop it. Sprinkle salt on it as you go. How much salt? This depends on health and taste preferences. I recommend going lightly - for starters, 3-4 Tablespoons of salt per 5 pounds of sliced cabbage. 

Mix cabbage and salt thoroughly and pack into your crock. It's important to pack just a bit at a time into the crock - pressing it down hard with your fist or some other sturdy tool. This is an important step: you don't want to allow room for air pockets and the tamping packs the kraut, helping to force the water out of the cabbage.

Cover the cabbage with a plate and place a heavy stone (that's been well-washed) on top of it. This weight is needed to force the water out of the cabbage and to keep it submerged. (My crock isn't very full this time as one cabbage head disappeared in a coleslaw.)  

Cover the crock with a tea towel and set in a corner of the kitchen. Cooler the location, slower the fermentation, longer the preservation.

Check the kraut the next day and every day or two after. The important factor is that the brine covers the cabbage. According to Sandor Ellix Katz, "some cabbage, particularly if it's old, simply contains less water." He suggests if the brine hasn't risen to the top by the next day, you can add some salt water (1 Tbsp. salt  to 1 cup water) to bring up the brine level. I haven't had experience with this as the brine has been sufficient. To help it stay submerged in brine, every day or so I firmly press on the rock/plate.  

Here I've taken the rock out so you can see the brine. This was after about 4 days. 

When is it ready?

It's all about how you like it. It should start to be tangy in about a week. Taste it. Its flavours will evolve as it ages. If you do take some out to enjoy, repack the remaining kraut, keeping the surface level and your weights clean. I generally leave mine in the kitchen area for a couple weeks, checking it often. Then I'll move it to a cooler location for 1-2 weeks before putting it into jars and into the refrigerator. I'll taste as I go but don't usually eat mine until it's fermented about 4 weeks. My batches are usually small like the one above so it's all eaten before it gets too 'ripe'.

Making sauerkraut may look complicated and scary but it really is easy. Maintain cleanliness and keep the cabbage submerged - and enjoy.  

Check back in a few weeks and I'll let you know how this batch turned out.

 


 

Posted by karen
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I just returned from a week's vacation. My husband and I explored (mostly by car, some by bicycle) East Coast islands where we'd never been before, we practised our un peu français on patient restaurant waiters and shop keepers, and enjoyed the company of two friends-travel-mates.

Summer vacations for us are traditionally camping trips. These 'facilities' have been varied - a camper, trailer, van, a bare-bones cabin. Currently, our 3-person tent plus gear works well to "set up house"  where we can eat and sleep well: a home base for running, cycling, hiking, touring. This set-up suits both me and my husband from several angles - flexible options for our "home" base, it's conducive to physical activity and - especially important - we can cook the food we want to eat.

Our recent getaway was different, with a mix of accommodations, which translates into challenges for nutritional eating choices. 

A couple nights, the price for the "bed" included breakfast - not totally a take-what-you're served, but sort of. The first inn cooked up an omelette and dark-grain toast that was great - as wholesome as the other B&B guest, Nick, a serious cyclist from the U.K. who encouraged us to "go for it" on road-bike tours. (Yes to that!). Another day's petit dejeuner scored on presentation but it was mostly 'white' and sweet - its only redeeming quality was the inclusion of a few apple chunks. 

Craving home-cooking: checked in at a cottage with a kitchen.

So now we had  cooking facilities - which turned out for naught, other than some tools to prepare a tray of cheese, nuts and nachos to go with a glass of wine - and to brew morning coffee. Pretty pathetic considering my passion for healthy, real food. But that's what can happen with last minute planning and reservations (I won't elaborate how this came to be - and I'm not saying I don't like spontaneity).  When you find yourself perched on an ocean waterfront spot (albeit  a starkly beautiful one) whose only food options are at a local gas station-convenient store and a fish and chips shop, choices are limited

And healthy options are almost non-existent.

The convenient store was a definite no. Enter "the other" menu decision: fish and chips (which my husband regrettably ordered); pizza (which wasn't available after 5:00 p.m.); soup, salad or a burger. I'd had a decent veggie salad for lunch and I was suspect of the creamy soups so I opted for a fish burger. Real, flaky haddock  - not finely minced mystery meat. An acceptable and tasty choice.

Next day - ferry ride with our bicycles and stuffed paniers: destination Les Îles de la Madeleine, QC.

A five-hour ferry trip gave us ample time to decipher stumble our way through the French tour guidebooks - figuring out where to buy food, what to see and do. (One of our travel mates was bilingual but my brain worked hard to dredge up bits and pieces of my high school French.) A 5 kilometre bike ride from the ferry and we pulled in to our next "home",  a comfortable hostel-cabin built as a replica of the islands' fishing huts (closely resembling a miniature grain elevator). By then it was dark. No grocery shopping that night.

Empty the paniers  for breakfast options - not bad (if you skip the dark chocolate), but better saved for cycling snacks.

This is morning number four without cooked whole-grain cereal - I'm in withdrawal. Too bad. The biking snacks went into a panier for later and off we cycled for breakfast at a boulangerie-deli.  The local soft fromage  was yummy: my husband "went for French" with a croissant, my muffin looked like bran but wasn't close. A plain baquette would have been a better choice - what was I thinking?

I don't want to come across as a complainer. Overall I was having a good time, but food-wise, things had to improve - which they did.  About 40 kilometres later - literally at the end of the road on Île du Havre-Aubert.

Café de la Grave "Gets it"

I just knew it was going to be good as soon as I walked through the screen door, observed the patrons (and their plates of food) and absorbed the ambience of old wooden tables, books and an accordian sitting on a bench. And this cafe did not disappoint. How often do you see millet pie on a menu?! The pie's filling had shredded veggies, herbs, pine nuts, and of course, millet - all encased in just enough crust to house the whole yummy lot. With crisp, organic greens: I hit the jackpot!

 

We had "gas in our tanks" for the return ride.  A 10K stretch of the road bordered the Dune du Havre aux Basques, one of the five dunes that are signature features of these archipelago-type islands. 

Cycling is a great sport. The physical exertion leaves your body tired in a satisfied kind of way - and it munches a lot of calories. We were not going to have a repeat of no food to cook like the previous nights: a quick  stop at the Co-op store and our paniers bulged with fresh vegetables, salmon steaks and a bottle of wine.

Not far from "home"  I distinctly detected one of my favorite aromas. Roasting coffee beans.  

We'd passed by Cafés du Moussonneur several times since arriving on the island and had not clued in to what was in the non-descript building. Didn't know what we'd been missing.

 

The best americano misto we've ever drank.

As lovely as the drink's presentation was to behold, this mellow yet rich espesso elixir was divine. And it wasn't just because my standard one-cup-a-day had been hours ago, or that we'd been on a bike all day so energy levels were low. The "refill" on the next morning's visit  was equally wonderful.  That's when we found out the secret. The espresso they used is a combination of four beans, one of which they air-dry and shake the green beans on racks by the seashore, removing any bitterness before roasting. Can you believe it? 

A return trip to these islands is immiment: more days to cycle around all the islands but equally alluring, is to have another Camacho espresso coffee.

Too soon we were re-tracing our journey home, on the ferry with plenty of time to reflect on the past few days. New experiences and sights were gifts to be thankful for. Yes, I was looking forward to my kitchen and well-stocked pantry, but this had been a good test in making food decisions with what was presently available.

And I made mental notes to be better prepared for next time - even if it's just bringing  a bag of rolled oats.

 

 

"B"eautiful Berries

16 Sep 2011
Posted by karen
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Berries are getting the bright lights for "B". I think they are positively wonderful. They are delicious and they are beautiful to behold. 

 

Nutrient note highlights - my top berry picks:

blueberries - phytonutrients, antioxidants (especially the wild ones)

cranberries - juice helps acidify urine to inhibit bacterial growth (recommended for bladder infections)

strawberries - high in vitamin C 

raspberries - folic acid, vitamin C, lutein

source of fibre

depending on the berry - varying amounts of magnesium, potassium, calcium, manganese

Berries on the Bushes

Some berries are still available free-for-the-picking - if you’re game to look for the wild ones. I have heard that in our area you can find patches of wild blueberries, cranberries and blackberries but their whereabouts are family secrets and well-protected. To date I've been privy to visit one good-sized wild blackberry patch.  A small bucket of berries was my reward in exchange for some nasty scratches and a blood donation to hungry mosquitoes. These details were forgotten by mid-January, however, when multi-berry smoothies satisfied cravings for summer.

Where I live in Nova Scotia we can pick cultivated blueberries from August until mid-October or later. Both my husband and I are diehard pickers: even if our fingers are numb we can't leave the patch until all our buckets are full. We will be stocking our freezer this fall with yet more ziploc bags of these blue nuggets of goodness.  But the berry season is definitely waning; though it happens annually, this is one food calendar page I hate to turn. 
 
Saying good-bye to this seasonal fruit and harvesting ritual is shared with the back to school routine.  Hello to the daily dilemma: what to pack for kids’ lunches. I marvel how my mother pulled this off for us five kids who scrambled out the door by 7:45, running to catch the yellow school bus.  Granted, over fifty years ago (yikes, it really was that long ago!) she had the perogative to fill those lunch boxes with whatever she had in her pantry and the time to prepare. She wasn't restricted by avoiding banned allergen foods - nuts, shellfish, some cheeses, to name a few- a reality for most lunch-packers with today's school policies.

But criteria for packed lunches still holds true for:  

tasty - or else the kids will trade that lunch you worked so hard to make

nutritious - to help young bodies and brain cells to concentrate and understand

has to survive the journey - traveling in a backpack and being thrown in a locker

has to be food-safe - so everyone stays healthy

Enter: the convenience of Frozen Berries

Your freezer might be stocked with berries you have picked this summer. If not, good-sized bags are available in most supermarkets, and they’ll cost less than buying fresh.

On a school (or work) morning, put a cup or less of good-sized frozen strawberries or blueberries in a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.  Remember to pack the spoon to go with it. By lunch time the berries will be thawed out with some very nice syrupy-juice that somehow tastes sweetn without adding sugar. (My grandkids think the juice is the best part.)The berries will be soft but should keep their shape; a very nice change from the standard lunch fruits - apples, oranges and bananas.

If your children like plain yogurt, put some frozen berries in with it - they'll act as mini ice paks, keeping the yogurt cool until lunchtime.

To add whole grain energy and some healthy fats, include a small baggie of homemade granola (or purchased equivalent) to either of the above suggestions.

 

Bake a Real Tasty Treat with Real Food Ingredients:  

 

Blueberry Apple Bread

2 cups peeled, chopped apples

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 egg

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. ground flax

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

2/3 cups chopped walnuts (toasting them first adds to the flavour)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine chopped apples, honey, applesauce and oil in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the egg and mix well. Combine 1 cup of the flour with the other dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the apple mixture. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup flour with the berries (this helps stop frozen berries from 'bleeding' and to be more evenly suspended in the batter). Add to the batter, along with the walnuts.

Spread batter evenly into a lightly oiled and floured loaf pan. Put into oven - check after baking for 1 hour and 10 minutes. May need to bake about another 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven.  A tooth pick or sharp cake tester inserted into the centre of the bread should come out clean. 

Let cool before cutting.  Slices up nicely for packing in lunches if you can keep the family away from eating it all fresh out of the oven!

 

Bring out the berries - hope to meet you in the patch!

 

(Photo credits: Fimby

Keeping a Food Log

06 Sep 2011
Posted by karen
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Have you ever thought about what - and how much - you eat and drink in a day, in a week? For too many of the world's population, the answer to this question is a painful and unjust reality of our global food distribution. For those who live in the affluent Western world, however, this revealing exercise could prompt us to change our tune if (when)  we say "I eat very little refined sugar"  - and to adjust our gratitude meter when the local market has run out of our favorite lemon basil but yet has five or more varieties of greens.

In the general sense, record-keeping has merit.  We (should) track things like what we earn and spend - and many of us keep diaries or journals of events and activities. Their purpose can be intended for pleasure or need-to-know information: useful tools for review and direction. Most of us know at least one shutterbug who thinks, "...if I don't photograph "it", "it" didn't happen..." Well, things do happen regardless of whether or not we snap that picture. To sustain life we all consume food and drinks - most of us do so several times a day. Recorded or not, "it" happens.

This daily fueling routine is anything but a ho-hum occurrence. What we consume (and what our body absorbs - but that's a whole other post and more) isn't just to stop the gnawing sensation in our belly. Indicators we get - fluctuating energy levels, see-sawing moods, cravings declaring control, not to mention how our clothes fit and the number on our bathroom scale - are affected by all those items recorded (or not) on a food log.

It takes courage and commitment.

A (truthful) food log is a useful tool in my job as a holistic health coach, helping to assess nutritional imbalances, sports nutrition requirements, food sensitivities, allergies, etc.

I recently filled out one of these for myself because I was upping my running mileage and was curious how many calories/day I was consuming. I kept the log on the fridge so I wouldn't forget - if you're sensitive about curious onlookers you might want to find a different handy spot. To tell the truth, after the week was up I got busy doing work and living life (like running and taking grandkids to the beach) so the calorie calculations haven't yet been done. But the log has still been helpful: something I changed after that was to eat more daily servings of veggies than fruits, rather than the reverse. I still cringe when I see this entry: 15 (!) chocolate-covered almonds. I don't even like them and the sad part is that they had awful chocolate! Overall, my breakfasts were pretty 'strong' but I decided I have to be more intentional about enough nutrition for lunches that I pack along. Just a handful of fruit doesn't cut it.

Expect some temptations during your "Dear Food Diary" week

to avoid or cut back on certain foods or drink.

- to change your mind about consuming something ("for this time") because of the hassle of having to remember to write it down ( the list is at home...

- to "fudge it" on serving sizes, or "forget"  to include certain foods you consumed - even if you're the only one privy to the list.

Look for some clues from your Diary

- food choices and eating patterns you weren't aware of  - e.g. an automatic default of diet pop accompanying any meal that has the same ingredients as pizza

- which foods - or combination of foods - leave you feeling yucky after you eat

- what kinds of foods/meals do or don't give you enough umph to do your next fitness workout 

Seeing it all there in "black and white" can be surprising and frightening - but also enlightening.

If you're up to the challenge, print out the PDF file provided to get you started.

I dare you. Do the diary.

A is for Almonds

29 Aug 2011
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Welcome to the first post about the heart of the matter - the real food. This summer, three of my grandchildren (and their parents) have been living with us. My kitchen has been a production center for (mostly) all things healthy, including high energy treats which often use almonds. My opening act is going to showcase this personal favorite nut, which happens to start with the letter A, and is “a very good place to start.”

First, some FAQs - Almonds contain laetrile, giving this nut the claim to be considered cancer-preventing. Most of the fats in almonds are polyunsaturated and high in linoleic acid - the body's main EFA (essential fatty acid). They're high in calcium and vitamin E and contain some of the B vitamins. They contain good amounts of copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium - also zinc, magnesium, manganese and selenium are present in almonds.

So it's for good reason that raw almonds are one of my pantry staples - for adding to home-made granola, sprinkling on salads and cereal, tossing in a trail mix, and traveling companions for a quick pick-me-up. They’re readily available to buy, are tasty raw or toasted, and when it comes to the price of nuts they’re a good bang for your buck. Soaking almonds for a few hours makes them easier to digest.

Almond Milk Recipe

This is my recipe for making almond milk, which is quick, easy, and costs between 1/2 to 2/3 of the store-bought price. The real bonus? The list of ingredients is healthy and short: water, almonds.

Step #1 - Soak one cup of raw almonds in water overnight, ensuring they're well-covered.

Step #2 - In the morning, rinse well, draining the water. Put almonds into a blender along with 4 cups of fresh water. I have a Vitamix blender (one of my hardest-working kitchen tools and a brand I highly recommend), but a sturdy blender will do the trick. 

Step #3 - Blend water and almonds until totally blended. For my Vitamix, that's on high for 2-3 minutes straight; if using another brand I suggest stopping your machine every 30 seconds or so, continuing to start and stop for a few minutes until the water and almonds are thoroughly blended.

Step #4 - Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, a fine strainer, or my first choice is a mesh bag like these Care Bags  (I get mine from ellora) -  they eliminate most of the mess that can be a deterrent to making almond milk. Gently squeeze and twist the bag, releasing the almond milk. Pour into a jar and refrigerate. Shake well before using, as some of the ground almond mixture will settle at the bottom.

This rich, creamy milk poured over cooked whole grain cereal, or with fresh fruit with raisins, or blended in a smoothie tastes like dessert! The almond meal that's left in the bag can be added to bread dough or muffin batter, composted, or offered as yummy morsels if you have happy chickens in your back yard.

Another go-to favorite in our house is almond butter. If you're hooked on it too you know it can be pricey, used sparingly as a treat.  Based on the best quality (non-organic) almond butter available where I shop, I've calculated that making my own almond butter cuts the price in half and it is fresh, fresh, fresh! It's not difficult, also is quick, but you must use a top quality food processor, like Cuisinart or Bosch, to be the work horse on this one.

Almond Butter Recipe

Step #1- Spread 3 cups raw almonds on a large cookie sheet and put into oven that's been preheated to 325 degrees F. Roast for 10 minutes and give the pan a shake. Put back in oven for another 10 minutes. Give pan another shake. Continue to roast for 3-4 minutes and check to make sure the almonds aren't getting too dark. Depending on your oven they shouldn't need much more than another 5 minutes. If they start to crack, they are darker than what I like. Remove from oven.

Step #2 - Move the almonds into the food processor bowl with the S blade in postition. There's no need to cool the almonds, in fact they release the oils better if they are still warm.

Step #3 - Process in short spurts, frequently scraping around the bowl. There'll be lots of starting, stopping and scraping but in about 10-12 minutes the almonds will be processed into a smooth enough consistency for yummy butter.

Step #4 - Be prepared to stand your ground in licking out the bowl.

A no-guilt snack - delicious dip for apple wedges, a spread for your favorite whole grain toast, scooping by the spoonful out of the jar. Refrigerate what's left. 

This is just the beginning of ideas for real food options. I look forward to you joining me on an interesting and inspiring journey, exploring our way through the joys of juices, the scoop on squash, and beyond to a 'zillion' ways of enjoying zucchini. 

(Photo credits FIMBY)

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