Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Coconut Ice Cream recipes - easy and healthy and delicious!

Ok, I had to share how to make easy and delicious homemade ice cream, because it's just too good not to share with the world!
All you need is:
Coconut milk (preferably not "light") or the Coconut cream from Trader Joe's
Ice cream maker, bowl frozen (this is the one we have, I think)

We first got hooked on making ice cream with coconut milk after making the AMAZING Vanilla Peanut Butter Chunk Ice Cream from Edible Perspective. It was a little more time-consuming, but totally worth it! As much as I love making banana ice cream, there's just something more decadent and satisfying about these milky, creamy, delicious coconut-based ice creams....

Without further ado, here are my own coconut ice cream recipes that are really a cinch to make!
Our most recent creation was our own version of Hood's "Comeback Caramel".
Our version consisted of a base of coconut cream and carob powder, with layers of this homemade caramel!
Coconut-Carob Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk (I used Trader Joe's Coconut Cream)
  • 1/2 cup carob powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Caramel: (adapted from here)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk (I used light this time, but I think full-fat would have turned out better)
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
In a small saucepan (or bowl), mix together the coconut milk/cream, carob powder, and vanilla extract. If you do this in a saucepan over low heat, they will mix more easily, but you will have to cool the mixture in a bowl of ice before pouring it into the ice cream maker. (I forgot to do that and it took a lot longer for the ice cream to freeze). Once it's all blended and cool, pour it into your ice cream maker and let it go for about 25-30 minutes.

For the caramel, mix together the coconut milk and maple syrup in a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Keep it at this stage for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and reduced by half. It should make 1/2 cup total. Let it cool a bit so it doesn't melt the ice cream!
When the ice cream is done, spread 1/3 to 1/2 into a loaf pan, then drizzle on half of caramel, top that with more ice cream, then the rest of the caramel, then the rest of the ice cream (if there is any)! Freeze for at least 30 minutes to firm up. 
Scoop and savor!

Another ice cream recipe that we made was a mint chocolate chip one.
With fresh mint!
It was SO good!

Mint Chocolate Chip Coconut Ice Cream
Ingredients: Coconut Cream + maple syrup (2 Tbsp) + fresh mint (1 cup? maybe more?) + unsweetened baker's chocolate (2 oz.)
Blend coconut, mint, and syrup in a blender until very smooth.

Pour into ice cream maker, and let it churn for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a small microwavable dish, then spread it thinly on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and stick it in the freezer.
When the ice cream is done, chop up the chocolate and mix it in to the ice cream! 
Makes 4 servings.

MMM! Fresh and minty, with just the right amount of crispy chocolate!

Let me know what you think of these, if you try them out! Or if you make your own versions! Yay for ice cream!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What do you want me to share?

I need your help!

Ok, so I'm officially three weeks into my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program! It is a LOT of information at a pretty quick pace, but there is a decent amount of review and reinforcement of major concepts, which is helpful.

As I've been going through all my reading and studying, I've been taking notes in order to process and digest (haha...) the content, and to figure out how it all applies to my daily life. It's challenging, often overwhelming and all-consuming, but definitely rewarding. As much as I am a bit frazzled by it all, I'm having fun too!

I feel like I'm just scratching the surface so far - there is SO much to learn, and these topics in nutrition are SO complex, but even just scratching the surface has brought up many "basics" (I put this in quotes, because I knew nothing about them until recently, so don't feel bad if you're hearing this for the first time!) that I feel the need to share, so that these simple health-promoting tips won't be kept secret!

Here's where YOU come in! I would love to know which topics you would like to hear more about! Here are the topics that I've been wanting to share about, and you can help me prioritize:

Proper food preparation/cultured foods:

  • soaking & sprouting (grains, nuts, seeds, beans)
  • dehydrating (vs. denaturing)
  • sourdough
  • lacto-fermenting/cultured veggies
  • raw vs. pasteurized dairy
  • Kombucha

  • Balanced diet - aiming for a 40-30-30 macronutrient ratio
  • Fats, Proteins, and Carbs: Quality counts!
  • Why bother with "pasture-raised", "grass-fed", "organic" foods?

**disclaimer: obviously, I'm just learning about all of this myself, so I am in no way an expert. I have many of my own questions about them, but I will include my questions in my posts too!

If there are any other topics that I think of, I'll try adding them, and if there's anything YOU want to know about that I didn't just list above, please let me know! I will keep sharing as I learn more, too.


Friday, June 28, 2013

What I've been learning recently: food & nutrition

I have recently been learning a lot of information that I never knew with regards to health, food, and nutrition.
Most of the information in this post is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is one of the required readings for the Nutritional Therapy Program that I will be starting in the fall (yay!), and it's chock full of interesting information that just might change the way you think about food for good. Some friends of ours gave me this book for my birthday way back in 2005, but I had yet to pick it up and read it in earnest until now.

It's been blowing my mind, and I needed to share what I've been learning! I apologize if there's too much information, or if it's confusing...for a while (and still currently, to an extent), this was all a big jumbled mess of overwhelmingly new imformation to me, and it honestly stressed me out.

I think that some of the biggest reasons that this new knowledge has affected me so powerfully is twofold. First, I've been operating under the assumption for the better part of two years now that animal products are more dangerous to eat than plants, and that a balanced vegetarian diet might just be the ideal diet. I even had gone through a phase where I thought an all-green-smoothie diet would be the healthiest one, but not anymore!  Secondly, there were many connections made between the benefits of animal products and fertility/reproductive health and mental health that made me question the way I've been eating over the past year and a half.

Ok, to get down to it, here are some of the things that I have learned so far:

The benefits of culturing foods such as dairy & veggies:
  • culturing foods increses the level of enzymes, which help digest and absorb the food and its nutrients
  • culturing dairy starts to break down the lactose (milk sugar) and the casein (milk protein)
  • lacto-fermentation of veggies & fruits enhances digestibility, increses vitamin levels, produces enzymes,  antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances, and promotes healthy bacteria in the intestines (p.89)
  • Adding cultured foods to our meals allows us to still gain benefits from cooked foods whose enzymes have been destroyed.
The necessity of some animal products to our fullest health:
  • usable B12 is found only in animal products
  • even a small amount of animal protein (eggs, fish, broth, raw milk/cheese...) allow for full assimilation of plant proteins (even if a plant contains a "complete" protein on its own)
  • Butter (from grass-fed cows) is the best source of Vitamin A, and a good source of Vitamins D, K, and E as well (all fat-soluble).
  • Calcium from dairy & bone broth is much more "bioavailable" than from veggies
  • Bone broths (which I have yet to really learn about) are super sources of important minerals 
Myths about fats busted:
  • Animal fats are not only not bad for you, they are some of the best sources of vitamins, provide necessary saturated fats and cholesterol, and even have anti-microbial properties
  • Cholesterol is not only not bad for you, but it's necessary to our health and everyday body functions!
  • Cholesterol is needed for: hormones, Vitamin D formation, digestion of fats, healthy cell membranes, mother's milk, and healthy intestinal walls, and it's an antioxidant!
  • damaged cholesterol is bad for you (found in powdered eggs & milk, and meats/fats that have been subjected to high heat)
  • Saturated fats are also necessary!
  • Saturated fats are needed for: cell membranes, bone health, protecting the liver, enhancing the immune system, using essential fatty acids, fueling the heart, and protecting the digestive tract against harmful microorganisms (p. 11)
  • Saturated fats don't cause heart disease
Importance of RAW dairy products from grass-fed cows (I always thought that raw milk and its products sounded very strange, and rather extreme). 
According to Sally Fallon (p. 34), Pasteurization:
  • destroys beneficial pathogen-fighting bacteria naturally occuring in milk
  • alters milk's amino acid tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available
  • promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids
  • destroys about half the natural vitamin C in milk, and up to 80% of other water-soluble vitamins, including B12.
  • reduces the availablility of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, & potassium
  • destroys all the enzymes necessary to use all the nutrients in the milk.
Finally, here are some quotes from Nourishing Traditions that I found interesting:
"The only good source of fat-soluble vitamins in the American diet, one sure to be eaten, is butterfat." (p. 16)

"Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proteind to which they are attached. And ... use as much good-quality butter as you like, with the happy assurance that it is a wholesome--indeed, an essential--food for you and your whole family." (p. 20)

"Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors, and, in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available." (p. 25)

If you're interested in these topics, here are some resources that I've found so far:
Cultured foods:
a blog about all these methods:
Info about raw dairy:
Northeast Organic Farming Association:

My other recent non-food-related interests:
Yoga (I like Sadie Nardini's channel on YouTube, and my free "Daily Yoga" ipad app.) has been very balancing for me recently. I love the combination of stretching, strengthening, body-awareness, and challenge!
Tabata exercises - quick but intense workouts use all your major muscle groups and are great when you don't have a lot of time to dedicate to exercise! It's helpful to use a [free] Tabata timer, if you have a smart phone.

Ok, that's all I'm going to share for now, but there's more to come! This is really just the tip of the iceberg!
I still have tons of questions, and I haven't even read the chapters on beverages or food allergies, but I wanted to get some of this information out there before it created a backlog in my brain. :)
I will be posting more soon about specific topics, and my attempts to integrate what I'm learning into my life.

Upcoming posts will include adventures in:
raw milk
cultured dairy
sprouting (I've done this before, but I think I'm convinced enough to always sprout my grains/nuts/seeds/legumes)
culturing veggies & fruits
making kombucha
sourdough bread
raw meats

Friday, December 21, 2012

Magnolia Bed & Breakfast


Magnolia Bed & Breakfast is nestled in the serene and private Magnolia section of Gloucester, in close proximity to many beautiful beaches, forest walks, historic neighborhoods, and fine dining adventures. A stay at Magnolia Bed & Breakfast is the perfect way to experience all that Cape Ann has to offer. Relax, and enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Flower Boxes from Repurposed Wood

We recently repainted our house from white to grey, and painted the door red.
newly painted!
We wanted to create accent pieces to complement the door, so we decided to make flower boxes (that would also hopefully block some of the ugly front steps!)

Resources: a 30.5" x 62" section of old deck lattice, an old pallet, an old fence section, and some lengths of square dowel
Tools: hammer, drill, miter saw, table saw, screws, nails, and a staple gun
First, Mike deconstructed an old pallet (sorry, no pictures of that...)
...then he cut up the base of the pallet, and mitered the edges to create a frame. 
Then we cut slats from the pallet, and nailed them on our frames to create two mini pallets. 

Then we cut the lattice in half, lengthwise, then into eight sections. 

Once we had all the sides measured and cut, we cut lengths of square dowels for the interior corners, to attach the sides to, and to provide stability.
Once the frames were constructed, we set them on top of the bases, to make sure they fit.
Next, we wanted to trim the corners for good measure, and to make them look a little neater.
Mike cut some  slats from an old fence section, and mitered them to create corner trim, and we attached them with screws.

 Mike is a master with a miter saw!
 The last step before painting was to make a trim for the top...
I almost liked it better before we nice and rugged!

Finally we got to paint them!
 The painting part took forever though!

Final step: find some nice plants and put these on either side of our from steps!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homemade Yogurt! In a crock pot!

I recently tried my hand at making homemade yogurt in a crock pot.
I like it!
I used the recipe & method found on Our Life Simplified.
It really is simple!

Ingredients (for 2 quarts of yogurt):
1/2 gallon milk (not ultra pasteurized) ~ $4
1 c. yogurt with live, active cultures ~ $0.62
1/2 c. dry milk (makes it thicker, if using low fat milk) $0.81

Total cost = $5.43, or $2.715 per quart! (even using not-cheap local milk!)
 Pour the milk (just the milk) into a crock pot and put it on low for 2 hours, until it gets to 180 degrees.
 Thanks to Mike, I now have a candy thermometer, with which I can check the temperature!
 Once it reaches 180, you let it cool down to 115 degrees.
 Then you whisk in the dry milk and yogurt, wrap the whole thing in a towel, and stick it in the oven to incubate for at least 8 hours (overnight!). I checked mine after 8 hours, but left it in for another 2, because it still seemed pretty thin. Some people suggested leaving the oven light on during this process, but I didn't try that.
 This is what it looked like after 10 hours of incubation. :)
 Lastly, since I had some cheesecloth, I strained the whole big mess for a bit to drain away the excess liquid, and make it a little creamier. Cheesecloth is so handy!
Lastly, although I forgot to take pictures of this part, I divided the yogurt between to quart-sized mason jars, and stuck it in the fridge!
It was delicious with homemade granola!

Consensus: I will make this more often!

Tastes of Summer

I needed to make a post to highlight some of the fun summery dishes I have experimented with in the past few months, so here it is!

We grew some beets in our garden this summer, so I had to find delicious recipes worthy of the fruit of our labors. I had seen a recipe on the Barefoot Contessa at the gym one day for Summer Borscht, which looked surprisingly tasty. So....I made it!
We had some friends moving in with us, and to celebrate afterwards, we had a cookout, and I took that opportunity to test out this recipe. It was a hit!
 Also, it matched our picnic blanket, because it's HOT PINK! I mean, really, how awesome is that??? It's like you're slurping poster paint, but it's GOOD!
I had a lot of fun taking pictures of it...
This major flavors of this soup are: dill, cucumber, beet, lemon...reminiscent of tzatziki...

Another beet recipe that I tried and really liked (but forgot to take pictures of) is Beet and Brown Rice Salad with Goat Cheese. YUM!

Cool, Creamy, and Crunchy Vegetable Curry Salad
This summer I made a lot of rice & veggie bowls...
I wanted to try out some curries as tasty and healthy (and cheap) vegetarian dishes, but the one night I was going to go for it, it was too hot!

So instead I made a "cool, creamy, and crunchy vegetable curry" as I called it.
Unfortunately, I forgot to write down my recipe right when I made it, so here it is as best as I can recall!
Cool, Creamy, and Crunchy Vegetable Curry Salad
1 Tbsp oil for sauteeing
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 package silk tofu 

1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
2 carrots, thinly sliced, shredded, or chopped
1 small green pepper, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 c. cooked brown rice

In a skillet, saute the onion and garlic for about 6 minutes. Add in half the curry powder and stir, cooking 2 more minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor, and add the tofu and curry, and blend until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the veggies, then toss with the creamy curry sauce. Serve over cooked brown rice, and enjoy!

Other things that would be good in a dish like this would be: red peppers, peas, cilantro, ginger, sprouts...etc.

Sushi extravaganza!
We made veggie sushi rolls the other day, and I attempted to make a quinoa version, since I had just defrosted some frozen quinoa...
 It looked good to start off...but my quinoa did not have the nice sticky quality of sushi rice...
 This is the nicest it looked...attempts to slice up the roll, however, were rather disastrous...

Mike had an interesting idea too, which was more successful: banana-avocado-cucumber sushi roll!
it was surprisingly delicious!

Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Mediterranean Chicken
We also got our grill going this summer! One of my favorite meals that we made on the grill was yogurt-marinated chicken with homemade tzatziki sauce and cucumber-tomato salad, on homemade pita bread, served with grilled corn! YUM!

Yogurt marinade:
1/2 c. yogurt + lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt, paprika (1/2 tsp?) and garam masala (1 tsp?)

Tzatziki (from this recipe):
1/2 c. grated English Cucumber
3/4 c. Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (such as oregano, dill, or mint)
1/2 tsp salt

So there's a little taste of our summer.... :)