Apples and Nut Butter… One of my Favorite Snacks!

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I personally take this snack idea for granted, but I’ve noticed that when I’ve mentioned it to friends and family members when they are looking for snack ideas, they’ve never thought to try it! So, given the time of year, I thought it might be a good idea to toss this idea out there for all of you.

Try it with your favorite nut butter, whatever that may be, or experiment with a different nut butter on different days – peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, sunflower – get creative!

Oh – and don’t forget the salt!  I always put salt on my apples – either Maldon’s Sea Salt or Selina Naturally Celtic Sea Salt. Just try it!

Since apples are in abundance now, there’s plenty of varieties to check out. Honey Crisp is my absolute favorite, but I’ve recently tried Ginger Gold which are also quite tasty.

It might actually be fun to become an apple connoisseur, as there are actually several thousand named apple varieties.  Look for some of these varieties at your local farmers’ market and taste the difference for yourself:  Northern Spy, Spitzenburg, McIntosh, Newton Pippin, D’Arcy Spice, or Cinnamon Spice.

If you’re interested in growing your own apple trees, check out the Trees of Antiquities website, where you can order trees.  Also, Michael Phillips’ website is a great resource for growing apples organically.

For your chemistry lesson of the day, here are a few facts that make apples taste and smell like they do:

-Apples owe their variety of flavors to the variance in ethers, acids, and sugars.

-Their different “aromas” come from chemicals called esters, a combination of an acid and an alcohol.  Acids are a substance found in the cell fluid of the apples and are a part of the molecules that make up the cell membrane.  Alcohols are the by-products of cell metabolism.  The enzymes in the apple combine the acids and the alcohols to give it a particular aromatic characteristic.

Take advantage of the freshness and abundance of apples this season, especially here in Michigan, and remember this quick, easy combination when you need a snack!

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The ‘Crazy Sexy Kitchen’ Cookbook

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I recently picked up “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” by Kris Carr, and I absolutely love it (pictured here with some rocks I found on our walk on the Lake Michigan shoreline this morning)!  I bought her “Crazy Sexy Diet” book a while back, and was looking forward to having more recipes from her. As you can see by all of the pieces of notebook paper sticking out of the top, I’ve marked quite a few recipes I want to try!

Kris is a best-selling author and is a huge health advocate, among many other things.  She promotes a plant-based diet and inspires people to live a life “like they mean it.” Her book “Crazy Sexy Diet” is chock-full of information as well as recipes, like learning about alkalizing your body, the glycemic index, hormones, factory farms, alternative healing methods, supplements and even colonics.  It’s an amazing resource for all things healing – I highly recommend it!

Living in West Michigan, only a mile from Lake Michigan, we tend to have a lot of visitors – especially this time of year.  So, a couple of weekends ago when we had company, I pulled out Kris’ cookbook and thought I would experiment with one of her recipes for our guests.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous, never having made this particular dish before, but I looked over the ingredients, saw the picture of it, and thought it looked great, so I gave it a go.

I made her Sage Polenta (p. 221) with her Nana’s Marinara (p. 229).  I wanted to take advantage of all of the tomatoes and peppers we had in our garden (I substituted a red pepper for the serrano chile in the marinara sauce).  She recommended combining the polenta and the marinara sauce, which reminded me of a recipe I once made with polenta and eggplant in a marinara sauce, so I had a feeling it would turn out great.

And it did!  Everyone LOVED it.  Mike said it was possibly his new favorite dish, and our guests went back for seconds.  My only complaint:  I didn’t make enough! But this recipe will definitely be in the menu rotation.

Now I’m looking forward to trying some of her other recipes, like Crazy Sexy Kale (I still have a lot of kale in the garden to work with), Beetroot Ravioli with Cashew Cream Cheese, and, of course, the Chai Latte – especially as we head into the cooler fall weather.

I love it when I buy a cookbook and its recipes turn out great.  I guess I figure if I get only one good recipe from each cookbook, it’s worth it.  This one, then, is more than worth it, because I know that a bunch of the recipes will be delicious!

The Foodie Bitch on Feeding Animals

 

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch 

DSC04288How many of you are pet owners?  I absolutely LOVE animals! I was never able to have pets while growing up (aside from a turtle and a hamster), so I think I overcompensated in my “grown-up” years!  We currently have 2 dogs, 4 cats, and 6 horses.  I say “currently” because that number changes – the girls and Mike, it seems, are constantly finding animals and rescuing them.  Some are fortunate enough to be re-united with their owners, and others have been dropped off or neglected and we have happened upon them at just the right time.

It’s a crazy mix, but it works for us.  I can’t imagine it being any other way.
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Part of being a Foodie Bitch, for me, is extending all that I have learned for humans and translating it into useful knowledge for our animals.  One such area that I really looked into last year, after going gluten free myself, was what was really in the foods we feed our animals.

I started to question, as a Foodie Bitch does, the ingredients in our dogs’ food, our cats’ food, and of course what we were feeding our horses.  After much research, I came upon my own conclusion that animals really weren’t designed to eat grain.  I found I wasn’t alone on this theory when it comes to dogs and cats. but, with horses, I came across a lot of people that thought I was crazy, or worse yet, I was putting our horses’ health in danger.

But horse people can be funny that way.  You ask 10 different horse people what you should feed your horse, and you will likely get 10 different answers.  I even called universities which specialized in animals and I got different answers to my questions than what I would get when I would talk to our vets.

So, when I come to a crossroad where there’s a lot of confusion, I back up and look at the situation from a different angle – from a natural perspective – simply the way nature intended things to work.  This is what I did in the case of our horses.

I recalled a conversation I had with our farrier in Florida the previous year about lactic acid build-up in horses.  He was finding that a lot of the horses he was working on had and excess of lactic acid, and he believed that was causing inflammation and muscle issues.  He thought perhaps digestion somehow played a role in this scenario.

At the time I didn’t think too much about it.  It was an interesting discussion, and I always love learning, but I couldn’t apply the relevance to my current situation.

Flash forward a few months and I discover that I am gluten sensitive.  I eliminated gluten from my diet, and I noticed my bloating go down. I discussed with my chiropractor how I need to give my intestines a chance to heal from the probable inflammation that was occurring due to the gluten.  Hmm…

Soon after, I watched “Food Inc.” for the first time and took copious notes.  There is a part in the movie where they show how grain effects the gut of cows – how they are not designed to eat grain, yet that is what a majority of the cows we eat are fed.  The level of e-coli in their gut goes way up on a grain fed diet, but in just 2 weeks of being off grain, the e-coli is nearly eliminated.  Hmm….

I started to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together, and I theorized that horses are not designed to eat grain either.  If you’re not familiar with what horses eat, most are typically fed a diet of grain (usually some combination of corn, oats, and molasses), hay and grass.  When we first got our horses, we fed them grain, either because that’s what their previous owners fed them, or because that’s what we were told we should do.  At first it was a processed sweet feed, as they call it (processed and with a lot of molasses).  Then, I switched to a local feed place that mixed their own feed – not processed, whole corn, oats and lower in molasses.

But as time went on, and I continued to do my research, I realized, I really needed to take our horses off of grain.  I had a hunch that it was causing some side effects in our horses.  This was not a popular concept in the horse world, but I was used to going “against the grain” (pun intended).  I had to listen to my instincts as well as my research.

Well, to make a long story short, it’s been over a year since our horses have been off of grain, and I’m happy to say they are all doing GREAT!  As an example, rather than worming them twice a year with chemical wormers like most owners do, I choose to do what’s called a McMaster’s test, which tests their fecal matter for parasite eggs.  We’ve always had a couple of horses which have had a higher parasite count.  But for the first time ever, this past July, I had them all tested for parasites and all the results came back negative. Not a single one of them had parasites. Yay!

Also, you can really tell a lot about a horse’s health by looking at their coat, and our horses’ coats have been shiny, with deeper colors than before.  One of my horses no longer paces at feeding time in anticipation of the sweet grain (addiction, maybe?).  And, our vet bill has gone way down.  In fact, one of our vets commented on how long it had been since they had been out.  I hadn’t really realized it until he said something, but he was right.  Overall, our horses are healthier.
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All of this to say: pay attention to the quality of food you feed, not only yourself and your family, but also your 4 legged friends!  Now, I’m not saying that just because humans have trouble with something that animals will too.  It just happened to work out that way in this case.  Each individual animal has unique systems, digestive tracts, and biochemistry, and they should be treated as such.  Again, do your research, ask the tough questions, and demand what’s best for all of the beings in your life!

Easy (Gluten Free) Herb Pasta

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

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One of the worst parts about eating gluten free is, of course, missing out on such wondrous food items as bread, pasta, and bread.

I’m lucky in that I don’t have a gluten allergy, but I try to pursue a low-gluten lifestyle for my overall health. This puts me into the unique position of being able to be fully honest when comparing gluten-free foods with their wheat-laden counterparts.

For example, my attempt to make gluten-free soft pretzels I would consider a major failure. That was a horrible mistake I will never make again.

But, I could happily eat Nancy’s gluten-free banana bread for every meal, and I wouldn’t have known it was gluten-free without being told.

I love pasta almost as much as I love bread, so it was important to me to find a great gluten-free pasta I could enjoy. I don’t mind brown rice pasta, just don’t make the mistake of reheating it. Unfortunately most of the other gluten-free pastas I’ve tried have been costly and… well, kind of gooey and doughy-tasting, to be honest.

So I was super happy when I found this really simple recipe on Glutenista for gluten-free pasta. It’s a little bit time consuming, but most of that is waiting, so it’s not much work overall. I adapted it a little here and there as I went, most notably adding fresh chopped herbs from my garden. It’s easy enough to add in other ingredients and make your own “infused” pasta that easily rivals the expensive stuff at the health food stores.

And, it tastes just as good as regular pasta! I usually make mine with Italy in mind, so I top it with with organic Tuscan olive oil from Fustini’s, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic, but you can add just about anything you like to this dish.

Mangia, mangia!

Ingredients

1 Cup of Gluten-Free Flour (I use Cup4Cup or Bob’s Red Mill)

1 large egg, plus one egg yolk

2 tbsp. organic milk

1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Finely chopped herbs of choice (I used basil, rosemary, thyme, and oregano)

Instructions:

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk and eggs.

Make an indent on top of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.

Mix well, until the dough pulls slightly away from the bowl.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit for half an hour.

Roll out the dough on a non-stick surface, using excess flour to keep the dough from sticking. You may need to add a few drops of water or a little more egg yolk to help hold the dough together (gluten-free dough crumbles easily).

I’ve found that rolling the dough a little thicker will help it hold its shape while cooking. Cut the dough into strips, and lay out to dry for 2 hours.

Bring a few quarts of water to a good boil and cook the noodles, for 6-10 minutes, depending on thickness.

Top with ingredients of choice (check out the original recipe for more ideas), and enjoy!