Butter Mints

The concept of a butter-mint may sound crazy to some of you… mints made out of butter. Yes, pure butter! There are some recipes that call for a mix of butter & coconut oil or coconut butter… but I prefer the plain old, grass-fed butter variation that lends itself to a very silky, melty texture and pure taste of mint (instead of coconut-mint). But, what the heck are butter mints anyway? Right. Well, they are just little dollops of flavored butter, basically. In this case, flavored with peppermint extract, a bit of raw honey, sea salt, and some raw cacao powder. Very simple. They look like this:

But, why would you just decide to eat some dollops of butter?? Right. So, say you find yourself craving sugar every day. Or say your child is always asking for cookies or sweets - Butter Mints can be a great alternative to these things. It is impossible to eat many at once (I can’t do more than 3) as they are just dollops of healthy fat going in your belly - which fills you up quite fast as the digestion required to break that down takes a longer time than it does for a cracker or sugar cookie. Fat burns longer than sugar - and it also slows down the absorption of sugar so that you enjoy sustained levels of blood sugar instead of spikes. There have now been many studies that show fat doesn’t make you fat… it’s mainly sugar and excessive simple carbohydrates that do that, but beyond the weight issue, healthy fatty acids from grass-fed butter nourish and fuel our brains, establish good hormone health, and increase good cholesterol. I consider butter an essential food group for kids, especially. Read more about just how healthy butter can be here. I keep a jar of these in the freezer for my toddler (and myself too, let’s be honest) and he eats them as “special treats” often - because they are delicious! So, now that you are convinced it’s worth a try, here’s the recipe:

Pure Butter Mints:

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), organic grass-fed butter is the healthiest! 
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. raw honey
  • Small pinch of unrefined sea salt
  • Optional: 1 Tbs. cacao powder for a chocolate version

Bring butter to room temperature, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula until silky smooth and completely mixed. Place butter mixture into a plastic bag or pastry bag and use a pastry tip to squeeze nickel-sized dollops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or just cut the corner end off of your plastic bag). Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set - store in a glass jar in the freezer and eat chilled! 

Summer Corn with Umeboshi

Looking for a new way to jazz up all that corn on the cob your family is eating this summer? We love ours grilled and charred with olive oil and salt, Mexican-style with chili powder, cilantro, and lime, and also this way - with a smear of umeboshi paste and gomasio on top. It’s just as easy as anything to make, and chances are you have NO idea the benefits of eating this intensely pickled, funny sounding Japanese plum - it’s great to have an easy way of incorporating them into such an American staple. 

Food Facts: Umeboshi Plums (or plum paste)

Umeboshi salt plums are extremely sour and salty. They are commonly called “Japanese alka seltzer” because of their common use in treating digestive upset. They are highly alkalizing and can help with indigestion, diarrhea, liver issues, fatigue, the elimination of toxins and even worms! Because of their action on the liver, they have also gotten a popular reputation as a hangover cure. You can buy them whole or commonly as vinegars or pastes. One umeboshi plum a day = the apple of the East! 

Summer corn with Umeboshi

Fresh corn, kept on the cob

2 Tbsp umeboshi paste

1 splash Mirin rice wine

Gomasio (a sesame seed and sea salt mixture) or toasted sesame seeds

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Grill or steam corn to desired doneness. While your corn is cooking, mix umeboshi paste with a splash of mirin and stir/whisk together to thin the paste - you may need a splash of water as well to taste. Umeboshi paste is VERY strong, so thinning it out makes the flavor less punchy and adding the wine will balance a little sweetness into the paste. Spread a thin layer over each cob, top with gomasio sprinkles or sesame seeds and cayenne for kick. 

Breakfast Nut Muffins

I’ve been eating eggs for breakfast for like… ever. Especially while pregnant, I’m always looking for more ways to add protein and healthy fat into my daily meals so I can stay energized while eating for two. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of having some morning eggs, toast, and fruit in our household. This meal has been ingrained in me since childhood! Not to say there is anything inherently wrong with bread and fruit… but they are not protein-rich and tend to lead to energy crashes if it’s the only thing you eat in the morning. To better balance your hormones and energy - we need protein and healthy fat to start the day. I tried out these nut flour muffins this week and have to say, although they don’t feel like a classic muffin, they are tasty and much healthier for you (gluten free as well!) than toast with jam. Try ‘em out with your eggs and a side of wild boar sausage for a mega-fueled breakfast of champions! 

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Nut Flour Muffins:

1 ½ cups raw, organic nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and/or pecans)

¼ cup maple syrup

3 eggs from pastured chickens

1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a blender (VitaMix is best), grind nuts until flour-like consistency; use a spatula to scrape sides if it becomes sticky. Add maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt and blend together until there is a smooth consistency.

Pour into sprayed or buttered muffin pan. Bake ~12 minutes, until golden brown and your toothpick comes out clean. Slather generously with grass-fed butter and enjoy hot! Makes 6 standard-sized muffins. 

What did you cook this weekend?

A few delicious images of our home-cooked food choices this weekend… Do you cook with your family on weekends? Do you go to a farmer’s market? It’s a great way for me to unwind with everyone at home - cooking a wonderful meal that makes the whole house smell good, getting everyone at the table together, taking time to enjoy our family and appreciate what we have. If that’s not good medicine, I don’t know what is. 

Above: Garlic Shrimp with chile de arból and parsley…

Above: Grilled Vegetable Tacos with all the trimmings… 

Above: First Heirloom caprese salad of the season! I could eat these daily for the rest of the spring AND summer… 

Pure Samoa "Girl Scout Cookies"

Who doesn’t love girl scout cookies? Come on, most of you are craving them every time you pass by their little stands outside of Walgreens or the grocery store - I know I do. Problem is, they are really bad for you! I will praise the day when the girl scouts stop using hydrogenated oils and so many processed ingredients in their treats. I mean, it’s about time, right! 

My all time favorite girl scout cookie is the Samoa:

Dark chocolate, coconut, caramel, shortbread cookie. I crave these things normally during girl scout season, BUT this year my sister sent me a “fake samoa” recipe that was full of healthy stuff, and I thought - I’m gonna break the cycle and try these instead! I think it worked. They have been in the freezer for a few days now, and I haven’t missed a real samoa at all. They are different, mind you - the texture is different and they need to be frozen, but the flavor is very close to the “real thing”, even though the “real thing” is more full of “fake” ingredients than these are. Get me? See what you think. 

Almost Raw Samoa Cookie Bars:

(modified from Cooking a la Mel)

For the “shortbread base”:

    • 2 cups walnuts, or walnut and pecan mix
    • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
    • ¼ cup raw honey
    • 1 t vanilla extract
    • ¼ t sea salt
For the coconut “caramel” layer:
    • 1 ½ cups dates, soaked for about 10 minutes in hot water
    • ½ cup coconut milk
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1/8 t salt
    • 1C unsweetened, shredded coconut
For the chocolate topping:
  • 1 C dark chocolate chips

For the shortbread base:

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and coconut together until in fine crumbs. Add in the honey, vanilla, and sea salt, and process until a moist dough forms.

Press the dough into a parchment lined 9×9 inch baking pan.

For the coconut “caramel” layer:

Toast the shredded coconut at 350ºF for about 5-8 minutes, until golden (be careful not to burn it). Allow it to cool while you make the “caramel.”

After soaking the dates, drain the water, and pulse in a food processor until a paste forms. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, and salt, and process until smooth. Add the shredded coconut, and pulse until just combined.

Scoop the coconut “caramel” mixture out, and spread it evenly across the top of the “shortbread” base.

Transfer to the freezer for about 15 minutes, until set.

For the chocolate topping:

Place the chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl, and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted.

Remove the bars from the freezer. Transfer the melted chocolate to a ziplock bag using a rubber spatula. Snip off the corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the bars.

Place back in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate has hardened, then take out the whole sheet of cookie with parchment paper (it will be hardened and set firmly), cut it into squares large or small. Place them in an airtight container & store in the freezer. 

They get melty the longer they are outside of the freezer, so enjoy cold and eat often.  

Ridiculously Easy Raw Chocolate Bars

Some of you might think making your own chocolate sounds like a chore, one which you would be more than happy to simply leave to the professionals. I’m here to tell you this: making your own chocolate could not be ANY easier than this recipe I’m about to share. It’s only 3 basic ingredients. No cooking involved. Just mixing & freezing. Making raw chocolate - without cooking or heat involved - is actually wonderfully healthy for you as well. It is completely, 100% guilt-free dessert! I’ve been mixing up some batches lately and here are my favorites picks for superfood-infused raw chocolates that will make your heart sing: 

Homemade Raw Dark Chocolate:

3 Tbsp organic, unrefined coconut oil

3 Tbsp raw cacao powder

1 tsp raw honey (you can adjust more for taste)

Mix coconut oil and cacao powder in a small bowl and set that bowl inside a larger bowl filled somewhat with warm water - leave the cacao mixture here until the coconut oil softens. Mix well. Stir in honey and any other liquid or powder ingredients you might add (see my variations below), pour into a small dish lined with parchment paper. Freeze until solid - just an hour or so. EAT! 

Raw Maca - Goji - Chocolate (pictured above): Mix in 1 tsp maca root powder to cacao mixture and stir. Sprinkle with goji berries before freezing. I call this the Yin/Yang chocolate. Maca root is a yang tonic, goji berry is a yin tonic - so together they build the yin (substance) and yang (function) energies of our body. A great chocolate to activate your kidneys, which help with our most primal functions of reproduction/fertility and stress recovery. 

Raw Orange Peel - Almond Chocolate: Sprinkle orange zest and flaked almond slivers atop raw chocolate mixture before freezing. This one’s not really on the therapeutic side, unless tasting really good is enough therapy in itself?

Raw Ginger - Turmeric Chocolate: Add ¼ tsp ginger powder & ¼ tsp turmeric powder to cacao mixture and stir. Freeze as is, or top with more fresh grated ginger before freezing. Ginger and turmeric are both invigorating, anti-inflammatory herbs that can help with arthritis and bursitis conditions. If you have pain or poor circulation, go ahead and pump up your chocolate with these. 

yum. 

Fennel Tea "Cure-All"

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Fennel teas are plentiful and easy to find in tea bags in many grocery stores, but making your own straight from the seeds is so much more effective and therapeutic if you are really looking for the health benefits it has to offer. And what are those, you might say?? Well, personally, I like to think of fennel tea being a digestive “cure-all” for many stomach & GI issues. I think that is its biggest strength. Upset stomach, heartburn, gas, bloating, nausea, IBS symptoms, even pain from stomach ulcers can be relieved by fennel tea. You can also modify fennel tea with a few other herbs to customize it to your own taste and need, although it’s already pretty delicious on its own. Another benefit of fennel - the naturally sweet & cool flavor makes a great breath freshener. It would be wonderful to serve a large glass pitcher of this herbal tea alongside lunch for friends or family- they will never suspect you are looking out for their health as well as relishing their company. :) Here is my recipe for basic fennel tea, with some additional variations you might find work best for your tummy:

Fennel Tea:

3 tsp crushed, whole fennel seeds (crushed with a mortar and pestle works just fine to release the oils)

3 C water

Bring water and fennel seeds to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink up to 3 C daily for health benefits. 

Fennel + Licorice Root Tea: Licorice has been researched and proven to help with stomach ulcers, heartburn, and as a general digestive aid. You can buy whole licorice root from an herbal pharmacy and use about 3 grams with the recipe above. *

Fennel + Ginger Root Tea: More warming and stimulating, ginger adds another benefit for digestion by helping nausea, bloating, or feeling “stuck” or cold in your gut. Cut up 3-4 slices of fresh ginger root and add to the recipe above. 

Fennel + Dandelion Leaf Tea: Dandelion focuses more on digestive issues related to the liver. Promoting bile flow, helping digest fats, & cleansing from a rich diet. Add 2 tsp of bulk dandelion leaf in a cheesecloth bag or metal tea ball to the recipe above for a great digestive “detox” tea. *

Happy sipping! 

*Always consult with your healthcare practitioner or nutritionist to be sure licorice and dandelion are right for your body type before consuming in large amounts.