Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nutrition 101: Part 2 - Five Tips for Good Nutrition



Nutrition 101

Hey everyone! Time for another Nutrition 101 post. Make sure you read Part One first if you haven't already!

As I mentioned in part one, I am not a nutritionist or expert in this area by any means. I'm also not trying to say that I eat this healthy all of the time. My philosophy is to eat right when I can and not stress about when I can't.

I suppose you could call me a "Traditional Foodie" (think Nourishing Traditions) - I believe that, as much as possible, we should cook and eat the way our great grandparents did. If a food has been "invented" in the last 50 years or so, you might wish to reconsider eating it.

Everyone has their own views on what foods are healthy and which aren't. I'm sure some people aren't concerned about the potential health benefits/risks of consuming certain foods, but most people have an inkling about good nutrition.

For example, most people would admit that fast food is not the wisest meal choice health-wise. Beyond the knowledge that junk food isn't good for you, the waters can get pretty grey

If you're just starting to try to make good food choices, it can be very overwhelming to know where to start. Here are my top five tips to begin your healthy journey.


5 Tips for Eating Well


1) Cook from scratch as much as possible.
It is my belief that even if you can't afford the best ingredients in the world, if you are cooking the majority of your food from scratch you're miles ahead of many people. Growing up we didn't eat an organic diet, but my mom cooked almost everything from scratch. We had very few health problems. I'm not saying that this was the only reason we enjoyed good health, but I'm pretty sure that not consuming tons of soda and prepackaged food helped. We definitely had junk food for special occasions, but our meals were mostly homemade.


2) Avoid highly processed oils.
Most of the "vegetable oils" on the market today are not good choices. Polyunsaturated oils (oils that are liquid when cold) go rancid easily. They are unstable when heated.
Common polyunsaturated oils include: canola, corn, soy, sunflower, and "vegetable oil". You can read more about the dangers of polyunsaturated oils HERE and HERE.
And of course everyone knows that trans fats are not good. Avoid all hydrogenated oils when possible.


3) Eat Organic/Local/Pastured When Possible
I know it's not possible for everyone to afford an all organic diet (I know I can't). I try to use the "Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen" list, especially when shopping for Helen. A great alternative to organic is to buy local food. If you talk to farmers, they'll tell you what they used for fertilizer and if any pesticides were used.
It's also important to try to buy quality meat. Beware of labels claiming to be "all natural." Your best choice is local meat raised on pasture without the use of hormones. I can source pasture raised meat from our local farmers market and health food store. Organic would be my second choice.
The same goes for eggs and dairy products.


4) Avoid highly processed packaged food. 
This is probably the most obvious of the bunch. Everyone knows that store-bought cookies, crackers and candy are full of icky ingredients. Nearly every breakfast cereal contains extremely processed ingredients. Most chips are fried in unhealthy oils. I could write an entire post about prepackaged foods and healthy alternatives.


5) Embrace Healthy Fats
As I mentioned in Part One, as a teenager I followed the low-fat craze. If definitely made me skinny, but it didn't make me healthy.
Please don't be scared to consume plenty of healthy fats: butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. And by plenty, I don't mean a thin scraping of butter across your toast. I make to sure add loads to oatmeal, rice dishes, pasta, and basically anything we eat. Yeah, you can call me the butter lady. Make sure to buy the highest quality butter you can afford (I really like Organic Valley Pasture Butter, Kerrygold, Rumiano, and Kalona Supernatural). Even if you can only afford conventional butter, it's better than eating margarine or "vegetable oils."



So those are my top five tips for eating well!


Let me know what you would like to see next in this series. 
I could do a Q&A, address individual food groups, etc.




Five Tips for Good Nutrition | Buttered Side Up



Note: some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own. I wouldn't recommend something to you guys if I didn't like it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homemade Salted Caramel Corn Recipe


Caramel Corn | Buttered Side Up
Caramel Corn | Buttered Side Up
Caramel Corn | Buttered Side Up
Caramel Corn | Buttered Side Up

For some reason I used to have a fear of homemade caramel corn. Which is quite silly since I had never tried my hand at making it. I just assumed that the stuff from the store (full of highly processed ingredients) could not be recreated at home. Boy, was I wrong.

My sister made a batch of caramel corn and it was AMAZING. My preconceived notions about homemade caramel corn melted away. 

Caramel corn is one of the more addicting foods. It's sweet, but it's also salty, so you don't get overloaded on either flavor. It's so easy to toss kernel after kernel into mouth.

I'm sad that we already finished off this batch. Which can easily be remedied...



Homemade Salted Caramel Corn 
adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes about 15 cups

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn (to make about 15 cups popped)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (if using unsalted, you may want to add a bit of salt to the caramel)
  • 2 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
  • 3/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste

Directions:

1) Pop your popcorn. Place in a (very) large bowl. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper. If you don't have a roasting pan you can use two 13 x 9 pans. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). 

2) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the molasses, sucanat and honey. Stir and cook until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3) Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Don't be alarmed - the mixture will foam and get airy. Pour over popped popcorn and toss to coat evenly.

4) Spread in the prepared pan and sprinkle with coarse sea salt to taste. Bake in preheated oven for an hour, giving the caramel corn a stir every 15 minutes or so. 

5) Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before attempted to eat. Once it's completely cool you can store it in an airtight container for a few days. It probably won't last that long.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites + The Winners!




Here are a few random favorites from around the interwebs: 


hazelnut layer cake with fig compote + cream cheese frosting

Hazelnut Layer Cake with Fig Compote and Cream Cheese Frosting via Dolly & Oatmeal. I wouldn't use vegan cream cheese for the frosting, but this cake is gorgeous.



What To Look for in September

What to Look for in September by Claire Fletcher. How cute is this illustration?




Addicting Sea Salt Iced Coffee with Sea Salt Cream Recipe on @whiteonrice

Sea Salt Iced Coffee from White on Rice Couple. I made this and it was delicious. If it wasn't late at night I would make some right now.




Feather Sketch Napkins

Feather Sketch Napkins via Anthropologie.





Via The Savory. I love this quote. It's great to follow recipes to a T, but at some point you need to branch out and make a recipe your own.




salted chocolate espresso cookies

Salted Chocolate Espresso Cookies via My Daily Morsel. Looks like a few of these would slip down easily with a cold glass of milk. Mmhmm.




This is what I should do with my low counter. :)

Via Kitty Cat Stevens. I would love to put some open shelves above my low counter and turn it into a baking station. Hint hint, Reuben...





wouldn't that be nice?!

By Tim Bontan. Weekends are never long enough.




And now to announce the winners of the Jovial Foods Giveaway!


The Winners

Using random.org, I selected two winners of the $25 gift certificates to Jovial Foods.


Here are the results:

Winner #1: Nicole-Lynn whose favorite pasta dish is Whole Wheat Baked Ziti with Garlic Bread. 

Winner #2: Amanda Jorjorian whose favorite pasta dishes are Mac & Cheese and anything tomato based.


You guys really make a girl hungry with all of your favorite pastas.

I have contacted Nicole and Amanda.

Thank you to all who entered the giveaway. Hope y'all have an awesome weekend!


xoxo
Erica



Note: Some links are affiliate. All opinions are my own. I would never share something with you guys that I didn't like. 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dirty Chai Pancakes with Spiced Caramel Sauce







Dirty Chai Pancakes
Alright, time for the promised pancakes!
When Emma pinned these Dirty Chai Pancakes the other day, I knew I needed to make them. And so I did.
Reuben loved them. “These are really good pancakes,” he told me with his mouth full.

Dirty Chai Pancakes
Lovely Chai spices are mixed in with the dry ingredients. Fresh-ground espresso makes these “dirty” pancakes.
You should whip these up. Today. For breakfast, lunch or supper! They’re good any time.

Recipe Notes:
The original recipe called for spelt flour, but I subbed whole wheat and AP flour with great success. It also called for non-dairy milk, but I just used regular whole.
I didn’t have any maple syrup on hand, so I just mixed up a spiced caramel sauce. You could also mix a few spices into warmed maple syrup if you prefer.

Dirty Chai Pancakes with Spiced Caramel Sauce | adapted from The First Mess and Foods of Our Lives serves 3-4 | Printable Page
Ingredients
For the Spiced Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch each of: ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves
For the pancakes:
  • 1 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpse flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground espresso
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions
To make the caramel sauce:
1) Place the sugar in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir vigorously with awooden spoon until the sugar melts. This will take a few minutes.
2) Once the sugar has all melted start adding the butter one piece at a time. Whisk until the butter is completely melted. Wait about 3 seconds and then add the cream slowly. Whisk as you add until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.
3) Add the salt and spices and whisk again a couple times just to incorporate.
To make the pancakes:
1) Combine the milk and vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Stir lightly and set aside to curdle for at least 5 minutes.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground coffee, cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves. Add the curdled milk, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir gently to combine, taking care not to over mix.
3) Heat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush the pan with melted butter. Drop 1/3 cup measures of the pancake batter into the pan. Allow the first side to cook for 1 to 1-½ minutes, or until bubbles pop on the surface and the edges appear dry and lightly browned. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another minute. Remove pancakes and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.
4) Serve pancakes with lots of butter, spiced caramel sauce or maple syrup. Yum!


Dirty Chai Pancakes

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jovial Foods Review + Giveaway




Jovial Foods
A few months ago I reached out to the folks at Jovial, wondering if they would be interested in partnering with me to bring you guys a review of some of their awesome products. I was expecting to receive a few items, but just look at the bounty they sent me! 


Here's a quick overview of what Jovial is all about:

They're a small, family-owned company, founded by husband and wife team Carla and Rodolfo. When they realized that their daughter was sensitive to modern wheat (it caused her asthma, mood swings, chronic sinusitis and hair loss), they started creating high quality gluten-free foods. 

Then, they discovered Einkorn: a rare, ancient form of wheat. They found that their daughter could eat the Einkorn. Einkorn has a different protein structure than modern wheat, so some people that are sensitive to wheat can handle Einkorn. You can read more about ancient grains HERE.

Besides high quality Einkorn products, Jovial sells gluten-free pastas, organic olive oil, tomatoes in glass jars, and more!



Here is my review of the products they sent me:



Jovial Foods
Whole wheat einkorn penne. I'm usually not a huge fan of whole wheat pasta, but this was quite good. It wasn't bitter like many whole wheat pastas I've tried. 


Jovial Foods
Einkorn spaghetti. This is made with "white" eikorn. I must say that I was quite impressed with this pasta. I was able to achieve perfect al dente. Usually my pasta goes quickly from not quite done to very soft. This pasta was both firm and completely cooked. I could tell that it was high quality.


Jovial Foods
Jovial Foods
Einkorn wheat berries. These were so much fun to work with! They look different from modern wheat varieties.


Sprouted Flour from Jovial Einkorn
I sprouted a package of the berries and made my own sprouted einkorn flour. It doesn't get much better than that.


Jovial Foods
Organic diced tomatoes. I really really appreciate that they're packed in glass jars. I don't like buying tomatoes in tin cans because of all the BPA. I can feel good about using Jovial's tomatoes! 


Jovial Foods
They even use a BPA free lid. I love their attention to details!


Jovial Foods
They included some tomato paste in a glass jar. This is great for thickening pasta sauce and it's SO handy that it's in a jar. Does anyone else get frustrated at those cans of tomato paste?


Jovial Foods
Jovial Foods
Organic extra virgin olive oil. This is made from 100% Italian organic ancient varieties of olives. It's high quality for sure. I didn't notice a big difference in taste, but I'm not an olive oil connoisseur.





Here are a few of the things I made with their products: 


Blueberry Dutch Baby
With the einkorn flour I sprouted, I made a Blueberry Dutch Baby. This was delicious. Helen loved it. 


Spaghetti Bolognese
With the spaghetti, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and olive oil I made Spaghetti Bolognese (with grass-fed beef, of course). Because of the quality of the ingredients, I felt good feeding it to Helen (minus the pasta, since I don't give her un-sprouted grains yet).


Blueberry Cake
I also made a blueberry cake for Helen with the sprouted flour. She adored it. I thought it was yummy as well, even though I cut out a lot of the sweetener from the recipe.

I made my no-knead bread with part of the einkorn flour I ground. It was very good.



Now for the big question: would I purchase these products?

Yes! I will definitely be purchasing Jovial products in the future. I am quite impressed with the quality. The olive oil is pretty expensive - it will be a special occasion item. I'll be savoring my bottle. 

If you're interested in purchasing some Jovial products, make sure you use the coupon code BSU2014
It will get you 10% off your order plus FREE SHIPPING! This code is good until the end of September. It excludes their KOMO grain mill and Culinary Getaway. 



Giveaway Time!


The folks over at Jovial have generously agreed to give away two (2) gift certificates for $25 each!

Here's what you need to do to enter the giveaway:

  • Either like Jovial's Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter or Pinterest. You don't have to follow all three - you can pick just one if you like.
  • Come back here and leave a comment on this post answering the following question: What's your favorite pasta dish of all time?

Rules:

  • You must follow one of Jovial's social media pages AND leave a comment on this post.
  • You must be a continental US resident and you must be 18 years of age or older. 
  • You must provide a way for me to reach you if you win the giveaway (Your Twitter, Pinterest, email, blog, etc.).
  • The giveaway will end on Tuesday, September 16, at midnight Central Time. No comments will be considered for the giveaway after that time.
  • Using random.org, I will select 2 winners. If you do not provide a way for me to contact you, I will select a different winner.
  • The winners must respond to my email within 72 hours or I will have to choose a new winner.


That's it!
Good luck!



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Maple Apple Pecan Bread



This post was originally published on October 10, 2010 on Cooking for Seven.

Maple Apple Pecan Bread | Buttered Side Up
001
Maple Apple Pecan Bread | Buttered Side Up
Maple Apple Pecan Bread | Buttered Side Up


We have been blessed with a multitude of apples this year. It’s wonderful to be able to, after a hard run, pluck an apple from our trees and enjoy a sweet reward.
It’s also wonderful to have so many apples on hand, ready to create something delicious. Like pink apple jelly. Or this scrumptious Maple Apple Pecan Bread.


  Notes:
  The original recipe called for brown sugar. Since I didn’t have natural “solid” sweetener on hand, I substituted maple syrup and increased the flour by 3 tablespoons.
   I did use 3/4 cup of ap-flour, but if you have whole wheat pastry flour on hand you could easily use all whole wheat.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pollo en Salsa al Horno (Roasted Chicken in Sauce)



Pollo en Salsa al Horno (Roasted Chicken in Sauce)
Tasty Kitchen Blog Pollo en Salsa al Horno (Roasted Chicken in Sauce) 05.jpg
Tasty Kitchen Blog Pollo en Salsa al Horno (Roasted Chicken in Sauce) 09.jpg
Tasty Kitchen Blog Pollo en Salsa al Horno (Roasted Chicken in Sauce) 19.jpg
Tasty Kitchen Blog Pollo en Salsa al Horno (Roasted Chicken in Sauce) 22.jpg

If I'm honest, I thought that this chicken was going to be a lot more work than it was. First off, the name makes it sound much too fancy for a weeknight meal. And frying chicken always sounds daunting.

To my surprise, this came together very easily. The hardest part is locating some good saffron. It was well worth it.

Check out the recipe and my step-by-step photos over on the Tasty Kitchen Blog. Enjoy!

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