Saturday, November 23, 2013

Preserving the Harvest

I finished my detox yesterday. Though, I liked how I was eating so much that the only thing I did differently was have a cup of coffee blended with coconut oil in the morning and a gluten free spritz cookie that my sister-in-law gave me after dinner :). I like how this way of eating makes me feel and I want to continue in the same way and really moderate my intake of sugar so I don't go overboard again :). 

Now, onto the garden.

As wonderful as it feels when things start growing in the garden, that is only half the battle. The other half is making sure it is harvested and processed before it goes bad. Sometimes I am better at this than others. Though I have to say, the threat of impending frost is a good motivator and 3 weeks ago I finally went out and harvested the rest of my stevia and peppers.

The stevia was bundled with yarn and hung from the window and hanging fruit basket. 

My kitchen was a very happy place while my stevia dried. I love having green things in the house!

After 2 weeks it dried completely and I stripped off the leaves and stored them in mason jars. I use the dried stevia to sweeten my herbal infusions. At some point I also want to try making my own liquid stevia. 

In my last harvest I got a total of 90 habaneros! That is a lot of spice!

With the green habaneros I made hot sauce following this recipe. The green hot sauce recipe is the third on her post. It is orange because I used some paprika when I blended it up. I also used fresh garlic and onion instead of powder, and simmered it all on the stove for a few minutes to soften everything up for blending. It turned out fantastic! Not too spicy at all with a lot of great flavor. 

The rest of the habaneros were hung to dry and I will make habanero powder when they are done.

We had 2 really hard frosts in a row last week. My greens did beautifully, however their stems were affected by the frost and many leaves were drooping to the ground. In an effort to beat the bugs I went out and harvested all the droopy leaves. With the cold weather I doubt the plants will grow much more, but maybe the plants can hold out until spring and have another grow spurt so I can get another batch of greens :). 

I did not plant these. I think they are radishes? They were a pleasant surprise to find in the garden. I cut them up and roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper. It was a great low-carb alternative to potatoes. 

Another picture of my beautiful mountain of greens :). Here we have arugula, mustard greens and kale. 

I de-stemmed, chopped and blanched all the greens. Crazy that a table full of greens got reduced to a tupperware. There is a lot of nutrition in that container! I have already used quite a bit in adding to stir-frys, soups, and reheated with hot sauce and goat cheese. 

Then I took the stems from all the greens, chopped them up and sautéed them with some olive oil. They are a great replacement to celery! 

I also had about 30 jalapeños from a friend that I deseeded and finely chopped and put in the freezer. Now I can just break of a chunk and add it to any stir fry or soup when I want some spice :).

Finally I made my weekly batch of english muffins. Coffee and sourdough were the only two things that I really missed during the detox, so I look forward to eating one of these today :).

What do you still have growing in your garden?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Detox Meal Ideas

Hey everyone! Again it has been way too long since I have written. I feel like I have so much to tell you. The last several weeks have been full of cooking, preserving garden harvests, giving my husband a surprise birthday party, making cookie cake for 300 people, and lots of work and school. Speaking of, school is almost done for the semester! I have 1 week of classes left before Thanksgiving break and after that I just have finals. So many happy things :).

I will talk about all of that later, but for now I want to tell you about my detox.

Last Friday I started a detox with my friend, Jaime. It was all her idea and I am so glad we are doing it! We decided to cut out dairy, ALL sugar (refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, fruit, honey, stevia, etc), corn, gluten, soy, caffeine, alcohol, pork and processed meats. My friend is also cutting out red meat, but I decided to keep eating beef. We have a freezer full of grass-fed beef, and organic chicken and wild caught fish are way out of my budget at this time. So I am using what I have, and keeping beef in my diet throughout the detox. My usual intake is small portions once a day so I feel it is okay.

The detox is for 2 weeks and I started it last Friday. I hesitated writing a post about this because I am already halfway through and I felt like I missed my opportunity. But, then I thought I could show you what I have been eating and give you some ideas if you have been wanting an opportunity to lighten your meals and focus on moderation going into the holiday season. 

The funny thing is, this detox has helped me eat with a lot more variety than usual. So I have been enjoying it a lot! I normally eat a lot of sourdough bread because it is quick and easy and this detox forces me to find other options, especially at breakfast and lunch when I am in a hurry and have to pack my lunch and get out the door. 

I also have found that I don't miss sweets as much as I thought I would. It is so culturally ingrained to eat something sweet after dinner that I don't even question if I want it or not. I hope to carry this into the holidays and really ask myself if I really want that cookie or if I only want to eat it because everyone else is eating it. Desserts are not bad. But like everything else, it is important to treat them with respect and moderation. 

So, here are a few of my favorite meals from the last week.

Breakfast has been a choice between plantain pancakes, soup, or leftovers. 

Beef broth, onions, garlic, potatoes and greens and spices pureed together and topped with dried chili. Haha You can see Chris' breakfast in the background of an egg and cheese biscuit and a jelly biscuit. When I was editing the photos he said "you should crop out the biscuits or they will want my breakfast instead of yours". I kept his biscuits in the picture and decided you guys could decide for yourself. Which one looks better? Wait, on second thought, don't tell me :). 

Todays breakfast. Chicken broth with cabbage, ginger, garlic and chopped mustard green stems simmered until tender. Then an egg was added and stirred into the soup with a few drops of sesame oil and a dash of salt. It was so good! 

Plantain pancakes topped with coconut oil and avocado. The recipe is based off of Purely Twins plantain bread (1 plantain and 2 eggs blended together) except I cooked mine in a skillet like a pancake and I added salt and cinnamon to the batter. This was SO good. Seriously SOO good. I need to go the store and get more plantains so I can make this for breakfast every day!

Lunches have been simple and easy. I usually have to pack lunch to eat at school or work and it has to be something that I can eat cold. At the beginning of the week I cooked a big batch of quinoa. So, I been packing quinoa and peas with dried chili and olive oil, unsweetened flake coconut and peanuts, and a fresh vegetable. I have really enjoyed these lunches! If I am at home then I will just heat up leftovers from the night before. 

Dinners are really close to what I make on a regular basis and if necessary I make modifications. Some of my favorites from the last week have been curry, spaghetti and hamburgers. 

This is green curry sauce from the freezer cooked with veggies and served over quinoa. 

I had leftover spaghetti sauce that needed to be used up. So instead of noodles I used thinly sliced blanched cabbage noodles. Sorry for the poor lighting in the pictures. We eat dinner in our living room where it is warm but the light isn't great for pictures. 

Two nights ago I made burgers and I put mine on a salad instead of a bun and served it with broccoli. Mmmhhhh :). 

Last night I made beef heart steaks with green beans, peppers, and roasted potatoes, and tonight we had cubed beef heart with black beans and salsa. I still have more beef heart to use up so I am saving those pictures for another post! 

One last thing. The last 2 nights I have been craving dessert after dinner. So I mixed together melted coconut oil, natural peanut butter, cinnamon, and unsweetened shredded coconut for an after dinner snack. It is SOO good. Oh my goodness. I mix it together in a small espresso cup and eat it with a tiny spoon. So, even without sugar there are options for satisfying the desire to eat a snack after dinner. 

I have also been drinking lots of herbal tea and that helps too!

Thanks for reading and hopefully you will be inspired to see what kind of changes you can make next week to incorporate more healthy foods into your meals :)!