Saturday, September 5, 2015

What you don't know can't hurt you, or can it?

The old saying what you don't know can't hurt you doesn't work in today's world. Reason being that there is way too much stuff that we don't know, that is going into everything we consume from our food to products that we use on a daily basis.

Though the sellers of this world would like to keep their consumers mindless and busy, the
web has opened another dimension to those who need to make informed decisions about what they consume.

Knowledge comes with great responsibility so most would rather not know, but do you really want to leave the responsibilty of what goes into a product or better yet, what doesn't, up to those very people who stand to gain from its cheap production.

As consumers, we are studied and are sold to in regards to our very habitual nature.
All of our senses being manipulated, whether it be specific placement on a shelf, to releasing the aroma of baked goods to win our hard earned dollar.

Whether we like it or not, the only true way to cast our vote is by making sure that a company is worthy of trading our "life hours" which we label as "money" for their goods or services. Are the goods offered by that company going to add to our life hours or deplete it?.. 

Think of it like a savings account, if you never put anything away there will be nothing there for you when you retire. What will you be left with in the end, if all that is going into your body is chemically altered in some cheap way so that the company owners can take home a bigger bonus.

We have many choices and resourses as consumers today to help us make informed decisions and most everything is just a google away. The companies that are not looking out for their customers best interest can no longer hide. Sooner or later they are exposed, but why wait when you have that very information at your fingertips. Here are a few places to start... 





We need to assume responsibility for our health and the health of our families as head of our households. What we bring into our homes from the food, toiletries, cleaning products, medications, etc, to feed, beautify, heal, and clean has a direct effect on their immediate and future health.

              Red Lentil and Mushroom Soup

4 cups of red lentil washed and drained
1/2 cup of Arborio Rice
10 large crimini mushrooms washed and sliced
1 large white or yellow onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic
half a bundle of fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp. of cumin seeds
1 tbsp. of extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp. of sea salt
20 cups of filtered water

Heat coconut oil in (8 Quart) stainless steel pot, add onions, mushrooms, garlic and cumin seeds, then sauté until you hear it sizzle a bit. ( approximately 4min.)

Then add red lentils, Arborio rice, sea salt and filtered water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until red lentils are cooked. Finally, add the parsley, stir the soup, turn off the heat and cover the pot. You may sprinkle with cumin seeds and fresh chopped parsley. Delicious. Enjoy!!       

      "Let Food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."        

Saturday, August 29, 2015

" The Seansoned Organic"

The average consumer rarely pays attention to what's in season when making a purchase at the grocery store. If it is on their list, on the shelf and fairly priced, it goes in the cart.

Growing up, I tagged along on many trips to the grocery store with grandfather and grandmother. They never worked from a list but relied on memory and their palettes. Our cart was filled with eggs, olive oil, butter, green and black olives, various types of cheese, milk that grandmother would turn into yogurt later that evening, fresh seasonal produce, flour to make bread and sweet confections, and the freshest meat available from the butcher. All single ingredient items which later were used to create delicious meals that would feed a family of seven for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the course of a week. Their taste buds knew what real wholesome food was supposed to taste like, and so they hunted for the best places where they could gather what was needed to feed our family.

It is our misconception that hunting and gathering has evolved into the simple task of walking into a building deemed a "Grocery Store" to gather the contents of our list or what we see, into a cart. Unload it on a conveyor belt, pay for the purchase, have a complete stranger load the items into a bag and place them back into the cart to be transported to our vehicle, load them into the vehicle to be transported home, then unload once more and finally put away the items into the appropriate storage compartments to be consumed later.

Simple?.. I think not. We have complicated matters so deeply that it will take some time before we understand why it is not the mere trouble of loading, transporting and unloading that is the problem. But that whom we have given the responsibility of "growing and manufacturing of what we consume",  which will eventually lead to our children reaping what we have sown. In an effort to simplify our lives we have almost eliminated the concept of seasonal and local consumerism.

We found that the best way to stay aware and teach the concept of eating seasonal organic local fresh fruits and vegetables is to plant our own. We started with a simple herb garden and now have a mini orchard growing all around our home. With the realization of the drought, the concept of turning ones front or backyard into an edible garden is quickly gaining favor with Californians.

If you don't have the time or space to grow your own food, thankfully there are those special people who appreciate the art of eating seasonally and provide us with the great harvest right to our door. The farmers that work through Abundant Harvest Organics.

                           Our Saturday Bounty!

                           "Our Daily Bread"

Proofing your yeast

1 tbsp. of yeast
1 cup of warm unfiltered water 
1 tbsp. of raw sugar
1 tbsp. of unbleached white flour
Mix the sugar, white flour and warm
unfiltered water until blended then
add the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile add the dry ingredients listed 
below to a large mixing bowl.

1 cups of whole wheat flour
2 cup of unbleached white flour 
1/2 cup of flax seeds or flax seed meal
1/2 dark rye flour
1 tbsp. of dark cocoa powder
2 tbsp. of sunflower seeds
2 tbsp. of pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp. of caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. of sea salt
4 tbsp. of cooked hard wheat

Give these dry ingredients a stir to make sure they are well mixed.
Now check on your yeast. It should have doubled in volume. If it has
then it is ready to be used.

In a measuring cup add
1 cup of warm unfiltered water
 and 2 oz. of extra virgin olive oil

Next add your yeast to the dry ingredient bowl and start mixing
with a spoon, then add the remaining water olive oil mix to the
bowl a little at a time as you keep mixing with the spoon.
Once it becomes difficult to mix with the spoon you need to
start using your hands to knead the dough. You may use
some white unbleached flour to help knead the dough so
the dough doesn't stick to your hands.

Once you are done mixing and kneading the dough, let
it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Then go back and kneading some more.
Do not pull apart the dough. Just keep lifting it off the bottom of the bowl
and push down on it. Lift and push away from you. You may do this on the table
instead of in the bowl if you like. Let it rest again and go back after 10 minutes
to knead. Do this about 3 to 4 times. Then divide your dough into 2 even size balls by cutting
it with a knife. You may refrigerate the extra loaf for up to 3 days in a sealed zip lock bag.

Oil your baking pan, ( this could be a round glass, rectangular or square oven safe baking dish).
Set the dough loosely on the pan and put it aside near the stove for it to rise, it should double in size in about an hour. If the weather is cold the warmth of the oven will help the dough to rise.
Once your dough has risen or doubled in size you may bake it for 30 minutes at 500 F.
Before taking the bread out.  Mix 2 tbsp. of water and 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil.
Take the bread out of the oven and while it is still hot brush the oil and water mix
onto the bread. Let it cool for at least 30minutes. This recipe will make 2 large loaves of bread 

Dried Herb and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Blend for Dipping Bread

4 tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. of dried oregano 
1 tsp. of dried thyme
A sprinkle of sea salt, garlic powder 
and fresh ground black pepper.

Mix all of these ingredients in a flat bowl and set aside for dipping your
bread. You can make this as needed. It is easy to do and tastes amazing!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Cooking Is A Life Skill- Pass It On!"

Whether we like it or not, mindful or on autopilot, we are passing on life skills to whomever is there to witness our life. Children, grandchildren, friends, co workers, spouses, neighbors, all whom we interact with on a daily basis we can influence with intention.

One of life's most important skills is to be able to cook for yourself and others. These skills could be learned in an array of institutions, the Internet, the cooking channels, food network, but are best passed on from one person to the next in the comfort of your childhood home kitchen.

Children are very impressionable and willing to learn new skills as long as they are fun. It is always best to involve your children in the shopping and cooking process while they are very young, which allows them to join in on the decision making of eating healthy meals and gives them a sense of control. Instead of being told what they will be having for dinner, they are involved in the planning of the meal to be enjoyed by the family. Don't underestimate what a two year old can come up with if given the opportunity!

By adding fast, processed foods and omitting the shopping and cooking of whole foods to save time, we are shortening the healthy elder years to come and setting ourselves up for a myriad of health problems.

We need to bring back the good olde fashioned way of doing things, one meal at a time, one day at a time, and stop trying to save time with short cuts, which will have us paying for it with our health well into our future.

                     Here are three fun ways to get you started!

Life Skill Part 1

Post a shopping list on the fridge or pantry in your kitchen. As you list the ingredients you should involve your child in that process by asking what they would like for dinner that week. Meanwhile, make healthy suggestions they can choose from. As you plan the menu for the week it will help prompt the ingredients needed for that weeks meals and your child will understand the purpose for the list. 

Life Skill Part 2

Take them shopping and make a game of looking for the items that are on the list. They can point them out while seated in the cart or if old enough they could help find and place the items in the cart.
( Do not attempt this activity if you or your child are hungry or tired.)

Life Skill Part 3 

When you bring the items home, have your child help with putting things away. At this time they will learn what is stored in the pantry, what needs refrigeration or freezing. All of these skills could be learned even if they are just watching you, but it is always better ingrained if they can be involved in the process if old enough. ( An 18 month old can even do it! )

As you are putting the items away, show them to your child, state the items name, where it comes from , classification (i.e. fruit, vegetable, grain, spice, etc.) and talk about how each ingredient will be useful to a dish that will be prepared.

 ( i.e. These are tomato's and they taste best when left on the kitchen counter. We will use them in our salad for dinner tonight. Thought provoking questions for your lil bug-  What color is it? Is Tomato a vegetable or fruit?) 

                                             Remember to have fun!

Food and cooking are great conversation pieces and can create the best childhood memories to be reminisced over for years to come. So pass on your cooking traditions to those who witness your life and know that you will have played a very important role in preserving their health!

                                                   Bon Appetite!

                                         "Brown Lentil Soup"                                        

4 cups of brown lentil washed & drained
1 large white or yellow onion diced
4 cloves of garlic crushed
4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp. dried mint leaves
1 tbsp. whole fenugreek
4 oz. of orzo pasta
1 tbsp. sea salt
20 cups filtered water

Heat coconut oil in (8 quart) medium sized stainless steel stock pot, add
onions and fenugreek and sauté until they sizzle a bit. ( approximately 4min.)

Then add lentils, sea salt, tomato paste and filtered water. Bring to boil, lower heat
and simmer about 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked but firm.

Now add the orzo pasta and simmer for
an additional 10 minutes.

Once everything is cooked add the dried mint leaves and crushed garlic.
Stir your yummy pot of soup, turn off heat and cover pot with lid until ready to serve.

Tips: You may refrigerate left overs up to 3 days. 
Only reheat portions as needed.
This pot of soup can serve about 8 to 10 adults.
To make less soup just divide this recipe in half.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

"The History of Soup"


Growing up I was fascinated with the history of the world and its people. While my grandmother was in the kitchen busy making soup, I would sit next to my grandfather and ask to hear about his life. He didn't like soup and said that it was not fit to be labeled as lunch or dinner but a wash for your insides.

"Well, you need a good hot washing once in awhile!" grandmother would say as she prepared her soup. I loved her soups and his stories and remember them both when I am cooking in my kitchen.

Grandfather was a great storyteller and had an extraordinary lifetime of stories to tell. I could listen to him for hours. He sparked my interest and created a thirst for knowledge that lead me to my love of reading and researching. Going to the library quickly became a habit and while I was there, I would lose all track of time.

Now we have the Internet for such things, so I googled the history of soup and this is what I found on "wiki".  Fun little facts about soup and a beautiful portrait of a little girl holding a bowl of soup. 

Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC.[3] Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used. This method was also used to cook acorns and other plants.

The word soup comes from French soupe ("soup", "broth"), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa ("bread soaked in broth") from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word "sop", a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning "[something] restoring") was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for the eating establishments.

In the US, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith's The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion and it included several recipes for soups and bisques. A 1772 cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, contained an entire chapter on the topic. English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Boston called "The Restorator", and became known as the "Prince of Soups". The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing: Soups and Soup Making.

Portable soup was devised in the 18th century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left that could be dried and stored for months at a time.

"Green Machine Soup"

3 cups of green split pea
 ( wash and soak overnight 
cook with 5 cups of filtered water and drain)

1 tbsp of extra virgin coconut oil
1 bundle of fresh chopped parsley
half bundle of fresh chopped cilantro
1 bundle of fresh kale or collard greens ( your favorite blend of fresh green veggies will do)
2 celery stalks sliced or diced
1 large white or yellow onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
4 slices of fresh ginger
2 tbsp of cumin seeds
half a cup of brown rice
2 tbsp of sea salt
20 cups of filtered water

Heat coconut oil in a (8 Quart) stainless steel pot, add onions, garlic, cumin seeds and ginger,
sauté until your ingredients sizzle a bit. ( approximately 4 minutes )

Add filtered water, cooked and drained green split pea, parsley, cilantro, celery,
brown rice and sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook until spilt pea is tender. Finally add your kale or
favorite green veggies. Turn off the heat. Stir your soup. Put the lid on and wait 5minutes. The hot
soup will cook the raw veggies just right.

Remove lid and give the soup another stir. With a hand held blender puree the soup right in the pot.

Eat and Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"Give Your Fridge & Pantry A Make Over!"

               "Susan, I miss your soup!"

Fill your kitchen with wholesome ingredients and you can cook awesome meals in no time!

Make a weekly shopping list of these key ingredients and keep them on hand, so your kitchen will be set to serve you well. 

The dry grains don't spoil and the veggies can be used in almost any dish to add a complexity of flavors.

Soup, Ooup, Zoup, however you say the word, it translates to pure Delight for soup lovers!  So much that, it is one of the first words that our lil luv bugs learn here with us.

It melts my heart when my lil' luv bugs say " Susan, I love your soup!" with every mouthful.

And they are the reason I love to cook! 


Make sure all of your spices are whole and grind them as needed or use them whole. If you purchase ground up spices, remember they have been sitting on a shelf for a long time and will continue to sit in your kitchen for a while longer. Once spices are ground they loose their flavor and potency. When you grind spices, you release the oils, and they begin to dissipate. In two weeks to a month after grinding, you have the sharpest drop in flavor, a rapid loss of oils. But then, it plateaus, losing its flavor at a more gradual rate. So to avoid any loss, we buy whole seeds and grind as needed or in most recipes use whole seeds.

All salts are not just salt. Read the ingredients label and make sure it is just salt. We use Real Salt, Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan Salt.

All the ingredients listed should always be organic if you want to make sure that your soup tastes like the ones you have had here with us. And believe me when I tell you this, "Your Lil one will know the difference."  

Allspice, Black or Rainbow Peppercorn, Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Garlic Powder or Granules to start. 

 (Hint: Store all the spices away from hot areas near and around your stove to keep them fresh.)

Herbs and Veggies

Herbs and Veggies 101- leave them in the green bags that you get at the grocery store but make sure they are dry and remove all rubber bands before storing in the fridge at eye level.

( Hint: Keep all your greens at eye level in the fridge so you can see what you have to work with every time you open the fridge.)

(Cilantro, Parsley, Mint, Carrots and Celery)

(Onion, Garlic, and Potato's do not need to be stored in the fridge.)

Grains, Beans and Legumes

Brown Lentils, Red Lentils, White Beans, Black Beans, Green Split Peas, Arborio Rice, Brown Rice, Orzo Pasta or any long thin pasta noodles cut into small bite size pieces.

(Hint: Store all of these in glass jars away from sunlight in your kitchen. Put them on a shelf where you will see the beautiful array of colors and will be encouraged use them.)

Frozen Veggies

Frozen Corn and Peas are great for texture and can be added at the end when your soup is done cooking, since they are already cooked.

Your Good Fats

Ghee, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Butter

All can be stored at room temp except for the butter.

  Lemongrass Chicken Corn Chowder

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed                             
2 cups of brown rice
4 cups of frozen corn
1 large white or yellow onion chopped
3 whole cloves of garlic
2 celery stalks diced
1 whole lemongrass or 2 drops of lemongrass oil
1 tbsp. of sea salt or to taste
1 tbsp. of fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp. of extra virgin coconut oil

16 cups of filtered water

Heat coconut oil in (8 Quart) stainless steel pot. Add onions, garlic, fenugreek and chicken.
Sauté until the ingredients begin to sizzle a bit, add brown rice,
celery, sea salt, lemongrass and filtered water. Cook on medium heat for 30 minutes or until you are sure the chicken and brown rice are fully cooked. Remove the lemongrass if you are using actual lemongrass. 
( It is important that you remove the lemongrass before blending the soup or else you will
have inedible lemongrass strands in your soup. They are not fun to pick out!)

Once you have removed the lemongrass, turn off the heat, add half of the frozen corn, and blend the soup. After blending you may add the remainder of the corn to add bits of sweetness and crunch.

If you are using lemongrass oil, turn off the heat then add 2 drops of lemongrass oil to the pot, stir and taste. 

You will be going for a second helping, so fill up your bowl.

Take your time and Enjoy!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Grandmother's Good Olde Cream of Wheat"

Our vision for every child is to help promote and preserve a healthy mind, body and world to live in. Supporting only the finest organic companies, that incorporate strictly organic and GMO-free ingredients sharing in our vision of a healthier future for our precious "lil' luv bugs', we encourage you to do the same for your family at home.

Food is such an intricate part of our existence. Without thinking we often go to certain foods for comfort because somehow they have the magical power of transporting us back in time and creating in us a feeling of joy.

There is nothing like actually being involved in the process of making something from scratch. We put a bunch of what may seem like random ingredients together, but each has and serves its own purpose. Though some can be replaced or omitted, others must be included or you'll end up with an inedible mess that serves eight.

The first recipe that I would like to share, is our most popular breakfast dish that can truly be eaten anytime of day. Fair warning, do go ahead and make the large batch because it will disappear rather quickly. 

Cream of wheat was a part of my childhood growing up. My grandmother Zabel, would often make it on cold winter mornings or whatever she deemed a rather cold day in California. I loved her cream of wheat and no one else's cream of wheat would do. In fact, some I had tasted were vomit worthy and at the time I was only an innocent six year old, with no filter and a sensitive palette for bad tasting food. So you could say I was pretty spoiled with some real good home cooking.

Well, this was all put to the test when my grandmother and grandfather decided to take a month long holiday during the summer of August 1982 to Greece and left us in the care of our Great Aunt Mariam. She was to house sit during the day and keep an eye on the three of us, my four year old brother, ten year old sister and eleven year old me. She was under the impression that this was going to be her own holiday from simple apartment-life, to lavish living in an actual house. Lest she knew the demands that awaited her, she would have reconsidered her decision.

Though she was polite, very well read, spoke seven different languages, told wonderful stories about her life, had 3 stepchildren and later 2 children of her own, many grandchildren and could dance like nobody's business. She did not like, nor did she want to cook!  

Did I mention we were only eleven, ten and four years old. I being the oldest was already a great Sous-Chef to my grandmother and had a subscription for "Bon Appetit" Magazine at the age of nine but had not acquired the courage to deal with all the dangers of cooking yet. 

Doing what kids do best we begged and pleaded for Great Auntie Mariam to make us cream of wheat. After I gathered all the ingredients she needed onto the kitchen table she reluctantly stood up and attempted to cook. 

Now I had witnessed grandmother through this process of making the cream of wheat and I remembered how she did things. Poor Great Auntie Mariam wasn't even close. She didn't roast, she didn't stir, seemed overwhelmed from the very beginning and she didn't put things in the right order. After my siblings and I enjoyed a few private chuckles on her behalf, I was there to be her compass guiding her through this pensive process of duplicating grandma's perfect porridge. 

The house didn't even smell like she was making cream of wheat but she said everything would turn out just the same. It did not and we told her that it was nothing like grandmother's. Defeated yet determined, she asked what it was that was so different. I told her that grandmothers was sweeter, so she added more sugar. Then my sister complained that it was too sweet. "Well, now what do we do?" she asked, all but confused. "Just add more milk", I said with confidence. Once again Great Auntie Mariam obliged and did what we requested of her and added more milk. At this point, the pot was getting too full so she poured everything into a larger pot and continued to cook. Finally it started to thicken and she poured it into the bowls and sprinkled it with cinnamon as we suggested she do.

In the end, we had 24 bowls of an inedible clumpy and lumpy mess of what Great Auntie Mariam deemed cream of wheat!

I invite you to try grandmother's recipe in your kitchen and cook up your own cream of wheat story to share with your children.  

                      Grandmother's Cream Of Wheat

1.5 cups of (Bob's Red Mill) organic cream of wheat                                             
2 cups of filtered warm water
4 tbsp. of unsalted organic butter (Organic Valley Butter)
1 cup of raw organic sugar
8 cups of organic whole milk (Straus Family Creamery) 
sprinkle of organic nutmeg
3 tsps. of organic dark maple syrup or maple extract

1 tsp. of organic cinnamon for garnishing  

Measure out and have all your ingredients at hand before you begin.

Dry roast the cream of wheat, in a stainless steel heavy pot on medium heat until you see speckles of brown throughout and you can smell the nutty roasted aroma filling your kitchen.

*Beware your children will get used to this aroma and will be able to identify what you are making and will flock to the kitchen long before you are done.

When you are done roasting, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the hot burner and let it cool for 3 to 5 minutes. If you decide to skip this step, it will result in a big mess and clumps.

While the cream of wheat is cooling, you can mix the warm water with sugar and butter in a glass measuring cup. After waiting at least 3 minutes, slowly add the water, sugar and butter mixture to the cream of wheat in the pot, stir and add until you have a smooth paste. Then add the milk, 1cup at a time whilst mixing the cream of wheat as you pour, until you have incorporated all 8 cups. At this time it will look like cream of wheat soup. Go ahead and add the maple and a sprinkle of nutmeg. 

Now the trick here is, to keep stirring so it doesn't clump up or stick to the bottom and burn.
Once it thickens to a cake batter consistency, pour into bowls and spinkle with cinnamon. 

Makes about 12 ( 6oz. bowls)

If you have leftovers and that is if, it will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
It can be eaten hot or cold, but room temperature is best.

**For a vegetarian version, just replace the butter with the same amount of coconut oil and the whole milk with almond milk or rice milk. We have made these vegetarian versions and they're just as deliecious.

                             A big thanks to my little brother for editing this project.