Fresh Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Reduction

Fresh Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Reduction

 

Fresh Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Reduction

I know it seems strange that my last two posts have been about wintery soups and now I am here slapping you in the face with a full-on summer dish. But that is the game that Mother Nature plays with us – bringing us out of those cold dark days and into days full of bright greens and colorful menu options. When we just can’t take any more cabbage, and root vegetables, Mother Nature bring us a summer bounty full of fresh baby lettuces, snap peas and later tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, stone fruits and these little beauties.

Just look at the color of that fig – if that isn’t a sexy show stopper on your spring and summer table, I don’t know what is! It is the perfect hue of spring green.

I am also pleased to tell you that this little snack is not just gorgeous, but also super easy to prepare and only requires 3 ingredients – figs, cheese and balsamic vinegar. There is very little prep work and it is absolutely delightful to eat. Win, win, win! Beautiful, fresh and elegant. Perfect for sharing with friends and family. There is just something magical about the pairing of figs and balsamic vinegar. The sweet, syrupy richness of the vinegar cutting through the sweetness of the fig is unparalleled.

asset_BestBloggersContest

I have entered this recipe in this month’s Better Recipes Best Blogger Recipes Ever contest featuring Potluck and Party Food. If you bring this to a potluck or party I can guarantee that it will be the hit recipe!

If you have a great potluck and party recipe, please enter your recipe too. The more the merrier! The winning blogger each month will win a full page feature in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine! That means if yours is one of them, thousands of new readers will discover your voice. You will also win a $1,000 cash prize and be guest editor for a day!

Please check out my recipe and if you like it, I would definitely appreciate your vote in the contest. You can vote every day, so if you really like the recipe, think about voting more than once. Thank you and enjoy!

Eat Like a Dinosaur Book Review (and giveaway!)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Eat Like a Dinosaur for free in exchange for a review of the book. This in no way influenced my review, which is true and honest.

CONGRATS to Kelly, the winner of the book giveaway!

I was very excited a few weeks ago to be contacted by the Paleo Parents asking if I would be interested in reviewing their new book, Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-free Kids. This is a cookbook geared towards gluten-free kids and their families. The recipes in this book are all free of grains, dairy and legumes. But it is so much more than that – it is a guide to helping parents navigate the murky waters of raising children with multiple food allergies, learning how to overhaul the SAD (Standard American Diet) as a family and having a great time preparing and eating good food at the same time!

I don’t often agree to do cookbook reviews because frankly, most cookbooks don’t cater to my dietary needs and the needs of many who read this blog. I don’t mind doing extra leg work to translate standard recipes into gluten-free, allergen-friendly, WAPF eating but I don’t expect that everyone who reads this blog has the time or inclination for that. So it was really fun for me to read through this book and realize that I could eat everything in it – and so can many of you! Not only that, but the recipes are interesting, simple, fresh and delicious looking. Although I do eat dairy, legumes and some grains, it is refreshing to have a cookbook where I don’t have to think; I can just make it, worry free.

So I am obviously not a kid, nor do I have young children living at home with me (yet!) but when it comes to food, there is a kid in all of us! We all enjoy comfort and nostalgic foods, so many of which come from our past and are not allergen or traditional food friendly. I think some of these recipes will hit that childlike sweet spot in all of us: spaghetti with meatballs (using spaghetti squash), shepherd’s pie, sweet potato fries, chocolate chip cookies, milkshakes, puddings and cupcakes as well as recipes for ketchup, barbecue sauce and mayonnaise. There is also something in each section for more mature tastes: lemon dill salmon, curried mussels (not muscles), black olive tapenade and several recipes for making jerky at home (how cool is that?).

For families that have children with allergies beyond grains, gluten and dairy, Eat Like a Dinosaur is super handy, there is a key for the top 8 allergens: fish, shellfish, tree nuts and eggs and although there is no dairy, wheat, peanuts or soy in any of the recipes, their icons have also been included on the side of each recipe just for reassurance! So you can see at a glance the recipes that are perfect for you and your family! There is also a helpful guide to ingredients at the front of the book explaining what various ingredients are and resources for getting them. Honestly, even if your kids don’t have allergies but you are a busy parent looking for healthy foods that your kids will eat, you should really consider this book as well. The farther away we can get from the SAD and start cooking more at home, the better off we will all be! This book takes the guesswork out for you.

Some other great features geared specifically towards the kids are a section in each recipe showing steps that kids can participate in to help create the meal, making mealtimes a true family event. There is also a very cute illustrated story about food allergies and health just for the kids – to help them understand in a fun way why eating like a dinosaur is super healthy!

I really like this book, not only do the recipes look great but you can tell that the Paleo Parents really care, not just about their own family but about yours as well. They know first-hand how difficult a transition from the SAD to a whole foods diet can be and they have made themselves a resource to you every step of the way, from how to talk to your kids about it, to ways to deal with family and friends that just don’t understand your new eating habits or maybe don’t understand how serious defaulting on that diet can be.

I thought about giving away my copy of Eat Like a Dinosaur to one lucky reader, but you can probably understand now why I want to keep it! But I do want to get this book out to more people and support the Paleo Parents and all their hard work in preparing this great resource for all of us. So I am going to give away a copy of this book to one of my readers. Please let me know why you need this book and I will pick a random winner!

How to Enter The Eat Like a Dinosaur Giveaway:

Anyone is welcome to enter, provided doing so does not violate any local laws of your place of residency. US entries only for this one, due to shipping restrictions, and all participants must be over the age of 18.

Please remember that for your entry to count, you must leave a separate comment for every entry you make and make sure to include your email address in the spot provided when you fill out the comment form so I can get in touch with you if you win.

1) DO THIS FIRST (REQUIRED): In the comments, tell me why you need this cookbook.

Optional ways to get more entries:

2) Blog about this giveaway describing why you want to win the book, and link your post to this giveaway. (1 extra entry)
3) Subscribe to The Leftover Queen RSS feed. (1 extra entry)
4) Enter your email address (on right hand sidebar) to Subscribe to Email Updates. (1 extra entry)
5) Subscribe to my newsletter (see box on top right of my blog). (1 extra entry)
6) Tweet and tell your friends to “sign up for @leftoverqueen Daily Emails or RSS feeds”. (1 extra entry)
7) Fan The Leftover Queen on Facebook. (1 extra entry)
8) Follow The Leftover Queen on Twitter and tweet @leftoverqueen and @PaleoParents with a link to the giveaway. (1 extra entry)

If you are already a fan of The Leftover Queen and have done all or some of the above, and wish to enter the contest just write that you already subscribe to the newsletter, facebook page or RSS feed, by email, etc. Make sure to leave a separate comment for every entry.

Why Enter?

1) Because it is free
2) This cookbook is awesome
3) To support bloggers!

The winner will be announced on this post Friday, March 16, 2012. The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on March 16th. The winner has until Monday, March 19, 2012 by 10 AM, EST to respond before another winner is chosen.

Every Day Chef Challenge – Autumn Bisque

In my last post, I shared with you my first Every Day Chef contest entry, Pumpkin Pie Parfaits. Today I will share with you a delicious holiday starter, Autumn Bisque.

Here is my inspiration for the recipe:

“I love cooking seasonally, and autumn is my favorite season. I adore the bright orange squashes that are so plentiful this time of year. We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, and I wanted to create a wonderful seasonal starter with delicious local vegetables, local beer and sharp cheddar cheese – all three things we are known for in terms of food culture here in Vermont.”

So yes, this delicious and creamy soup contains, vibrant orange winter squash, local beer, sharp cheddar cheese and BACON! So what’s not to love?

Recipe ingredients:
1 cup carrots cut into chunks (@ 2 small carrots)
3 cups red kuri squash, halved (@ 3 medium squashes)
Olive oil to drizzle
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 apple, cored, seeded and chopped (@ 1 small apple)
½ cup yellow onion, chopped (@ half of a small onion)
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced (@ 1 medium clove)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Dash of black pepper
¼ teaspoon of dried ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups Pacific Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
½ cup of gluten free ale (local is best!)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 strips of bacon, cooked and cut into pieces (optional garnish)

Cooking instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the squashes in half and lay cut side up on a cookie sheet. Also place carrots on cookie sheet. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven for about an hour, or until fork tender and slightly caramelized.
2) Scoop out the insides of the squash and set aside with the carrots.
3) Brown butter in the bottom of a large soup pot, over medium heat, sauté apples, onion and garlic until they browned – about 5 minutes. 3 minutes in add the salt and spices. Stir frequently.
4) Add Pacific Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, turn heat up, stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until apples are tender – about 5 minutes.
5) Add beer, squash puree, and carrots. Stir and heat through.
6) Add entire contents of pot to a blender. Puree in a blender; be careful not to burn yourself. Make sure the lid is on tight, and don’t do the whole thing at one time, unless you have a large capacity blender.
7) Carefully return contents to the soup pot, add the cheddar and lemon juice, and stir over low heat until incorporated.
8) Top with bacon crumbles if desired, serve immediately. Can also be reheated for later use.
9) Serves: 4 appetizer sized bowls.

Please click on this link to see the recipe and vote ! It only takes a second, you don’t need to register to vote, or anything. AND, you can vote everyday! So if you feel inspired and like both this recipe and the Pumpkin Pie Parfaits, you can vote for both, everyday until November 14th! Thank you so much!

Every Day Chef Challenge – Pumpkin Pie Parfaits

Every year, I tell myself I should challenge myself and enter some recipe contests. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a day, or more a week testing recipes in my kitchen. I see so many of my fellow food bloggers entering all kinds of cooking challenges, and it looks like so much fun! But I always find an excuse not to do it, usually it relates to not having time to test recipes in the kitchen. Last year, my friend Aggie, from Aggie’s Kitchen was part of the Every Day Chef Challenge created by Pacific Natural Foods. So this past weekend, I spent all day Sunday creating two recipes for the Every Day Chef Challenge!

The nice thing about Pacific, is that they have all natural, preservative free, some organic and some free range meat broths in their offerings. So it is a good brand for people who are moving over to healthier ways of eating, but still like the convenience of store bought stocks, broths and milk alternatives.

I entered two recipes, this dessert is based on the Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Parfaits I made a few weeks ago. They were such a hit at our dinner party, and I had so much fun making them, I wanted to try some other flavor combinations. Plus, everyone loves a dessert made from pumpkin over the holidays and I wanted to create a pumpkin pie alternative for people who might be facing a family or group dinner where guests might have food allergies. This dessert is delicious, dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugar free. If you skip the graham cracker layer, you can also make it grain free. But this is perfectly delicious for those not suffering from allergies as well! My husband loved them, and he doesn’t even like pumpkin!

Recipe ingredients:
For Pumpkin Puree Layers:

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup

For Panna Cotta:

2 ½ cups Pacific Hazelnut Non-Dairy Beverage
¼ cup 100 % pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
½ cup of graham crackers, crushed (I used gluten-free graham crackers)

Cooking instructions:
Looks long and complicated, but once you get the layering down, that is really all there is to it! It will be totally worth it!
1) Make the pumpkin puree layer. In a medium bowl mix well the pumpkin, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Set aside.
2) Pour the hazelnut beverage into a small pan and heat on the lowest setting until small bubbles form on the edges of the pan.
3) In the meantime, in a small bowl pour the quarter cup of water and add the gelatin, whisking briskly until thoroughly combined. Set aside until the hazelnut beverage has started to bubble.
4) Then add maple syrup, vanilla extract and spices to the hazelnut beverage once it has started to bubble slightly.
5) Remove the hazelnut beverage mixture from the heat and add a quarter cup of it to the gelatin whisking briskly to incorporate, making sure there are no lumps.
6) Add gelatin mixture back to the pan with the rest of the hazelnut beverage mixture, whisk to combine and then set pan on the lowest heat setting, so that it doesn’t start to cool and gel.
7) Using ½ pint mason jars, place about 1/3 cup of the hazelnut beverage mixture on the bottom.
8) Put the mason jars in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes, until softly set.
9) Remove jars from freezer and let the jars come to room temperature. You want to make sure that you aren’t adding hot liquid to frozen glass, as this will cause the glass to break.
10) Then add about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin puree and smooth over top as best you can with the spoon or your clean fingers.
11) Then add a little crumble of the graham crackers.
12) You will repeat this process until you have the following: 3 layers of hazelnut milk mixture, 2 layers of pumpkin puree and 2 layers of graham crackers. Always let the hazelnut beverage layer gel before adding the pumpkin puree, etc.
13) Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before eating.
14) Serves 4.

Here is a link to the recipe! I feel really weird about self-promotion…but here I go. If you like it, please vote for it on The Every Day Chef  Challenge website! You don’t have to register to vote or anything, just check out the recipe, and vote!  AND, you can vote for it every day, up until November 14th.  I would very much like to win a kitchen aid mixer. Something that I have been dreaming about adding to my appliances for years. If you really love the recipe, please feel free to share the link on your social media outlets. Thanks so much for supporting this blog!

Grow Your Own MUSHROOMS Giveaway!

CONGRATS to the winner SUSAN B.!

 

Yes, that is right, you heard correct – you can now grow your own mushrooms at home, and one of my lucky readers will get a kit to do just that!
Recently I was contacted by a wonderful company – Back to the Roots asking if I would be interested in sampling their product, for free and if I liked it, doing a giveaway on my blog. I was definitely into this – we love mushrooms in this house, but not only that, I really liked what I learned about the company and its founders.

From their website: “Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea during a class lecture of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, … from what was an urban waste stream, Back to the Roots has since grown to create the Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden which lets anyone, across the country, grow their own gourmet mushrooms at home as well!”

This is the kind of company, people and efforts I can easily support. I just love the ingenuity of Alejandro and Nikhil to come up with such a creative way to use waste products to produce food – and GOURMET MUSHROOMS at that! Who doesn’t love that?

Not only that, but they are using their success to help others! They have a facebook campaign going on where if you post a picture of the grown product on our wall, they will send a sustainability curriculum and donate a kit to an elementary school of your choice.

Features of the Grow Kit:

• Grow up to 1 1/2 lbs of tasty pearl oyster mushrooms
• Multiple crops (at least 2, though some have got up to 4!)
• Grow your first crop in as little as 10 days!
• Just 3 Easy Steps – Open, Mist, and Harvest (spray mister included).
• All indoors – just set on a kitchen window sill and mist twice a day (mister included)
• The soil inside is 100% recycled coffee grounds – safe & sustainable
• 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed

BABY MUSHROOMS!

You can learn more about their community efforts on their blog or follow them on Twitter for more updates! – these are two guys you definitely want to keep up with!

So, onto the “review” part of this post. I really love this product – it is fun and easy to use! We got our first harvest in about a week, and I am currently working on the second. Everyone that came over to our house and saw the kit was really intrigued by it, and even more so when they found out it was made from recycled coffee grounds. Who wouldn’t be? That is just awesome!

We decided to use our first harvest to make some delicious GF (gluten free) mini pizzas. I have found a wonderful millet, flax and brown rice flat bread (kinda like a tortilla) and we make mini pizzas once or twice a week. For this version, we used the mushrooms from the kit as well fresh bufala mozzarella and some prosciutto and fresh basil from the garden. They were delicious!

 

I think this would be a great gift to send to someone for their birthday (if they are a foodie) or maybe for the holidays – any family that has kids will love this!

So who wants to win a kit of their own???


How to Enter The Back to the Roots Mushroom Grow Kit Giveaway:

Anyone is welcome to enter, provided doing so does not violate any local laws of your place of residency. US entries only for this one, due to shipping restrictions, and all participants must be over the age of 18.

Please remember that for your entry to count, you must leave a separate comment for every entry you make and make sure to include your email address in the spot provided when you fill out the comment form.

1) DO THIS FIRST (REQUIRED): Tell me what you would like for me to make with my second harvest – if you have a link to a recipe, even better! I will make the winner’s recipe, and link to your blog, if you have one (provided that it is gluten free!)

Optional ways to get more entries:

2) Blog about this giveaway describing why you want to win the kit, and link your post to this giveaway. (1 extra entry)
3) Subscribe to The Leftover Queen RSS feed. (1 extra entry)
4) Enter your email address to Subscribe to Email Updates. (1 extra entry)
5) Subscribe to my newsletter (see box on top right of my blog). (1 extra entry)
6) Tweet and tell your friends to sign up for @leftoverqueen Daily Emails or RSS feeds. (1 extra entry)
7) Fan The Leftover Queen on Facebook. (1 extra entry)
8) Follow The Leftover Queen on Twitter and tweet @leftoverqueen with a link to the giveaway. (1 extra entry)

If you are already a fan of The Leftover Queen and have done all or some of the above, and wish to enter the contest just write that you already subscribe to the newsletter, facebook page or RSS feed, by email, etc. Make sure to leave a separate comment for every entry.

Why Enter?

1) Because it is free
2) You can grow your own mushrooms at home!!!
3) Because mushrooms rule!

The winner will be announced on this post Friday, July 29, 2011. The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on July 29th. The winner has until Monday, August 1 2011, by 10 AM, EST to respond before another winner is chosen.

PS – if you are a Foodie Blogroll member, you also have a chance to win a kit! Check out the details here

Posted to Simple Lives Thursday

Revelations in Eating: My (almost) Grain-Free Experiment

 

Doesn’t this look tasty? It is a lemon tart – not only is it gluten-free but grain-free. I made it as part of our Beltaine or May Day feast. Spring seem to be making a stronger appearance here in the North-North East and on April 30th we celebrated by blessing the fields, soon to be planted, and our animals. We also had our first fire pit of the year and enjoyed this amazing tart (see recipe info at the end of the post)…there is also fun contest info at the bottom of this post – so don’t miss that! Here comes another long one…I can wait until you get settled…:) OK, here we go.

Over the past few years I have tried a number of modified eating plans. I don’t use the D-word “diet”, because it alludes to something you do for a short period of time and then after go back to an un-healthy way of eating. “Lifestyle Change” doesn’t quite fit here either, because I already lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. For me it is not about “healthy” – it is about optimum health, about feeling the best I can and as someone who has been “tired” most of her life and can be “moody” – both to the point where it is sometimes a hindrance, I am always looking for the magic bullet to put everything back in balance. I believe food can heal, so put those two together and you have a person who has been tweaking her way of eating here and there for optimum health, for the past decade, at least.

This is not an easy post to write. I have shared a lot with my readers about my life on this blog – my thoughts on food, health, food politics and even religion over the past year. But talking about body image and health struggles are not so easy. There are just as many things wrong with our society’s demands on people to “fit in” as there is with our food system…and don’t even get me started on body image. But these are all things we struggle with in some way.

When I posted on my facebook page that I was going to be doing the 4-Hour Body “diet” for a month, people were very interested in the whys, the hows, etc. I started posting photos of many of my meals to give people examples of how to eat this way. I did not start this eating plan to lose weight. Well, it wasn’t my main motivation in any case. My main motivation was to detox from grains and sugar and this “slow carb” plan seemed very sensible. I will state for the record that I don’t agree with everything in the book and I am not a Tim Ferris advocate. I just like the simplicity of the food plan – no “white stuff” (grains, flours, potatoes), no sugar and no dairy (although I was allowed one TBS of cream in my coffee in the morning and I didn’t give up my daily kefir).

These past few months have been interesting. Despite raising chickens, I stopped eating eggs because Roberto and I are trying to start a family and have been unsuccessful thus far. I heard from several different friends that food allergies or sensitivities caused problems for them conceiving. I was told by my doctor to not eat gluten (a known sensitivity I have) or eggs. So in order to make up for the lack of eggs (and I eat a lot of eggs), I started eating more grains, a food group that I have had issues with my whole life. For several months I ate this way. My strength started to wane, I was tired all the time, my body felt like lead most days and my moods were not as good as they should have been. I was easily overwhelmed which is not a good thing in my busy life. I do happen to trust my doctor with my health, and yet sometimes doctors aren’t 100% right and your body tells the real story. I think that was the case with the eggs and I am glad I listened. I started eating eggs again, having 2 with dinner one night, and the next morning I was feeling better. Then I started the 4-Hour Body plan.

I took all my measurements the day I started the plan because I have “problem areas” just like everyone else. I heard a great many people successfully lose weight with this plan, I had put on a few extra pounds gorging on grains, and so I figured it would be fun to see if I lost those stubborn pounds I have had my whole life, in addition to the extras I gained from the grains.

Monday marked my one month period…and of course the sheet with all my measurements? Gone. I was very upset about this. I felt that I had worked really hard this month keeping away from grains, starchy foods and sugar (of any kind, including fruit) and I wanted quantitative results. Someone said that maybe that was the Universe’s way of telling me the numbers don’t matter, it is how I feel that matters. I must say that I do feel better. But like many, I have struggled all my life with body image, and when I look in the mirror, my brain does not give me an accurate representation of what my eyes actually see. So for me it is important when monitoring change to have something real and tangible to go on, because I can always convince myself that I feel better.

Regardless of all of that, a few important lessons came out of this experiment:

1) Do not entrust your husband with important papers, like measurements, just as an example…lol

2) On Saturdays, according to the 4-Hour Body guidelines, I was allowed to eat anything I wanted – a “binge” day. Which is why I say my experiment were “almost” grain free. My “binges” were raw or cultured dairy products, soaked buckwheat pancakes, breads made with quinoa or oats and potatoes for the most part. Oh and ice cream, and I realized those things had no negative effects on my body or mind when I introduced them back in. So going forward I will continue to eat buckwheat, quinoa and oats.

3) The only foods I really really missed were my buckwheat pancakes. Potatoes came in second and dairy products third. That surprised me, because I am crazy about cheese, but it is the truth.

4) Soaking my grains before eating them makes a world of difference. I have talked before about why I soak grains for digestibility. During those few months I wasn’t eating eggs, I was eating a variety of gluten-free breads and baked goods that I did not make, and therefore were not soaked, and I believe that was the real detriment in all of this.

5) Eggs are vitally important to my health. There are certain foods that my brain and body just love, that helps me stay in balance emotionally and physically – one of those foods are eggs, another is buckwheat.

6) Exercise is a must for me. The balance between hard physical work (in the form of strenuous farm chores, or exercise) and lots of healthy fats keep me sane and joyful.

7) My body is the way it is and I am at my ideal body weight. This is the hard one, and one that I will have a hard time remembering the lesson. Like I said, I have been tweaking for decades, I have done low carb, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, South Beach, low-fat, WAPF, and now 4-Hour Body. When I was a teen, I was an exercise addict to the point that it wasn’t healthy for me and even with all that, I have never ever had a flat stomach or a tight ass. I know what you are saying – few people do. I know that too, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the fact that I don’t. I may have legs like tree trunks (one of the things I love about my body and something I have worked hard for this last year), but I have been conditioned through books, TV and movies to believe I should have a flat stomach and a tight ass and I fight that conditioning every day.

8*) The way I have eaten over the past (almost) 2 years, using the guidelines of the Weston Price Foundation (for more info read the PDF Healthy4Life) and applying Michael Pollan’s 80/20 rule to those guidelines helped me to lose 10 lbs in 2009, keep it off and maintain my weight for the past 2 years. A feat that no other way of eating ever has, and it has sustained me through rigorous weight training, kettle bell programs and the physical demands that running a small homestead requires. When I stick to that, the majority of the time, I feel awake, happy and strong. Some days I don’t, but I am not perfect and probably never will be! I have to remind myself that I am not Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or even Sarah Connor, but that doesn’t keep me from trying to be the healthiest and strongest I can be.

9) That said, I do believe that different things work for different people. I wish I could tell you that we are all programmed the same way, and you could just learn from my experiments, and what your magic bullet is, but I can’t. But one thing is for sure– whole foods, local foods, seasonal foods, non-GMO, non-packaged, non-processed and non-industrialized foods are best for everyone. But the ratios of carbs to fats to proteins may vary. I also believe, although I have had many argue with me, that if we eat the food our ancestors ate most of the time, we will feel better.

So what will I eat going forward? I will eat what we grow on the homestead and meats and veggies from local farms. I will be sticking to the Weston Price Foundation Guidelines. I will be sticking to buckwheat, quinoa and oats in the grain department. I will enjoy healthy fats. I will joyfully eat and drink full fat dairy. I will eat potatoes. I will gorge on berries, especially when they are in season. But I will limit my starchy foods to 1-2 servings a day at most. Some days I might not have any. And I will eat eggs to my heart’s content* I will also continue exploring my various cultural heritages through food.

What my readers can look forward to:

1) More Let’s Get Cultured! posts on making cultured dairy products at home
2) More homemade (and lacto-fermented) condiments
3) Experiments in grain free desserts and baked goods
4) More Gluten-Free and Grain-Free recipes
5) Egg recipes!

*Before I stopped eating eggs, I got my cholesterol tested (so did Roberto). My general doctor described our results as “perfect”. She said it was clear we ate well and took care of ourselves. This is on a diet of 2-3 eggs per DAY, full fat dairy, other animal fats, butter, etc. But I will state for the record that the sources of our foods are good quality – grass-fed animals and pastured animals, organics, non-GMO, local and sustainable, etc. To me, that is what makes all the difference.

Gluten and Grain Free Lemon Tart
From The Spunky Coconut (the pie crust) and Simply Sugar & Gluten Free (refined sugar free lemon curd – the only think I changed was substitute honey for agave) – if you like Amy’s Lemon curd recipe, you are sure to love all her other recipes! The Foodie Blogroll is giving away 8 copies this month – so please go check it out!

Also, don’t forget the Leftover Queen Awards and Giveaway going on until May 15th! I want to hear your tips -what are some small things do you do in your kitchens that make you a “Leftover Queen”?

Leftover Queen Award Contest and a Giveaway!

 

(This time last year…Spring 2010)

I have been talking a lot recently on this blog about living a life of truth and honor and how that relates to food and lifestyle choices for me and my family. Some of our choices may seem extreme or out of reach to others, and that is where the importance of “baby steps” comes in. Small things we can all do and do in fact do, every day between busy lives and hectic schedules to affirm or re-affirm our commitment to the environment, the food system and other major themes which choices result in the quality of our health and livelihood.

Sometimes it is hard to know where to start, but we can all learn from each other and in learning from each other, I think we will also realize how much we are already doing to this end.

For me, The Leftover Queen is my way to share the simple ways that I follow this path every day. My cooking philosophy is largely built on making incredible, yet simple meals with what you already have on hand, leftovers, etc.– “waste not want not” pretty much sums it up. It is about sharing tips on how I make sure to have the materials on hand (my own “convenience foods”) to make delicious and healthful meals for my family and also how to make the things we eat every day from scratch – things like cheese, yogurt, kefir and condiments and how to grow your own – whether it is a garden or animals for eggs, dairy or even meat.

So I want to hear from you, my dear readers, so we can learn from each other – what tips do you have or what are some small things do you do in your kitchens that make you a “Leftover Queen”?

A tip can be something as easy as this one:
When making pancakes, double the batch, and then freeze them for a quick breakfast or snack during the week by popping them in your toaster or warming in the oven.

Leave a comment with your tip in the comment box, and when you do, I will send you this cool Leftover Queen Award. You can display it on your blog or website, proudly!

The Leftover Queen Award

I am not in this alone though! I am doing this together with my friend Outlaw Bunny who is also known as the “Upcycling Queen”. If you are crafty and into DIY, check out the contest she is running alongside this one, and you can win both awards!

To make this even more fun, and since we are in the beginning of garden season, I will be giving away a copy of Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & VegetablesCanning & Preserving Books) to one lucky person who has commented on this post! This is a great book about the art of root cellaring. If you have always wanted to store and preserve delicious vegetables for winter eating, this book is an enormous resource. It gives ideas and designs for root cellars for any living situation, even if you live in an apartment.

If you tweet about this contest, let me know in another comment and you will have another chance to win the book.
This contest will close on Sunday May 15, 2011. I will be contacting the winner on Monday May 16th. The winner has until Wednesday May 18th to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Friday Faves – Holiday Edition #1 + GIVEAWAY!

THE WINNER OF THIS GIVEAWAY IS MARY OF ONE PERFECT BITE!

I am very fortunate through my blog to receive product samples from some great companies. For a long time now, I haven’t done any product reviews. But lately I have gotten some very interesting requests and decided to start reviewing products again, on my terms. I get requests from a lot of companies, but I don’t accept products from all of them. I like to work with companies that fulfill certain requirements. If I know right off the bat that I wouldn’t recommend their product to my readers, because I wouldn’t use it myself, then I don’t bother.

The holidays are swiftly approaching, and it is this time of year that people are always looking for gifts to send to friends and family or new foods and ingredients to cook with for their holiday tables. So for the next few Fridays, I am going to be sharing with you some of the great products that I have had the chance to review these last few months. Maybe it will give you some holiday ideas of your own!

I have made it my personal mission to shop responsibly this holiday season. This is something I try to do as best as I can, but this year, I have stepped up the challenge to myself by making my own gifts, and buying gifts handmade by an actual person as opposed to a large company. If neither of those criteria are possible than buying gifts made on the North American continent (I have to include Canada, because we practically live there!).

Many people, including myself, bake special holiday treats to give away as gifts. I spent 2 whole days last weekend baking biscotti and other cookies (recipes coming soon!). I made sure that the exotic products (meaning not local to my area, and most times not produced in the USA) , like vanilla extract and chocolate products are Fair Trade. Fair Trade means that you are paying a higher portion of the price to the actual producers that make the product. It means producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and can promote sustainability. When people are given a  fair price for their own products, the quality is much higher, which means better products!

I recently received some free products from Equal Exchange a name ubiquitous with Fair Trade Products and high quality. Proving again, that you get what you pay for.  This is how it all started: “It all started with an idea: what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? What if trade supported family farms that use organic methods, rather than industrialized agribusinesses that rely on harmful chemicals?” Sounds good, right? Well Equal Exchange features a lot of wonderful and delicious products from coffee, to chocolate, to bananas and sugar. So if you are doing some baking this holiday season, I suggest checking out the Equal Exchange website for available products and making sure your non-local ingredients are Fair Trade. You can even buy straight from their website . Everyone deserves an honest price for the products they have worked hard to produce, don’t you think?

The next product I want to share with you was a bit of a surprise! You know how we are all about real food here, on The Leftover Queen, so when I was contacted by Lori who works for Dr. Josh Axe asking me to review a free copy of the Real Food Diet cookbook, I was skeptical. I mean, eating real food is all about no diets. But then I went to Dr. Axe’s website and started reading some of the articles and the more I read, the more I liked this guy! So I decided to review the book, so that if it looked good, I could recommend it to many of my readers who are always asking where to start when changing to a real food way of life. Well, I am happy to say that this book is a great way to bridge that gap.

Dr. Axe has a great no nonsense way of explaining why real food is not only better for your health, but can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight. In the first few pages, I was struck by his ability to simply explain and show how foods we think are healthy, like juice for example, are really fake foods. We take a nice, healthy, found in nature apple, then we mash and press it until only the juice remains, then we pasteurize it, killing off all the nutrients, then we add water, preservatives, coloring and added sugar. No wonder there are so many unhealthy people in this world when we decide that this is a health food – we are better off just eating the apple! He also shares with you his top 30 list of nutrient dense foods, a revised food pyramid, and his top 5 best real foods in several categories: veggies, fruits, beans, nut and seeds, ORGANIC meats and eggs and herbs, spices and GLUTEN FREE grains. He covers all the bases!

I think my favorite part was his five worst fake foods: refined sugar (he warns: “refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans” but he does not advocate artificial sweeteners – there is a whole section on why those are also poison), hydrogenated oils, processed grains/white stuff, pasteurized dairy aka “scary dairy” (he advocates for raw milk products), conventional meats and eggs.

His advice for the higher cost of organic, pastured meat, dairy and eggs? “ Spend less money on something else that is a lower priority and buy organic meat!”

He also discusses kitchen equipment and advises you throw away non-stick and teflon cookware, microwaves and plastic containers.

See what I mean? I love this guy! He also rates all of his recipes according to what they are good for: quick recipes, raw food recipes, kid favorites, feeling sick, low energy/working late, post workout and inflammation or arthritis pain.

So what did I think of the recipes? I really liked most of them. My biggest complaint is that he uses a lot of protein powder in some of the recipes, which I don’t consider a real food. I also didn’t like that he uses some non-whole ingredients, like gluten free crackers or “gluten free mixes” as an ingredient. I would have liked to see more actual ingredients – he should have created his own gluten free mix for the cookbook and taught readers how to make gluten free crackers and breads on their own, using gluten free flours. Then showed us how to use those products to make or enhance meals.

My favorite part of the cookbook was all the raw food desserts. Something that I have been wanting to try my hand at for a while! Some I plan to make soon are raw carrot cake, raw pumpkin pie, raw chocolate mousse and raw cheesecake! These recipes include a lot of dried fruits, soaked nuts and raw honey but are relatively easy to make – and no baking!

So my overview for Dr. Axe’s book is that I think it is based on very sound dietary principles and has a lot of great ideas for meals, snacks, and desserts that get you started on your own real food journey!

The best thing about this post for my readers, is that I will be GIVING AWAY a copy of Dr. Josh Axe’s book, the Real Food Diet cookbook! I will also throw in a bag of Fair Trade coffee. All I want you to do is comment here and tell me why you really need this book. Are you just starting your real food journey, or are you looking for some new and fresh recipes for your real food repertoire?

How to Enter The Real Food Diet CookBook Giveaway:

Anyone is welcome to enter, provided doing so does not violate any local laws of your place of residency. International participants are welcome, but all participants must be over the age of 18.

Please remember that for your entry to count, you must leave a separate comment for every entry you make.

1) DO THIS FIRST (REQUIRED): Tell me why you really need this book. Are you just starting your real food journey, or are you looking for some new and fresh recipes for your real food repertoire?

Optional ways to get more entries:

2) Blog about this giveaway describing why you want to win the book, and link your post to this giveaway. (1 extra entry)

3) Subscribe to The Leftover Queen RSS feed. (1 extra entry)

4) Enter your email address to Subscribe to Daily Emails. (1 extra entry)

5) Tweet and Tell your friends to sign up for @leftoverqueen Daily Emails or RSS feeds. (1 extra entry)

6) Fan The Leftover Queen on Facebook. (1 extra entry)

7) Follow The Leftover Queen on Twitter and tweet @leftoverqueen with a link to the giveaway. (1 extra entry)

If you are already a fan of The Leftover Queen and have done all or some of the above, and wish to enter the contest just write that you already subscribe to the newsletter, facebook page or RSS feed, by email, etc. Make sure to leave a separate comment for every entry.

Why Enter?

1) Because it is free

2) There are tons of awesome recipes and photos for each recipe in the book

3) Who couldn’t use a cookbook with real food recipes! Maybe you have a friend or family member who might like this book, even if you don’t and this is the season of giving, is it not?

The winner will be announced on this post Monday, December 6th 2010. The winner will be drawn at random and contacted on December 6th. The winner has until Wednesday, December 8th 2010, by 10 AM, EST to respond before another winner is chosen.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for yourself, or for someone else (they make great gifts), you can use this link.