Thursday, June 28, 2012

Turkey Collard Wraps

Collard Wrap Assembly Line
Here at the Gardenhouse we eat a whole foods diet, mostly vegetarian, some game meat, fish and occasional organic meat.  Our diet has been influenced strongly by the ideals of people like Michael Pollan, Cynthia Liar, and Sally Fallon.  Even with this quality diet, I have joint pain.  A lot.   I know enough about nutrition to know that diet can affect inflammation and thereby joint pain.  In the past, I have tried eliminating allergens, going caffeine free, and dabbled with going without gluten and dairy.  I haven’t found a clear correlation yet, have you? 

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot lately about the Paleo diet, maybe you have too.  I've personally seen how a traditional diet for the Quinaults can have amazing results; what's my traditional diet?  I decided to pick up the book, Paleo Solution and see what it has to say.  Honestly, Robb Wolf, the author, is completely annoying, but the actual content makes a lot of sense to me.  The Paleo diet suggests that grains, dairy, and legumes cause inflammation and should be avoided.  Of the ~200,000 years that humans have existed, only 10,000 of those have we been eating grains.  Have our body evolved enough in that time to digest them?  Well, I’m hesitantly curious.

So, we have been attempting going grain and dairy free (I don't feel so strongly about legumes).  We’re only a couple of weeks into it.  Give me a little while to tell you how my joints feel. Though, we are still questioning: Is this a more healthful way to eat?  Eating more meat certainly doesn’t seem more sustainable, and it certainly isn’t more affordable.  Is eating a Hunter-Gatherer type diet going to make my joints feels better?  Time will tell.  Until then, I’ve had to totally rethink the way I prepare meals.  I’ve found some pretty awesome recipes, keep checking back for more, but for now, lunch.

I first came upon a recipe like this in my third trimester, when my awesome friend Katie showed up to my work with lunch in hand.  The recipe has changed a bit, but still has the same idea.  It looks a little like this:

Collard Wraps

1 bunch collard greens (chard works too)  
1 cup Hummus
1/2 pound organic, oven roasted turkey, sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
1 bell pepper
1 handful of sprouts, we have kale and spinach in our yard
1 avocado, sliced
*parsley, 1 bunch (or other fresh herb)

Cut the stems off of the bottom of each collard green.

To assemble the wrap, place a green onto a large plate or cutting board. Place a few scoops of the hummus on the bottom (stem-end) of the green. Put 2 slices of turkey down to help reinforce the wrap.  Add your other filling ingredients on top. Fold the long ends in slightly (about an inch on each side) and then tightly roll. Stick with a toothpick; serve or refrigerate right away. 

My pregnant sister was here yesterday, and is advised not to eat cold lunch meat so, we pan-fried it in some coconut oil.  WOW!  If you are feeling really ambitious, try pan frying the whole wrap. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

and the BEST way to boil an egg is.....


I've wanted to solve the mystery for years.  There are so many ways your mommas do it, but really, what the best way to boil an egg?  With the help of facebook, I asked the world "what's the best way to boil an egg for easy peeling."  As I suspected, I received a lot of answers.  10 different ways to boil an egg, according to my facebook friends, but still which one is the best?  I chose to enter those hot waters alone.

8 eggs were chosen from the same dozen.  4 variations were used to boil the eggs.   2 eggs were boiled for each of the 4 methods.  All eggs were boiled in a stainless steel pot with 6 cups of water.


Method 1:  Put cold eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, turn off heat.  Rest in water for 10 minutes.  Remove from water, set in a bowl to cool.

Method 2:  Put cold eggs in cold water with ½ tsp baking soda.  Bring to a boil, turn off heat.  Rest in water 10 minutes.  Remove from water, set in a bowl to cool.

Method 3:  Put cold eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, turn off heat.  Leave eggs in water for 10 minutes.  Remove from water and set in ice water until cool to touch. 

Method 4:  Put cold eggs in cold water with 1 T of vinegar.  Bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes.  Remove from water, set in a bowl to cool. 


Method 1: For both eggs, the shell peeled away from the egg easily, but in many pieces with minimal tearing.  Good taste, good texture

Method 2:  For both eggs, the shell peeled away from egg with slight difficulty, in many pieces with slight tearing of the egg.  Good taste, good texture

Method 3: 1 egg peeled away in large pieces with difficulty and had more tearing than any other egg.  The second egg, the shell peeled away with great ease in 4 large pieces with zero tearing.  Both eggs had great taste and great texture

Method 4:  For one egg, the shell peeled away with ease in large pieces, with no tearing.  The second egg, the shell was difficult to remove with maximum tearing.  Good flavor, terrible rubbery texture.


With much disappointment, the answer is still unclear.  The two easiest eggs to peel were from different methods (Method 3 & Method 4).  One egg from Method 3 was very easy to peel and one egg from Method 4 was easy to peel; while one egg from each method was difficult to peel.  Because flavor and texture are also important when considering an egg’s overall value, METHOD 3 is chosen as the best way to boil an egg.  So, until further studies are conducted, I suggest next time you need hard boiled eggs, have a bowl of ice water ready to place your eggs in for cooling. 


Future studies may find more information by using eggs from a variety of expiration dates, have more eggs per method used, or test other methods suggested. 

Thanks to Jesse Clark, Tess Jordan, Charity Jolly, Dana Rogers, Sally Smith, Michael Quercia, Shea Beal, and Jenni Brinegar for suggestions on how to boil eggs.  Thanks to Ammen for all the assistance and tasting, and last, but not least, thank you Ella for handling the 8 eggs that I ate.  ;)   

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie: until this year, I haven’t really jumped on the pumpkin craze during the holiday season.  But now that I’ve discovered this pumpkin bread recipe, I’m already planning which bed the pumpkins will be planted in next year.

We had three pumpkins for Halloween and only carved one so, I had two pumpkins to bake and a whole lot of leftover cranberries to use.  The first time I made this recipe was only an experiment, but it was so delicious I've since made it 4 times.  I even bought another pumpkin this week to make loaves for Christmas gifts.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread
The pumpkin is so moist and flavorful that it makes for a great gluten free baking addition.  

Makes 2 loaves

1 ½ cups rice flour
1 ½ cups sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca starch
5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups pumpkin puree
*1 cup pecans
*1 cup cranberries

* optional

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly oil loaf pans.  

Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add pumpkin and mix.  Fold in dry ingredients.  Do not over-mix, fold in nuts and cranberries.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. 


Why gluten free?  Even if you don't have celiacs disease or are gluten intolerant, it's not a bad idea to choose gluten free options. Gluten, and specifically wheat, has been overemphasized in the American diet and maybe why wheat is a common allergy.  Even though you may not be allergic to wheat or gluten, you may still have reactions.  Some common symptoms for being "sensitive" to gluten are: joint pain, skin rashes, irritability, moodiness, and bowel problems.  

When you eat a variety of grains, you also consume a variety of nutrients.  For instance, quinoa and amaranth are higher in protein, while oats contain beta-glucans that help lower cholesterol.  

Pumpkin is a low-calorie vegetable though, it's a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  It's particularly high in Vitamin A and other carotenes.  Vitamin A and carotenes are well-known to improve night-vision and prevent age-related eye diseases.   

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oat Orange Cranberry Muffins


Put on your rain pants and pull up your mud boots; time to tramp through the bogs.  It's cranberry season and the Northwest bogs are brimming with these bright scarlet-red, ripe fruits.  Fall to your knees and pick yourself a basket full...

The muffin recipe is dear to my heart.  I once had an injury and had to spend 10 days laying on a massage table.  My sister fed me through the hole of the table, and these muffins were the only thing palatable.  Two years later, my sister force fed these muffins to me during my labor with Ella.  Even with those two memories, these are my still favorite muffins.  I try to always have a dozen in the freezer for unexpected guests or busy mornings when we have to eat breakfast on the go.   This recipe is tried and true.

Oat Orange Cranberry Muffins
Don’t be fooled because these are gluten-free, egg-free, soy-Free, and high-fiber.  They taste great and make you feel better!  If you aren't so lucky to live in the land of bounty, you can find fresh frozen cranberries in most grocery stores, or just substitute them with blueberries.

3 c. Molly’s muesli, ground to flour in a blender (substitute rolled oats if you don't have muesli)
2/3 c. raw sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 T ground flax (if using oats, not necessary with muesli)
2 T organic butter
3-4 oranges (for 3/4 c. OJ and peel of one orange or just use prepared OJ)
1 1/2 tsp brown rice vinegar
1 c. fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix Molly’s Muesli flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.

Add zest, oil, juice, and vinegar to the dry mix, and stir together well.

Stir in cranberries.  Put cupcake liners in muffin cups. Pour muffin mix into the muffin liners, filling the liners 2/3 full for 12 muffins.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in the middle of a muffin comes out with only a few tiny crumbs attached.

Enjoy immediately, or let cool and freeze for later!

Ammen and Ella playing in the cranberry bog

Cranberries are full of nutrition benefits.  They are well known to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), likely because of their antibacterial properties.  Cranberries also have high amounts of vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese and vitamin K.

In addition to providing protection against UTIs, cranberries are known to have anti-inflammatory properties.  The phytonutrients found in these tart berries are effective in decreasing inflammation.  Anti-inflammatory properties provide us cardiovascular benefits and help prevent periodontal disease.  

Because cranberries are high in Vitamin C and other antioxidants, it helps.  Antioxidants are well known to help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure, and prevent cellular damage decreasing cancerous growth. 

So, don’t just make garlands and wreaths out of your cranberries, EAT THEM!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rain Gifts

Walking through the woods, la-di-da... Scanning the forest floor (russulas - check, LBMs-yes) finally my heart leaps when I see the apricot color splashed on the forest floor.  I drop to my knees, and feel the stem - it's thick.  I pull out my knife, cut the base, leaving the foothold and smell the sweet earthy fragrance of the chantrelle.

Follow this elevation, go right, go left, and gather until my bag is heavy, but before I leave too much of a trace.  In order to ensure the return of the fruiting bodies next fall, I like to leave more than I find.

The role of a mushroom in the eco-system is incredibly important.  It stores the sugars for the trees and plants to eat.  It also cleans the forest, as it does our bodies, of toxins.

Mesmerized by the hunt, I take off trying to stay at the same elevation, continuing to parole the area.  As my bag starts to overflow and the light begins to darken, I decide to turn around and retrace my steps back to my car, but wait, where's the trail?  Be careful, I'm not the only one that gets lost on the hunt. 

Mushrooms are often overlooked as just an accessory to a pizza or a salad.  The truth is, they are incredibly nutritious especially for those of us that live where the sun doesn't shine brightly all year long.  Once you get familiar with the wild local mushrooms, you can find that they go in about anything, pastas, stir-fries, gnocchi, chicken pot pie, on pizza, soup, but my favorite recipe is the most basic of them all:

Basic Wild Mushroom Recipe: 

I used chantrelles here, but this is the way I cook most wild mushrooms the first time to get an idea of their flavor.  Get more creative as you get to know them individually. 
1T butter
1 garlic clove, minced
~10 chantrelles
1/2 tsp sea salt

Heat butter in a skillet, add garlic, toss in chopped mushrooms, salt, and saute until soft.


Most people think that mushrooms have no nutritional value.  Well, they are just plain wrong, unless they are eating them raw. Mushrooms are jam-packed with nutrients, but we can only digest them if they have been cooked.  Not only are they nutritious, there are also quite medicinal.  

Here are some of the most notable nutrients in mushrooms:

Vitamin D:  One of my favorite facts about mushrooms is that they provide us with Vitamin D.  We typically get Vitamin D from the sun, but during the rainy season, when we aren't getting much sunlight, we can get our Vitamin D from mushrooms.   The chantrelle is the second highest food source of Vitamin D, second to that of Cod Liver oil.  Though all edible mushroms have shown to have a good amount.  In fact, our Local fella, Paul Stamets with Fungi Perfeci found that Shiitakes have more international units of Vitamin D when dried in the sun, and this level of Vitamin D is retained for 6 years. 

134 IU/ 100 g fresh; 46,000 IU/ 100 gram (dry weight) dried in the sun

Vitamin D is important for strong bones and teeth.  It's also important for mental health (commonality in people with depression have a Vit D deficiency).  Deficiency is Vitamin D can cause rickets, low bone density (osteoporosis) as well as some cancers.   

B Vitamins: This group of vitamins are vital for our immune, nervous and digestive systems. Niacin and other B vitamins are found in animal tissue but not plants, so 'shrooms can be a good source for vegetarians.

Potassium: This electrolyte controls muscle function, it's also vital for maintaining normal fluid balance and helps control blood pressure.  One serving of mushrooms contains anywhere from 400-3000 mg/serving.  In other words, way more potassium than a banana. 
Iron: An important for the building of red and white blood cells.  Necessary for muscle function and responsible for transporting oxygen in our body.  One serving of chantrelles provide us about 20% of our needed iron content for a day,

Copper: While we don't think of copper as that important of a nutrient, it's imperative for the absorption of iron, therefore it's important.  Mushrooms provided a pretty stout serving of copper.

Zinc, Manganese & Selenium are antioxidants which protect cells from damage.  And mushrooms are a great source of these antioxidants.  In fact, mushrooms are the highest food source of selenium available.

There are whole books, and lots of articles written about mushrooms removing toxins at old landfills and toxic waste sites.  Mushrooms do the same in our bodies,  they bind to toxins and help us pass them.  Similarly they help lower total body cholesterol.  

All mushrooms are known to improve immune system, support the cardiovascular system, and inhibit cancer growth.  There is current promising research for the use of shiitakes and Lion's mane for treatments of HIV, AIDS, digestive disorders, neurological disorders, and arthritis.

Check back often, because it's mushroom season, and I'll be sure to post more recipes and nutrition information as the 'shrooms grow. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

Long before red food coloring, beets were the magic ingredient.  Ammen just celebrated a birthday, and we have an abundance of beets in the garden this year.  Naturally his birthday cake was a red velvet cake dyed with beets. 

The beets combined with the applesauce provide a sweet yet earthy flavor and a moist texture.  I frosted these cakes with a honey cream cheese icing because my husband will eat nothing else, but I personally think the icing was a bit strong for such simple cake.  If I make this recipe again for a different occasion I would do a simple honey butter icing or just serve the naked cake. 

As you can see, the batter of this cake is a brilliant magenta color.  After baking, the cake gradually turns to more of a brick red.  Unfortunately, I was too excited to eat the cake and didn't take a picture until most of the cake and color was gone.  The dyes faded more and more as the evening went on.   If you want to have the most red possible, bake this cake as close to the serving time as you can.  Luckily, the flavor and texture never faded.

Red Velvet Cake (With Beets)
Whenever possible, it's always best to purchase organic ingredients.  This is especially important when purchasing dairy products and eggs.  

6 beets
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt


Place beets in a pot and cover with water, boil until soft (about 30 minutes), allow them to cool.  Peel the beets and chopped coarsely.  Combine chopped cooked beets and applesauce in a blender and blend until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round layer pans.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, and then the beet mixture, mixing well.  Add the lemon juice and the yogurt and mix well again.

In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, baking soda, flour, and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pans and allowing to cool completely.  Once the cakes are cool, frost them.

Honey Cream Cheese Icing

2 pkgs of cream cheese (8oz pkg)
1/4 cup local honey
1 Tbsp vanilla

Blend until smooth.  When the cakes are cool, spread with a rubber spatula on one cake.  Stack the cakes, and spread icing on the top. 


For the nutrition information on beets check out the post on Rosemary Red Soup.

Rest assured that cocoa does indeed have nutritional benefits.  As you can tell intuitively, chocolate is a natural anti-depressant, it's also very high in antioxidants and magnesium.  Antioxidants help fight free-radicals in our body, ultimately preventing inflammation and disease states (such as cancer).  Magnesium has a blood pressure lowering affect and is vital for our digestive, cardiovascular, and neurological systems. If you really want your fill on all the benefits of chocolate, you might enjoy the Theo Chocolate Tour.  There you'll get to taste all the chocolate you can dream of, and learn about this treasured food. 

I chose to use half spelt flour in the recipe rather than all-purpose wheat or even whole wheat.  Spelt is a grain that does have gluten, making it easy to bake with, but is more easily digestible than its typically overeaten relative, wheat.  Spelt is an ancient grain, and is thought to be an ancestor grain before wheat was hybridized.  Its is a great source of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (niacin) and manganese as well as insoluble fiber. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Captain's enchiladas


Why is it that after it's been a stint since writing a blog post or a journal entry, we feel the need to say, "sorry it's been a while"  or give some justification of what we have been doing that would elicit such absent behavior?  It's as if our blog or journal is some loyal dog that has been waiting at the door for us hungry.

Here's my excuse: I got a job, I've cooking less (because of the amazing chef living here), I've been catering to my husband with a broken leg, and I'm pregnant.  Yes, 22 weeks.  She or he is due on the 4th of July, and therefore has been named, Captain America.  Captain is apparently Latino.  All I have wanted to eat for the last 5 months is corn chips, papusas, tamales, fish tacos, burritos, huevos rancheros, posole, and now enchiladas.

I've been feeling achy and having muscle cramps lately so, yesterday I went to see my favorite massage therapist, Scott.  I described to him how I've been feeling, "achy, as if I have molasses in my joints."  He worked on me a bit, and then asked, "Have you tried eating molasses?" BRILLIANT! 

How am I to fit molasses into my diet?  You would think that growing up in Louisiana, I would have all kinds of ideas, but not for these such cravings.  So, the enchiladas were born.

Deer Spinach Enchiladas
In this recipe, I used deer meat that my father hunted for me.  Ground turkey , beef, or firm tofu or tempeh would also work well.  Serve the enchiladas with brown rice and a green salad for a full meal. 

Serves 4 to 6

2 T coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T ground cumin
2 dried chipotle chilies, seeded and torn into pieces
1- 28 oz can tomato sauce
½ cup water
1 tsp sea salt
2 T molasses

Enchilada stuffing:
1 T coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 pound deer meat
2 tsp chili powder
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jalepeno pepper, diced
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 to 2 cups cooked white beans

10 to 12 organic corn tortillas
*1/2 cup grated organic mozzarella cheese (optional)

  1. To make the sauce, heat a 3-quart pot over medium heat.  Heat oil in the pot, add onion and sauté for a few minutes.  Add garlic and cumin and sauté a few minutes more.  Next add the remaining ingredients (chilies, tomatoes, water, salt, molasses).  Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes (or until you’re done with the rest of the meal).  Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. This is another great use for an inversion blender.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. To make the enchilada stuffing, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil.  Add onion and sauté until soft.  Add garlic, cumin, and salt, sauté a minute more.
  4. Add ground meat, and cook until brown.  Drain any excess fat.
  5. Add chili powder, red peppers, and spinach.  Saute until the spinach wilts.  Turn off the heat, add the cooked beans, mix well.
  6. To assemble the enchiladas, hold a tortilla in your hand, and scoop about ½ cup of filling in the center.  Tightly roll the tortilla; place in a the 9 x 13 glass baking dish, seam down.  Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Top the enchiladas with the sauce.  Sprinkle the top with cheese.  Cover the dish and bake about 40 minutes or until bubbly.  Serve hot!

Molasses is a great sweetener, especially compared to it's counterpart, white sugar, which has been stripped of nutrients.  Molasses is one of the few sweeteners that provides any nutritional benefit.  The nutrients it provides are particularly important during pregnancy, and could potentially help to alleviate some of my ailments.  It's high in iron, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals like potassium, copper and manganese.  Captain is 10 1/2 inches long, and laying down bone faster than she ever will.  These minerals are imperative for building bone.  If my diet or blood stream doesn't have enough, he'll happily take it from my stores (muscles and bone) - hence the achiness and muscle cramps.  Maybe this meal will even help Ammen lay some new bone in his broken leg, he is on his 3rd helping.  Do you have any good molasses recipes to share?