How about this for super easy! I really love a recipe that is delicious and nutritious but also quick and easy to prepare.
2 medium eggplants (these were from my local farmers market)
2 cups tomato puree (preferably organic in a glass jar)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced, organic or raw
¾ cup shredded parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano
Olive oil, organic, unfiltered
Slice eggplants into ¼ inch slices. Put slices on a baking sheet or broiler pan. Brush eggplant with olive oil. Broil 3 inches from broiler for 5 minutes. Turn slices over, brush with more olive oil, and broil for 3 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place one layer of eggplant slices in a baking dish. Top eggplant with mozzarella slices and pour enough tomato puree to cover. Sprinkle with parmesan. Repeat with layers of eggplant, mozzarella, tomato puree, and parmesan until all eggplant is used. Finish with tomato puree and a generous sprinkle of parmesan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.
Do you have a smart meter installed at your house? I do, and I’ve always disliked the fact that I had no choice about installation. Texas residents are not given a choice. Even though I don’t like having the smart meter–it’s located less than 10 feet from where I sleep and from where I work on my computer many hours a day–I didn’t try to stop the installation and have never protested the process.
That’s why I really admire Jennifer Stahl of Naperville, Illinois. She helped organize Naperville Smart Meter Awareness (NSMA) in her community to protest the installation of smart meters. I recently learned that she was arrested by local police when she refused to allow a smart meter installed at her house. She is truly courageous–willing to put her energy and actions, not just words, on the line to defend what she believes is the safest and best for her family. Not only was she arrested, but a neighbor photographing the arrest was also arrested. Jennifer has retained an attorney to fight the charges against her. The NSMA is holding a fund-raiser today, February 24, to help her defense.
Here’s a video of her arrest: [I found a video from the local CBS station to replace the YouTube video that was taken down.]
Are there any problems with Smart Meters?
Well, it appears that there are many problems with smart meters, and they include health concerns, increased cost for little benefit, as well as safety and privacy issues.
Are there health concerns?
Health concerns are paramount for one doctors’ organization. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) is concerned enough about potential health hazards from smart meter emissions to issue a recommendation for “patients with a broad array of illnesses”:
The recommendation, which includes reference to 20 peer-reviewed studies showing biological harm from wireless technologies, indicates that patients with neurological, neurodegenerative diseases, genetic defects, cancer, and other conditions would benefit from avoiding pulsed RF radiation from smart meters.
The AAEM recommends: that no Smart Meters be on these patients’ homes, (and) that Smart Meters be removed within a reasonable distance of patients’ homes…” (source)
Have the utility companies, the public utility commissions, or government agencies made any effort to avoid installation in homes where any of these conditions exist or in neighboring homes? Have they given any consideration to this potential health hazard? Certainly the employee who installed my smart meter didn’t ask if we had anyone in the house (or a neighbor’s house) with any medical conditions. Harm could come from a neighbor’s smart meter as well since many houses are within 10 feet of each other in our crowded neighborhoods. I could not find any evidence that the companies or governmental agencies have given any consideration to health issues. It’s admitted, however, that “Harm from wireless signals — especially from smart meters — hasn’t been proven or disproven.” (source)
Are the benefits worth the cost?
Costs compared to benefits were evaluated in a Consumers Digest report, January 2011, which suggested that “From a consumer’s perspective, the potential negative consequences outweigh the benefits in three critical areas:“ Cost, Rate Changes, and Energy Savings. [emphasis added] Increased costs include upfront charges for installation and use of smart meters as well as the potential cost of appliances and equipment designed to work with smart meters. Utility companies may use increased rates for peak time use to push customers to buy the extra equipment that would be needed to monitor and control electricity usage. Some pilot studies indicate that energy savings have been overestimated unless customers buy and use that necessary monitoring equipment. All of the required changes would be very expensive and the savings in energy has not been shown to be worth the additional expense.
Another study of randomly selected households in the Chicago area found little benefit from the installation of smart meters. It found “that fewer that 9% exhibited any amount of peak usage reduction, and that the overall amount of reduction was ‘statistically insignificant.’”
A review of 57 international residential smart meter programs by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy concluded that smart meters must be used with in-home displays and well-designed programs that “successfully inform, engage, empower and motivate people” in order to realize energy savings. “Smart meters in and of themselves are just not ‘smart’ enough to get the job done for consumers and our economy.” (source)
Are smart meters safe?
Installation of smart meters has caused fires, explosions, and burned out appliances across the United States, Canada, and Australia. A fire captain in California reported electrical surges following smart meter installation. The EMF Safety Network has compiled many examples of damage resulting from smart meters.
Although the industry claims that smart meters meet FCC regulation requirements, those guidelines appear to assume that the smart meters will be located farther from our living space than is actually likely to occur. As I mentioned earlier, our smart meter is easily within 10 feet from where we spend many hours every day. In fact, FCC radio frequency (RF) radiation limits are based primarily on thermal dangers, in other words, the FCC limits are to prevent you from being “cooked” by RF radiation However, there are many other potential problems from RF radiation besides just heat. (source)
A community based group is filming a documentary about some of the dangers from smart meters. Here is the trailer for their film:
How are Texans dealing with Smart Meters?
According to Texas State Representative Dennis Bonnen, the Texas legislature did NOT intend for installation to be mandatory. He wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission on February 10, 2012, urging the Commission “to correct this oversight by providing a simple, customer-friendly process for opting-out of the advanced metering technology.” Although Rep. Bonnen’s letter was sent over a year ago, I could find no reference to any response from the Texas PUC.
Texas State Senator John Corona has filed Senate Bill 241 to mandate that Texas customers have the choice to opt out of having a Smart Meter. He says that if the Public Utility Commission is responsive to customer needs, he would be willing to withdraw the bill. Texas State Representative David Simpson filed House Bill 1171 to allow customers to opt out without being charged a fee.
I found one Texas organization, Ban Texas Smart Meters, that is fighting the mandatory installation of the meters. The organization is filing several lawsuits seeking a ban or at least an opt out provision for Texas homeowners. A few homeowners in Texas have refused the installation, but I haven’t heard of any arrests.
As of August 2012, Texas had already installed 6 million smart meters, representing 87% of the final 2016 target. (source)
What’s happening in other states?
Several states have allowed residents to opt out of smart-meter programs, including California, Vermont, Maine and Nevada; however, others are forcibly pursuing mandatory installation. For example, Jennifer Stahl, in Naperville, Illinois, was arrested for refusing the installation of a smart meter on her house. Her neighbor was also arrested for photographing the arrest. She had helped form an organization protesting the installation of smart meters, Naperville Smart Meter Awareness (NSMA).
What does an opt out mean and what would it cost?
Believe it or not, the utility companies probably don’t mind an opt out. They don’t think many people will choose to opt out, AND, if they implement it like some other states, they probably will charge fees, sometimes incredibly high, for your right to maintain your privacy and protect yourself and your family from potential harm from the RF radiation. They get more money either way because they add a fee to your electric bill when your smart meter is installed ($2 or $3 a month in Texas) AND they will charge you a fee if you choose opt out! Either way, you will pay more!
To get some idea of how Texas might structure an opt out provision, here are a few examples of how other states charge for opt out provisions: California does not charge any extra fee to customers who have a smart meter but does charge a $75 setup charge and a $10 monthly fee to those who opt out with some reductions for low-income families. (source) A Portland, Oregon, company “charges a $224 opt-out fee and a monthly $54 manual read fee.” Nevada Energy charges its customers an opt-out fee ranging from $98.75 to $107.66 and a monthly reading fee ranging from $7.61 to $11.00. Wisconsin charges a monthly fee of $7.78 for a quarterly meter reading (water). (source) Vermont does not charge for opting out. (source)
What is really behind the forced smart meter installation?
Sadly, the most likely impetus behind the whole smart meter program is very similar to many other coercive programs. Since there is little evidence of significant energy or cost savings, the primary motivation appears to be increased profit for the energy industry, although there is also certainly the appeal of the enhanced ability to control the power grid. The Consumers Digest report said “In helping to create the smart-meter industry, politicians from both parties have done what’s best for the industry rather than for consumers.” Here’s what the report said about potential savings: “So far, smart-meter systems have produced little energy savings except in small and carefully controlled projects in which consumers have basically been spoon-fed on how to realize the maximum benefits. These projects have included time-of-use pricing and often include home-area networks that allow participants to monitor and control electricity use.” [emphasis added]
Whatever the real reason for implementation of the smart meter program, is anyone concerned about the potential damage to health? Could this be another system that is being implemented without adequate testing?
What should we do if we are concerned
I could not find any conclusive evidence of studies showing the safety of smart meters. Although the FCC and the industry dismiss any concerns about the safety of FR radiation saying that we already have cell phones, wi-fi, microwaves, and many other sources of RF emissions, that may be the real problem–the fact that we are increasingly being flooded with waves of emissions. Maybe the harm is from the cumulative effect of all these sources of RF radiation, and we are just now reaching a critical level of exposure. How do we know? At least we should learn what we can about the potential dangers and minimize exposure wherever possible until we know the true impact.
Here’s what you can do right now–you can tell the FCCnot to raise the radio frequency radiation limits for smart meter emissions, butyou must do so by March 6. Until we know more about the safety of smart meter emissions, we should NOT allow the limits to be raised. We don’t even know if current limits are safe!
You can also support the local and national organizations that are protesting the installation of smart meters. Here are a few I found; if you know of others please post them in the comments.
As you probably have noticed by now, I love my morning smoothies! Although my usual smoothie is a Banana Cocoa Smoothie, I like to try new flavors. I don’t often find really ripe, organic strawberries, but I was lucky last week and found some, so I thought I would try some in my morning smoothie. Did you know that strawberries shouldn’t be crunchy or white in the center? That’s right, a really ripe strawberry–heavenly sweet–should have an inviting smell and there shouldn’t be a white center or a white shoulder around the stem. Here’s how I made my strawberry smoothie with these beautiful ripe strawberries (there’s some in the photo):
2/3 cup homemade raw cow milk kefir (would be good with goat milk kefir too)
2/3 cup sliced ripe strawberries, preferably organic
1 tablespoon coconut oil (I use Tropical Traditions gold label)
1 egg yolk, from pastured chickens
Stevia to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender. (I use a glass beaker and a hand-held, immersion blender but any blender will work.) Blend until thoroughly combined. Nutritious and delicious! Enjoy!
To make this smoothie truly delicious, you must have really ripe strawberries. Most commercial strawberries are picked when only partially ripened to reduce damage during shipping and increase shelf life. Ripe strawberries are easily bruised and don’t last long. Unripe strawberries will have white around the stem and, when sliced, will be white in the center. They don’t have nearly as much flavor as ripe ones, and they don’t have that wonderful strawberry smell either. The less white, the more ripe the strawberry. If you can find locally grown, ripe strawberries, they would be the best. Sometimes you can find local farms that let you pick your own. We may have some local strawberries here in Houston soon.
You might also be interested in these other smoothie recipes:
[Update February 12, 2013: Wow! I've already got an update. I just found a video of the farmer being forced to dump 700 gallons of raw milk ($5,000), just because he was delivering. There was nothing wrong with the milk. Why was he required to waste good milk?? The video is added below.]
I’ve just learned that a Texas raw milk farmer had his license suspended last week for delivering raw milk! The suspension was prompted by a complaint, but the complaint had nothing to do with the safety or quality of the milk! The only problem was the delivery. To get his license reinstated, the farmer had to promise he would make no more deliveries. Yes, delivery is against current Texas regulations, but why is it wrong to deliver raw milk? Let’s look at how raw milk is handled in Texas and what we can do about it.
Texas raw milk legislation
Current Texas regulations require that raw milk sales must be at the farm and only directly to the consumer. The farmer must have a Grade A Raw for Retail Milk Permit. Texans can legally buy licensed, raw milk, but they must to drive to the farm — which is likely to be several hours away — to get it. Many people (most?) live in cities and suburbs, and urbanization has pushed farms farther out. As FARFA says, “The current law burdens consumers, and it penalizes family farmers who are unfairly prevented from marketing their milk.” (source)
Previous raw milk bill defeat
Two years ago during the last Texas legislative session, a bill (HB 75) to allow delivery of raw milk was defeated after pressure was applied to the Texas House committee by the Harris County Public Health Department, the Texas Medical Association, and the dairy industry. (source)
The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance reported that the “Harris County Public Health Department has been one of the major barriers to any reform of the laws governing local foods. The Department hired lobbyists using Houstonians’ tax dollars and opposed the raw milk bill, the farmers market bill, and the cottage foods bill. Harris County was reportedly responsible for killing HB 2084 (the local foods omnibus bill) in the Local & Consent Calendars Committee so that it was not voted on by the House.” The Department used Harris county taxpayers’ money to defeat a bill that affected all Texans. The claims that apparently had the most influence on the committee were about safety; but, this is NOT a safety issue. (source)
A food freedom issue, not a food safety issue
As reported by FARFA, “Texas raw milk farmers have an excellent safety record. CDC data from 1998-2010 show that there were only two reported illnesses attributed to raw milk in Texas during that time.” Milk delivered is not any less safe that milk picked up at the farm. In fact, the farmer would probably store and transport the milk in better condition than many consumers would. If the milk is delivered conveniently to the customer, there would be no hours-long drive to the farm to pick up milk. Both farmer and customer would benefit greatly from the passing of this bill. Who wouldn’t benefit? Here are some possibilities: Big dairy–more competition for their unhealthy, overprocessed CAFO milk! Physicians–healthier people needing less health care! I’m not sure how the Harris County Health Department would benefit, but it may be that the Department gets pressure from Big Dairy or the medical associations. It’s a sure thing, they shouldn’t be using our tax money to hire lobbyists to defeat the bill. For more information about raw milk in Texas, go to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the Texas Alliance for Raw Milk (TX-ARM), The Campaign for Real Milk, or Texas Real Milk.
Support Texas House Bill 46
Texans can help ensure the passage of HB 46 by contacting their legislators. You can call your state representative. You can send them materials about raw milk. You can then call your state senator to ask for support when the bill reaches the Texas Senate. For more details and suggestions about what to do, see the alert from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.
I just read an interesting article by Kim Schuette in the latest Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Journal about bone broth, or is it stock? Kim begins by explaining that the French term for stock and broth is fonds de cuisine, the foundation of the kitchen. Yes, stocks and broths have traditionally been the foundation of many of the most delicious dishes and sauces in the best kitchens. The terms broth and stock are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing, but Kim, in her article Meat Stock and Bone Broth, distinguishes between the two. I make both types, but I had always used the terms to mean about the same thing. She defines meat stock as made “with meat on the bone and is cooked just long enough to completely cook the meat.” Bone broth is “made from bones with the meat removed and is cooked longer to extract more of the nutrients.” Sounds good to me. Here’s more about each type of broth and why we need both.
Stock made with the meat on the bones is very nutritious. It is “rich in gelatin and free amino acids, such as proline and glycine.” These are good for healing and strengthening our bones and joints. Meat stock also supports good digestion and helps regulate our hydrochloric acid, which is essential for proper digestion of proteins. That wonderful gelatin that we all want from our broth is a product of making meat stock. Why is that gelatin so wonderful? Although it is “not a complete protein, containing only the amino acids arginine and glycine in large amounts, it acts as a protein sparer, helping the poor stretch a few morsels of meat into a complete meal.” (Broth is Beautiful, WAPF) GAPS diet followers will use meat stock, with the shorter cooking time, to help heal the gut and then will be able to have bone broth later when then gut has begun to heal.
Kim provides recipes for three different types of meat stock based on Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
If meat stock is so good, why make bone broth? Well, bone broth provides an excellent source of minerals and other nutrients, such as glucosamine. These minerals are necessary for healthy teeth and bones which are especially important for growing children. However, Kim explains why bone broth may not be beneficial to people with gut problems, who may have leaky gut syndrome “(excessive permeability of the gut lining, potentially leading to food allergies and intolerances and autoimmune conditions) .” Bone broth can contain free glutamates from the longer cooking time. Free glutamates can encourage inflammation; however, the formation of free glutamates can be minimized by a very low temperature slow simmer. People with leaky gut syndrome should wait until healing the gut has begun with meat stock before adding bone broth to their diet.
Kim recommends simmering fish bone broth for 4 hours, chicken or turkey for 12 to 24 hours, and beef or lamb for 36 to 48 hours.
Make both meat stock and bone broth using the same bones
You can make both stock and broth with the same bones. Just cook the meat stock until the meat is done, remove the meat and the stock,return the bones to the pot, add fresh water and some apple cider vinegar, then cook the bones longer to extract the minerals and other nutrients. See below for recommended cooking times. To increase the nutrients in the bone broth, you might want to add bones saved from other uses such as roasted chicken or beef. Any bones will do. I put the bones in the freezer for later use whenever we roast chicken, beef, or even pork. Add them to the bone broth water for a truly mineral-rich broth.
Both stock and broth have important nutrients, but they are not only healthy, they also are very easy on the budget. There aren’t many foods where the nutrition is so great at so reasonable a cost as stock and broth. Stocks and broths are not only good for long term health, they are excellent remedies for healing when suffering from colds, flu, and temporary digestive upset. My family are true believers in the healing benefits of stock and broth. As always, broth from the meat and bones of pastured animals will be the best for your health.
Other definitions of broth and stock
Wikipedia defines stock and broth somewhat differently. Stock is “the thin liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a thin, highly-flavoured liquid.” Broth is “a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavouring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain.” Whatever you call them, these broths and stocks should become regular additions to your diet.
Pepperoni pizza has always been a favorite food, but we don’t eat it very often since we switched to a healthier diet. For Super Bowl Sunday, I thought I would make some pizza for a treat and wanted it to be as nutritious as possible. We don’t make bread very often, so don’t keep sourdough starter on hand. I decided to make the pizza dough with a variation of Nourishing Traditions soaked Yeasted Buttermilk Bread. Here’s how I made our Super Bowl pizza:
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup kefir or buttermilk
2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup unbleached organic white flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted or softened
1 package dry yeast, preferably not quick acting
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
cornmeal (for dusting the bread peel and baking pan)
8 ounces of organic tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen canned organic)
1 teaspoon organic oregano (Frontier)
1 teaspoon organic Italian herb mix (Frontier)
Combine tomato sauce and herbs. I just mix the herbs in the can, but you can use a small bowl.
Pepperoni (I used Applegate uncured pepperoni)
Shredded cheeses (I used mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar)
Other optional toppings
Making the pizza dough
Combine the whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of kefir or buttermilk (I used homemade raw milk kefir), and butter in a food processor or bread machine. I use a bread machine on the dough setting. I let the machine run until the dough had formed a ball. If necessary for the dough to form a ball, drizzle in a little more kefir as the machine mixes. When the dough forms a ball, turn off the machine and place the dough in a bowl, cover with a towel, and place in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.
When it’s almost time to make the pizza, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey in a small bowl and leave for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Add salt and baking soda and mix well. Put the soaked dough back in the bread machine. Add the yeast mixture and 1/4 cup of white flour. As before, set the bread machine on the dough setting and combine until well mixed. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to the shape of the pan. I used a round cast iron griddle to bake the pizza so I rolled out the dough to about a 12 to 13 inch circle. Transfer the dough to a bread peel lightly sprinkled with corn meal. I used the bread peel to assemble the pizza because I wanted to preheat the iron griddle. If you are using a pizza pan or cookie sheet, just put the rolled out dough into the pan and press up the sides to form a rim. If using a griddle, shape about a 1/2 inch high rim around the edge of the dough.
Assemble the pizza
Top the dough with the tomato sauce, pepperoni, and cheeses. After assembling the pizza, set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the assembled pizza with a towel and let rest for about 10 minutes while the oven heats. If you’re using a cast iron pan, put the pan in the over to heat while the oven preheats.
Bake the pizza
After the resting period, remove the iron pan from the oven, sprinkle with a little cornmeal, and transfer the pizza from the peel to the hot pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
Enjoy! The pizza was delicious and tasted exactly like a pepperoni pizza should! The soaked crust is not as chewy as more typical pizza crust, but it works very well to hold the slices, and it tastes great!
This was the first time I’d made soaked pizza crust so I didn’t get too fancy with the toppings, but next time I plan to add more of my favorite toppings, like green pepper, onion, and olives.
As always, use local and organic whenever possible, and, if you have the equipment, freshly ground flour is the most nutritious.
Our local Meetup group, Houston Real Food Nutrition, had a fantastically successful meeting last night at Partners in Paleo in League City. Over thirty members and guests attended the event. Susan Doiron gave an exceptionally thorough demonstration of making fermented vegetables and fruits. Her goals were to show us how easy it is to make healthy, probiotic fermented foods and to inspire us to get started making our own. Susan loves to cook and her enthusiasm for teaching others was quite apparent. She was tireless as she talked about how to make fermented vegetables and fruits. One of the best parts of her demonstration was that we all got to taste every one of the many different foods she brought with her. Lucky us–she provided her recipes for all of them! I ate all of the samples which included some very spicy ones, some with exotic flavors, and some that were just everyday delicious. By the way, she had several capable volunteer assistants, including Jamie in the photo with Susan. Fermented foods are an excellent aid to digestion and are good to eat as a condiment with each meal. Susan said that her foray into making fermented foods began several years ago when she was inspired by the traditional cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
While Susan demonstrated and provided samples, we were served a delicious paleo meal prepared by Jeanette Pearson, the chef/owner of Partners in Paleo. We were offered a choice of pastured chicken or grassfed beef. I chose the beef and was treated to braised oxtail served with creamed cauliflower and carrot soufflee. I ate all of my meat and vegetables, and (don’t tell anybody) even ate around all those wonderful bones. I didn’t want to miss a single bite of the very flavorful and tender grassfed beef. Those who had the chicken (stuffed with spinach and garlic) seemed to enjoy theirs as much as I did my beef.
I am excited that so many people in Houston are really interested in eating healthy, nutrient-dense food! As of the last count, we have 99 members in our Meetup group which was only set up last September! Wow, almost 100! We are planning more demos in the future, on subjects like making bone broth, kefir, and yogurt plus more presentations on subjects like nutrient-dense foods, raw milk, fats, and many more. We’re also hoping to be able to show movies and videos about Real Food, nutrition, and health. We want to have meetings in other locations around the area and are open to suggestions. Please join us if you are interested in learning and sharing with others who want to eat Real Foods for better health!
I made my favorite vegetable beef soup the other day and wanted something to add a different flavor to the meal. We don’t eat a lot of bread or bread substitutes; however, we had really enjoyed the coconut flour blueberry muffins, so I thought I would try the coconut flour Cheese Biscuits. We love cheese with almost everything, especially extra sharp cheddar, which is the kind of cheese I added to these biscuits.
Here’s how I made my cheese biscuits:
4 eggs, preferably pastured
1/4 cup butter, melted (or coconut oil), preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 teaspoon salt, Celtic Sea Salt
1/3 cup sifted coconut flour, organic
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, aluminum free
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, from rBST free cows (no GMOs)
Blend together eggs, butter, and salt. Combine coconut flour with baking powder and whisk into batter until there are no lumps. Fold in cheese. Drop batter by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (You could use a greased cookie sheet instead.) Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Makes 8 biscuits.
By the way, the crispy, cheesy biscuit edges you see in the photo were especially good!
For onion biscuits, add 1/4 teaspoon onion powder when you blend the eggs, butter, and salt.
For garlic cheese biscuits, fold 8 diced cloves of garlic into the batter after adding the shredded cheese.
This recipe is based on one by Bruce Fife in his Cooking with Coconut Flour cookbook.
We celebrated New Year’s Eve with a special treat this year. I fell in love with Mexican food when I moved to Texas many years ago, and although there are lots of Mexican restaurants here in Houston–in fact sometimes it seems there is one on almost every corner–almost none of them use good quality ingredients. Most use unhealthy fats, possibly GMO corn tortillas, CAFO beef, and some even fake cheese. I wanted our Mexican food to be not only delicious but good for us too. I had some duck fat leftover from Christmas dinner, and duck fat is super good (and healthy) for frying foods. I also happened to have some sprouted corn tortillas in the freezer. They can be hard to find so I grab them when I can.
Here’s how I made my grass-fed beef tostadas for New Year’s Eve:
1 pound ground beef, preferable from grass-fed beef
1 jar organic salsa, medium hot
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
salt, about 1 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper
1 package sprouted corn tortillas
duck fat for frying
1 can organic refried beans (or 2 cups homemade pinto beans)
duck fat (if the beans are non-fat)
1 small tomato, diced
juice of 1/3 lime, or to taste
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
I always do all the chopping and shredding before I start cooking. When the chopping is finished, make the guacamole. This is my usual recipe for guacamole like I made for my Chicken Taco Salad. Peel the avocado by slicing around the pit and twisting the two halves apart. Remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon into a small mixing bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork–it’s okay to leave some lumps. Add the diced tomato, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Stir with the fork to combine, then put it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Crumble ground beef in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add enough of the salsa to moisten the ground beef. Season with chili powders, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Let beef mixture simmer while preparing the tostadas.
Empty the can of refried beans into a small saucepan. If your refried beans are non-fat as mine were, add about a tablespoon of duck fat. Add about a teaspoon of chili powder. Stir together and heat over low heat stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Over medium heat, melt enough duck fat in a small skillet to make about 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep. Cook one tortilla at a time, turning frequently, until lightly brown and crisp. Turning frequently will help to prevent puffing and will keep the tortilla mostly flat.
When all the tostadas are cooked, you are ready to assemble the tostadas and enjoy.
I stack up my tostada fillings in this order: put a tostada on the plate, smear some refried beans to cover most of the tostada, add the hot beef mixture, more salsa, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, then top with guacamole.
Yes, years ago I used to buy the pre-cooked tostada and taco shells because they were so much easier and quicker, but no more. Even if the pre-cooked ones are organic and not GMO, they are usually cooked in unhealthy fats. Anyway, freshly cooked tostadas really do taste much, much better, especially cooked in duck fat.
Of course, use local, organic ingredients whenever possible. Also if you have your own homemade fermented salsa do use it at least for the topping, and if you soak your own beans, they would be much preferable to canned beans, even if the canned ones are organic. We rarely eat beans, so using canned occasionally for a treat is okay. I almost never measure seasonings but have provided approximate amounts. Adjust them to your taste.
It’s been almost a year since I wrote about my morning smoothies. I still have one most mornings but thought it was about time I updated my post with some changes I’ve made in the recipe. The base of my smoothie is almost always kefir, fermented raw milk, but occasionally I use raw milk or a combination of raw milk and raw cream. Now my kefir is homemade from local raw cow milk. My favorite breakfast is satisfying, delicious, and nutritious–full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, protein, and healthy fats. Yes, I just feel better when I start my day with a kefir smoothie. The one I make most often is a banana cocoa smoothie made with kefir, raw cocoa powder, and banana. Here’s how I make it now (I just had the one in the photo this morning–ooom good!):
1 cup raw cow milk kefir
1 small ripe organic banana (or half of a large one)
1 tablespoon raw organic cocoa powder
1 to 2 tablespoons organic flax seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 egg or 2 egg yolks, from pastured chickens
Stevia to taste
Measure kefir into a beaker [I still prefer my heavy-duty borosilicate glass beaker to the plastic beaker that came with my hand blender.] Add–in any order–banana, flaxseed, coconut oil, cocoa powder, and stevia. Blend until well combined and the flax seeds are broken up. [The flax seeds are optional, if seed pieces in your smoothie bother you, just omit the flax seeds. I love the chewy bits of seed in my smoothies, but not everyone likes to chew on their smoothie.] Add the egg or egg yolks at the very end and blend briefly–1 to 2 seconds.
The smoothie could be made in a regular blender, but I find it’s easier to clean up the hand blender and beaker. Often I just sip my smoothie out of the beaker–saves one more cleanup. Digestion tip: sip the smoothie slowly and let each sip roll around in the mouth to allow the digestive juices to do their job.
kefir: Houston area raw milk, raw milk in other areas.at RealMilk.com raw cocoa powder: Sunfood, Wilderness Family Naturals, Navitas coconut oil: Tropical Traditions Gold Label flaxseed: Bob’s Red Mill Organic stevia: SweetLeaf pastured eggs: my favorite local farmer’s rainbow eggs–beautiful!