Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Eating 4X As Many Vegetables with Instant Pot (Smart)

Instant Pot - Smart, I fucking love you.

Instant Pot – Smart, I fucking love you.

Instant Pot – Smart

I am so grateful this brilliant electric pressure cooker came into my life!

I must be eating at least 4-times the amount of veggies now, because it is so easy to make delicious and extra nutritious vegetables with it.

Instant Pot – Smart is a set it and forget it appliance so I don’t have to stand over a hot stove watching my veggies cook. And? This is WAY FASTER.

Be still my heart.

Would you believe I am still using my Instant Pot every single day… multiple times a day. I use it for my veggie-heavy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So Easy.

Here are some of my latest creations.

By the way, if you get an Instant Pot – Smart and want my preprogrammed recipes, email me and I can send them to you where you add them to the Instant Pot – Smart app on your smart phone with the click of a button. Not sure if the app works on all phones – I’m using an iPhone but I think it works with Android, too. Double check though!

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Nourishing Chicken and Veg soup - no noodles needed.

Nourishing Chicken and Veg soup – no noodles needed.

One Pot Meals - Love 'em.

One Pot Meals – Love ‘em.

For the chicken and vegetable soup, I basically put a cup of spring water in the Instant Pot plus the trivet rack. I placed a small pasture-raised organic chicken on top that was seasoned with salt and pepper. Cooked on HIGH for 13 minutes (it’s about 5 minutes per pound of thawed whole chicken). Let it release naturally. Then, I took the chicken out and set aside in a glass baking dish.

While the chicken cooled for a few minutes, I added lots of veggies to the instant pot like carrots, celery, kale, and Dr. Cowan’s awesome veggie powders (tomato salt, leek powder, and three-fold blend). This makes the veggie amount and diversity go even higher. By the way… my readers get a 15%-off coupon to use with Dr. Cowan’s online store:

Coupon Code: KRISTEN 

Read here for more about my using Dr. Cowan’s garden vegetable powders.

Back to the chicken and vegetable soup recipe… I added a bit more water ensuring at least a cup’s worth was in the pressure cooker. It always needs liquid in it to work.

I put the lid back on the Instant Pot and cooked for a few minutes (low pressure is usually my choice for veggies except for big root veggies). While those were cooking I effortlessly pulled the meat off the bones and cut the meat into pieces (saving the bones to easily make chicken bone broth with the Instant Pot later).

Once the Instant Pot Smart was done cooking the vegetables, I opened it up immediately with Quick Release and added the chicken. Stirred it up, tasted for seasoning. Done.

Green Beans with Ghee and Sea Salt

Thanksgiving just got easier making green beans in the Instant Pot.

Making green beans in the Instant Pot.

BTW – Thanksgiving cooking just got easier with this Instant Pot – Smart. I plan on making the mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries, and gravy with it. Have I mentioned how stress-free this kitchen robot makes my life?

Ok, the green beans…

I simply put 12 ounces of organic green beans in a colander basket along with a cup of spring water to my Instant Pot – Smart. I set it for LOW to cook for 3-minutes (they were yummy-soft but next time I’ll try 2 minutes to cook a bit less). While they were cooking I set out a bowl with grass-fed organic ghee (<– that’s the only brand of ghee I’ll buy as it tastes the best) and sea salt.

In case you’re wondering why I use spring water sometimes, it’s because I drink the vegetable tea (I call it) after the cooking is done as it has nutrients and is tasty. I don’t do that with everything I cook in there, like eggs, so those types of recipes I just use tap or filtered tap.

Broccoli n Carrots

After I took these out of my Instant Pot, I cut the broccoli more.

Normally when I cook broccoli by itself, I put the big ol’ head of broccoli straight up in the Instant Pot not bothering to cut. After it cooks I take it out with tongs, transferring it to my cutting board where I then cut it.

For the broccoli and carrot combo, I put them in a bowl and added grass-fed butter, Dr. Cowan’s tomato salt, leek powder, and kale powder plus hemp seeds and Jovial’s borlotti beans. A perfect lunch!

"This sh*t is TOO EASY!"

“This sh*t is TOO EASY!”

These are tasty straight from the jar.

These are tasty straight from the jar.

Kale with beans and Dr. Cowan’s Veggie Powders 

Are you getting my message as to how easy it is to add more vegetables to your life with an Instant Pot – Smart? Do you and your family a favor and buy one. Then, buy one for your BFF for the holidays and your mom probably needs one, too. Mine did!

Tender kale and beans. So good. #InstantPotSMART

Tender kale and beans. So good. #InstantPotSMART

Here I cooked the kale on the trivet over a cup of spring water under LOW pressure for 3-minutes. The only prep I had to do was wash the kale and I simply chopped it in half once. While it was cooking I grabbed a bowl to which I added my Dr. Cowan’s veggie powders plus grass-fed butter and sea salt.

When the kale was done cooking I took it out with tongs (it’s hot!) and transferred it to my cutting board for a few more cuts. Then stir it into the bowl with butter and added some beans. Awesome breakfast! (Another day I did the same thing but added two Instant Pot cooked eggs when I added the beans. See how I do the eggs below.)

Instant Pot Eggs (soft/medium/hard cooked)

Instant Pot Eggs

Instant Pot Eggs

Eggs are reason alone to buy an Instant Pot – Smart. They cook easily without watching a pot, come out perfectly every time and best of all? They peel so easily!!!

I add a cup of tap water to the instant pot plus the trivet. Add 12 eggs in shell that are straight from the fridge. Cook on LOW for 3-5 minutes depending on desired doneness (for me that’s 4 minutes). While they’re cooking, get an ice bath ready (large bowl with half water and half ice). Once the Instant Pot Smart is done cooking, Quick Release. Transfer the eggs to the ice bath with tongs. After letting them cool a few minutes, get to easily peeling off the shells which is actually fun when it’s as easy as this. Store in the fridge.

Or… make my delicious deviled eggs featured in my Turmeric Hacks ebook.

Turmeric Recipes Ebook!

Turmeric Recipes Ebook!

 

 

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Friday, October 28th, 2016

We’re Go Girls! Field trips and Homeschooling.

by Kristen Suzanne in home school, Motherhood, travel
Here we go! Homeschool fun out and about.

Here we go! Homeschool fun out and about.

I’ve recently dubbed my daughter and myself, The Go Girls, as we have been just getting up and going for all kinds of activities lately.

Most of you know that we homeschool though I’d kind of lump us into the unschool category, which I prefer to call FUNschool. Our lives are about learning through fun activities. And you know what? It works.

She is learning to read, spell, and write by texting on her iPod and playing Words with Friends. We read books as well but there’s no pulling teeth with all of these fun alternatives. We learn math with cooking, board games, and simply talking about numbers out loud so she can see how to manipulate them to get the answers to questions.

When we have longer car rides to activities, it’s a ripe time for conversing about everything from zombies to politics (maybe that was the same conversation).

Kamea is full of questions every single day. Being able to answer them all in the moment, or help her find the information when I don’t know the answer, is a blessing.

 

Time to go global.

Time to go global.

I want to take learning to a global level in the near future.

I was recently inspired by the book Global Student, which has my brain’s gears thinking about living abroad for extended periods of time to immerse ourselves in other cultures, learn language and show Kamea the world. (This book is not just for homeschoolers.)

From Amazon.com about the book

In 2005, Maya Frost and her husband sold everything and left their suburban American lifestyle behind in order to have an adventure abroad. The tricky part: they had to shepherd their four teenage daughters through high school and into college. This hilarious and conspiratorial how-to handbook describes the affordable, accessible, and stunningly advantageous options they stumbled upon that any American student can leverage to get an outrageously relevant global education. 

Ready to ditch the drama of the traditional hypercompetitive SAT/AP/GPA path? Meet the bold American students who are catapulting into the global economy at twenty with a red-hot college diploma, sizzling 21st-century skills, a blazing sense of direction–and no debt.  

You’ll discover:  
• the one thing preventing your student from blasting forward
• why Advanced Placement isn’t so advanced
• why international programs fail to provide a truly global education
• the most critical time for your student to study abroad
• the best exchange program in the world ($3,000 or less per year)
• the strategic way to fast-forward through high school
• how to maximize a family sabbatical 
• how to live the life of your dreams abroad–and save thousands for college

 

I always knew we’d travel, in some way, someday, to other parts of the world.

Someday.

Upon completion of Global Student, it easily clicked as to how we would actually do it.

In 2018, we’ll sell some stuff, put the rest in storage, pack some suitcases and take off. I’m only in the very beginning of researching this but we’re considering south of France (and other parts of Europe), the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, and/or Costa Rica. Probably all of them eventually.

For now… here’s our world in Arizona. These are some things we’ve been doing to have fun and learn at the same time.

The various parks offer homeschool classes and family activities that are loaded with hands-on learning.

Kamea is feeding a sweet and hungry tortoise some prickly pear.

Watch your fingers - feeding a tortoise.

Watch your fingers – feeding a tortoise.

 

I’ve always thought snakes were cool and witnessing this king snake eat a dead rat was fascinating.

Mouse was dead prior to feeding.

Rat was dead prior to feeding.

We also saw a rattlesnake have her lunch, too, which was epic.

We like jumping at an indoor trampoline park. Great exercise and ridiculously fun.

Time to jump!

Time to jump!

 

Kamea is enjoying a Lego Engineering class where she built a battery-operated car.

Kamea in Lego Engineering class.

Kamea in Lego Engineering class.

 

We celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Phoenix which was quite the event. Now that I’ve had a taste of this locally, I can’t wait to visit Oaxaca to witness it there someday.

Dancing along with the others.

Dancing along with the others. #Diadelosmuertos

 

I’m grateful Kamea can experience some culture like this in Arizona. She sat at a table filled with Spanish-speaking kids, learning and having fun.

Art with other kids at Dia de los Metros.

Art with other kids at Dia de los Muertos.

 

We visited a pumpkin patch which was filled with activities and fun including a train ride, hay ride, games, animals, and horse rides.

Pumpkins with a desert backdrop.

Hmmmm which one?

Even though I’ve been in Arizona over a decade, I’m still not used to some holidays here. Seeing the cactus in the backdrop is weird different.

 

Horse riding time

Horse riding time

Kamea wanted to ride the horse so badly! When I got to the part where I could choose the non-mandatory helmet, I was struck with protecting my child’s brain in the event of a fall or saving her from potentially getting lice with this community-helmet (ewww). Obviously we went with the helmet but next time I’m bringing her own. 

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Monday, September 19th, 2016

Lucky YOU! Dr. Cowan’s Garden Coupon Code! Plus Super Slaw Recipe.

My collection of Dr. Cowen's Garden powders. SO GOOD!

My collection of Dr. Cowan’s Garden powders. SO GOOD!

Today is your lucky day!

Recently, I blogged about my passion for both my new kitchen robot, the Instant Pot Smart as well as my collection of Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders.

In case you didn’t read that post, I’m loving my Instant Pot Smart because cooking just became so easy I think I could do it while I sleep.

And, I have new best friends in my life: Dr. Cowan’s Amazing Awesome Nutritious EASY-TO-SNEAK-ADD VEGGIE POWDERS! For more details read here.

Dr. Cowan’s team saw my post and wanted to offer my readers a 15% discount coupon for their veggie powders. OMG! Lucky dogs you are!

You will get 15% off your purchase when you use the coupon code at checkout: KRISTEN

It bears repeating that I love these quality garden vegetable powders. They have thought of everything from using miron glass containers to protect the product to briefly cooking the kale, for example, before dehydrating it.They also use an amazing variety of vegetables to strive for balance and nutrient variety.

I can’t speak highly enough about Dr. Cowan’s Garden Veg Powders. I am a customer for life!

Dr. Cowan's delicious kale powder.

Dr. Cowan’s delicious kale powder.

For example, from their website about the kale powder…

Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable known for its many phytochemicals, which are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer. It is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, which helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process, as well as beta-carotene, which has been shown to help prevent cancer.  It is also a great source for Vitamin C and manganese, which is important for skin health.

However, kale also contains goitrogens, which inhibit thyroid function but which are mostly removed with cooking.   We steam our kale before dehydration to remove these goitrogens.  More than four pounds of kale are contained in this 150-gram jar. The varieties in our powder include Red Russian, Scarlet, Lacinato, Dwarf Siberian and Toscano.

The flavor is bright and grassy. When folded into most other foods, it takes on the flavor of those foods, which makes it ideal for picky vegetable eaters. To use, sprinkle on salads, eggs, rice, quinoa, buttered popcorn, steamed or roasted vegetables, fish or chicken. Add to smoothies, soups, stews, pasta, spaghetti sauce – really, anything you enjoy eating! Our favorite way to use Kale Powder is sprinkled on scrambled or over-easy eggs in the morning.

See? Awesome.

I’m able to add extra nutrients to just about anything I eat. I use these powders on so much and I can’t wait for them to make their pumpkin powder to amp up all foods and recipes Fall Season related. Um… pumpkin latte anyone?!?

Today, as I write this post, I’m drinking homemade grass-fed kefir to which I simply added a 1/2 teaspoon of Perennial Greens. This powder blend includes: Tree collards, gynura, perennial chard, chayote, moringa, perennial kale. That’s a powerful blend.

Super Kefir with Dr. Cowen's Garden Veg Powder #grassfeddairy

Super Kefir with Dr. Cowan’s Garden Veg Powder #grassfeddairy

 

Not all powders are available all the time. But, here’s a secret… if you join their newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when they have new options available. Jump on it(!) and buy, because they sell out fast!

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, because I find use in all of them.

I like the winter squash to increase my beta-carotene. I LOVE THE LEEK (which as of this writing isn’t available but I’m told it’s soon) because of its FLAVOR (OMG!) and leeks might be extra important for gut health it seems. I love the beets because I’m just not one to make beets often (well, except now that I have my Instant Pot I admit it’s way easier).

Still, the ease of adding Dr. Cowan’s beets to anything is mega attractive. Plus, an important note is recognizing that Dr. Cowan’s team uses three varieties of beets (Detroit Red, Chiogga, and Golden) – remember that variety is the spice of life. It’s important for health.

I also love the threefold blend because it’s so balanced. I use that one often with my 6-yo daughter. One of her favorite combos right now is my open-faced grilled cheese with raisins.

 

Very special open-faced grilled cheese for my daughter.

Very special open-faced grilled cheese for my daughter.

Here’s what I do…

I toast a slice of organic, TRULY sourdough bread. Then, I spread grass-fed ghee on top.

After that, I sprinkle Dr. Cowan’s Garden Threefold Blend on top and add some raisins (I stuff them into the sourdough holes when possible – hehe).

Add a sprinkle of sea salt, sometimes fresh herbs if I have on hand.

Then, I top with thick slices of raw grass-fed cheese. Toast it briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese.

Voila! She has this almost every day right now.

 

Super Slaw with Veggie Powders! (no mayo)

Super Slaw with Veggie Powders! (no mayo)

And, then there’s my SUPER SLAW recipe.

Super Slaw 

Try this super coleslaw which is amped with veggies and doesn’t have mayo. Creamy and cooling with a bit of cabbage-crunch.

Yield 6 to 8 servings (or fewer if you like big-ass bowls of coleslaw per person)

2 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and shredded
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon (or more!) Dr. Cowan’s Garden Threefold Blend Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup grass-fed sour cream
1/2 cup grass-fed, whole-fat Greek yogurt (I like Straus)

Place the shredded vegetables into a large bowl. I use this food processor, fitted with the shredding blade, for shredding with ease.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients for the dressing. Add the dressing to the bowl of vegetables. Toss to mix well. Season with additional salt, if desired. Add more Dr. Cowen’s Garden powders if desired, too!

Refrigerate for up to an hour before serving, if possible.

REMEMBER! You will get 15% off your purchase of Dr. Cowan’s Garden Vegetable Powders when you use the coupon code at checkout: KRISTEN

I also want to add that these garden veg powders are super for travel. I’ll be heading to the 2016 Bulletproof Conference later this week, and I’m taking my veggie powders with me. #HaveVeggiePowdersWillTravel

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Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

My Recent BEST Purchases: Dr. Cowan’s Powders & Instant Pot Smart

Instant Pot to the rescue for easy food prep.

Instant Pot to the rescue for easy food prep.

I recently waxed poetically about my Instant Pot – Smart.

The love for my kitchen robot appliance continues to grow.

I have immense gratitude for how it has made my life easier to effortlessly get more vegetables into my life (and my family’s).

Case in point.

Super fast lunch of purple carrots.

Instant Pot Effortless Vegetables.

Instant Pot Effortless Vegetables.

I simply scrubbed the organic carrots, broke them in half (the ones that didn’t fit in “whole”), and cooked for only three minutes under high pressure.

Tossed them in a bowl with nutritious grass-fed butter, sea salt, fresh organic rosemary, and….

… my other NEW trick for getting EVEN MORE veggies into my family’s life: Veggie powders, but not just any veggie powders. These are veggie powders with a mission!

See those jars in the picture? See the green stuff on my carrots?

Those tasty powders are from the brilliant Dr. Cowan and his Garden Vegetable Powders. Honestly, I want to rave continuously about these veggie powders. Instead, I’ll guide you to the place I first heard of them: Chris Kresser’s podcast (do yourself a favor and listen to it). You’ll learn the importance of VARIETY when it comes to vegetables and how it’s not necessarily easy to do that.

Until now.

With Dr. Cowan’s extremely cool, bad-ass garden vegetable powders. 

My carrot lunch above included Dr. Cowan’s leek powder (one of my favorites!!!) and the perennial greens. A mere 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each and I’m bombarding my body with vegetables.

These powders are a brilliant way to increase veggies in your family’s life by adding them to soups, marinara, buttered toast, eggs, pies, smoothies, bread puddings, veggies, oatmeal, yogurts, sauerkraut, broth, chicken dishes, burgers, sauces and so much more.

The sky is the limit.

This morning I added them to my homemade grass-fed kefir (to which I also added a bit of homemade yogurt).

I made a most delicious savory breakfast kefir that blew my mind. I loaded my body with gut-healthy probiotics along with the foods (the veggie powders) to help feed them.

Kefir bursting with veggie goodness.

Kefir bursting with veggie goodness.

Edit September 16, 2016: I changed the basic link of Dr. Cowen’s to an affiliate link today. I signed up for their affiliate program, because I love their products so much and I use them every day. If you purchase through them, you can help me buy more of those awesome vegetable powders.

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Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Meet My New Best Friend: Instant Pot Smart

My new BFF in the kitchen - Instant Pot Smart. Book sold separately.

My new BFF in the kitchen – Instant Pot Smart. Book sold separately.

I’m a lazy busy mom, and this is my secret weapon.

The Instant Pot Smart

Back story: I have had an electric pressure cooker for years but I didn’t make much with it. That is until earlier this year I pulled it out when I learned that a pressure cooker is the easiest way to make hard-boiled “cooked” (or soft-boiled “cooked”) eggs. The shell peels away effortlessly 95% of the time. But… pulling out a pressure cooker just for eggs, I just don’t do it often.

However…

The Instant Pot came on my radar. This Instant Pot is a kitchen robot, basically, that has multiple functions including the main one as being a pressure cooker, using a stainless steel insert.

A multi functional kitchen appliance? Huh. I’m intrigued.

I started to look into it.

I learned the Instant Pot people had a new model that was dubbed “smart” because it connects via blue tooth. This means that I can write (and share) my own scripts (i.e., programmed recipes). Why is this cool?

Well, with this AWESOME function…

I put my food in and basically push a button (via the app – I use an iPhone these days) and it starts right up. The brilliance of this is that I don’t have to memorize the different times I use to cook different foods.

For example:

  • I like my broccoli to be under LOW pressure for only one minute.
  • Carrots… HIGH pressure for three minutes.
  • Those pesky-to-cook beets? I cook them under HIGH for 25 minutes.
  • Hard-cooked eggs for me cook HIGH pressure for five minutes, while soft-cooked they cook LOW for three minutes.
  • My rice cooks perfectly (brown rice 15 minutes, other rice varieties can be other times)

I can’t remember all of that, and I don’t want to pull a book out each time. Wth the Instant Pot SMART, I create the scripts and they’re programmed. Then, I just push a button.

Oh, and cooking spaghetti squash in 7 minutes under pressure? Um, yeah, awesome.

Effortless hard/soft cooked eggs with Instant Pot Smart.

Effortless hard-ish-cooked eggs with Instant Pot Smart.

Mega easy dinner anyone? Instant Pot Smart.

Mega easy dinner anyone? Instant Pot Smart.

 

I could go on and on and on and on about how much I’m loving my Instant Pot Smart. It has multiple functions and perfectly cooks rice, veggies, and whole chickens with ease and in a fraction of time.

This Instant Pot SMART makes yogurt(!) and is also a slow cooker (for the slow cooker they recommend the optional / additional glass lid). I’ve heard of some people using it for a sous vide too because it can hold a set temperature that you designate.

So many options with just one appliance.

It’s so amazing, I feel like Elaine from Seinfeld when she pushes people… GET OUT!

I sure wish I knew about this before I bought all of my slow cookers and my sous vide and my other pressure cooker. (By the way, even though I love that this is a slow cooker, who wants to slow cook when you can cook so much faster with a pressure cooker?)

Seriously… move over slow cooker, it’s time for something faster.

Hello, Instant Pot Smart. Can we hug?

Hello, Instant Pot Smart. Can we hug?

I figured there must be a catch, right? Where’s the yang that goes with the yin (that is everywhere in life)? Surely there’s something wrong with it – like maybe the nutrition isn’t as good or it’s hard to use? Something?

Well, I just can’t find anything wrong with it. In fact, I read that cooking under pressure is healthier. The quickness with which it cooks (and the process) keeps more nutrients available.

This Instant Pot Smart appliance has changed my life and I’ve only had it less than a month.

I leave it on my counter and use it daily, sometimes two or three times a day. I love how perfectly everything gets cooked and it’s mostly hands off, which means I have more time to do other things I love such as read.

My latest read. Gotta be prepared. #Parenthood

My latest read. Gotta be prepared. #Parenthood

Before buying an Instant Pot Smart, I’d over or undercook rice. Too many times to count. I’d ruin hard-boiled eggs. Too many times. I’d turn my broccoli to army-green mush more often than not.

Not anymore. YAY!

I love my INSTANT POT SMART so much that I just HAD TO TELL EVERYONE! (those links are affiliate, by the way, but I only rave and get cray cray over products that I use and love. And, if you should choose to buy it via my link then that’s awesome! As you might’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging as much. You could say I’m in the “space between stories” in my life right now. But with this friggin’ awesome Instant Pot, I had to get on my horn and write about it.)

Wait… did I tell you that you can make bone broth in like an hour??? 

It’s actually just a bit more than an hour. You have to add the time to get the Instant Pot to pressure. Plus add the time for it to come down in pressure – a quick release is fast though. This time-to-pressure and de-pressure vary by how cold the item is once it’s placed inside plus how much food there is in total. But it’s all hands off and that’s the important thing. And still, it’s waaaaaaay quicker than using traditional methods like the stove, sous vide, or slow cooker.

If you want to make bone broth and don’t have a pressure cooker then here’s my epic post on it.

Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth in an hour.

Instant Pot Chicken Bone Broth in an hour.

 

I make the most delicious rice pudding in it. I had never made rice pudding before getting my Instant Pot Smart, but I make it regularly now. OMG so good and creamy with grass-fed whole-fat milk, unrefined sugar, pasture-raised eggs, vanilla, sea salt, cream and raisins and arborio rice. The first time I made it, Greg rolled on the floor in the fetal position because he loved it so much. I thought he was going to suck his thumb.

I make cheesecakes, too!

Yes. That’s right.

Cheesecake in a pressure cooker.

Gluten-free Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Gluten-free Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

 

I make a lot of things in my Instant Pot Smart… most things in fact. But my favorite? 

Vegetables.

Having an Instant Pot Smart has made veggies a regular appearance, because they’re just so damn easy to make. I don’t know what it is about veggies but I can get so lazy when it comes to making them.

With my Instant Pot – Smart, I can make “baked” potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, squashes, etc in much less time. I don’t have to watch the oven and test for doneness a million times because I know that my pressure cooker will do the job.

Broccoli, cauliflower, and beets are a pleasure to make. I never thought that before. Is that just me or do others feel the same?

Before cooking... just throw the whole thing in there.

Before cooking… just throw in the whole thing.

After 1-min under pressure. Vibrant.

After 1-min under pressure. Vibrant.

 

And. Don’t forget to drink the vegetable tea that’s left behind. It has nutrients! I use Castle Rock Spring water when cooking veggies under pressure and then I drink it when the veggies are done cooking.

Broccoli "tea" - from pressure cooking.

Broccoli “tea” – from pressure cooking.

 

I also cook gluten-free pasta in it. No more filling my stove pot with water and waiting for the boil, then stirring frequently, yada yada yada.

Nope. I just toss some sauce and noodles (plus some water or broth) into my Instant Pot and it cooks easily. If I want to get a bit fancy, I can saute some onion and garlic first, using the saute function, then add the sauce, noodles, and any extra water that’s needed. (The Instant Pot has a saute and browning feature).

There is just so much that can be made with the Instant Pot Smart and I love how I can control it from my iPhone using their app. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Speaking of the app, I think I can share my scripts on Twitter. I’ll look into it.

As you can guess, I wholeheartedly recommend everyone bring an Instant Pot Smart into his/her kitchen. You will be so happy did.

 

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Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Time for Milk Kefir Grains! Probiotic Power!

by Kristen Suzanne in gluten free, kefir
Milk Kefir Grains - Gut health power!

Milk Kefir Grains – Gut health power!

Remember when I told you I was making my own super-duper-probiotic-power kefir at home? Definitely check out this post to learn more about my friendly introduction into the world of kefir making.

Well. Finally, I made it through two boxes of Body Ecology Kefir starter packs. Those were an amazing and easy introduction to making my own grass-fed, whole-fat milk kefir. But…

I was ready to take it next level.

That meant making my own kefir at home using milk kefir grains. The kefir grains promise even more probiotic nutrition and the ability to never have to buy packets again because these grains could last me…. forever. Whoa. Cool beans.

Why kefir? 

Kefir is a gut-health-boosting powerhouse. Kefir can fill your gut with beneficial bacteria and yeasts that will set up shop in your gut (turns out yogurt is transient and passes through to feed the bacteria in your gut, but kefir has the bacteria that colonizes your gut – learn more about the differences between yogurt and kefir here). I bought mine here at Cultures for Health.

As a result of drinking kefir almost daily, plus eating homemade yogurt and sauerkraut I no longer take probiotic pills. Score! The biggest difference for me is seeing my skin take on a brighter glow. For my parents, their digestion has really improved. Kefir and fermented foods, especially when made at home, are really special and will always be a part of our life.

Join me on my journey into kefir grains as I show you how easy they are to prepare. See you next time!

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Monday, May 30th, 2016

These Books Will Make You A Better Cook

by Kristen Suzanne in food journal, Kristen Suzanne, recipe
Books to improve cooking skills.

Books to improve cooking skills.

 

I got much out of this book, too.

One of my favorites!

In my quest to improve my cooking skills, I’ve come across a few books that have helped immensely. Call me a little geeky, but I read cookbooks like they’re treasured novels. They totally romance me. :)

The following books will definitely help make you a master in the kitchen. And, they make great gifts for the person who loves to cook, or for that person, who, ehem, might need some help.

The Flavor Bible – This award winning book is a best seller on Amazon.com and for good reason. Learning to mix flavors, in an easy-to-look-up format is extremely useful. You can look up complementary flavors and combinations for a particular ingredient. For example, over 100 are listed for oranges.

Melissa’s Great Book of Produce – My family eats a lot of produce and this book helped me learn how to recognize the produce, pick the best ones, cook them, and how to store them.

Herbs and Spices – Knowing how to use herbs and spices is a smart skill for improving cooking. Herbs and spices take any simple dish and elevate it to a party in your mouth. Not only that, but by mastering herbs and spices you can create an immense variety for everything from burgers to plain pasta dishes.

The Science of Good Cooking – A popular classic that breaks down the science of cooking. This is useful because learning how and why certain cuts and varieties of meats/vegetables/etc cook the way they do, gives you confidence in approaching anything you want to cook.

How to Cook Everything (The Basics) – This is the latest book I’m reading and I love it. It’s filled with easy recipes using ingredients most of us have on hand, and is filled with 1000 useful photos. Each recipe uses two pages where the final product is shown plus small photos of the various steps. Mark Bittman smartly includes tips for variations of ingredients and also tips of what not to do in some cases. I even found use for the recipes I didn’t care to make because they included tips or variations that were useful.

I REALLY enjoy this book and damn near tabbed every page. Once you make your way through the delicious recipes you will be a much improved (and confident) cook.

Having all of the pictures for each recipe is very helpful.

Having all of the pictures for each recipe is very helpful.

 

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Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

(Why?) Scrambled Eggs by My Friend, Joanna. Guest Blog Post with Recipe.

by Kristen Suzanne in eggs, recipe
Scrambled eggs - feed your brain and body.

Scrambled eggs – feed your brain and body.

Today, I’m sharing a post written by my friend, Joanna Steven, about eggs. Turns out she loves eggs as much as I do.

I met Joanna, online, many years ago and I simply adore her. We’ve maintained a relationship through email, Facebook, and twitter over the years though I look forward to seeing her face to face someday and having a big hug… over a plate of eggs such as the ones she’s writing about here.

Here’s Joanna…

Eggs might just be the most perfect food there is. Not only are they rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamin A, D, K2, and more, but they also cost less than $1.25 per serving, and can be cooked in a few minutes flat.

For all these reasons and more, eggs are a staple food in my family’s diet. We eat them on their own, in quiches, fritattas, pancakes, vegetables patties… They’re the ultimate fast food, and are so versatile you can have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

We love them so much that we even got backyard hens, much to our children’s delight. I spent many mornings relaxing and watching my toddler throw food at them and trying to pet them!

One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is scrambled. I’m a busy mom of 2 and need a quick lunch I can make easily, eat quickly, and is sustaining enough that I can run after my boys all afternoon without dips in energy.

This recipe fits the bill, and I make it weekly. With flavorful ghee, an extra egg yolk for more taste and nutrition, and iodine rich kelp, it really ticks all the boxes!

Best French Style Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • Pinch kelp powder
  • Pinch salt
  • Freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs to taste

Directions

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk until homogeneous. Add one tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes.

Heat a stainless steel pan, or your favorite pan, and add 1 tablespoon ghee. Swirl around the pan, and when hot, pour in the eggs in the center of the pan.

Lower the heat to medium low. With the tines of a fork, drag the egg mixture from the edge of the pan toward the center as it begins to set. Go back to the edge and repeat the same motion a little farther from where you started.

Keep dragging the egg mixture towards the center as it cooks, letting the uncooked egg flow freely. If your pan was hot enough, nothing should stick.

When you’ve run out of liquid egg, turn off the heat. Sprinkle the eggs with salt, pepper, kelp powder, and herbs if using.

Let the eggs stand a bit of you want them to cook more, or serve right away with buttery sourdough bread, a generous scoop of sauerkraut, and fresh berries for dessert.

Joanna_Headshot_2015Joanna Steven is an Amazon best-selling author, and the founder of The Nourished Village, a nurturing community for moms and their families. Her work as been published in Food Matters, Eco Hearth, Get Fresh!, Yum Gluten Free Magazine, and more. She regularly shares kid-friendly vegetarian recipes on her blog, and loves to interact with other moms on Facebook page and Twitter

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Monday, May 9th, 2016

Swiss Chard Salad – A Thing of Beauty – Inspired by Hegia in France

Organice swiss chard salad. Simple and full of flavor.

Organice swiss chard salad. Simple and full of flavor.

I was watching a show featuring renowned chef, Arnaud Daguin, at his Michelin rated guest house in Basque country. As I hung onto every word and scene of beauty, I picked up a great tip for swiss chard (and promised myself that someday I would visit his place, Hegia).

This is food porn to me.

This is food porn to me.

Chef Arnaud said that cooking the chard stems would degrade their gorgeous color so he set to thinly slicing them. I loved the idea and happened to have a bunch of organic swiss chard from the farmer’s market with which I was trying to decide what to do.

So, that’s what I did with my salad.

Once I thinly sliced the stems, I found myself thinly slicing the entire thing. I tossed them in a bowl with pinch of icelandic sea salt, a scoop of thinly sliced, homemade pickled cucumbers, and a quick drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. The fresh green flavor of the swiss chard was gently front and center, supported by bites of spice from my pickled cucumbers, and the olive oil smoothed everything out.

Tres magnifique!

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Saturday, May 7th, 2016

I Get So Excited At The Farmers’ Market – My Food Porn

by Kristen Suzanne in carrots, gluten free, Kristen Suzanne, paleo
I can't take my eyes off these beauties.

I can’t take my eyes off these beauties.

I know I’m probably a bit weird, though I know I can’t be totally alone, when I say that I get super excited at the farmers’ market. Seeing all of that fresh organic produce, quite frankly, makes me want to pee my pants. (I’m the same in a bookstore.)

You’re probably not surprised though, after I shared with you how I can’t get enough of scratch cooking. It’s my passion.

This past week, I was particularly smitten by those gorgeous carrots you see above.

And, then there was this purple sweet potato that I had to cut into wedges and roast with ghee, garlic, rosemary, spices, and sea salt.

Purple sweet potato wedges, roasted.

Purple sweet potato wedges, roasted.

So good.

I’m happy.

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