Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Easy Greek Salad Dressing

This salad dressing is super quick and easy to make! Best of all, homemade salad dressing beats bottled dressing any day of the week! The health benefits of homemade dressing are well worth the little effort it takes to make. The reason that homemade trumps is because bottled dressings are almost always made with cheap, low-quality oils that have been stripped of their nutrients and rendered rancid by high-temperature processing. In addition, bottled dressings typically include stabilizers, preservatives, MSG, and refined sweeteners. Homemade dressings on the other hand are much healthier if made with extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and supplies vitamin E along with a host of wonderful antioxidants. Studies prove that olive oil provides numerous health benefits. If the oil has been processed correctly, it will still contain its original content of antioxidants, which protect the oil's fatty acids form rancidity. Along with olive oil, I always add a tablespoon of flax oil to my salad dressings; unrefined flax seed oil is one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. If you can get your hands on Barlean’s Organic Flaxseed oil, it is considered one of the best in terms of quality, purity and health benefits. Homemade salad dressing is very easy to make and with a little practice, you can learn to make your own dressing without measuring.

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably organic)
1 T organic expeller pressed flax oil
1 t Dijon mustard (smooth or grainy)
2 T raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T Fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves (pressed)
½ t basil
½ t oregano
¼ t sea salt
¼ t fresh ground pepper
2 heaping T Feta Cheese

You can make this dressing in a matter of minutes! Simply measure out all your ingredients and place them directly into a glass jar with a very tight lid. Shake the jar vigorously and refrigerate overnight to allow the spices to soften and the flavor to develop.

Take care and, as always, bon appétit!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homemade Kimchi

This year, I’ve embarked on a journey to restore my digestive health. Along the way, I’ve learned about the important role that fermented foods play in healthy digestion and this has turned out to be an important key in my healing. In fact, the results have been nothing short of miraculous! I’ve started making more of my own fermented foods and lacto fermented beverages and I must admit that Kimchi is one of my favorites.

Kimchi (Korean Sauerkraut) is undoubtedly one of the healthiest foods you can consume. Kimchi shot to fame after recently being named one of the top five healthiest foods in the world! There are hundreds of varieties of Kimchi. but the most common varieties are made with Napa cabbage as the base along with green onions, garlic, carrots, and ginger. The definition of fermentation is “breaking down into simpler components.” Fermentation makes foods easier to digest and the nutrients easier to assimilate. In essence, much of the work of digestion is done for you in advance. The process of fermentation also imparts probiotics. What are probiotics? They are good bacteria that aid in digestion and elimination. The active cultures that pre-digest the food as part of the fermentation process also generate nutrients. Additionally, you’re getting powerful antioxidants from the garlic, ginger and onions. There are a host of wonderful live enzymes kept intact by the fermentation process. Best of all, Kimchi promotes intestinal health by feeding the lacto-bacteria and bifida-bacteria that live in your intestines (these are the friendly bacteria.)

Most homemade Kimchi recipes are very spicy…a bit too spicy for me. After experimenting, I came up with this recipe which is very mild (I used a sweet red pepper instead of a chili pepper) If you’d like a bit of spice, feel free to add ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes. Or, if you'd like a truly authentic experience, get your hands on a few Korean chili peppers!

1 head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup of carrots, grated (about 4-5 carrots)
1 sweet red pepper
1 T freshly grated ginger
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 T celtic sea salt
¼ cup whey (if you’d like to learn how to make whey, please see my “How to Make Whey” post)

Place all the ingredients in a large wide-mouthed mason jar and add the cabbage a handful at a time. Massage mixture with your hand to release the juices and combine well.

Pound with a wooden spoon to release juices.

After combining all the cabbage, pack the mixture down firmly with your fist.

Cover tightly and leave at room temperature overnight (or at least 8 hours).

In the morning, you’ll notice that a lot more of the juices have been released. Now you’ll want to transfer into a smaller jar and leave at least one inch of headroom because the Kimchi will expand as it ferments.

Leave on the countertop for 5-7 days before transferring to the fridge. At day one or two, you’ll know the fermentation process is underway when you start to see small bubbles throughout the mixture. Also, you may hear a slight gurgling sound; this is the oxygen being pushed out. These are signs that nature is busy working! 

As always, Bon Appétit!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grilled Chicken Kabobs with Teriyaki and Pineapple

These kabobs are not only delicious, they are super easy to make! Also, the addition of pineapple, red onions, and grape tomatoes give them a nice balance. If you can, choose organic chicken instead of conventional. Organic chicken not only tastes better, it is more nutritious and high in omega 3 fatty acids. So, look for certified organic, free-range poultry and you’ll be treated to a healthier and better tasting bird! If you’re not in the mood to cut a fresh pineapple, most grocery stores carry fresh pre-cut.

2 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
¼ t fresh ground black pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves cut into 1 inch cubes
8 Pineapple chunks (1” squares)
8 Grape Tomatoes
Teriyaki sauce (a high quality organic sauce will produce the best flavor)

Yields 4 Kabobs


In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
This will be your marinate.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1" cubes. Place chicken cubes into the bowl and be sure to thoroughly coat with the marinade. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, soak the wooden or bamboo skewers for at least 20 minutes prior to threading to avoid burning.


Cut the onion into squarish chunks and be sure to keep the layers intact.
They won’t be perfect squares, but that’s okay.

Thread the marinated chicken, pineapple, onions, and tomatoes onto skewers and discard the marinade.

Arrange the skewers in a shallow dish and baste with teriyaki sauce; be sure to cover every nook and cranny. Preheat the grill to medium-high and let the kabobs rest while you wait for the grill to get hot.

Grill skewers for 3-4 minutes on each side (or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear). Keep in mind that the cook time will largely depend upon the heat of your grill.

Serve with a fresh salad, corn on the cob, or the side of your choice.
As always, Bon Appétit!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How To Make Homemade Whey

Whey has many health benefits including beneficial cultures that aid in digestion by providing "good" bacteria to the gut. Whey is also an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is an important nutrient for those of us wishing to build or repair muscle tissue and also contributes to the prevention of atrophy of muscular cells.

I always keep whey on hand as it is an excellent starter culture for lacto-fermented veggies and fruits, soaking grains, and as a starter for beverages. I typically make whey from yogurt or fresh raw milk. If you have access to fresh raw milk, this is best.

You can use homemade yogurt or good quality organic plain yogurt. If using raw milk, simply place it in a clean glass container and allow to stand covered with a lid at room temperature for 1-4 days until it separates (the amount of time will depend on how warm your kitchen is). The naturally occurring bacteria will turn it into cheese and whey on its own. If using yogurt, no advance preparation is necessary.

All you’ll need is a large bowl, a large strainer that rests over the bowl, a plastic spoon, and a cheesecloth or thin cloth napkin. Please be sure that your napkin is super clean and free of any lint or leftover soap residue.

Line a large strainer over a bowl with a clean cotton napkin or cheesecloth.

Pour in the yogurt or separated milk. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer. Be sure the bowl is deep enough to allow the strainer to hang over the bowl so that the curds don’t end up standing in the whey. Cover with a plate and let stand at room temperature for several hours (longer for yogurt) until all the whey has drained.

The whey will end up in the bowl and you’ll have a soft cheese left in the cloth. Don’t throw this away! Most of us are familiar with the old nursery rhyme, "Little Miss Muffet"…eating her curds and whey. Well this is what she was eating! Use the cheese as a spread. To give it some flavor, add garlic, chives, onion, and spices, along with a bit of salt and pepper. Pour the whey into a glass jar and cover tightly. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps approximately one month and the whey for about six months.

If you’re interested in making your own yogurt, follow this link to an excellent tutorial.

As always, bon appétit!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Garlic and Fresh Basil

I was feeling creative today and had a lot of fun coming up with this grilled shrimp recipe! Shrimp is absolutely one of my favorite foods and I love the fact that it's so versatile. Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the world for good reasons. First, it’s delicious! Better yet, shrimp is low in calories and saturated fat which makes it healthy to boot. Shrimp is an excellent source of protein and selenium. It is also a very good source of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and a good source of iron, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, zinc, copper and magnesium.

For this recipe, choose extra-large or jumbo shrimp (prawns) which are easier to work with. I don’t recommend metal skewers because they can get pretty hot (I’ve burned myself before)! Be sure to soak wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes to avoid burning them on the grill.

This recipe yields 2 skewers; feel free to double the recipe if you’d like more.

8 Jumbo Shrimp or Prawns
1 fresh lemon (squeezed)
4 garlic cloves (pressed)
½ Cup Dry White Wine
1 T Olive Oil
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ t Fresh Cracked Pepper
¼ t Sea Salt
1 handful of fresh basil (or 1 T dried)
2 T Butter

First, shell and devein the shrimp.
Deveining is one of my least favorite tasks (aside from going to the dentist),
so I do my best to find shrimp that has already been deveined.

Press the garlic and set aside.

Chop basil and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, pressed garlic, wine, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Mix thoroughly and reserve about ¼ of the mixture to use for the garlic butter mixture.
Cover the bowl and allow the shrimp to marinate for at least 30 minutes or more.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the remaining garlic, marinade mixture and basil.
Simmer on low for about 10 minutes (covered).

Skewer the shrimp.

Lay the shrimp skewers on the grill let them cook for 2-3 on each side. The cook time will pretty much depend on the heat of your grill; keep in mind that shrimp cook rapidly on the grill. As soon as the flesh turns white, they're done! Be careful not to cook any longer as they quickly become dry and chewy. The shrimp continue cooking for a short time after they’re removed from the grill. Take them off just before the center is completely cooked, and they'll be perfect.

Spoon the garlic and basil butter mixture over the shrimp and spread evenly.

Serve with a simple salad or the side dish of your choice.
You can serve them on or off the skewers; the choice is yours. Enjoy!

As always, bon appétit!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homemade Ginger Ale

This ginger ale is unique in that it is enhanced by the process of lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation enhances beneficial properties in the beverage to make the nutrients more available to the body. Lacto-fermented beverages supply lactic acid, enzymes and lactobacilli to the intestinal tract.


1 cup ginger; peeled and finely chopped or grated
¾ cup fresh pressed lime juice
½ - ¾ cup Sucant (non-refined cane sugar)
3 teaspoons Celtic sea salt*
½ cup whey (homemade)
3 quarts filtered water

*Use only Celtic sea salt for lacto-fermentation.

If you have a food processor, great. If not, you can use a cheese grater for the ginger

Place all ingredients in a 3-quart glass jug (do not use an acrylic or plastic jug). Stir well and cover tightly. Leave at room temperature for 4-5 days before transferring to the refrigerator.
This will keep several months well chilled.

The ale will be effervescent, so be careful not to shake the jug. Instead stir the ale each time you are ready to serve. To serve, strain into a glass. Resist the temptation to strain the entire jug at once; the ale gets better with time. While it may be slightly inconvenient to strain each time, it is well worth it!

Be sure to use homemade whey (not concentrated or powdered whey). Whey is very easy to make yourself and is full of vital nutrients. Take a look at my "How to Make Whey" post if you'd like to learn how.
As always, bon appetit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Roasted Rack of Lamb

This recipe is not necessarily super difficult, however it does require a bit of time and patience to prepare. Rest assured it is well worth the effort!

Lamb is very tender, healthy and extremely delicious! It has a buttery quality and has a distinctive gamey flavor. Lamb is a very good source of protein, with all 8 essential amino acids in the proper ratio. Lamb contains very little marbling (internal fat throughout the meat), as compared to other meats.

If you have a choice, go with organic or pasture fed lamb. Lamb raised on grass produces meat that is leaner, fewer calories, tender, fine grained, and has a more delicate flavor and contain more nutrients like vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally raised lamb


1 rack of lamb (7-8 bones), trimmed and frenched
1 t sea salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard

Bread Crumb Mixture:

½ cup fresh bread crumbs*
6 garlic gloves minced or pressed
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t sea salt
¼ t fresh ground pepper (or more if you prefer spicy)

*Don’t be tempted to use stale bread for the bread crumbs; they will still taste like stale bread.:-)


Preheat the oven to 450° and move rack to the center.

Trim excess fat and French the bones

Season rack all over with salt and pepper.

Prepare fresh bread crumbs in a food processor

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1 t salt, ¼ t pepper. Add the 2 T olive oil to moisten. Set aside.

Heat 1 T 2 T olive oil in a large heavy oven-proof pan (preferably a cast iron skillet) over high heat. Sear rack for 1-2 minutes on both sides and then set aside for a few minutes.

Brush rack with the Dijon and balsamic and roll in the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Add a little extra of the bread crumb mixture on top and firmly press it onto the rack.

Arrange the rack in the skillet and roast for 10-15 minutes depending on the doneness you prefer. After removing from the oven, let it rest 5-8 minutes before carving.

I prepared asparagus and mashed potatoes on the side, but feel free to be creative with the sides of your choice!

As always, bon appétit!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grilled Salmon

One of the things I love most about grilling is that it's super easy to whip up something delicious in a matter of minutes! I actually grill year-round; I don’t care if there’s snow on my deck, I’m still grilling! Salmon holds up really well on the grill and this is one of my favorite recipes.

Salmon is one of the healthiest fish available and for good reasons; it is rich in various nutrients. Salmon is low in saturated fats and calories, contains high levels of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because our body cannot naturally produce them. Salmon is also an extremely good source of selenium, niacin and vitamin B12. Wild salmon is far more nutritious in terms of fat and protein content. Wild fish contains 20% more protein, 20% less fat, and is generally much smaller. Even though farm raised salmon is larger and fattier, it contains far less usable omega-3s. Wild fish in general contains a much more favorable ratio of omega-3 and is far superior nutritionally. If at all possible, choose wild caught salmon instead of farm-raised.

If you’ve never tried wild salmon, you will notice the difference immediately. I’ve had both and can say with confidence that there is no comparison. Give wild salmon a try and you won’t be disappointed!


1 T Dijon mustard
1 ½ T Dark Brown Sugar
1 T Soy Sauce
½ t Sesame Oil
1 t Sesame Seeds
2 T Olive Oil
2 Salmon Steaks

Combine the first five ingredients in a small bowl. In the meantime, heat the grill to medium/high. Brush the salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Brush half the soy mixture on salmon and grill for 3-4 minutes. Turn over and brush the other side with the remaining mixture and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Adjust the cooking time to suit your preferred “doneness”. Garnish with lemons or thinly sliced scallions if desired.

I like to serve it over a bed of fresh lettuce, however, the choice of side dishes is endless. You could grill some corn-on-the cob, asparagus, red potatoes, wilted spinach, or serve on a bed of rice. Have fun with the side of your choice!

As always, bon appétit!