Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lemongrass Chicken

We got this delicious recipe from our friend who's parents own a Thai restaurant. He was in the kitchen of the restaurant experimenting one day and came up with this delicious concoction. It is now one of our weekly favorites! It is super simple and amazingly flavorful. You start out with a basic Pad Thai sauce - buy a jar or make your own - it's so easy! The recipe is included below.  All it takes is one trip to the Oriental market for Tamarind paste and fish sauce if you don't have any on hand. And don't worry, they will keep for a long time in your fridge, so don't be afraid to make this one-time purchase. Add some fresh ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, nuts, and voila! A super easy, delicious, Thai dinner at home. :)

Lemongrass Chicken
Serves 4

1 jar pad thai sauce (or homemade - recipe below)
1-2 lbs chicken breast or thighs cut in thin strips or chunks
1 stalk of lemongrass (or 3 drops lemongrass essential oil)
1 inch or so of a ginger root (or 2 drops ginger essential oil)
1/4 C coconut milk
1/2 C almonds or cashews
red pepper flakes - optional to add some heat
jasmine rice cooked

Cut the lemongrass into 1-1.5 inch pieces. Peel the ginger root and slice thinly.

 Heat some coconut oil over med heat and add chicken. Then add the pad thai sauce and coconut milk and stir. Next add lemongrass, ginger and almonds.

 Stir frequently to get the flavors blended.

 Serve over jasmine rice and Voila!

 Pad Thai Sauce

1- 1.5 TBSP tamarind paste
1/4 C chicken stock
3 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP soy sauce (I always use "Bragg Liquid Aminos" which is basically soy sauce but way healthier and is one of the most GMO'd ingredients.)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or chili sauce
3-4 TBSP brown sugar (I substituted some of it with honey)

Mix it all together in a bowl. I doubled it and saved half for the next time I make this dinner (which, like I said is every week). Or you can just use more and have more sauce. It's not as thick as the bottled sauce, so you could add some rice flour to thicken it up too if you want.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sour Cream Chicken: Re-Invented!

This meal has been one of my top favorites for several decades now. I would commonly request it for my birthday dinner growing up. It's hard to beat that cheesy, sour cream-y sauce. But guess what folks: this meal just got even better. Sub out the normal cream of chicken soup and replace it with a delicious homemade version, and voila! This amazing meal becomes out of this world! (And much healthier!)

Sour Cream Chicken

*Serves 4.


4 boneless skinless free range chicken breasts
2½ cups free range chicken broth
1½ cups rice milk (or almond milk)
¾ cup rice flour
1 tablespoon seasoning mix (or on your own, ½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. parsley, etc)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese 

1. Make your cream of chicken soup. Combine the chicken broth and ½ cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup milk until a smooth, thick mixture forms. Pour the flour and milk mixture into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and stir continuously, whisking as the mixture simmers. Continue to simmer and stir/whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken a bit as it cools.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts in a glass baking dish.

3. Combine the mixture with the sour cream and cheese.  Pour creamy mixture over the chicken evenly until it is completely covered. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 30 min. Serve over rice.

Enjoy! :)

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Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

Ever wanted to make your own Cream of Chicken soup? Well today is your lucky day! Let's face it, those cans of cream of chicken soup are chuck full of MSG, sodium, and tons of other preservatives and additives that are less than good for you. They're harmful to your body. But I have great news for you today. It's so easy to make your own! Plus, you probably already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now! And this soup tastes really fresh and amazing. You'll love it in all of your favorite recipes!

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup
(Adapted from Pinch of Yum)

*Makes the equivalent of about 2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup. 


2½ cups free range chicken broth
1½ cups rice milk (or almond milk)
¾ cup rice flour
1 tablespoon seasoning mix (or on your own, ½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. parsley, etc)

1. Combine the chicken broth and ½ cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup milk until a smooth, thick mixture forms.
3. Pour the flour and milk mixture into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and stir continuously, whisking as the mixture simmers. Continue to simmer and stir/whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken a bit as it cools.

*Try it in this delicious recipe for Sour Cream Chicken!

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Hawaiian Haystacks - A Real Food Version

I loved Hawaiian Haystacks growing up. Although there are a lot of healthy elements of this dish, there are also the ones that are fake "foods" that I wanted to do without. Normally the chicken sauce is made with some variation of a cream of ______ (fill in the blank) soup, sour cream, and milk. But since these soups are filled with preservatives, additives, sugar, GMO ingredients and who knows what else, I have opted to leave them out of my diet and go for a more healthy version. So here is a new take on an old classic. And let me tell you, this sauce is amazing! (This version is dairy-free, gluten-free)

Hawaiian Haystacks

(Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

*Makes about 4 cups chicken sauce (enough to serve 4-6 for Hawaiian Haystacks)


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks (or leftover cooked chicken, cubed)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
½ onion (about ½ cup), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic; finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup rice flour
2 cups rice or almond milk
1 cup free-range chicken broth


In a large skillet melt the coconut oil over medium heat and add the onion and raw chicken (if using leftover cooked chicken, don’t add it to the skillet now, you’ll add it later). Saute the onion and chicken, if using, until the onions are soft and translucent and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring, until fragrant.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and chicken and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for one minute – this helps get rid of the starchy, flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat. Add the salt and pepper. If you are using leftover cooked chicken, add it now. Continue simmering, stirring the sauce frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5-8 minutes.

Serve the chicken sauce over rice with your toppings of choice, such as olives, tomatoes, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, mandarin oranges, pineapples, chopped almonds, and chow mein noodles.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Salsa Chicken Salad

This is one of our favorite meals. I make it at least once a week. It is so easy, so delicious, and super healthy! There are a few special elements to this salad that make it different than your average taco salad. Keep reading to find out!

First of all, the chicken. Try to get free range chicken with no antibiotics or added hormones. (Simple Truth brand from Smith's or Harvestland from Walmart) However, there is no way to guarantee what the conditions are of the chicken unless you personally see how they are raised. This is why it's a great idea to buy your meat from a local farm that you trust. If you are in Utah, is a great option. If not, check out for a list of local farms in your area that raise all-natural, grass-fed, pastured beef and free-range chicken and eggs with no added antibiotics or hormones.

The next item that is different in this salad is the tortilla chips. If you're like us, you love to eat tortilla chips. They seem like they should be a relatively healthy snack, but the problem is, if you've read my posts about GMOs, you know that corn is one of the most commonly genetically modified foods. However, blue and white corn have not yet been genetically modified, so it is safer to get either blue or white corn tortilla chips. However, even if the corn is not GMO, it's still possible that the oil used in the chips is. So, your safest bet is to get some chips that are certified non-GMO like these from Garden of Eatin. I get these at Smith's or Macey's.

Another element that makes this salad different, and oh-so-much better than the average taco salad is the homemade ranch dressing.  Combining your own homemade ranch seasoning mix (recipe here) with Vegenaise instead of Mayonaise (mayo is mostly made up of soybean oil - GMO!!)  is a much healthier, and much tastier alternative to regular ol' ranch dressing. I get the Vegenaise made with Grapeseed oil, which is really good for you. There are other versions as well. Currently this is not sold in any regular grocery stores I shop at, so I pick up a few jars each time I go to Good Earth health food store.
Now for the recipe.

Salsa Chicken Salad
Serves 4-6



1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-2 cups  salsa (choose a brand without added preservatives or sugar, or use homemade!)
1 tsp homemade taco seasoning
juice of 1 lime
3 cups cooked brown rice (can add onions, lime juice, cilantro and chicken broth for extra tasty rice)
non-GMO tortilla chips
1 can black beans
hemp seeds
Homemade Ranch Dressing (Recipe below)   



Place chicken in a slow cooker and season with salt. Pour salsa over chicken and make sure chicken is completely covered. Add taco seasoning and lime juice and stir into the salsa. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with 2 forks. Place chips on a plate. Add rice, beans, and chicken on top of the chips. Then add lettuce and other toppings.

Homemade Ranch Dressing


1 cup Vegenaise
1/2 cup rice milk
1 Tbsp homemade ranch seasoning

Pour milk into a glass jar that has a tight lid. Add Vegenaise and seasoning. Shake until well blended.
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Homemade Ranch Seasoning

Ranch seasoning is another easy seasoning to mix up at home and save yourself from the harmful ingredients of store-bought ranch dressing or ranch seasoning such as GMO ingredients, MSG, and plenty of other things you don't want to ingest. It's so easy to mix your own spices, store them in your cupboard, and use it by the tablespoon whenever you need some to season dinners or make your own ranch dressing. And it's much cheaper, which is always a plus!

Homemade Ranch Seasoning


1 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp dill
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion flakes
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper


Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight glass container. Enjoy!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Did you know those little packets of taco seasoning you get at the store are packed full of unnecessary preservatives, additives, and sugar!? It is SO simple to make your own, with ingredients you already have in your cupboard, that there really is no reason to ever buy those packets from the store again! Plus these spices taste fresh and delicious when you make your own. You can use them to season your meat, or throw them into your favorite taco soup or taco dip. So easy!!

Homemade Taco Seasoning


1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


Combine all ingredients. Store in air-tight glass container. Use 1-2 tsp of mixture to season meat, soup, dressing, dip, etc. 
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Homemade Tortillas and the 80/20 Rule

Nothing beats a warm, fresh, homemade flour tortilla. I've often wished I had my own, but was always too scared by the seemingly difficult and complicated task to try it. I mean, you can't just make your own delicious authentic-tasting tortillas, right? WRONG. You can, and you should! This process of making your own authentic Mexican deliciousness is surpisingly easy! In fact, the hardest part (if you can call it hard) is rolling out a few circles of dough. Other than that, it's basically as easy as throwing some flour and water together. Seriously.
As you probably know, flour tortillas are not the healthiest food on the planet. But, I've made some modifications to the recipe that make it much more so than many others out there. I've used butter instead of lard, and the amount of butter used has been cut by a third! AND, they still taste amazing! In the future I will be trying these again using coconut oil instead of butter and whole wheat flour instead of white. But for now, since I usually try to stay away from white flour, otherwise known as "cheat wheat" by my friend Gwen (check out her website at, it's a good thing to consider the 80/20 rule. If real food makes up about 80 percent of your diet, you're doing pretty good! It is virtually impossible to eat only healthy food one hundred percent of the time. Practically speaking, you would find yourself starving at most family dinners and social functions if you insisted on only eating real food. Also, this eating better thing can seem daunting at times. If you're an all-or-nothing type person (like me) you might get overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to completely change your diet and cut out everything that's bad for you. Or maybe you think having that one little treat will mean throwing your entire effort to eat better out the window. But have no fear! Moderation in all things is the key. If you are eating real food about 80 percent of the time, you are doing much better than most people. That means you've probably cut out a huge amount of GMO food, and other toxins and harmful elements that you used to be consuming. That is a huge improvement! And if your body is in this overall state of better health, the other 20 percent that you eat won't have such a harmful effect on your body!

Homemade Flour Tortillas


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
extra flour for rolling

1. Make the dough. Mix the flour and salt. Heat the water and butter over low heat until it has melted. Gradually stir the liquid into the flour and form into a dough by hand. The result should be a dough that is neither wet nor dry and crumbly. If it seems much too wet add a little more flour; if it is too dry add a little more water. Knead the dough very briefly, then allow it to rest for 1 hour. Divide it into 14 pieces (or less, depending on how thick or thin you want your tortillas.)  Roll the pieces of dough into little balls between the palms of your hands, then cover them with a slightly damp towel, and allow them to rest for at least 15 minutes, up to an hour and a half. This will allow the gluten to relax and make them easier to shape.

2. Form the tortillas. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into rounds 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches in diameter. You might need a bit of extra flour for this so they don't stick to everything.

3. Cook the tortillas. Heat a large, heavy skillet or griddle over medium heat. (425-475 degrees) Place one or two of the rolled dough pieces on it. Within about 20-30 seconds it should start to bubble and some little brown spots begin to form on the bottom. Flip the tortilla and cook another 20-30 seconds. By this time it should start to puff a little more, and the other side will develop light brown spots. Flip the tortilla again at which time it should immediately begin to puff, sometimes into a large, nearly round ball. You can encourage the tortilla to puff by lightly passing a spatula over the top surface of the tortilla, called "tickling" it, while it is cooking. When the tortilla has fully expanded, remove it from the heat and place in a tortilla warmer or wrap it in foil. Be careful not to cook it too long or it will harden after it's done; you want a nice, soft, roll-able tortilla.

  Serve with your favorite Mexican meal or anything at all, really! Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Babyfood Storage Solution

Many of you probably make your own baby food, or at least have thought about it. Well I'm hear to tell you that it is so simple, way cheaper, and so much healthier and safer for your baby. There are plenty of great books out there that outline the benefits and simple plans to make it, so I won't spend much time on that now. (Simple recipe below) What I'm excited about today is how to store your homemade baby food! Yes, I've enjoyed the economical and health benefits of making my own baby food, but I did miss the ease of grabbing a jar from the cupboard and throwing it in my diaper bag on my way out the door. Solution: Why not put my own baby food in jars! Duh! These adorable little 4 ounce or 8 ounce jars can be bought at Walmart for under $8.00 a dozen. So all you have to do is make up your baby food, pour it into these cute little jars, and stick them in the freezer. Viola! Next time you're running out the door with your baby, grab a jar from the freezer and throw it in your diaper bag. No need to refrigerate it while you're out. It will defrost by the time you need to use it! It's that simple.

 Homemade Sweet Potato Babyfood


3-4 sweet potatoes (make sure they are about the same size)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a fork, poke a few holes in each sweet potato. Place sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet lined with foil and place in oven. 

2. Bake for about an hour. Let cool for a few minutes and then remove the skins. (They will come off easily, with your fingers.) 

3. Slice into small chunks and blend in a blender with water. Add enough water to get your desired consistency.

4. Pour into 4 or 8 ounce jars and place in the freezer. You may want to label them with the contents and date to help you remember what's in there! (For 4 sweet potatoes, I used about 24 of the 4-oz jars.) Enjoy!


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