Easy slow rising bread recipe

My family loves bread. We eat probably almost 2 loafs a week. One of those loafs is ezekiel brand, grain sprouted and flourless. It is just better for you then any other type of bread.

The other I used to get at the public market every Saturday from my favorite French bakery. I used the past tense because I got tired of hunting for it and even at $6 a loaf it was already gone by the time I got there.

I was always petrified of making bread. Let me refraze that- I am petrified of baking in general. It was never my thing. You have to watch the temperature, obide by the recipe, measure the exact amounts etc…..things that I usually don’t do in the kitchen.

Every time my mother visited she baked this awesome bread but it was soooooo much work that I never wanted to make it myself. Too much work involved.

This recipe is easy. If you count the active time it is probably less then 10 minutes. It is slow rising dough so it needs at least 12 hours to rise. I usually make it in the evening so that it can raise during the night and I bake it the following morning.

The ingredients for one loaf are:

  • 5 cups of flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of yeast
  • 3 or 4 cups of water
  • oval baking dish with a lid

It has to be sticky, so it really depends on the flour that you are using. I use a combo of unbleached white and wheat (3 cups of white/ 2 cups whole wheat).

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. I leave it overnight on the kitchen counter next to my stove because it seems to be worm and less drafty.

The next day the dough has probably doubled in size. It is time to bake. Dump the dough out on a clean, floured counter. Kneed few times and cover with a towel again. In an hour or so start preheating the oven on 425 with the baking dish inside.

When it beeps dump the ball into the dish and bake for 40 min, the last 10 without the lid. When you take it out of the oven you will have to resist the temptation to eat it right away. It smells amazing. You need to let it cool before you cut into it.

I have made some variations like sprinkling with sunflower seeds or folding in some raisins….it comes out great every time. Play with it, make it your own.

When you make it few times the process becomes a habbit. And the best thing is that the cost is not even 90 c a loaf. Can’t beat that!

Pasta con sarde

When I first met with a naturopathic doctor she told me that if I wanted my kids to thrive I have to give them 3 things: omega 3s, coconut oil and probiotics. I had no reason not to belive her since I as a kid remember eating these things in one form or another. Every day before school I had to drink my tablespoon of fish oil. It was not a pleasant experience but well, if it is healthy you do it. My diet was rich in sourkrout and other fermented veggies which are nothing less then probiotics. Coconut oil was unknown….probably because palm trees are not a common view in Poland.
In this article I would like to focus on omega 3s which are mostly found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackrel.
Wild cought are much better then farmed because they have higher content of the good fatty acids and are fed natural diet. Farmed fish, on a contrary are fed corn and soy.
Unfortunately wild cought fish is hard to find and expensive. The cheapest way to get a load of omega 3s from food is eating sardines. We eat sardines very often usually just the way they come in a can with a piece of multigrain bread. Try mixing them with cream cheese and use as a spread on a piece of toast, put them on a cracker or make the following recipe.

This recipe serves family of 4

2 cans of sardines in olive oil- if it tastes too fishy try 1 can
1 box of short multigrain pasta
1 can of diced tomatoes or 4 fresh , diced, tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1/3 of diced, large onion
2 cups of baby spinach
1 tbs of olive oil
olives if you like
capers if you like
parmezan cheese if you like

Cook pasta acording to the instructions on the box. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce.
In a frying pan heat up the oil and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Add sardines with the oil and break them up with a wooden spatula. Add tomatoes and cook for few minutes. In the end put spinach, olives and/ or capers in. Mix pasta with the sauce and dinner is ready. There is everything your body needs in this dish. Lots of protein (every can is 13%) to counterpart those carbs and lots of fibre. It is a great pantry dinner and „budget saver because all the ingredients are under $10. Bon apetit!

Whole Foods or… Whole Paycheck?

We recently visited Phoenix, AZ. I will remember it forever, not because its beauty, but dry heat frying you from dusk to dawn and a visit to local Whole Foods store. It was the first time for me. I heard a lot about them, but since they are mostly on the West Coast and in the central states, I had no chance of ever visiting their stores.

For someone that likes real food as much as me, it was like going to Disneyland for a kid – excitement all the way. I knew that I was going to find everything that I needed, all those things that drew a blank on peoples faces in most regular grocery stores.

I could not wait to get out of the car, we were not even in a full stop yet… not a good example for the kids. Anyway, I rushed inside like it was going to close in five minutes. Passing all the studs that were checking themselves out in the windows I was finally in the fruit and veg aisle. Wow, I thought, fresh young coconuts, what a treat! I walked further to find that almost ALL was organic and locally grown. Now, the prices were a little high. Lets not judge yet, I thought and moved to the seafood section. Sooooo much variety! Wild caught, natural diet, clear water, omega 3 the tags read… but the one particular fish that I was interested in lacked price/ lb information. Well, that is very important info for most of us, right? I looked at other packages, some had it some did not. I walked away since I want to be able to compare prices before I make my decision and a “package” is not a sufficient unit of measure for me:-)

Next I headed to the dairy isle hoping to find kefir for my kids. They prefer it to regular milk, unless we have access to raw, whole fat milk. Anyways, I almost fainted when I saw the prices… $5 for a quart bottle of lifeway kefir?!?!?!?At Wegmans I used to pay just little over $3 or $2.99 when on sale! I walked away again.

Passing by the meat section I noticed a ½ lbs bags of sauerkraut for $3.99 a package. Let’s analyze it little further. In order to make sourkrout you need to shred the cabbage, sprinkle it with salt and beat it until it releases its juices. Put it all in a dish and weigh it down… in few days its is ready. Pretty simple process, don’t you think? As far as organic goes, cabbage is very minimally sprayed with pesticides, so you do not really have to buy it organic. That is the most expensive sauerkraut that I have seen in my life!!!! In this case I will agree with my husband, it was a rip-off.

In quest of a good sourdough bread I wonder to the bakery isle. I am sure it varies from one store to another, but their bakery was very small and had hardly any freshly baked breads available. The ones that were there would probably feed only my kids for breakfast at a price of $4.99 per small loaf. I will not even mention the Ezekiel bread for $5.50 a loaf!!!

I ended up getting few things like coconut oil, olive oil, some fruits and vegetables, icecream… most were their store brand called „365”.

Walking out I realized that there is nothing to be jealous of, we have Wegmans with the same selection of products with much better prices:-)

I never thought I would say this because I hardly ever shop at WalMart (for various reasons), however now being on the road, I have to. WalMart saved my butt so many times on that trip – it is everywhere, even in the middle of nowhere and even thou their organic section is very limited, you can pretty much always find organic eggs, hormone/antibiotic free harvestland chicken, organic carrots, spinach, apples. organic peanut butter and vegetable stock. I can live with that, that is a survival kit that allows me to prepare a nutritious meal for my family.

Having said that I once more realized how I miss Bonnie’s milk, Olde Silo Farm, Seven Bridges Farm and Wegmans of course… Whole Foods has nothing on us!:-)

Chocolate and Cinnamon Mousse

What comes to your mind when you think of dessert? I bet it is ice cream, cake, pies, probably cookies etc.,  but not… avocados, right? Wrong! What I am about to show you is going to be a big surprise for many as it was for me the first time I ate it. This dessert is not only delicious, but nutrition packed and healthy so you can enjoy it without any guilt.

Ingredients:

  • medium, ripe avocado
  • tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon of raw cacao
  • tablespoon of raw honey
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • coconut flakes for garnish

Place first five ingredients into the food processor and mix well until you get an even, creamy consistence. Put into a nice glass or a bowl and sprinkle with coconut flakes. Enjoy and let me know how did you like it!

Avocado…the Fattest Fruit of All

A recent conversation prompted me to write about one of the best, nutrient dense and fattest fruits of all- Avocado. With 31 grams of fat per medium avocado, they are an exception among the fruit family. How can this be good for me, you ask? That is exactly what prompted me to write this post.

I felt in love with avocados many years ago when I came to live in America. In Poland avocados back then were almost unknown, now they are in every major supermarket.

The taste of a ripe avocado is a fiesta for your taste buds. Like nothing you had before, incomparable deliciousness.

Avocados are a “superfood” that EVERYONE should include in their diet. Most people do not realize the benefits of them nor have any idea how to eat them. Some also got brainwashed thinking that fat is your enemy, so they exclude avocados on purpose, „to maintain healthy weight”. I can not even begin to tell you how many times someone said” You eat avocados on a daily basis?!!?What about all the fat content?!?!!?”

Well, there needs to be a better education in regards to nutrition because an average person does not realize, that we actually need fat to absorb all the necessary nutrients and vitamins such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein. Without fat our body and all the processes are out of balance! And let me assure you, most people actually are seriously deficient in healthful fats. Avocados are a prime example of an excellent source of healthy, raw fat and provide many essential health-boosting nutrients including fiber, potassium , vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid.

Please do not worry about your weight, you are not going to gain any eating avocados. They in fact are proven to help loose weight especially in the abdomen area.

Here in Mexico they are a staple. They have been eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner for ages and people never had problems with obesity and diabetes, until soda and junk food were promoted.

My family have been eating them for many years now and „unfortunately” we are all addicted:-) Both my children have been eating avocados since they were 7 months old, in fact it was their first solid food shortly followed by banana. We eat it as guacamole, cubed in a soup, spread on bread with sardines, in a salad, mixed in a smoothie or simply by a spoonful with a squeeze of lime juice.

Avocados tend to be expensive so as a tip I can tell you that you do not need to buy it organic. Their thick skin protects them from pesticide buildup, you only eat the meat anyways. In Mexico the vendors always ask „Para hoy o para manana”, which means „for today or for tomorrow”. The difference is the ripeness of the fruit. „Para hoy” means that it is very soft to the touch and needs to be used as quickly as possible. Avocado „Para manana”is firm and can be used within few days. They ripen very well in room temperature so be sure to leave them out of the fridge.

Within the next few days I will be posting recipes using avocados ranging from deserts to drinks so please be sure to check them out………often:-)

Chocolate and Nut Trufles

A recent visit at a local natural foods store prompted me to develop this recipe. They had samples of their dark chocolate trufles that basicly tasted like haven. Yes, delicious and healthy at the same time made my brain produce endorfines and let me feel overwelmingly happy. We all know that feeling , right? That is why we keep eating chocolate untill the last square:-)

They are not only easy to make but also nutrient dense so you do not have to feel guilty when you eat them. The reason for making nuts the main ingredient is that my son is not a big protein eater so I need to smuggle them in whenever I can.

  • 1 cup of almondes
  • 1 cup of pecans
  • 2 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (melted)
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinamon
  • 3 tablespoons of raw cacao
  • Shreded coconut

Put first five ingredients and half of the cacao into the food processor and let combine well untill it forms a sticky paste. Roll into small ball and dust with cocoa or coconut. If you like things sweet just add more honey. Keep them in the fridge or even freezer like I do. They just taste better when chilled and thaw within minutes. Delicioso!!!!Enjoy.

 

The Atrocities of Mexican Cuisine

With this article I am probably going to gross everyone out and I will have to forget all the kisses and hugs that I used to get from people.

Many times, I’ve said that I will try everything once. This also pertains to food. Mexico, with its varied cuisine has really a lot to offer. There are still parts of the country, where nothing is wasted: skin, brains, organs… they eat it all with salsa and a great big smile on their faces… 🙂

I have eaten organ meats before, I am used to it… not a big deal. Livers, harts, lungs, kidneys, tongues were on my menu since I was a kid. I will not lie, if I say that I actually love it! Every time I go back to Poland, my main dish request to my mom is turkey heart goulash. What can I say, my mom is the best cook in the world and I am going to take her heart goulash over a 5 star restaurant meal any time. Delicious!!!

So here they are, the most unusuall foods that I have never eaten before I came here…to Mexico:

Chicharon

I love saying that word, It makes me smile every time. It simply is pigs skin fried to perfection, so that it becomes a very krisp chip. They eat it with salsa or guacamole and it is delicious. We had it the first week in Mexico, everyone loved it but when the kids found out what it was, they stoped eating it 🙂 Especially Nadia…

Medula Soup

One of the best things I ate in my entire life. This soup is a tradition in some parts of this country. Medula means bone marrow, so it simply is a bone marrow soup. They use the leg bones to make it because it has a lot of marrow. You can buy them at every butcher, add some veggies, tomatoes and simmer on a low flame. It is haven in your mouth.

Tacos de Sesos

Tacos de Sesos
Tacos de Sesos

That is not my favourite but I tried it only once so maybe it was just poory prepared. These tacos are filled with pigs brain and fried afterwards. None of my family mambers was brave enough to try…I wonder why? Anyway, I will have to give it another try.

Mole de Pollo

Mole in Mexico is like a burger in the USA, pizza in Italy and croissant in France. I can not even begin to tell you how great it tastes. There are so many types because the ingredients list is long, that it would probably take me a lifetime to try them all. It is a meticoulous mix of dried chili (poblanos, ancho, passija), spices (corriander, anise, sesame seeds, cinamon etc), dried fruits (raisins) and of course the queen Chocolate. The perfect combination. Then you put in shreded chicken and voila… Fiesta is ready!!! It is also very versatile, because you can eat it with tortillas, rice, potatoes or just by itself. 🙂

Tacos de Tripitas

This dish has taken us by a complete surprise. One sunny afternoon me and the kids went to a pool party where these delicious tacos were served. We ate everything with great appetite to later find out that the tacos were filled with tripe. I guess the guts of a pig, cow, sheep, or goats taste pretty good when fried and served with salsa. 🙂

Paletas de Frutas con Chile

Ice Cream with Chili Powder
Alex working on his ice cream with chili powder

Let me tell you that it was quite overwhelming at first to find out that the Mexicans eat everything with chili and lime juice… even deserts. Yes, and as crazy as it sounds, it tastes awesome! There are many palleterias around town, where you can buy frozen bars on a stick made entirely of pure fruit and natural juice sprinkled generously with chili. My favorite is mango and apples. It never even crossed my mind to spice up my fruit before but it is genius! Robert and Nadia are on the fence but me and Alex are sold. My son even asked me to buy him chili powder, so that he can put it on all his food. Now I am just waiting to see if he puts it on cakes too… 🙂 Our Mexican friends call his “Niño Mexicano con pelos blancos” (i.e. Mexican boy with blond hair).

The Mexican cuisine continues to surprise me every day. It is so rich and delicious, that I recently told someone curious, that I do not miss Polish food at all. It spoils me with its flavors, versatility, ingredients that are fresh and unusual. If you still did not get it reading between the lines, I am in love with Mexican cuisine!!! But the best thing above all is that in this country, the poor men’s diet still consists of fresh, unprocessed, hand made from scratch, traditional foods.

Buen provecho everyone, I hope I did not spoil your apetite!!!

Awesome, Nutritious Pancakes

If you’re looking for a more nutritious pancake recipe, try this one!!!! It is delicious, easy and literally takes minutes to prepare. It has every nutrient that you need to start your day, not just insulin spiking, processed carbohydrates and sugar that regular pancakes are famous for.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 ½ cup of kefir, natural flavor
  • teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 2 mushed bananas
  • ½ cup of shredded coconut unsweetend

Put top four ingredients into the blender and blend well.Pour mixture over bananas /coconut and mix well. If you would like them sweeter add a tablespoon of honey and mix it in. Fry on a frying pan in coconut oil. I make them the size of hash brown or latke. This recipe will make 6 or 7 pancakes.

I made different variations. I used milk or buttermilk instead of kefir. I also used shreded apples instead of bananas and coconut flower instead of regular. They all taste great. We eat them with honey, marmolade or nut butters. Whatever we have on hand. They also freeze well so make sure you make double batch for all those busy mornings! Very healthy and nutritious.

Stay Healthy on the Road

Since we’ve made the decision to wander around the world for a while, my biggest concern has been our health and well being. How were we going to deal with sickness on the road? Where were we going to find a good doctor in a new place? What if we had an emergency… Where are we to go? All these questions were spinning through my head until I got dizzy.

There was not much left to do, but to get ready. I got on my favorite websites, visited my naturopath, doctor Evelyn Asher and realized that prevention is the best way to go. I knew that most common diseases start in your gut, so healthy intestines are key in fighting off all kinds of bacteria and viruses. Evelyn assured me that maintaining a healthy, whole, real, made from scratch foods diet was crucial.

At home, it was easy to get all the unprocessed, raw, locally grown, mostly organic foods. But on the road, it was a whole new ball game. Many times we walked out of a store with empty hands, because everything was processed, chemically altered, genetically modified and out of a box. However, thanks to Robert’s love of back roads, we were able to find products at small food stands in the country. It was mostly produce, but also locally grown meats, honey, and raw dairy products.

Along the way, we have been on a constant lookout for “edible” foods, feeling like modern day hunters in the overly processed and plastic world. When we found a good store, I would buy more to keep us going for the next day or so, but not more, since all we had was a portable cooler.

In addition, all of us went on probiotics and fish oil supplements. Not just any. There are a lot of expensive and worthless products, but there are a few good and inexpensive ones too (we use Primal Defense and Nordic Naturals). I put it in smoothies for my children and they never know the difference.

We also packed some essential oils, like oregano and eucalyptus. The first one is a natural antibiotic that you can not develop resistance to, and the second is a great natural and DEET free bug repellent.

You may say, that it is expensive, too much hustle, time consuming… Yes, it is all of those things, but the rewards are tangible. If it was not for the ticks that bit Nadia or a recent 2 day fever for Alex, my kids would have made a year without any kind of health issue. How is that for a saving on copay’s at the doctors offices! Yes a year… That is a great result for a travelling child, sleeping in different places, eating new foods, being exposed to all kinds of germs and regularly going to school in Mexico.

Writing this post, I have probably jinks-ted myself and now we are all going to get sick, 😉 but here it is, I’ve said it. To me it is worth every penny and every minute, it is my long term commitment to let food be my medicine so cheers and let’s raise our glasses… Mine is filled with jugo verde! 🙂

Tamales, gorditas and jugo verde

I have finally decided to write about the topic that is very close to my heart (or I should rather say – stomach), the Mexican cuisine.

All my friends know how incredibly important food is for me. Not only it has to be tasty, but most importantly, it has to be healthy. I adore, love, crave, am fascinated with whole foods. I am a firm believer, that most diseases start with a poor diet so food is definitely my medicine. That does not mean, that I am one of those health nuts, that will only eat certain foods. I believe in eating everything in moderation and there are only a few things I will stay away from most of the time.

Let me assure you that it is pretty easy to eat healthy in Mexico. They know definitely how to make sure everyone eats a well balanced diet including lots of vegetables, fruits, protein and carb combo.

On pretty much every corner you can buy freshly made juices (jugos) including jugo verde (green juice) blend of fresh squeezed orange juice, spinach, swiss chard and celery. Yes, that is what their children drink on their way to school. They also drink a lot of coconut water, which is so rich in nutrients and minerals that beats 100% all the sports drinks made in the lab.

Their snacks consist of freshly cut fruits and vegetables that you also can buy everywhere, conveniently packed in a small plastic baggies. All you need is a pair of clean hands…:-)

If you like something on the spicy side, boiled peanuts and garbanzos with a little bit of paprika and freshly squeezed lime juice would be your choice. How cool is that, it is all vegetable protein that all of us desperately need!

Delicious, boiled peanuts (Cacahuates) served hot with freshly squized lime juice over.
Delicious, boiled peanuts (Cacahuates) served hot with freshly squized lime juice over.18-Nov-2011 19:59, PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D , 13.0, 200.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 200
Delicious, boiled Garbanzo beans (Garbanzos) served hot with freshly squized lime juice over.
Delicious, boiled Garbanzo beans (Garbanzos) served hot with freshly squized lime juice over.18-Nov-2011 20:00, PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D , 13.0, 200.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 200
Delicious, boiled Garbanzo beans (Garbanzos) and peanuts (Cacahuates) served hot with freshly squized lime juice over.
Delicious, boiled Garbanzo beans (Garbanzos) and peanuts (Cacahuates) served hot with freshly squized lime juice over.18-Nov-2011 19:58, PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D , 3.8, 28.0mm, 0.022 sec, ISO 200
 

As far as main meals are concerned, the day starts with eggs. I have known it for a long time but recently I read a lot of press about how important it is to start you day with protein. It just speeds up you metabolism so you burn more fat. Sounds good to me! Eggs are so versatile, so it is hard to get bored with them.

Lunches and dinners are usually meat or fish based plus lots of veggies and avocado. That is sooooo good for you! The Mexicans mainly eat pork and chicken, since beef here is not very tender.

The only thing I would change, is the corn flour that they use tons of. I am not a big fan of it because almost all corn in the world is GMO (genetically modified). Not that we do not eat all those delicious tacos, gorditas (a small, thick tortilla filled with just about anything) or tamales (corn flour dough mixed with minced meat or cheese which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper) made with corn flour…..we just limit our consumption.

To my greatest surprise, I found out that there is an Organic Farmers Market in San Miguel de Allende. That is where I go every Saturday to buy the freshest, tastiest, sun ripened produce, artisan breads, jams made from nopales (cactus) and fruits, that I never knew existed. Then I pack it all on my bicycle and ride home enjoying the smell coming out of my front basket. I have to make it just in time to prepare lunch for my kids coming from the library and trust me they are very, very hungry…:-)