Archive for Sweets

Water Kefir Flavors: Homemade Ginger Ale

Water Kefir Ginger Ale

I have already posted a general recipe for using water kefir grains to turn sugar and water into a carbonated probiotic beverage, and today I’m posting a more detailed recipe for my favorite flavor of water kefir: ginger ale.

This post has been delayed because my water kefir grains suffered some neglect recently while I was recovering from surgery and I wasn’t sure for a while that they were going to survive. They’re still not going quite as strong as they were before that, but they are fermenting and carbonating just fine, simply a little slower. Because of that, (and possibly also affected by the warmer spring weather) I still haven’t gotten my timetable down for maximum carbonation. Because of the health of the grains and the temperature and possibly other smaller factors can affect the exact speed of fermentation, it will probably take you a bit of experimentation to achieve maximum carbonation anyway.

Here are the carbonation tips I do have:

*Cap the jar tightly on the second fermentation to trap all the carbonation gases inside.

*Make sure you don’t ferment too long, as the carbonation with start to dissipate after it peaks. (I think this is my current problem, as my water kefir is getting fizzy in its original ferment, but is flat by the time we drink it.)

*On this last batch, instead of doing a true second fermentation, I put the jar of ginger and water kefir in the refrigerator to ‘steep’. The carbonation seemed to improve slightly, so I may incorporate this strategy into my further experiments on timing for peak carbonation.

In this recipe I assume that you have already followed the steps in my basic water kefir tutorial, and have a jar or pitcher of fermented water kefir that’s ready for flavoring and a second fermentation. Note that my original tutorial makes a half gallon of water kefir, while this recipe is for flavoring a quart. This allows you to split your water kefir for different flavorings if you’d like, but you can also simply double the flavoring recipe to make a half gallon of ginger ale.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

The water kefir already contains some excellent strains of probiotics, and adding fresh ginger supercharges its good effect on the digestion. I find this fermented ginger ale to be mildly energy boosting, easy on an upset stomach and overall a very good and gentle digestive tonic.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

My husband prefers this drink with a slightly shorter original fermentation time so it’s sweeter, while I prefer it with a moderate length fermentation so it has a bit stronger flavor, but we both enjoy it both ways. My husband thinks ‘ginger beer’ conveys the sense of the flavor better than ‘ginger ale’, but either way, this recipe is husband approved.

(A note on flavor: if the water kefir is over fermented it can develop an overly sharp, funky/musty flavor. My husband says it smells like vomit at this stage. If your water kefir isn’t going over well with your family, try experimenting with a slightly shorter fermentation time and see if that helps.)

Fermented Ginger Ale

1 quart unflavored water kefir

1/2-1 tsp freshly grated ginger

optional: 1 tsp cinnamon chips (pieces of cinnamon stick NOT baking chips)

Grate the fresh ginger into the water kefir. (I like to use a grater similar to this.) Half a teaspon will give you a mild and mellow ginger ale, while a full teaspoon will give you just a bit of sharpness to the ginger flavor, more link a typical ginger tea. If you like a very spicy, intense ginger ale flavor (along the lines of Blenheim), you could reasonably increase the ginger to 2 tsp or more. Experiment a bit and see what level of ginger flavor you prefer in your ginger ale.

The flavor with just fresh ginger is quite good, but sometimes I like to add about a teaspoon of cinnamon chips to add some depth and balance to the flavor, depending on whether I’m in the mood for the simple sharpness of plain ginger, or the more rounded complex flavor of ginger with cinnamon.

Cap the jar tightly and let sit on the counter for 1-2 days. Strain out the ginger (this mesh strainer is very handy for this sort of job) and drink immediately or refrigerate. (I often just refrigerate the whole jar with the ginger still in it and strain out the ginger as I pour it into my glass when I drink it.)

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Brownie Pudding

Brownie Pudding

This is what it looks like if you spoon the brownie pudding into a goblet, drizzle a bit of cream over it and sprinkle it with brownie crumbs. Eating straight out of the mixing bowl with a large spoon is also a valid serving option.

 I know stale brownies aren’t a common problem, but it’s a thing that happens at my house. Normally I can make an 8×8 pan of brownies, we’ll each have a brownie in the evening as a dessert/snack, and probably once I’ll eat a brownie during the day as a snack. Within a few days the pan of brownies is gone, and it’s time for something different.

 However, if I make a large pan of brownies for an event and only a few get eaten, or if we go to a birthday party (which involves its own sugary snacks) in the middle of our normal pan of brownies routine, or if my husband forgets that we have brownies in the house, we’re probably going to end up with a few stale brownies at the end.

 I came up with this recipe as a way to use up some stale brownies, as well as some organic whipping cream that wasn’t going to last much longer in my fridge. (Yeah, that happens to me too, and I can’t even explain that one, except to say that the cartons of organic whipping cream at Costco are huge.) I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured it would be pretty good, but I wasn’t expecting it to be one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life.

 One of the beauties of this recipe is that the ingredients for the ‘pudding’ part are simple, straightforward and healthy, so the whole thing is customizable based on the brownies you use. I’ll be posting my favorite brownie recipe soon, but in the meantime you can use a boxed brownie mix if you’re looking for quick and simple, or a healthy brownie recipe if you’re looking for a healthier dessert. (This recipe disguises texture issues well, so it would probably even work with gluten free brownies or whole wheat brownies or any brownies that are healthy but weird.)

 I used heavy cream that I whipped in this recipe. You’ll probably need to start with about 1 or 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream to produce 2 or 3 cups of whipped cream.

 If you want a dense chocolate pudding consistency, use more whipped cream. For a consistency that’s even thicker and almost a cheesecake consistency, use the lesser amount of whipped cream.

Healthiness Rating: Kinda Healthy

 As I said, the healthiness depends a lot on the ingredients in your brownies. I’m tempted to give this a straight up ‘healthy’ rating as you could make this dessert with only healthy ingredients, but even I have to admit that there isn’t much in the way of vital nutrients you would get out of this dessert. It does get a kinda healthy rating, because there’s also nothing (necessarily) in the ingredients that’s bad for you (in reasonable doses, of course).

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

 If you don’t like rich, creamy and chocolatey desserts, this brownie pudding is not for you. Personally, I think it might just be my favorite dessert of all time.

Brownie Pudding

2-3 cups of whipped cream

1/4 cup turbinado sugar (omit if your whipped cream is already sweetened)

8 oz cream cheese

8×8 pan of brownies (or half a 9×13 pan)

Mix first three ingredients in a mixer on low to medium low. (I recommend the paddle attachment because this will really clog up a whisk by the time you’re done. However, if you really want the cream cheese completely and thoroughly blended it, I would recommend starting with a whisk attachment and switching to the paddle attachment when you add the brownies.)

 Lightly crumble the brownies as you add them to the mixer bowl. Mix on low until the whole mixture looks evenly chocolatey, but some chunks of brownies still remain intact.

 Refrigerate for about two hours before serving.

 If you like, you can save out a dollop of whipped cream and one of the brownies to crumble over the top as a garnish.

Cooking 101: Easy Berry Cobbler

Cooking 101: Easy Berry Cobbler

This cobbler is made with raspberries, while the cobbler in the video is  made with blackberries. Blueberries, strawberries, peaches and other fruits can also be used.

 

My nephew Toby guest starred in the video for this recipe. He’s sixteen years old, and recently learned how to make eggs and toast, so in the very strictest sense he’s not a complete beginner at cooking, but he is very close. (He’s a brilliant absent minded professor type who could solve for x in his sleep, but didn’t learn how to turn on the stove until he was ten. Also, as you will notice when you watch the video, he’s very funny and makes me laugh a lot.)

I’m going to be posting a few recipes that are very simple for new cooks to learn, and I wanted to have a true novice cook use the recipes to make sure that I didn’t skip over anything in the instructions because it seemed ‘obvious’ to me. If I did miss anything, or you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at gbfoodrocks@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have. (That goes for any of my recipes, in fact.)

This particular recipe is pretty adaptable to different types of flours and sugars (though I haven’t tried gluten free flours) so you can make it with healthy ingredients (whole wheat pastry flour aka white wheat flour and turbinado sugar) or ingredients found in typical kitchens (white flour and white sugar). I wouldn’t recommend using a hard red whole wheat flour, as it will have the typical whole wheat flavor and texture drawbacks, but it would probably do in a pinch if that’s all you have.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy to Kinda Healthy

This cobbler could qualify as completely healthy if you choose to use whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar. If you use white flour and white sugar it’s not going to have a whole lot going for it in terms of nutrition.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

It’s a really good basic cobbler. My version is heavy on the cobbler, but if you prefer it heavy on the fruit, just double the amount of fruit used.

Easy Berry Cobbler

based on this recipe

4 TBSP butter

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (aka whole wheat pastry flour) OR unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cup turbinado sugar OR white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

6 oz package berries of choice (or 1 cup of sliced fruit such as peaches)

Fresh or frozen fruit works fine in this recipe. If using fresh fruit, rinse the berries and leave to drain dry, or prepare the fruit (remove seeds or pits, slice, etc).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the butter in a 8×8 square baking dish and put it in oven to melt.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. (Note for beginners: This is an important step, so make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined and you don’t see any patches or lumps of seperate ingredients.)

Add the milk. (Note for beginners: Stir briefly, then scrape along the bottom of the bowl to make sure you don’t have any pockets of flour mixture that haven’t been stirred in. Do NOT overmix. As soon as the batter is smooth and all the flour is incorporated, stop stirring.)

Remove pan with melted butter from the oven. Pour the batter into the pan.

Sprinkle the fruit across the top of the batter. Return the pan the oven and set a timer for 50 minutes.

After 50 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. If a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, the cobbler is done. (Note for beginners: ‘Clean’ in this case means that there’s no gummy or liquidy batter sticking to the toothpick. You may get fruit juices or even a dry crumb or two stuck to the toothpick, but if the toothpick is coated in crumbs or other signs of uncooked batter, the cobbler needs to back in the oven for five or ten more minutes.)

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte

Healthy Salted Caramel Latte

 

Depending on who you ask, coffee is either the elixer of life which contains antioxidants and minerals, prevents diabetes, Alzheimers and cirrhosis of the liver or it’s a horrible, nasty addictive chemical that causes adrenal fatigue, raises blood pressure and blocks mineral absorption.

As usual, in my opinion it’s all a matter of balance. Coffee is a natural substance, which doesn’t mean it’s always safe and good in any quantity, but it is useful for situations when you need an extra boost of energy. If you find that you need that boost of energy every single day that it’s likely that you’re either addicted to it or you’re using it to cover up an underlying health problem, or both.

And, as with most foods, personal metabolism makes a big difference. Some of us are especially sensitive to caffeine and have to be extra careful when and how often we use it, and others can have three cups of coffee a day with no apparent effect.

This particular coffee drink is a favorite of mine. Being one of those people on the ‘sensitive to caffeine’ side of the scale (I’ve had decaf coffee keep me awake for hours) I don’t drink it often, but it’s a very nice alternative to going out for expensive coffee drinks on a Saturday morning when I want to be geared up for a day of fun events, or to add extra oomph to those weekday mornings when I’m about to pull back my hair, crank up my energizing music and attack a extra large pile of dirty dishes or organize all the closets in the house.

I don’t always add the salt, but I do really enjoy the salt+caramel combination, and I do find that having plenty of (healthy, natural) salt in my diet helps keep my metabolism and energy up in general.

You can make this latte with any syrups you like, but I use my homemade chocolate and caramel syrups so I know my fancy coffee drink is made with healthy sweeteners and no chemicals.

Healthiness Rating: Kinda Healthy

Salted Caramel Lattes are not a good food to base your entire healthy diet on, but, made with healthy ingredients, they’re also not going to wreck your healthy real food plan.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

Do you really doubt me on this one?

Salted Caramel Mocha Latte

1/2 cup cold brew espresso or strong coffee

2 TBSP caramel syrup (or more to taste)

2 TBSP chocolate syrup (or more to taste)

1/8-1/4 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 cups raw milk

Mix all ingredients in a 16 oz glass. Add ice if desired. (If you have it, you can also top this with whipped cream, extra syrup and an extra pinch of salt and perhaps turbinado sugar, but I almost never have whipped cream around, so I don’t bother.)

Caramel Syrup

Quick and Easy Mostly Healthy Caramel Syrup

Didn’t you know that ice cream always tastes better when it’s slightly blurry? Also when it’s doused in caramel syrup… Yum…

Caramel syrup is possibly the most addictive food I have ever made. Licking out the pot after making it is a must. There’s something about the balance of sweetness and creaminess and gooeyness that can only be improved on by turning it into salted caramel.

Now, I’m not going to try to claim that caramel syrup is a super food or anything like that. BUT if you like caramel, this homemade caramel syrup is the way to eat it. No chemicals, and some nutrients left in the unrefined sugar make this a ‘not bad’ splurge choice.

I like to keep it on hand for the occasional (usually decaf) salted caramel mocha, but it’s also good drizzled over vanilla ice cream or added to a mug of hot cocoa. I’m sure there are plenty of other uses, so if you have a favorite use for caramel syrup, comment below and let me know what it is.

Healthiness Rating: Kinda Healthy

I wouldn’t make this a cornerstone food in your diet or anything, but as sweet treats go, it’s a reasonable choice.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

Pretty much through the roof on this one. This stuff is amazing.

Caramel Syrup

1/2 cup butter

1 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 cup milk

optional: pinch of sea salt, dash of vanilla

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat.

Add sugar and let cook, whisking occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick and bubbly. (Because the turbinado sugar doesn’t dissolve well the mixture may stay a little bit grainy until you put the milk in. Don’t worry if you can’t get it to dissolve completely, just give it a good two or three minutes to dissolve as much as it’s going to.)

Add milk. Whisk until thickened and completely smooth. (All the sugar needs to be dissolved at this point, or your syrup will be grainy.)

Use immediately, or refrigerate for a thicker caramel sauce. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: If you happen to be storing this in a plastic container, make the sure the syrup has completely cooled before  you pour into the container. The syrup retains heat well and might make your plastic container crumple into odd shapes if it hasn’t completely cooled. Don’t ask me now I know this…
The syrup thickens up so much, you’re probably better off storing it in a glass pint jar and spooning it out than trying to keep it in a squeeze bottle anyway.

Strawberry Chia Refrigerator/Freezer Jam

strawberry chia jam 007

 There are two things you need to know about this jam right off the bat. One, it’s not as sweet as a typical jam, so you might want to think of it as a ‘strawberry spread’ rather than a jam. Two, my sweets-loving husband liked this jam anyway.

I was intrigued by this jam from the first time I ran across the concept of chia-gelled jam, but as I began to make it, I became a little skeptical. Was it just going to taste like mushed up fruit since it wasn’t cooked down at all? Were the chia seeds going to create a weird texture, like rasberry jam on overload? Was this just going to be a colossal waste of organic strawberries?

As it turns out, that answer to all of those questions is NO. It tastes like jam, though lightly sweetened, fresh, fruity jam flavor, which I quite liked. (I did use more of this spread than I would use of jam that was higher in sugar, but since it’s mostly fruit, there’s not really a health downside to that.)  The texture is a little odd if eaten plain, but spread on bread, the chia seeds blended right in with the whole grains in the bread, and I wouldn’t have even known they were there. And, not only will we enjoy this batch, but I’m definitely going to be making chia jam in the future, and trying out new flavors.

Because there’s nothing to preserve this jam, it only lasts for about a week in the fridge, but can be frozen just fine, and should last for several months in the freezer. (This jam is not recommended for canning.)

The best part about this jam is that it’s so fast to make. Other than hulling the strawberries (see my video for the various methods of hulling I tried) it took less than ten minutes to make (still less than fifteen even counting the hulling). And it would have been less than that if I’d made it easier on my blender and smooshed down the strawberries when I put them into the blender.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

Made with honey, this jam would probably edge into superfood status. As I made it, with turbinado sugar, I still consider it completely healthy, and a good way to get a little bit of chia seed into your diet.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

My husband liked it. What more can I really say about a healthy jam to prove that it tasted great?

Strawberry Chia Jam

1 lb strawberries (preferably organic), which is about 4 cups whole strawberries

1/4 cup turbinado sugar (could use 3 TBSP honey or agave instead)

3 TBSP chia seeds

1 TBSP lemon juice

Hull strawberries, if desired. Put into blender with remaining ingredients.

If your blender isn’t that great, you may want to slice the strawberries, or at least cut them in half before trying to blend them. I have a pretty good blender, (affiliate link) but not Vita Mix level, and it worked fine once I smooshed the strawberries down a bit.

Blend until completely smooth. (Unless, of course, you like your jam a bit chunky, in which case you can blend as long as you like.) I found the ‘auto smoothie’ setting on my blender to work quite well–if your blender doesn’t have this setting you can replicated it by pulsing on and off for about 15 seconds, then turning it on low speed followed by high speed for about 15 seconds each.

Pour into half pint jars, freezer bags or other container of choice. Refrigerate overnight to set the jam. Store in fridge for up to a week or in freezer for up to eight months.

Whipped Peppermint Gelatin

Whipped Peppermint Gelatin

 Today’s recipe combines a couple of different concepts. One is the 1-2-3 Jello they used to sell when I was little. I was never all that fond of Jello, but make it creamy and fluffy, and I’m all in. At some point I’m going to have to try making a real food version of this recipe, which actually works on replicating 1-2-3 Jello, but today I’m just taking the concept and whipped and foamy jello and applying it to something else.

 Tea gelatin.

 Several health food bloggers have used the concept of tea gelatin as a way to trick… uh… coax family members to ingest medicinal teas. This is a great idea, but I wanted to more for the fun, flavorful, elegant side of tea gelatin.

 What I really wanted to make was a whipped chai gelatin, but sadly, I haven’t remembered to order more of the best rooibos chai ever, so I decided to go for a simpler and lighter peppermint tea gelatin.

 The beauty of this whipped peppermint gelatin is that it’s equally good on the medicinal side of things (can you imagine anything better to eat when you’re recovering from the stomach flu?) and the elegant side of things (I’m seeing a garden party with individual servings of whipped peppermint gelatin in tea cups being nibbled on by ladies with unreasonably fluffy and lacy sleeves… err, the gelatin is being nibbled on, that is, not the tea cups).

 If you do want to use this in an elegant setting, make sure you pour the gelatin into individual goblets, or bowls, or tea cups, or something, as it is unreasonably hard to make it look elegant again after scooping it out of a large serving bowl. (Ask me how many pictures I had to take to get one for this post that didn’t look like a mutant cauliflower brain…)

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

 The exact benefits will vary depending on which tea (and sweetener) you choose to use, but most herbal teas are going to have good general health benefits. (Peppermint, for instance, is soothing, calms an upset stomach, eases headaches, and can act as a decongestant.)

 The gelatin itself is much lauded for many health benefits including improving digestion and healing leaky gut, improving skin health, helping the body to regulate insulin and other hormones, detoxing the liver, building bone and muscle mass, supporting joint health, raising metabolism and supporting the adrenal system. (If even half of that is true, I think I need a lot more gelatin in my diet!) Many people suggest using only gelatin from grass fed beef–the gelatin I personally use is bulk gelatin from Azure Standard, which generally responsibly sources their products, but I have no information about the source of the gelatin specifically.

 And as for sweetener, you can adjust the amount to taste (as written, the recipe makes a fairly sweet dessert, half as much would probably be adequate for a lightly sweetened dessert or snack) and choose whatever level of healthiness you’re comfortable with in a sweetener. I generally use turbinado sugar, as I find it to be a good compromise between healthy sweetener and reasonable price (compared to say, honey, which is a superfood, and quite expensive for good quality).

Whipped Peppermint Gelatin

1 TBSP gelatin (or one packet)

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups boiling water

2 peppermint tea bags OR 1 TBSP loose dried peppermint leaves

1/2 cup turbinado sugar OR 1/3 cup honey

Pour 1/4 cup cold water into a medium size mixing bowl (in needs to hold at least 1 quart). Sprinkle gelatin slowly across the top of the water, then stir the gelatin in, making sure to squish any lumps.

In another bowl, dissolve sugar or honey in boiling water. Add tea. Steep the tea for 5 minutes while the gelatin ‘blooms’.

Pour the tea mixture (through a mesh strainer if using loose leaf tea–I use this one and love it)(affiliate link) into the bowl with the gelatin. Whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved.

Refrigerate for two hours, or until the gelatin is soft set. It should still move and threaten to spill when the bowl is tipped, but more as one big blob than as liquid would.

Pour the gelatin into a blender and blend on low or medium speed until the whole mixture is frothy and roughly doubled in volume. (This only took a few seconds with my blender.)

Return the gelatin mixture to the bowl, or pour into individual serving containers. Refrigerate for at least two more hours, or overnight.

Serve without mentioning that your elegant whipped peppermint gelatin dessert took you less than ten minutes of work to make.

Possible Variations:

Chai: Instead of peppermint tea, use chai tea and add 1/2 cup of milk when you froth it in the blender.

Fruit: Instead of tea, boil fruit juice of choice and proceed with the recipe. Cut sweetener in half, or leave it out altogether.

Lemon/Lime: Instead of tea use 1 1/2 cups boiling water and 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice, or a mixture of the two.

(Added 7/4/14)

Chocolate (inspired by this recipe): Instead of boiling water, use hot (not boiling) milk. Whisk in 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Leave out the tea.

Fried Dandelions (Dandelion Fritters)

 

 

 

Fried Dandelions (Dandelion Fritters)

Dandelions taste wild–a little bit flowery and a little bit green and bitter, but mostly like nothing else you’ve ever tasted.

These pretty little yellow flowers (yes, they are pretty, and I can’t for the life of my understand why people hate them and try so hard to get rid of them) are high in antioxidants and lecithin and a smattering of vitamins and minerals. And not only are they quite nutritious, but most of us have them available for free and very little work involved in getting them to grow.

A couple of cautions before you start eating dandelions though:

First, make sure the dandelions you gather have not been sprayed with pesticides, weed killer, or any other chemicals. If they’re in your lawn this may be as simple as refraining from spraying any chemicals (as long as your neighbors aren’t spraying anything that’s drifting over to  your yard), but I would be reticent to use dandelions growing in any public places, unless I could confirm a lack of chemicals.

Second, if you’re allergic to ragweed or daisies you may also be allergic to dandelions. Be very cautious in starting your dandelion consumption if you have allergies these or similar flowers.

Fried Dandelions can be eaten plain as a simple side dish, with savory sauces such as ketchup or ranch dressing (think anything you might dip onion rings in), or with sweet toppings such as powdered sugar, honey or maple syrup.

I recommend making this recipe with a whole wheat flour made from soft white wheat, but the recipe can quickly be adapted to use white flour or hard red wheat by adjusting the amount of liquid used. The basic ratio is 1 cup of milk to 1 cup of white flour. Use less milk for soft white whole wheat flour and extra milk for hard red whole wheat flour.

You can fry your dandelions in any oil you normally use for frying. Coconut oil makes a nice healthy (and fairly neutral flavored if you use expeller pressed coconut oil) light oil, while lard would have a heavier flavor which might be better suited to a plain or savory side. Vegetable oils would be completely neutral flavored. You might even be able to fry these in plain butter, but you’d want to keep the butter at a lower temperature, and fry the dandelions more slowly so as not to burn the butter.

In the video I demonstrated making individual fried dandelions, but for a faster process, you can also just mix all your dandelion flowers into the batter and form the batter into small pancakes.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy to Kinda Healthy

While dandelion blossoms are definitely healthy, your choice of topping or sauce might downgrade this kinda healthy. (Though if you make your own powdered sugar from turbinado sugar, you’re moving back toward healthy territory again.)

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

As I said, it’s an odd, wild flavor, but very yummy. These are very much husband approved, and as far as I can tell, my version even measured up his very fond childhood memories of fried dandelions.

While fried dandelions are definitely addictive, there are plenty of other uses for dandelions which I’m looking forward to trying this summer. If you’re also intrigued by using up your dandelions, dandelion flowers can be added to green salads, or used in any of these recipes:

Dandelion Jelly

Dandelion Soda (fermented)

Dandelion Lotion Bars

Dandelion Muffins

Fried Dandelions (Dandelion Fritters)

based on this recipe

3/4 cup milk (or more depending on flour used)

1 egg

1 cup soft white whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)

about 80 dandelion blossoms (a little less than two cups)

water and salt for soaking flowers

 

Remove the entire stem and as much of the green part as desired from each flower. (The green part is somewhat bitter, but if you remove all of it your flowers will tend to fall apart. I find it simplest to just remove the stem.) Soak flowers in salt water for five to ten minutes to remove any bugs that might be hiding in them.

Heat coconut oil or oil of choice over a medium (or slightly lower than medium) heat in a skillet.

Beat egg into milk, then add to flour. Mix just until combined. Mixture should be about the consistency of a thick pancake batter–add more milk or flour if needed to get the right consistency.

Dip flowers into batter, using a fork or tongs to make sure each flower is well coated with batter. (Or, mix all your flowers into the batter, and make small pancakes instead of individual fritters.) Drop each flower into the hot oil. (If you’re not sure whether your oil is hot enough, you can drip a small amount of batter into the oil. When the batter floats and begins bubbling briskly, your oil is hot enough.)

Fry for about two minutes on each side, or until each side is golden brown and slightly crispy.

Remove to plate lined with paper towel or a clean rag to absorb the extra grease. Immediately sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Continue until all dandelion blossoms are fried.

 

Tepache: A Fermented Pineapple Drink

Tepache: Fermented Pineapple Drink

Aldi often has fresh pineapples on sale for $1 or $1.29 each. Being the nerd and foodie that I am, I once weighed a pineapple after I’d cut off the top and rind and all the inedible bits to find out how much edible fruit was in a typical pineapple. It weighed right around two pounds, which makes the cost of the fruit on a sale pineapple 50 to 65 cents a pound.

Since my rule of thumb is that any food $1 a pound or less qualifies as cheap food, and I’m especially happy when I find basic, healthy food like fruit, veggies and meat in that price range, I began to make a habit of buying a pineapple or two whenever they went on sale.

However, despite that fact that I knew it was a screaming deal anyway, I started to wonder about all the parts of the pineapple I was throwing away. It seemed like rather a lot of waste. Wasn’t there any use for pineapple rinds?

Turns out , there is a use for them. Google turned up this recipe for tepache, a fermented mexican drink made from pineapple rinds, sugar, and a bit of cinnamon.

Traditionally, tepache is mixed with beer, but on it’s own it seems to have a very low to non-existent alcohol content (depending somewhat, of course, on just how long  you ferment it). We’ve used in rum based cocktails a couple of times, but we also just drink it straight as a kind of pineapple soda or use it as a smoothie base.

 Healthiness Rating: Healthy

It’s fruit based, probiotic, contains cinnamon which is good for your immune system and blood sugar response, and you can adjust the sugar content down for a more tart, less sweet drink if the turbinado sugar disturbs your healthy food sensibilities.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

As I’ve said in other recipes occasionally, this isn’t one of those foods that we discovered and decided we had to keep it on hand all the time. It’s a nice change of pace, and it tastes good (and yes, it’s husband approved), but it’s not something I often find myself craving.

Tepache

1-2 cups turbinado sugar (1 cup for a tart drink, 2 cups for a sweet drink)

12 cups water

1 pineapple

cinnamon and ginger to taste (1/2-1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4-1/2 tsp ginger)

optional: clove and/or nutmeg to taste

(Edited to add: A commenter on youtube mentioned using vanilla instead of cinnamon, which sounds good to me. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’d guess using about a TBSP or two of vanilla in place of or in addition to the other spices would be about right.)

Put the turbinado sugar and two cups water in a saucepan over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Cool.

Rinse the pineapple lightly, but don’t scrub too hard, or use cleaners–you don’t want to remove the natural yeasts that start the fermentation process. Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple, then cut off the peels (see video for more detailed instructions in cutting up your pineapple). Save the pineapple fruit for another use. (If desired, when  you cut up the fruit you can add the core to the tepache.

Put the peels in a large bowl or crock suitable for fermenting. Sprinkle with spices. Pour in sugar/water mixture and ten more cups of water. Cover peels with a small plate to keep them submerged.

Cover bowl with a clean dish towel and set aside to ferment for 3-5 days. It should be bubbly and a bit foamy like this when it’s ready to referigerate:

tepache foamRemove the peels and pour the tepache into a jug or jar. Cap tightly and refrigerate for two to three days until fizzy. (You can also drink it right away if you don’t care about carbonating it.)

Chocolate Butter Mints

chocolate butter mints

The front mint is coated in cocoa powder, which is totally a valid serving option, and also a valid photographic

option for those with minimal photography skills trying to make chocolate look edible in a picture.

 So, as I may have mentioned before, I have the kind of metabolism that runs well on proteins and fats. Unlike my carb metabolizing husband, I’m not that thrilled with being given random pieces of bread, but I could eat sour cream by the spoonful and have been known to lick off butter wrappers before I throw them away.

Enter this recipe for a socially acceptable way to eat butter. It looks like candy and tastes like chocolate, but has all the satisfying healthy fats of eating pats of butter. If you were so inclined, you could use half coconut oil to increase the types of healthy fats in this candy. Because my husband’s digestion strenuously objects to coconut oil I haven’t tried this yet, but I might in the future, as my metabolism and energy levels highly approve of coconut oil.

Now, even with straight butter, when my husband first tasted these he said they were good, but a little too much like eating butter for him to really love them. However, he found himself regularly snitching them as they sat in the fridge, so either he as over thinking it as first, or they grew on him rapidly.

The first batch I made was lighter on both the honey and the cocoa powder (probably 2 TBSP of honey and 1 heaping TBSP of cocoa, but of course, I didn’t actually measure). I preferred the lighter sweetness of the first batch for snacking, but for the full blown dessert experience the second batch (with 4 TBSP of honey and 2 heaping TBSP of cocoa) was amazing.

I mentioned in the video that I use Young Living brand peppermint oil, and while I’m not going to fangirl over it, there is an important point to be made about the quality of essential oils. There are some substances labeled as essential oils which are extracted by chemicals, diluted with other substances or otherwise carelessly and fraudulently handled, and those are completely UNSAFE to use, especially internally. I can’t say that I’ve researched every single oil company out there, but I can say that I believe Young Living to make a completely safe, high quality oil. Please make sure you do your research before choosing a brand of essential oil, to make sure you’re confident in the safety of what you’re using.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

Butter, raw cocoa, raw honey, and sea salt. Can you say superfoods?

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

With the small proviso that if you’re a carb person these are just ‘good’, as a non-carb person I proclaim these butter mints to be completely amazing.

Chocolate Butter Mints

1 cup butter, softened

6-8 drops peppermint essential oil (Young Living oils are intense–you may need more if you’re using another brand)

2-4 TBSP honey

1-2 TBSP cocoa (feel free to make them heaping TBSP)

pinch of sea salt

Put all ingredients in mixer and blend, or blend by hand with a fork. Make bite sized mints by squeezing through a pastry bag, ziploc bag with the corner cut off, or by dropping small spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm.

(I bet these would easier to handle if you rolled the mixture into a small log, refrigerated it for an hour or so, and then sliced off bite sized chunks. I haven’t tried this  method yet, but it would probably be tidier than anything I’ve tried so far.)

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