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Simple Homemade Hummus Recipe

Simple Homemade Hummus Recipe

One of my favorite snacks in the whole world is homemade bread topped with homemade hummus, green olives, and fresh tomatoes from the garden. This hummus recipe is easy to make, super nutritious, and oh so very delicious!

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 15 oz. Cans of Garbanzo Beans (drain and save the liquid)
  • ½ Cup Tahini (make sure it’s evenly mixed)
  • ¼ Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon (juice from one lemon or more if you like it tangy)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (peeled and sliced, more or less depending on taste preference)
  • 1 t. Cumin (Some recipes don’t call for this spice, but I think it’s what completes the flavor.)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • *Blender (You could also use a food processor.)
  • *Parsley (as a garnish, optional)

Directions

  • Drain the liquid from the garbanzo beans and add them to the blender. Set the liquid aside to add later as needed to get the blender going.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients (tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper). 
  • I like my hummus on the thicker side, so I try to add as little of the reserved garbanzo bean liquid as possible which is usually about half of a can.
  • In order to blend everything evenly, I use a large spoon to stir, blend, stir, blend, repeat until the consistency is nice and creamy.

In Conclusion

By having some delicious homemade hummus prepared ahead of time, you can be sure that when hunger strikes you will have a healthy snack on hand. I love chopping up fresh carrots and celery and using the hummus as a dip or putting it on top of my homemade bread. Delicious!

Hummus on Homemade Bread

Hummus on Homemade Bread

Embracing Motherhood Homemade Guacamole

Homemade Guacamole

Avocados are ridiculously healthy! Along with their monounsaturated fat (mostly oleic acid), they are naturally nutrient-dense and contain around 20 vitamins and minerals. I love slicing up avocado and using it on sandwiches or toast (check out my friend Lindsey’s simple and delicious recipe for avocado toast here), but I just love, love, LOVE making homemade guacamole!

Ages ago, before I attempted making most of my food from scratch, I would simply pick up one of the avocado packets from the store, but now I skip that msg laden pouch and instead make my own mixture that tastes WAY better and is better for you too.

Ingredients

  • 4 Ripe Avocados (Avocados are on the clean 15 list, so you don’t need to worry if you can’t find some that are organic.)
  • 1 Lemon (or lime)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • *1 Tomato (optional)
  • 2 t. Real Salt
  • 1 t. Cumin
  • ½ Pepper
  • *Cilantro (optional)
  • *Cayenne Pepper (to taste if you like a little spice)
Guacamole Ingredients

Guacamole Ingredients

Directions

  1. Open the avocado. Cut the avocados length-ways and pinch the skins to expel the soft buttery flesh of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit). Discard the skins and pits and dump the avocado into your bowl.

    Avocado Flesh

    Avocado Flesh

  2. Mince the garlic. 4 pods will give the guacamole a noticeable garlic flavor and give you some garlic breath to boot, but feel free to just add one or two pods for less of a garlic effect! I like to press the garlic pods with the side of my knife until they pop and then easily remove the skins. Then I chop them as fine as I can with my big knife. Sometimes I like pulling out my hand chopper or mini food processor to get the garlic minced really fine. *If I were to add cilantro, I would put it in the food processor with the garlic, but I didn’t have any this time around, so I didn’t add it.

    Minced Garlic

    Minced Garlic

  3. Squeeze the lemon. I love using this handy lemon squeezer. (I actually kind of prefer the taste of a lime, but we usually keep more lemons on hand, so that’s what I used.)

    Squeezing Lemon on Avocado

    Squeezing Lemon on Avocado

  4. Add the seasonings. I don’t usually like measuring my seasonings. I just add some (usually less than I would think), taste it, and add more until I get the right flavor. I’m really generous with the salt here, sparing with the pepper, and appreciative of the cumin, which is really the key ingredient and gives the guacamole its distinctive flavor! I love adding cayenne to just about everything, but my kids don’t like it, so I just add it separately to my portion.
  5. Mash it up. Use a fork to mash up all of the avocado onto the sides of the bowl. Keep spinning and mashing until you’ve gone over all the avocado flesh. I think that it looks and tastes better if left a little lumpy.

    Mashed Up Avocado

    Mashed Up Avocado

  6. Chop up a tomato. This is totally all about your personal preference. I like adding just one tomato for a little color and extra flavor, but if I’m running ow on avocados and want to stretch things out, I’ll add more tomato. When I chop up the tomato, I like to get rid of all the seeds and extra juice so that it doesn’t make the dip too watery.
  7. Set and serve. The longer this sits, the more the flavors can sink in, and the better it tastes. It also tastes better room temperature. So I like to make mine the day before I need it, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, and make sure it sits out long enough to get to room temperature before serving it.
    Holy Guacamole!

    Holy Guacamole!

    *This guacamole is so much more than just a dip! Sure you can enjoy it with some tortilla chips, but it also makes a great topping on a burger, a delightful edition on an egg sandwich, and a must have for tacos too!

Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing Recipe

I love the house dressing they serve at Olive Garden, and I LOVE the fact that they serve limitless salad and breadsticks even more. To be honest, when we go there (or when we used to go there, before we had all of these kids), I would just fill up on the salad and breadsticks and take the entrè home with me to eat later! But what I don’t love about the Olive Garden dressing that you find at the store, is that like pretty much every other store bought salad dressing, it is made with canola or vegetable oil, white vinegar, and has MSG sneakily hidden in the ingredients (if you see “natural flavors“, that means MSG).

Anyways, I’ve always loved my homemade Italian dressing, but I was looking for something a bit creamier, and so I simplified my Italian dressing recipe, added some mayonnaise, and voilá, a great tasting creation was born! I think it tastes similar to the Olive Garden dressing, but even better because it’s made with only the best ingredients. Give it a try, and see for yourself!

Ingredients

  • Container to Hold Dressing (Get one here. I like using this because it has fill lines for the oil, vinegar, and water pre-marked on the glass jar.)
  • 1 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Get some here.)
  • ½ c. Apple Cider Vinegar (Get some here.)
  • 2 T. Filtered Water
  • 4 T. Mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)
  • Curly Leaf Parsley – 1 Small Bunch (You can add whatever fresh herbs you have here too. If I have it, I like using cilantro and sometimes dill, sage, or basil.)
  • 1 t. Onion Powder 
  • 1 t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here. You can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • ½ t. Pepper
  • Optional: 2-3 green onions chopped, 2-3 pods of garlic peeled and finely chopped, or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for a little kick,

Directions

Basically, you just mix all of the ingredients together, and shake it up! Simple as can be!

Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing

 

I find that with salad dressing, there is such a personal preference of taste that it’s really all about finding a base recipe and making it your own. My husband, for example, really doesn’t like the taste of vinegary things, so his ideal recipe might include less apple cider vinegar and a little more water or olive oil. (But honestly, he’s a die hard thousand island fan, so I’m going to be crafting a homemade thousand island recipe for him soon.) I, on the other hand, love vinegary things, so I’ll actually go a little heavier on the apple cider vinegar than this recipe calls for.

In the end, it’s about finding what you love, making it as healthy as can be, and then enjoying the fruits of your labors as you become the healthiest version of you that you can be!

Tomato Cabbage Soup Recipe with Chicken

Tomato Cabbage Soup Recipe with Chicken or Ground Beef

On a cold winter night, or a hot summer day, this soup is good anytime! Filled with fresh, nutrient dense, and delicious ingredients, this soup will help you stay slim, energized, and full. Fresh cabbage is an amazing vegetable filled with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and glucosinolates (that protect against cancer). Fresh tomatoes are also an excellent source of nutrients including potassium and the powerful antioxidant lycopene. So what are you waiting for? Let’s make some soup!

Cabbage, Chicken, and Tomato Soup with Barley Added

Cabbage, Chicken, and Tomato Soup with Barley Added

Ingredients

  • 1 Head of Cabbage (cabbage is on the “Clean 15” list)
  • 1 Bag of My Tomato Purée (or 2 16 oz. home canned jars, or organic BPA free jars from the store)
  • 2 c. Chopped Celery (or whatever other vegetables you have lying around)
  • 1 Whole Chicken or 1 lb Ground Beef (See my Roasted Chicken Recipe or Ground Beef Recipe)
  • *Optional: 4 c. Properly Prepared Barley
  • *Seasonings: I add most of my seasonings to my tomato purée, but if you’re used canned tomatoes without any seasonings, I would add the following:

Directions

  1. Tomato Purée: Add the tomato purée to a large pot and start to warm it up at a low-medium heat.

    tomato purée

    Tomato Purée

  2. Add the Vegetables: Cut up the cabbage (shredding it is even better), chop the celery, and really go ahead and chop up any other vegetable you have in your fridge that sounds good like carrots, bok choy, leeks, green onion, etc. and throw them all in the pot.
  3. Add the Meat (or not): Cut up the cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add it to the pot. Or, if you’re going the ground beef way, add that to the pot. Or, just keep this a vegetarian dish, it will still taste great! (I have actually always used this recipe with ground beef until I just happened to have some extra chicken around, and it was simply amazing!)

    Roasted Chicken

    Roasted Chicken

  4. Add the Seasonings: If you’re using my tomato purée recipe, you’ll already have most of your seasonings added, but if you’re using unseasoned tomatoes, add the garlic, cilantro, parsley, maybe a little dill, oregano, thyme, sage, or whatever other fresh herbs you might have lying around. Then add salt and pepper to suit your taste.

    Chopping Up Some Fresh Herbs

    Chopping Up Some Fresh Herbs

  5. Simmer: Bring all of the ingredients to a slow boil, then turn down the heat to a low 2 or 3, cover, and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes. If I know that I’m going to be eating my soup for many days, I like to cook things really lightly at first so that every time I reheat it, all of the nutrients aren’t lost from over-cooking it.

    Cabbage Soup Simmering

    Cabbage Soup Simmering

  6. Barley: I love adding barley to just about every soup because it’s so healthy and filling, but sometimes it can kind of take over the soup and then no one else wants to eat it but me! So, sometimes I’ll just cook the barley and leave it separate so that anyone who wants can go ahead and add a scoopful. See my recipe for properly preparing organic barley to get rid of the phytic acid here.

    Serve the Barley on the Side with Cabbage Soup

    Serve the Barley on the Side

  7. Enjoy! This soup is good hot or cold. I really like eating mine with a toasted sourdough muffin with butter on the side.

    Cabbage Soup with Barley Added

    Cabbage Soup with Barley Added

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

Homemade Italian Dressing

Homemade Italian Dressing Recipe

This homemade Italian dressing is my absolute favorite thing about salad! I love making it with whatever fresh herbs are growing in the garden or with whatever herbs I can find at the grocery store. It is a much better alternative to the MSG laden commercial dressings made with canola oil that you’ll find at the store.

Ingredients/Materials

  • ½ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Get it here.)
  • 1 c. Apple Cider Vinegar (Get it here.)
  • 2 T. Filtered Water
  • Fresh Herbs (Cilantro, dill, and curly leaf parsley are my favorites. You could also add sage, thyme, basil, or whatever other fresh herbs you have around.)
  • 2-3 Green Onions
  • 2-3 Pods of Garlic (This is optional. If you don’t mind the garlic breath, go ahead!)
  • 1 t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here. You can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • ¼ t. Pepper
  • 1 t. Onion Powder
  • *¼ t. Cayenne Pepper (This gives it a nice kick, but you might want to leave it out.)
  • Container to Hold Dressing (Get one here.)
  • Small Food Chopper (Get one here.)

Directions

  1. Add the Water and Vinegar: If you’re using the container that I linked to above, it will have a line for how much water, vinegar, and oil add. You basically want to have twice as much vinegar as oil and add a splash of water. I like to add my water and vinegar before the oil so that I have enough room for the herbs.
    Dressing Container with Lines for the Water, Oil, and Vinegar

    Dressing Container with Lines for the Water, Oil, and Vinegar

    Water and Vinegar Added to the Dressing Container

    Water and Vinegar Added to the Dressing Container

  2. Chop Up the Herbs, Green Onion, and Garlic: I don’t really measure my herbs, I just grab a handful and sprinkle any leftovers right into my salad. I like to coarsely chop everything up (on a wooden cutting board) before adding them to the mini food processor.
    green onions, garlic, parsley on a wooden cutting board

    Green Onions, Parsley, and Garlic

    Food Chopper: Add the chopped up herbs and garlic to the mini food chopper. Pulse a few times on low until everything if fairly mixed, then mix on high until everything is finely chopped.

    Green Onions, Garlic, and Parsley Chopped Up in a Food Processor

    Green Onions, Garlic, and Parsley Chopped Up in a Food Processor

  3. Add the Herbs: You can see how there’s a lot of room for the herbs. You can go crazy and add a ton or just keep it minimal.

    fresh herbs added to dressing

    Fresh Herbs Added

  4. Add the Olive Oil: Fill up the rest of the container with extra virgin olive oil.

    oil added to Italian dressing

    Oil Added to the Dressing

  5. Add the Seasonings: You can measure out the seasonings or do like me and just sprinkle them in. Once you make this a few times, you’ll get to know what tastes you like more or less of.
  6. Shake and Serve: You’ll want to make sure the cap is securely closed, shake vigorously, and then serve right away before everything separates and settles again.
    homemade italian dressing with fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, and oil

    Homemade Italian Dressing

    salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese with italian dressing in a glass bowl

    Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

  7. Storing: You’ll want to keep this in the fridge for optimum freshness. The oil should stay in liquid form if you use it often enough, but if the oil hardens, either run it under some hot water or leave it at room temperature until it liquefies again.
steamed broccoli with melted butter and salt

Why Broccoli is So Good for You and How to Make the Best Steamed Broccoli

Steamed broccoli smothered with butter and sprinkled with salt is a favorite side dish in our household. I like to buy organic broccoli (when I can) and cook it a couple times a week. It makes a great accompaniment to a roast chicken or salmon dinner, and the kids love it too!

Why Broccoli is So Good For You

Broccoli is high in carotenoids, vitamin C, chromium (which helps prevent diabetes) and contains B complex, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium as well. It also contains some protein and fiber. It is rich in indoles (as are all members of the cruciferous family), which is a potent anticancer substance as well as.

Broccoli is loaded with glutathione! Glutathione is found at very high concentrations in the lens of the eye and when eaten in the form of broccoli, cabbage, and parsley, it helps to protect the eye from cataracts. Glutathione is also an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer. Studies show that people who prefer to eat broccoli have lower rates of all kinds of cancer. When you cook broccoli, 30-60% the glutathione is lost. (100% is lost in canning.) (From Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, p. 192 and p. 374)

But Watch Out!

Broccoli also contains glucosinolates which prevent the uptake of iodine and affect the function of the thyroid so they are considered goitrogens. When iodine uptake is interfered with, it can result in an enlargement of the thyroid, known as a goiter. This is really only something to watch out for if broccoli and other cuciferous vegeatables (brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower) are eaten in excess. So don’t go too overboard on eating them!

Steaming is the Best

By steaming broccoli, you are lessening the effects of the goitrogens while maintaining the valuable nutrients packed within. I also think it tastes the best!

Ingredients/Materials

  • Broccoli (One head of organic is best.)
  • Steamer Pan (Get one here.)
  • Butter
  • Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here. You can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)

Directions

  1. Prepare the Steamer: Fill the steamer with water and turn the heat to high.

    Steaming pan

    Steaming Pan

  2. Chop up the Broccoli: Sometimes I like cutting it into more bite size pieces before steaming, and sometimes I just chop off the stalk. (You can eat the stalk too if you’d like.)
  3. Add the Broccoli: Place the broccoli in the steamer. When I can, I like to position the head of the broccoli facing up so that the top doesn’t get overcooked.

    raw broccoli ready to be steamed

    Raw Broccoli Ready to Steam

  4. Cover and Steam for 5 Minutes: Once the water comes to a boil, I like to turn down the heat just a bit so it’s still boiling, but not spurting water out. The broccoli should be bright green and tender when it’s done.

    bright green and tender steamed broccoli cooked to perfection

    Steamed Broccoli

  5. Cold Water Bath: Run the broccoli under cold water to stop it from cooking any further. This will help the broccoli to hold its color. I usually skip this step, however, because I want the butter to melt easily.
  6. Butter and Salt: Cut into florets, smother with butter, sprinkle with salt, and serve.

    steamed broccoli topped with chunks of butter and sprinkled with salt

    Steamed Broccoli with Butter and Salt

Embracing Motherhood How to Make the Best Baked Potato

How to Make the Best Baked Potato

Who doesn’t like a steaming baked potato loaded with fresh toppings? Potatoes are very high on the glycemic index, so I always thought it was best to steer clear of them. But then I learned about their wonderful benefits, such as being high in vitamin C and B6 (almost half of the daily recommended amounts), and discovered how they can be a vehicle for other good foods such as butter, sour cream, and cheese which drastically lowers its glycemic index, and now I am a big fan! There are so many good options for a baked potato, so get creative and dig in!

Organic potatoes are one of the dirty dozen, meaning that they contain a large amount of pesticides. In fact, according to studies, 81% of conventionally grown potatoes contain pesticides, even after being washed and peeled. We pay $3.50 for a 3 lb bag of organic potatoes at our local grocery store, which I think is well worth the price.

Ingredients

  • 1 Potato
  • 2 T. Butter (Kerrygold)
  • 4 T. Sour Cream
  • ½ c. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Chives, Chopped
  • Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • Pepper (Buy it here.)
  • Optional Toppings: Crumbled bacon, chili, or broccoli

Directions

  1. Cook the Potato.
    1. Microwave: Poke holes in the potato and cook for 5 minutes.
    2. Bake: Wash your potatoes, rub with olive oil or coconut oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 350˚F for 1 hour. (Flip halfway through.) Bake a whole bunch so that you can keep extra in the fridge so that you won’t need to wait for an hour the next time you want a baked potato! *Throw these in the oven when you’re making a roasted chicken!

      organic baked potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper

      Baked Potatoes

  2. Cut it up, smother it with butter, and sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on the top. Pop it in the microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Then, smother it with sour cream, top with chopped chives, and sprinkle generously with salt and a little pepper.

    Baked Potato with Butter, Melted Cheese, Sour Cream, Real Salt, and Chives

    Baked Potato with Butter, Melted Cheese, Sour Cream, Real Salt, and Chives

  4. Now tell everybody to leave you alone because you have some serious eating to do!!

Tomato Purée

I worked with my mom and grandma one late summer afternoon to learn the fine art of canning tomatoes. It was so awesome to learn such a fine craft, but it was sooooooo much work, and something that I just don’t have the time for these days. Well, one day, my Grandma brought over some puréed tomatoes that had been in her freezer for practically a year. I cautiously used them in a chili and it was amazing!!! The taste was so much fresher than the canned tomatoes and freezing is so much better at preserving the nutrients too. What I like most about this method is being able to do small batches as my tomatoes ripen.

Ingredients/Materials

  • 10-12 Tomatoes
  • Cilantro (Half of a bunch)
  • Parsley (Half of a bunch)
  • Optional: Dill (Half of a bunch)
  • Optional: Fresh Garlic (4 pods)
  • 2 T. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • Large Bowl
  • Blender

Directions

  1. Cut up the tomatoes into quarters or eighths (depending on how efficient your blender is).
  2. Smush and crush them into bottom of the blender.
  3. Cover and blend in short pulses. You may need to smush the tomatoes down more in between pulses in order to get the juice flowing and the blender to run more efficiently.
  4. Prepare the herbs by chopping them up coarsely and add them to the middle of a tomato blend cycle.
  5. Add salt to a tomato blend cycle.
  6. Dump all of the blended tomatoes into a big bowl and stir. Give it a taste test to see if you’ve added enough herbs and salt. *You can also add some garlic, but I like the taste of fresh garlic and I’m worried that over time the garlic might take on too powerful of a flavor. 
  7. Other optional ingredients: Onions, peppers, chives…be creative!
  8. Store in gallon size Ziploc freezer bags. I like to fill each bag about ¾ full. When pouring the tomato liquid into the bag, lay it down flat until the purée comes right up to the locking mechanism. This is the best way to get rid of all air bubbles. Find a flat place in your freezer to store it until it freezes in a nice shape. Try to avoid plopping the bag on top of wire racks. If you do, the bag will be more likely to stick in weird places and leak or tear when you retrieve it.
  9. Label the bags with the date you made it and the herbs you added if desired. IMG_3515
  10. To thaw, place in a warm sink bath, then add to whatever you are making!

Notes: As you are preparing your purée, think about what you’ll be using it for. I like to use mine primarily in chili, as pizza sauce, or as spaghetti sauce, so I like it to have a nice Italian flavor. You might also want to store it in some smaller pint or quart size Ziplock bags if you plan on making smaller recipes. I find that one large gallon size Ziploc bag is perfect for one pot of chili, so that’s how I like to store it.