Get set for good health with gelatin
By: Leanne Ely
You know those jellied salads your mother and grandmothers used to put on the potluck table? As it turns out, the gelatin that makes those molded salads stand up like they do is extremely healthy for us. Well, without all the sugar that Great Aunt Martha used to add in there of course!
Gelatin is an animal protein—a form of collagen—that comes from the bones and marrow of cows. If you’ve ever cooked up a pot of bone broth, you know the way it gels in the refrigerator—that’s the gelatin that was released from those great bones.
Gelatin is absolutely packed with nutrition. Containing essential amino acids, gelatin is an excellent source of protein. It’s great for joints, it will heal your gut, it’ll make your hair shiny and your skin smooth, and it will tighten up that loose skin on your belly.
Gelatin naturally binds with water to help food and mucus pass easily through your digestive tract. Rumor has it that gelatin can even help reduce cellulite!
It’s easy to add gelatin into your diet. You can mix it with broth to make a gorgeous gravy. Put it into your daily smoothies, or add to your juices, dips, and desserts.
To get the most out of your gelatin, try to purchase unflavored gelatin from grass-fed animals. You can find this easily on the Internet.
Do you take gelatin for your health? Do you have any recipes to share? Let us know on our Facebook page!
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Tricks, Tips and a Recipe
Mary had a little (grass fed) lamb
By: Leanne Ely
It’s time once again for Tricks, Tips and a Recipe. Today you’ll learn a tip, a trick and you’ll get a great recipe to try it out with. Neat, huh?
Today’s focus is on: LAMB
Lamb meat comes from a sheep that is under a year old, whereas “mutton” is sheep older than 2 years old, and any age in between is referred to as “hogget.” Lamb is definitely sweeter and more tender than those other older meats.
If you have a hard time with the idea of eating a young sheep, remember that lamb meat isn’t coming from those fluffy little baby sheep. A one-year old lamb is essentially fully grown and when grass fed, has lived a good happy life. To put this in perspective a bit, many beef cows are slaughtered between one and three years of age.
When you buy your lamb from a local farm, you can speak with the people who raised the meat to be sure of the humane manner in which the animal was raised and brought to market.
You really should make an effort to find a local sheep farmer to buy your lamb from, but lamb is relatively easy to find at meat counters year round. Not only is lamb a mild, sweet protein, but it’s absolutely chock full of minerals and vitamins.
A serving of lamb provides you with more than half of your daily recommended intake of protein along with all kinds of B vitamins, niacin, iron, zinc and riboflavin.
However, when it comes to selecting and cooking, lamb can be an intimidating meat. In fact, I think one of the reasons why Americans eat so little lamb, compared to beef and pork, is that we’re not sure how to cook it.
I’m not sure why lamb is perceived as being so difficult to work with because once you get the hang of it, working with lamb is simple. All you need is a good cut of meat and the right cooking method.
How to select the right cut:
First of all, buy only grass-fed lamb. There is no comparison. From there, the cut you want will depend on your budget and what you’re doing with your lamb meat. Let’s look more closely at these cuts:
Ground lamb. This is probably the most inexpensive cut of lamb. Generally coming from the breast or shoulder of the animal, ground lamb can be used as you would ground beef or pork.
Loin roast. If you want to impress a small group of dinner guests, go for a loin roast. A good sized roast of lamb will feed roughly four people.
Leg of lamb. Still impressive, and generally much more meat than a loin roast, a roasted leg of lamb is great for a dinner party.
Rib racks. You won’t get a lot off of a roasted rack of lamb, but lamb racks sure are pretty! Be sure to save the bones for your next pot of bone broth!
Lamb shank. You will want to braise this cut. It is one of the toughest cuts of meat you’ll get on a lamb, coming from the lower legs of the animal.
Lamb leg steaks. One of my favorite cuts of lamb, lamb leg steaks are full of flavor, are good and meaty, and they’re not difficult to cook. Just cook them as you would any steak. For best results, marinate them beforehand, especially if you plan to grill them.
Shoulder chops. Often chewy and fatty, shoulder chops aren’t expensive, but they are quite tasty. Lamb chops are best grilled or pan fried.
Maybe because lamb is traditionally served in the spring, it pairs perfectly with fresh spring vegetables.
Now that we’re all salivating…
It’s time for your Trick:
If you don’t have a local lamb farm to buy your meat from, go to a good meat market and select lamb that is pinkish-red with a good amount of marbling. Avoid dark red cuts of lamb which is an indication of older, less tender meat.
If you purchase your lamb frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator. When it has thawed, it will be safe stored in the refrigerator for up to five days before you cook it.
And your Recipe:
Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine
1/3 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 pound lamb meat, cubed
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup water
2 pears, cored and cubed
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; saute onions and lamb until lamb is browned (don’t worry about cooking it through, you just want to brown it on the outside).
Remove skillet from heat and sprinkle lamb with seasonings; transfer to slow cooker and cover with the water. Cover and cook on low heat setting for about 3 hours, or until meat is fork-tender.
Thirty minutes before serving, add pears, raisins and almonds. Raise heat setting to high and continue to cook until pears are soft and raisins have plumped slightly.
NUTRITION per serving: 602 Calories; 39g Fat; 28g Protein; 37g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 105mg Cholesterol; 91mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Fruit; 5 1/2 Fat. Points: 14
PS–Emails poured in asking for an extension on the amazing bonuses we added to the Freezer Meal Club, so we’ve decided to extend the sale for one day only! But hurry and click to join now, this deal will go away at midnight!
Mary had a little (grass fed) lamb
Food For Thought
Can the canned cooking spray
By: Leanne Ely
If you were to sit back and really look at it, spraying a cloud of oil out of a can and onto your food doesn’t paint a terribly healthy picture, does it?
I mean, it’s the same delivery vehicle as WD-40 or hair spray. And to be honest, aerosol cooking spray isn’t a whole lot better for your health than eating hair spray.
That iconic red and yellow can is found in kitchens all across North America. You can buy “olive oil” cooking spray and “buttery” cooking spray. You can get the “bakers” cooking spray or the plain old original variety. If you have one of those cans of spray sitting in your cupboard, you should really consider throwing it away because nothing good can come from it.
Sure a spritz of spray will create a non-stick surface on your pans and it will help add a crunch to your breaded chicken pieces, but it has many more bad sides than good, including:
• GMOs. The crops used for the oils found in cooking spray are, in most cases, genetically modified. Food products made from GMO crops contain more pesticides than non-GMO foods, and eating them can lead to quite serious health risks including infertility, organ damage, auto-immune disorders, allergies and diabetes.
• Chemical additives. If you thought you were spraying dimethyl silicone on your food, would you still eat it? Cooking sprays contain a cocktail of chemicals like soy lecithin, mono and diglycerides, artificial flavorings, dimethylpolysiloxane and other unsavory ingredients. The scary part is, we don’t know about the long-term effects of ingesting these things.
• Soy. I’ve gone over the dangers of soy before and most of these cooking sprays contain the stuff. Studies have shown that even a half serving of soy per day can lead to increased risk of breast cancer and infertility.
• Lung damage. Inhaling the vapor of artificial ingredients found in cooking spray is risky and we aren’t really sure of what the long-term health implications are.
And never mind the fact that all of those cans are filling up landfills. The ones that can be recycled require a lot of energy to do so. Basically, they’re very bad for the environment.
If you’re ready to can the can, but you aren’t ready to part with the convenience of the product, get yourself an olive oil spray bottle at your local kitchen store and fill it with regular olive oil (not extra virgin if you’re cooking with it!). This way, you can have the non-stick and portion control convenience without all the dangerous stuff.
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I heart hemp hearts!
By: Leanne Ely
Even though they come from the cannibis sativa plant, hemp hearts or hemp seeds can’t be smoked and they won’t give you the munchies, if you know what I’m saying!
Not only are hemp seeds not going to give you any psychotropic effects, but they will deliver some powerful nutrition when you pop them in your mouth.
Hemp seeds are chock full of healthy fatty acids, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
These nutty seeds can reduce blood triglyceride levels, lessen the risk of developing heart disease and they can lower your blood pressure. Hemp seeds can provide relief from symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and they can help keep you slim and trim.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional profile of hemp seeds:
Protein. You can expect to gain 25 grams of protein from a 100 gram serving of hemp hearts!
Fiber. That same 100 gram serving of hemp hearts will provide you with roughly 28 grams of fiber — great for helping to curb your appetite and keep the colon toxin free!
Vitamins. You’ll be getting a great amount of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, B-6 and vitamin C from your serving of hemp seeds. These little guys also contain loads of vitamins A, D and E.
Minerals. When you eat hemp hearts, you’re getting phosphorous, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper and manganese into you!
Arginine. One of the amino acids we get from hemp seeds is called arginine. This potent amino acid can prevent head aches, coronary disease and erectile dysfunction!
Convinced to pick up some hemp seeds the next time you’re out?!
I enjoy hemp hearts in my smoothies, sprinkled onto yogurt and into salads. They do go rancid if left at room temperature, so store them in the refrigerator.
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I heart hemp hearts!
Five easy dinners for when it’s too hot to cook
By: Leanne Ely
Sometimes it’s just too darn hot to be in front of the stove-am I wrong?
On those hot summer nights when you can’t stand the thought of turning on the oven or standing in front of a hot grill, it’s important to have a good arsenal of easy recipes so that you don’t resort to either starving or ordering takeout.
Today, I’m going to share five of my favorite, easy-peasy, go-to ideas for summer suppers. And none of them involve heating up the house!
Click the picture to make it bigger
Crockpot roast chicken
If you have a chicken all ready to go in the oven, but you can’t stand the thought of turning on those elements and roasting your entire family along with the bird, enlist the help of your trusty crockpot. Recent information tells us that cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot is unsafe because it’s difficult for the entire bird to completely cook through with this cooking method. To be safe, cut the chicken into pieces and slow cook it that way.
Remember: You can also use your crockpot to prepare baked potatoes and other veggies without having to turn on the oven.
Get some nice fresh romaine lettuce, spinach or whatever other greens you like. Cook up some bacon and chop into bite-sized pieces, cut up some left-over chicken, boil a couple of eggs, chop up some tomato and ripe avocado, and you’re basically done. Put the greens in a salad bowl and dress them in a homemade vinaigrette. Then, compose the other ingredients nicely on top of the greens or separately on a pretty plate, along with some bleu cheese (or other cheese of your choice). Enjoy!
Grab whatever veggies happen to look good to you and make a tasty stir-fry. If you have some thawed-out protein, all the better! A stir-fry can easily be catered to your personal tastes depending on the meat, veg or sauce you use. Plus, you’re done in roughly 20 minutes, using only the stovetop. If you have the energy to cook a pot of quinoa to serve the stir-fry with, have at ‘er! If not, it tastes fine on its own or with a big ol’ salad.
Everyone loves breakfast for dinner, and the easiest way to use up leftovers and get dinner on the table is by whipping up a nice fluffy omelet. Heat some butter or coconut oil in your pan, add onions, peppers, potatoes, cooked ham or bacon—whatever you like—and, when the veggies and meat is warmed up, add your beaten eggs. Served with a salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a crumble of goat cheese, this is a very yummy meal and it’s ready in no time!
All you need to make a raw vegetable soup is a blender . . . and some vegetables! Chop whatever veggies you like (try tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic and bell peppers) and put them in the blender. Add some tomato juice and puree the whole works. When the veggies are blended, add a bit of red wine vinegar and some olive oil. Top with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy this refreshing cold soup.
Looking to keep your kitchen cool? We have the solution for you!
Five easy dinners for when it's too hot to cook
Food For Thought
Operation Back-to-School Lunchbox Readiness
By: Leanne Ely
I know I’m going to get a dirty look or two from y’all for bringing this up, but it really isn’t too soon to start thinking about getting the kids ready to go back to school.
With two children of my own, I am fully aware of how expensive it can be to do all of that shopping for supplies in the week or two leading up to the first day back, so I’m recommending that you start getting ready now so it doesn’t seem quite as hard on your bank account.
Operation Lunchbox Readiness
Times have changed since my kids were grade-school aged, that’s for sure. Back then, your options in lunch boxes were either to brown paper bag it, or use one of those hard plastic lunchboxes that had a matching thermos inside. That isn’t the case anymore!
Nowadays, we have many options for our kids’ school lunch carrier. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite choices.
Compartmentalized stainless steel. If you do some Googling, you’ll find stainless-steel containers in all shapes and sizes. These are wonderful for school lunches because they’re easy to clean, they look cool and they are free of BPA and other toxins.
Bento boxes. If you can’t find stainless-steel containers, look for BPA-free bento boxes. Bento-style lunch boxes generally contain covered and non-covered compartments for food storage. They come in many fun colors and children tend to enjoy eating from them. You can find plastic and stainless-steel bento boxes online.
Must-have lunchbox accessories
Once you’ve chosen your container, it’s time to accessorize!
Reusable baggies. I love the planet, so I’m going to recommend you look for reusable cloth sandwich bags. If you search for them on Etsy, you’ll find an endless variety of colors and styles. Besides being a more environmentally friendly option in food storage, these little cloth baggies are adorable AND toxin-free. Look for a vendor using organic cotton and be sure they will hold up to multiple washings. Better yet, if you have the ability to sew straight lines, consider making your own baggies! All you need is some cotton fabric and a little velcro.
Insulated container. You can find adorable insulated containers for keeping hot foods hot during the school day. Thermos is the brand most people are familiar with, but don’t buy on simply name alone. Buy a container that is the right shape for your child to use (for younger children, you should buy a short and stout container for littler hands to reach into), and make sure it will fit in your actual lunchbox.
Ice packs. We have talked about lunchbox food safety before and I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep cold foods cold. Buy lots of ice packs and use at least two or three each day when foods need to be kept cold.
Stainless-steel water bottle. I am so happy that stainless-steel water bottles are so easy to come by. I feel they are a much safer option than plastic and when filled with water, they’re a much healthier option than juice boxes! They also tend to stay cool for quite a long time.
Cloth napkins. Save a tree or two and keep your child supplied with cloth napkins for the school year. Not only are they a more environmentally friendly option than paper towels, but if you can actually train your kids to use them over their sleeve, you might save on stain remover!
So, those are the basics. Start shopping for those lunchbox essentials now and you won’t have to worry about it again until it’s time to decide what to pack in the box. That’s a post for another day!
PS–We know back to school time is busy, so how nice would it be to have a delicious, healthy and homemade meal just waiting for you to pull out of your freezer when you need it? The new and improved Freezer Meal Club can help you do just that! Learn more here!