Though it’s long been associated with Hippies and substance abuse, Hemp Seed is, in fact, an extremely healthy food source, high in protein, fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids. If you’ve read my special report, then you know how important these elements are to an anti-inflammatory (synonymous with anti-disease) diet and it's especially heart healthy!
I count myself a member of the majority who LOVE food. Food is like a drug for many, myself included. We eat to experience new tastes and we eat to comfort, with well acquainted dishes. We eat to live (feeding our bodies) and we live to eat (feeding our souls). We eat to celebrate and we eat to commiserate. It is no wonder we become slaves to our beloved food, whether the selections are healthy or decadent!
But WHAT IF, those foods we love the most (usually the decadent ones) could be made with good-for-you ingredients, effectively rendering them comforting, celebratory and healthy?!
That’s what The Holistic Kitchen is all about.
There’s something about fall foods that are especially comforting. The weather is turning and we look to heartier fare for comfort, warmth and merriment. We also look to time tested recipes that have been handed down and embedded in our memories of holiday gatherings, in some cases because of their decadence! Again, I ask: WHAT IF those same delights could be made with healthier options, without sacrificing the delight?
It can be done – The Holistic Kitchen and I, Chef Nancy, exist to prove it! Here’s a recipe for Apple Crisp, that replaces every harmful ingredient and renders a delicious, anti-inflammatory version of this classic dessert (presuming you don’t ad ice cream!) If it ain’t Apple Crisp to you without the ice cream, make your own low glycemic coconut milk ice cream or buy the green label So Delicious Vanilla, coconut ice cream in your natural market. OR stayed tuned for my Walnut Vanilla Bean Chantilly in my next book!
Even if you "don’t like coconut”, give this a chance – it’s definitely different (and divine compared with commercially prepared coconut anything)! I never liked coconut either, until I tried the real deal.
The last time I wrote about coconut, it was about the oil. Not long ago, a friend asked me about the dangers of coconut milk, especially canned coconut milk. I am thrilled to share what I know about the benefits of coconut milk!
If you missed the Coconut Oil Kitchen Tips from a year ago, this information is worth repeating:
We were told 2 or 3 decades ago that tropical oils such as coconut, were very bad for our health. The soy and corn industry were largely responsible for scaring us into believing this hype – and that's all it was, without any scientific foundation.
It turns out that this ugly rumor has kept us from enjoying the long list of health benefits that coconuts and their Medium Chain Fatty Acids provide. For that very long list, you can visit CoconutOil.com.
Coconut milk is my go to substitute for milk in any situation. The health benefits cannot be overstated! If you don’t want the coconut flavor in your dish, that’s an easy fix. The critical point is that not all coconut milks are created equal. Not even all canned coconut milks are created equal. There is only one that can be counted on, every time, to deliver the benefits without the dangers.
My research has found that most coconuts used in commercial production are grown in areas where chemicals are not used in cultivation. However, once harvested, processing methods can and often do involve a chemical deodorization (more so with oil, thank milk).
Back to coconut milks: Many, unless labeled “organic” are likely to have any number of additives that render the milk a manufactured “food product”. This is definitely undesirable! Be sure to read the ingredients! Even one product I particularly like, So Delicious, Unsweetened Coconut Milk, has some undesirable additives, in order to make it a delicious dairy free milk substitute, just like all the other milk substitutes flooding the market today.
Even canned coconut milks that are labeled “organic” will usually have at least one additional ingredient (harmless for some people), such as guar gum, as a “stabilizer”. Generally this is used to keep the cream and water homogenized, instead of separating. Seems ridiculous to me that we can’t just learn to shake the can before opening!
The beauty of a canned product is that it is shelf stable until it’s opened. The down side is the dangerous compounds (such as BPA) most all can linings are made with (Eden brand, is one exception to this rule). It should be noted that, sadly, Eden does not offer coconut milk amongst its line of canned products.
When my friend indicated that she’d been told (canned) coconut milk should be avoided, (and since most people are not aware of the issue with can linings) I began to wonder if the high temperature a canned product is subject to, might cause a chemical change, rendering it “dangerous”.
So I went searching. I learned that canning temperatures “for a low acid fruit or vegetable” range from 240-250℉. “Raw” foods, by definition, are considered “raw” if their temperature has been kept below 104-118℉. So I guess we can agree that the lower the temperature of any produce, the more it’s natural benefits (such as enzymes and vitamins) remain viable (that is the beauty of raw).
I haven’t found any data that indicates a dangerous chemical change to coconut milk under high temperatures. That said, if we adopt the theory that “lower temps render a more viable product” we are left with a really fun, totally delicious and ultra healthy option:
1. Make your own coconut milk! (from dried, shredded unsweetened coconut meat). Temperature: Approximately 180℉
I, however, like to make mine from a fresh coconut, when available in the store. Additionally, it’s a fun family adventure (caution: sharp blades are involved) as well as a great way to take out frustrations by hammering on a coconut!
2. Make your own coconut milk! (from a whole coconut – Temperature: 70-100℉)*. AND where she tells you to smash it up under a towel? I found a better way (I ruined my towel her way) – TheCoconutTool.com and it really really works! Cut the meat into 1-2 inch pieces and blend them up with the reserve coconut water and some additional purified or natural spring water (4 cups total water) – you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your blender. Then I pour the liquid through a nut milk bag (or multiple layers of cheese cloth, but the nut milk bag is MUCH easier) with a bowl below and S Q U E E Z E, extracting as much liquid as the mass will give!
I like the idea of using a whole fresh coconut because I can blend it with room temperature water (and the ultra healthy, fresh coconut water) so my resulting milk is still raw AND I get to snack on some of the fresh meat – what a treat!! AND I get two products from one effort because I can use the meat (that’s left over after squeezing the water out) as flour!
Either method you choose to make coconut milk, it must be refrigerated and will stay fresh only 2-4 days. It will also separate and the great for you fat will harden, so shake it well. And though I can’t drink a quart of milk within 2-4 days, I can make ice cream with it! Storage solved!
*If you’re using a high powered blender such as a Vitamix, remember that the longer you blend, the warmer it gets. If immunity is compromised, you could use method #2 with water that's been heated to 180℉ OR let the milk blend long enough to bring it up to at least 165℉ to reduce the possibility of bacterial contamination.
Post your comments and questions below!!
So just what exactly is Welsh rarebit, you may well ask? For those concerned with bunnies and the approach of Easter, it does NOT contain rabbit or any other meat, for that matter. Though it was initially called Welsh rabbit in the 1700’s, the origin of Welsh rarebit is not clearly known. Wikipedia offers this:
It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales the poor man's meat was cheese. It might also be understood as a slur against the Welsh: if a Welshman went rabbit hunting, rarebit would be his supper.
It is also possible that the dish was attributed to Wales because the Welsh were considered particularly fond of cheese
So what it IS, is nothing more than a seasoned cheese sauce over toast, and might well be the predecessor to Macaroni and Cheese. According to the Food Lover’s Companion, Welsh rarebit is often served as a main course or for high tea (like supper or an after school snack).
Now, lest you think “cheese over toast” to be overrated, consider its mirror image, a grilled cheese sandwich. Was this a favorite of yours? How about mac n' cheese? Does the thought of it take you back to your childhood? For someone unable to enjoy this great American comfort food, but remembers it fondly and with longing, what a treat it would be to enjoy the flavors, the memories, without guilt or (negative) physical reaction!
People who do not (or should not) eat dairy, such as those with Autism or those who are lactose intolerant (this article reports that 60% of Americans are lactose intolerant)! Even someone who has chosen to reduce or eliminate dietary animal products for health or personal reasons can still enjoy the delight of long denied comfort foods, if they use “safe” ingredients.
If you’re still reading this post, then you unquestionably deserve the gift I am about to share: Dairy free (Vegan) cheese sauce for Welsh rarebit (or Mac n’ Cheese) that tastes like the real deal.
Holistic Kitchen Welsh Rarebit (suitable for Mac n' Cheese)
Yield: 1 cup vegan "cheese" sauce
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp Bragg's apple cider (or coconut water) vinegar
- 1/2 tsp minced dried onion
- 1/2 cup shredded Daiya brand cheese alternative
Add coconut milk, vinegar and onion bits to a small saucepan. Heat gently until just bubbling. Add shredded Diaya and stir constantly until fully melted and smooth.
Toss with 2-3 cups of cooked elbow macaroni or pour over toast in a shallow, oven-proof dish. Broil for 5-10 minutes, if desired, until optional topping browns.
Please share your experience with comments below!!
If you’ve never eaten risotto (translation “rice dish”), think rich, creamy and savory. Traditionally, risotto is prepared s l o w l y, lovingly, laboriously, with Arborio rice.
But I wouldn’t be Chef Nancy if I didn’t put a twist on it. In this case, a healthy and hurry up twist! Traditional risotto is made with Arborio rice and almost constant attention for 30 minutes, minimum, while the liquid is added a bit at a time to coax the starch out, creating a creamy sauce. I wanted to create the same creamy and savory result with a high fiber, quick cooking, whole grain and add other goodies to make this an ultra healthy dish.
The fun thing about risotto is that you can switch up the additions to your hearts content. Try some sweet red pepper to add color and flavor. Use mushroom broth instead of vegetable; Miso instead of Parmesan cheese for safe vegan protein and a similar flavor. Variations are limited only by your imagination!!
First I tried using brown rice instead of Arborio, to increase the fiber. It took even longer to cook! Then I tried buckwheat – not even rice at all – but cooked it using the risotto method, in nearly half the time. Ta da!!
And I made a video for you, so you could see it done first hand. I call it Risotto in 11 Minutes and you can view it below. Find the recipe on page 50 of Chef Nancy’s Recipe for Health !