Sunday, October 16, 2016

Crock Pot Vanilla Apple Butter (Refined Sugar Free)

Despite the drought for most of the summer, our apples seem to have recovered and are weighing down the trees in abundance.  It has been wonderful to share and bless others with this awesome crop. So far I have been making pots of apple sauce and many apple crisps.

This year I decided to take a stab at apple butter and am glad I did.  It was rather easy and so tasty.  I used the crock pot and set it to a high heat because I am impatient like that, but you can definitely use a longer slower heat and relieve yourself of continually checking so it doesn't dry out or burn.  I also left the skins on the apples as it adds nutrients and I can also be lazy ;)

  • 5 pounds sliced and cored apples 
  • 1/2 cup organic apple juice (you could use water or nothing if it isn't sticking to your pot)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 teaspoons liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon  or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (to help preserve)

  1. Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and placed in crock pot.
  2. Set to low for 8-10 hours of high for 4 hours.  If setting on high to stir frequently to ensure it isn't sticking to your pot.
  3. Once all apples are soft and mushy.  Puree until smooth.
  4. Set on a low heat for 2 hours with the lid off. This will allow the butter to thicken, basically change from apple sauce to apple butter.  Stir in lemon juice.
  5. Cool and set into jars.
  6. Store in fridge for 1-2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Ways to Use Apple Butter:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nut Butter, Lentil Soup (Dairy, Gluten, Grain and Free)

If you haven't already noticed.  I love soup.  Fall is such a great time to make soup as there are lots of vegetables ready and the weather is getting cooler.  This soup did not disappoint.  It has lots of flavour!
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoon miced fresh garlic
  • 5 cups vegetable or bone broth
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt, cayenne and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 juiced lemon

  1. In a large pot heat oil. Cook onion until clear and soft (3 minutes,) add garlic and cook another minute. 
  2. Add all remaining ingredients except lemon.
  3. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  4. Remove bay leaves
  5. Add lemon juice and puree or leave as is.
  6. Serve

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lemon Verbena and Mint Tea

I had first heard of lemon verbena while watching Little House on the Prairie with my kids.  Laura Ingalls loves how her teacher smells like lemon verbena.  I can certainly understand why it is used as a perfume, Lemon Verbena has a lovely floral and fresh scent.
 When the girls and I were buying plants in the spring, they discovered it at the green house so we decided to give it a try.  Aside from just eating it off the plant, we have been using it in tea.  Lemon verbena is an immune booster as well as a digestive aid.
This is one of ways we enjoy this wonderful herb.


  • 1/4 cup lemon verbena leaves
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup filtered water
  1. Bring water almost to a boil
  2. Add lemon verbena and mint leaves to the water.
  3. Let steep for 3-5 minutes, strain and enjoy.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sauerkraut Recipe and Benefits

Being Dutch, I grew up eating Zuurkoolstamppot, which is a one pot meal of potatoes, sauerkraut and smoked sausage.  I never realized the benefits of the sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) until more recently.  Sauerkraut was invented years ago, as a way of preserving food and consuming vegetables in the winter months.

Sauerkraut is made by very thinly slicing a cabbage and then "pickling" it by a process called lacto-fermentaion.  In this process, lactic acid is created by the reaction of bacteria (from the air) combining with natural food sugars.  Turning a cabbage into a fermented food now makes it a vegetable with probiotic advantages.  It will now help balance out your bodies digestive system, gut flora and help fight against illness. To learn more about probiotics and their benefits please read my article You Are What You Eat.
Cabbage on its own, is one of those cruceriferous vegetables which lowers cholesterol and is very high in antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C.  According to Doctor Oz. this vegetables is also a cancer fighter.
I have made sauerkraut with red cabbage, white cabbage and with a combination of cabbage and carrots.  I have yet to experiment with additional spices, do let me know if you have any favourite combinations.

Helpful Materials

  • kitchen scale
  • mandolin or sharp knives
  • wooden spoon or pestle
  • large bowl
  • large mason jars
  • single serving mason jars, shot glasses, clean rock for a weight
  • pickle pipe

  • 800 grams of cabbage (red or white) and carrots (about 9-10 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

  1. Wash and chop cabbage into thin slices and break apart any chunks.  It is important to weigh your cabbage in order to get the right amount of sea salt.  Place cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Let sit for about 20-30 minutes to allow the salt to break down the cabbage and bring out the juice.
  3. Squeeze cabbage with hands or mash with a glass jar, wooden spoon or pestle.  Do not use a metal instrument as it will react with the lacto-fermentation.
  4. Once you have extracted some juice and the cabbage is limp.  Distribute the cabbage into jars by packing it down. Poor juices over the cabbage ensuring the cabbage is completely covered or scum will form.  You may need to use a weight to submerge your cabbage.  I place the cabbage in wide mason jars and use a small single serving mason jar as a weight. 
  5. Ensure all cabbage is covered in the brine.  If you need to add additional liquid, simply combine 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt with 1 cup of filtered water and add on top if required. 
  6. Loosely seal jar but allow for some air to be released.  I have recently started using the pickle pipe and find it to be way easier.  The C02 gas that is created can be vented out but the kraut is not exposed keeping it from getting moldy.  
  7. Place jars in a dark spot.
  8. It will take about a week for the process to be complete. Simply taste your sauerkraut every few days until it reaches your desired taste.  I typically like mine after 7-9 days.  Do check on your sauerkraut everyday to ensure it still looks well.  If you see some scum forming simply scoop them off.
  9. Once fermentation is complete and the sauerkraut is to your liking, tighten the lids and place in your fridge.  Refrigerated sauerkraut will last at least 6 months in the fridge.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Roasted Vegetable Soup (Dairy, Gluten and Grain Free)

Our oldest daughter had a big bike fall at the end of this summer.  It caused a lot of damage to her mouth. She lost control down a steep hill, ran her bike into a tree and then scraped her face along the tree trunk.  I won't go into too many yucky details but basically she required some plastic surgery in her mouth and will eventually need some dental work to replace some adult teeth :(  We are thankful it was only her mouth that was affected and not her head, neck or back.

In light of this accident, she has had difficulty eating and has been on soft foods for two weeks already.  It has been a little challenging over here creating food for her, our little guy who has started solids and then the rest of us.  As much as possible, I have been trying to make something we can all enjoy.

This soup was simple to create, tasty and worked for the baby, our oldest, and the rest of us "regular" eaters.  I have since made this soup on numerous occasions, using whatever vegetables I have ready in the garden or in the fridge.


  • 2 onions chopped into eighths
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 1 diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced eggplant
  • 1/2 a chopped cabbage
  • 1 diced sweet potato
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1-2 cups chopped kale
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable or bone broth
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • water (if needed)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In two 9 x 13 pans, distribute chopped vegetables, except the kale.
  3. Drizzle the vegetables with some oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Stir vegetables to fully coat.
  5. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Add chopped kale, stir together and roast for another 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft and browned.
  7. Puree vegetables until smooth.  Add to a medium size pot.
  8. Add broth and any water if wanting to thin soup.
  9. Heat until boiling, stirring frequently.
  10. Serve.