Friday, April 5, 2013

How to restore your pet's health during allergy season with apple cider vinegar and flax oil

I am not a veterinarian, please consult with your vet before giving your dog new things.
Yes pets can have allergies too! My doberman pincher gets it pretty bad every year. Her eyes get all goopy with gooey junk, it's gross. So I thought this year I would try something. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR!
This stuff is sooo nasty but boy does it fix so many problems! When I worked at the vet's office I remember seeing a few items containing apple cider vinegar so I knew it was safe for them, and I heard it helped with human allergies, so why not try it out? This stuff exceeded my expectations, her eyes used to be filled with the goo junk, we would have to wipe it out throughout the day, now there is no goo at all. Like magic!
She has been on flax oil for some time already, the omega 3s and omega 6s fixes her dry skin, and improves her fur quality as well.
So now every day, I fill a big and little food bowl with food. (we have an australian cattle mix also)
I put about 4 cap-fulls of apple cider vinegar in the big bowl, and like 2 in the little one.
Then I drizzle the flax oil on top, about a tablespoon or so, and for the smaller bowl I do less than a teaspoon. In the beginning she would sneeze at it, but now she prefers it in her food.
Although, I can't stand the taste, apple cider vinegar is good for you too! There are two many things, but it virtually helps almost everything.  Allergies, arthritis, joint pain, balancing PH, acid reflux, acne, regulate blood pressure..... The list is endless.
If you can find raw, that's great! But this is what's at trader joe's so this is what I buy. It seems to have done a great job on my dogs, anyway.

That's my pretty girl patiently waiting for one of her homemade holistic treats.
For more info on my treats check them out here

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Gourmet Vegan Kale and Pea Stuffed Shells using a homemade cashew ricotta

I used to loveeee ricotta. And I have been dying inside without lasagnas, and what not. I used to make these stuffed shells, with swiss chard, peas, ricotta and mozzarella. When my boyfriend became extremely lactose intolerant, I pretty much gave up on having stuffed shells. Oh but the power of raw cashews... I'm pretty convinced you can do anything with raw cashews. Why should I waste my time and money on raw cashews when ricotta is cheaper and easier?

  • Cashews are never treated with growth hormones like cows are
  • Cashews do not contain blood, pus, or infections, like cows milk does.
  • Cashews contain healthy fats that promote a healthy body and brain.
  • Unlike milk, which feeds cancer, cashews contain flavanols that stop cancer from growing.
  • Cashews eliminate free radicals, milk does not.
  • Cashews promote good cardiovascular health
  • Cashews promote healthy skin, hair, bones...
Only other question is why aren't you eating cashews yet?
I remember I used to argue with vegans about milk. Back, before I did any real research on it. Milk is one argument I didn't win, and they actually had some very good points that I researched, and found were correct.
Humans are the only animal in the world that drinks another animals milk, and we drink it way past infancy. If you have a cow that grazes on grass, and it is giving you raw organic milk, why not make cheese out of it? Dr. Mercola swears by raw milk. The problem is, unless it's your cow, you don't know the condition of the cow that the milk is coming from. Milk, today, is pasteurized and homogenized for a reason; to kill bacteria. Cows aren't meant for commercial milk production, they often get udder infections, and pus and blood wind up in your milk. yum, drink up. So commercially sold raw milk has some risks, as you can see. Without further a due, I give you my amazing recipe.

You will need:
  • 1 box of large stuffing shells
  • 1 jar of homemade or organic tomato sauce
  • olive oil or sunflower oil for greasing the pan
{For the Filling}
  • 1 head of organic kale (approx 12 oz, or a massive double handful)
  • organic olive oil as needed (approx 2 tablespoons)
  • about 1/3 cup organic diced sweet onion
  • 4-5 cloves of organic garlic
  • 3/4 cup organic frozen peas, thawed
  • about 3 cups raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 6 hours and drained)
  • about 6 tablespoons organic tofu (anything but extra firm should work fine, I used firm. Make sure you squeeze out water from tofu before using)
  • (optional)1 scant cup shredded vegan mozzarella (I used TEESE)
  • filtered water as needed (about 1/4 cup)
  • sea salt to taste (approx 1/2 teaspoon?)
  • pepper to taste
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder, and dried oregano
  • chopped organic fresh basil, about 1/4 cup, If you don't have that much you can sprinkle some dried basil
*NOTE-with this amount of cashews, it made more then I needed, for 1 box of stuffed shells, you need 2 cups of the ricotta, So before adding the kale, I spooned out about a cup, added some fresh wild spring onions, and veggies, and ate it as vegan cream cheese the next day. You can also freeze any leftover, the pureed cashews will stay fresh for months in the freezer, and about 4 days in the fridge.

Now this is your cashew ricotta, deviate from my recipe. My blender is terrible so just to get it to blend at all I need to add water. Hold off on a ton of water if you have an awesome blender. Put your soaked & drained cashews into the blender, and puree. If it doesn't do much add some water, mix, and puree. This isn't an exact science, you keep playing with it until you get the perfect consistency YOU want, and the right taste.
add a dash of sea salt, and pepper, some tofu, some water... Blend. you can also try adding olive oil to give it a more Italian flavor. A dash of garlic powder, dash of dried oregano... Once you think you have a good consistency, taste it, see if it needs more salt. This can be made without tofu, but it makes the consistency just right. Blend in your shredded vegan cheese. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your stuffed shells.

In a frying pan, heat up some olive oil on medium low heat. dice your onion and toss it in the pan, stir. Wash and dry the kale. cut out the thick stem. You can steam this and eat it another day, or give it to your dog, my dogs love kale. Cut the kale into about 1 in pieces. Chop your garlic. Once your onion has some color, add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute or two, stir, and add kale. Sprinkle with sea salt, and cook for a few minutes until wilted, if you forgot to thaw your peas throw them into the pan also. Stir occasionally. Once your pot of water is boiling add a dash of olive oil, a dash of salt, and 12 oz of shells and cook for about 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. when the timer goes off drain and rinse with cool water.

When your kale mixture is done, set aside for a few minutes to cool. 
Once it cooled add it to the blender. Make sure you either took some ricotta out or didn't make the full amount, it should be about 2 cups  in the blender before the kale.
 Add your chopped basil. Blend until, well, blended.. It might take a few minutes,  and some additional mixing with  a rubber spatchula. Taste it! If it's bland add some salt, and maybe garlic powder or more dried herbs. You can always add more salt! But if it's too salty then it's difficult to correct.

Then pour the ricotta mixture into a ziploc bag (1/2 gallon bag) and seal it. In a large baking tray, about 9x13 or larger, spray some non gmo cooking spray, or brush the inside with oil. Take your tomato sauce and lightly spoon some over the bottom. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Push the mixture out of one corner of the bag, and using a scissor, snip that corner.
Now gently squeeze it into a shell. and place the shell into your baking pan. If you find they aren't closing, you are putting too much filling. It's about a tablespoon and a half worth into each shell.
Once you filled your pan with stuffed shells, spoon some more sauce over the top of the shells.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
If some shells don't fit in your pan, no worries. Place them on a plate, and put them in the freezer until they harden a little, then transfer into a ziploc bag. They'll stay fresh frozen for months and months, just remember they need baking when your ready to use them!

When the shells are done serve with hot tomato sauce, sauteed asparagus, or whatever you want.
My picky, vegetable-hating boyfriend enjoyed these, but being a completely vegan meal, he thought it needed chopped crispy turkey bacon. Oh men.

The consistency is dead on to that of real stuffed shells.
Buon appetito!

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Dairy Free Italian baked chicken and pasta - the most delicious casserole. ever. vegan and gluten free options

So, it just looks, okay, nothing special about this? It may not look like the most amazing thing, but I promise you it is. Lasagna, baked ziti, penne alla vodka have nothing on this. Besides fried chicken cutlets, this is probably my boyfriend's all time favorite. What makes this so good? creamy melt-in-your-mouth elbow pasta covered in gooey "cheese" with bits of breadcrumbs, tender chicken, flavorful pops of peas, and sweet tomatoes. The colors of Italy, how could you go wrong?
This recipe is originally from giada de laurentis on Sorry giada, but your dish has nothing on mine.           :b

Ingredients For a large tray: (this recipe can easily be divided in half)

  • 1 lb elbow pasta (for gluten free use quinoa pasta or nonGMO corn pasta, or just quinoa)
  • Organic olive oil as needed
  • approx 1 1/2 cups organic free range chicken
  • approx 1/2 cup diced organic sweet onion
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of organic diced tomatoes in juice (no salt added) or you can cook up some fresh organic tomatoes!
  • about 2 cups organic peas
  • 2 cups shredded rice milk cheese
  • a large handful of fresh organic basil (about 1 cup, about 2 tablespoons chopped) Fresh is the best for this dish if you do not have fresh you can use thawed dorot frozen basil cubes, or dried basil. About 1 tablespoon if you use dried.
  • bread crumbs as needed (for gluten free use GF breadcrumbs,cooked dried quinoa,  flax meal, almond meal, or take whole grain udi bread, pulverize it, toast it in a dry pan, add salt and herbs)
  • sea salt as needed
  • organic earth balance buttery spread as needed

1st, boil water in a medium large pot, once boiling add pasta, a few dashes of sea salt, and a dash of olive oil.  cook for 3-4 minutes (just under al dente)

Cut up your chicken into little cubes. (If your vegetarian or vegan, or just don't want chicken, you can use tofu. Squeeze and drain your tofu, cut it into cubs, marinate it in oil salt and herbs, overnight before using. You could also use mushrooms, or vegetarian sausage.)
First thing in your pan should be oil, about a tablespoon (more if needed) heat it on medium-low heat. Once hot, add your onions, cook until they get some color, like below. 
Then peel and finely chop your massive amount of garlic. Add to the pan, stir and cook for another minute or two.
Then add your cubed chicken, or tofu. Sprinkle with salt and dried basil. Cook just until all the pink disappears,

While that cooks preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. And in a large bowl, put your cooked pasta. you diced tomatoes,
Grab your fresh basil and chop it finely.
 Add the cooked chicken, organic peas, a few dashes of sea salt, and the chopped basil.
Grab any vegan cheese of your choice. For this I use rice mozzarella. No one I have fed this to has ever been able to tell it was not real cheese. Why not use real mozzarella? Because I do not believe it is ethical to limit cows to a small feedlot or indoor factory, rape them, steal their babies, and hook them up milking pumps
Using a cheese grater shred your "cheese" as fine as possible. For easier shredding, place your "cheese" in the freezer a few minutes before you need it.
If your bowl of pasta and ingredients is piping hot, let it cool slightly before adding the "cheese", so it doesn't melt immediately. Mix everything together. 

grease a baking pan with vegan butter or non gmo cooking spray. coat the bottom with a dusting of breadcrumbs.
Add your mixed ingredients to the pan, evening out the top with a wooden spoon.
sprinkle more breadcrumbs on top, and dot with small pats of vegan butter.
Cook in oven for about 30-40 minutes. If the top doesn't start to brown, carefully broil it for a minute or two.

When done baking it should look something like this.

scoop some out with a spatchula or spoon..
The result.
perfection in your mouth

orange marinated grilled vegetables great for spring or summer

orange marinated veggies

These is a quick an easy addition to any BBQ, picnic, holiday, party, dinner, whatever. And the leftovers are flavorful and delicious try it in a hot or cold whole wheat/brown rice wrap with fresh sprouts, and greens. Or over a hot bed of quinoa, toss with hot pasta with some salt, olive oil, and red pepper flakes, the possibilities are endless!!

For this recipe I used:

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 organic sweet onion
  • approx 30 organic grape tomatoes
  • Orange muscat champagne vinegar ( you can find this at Trader joe's)
  • Sunflower seed oil ( you can also use grapeseed oil, I do not reccommend vegetable oil because it is mostly GMO, and olive oil turns carcinogenic {cancerous} at thigh temperatures)
  • sea salt
  • thyme
Wash all your veggies well with water and all natural veggie wash (or vinegar). Rinse, and dry.
Cut them all to be about the size of the tomatoes. If your grilling them, soak the skewers in water for at least 45 minutes prior to grilling.
For the marinade, Use about 4 tablespoons vinegar, and 3 tablespoons oil. Or whatever you want.. I very very very rarely measure, Sometimes when I bake, but not very often in cooking. Add a few dashes of sea salt, a dash of thyme, and pepper if you want..
Stir it up and taste. Too bland? more salt and vinegar
too acidic? more oil.
Once your marinade is ready pour over your cut veggies and marinate on the counter for an hour or so.

Next, decide if your grilling or roasting. Grilling is a little quicker, but the veggies need to be watched, and turned more often.
If your grilling you can skewer them or use a vegetable basket for the grill. Try to have the vegetables organized by size so they cook evenly.

Grilling on high takes approx 10-15 minutes, roasting at 400 degrees F will take about 30 min.
Both methods require turning the veggies.