real food>fake food. nature>industry.

I've always gravitated towards the less processed and fresher foods in my life. I never really even liked that pillowy white bread that everyone wanted their PB&J on... I preferred the 12 grain bread at my grandparents's house. Anyone who has ever eaten a meal with me can vouch for the fact that I say "I love __(insert whatever vegetable I am currently eating)__" a minimum of four times per meal. My top three favorite foods are broccoli, apples, and green beans. There's something about fresh, wholesome, locally grown food that has always appealed to me. My favorite kitchen memories are helping my mom make vegetable soup or a loaf of fresh wheat bread, or picking vegetables in my backyard to make salad with. I love fresh foods, and generally don't gravitate towards processed foods. In fact, I notice distinct adverse effects when I eat foods that are more a product of industry rather than nature. As a kid, whenever we'd eat Nutrigrain bars, Otter Pops, and other artificially colored/flavored food, my throat would itch and I would cough. I'd feel tired, drained, and general pain/discomfort. It has escalated to the point that I notice it after eating almost any processed food. I feel off, less energized, irritable, and uncomfortable in general.

But, like every American, I've definitely given in to processed foods with ingredient lists longer than I'd care to read, with words more complicated than I'd care to pronounce. Looking in my pantry shocks me--cereal from the cereal party last weekend, baked Cheetos, a basket of candy/sweets given as gifts I'll never get around to eating... these things were never in my pantry two years ago! Obviously, I've made some allowances with a busier schedule. The "convenience" factor is not doing me any favors, though. It's weird to me that I'd ever opt for convenience, seeing how one of my favorite things to do is cook and bake. Being in the kitchen is one of my major methods of zapping stress. I love nothing more than to look at something, and figure out how to make it completely from scratch. So, why in the world would I buy something I can not only make myself and enjoy, but make in a way that is better for my body and soul? Why would I choose to put chemicals and additives into my body when I am so adamant about only using natural, additive free shampoo, conditioner, face products and make up? Why would I eat preservative filled food when I won't even take pharmaceuticals? It's time to create integrity when it comes to my beliefs. It's time to come full circle.

This is why I've vowed to take the 10-Day Real Food Pledge. I know already that this is a lifestyle change, not an experiment, or a fad like cleanses I've done in the past. This doesn't change our eating habits too drastically. In fact, almost all meals we make follow the guidelines, already. We already buy whole-grain instead of white and enriched, use locally grown organic produce, buy sides of beef grown in my hometown, visit a butcher who provides locally raised meats, and substitute apple sauce, honey and maple syrup instead of refined sugar in recipes. I've been dying to get a bread maker, and finally did. I've started to actually learn how to garden and not just pretend. I've been wanting chickens so badly. Basically, everything just fell into place... I'm happy to finally have a movement behind my beliefs and preferences and I couldn't be happier to finally have a structure behind my eating style. I can't wait to feel better, see the changes in myself and my husband and most importantly enlighten and inspire my friends and family into putting only real, wholesome, locally grown food into their bodies.


Spatchcocked Chicken

Spatchcocked Chicken
1 4-5 pound roaster chicken, spatchcocked
1/2 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried herbs (mix to taste)
1 teaspoon butt rub barbecue seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the softened butter with the garlic, herbs, and seasoning.

Rinse your chicken and pat dry.

Place your spatchcocked chicken skin side up on a cutting board. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the meat of the breast and thigh. Rub the butter mixture underneath the skin on the breast and thigh, leaving pats of it between the skin and meat.

Rub the butter mixture over the entire bird, paying attention to leave pats in the nooks and crannies of the bird. Lift up the legs, and place pats in the joint areas. Cover the entire surface of the bird, massaging it in.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Grill* skin side down for 20 minutes, then flip over for another 30-40, and cook until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature is accurate. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Or, pop into a roaster pan skin side up atop quartered red potatoes in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes.

*You can top it with a brick if you'd like, but ours was very flexible.


Rump Roast

Last year, my parents wanted to split a side of beef with us from my hometown. A year later, and we are finding all kinds of ways to cook all kinds of cuts we weren't familiar with! The other night, we tried our hand at making rump roast. Our meat is amazing quality, so I decided to just flat out roast it in the oven at 325 degrees. I found a rub recipe online, changed it a bit, and out came the most amazing roast we've ever had. It was so flavorful, moist, and tender.

Rump Roast with Potatoes
3 lb rump roast (or so--ours was 2.7 lbs)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bag of big red potatoes
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Rub the meat down! Pop it in the fridge to marinate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. For medium-rare, we cooked it for 33 minutes per pound. 

Quarter some big red potatoes, toss them with oil, and sprinkle with seasoning.

About 70 minutes away from the finish line place the potatoes around the roast in the pan. 

When your timer goes off and the internal temperature of your meat is about 10 degrees from where you want it to be, take the roast out of the pan and cover it with foil. It will continue cooking, and the juices will redistribute. Continue cooking the potatoes while the roast rests for 20 minutes. Finish the potatoes up with a quick broil for some color. 

Once the juices have redistributed, take the potatoes out, and slice the roast. Serve with steamed veggies:)

Use the leftovers for french dip sandwiches!


Morning Glory Muffins

My mom manages a coffee shop/cafe in my hometown. Growing up, we'd always go for hot chocolate and muffins on Saturday morning with my dad to visit her. Or, I'd wake up, and walk into the kitchen to see a hot chocolate with a little note written on it and a muffin to share with my sister. We always wanted poppyseed, blueberry, and chocolate muffins, but my mom always ate these small, dark muffins full of fruit, vegetables, and raisins. I remember trying them as a kid and loving them. I started preferring them in my teenage years, and then forgot about them for a while. Last Fall, when I was packing for a trip to Ocean Park for training, I remembered Morning Glory muffins, and decided to bake a batch. I've since perfected the recipe. We juice a lot, so I always have tons of organic pulp from apples and carrots left over, and sometimes I substitute it for the grated apples and carrots. The result is a little denser, more moist, and smoother than the traditional Morning Glory muffin, but just as delicious.

Morning Glory Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded carrot
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup coconut
1 shredded apple
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil, coconut preferably
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together the dry goods--flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the carrot, raisins, chocolate, walnuts, coconut, and apple.

In a small bowl, mix together the eggs with the oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until moistened.

Divide evenly into 24 muffins, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

UPDATE 3/13: I wanted to try adding oatmeal and zucchini and I successfully did. Replace 1 cup carrot with 1 cup shredded zucchini, and replace 1/2 cup AP flour with 1/2 cup rolled oats. Delicious!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Today my husband woke up at 11 am. To me jumping on the bed. Obviously, I had been up for hours. But, true to myself, I still had not eaten breakfast. I'm a horrible breakfast eater. Meaning, I rarely ever eat breakfast if I'm left to my own devices. That is why I usually whip up a batch of muffins once a week... more on that later. We've been eating oatmeal lately. We go on breakfast kicks--scrambles, sandwiches, quiche, omelets, you name it, we've eaten it for a month straight for breakfast. We perfected each of these. Now they are all in our regular rotation. Back to the story line--husband wants oatmeal for breakfast. I, in one of my random clicks of inspiration, ask him if he's ever had peanut butter oatmeal. I remember trying this maybe once as a teenager, then forgetting all about it. Today I recreated it for him, but just a little better.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 3/4 cup milk (whole, preferably)
4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the milk and the peanut butter over low heat. Stir until peanut butter is incorporated. Add the oats, then bring it up to medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon and the brown sugar. Bring to a boil, and boil one minute for creamy, soupy oatmeal. Boil 3-4 minutes for creamy, but chunky oatmeal (how we like it).

 Basically, if you've made oatmeal (duh) you know the drill. Cook longer for more absorption, or add less liquid to begin with, to reach your desired consistency. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and enjoy:)

You should definitely mix in raisins, nuts, or jam. And then top with banana or berries. YUMMMM.


Ridiculously Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These are Reese's Cup wanna-bes. They are amazing. They are really, ridiculously easy to make, and the flavor is the perfect balance of salty and sweet, with just a little bit of texture. Yum.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup butter
1 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate

Line either an 8x8, a 9x9, or a 7x11 inch pan with foil.

Melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioner's sugar. Add the peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs and stir again. Spread in the pan evenly.

Over low heat melt 1/4 cup butter. Add the chocolate, then stir until nearly melted. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth and shiny.

Spread over the peanut butter mixture. Pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. Cut in bars with a pizza cutter, serve and enjoy, then keep the leftovers in the fridge:)

Bob's Surprise Birthday Dinner

For his birthday, we told Bob we were going to make him a dinner of his choice. Instead, we planned him a surprise party (we still made dinner, though). Bob requested a comforting meal from his childhood: pulled pork sandwiches, potatoes au gratin, and kansas dirt cake. I've only ever made potatoes au gratin. Bob wanted his mother's recipes, though, so my little knowledge of these dishes flew out the window. We elected to have someone bring the potatoes, and I focused my energy on the pulled pork, the cake, and the decor!

I had no idea what cut of meat to use, of course, but my butcher happily told me. The conversation went something like this:
"I want to make pulled pork." -me
"So you want a pork shoulder?" -her
"I guess that is what I want!?" -me, relieved
"How much?" -her
"Uhhh..... four pounds?" - me, confused again

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork for Sandwiches
4 lb pork shoulder, or butt
24 ounces root beer
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon montreal steak seasoning
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Johnny's Seasoning Salt
16 ounces of barbeque sauce

In your slow cooker insert, put the pork shoulder and the root beer. Let it sit overnight.

The next morning, about 9 hours before serving, place the insert into your slow cooker, add the garlic, steak seasoning, and worcestershire, then cook on low.

About 9 hours later, drain and shred the pork. Mix the barbeque sauce in and place the shredded pork in the slow cooker on warm to serve.

Serves 10-12.


Kansas Dirt Cake
by Pastor Bob's Mom:)
1 package oreos
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large container cool whip

Crush the oreos finely. Place about 2/3 into bottom of 10x15 pyrex and reserve the rest for the top. Mix the pudding powder and milk together. Whisk for two minutes. Put in fridge to set for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream together the cream cheese and the butter/margarine. Then add the powdered sugar. Add the pudding to the mix, then fold in the cool whip. Pour over the crushed oreos.

Sprinkle the top with remaining oreos, then freeze for at least 8 hours before serving.

Serves a lot. Probably 16. Who knows. All I know is there's a LOT left in my freezer.


Also, we surprised the hell out of him. Yay:)