K for Kitchen essentials

For this real food abc, I am going to highlight some tools and equipment I think make it much easier to eat real food regularly.

Crockpot - This is by far the most useful tool I have in my kitchen. I have been making extra large crockpot meals and then freezing the leftovers. The other nice thing is not worrying about cooking in the late afternoon when things seem to get hectic.

Microplane zester - This little tool does so much. Obviously it is great for zesting fruit. But I also use it to mince garlic and ginger. It is great to grate Parmesan cheese. Remember all those dressing I make? This tool makes including those ingredients so much easier. And it is much easier to clean than a garlic press.

Kitchenaid Mixer - I love my mixer. I have a totally retro Pistachio color. Although this is a higher priced kitchen gadget it is so worth it. I keep mine on the counter. I use it for baking and making homemade bread. I have a few accessories as well. I use it for shredding cheese, to julienne veggies. I also have the meat grinder attachment to make my own burgers.

Fine Mesh Strainer - I love this strainer. It works for so many things. I rinse quinoa in it and the seeds will not fall through. I also use it to strain my yogurt to make it thicker. I have even used it to sift flour and other dry ingredients.

Rice cooker - We do eat a fair amount of rice in our household, but I think I use my rice cooker to make quinoa even more than rice. I love quinoa and cooking it is so much easier in a rice cooker. I just have a small cooker right now but I am hoping to upgrade to this one some day.

Freezer bags - Although I am not a big fan of plastic and I tend to save every glass jar that comes into our home, freezer bags really help me. They can be stuffed with food and then frozen flat, Then you can stack a bunch of them in the freezer. Unfortunately mason jars do not store as easy and I have broken them a few times.

When you have the right tools, cooking at home is so much easier and more enjoyable. What tools are essential in your kitchen?



Happy Friday!
5 coffee essentials - suzyhomemaker.net

Sticking with the theme this week, I decided I would do a 5 for Friday about my coffee routine.


  1. Start off with good organic coffee
  2. Make sure you have a good coffee maker. Ours grinds the beans right before brewing!
  3. The perfect coffee mug
  4. I take my coffee with half and half or cream - no sweetener
  5. Make it more nutritious by adding some coconut oil. Buy it here.


linked to www.thelaurenelizabeth.com



My last post in the Real Food abc series was J for Java. As a follow up to that post I have compiled some recipes that go with the coffee theme. 


First up Gastronomical Sovereignty (soon to be She Eats).  She has great recipes and great pictures, but best of all she is really funny and fun to read. 


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Why go to a coffee shop for pumpkin flavored syrup when you can make one yourself that is even healthier with real ingredients. This Pumpkin Spice Syrup from veggieconverter is made with ingredients you probably have on hand.  


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Sticking with the beverage theme, stupideasypaleo shared 2 coconut milk coffee recipes. These are great for anyone going dairy free or those with lactose intolerance issues.


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And to round out this coffee themed round-up, also from stupideasypaleo, a Crockpot pot roast recipe. The flavorings she used in this recipe look fantastic. I cannot wait to try it next time I have some extra coffee left over. (hahahaha)

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Special thanks to GastronomicalSovereignty, Veggieconverter, and StupidEasyPaleo for contributing. Please visit their blogs and show some love. 



real food abc's: j for java - suzyhomemaker.net

J for Java

Or Joe or coffee or cafe or whatever else you would like to call it. 

I love coffee. Sometimes I look forward to going to bed at night because when I wake up I get coffee. I love the warmth and richness. 

And the best thing about coffee...It is a Fruit!

Before I go into why it is a fruit I wanted to point out a bit about the health benefits. The nice thing about coffee is that more and more research seems to show benefits of drinking coffee. Of course not everyone will benefit from drinking coffee so it is important to do your own research as well. However, if you enjoy coffee but are worried that it is unhealthy, here are a couple articles that highlight coffee goodness.

May reduce risk of skin cancer
May reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
May reduce risk of developing type 2 Diabetes
May lower your risk of death

Okay back to the fruit. Coffee beans are actually the pit of a fruit. A coffee tree creates berries. When ripe they are red and about the size of a cherry. You can see a picture of the coffee fruit here. The seeds are called beans simply because of their shape. So since they are the pit of a fruit and we know that fruit is beneficial for our health, it makes sense (at least to me) that many studies are coming out that support a coffee/health connection.

More Coffee Fun Facts

Dark Roasts have the least amount of acidity
It takes ~ 4000 beans to make one pound of roasted coffee
Coffee trees can live up to 100 years.
Best temperature to brew coffee - 195 - 205 degrees Fahrenheit

Organic vs conventional coffee

Although I could not find actual scientific studies on pesticides in coffee, in the case of coffee, going organic might be a good thing. I don't buy everything organic, but when we are consuming several cups of coffee every single day, the possible exposure to pesticides is high. 

So I do go organic and right now this brand (affiliate link) of coffee is my favorite. It is organic and it is nice and strong.


Click here to see all posts in the series



Scenario
Woke up at 4:50 AM to catch a plane to Chicago. 
Grabbed coffee. 
No time to eat. 
At airport. 
No time to eat, took too long to go through security since I got the pat down (my choice).
Hungry on plane. Bought a snack pack.


I am sure you have seen these and may have even bought one yourself. They come with a variety of different foods each in their own packaging. Just for fun (yes, I think this is fun) I counted the number if ingredients in each pack and added them up.

Tapas box # of ingredients
  • Pita chips-10
  • Almonds-1
  • Olives-9
  • Hummus-6
  • Cheese spread-9
  • Roasted tomato spread-25
  • Olive oil crackers-7
  • Cream crackers-7
  • Chocolate covered fruit juice-14

I don't fly a lot, therefore I am not eating things like that often. Which is good and I am sure it all balances out. But even in this situation I could have made a better choice. I didn't count the ingredients in #1's box, but his did not have the same number if items that mine had. Just from looking on the list in his I know he made the better choice.

  • Tortilla chips
  • Salsa
  • Fig bar
  • Almond
  • Nutella
  • Graham crackers
  • Dried fruit

Come to think of it, he suggested I get the tapas box. What a real food sabatuer.

Conclusion- I need to be better organized when flying to bring my own snacks.

linked to Fresh Foods Wednesday 



real food abc's - i for iceberg lettuce: suzyhomemaker.net

I for Iceberg Lettuce

Poor iceberg lettuce. Always being told it has no nutritional value. I feel like I need to stand up for it because I think it has a place on our plates.

After all, where would a wedge salad be without the crisp lettuce complimenting it?

When I was growing up, iceberg lettuce was the main lettuce we always had. Unlike today's whippersnappers with their new-fangled arugula and mustard greens. Not that there is anything wrong with different types of lettuce, but as time goes on, I feel like iceberg has gotten left behind.

Iceberg Lettuce Nutrition
Iceberg lettuce does actually have nutritional value. For 1 cup of lettuce you get:

~ 10 calories
~ 22% Vitamin K daily needs
~ 6% of Vitamin A daily needs
~ 6% Vitamin C daily needs
~ 2% Iron Daily Needs
~ 2% Calcium Daily needs

Remember, you do not need to get 100% of all your nutrients from one food or meal. It is the accumulation of nutrients from different sources throughout the day that will add up to all your needs. (Hoping that you eat a nice variety of real foods.)

And by weight it is ~96% water, which is also a nutrient you might have heard of.

So next time you order a salad at a restaurant or grab a head of iceberg at the grocery store, don't let guilt creep into your head that it is not nutritious enough.


Click here for other posts in the Real Food series
linked to Fresh Foods Wednesday


better than boxed mac and cheese - suzyhomemaker.net

When you think of an easy meal that you can just open a box and quickly prepare I am sure mac and cheese comes to mind. Unfortunately, boxed mac and cheese has many questionable ingredients. Case in point:


H for How much Homemade?

It is so much easier to eat Real Food when you make it yourself. When you make food at home you know the ingredients that went into making it and the amounts you used. You can see the raw ingredients and most of the time you will know how to pronounce them. 

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