Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mom’s Minestrone

Another family favourite.  Mom has been making this soup for years and it’s always a hit.  It’s a tasty, hearty and warming soup on a chilly day. 


There’s a little bit of chopping involved but it’s worth it.

Mom’s Minestrone

  • EVOO
  • 1/2 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 (or 5, I love garlic) cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup each chopped celery, carrot, pepper (colour of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • pinch thyme, and crushed red chilies
  • bay leaf
  • 19 zo can diced tomates
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley

Remove sausage from casing and sauté in a little EVOO till browned.  Add onion, garlic, celery, carrot and peppers.  Sauté till soft. Stir in basil, thyme, bay leaf, chillies, salt, pepper, tomatoes and stock.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add cabbage and pasta.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add beans and heat through add chopped fresh parsley when cooking is done and stir in.

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Serve as is or top with a few croutons and some fresh grated parmesan cheese.


~~ Jackie

* note – The ingredients in the pictures are for a larger batch of the recipe.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Brew Your Own Kombucha–Part 2

Now that you have your own Kombucha brewed it’s time to flavour and bottle it.  Before I get to that here are a few points to remember when brewing and drinking your Kombucha
  • Kombuca and Scoby’s do not like metal.  Don’t brew your Kombucha in a metal container (I use glass) and avoid using metal utensils.
  • Sterilize your brewing container and bottles with hot / boiling water and white vinegar.  Residue left from dish soap can harm your Scoby.
  • If you are taking a break from brewing or have extra Scoby’s you can store them at room temperature in a container with some unflavoured brew and cooled sweet tea mixture. Make sure they are covered in liquid.  I keep mine in a glass jar with a lid.  Some say cover with a lid some say cover with cloth as you would when brewing Kombucha.  You can also store them the same way in the fridge for longer periods of time.
  • Your Scoby should be white, ivory, beige or brown (depending on the type of tea used.  Darker tea has a tendency to stain the Scoby).  If you notice any other colours (blue, black, red, or green) this is a sign of mould.  You will have to throw out your batch and Scoby.  That’s why it is a good idea to keep a couple spare Scoby’s.
  • Brewing temperature should be between 75 and 85 degrees.
  • When your brew is finished the ph will be between 2.6 and 4.0
  • The Scoby may sit on top or sink to the bottom.  It doesn’t matter.  If is sinks to the bottom of the jar the new baby Scoby will form at the top of the jar.
  • If you are new to fermented foods/drinks start off slow when consuming Kombucha.  More isn’t always better, so start off small and work your way up to a cup or two a day.  It is recommended that you don’t drink it all in one sitting and spread it out over the day.
Bottling and Flavouring
Once your brew has reached the flavour you like (at least 7 – 10 days brewing) it’s time to bottle it. (Remember the longer you brew the less sweet it is). You don’t have to flavour your Komucha you can bottle it as is. 
Sterilize your bottles.  I use glass flip top bottles you can use mason jars or any other glass bottle you have around.
With clean hands or clean non-metal utensils remove your Scoby’s and at least a cup of the unflavoured finished brew and set aside. 
New Scoby
Get your flavouring ingredients ready. You can use fresh fruit, fruit juice, and herbs.  The amount of flavouring used depends on your taste.
  • strawberry lemonade (organic strawberries , lemon) If your lemons aren’t organic you will want to slice  the yellow skin or peel the lemon.  Pesticides would not be beneficial to the brew.
  • Pineapple
  • Apple cinnamon
  • lemon and fresh ginger (my favourite)
IMG_1176         IMG_1177
Put whatever flavouring you choose to use in your bottles using a funnel pour the kombucha in the bottles cover and let sit on the counter for another day for the second ferment.  You can then store them in the fridge.  They will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a very slow rate.
For the batch above I added some fresh grated turmeric root in with my lemon and ginger.  It was a nice addition.
This is picture of my Scoby hotel.  It sits on top of my fridge. You can see the different layers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chocolate Macaroons a Childhood Favourite

How are things going in your neck of the woods?   Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind here, one day it’s 15 degrees and then two days later it’s –6 with the wind chill…. brrrr!!  We haven’t had any snow yet so that’s a huge plus in my books.  I’m still working on Part Two of my Kombucha post.  Bottling a new batch today so fingers crossed I’ll have it  in a day or so.

In the meantime I thought I would share  one of my favourite childhood recipes, Chocolate Macaroons (or haystacks, or mud pies they seem to go by many different names).  Mom couldn’t keep me away from these as a kid.  Luckily she only made them once in awhile. These are no bake, quick and easy treats , but I’ll warn you they are NOT fat free, or sugar free but i have switched up some of the ingredients so you can feel better about eating them as a treat , not the whole pan in one sitting which I’m sure I did as a kid.


  • 3/4 cup Sucanat or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine grind natural sea salt
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup goji berries soaked in hot water (or spiced rum) to plump, and drained.

Combine sugar, butter coconut oil and milk in a saucepan over medium heat till it reaches a boil  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat stir in remaining ingredients. Drop buy spoonful on parchment covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and put in freezer till set.  These must be stored in the freezer or fridge. 

IMG_1157   IMG_1158

They are just as yummy as I remember but not as sweet as the original recipe and with a few healthier additions.


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

~~ Jackie

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fabulous Fermented Foods–Kombucha

So there has been a whole lot of fermenting going on here over the last little while.  Fermented foods include, kombucha, kefir (milk, water), and sourdough.  You can ferment veggies too, a couple of the common ones are sauerkraut and kimchi.  I started with water kefir and sourdough last year and have moved on to milk kefir, kombucha and veggies (cabbage, carrots, beets and turnips). Oh I almost forgot beer and wine are fermented as well.
In all honesty the thought of Fermented or Cultured foods scared me.  I mean really, if you left milk on the counter for a day or so, I’m guessing you would throw it out not put it in the fridge and drink it….right?  Well I would still throw it out but that is essentially how Kefir is made with the addition of a culture. 
When I first heard about Kombucha a few years back, I wasn’t too sure I would like it.especially after seeing the culture that’s used to make it.  Then one day I saw some at the store and gave it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised how tasty it was.  Fizzy, flavourful and not very sweet.  The downside was the price, so I decided to try making it myself.  The starter wasn’t too easy to find around here so I bought a bottle of GT Kombucha to try and grow my own culture.  It was taking forever, so I gave up.  Patience isn’t my strong point.  Then I found a SCOBY at the health food store and my kombucha making began.
Kombucha is made by fermenting tea and sugar with a culture.  The culture is known as a SCOBY or mother.  SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast…. sounds awesome right? It is called the mother because with each batch a new scoby forms, so you have the original mother and the baby.  
kombucha2  kombucha3
The best teas to use are black and green.  Rooibos and white will work but are not the best choice.  Herbal teas or fruit flavoured teas are not recommended.
The sugar can be plain old white sugar or organic organic.  Honey is not recommended because of its antibacterial properties. If you are worried about the amount of sugar don’t, the sugar is the food for the culture so the finished product has very little sugar and is somewhat tart.
Not only does it taste good but it has a variety of health benefits as well.  Here are some of the reported health benefits of Kombucha. It contains loads of glucuronic acid.  Glucuronic acid binds to toxins and transforms them so they can be easily eliminated by the kidneys.  It is also made in the liver but quite often our liver can’t keep up with the demands put on it these days, and it is very important to keep our livers happy and healthy.  It contains lots of B vitamins aka “happy” vitamins and amino acids which are the building blocks of protein.  It also improves digestion, cleanses the liver, increases energy, boosts immune function and is a source of probiotics (healthy bacteria).
Basic Kombucha Recipe
  • 1 cup starter liquid
  • 1 culture (scoby)
  • 4 liters filtered water (not distilled and chlorinated water will not work)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 – 6 tea bags
  • large glass container
  • coffee filter or plain cotton cloth
  • wood or stainless steel spoon
  • small glass bottles
Bring water to a boil in a stainless steel or glass pot (do not use aluminum) boil for 2 or 3 minutes.  Turn off the heat, dissolve sugar in the water and add tea bags.  Steep for 10 to 15 minutes then remove the tea bags.  Let the tea mixture cool to room temperature.  Pour the tea mixture into your glass container, add starter liquid and culture.  Cover the top with coffee filter and secure with elastic band.  Store the container out of direct sunlight in a well ventilated area.  You’ll want the room temperature to be between 75 and 85 degrees.  The cooler the air the slower it will ferment. I use a heating belt (you can get them at wine making stores) on mine to keep the temp constant. 
kombucha  kombucha1  kombucha4
Now you just have to wait 7 –10+ days (depending on the temperature)  Check on it and have a taste after 7 days.  Your finished tea should not be sweet, but if you let it ferment too long it will have more of a vinegar taste.  It’s still ok to drink it just won’t taste as good.
kombucha5  kombucha7
Once it’s done transfer it to bottles and store in the fridge.  You can also do a second ferment to add flavour and more carbonation.
Since this post is getting a little long, I’ll talk about the second fermentation on another day.
Making my own Kombucha isn’t as scary of complicated as I thought.  If you have never tried Kombucha I suggest you pick up a bottle and give it a try.
Have a great week!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


It’s been awhile.  I try to be a regular blogger but I just can’t seem to keep on a regular schedule.  You can still find me on Facebook though.

As someone who loves curry, I’m no stranger to Turmeric.  It is what gives curry its bright yellow/orange colour.  It is also used in mustards and my clothes, cutting board and fingers can attest to the fact that is makes a great dye.  I was introduced to the health benefits of Turmeric a few years ago when my Naturopath prescribed Curcumin as an anti-inflammatory for me.  Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric and is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is comparable to pharmaceutical products but without the negative side effects.  As someone who took anti-inflammatories for 30 years and has suffered the negative side effects, I was very happy to give Curcumin a try and worked very well for me. 

Turmeric has been used for centuries to treat a number of things – colds and flu, digestive issues, wounds and bruises, skin problems like eczema and many more.  It has natural anti-bacterial properties, is a liver detoxifier and is a pain killer.  It is one of the most studied natural remedies.  One area where there is a great deal of research being done is in its anti-cancer properties, but that’s only one arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease are a few others.

Up until about a month ago I had only used dried Turmeric.  I’ve looked for the fresh root for quite some time but haven’t had any luck, so I was thrilled when I found it.  It’s not the prettiest thing in the world but it tastes amazing.


I find the fresh root has a very different taste than the dried.  It’s related to ginger so you can taste a little of that, and it also has almost a peppery taste as well.  Fresh grated turmeric is now an everyday addition to our smoothies and Turmeric Milk (Tea) has become my favourite night time ritual.  I store my fresh ginger and turmeric in the freezer and grate it while it’s frozen.  It grates much easier when it’s frozen.



1 tbsp fresh grated turmeric

1/2 tbsp fresh grated ginger

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 cup milk or milk alternative

maple syrup or honey to taste

Combine all ingredients in a pot on medium heat.  Heat gradually till warm.  You don’t want to boil the milk.  Pour into mug and enjoy.  You can pour it through a strainer if you like but I don’t bother.

* note these measurements are using the fresh roots that have been frozen and grated with a micro-plane grater, which results in a light and airy end product.  If you are not preparing it this way you will probably want to adjust the amounts but the same ratios should still work*.


If you are having a hard time finding fresh Turmeric try Asian markets.  Locally In The Raw has just started carrying it so you can purchase it at the store in Porters Lake and at the Alderney Market.  I’m almost out so I can’t wait for my order to come in  I have a pound of it on the way!!

I have a few more blog posts in the works so here’s hoping I actually get around to writing them.

~~  Jackie

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Little Carrot

It’s the Labour Day long weekend, can you believe it!?  Where did July and August go?  I had a list of things to do, and places to visit this summer but it flew by so fast I only crossed a few off my list.  I also had great ideas for many blog posts, but obviously that didn’t happen.  I either forgot my camera, plans changed, the weather didn’t co-operate or life just got in the way. 

I thought I would share with you a little bit about our health food store we have here in Porters Lake. 


the little carrot

You can find a little bit of everything here, from Free Range Beef to All Natural Dog Treats, and every time I visit they have new items on their shelves.

Their focus is on local products and suppliers.  Some of those include  Evans Seafood, Wild Mountain Farm and Longspell Point Farms.

All meats you will find here are from grass fed/pasture raised animals.  They carry beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and nitrite free bacon. The sausages from Wild Mountain Farm are super delicious (the spinach and feta are my fave)

All of their snacks, nuts, and fruits are Raw food, organic and preservative free. If your looking for gluten free foods they carry a variety of items from 3 different local bakers as well as Vegan and Dairy Free options.   If you’re looking for a good for you pizza option you will find Whole Food Pizzas (Multi Grain, Gluten Free and Vegan).  No preservatives or fillers used (in the meats for pepperoni),

pizap.com13780563103871                                             pizap.com10.467180474195629361378056117840

They also have a line of their own supplements and have created a selection of  Healthy Nutritionally Balanced Smoothie Mixes

1.  Ready Mix – For a well rounded nutritional base in a highly absorbable form.  Contains Spirulina, Broccoli, Kale, Collard, Spinach, Parsley, Alfalfa, Wheat Grass, Oat Grass, Barley Grass, Quinoa, Millet and Chia

2.  Workout (Pumper) Mix – For those who work out on a regular basis, excellent for post work out replenishment, muscle repair and electrolyte balancing.  Contains Hemp Protein, Spirulina, Broccoli, Kale, Collard, Spinach Parsley, Alfalfa, Wheat Grass, Oat Grass, Barley Grass, Quinoa, Millet, Chia, L-Glutamine and Goats Whey Protein.

3.  Chia Mix – For healthy Weight Support, Regularity, Curb appetite and for Energy.  Contains Chia, Black Currant, Pomegranate, Bilberry, Acerola cherries, Blueberry and Grape Seed.

It doesn’t stop there, if you are looking for skin care products and makeup without a million mystery ingredients you will find Cosmic Tree Essentials, a company that uses locally sourced ingredients and is based out of the beautiful Annapolis Valley (my favourite place in the world).

After you’ve filled your shopping bag at The Little Carrot don’t forget to head around back and visit In The Raw Sprouting Center.  There you will find Wheatgrass in a variety of forms (fresh shots, frozen shots, and fresh cut), freshly made Almond milk (plain and flavoured), fresh juices, dried fruits, Raw Ice Cream, Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip and super delicious Sprout Salads.

 It’s so nice to have places like these just around the corner.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend

~ Jackie

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mediterranean Marinated Chicken with Sumac Coriander Rice

I have to say Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my favourite things to eat.  Fattoush, Shish Taouk, Tabouleh, Hummus, Kibbeh I love them all.  I’ve even had raw Kibbeh, yup that’s right raw ground beef.  One of my friends mother was from Lebanon and used to cook all these delicious foods and one day raw Kibbeh was on the menu so I gave it a try.  I honestly can’t remember what it was like but I have to assume since I was a fussy teenager at the time it must have been good or I wouldn’t have eaten it, or maybe I was just biding my time till dessert was served, which was most likely Baklava. 

This is a simple recipe but has a couple ingredients you may not have in your pantry Sumac and Za’atar.  Sumac can be found at the Bulk Barn.  I’ve found Za’atar in the specialty food section of the Superstore or you could find both at a specialty store.  Locally in Halifax there is the Mideast Food Center at the corner of North and Agricola. 

Sumac used in this recipe is not the same poisonous Sumac found in North America.  Sumac is reddish in colour and comes from berries that are found on a bush that grows wild across the Mediterranean.  Sumac has a tart flavour and is often used in place of lemon for the flavour without the acidity of citrus.  It is a source of antioxidants and is said to have antimicrobial properties as well as aid in digestion.

sumac zaatar

Za’atar is a blend of herbs and spices.  The mixture varies by region but usually contains Thyme, Marjoram, and Oregano.  Sumac and Sesame Seeds are other common additions.  One of the more common ways to use Za’atar is to mix it with olive oil and use as a dip for soft flat bread for a simple and tasty snack.

Mediterranean Marinated Chicken

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • small red onion thinly sliced,
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 lemon cut in wedges
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • 2 or 3 tbsp pine nuts toasted
  • 3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

Combine garlic, half the sliced onion, allspice, cinnamon, sumac, s & p, lemon wedges and chicken stock add chicken and marinate for at least a few hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375.  Place chicken and marinade in a baking dish add remaining onion and sprinkle with za’atar.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Scatter pine nuts over top and continue cooking till juices run clear.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

med chicken4

Next time you’re in the grocery store have a look in the Specialty or International food section. You never know what yummy things you will find, and if you have  a specialty grocery store in your area stop in and have a look around the spices you will find there will be much more flavourful than you will find in the bottles at the grocery store.

~ Jackie

Check back for the Sumac Coriander Rice



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Homemade Nut Milk

It was back to work yesterday after my mini vacation.  It doesn’t matter how long a vacation is, it is just never long enough, although we are having another heat wave here and work does have A/C so it was a blessing in disguise.  I can’t believe the heat we’ve been having.  When I left work yesterday it was 36 degrees without the humidity.  I almost turned around and went back inside. 

The heat certainly isn’t inspiring me to get in the kitchen and cook so I thought I would do a post on something that doesn’t require turning on the stove.

I am lactose intolerant so before I discovered nut milk I used to use Lactose free milk but I have never really liked the taste of milk so I was quite happy to discover Almond milk a few years ago. I happily drank my store bought almond milk and then I saw how easy it is to make your own.  Who knew?! You don’t have to limit your choices to almonds. either If you like cashews or hazelnuts they work too.  I alternate between hazelnut and almond milk.  Almonds are a goitrogenic food and since I have thyroid disease I try to avoid overdoing those foods.

Aside from the fact that homemade nut milk tastes sooooo much better than store bought you can avoid carrageenan by making your own.   Carrageenan has been found to cause problems with our digestive system. You can check out my FB post on carrageenan here if you’d like some more info.

Homemade Nut Milk
  • 1 cup almonds (or your nut of choice)
  • 3 cups water for soaking
  • 3 – 4 cups water for processing
  • 2 dates pitted, and soaked (or maple syrup, honey, stevia) to sweeten
  • 1/2 vanilla bean ( or pure vanilla extract)
  • blender, nut milk bag (or layers of cheese cloth and sieve)
Soak nuts at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  Drain water and rinse.  Add nuts and fresh water to your blender.  Blend till smooth. Pour the liquid in the nut milk bag or sieve with a couple layer of cheese cloth, and let drain.  If using the nut milk bag squeezing it through will speed up the process.  Return liquid to blender, add vanilla, and dates.  blend till combined. Store in a container in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.  Before using your yummy nut milk be sure to give it a shake as it will separate while in the fridge.  Other flavours to try – Chocolate and Coffee

nut milk1

I also make my nut milk in my juicer.  I know most people don’t have a juicer but if you do give it a try.  Follow the same procedure.  Soak the nuts discard the soaking water, rinse the nuts add 3 cups of fresh water and process through your juicer.  I find when I use the juicer there is much less pulp left in the milk.
nut milk2 

If you’re thinking it’s a waste to just throw out the pulp, you can use it in your baking for some added flavour. Just store it in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. 

Have a great week! 
~ Jackie


Friday, July 12, 2013

Water,It Doesn`t Have To Be Boring

Happy Friday everyone!!  Last week here in Nova Scotia we had quite the heat wave.  Personally I don`t enjoy the heat and humidity, and find temperatures up around 40 degrees rather brutal.  I function much better when the weather is cooler.

So given the heat and the fact that my cooking mojo has yet to return I have some quick and easy ideas to make your water a little more flavourful.  Skip the commercial water flavouring products.  Here are some of the tasty ingredients you`ll find in them mio_group
Propylene Glycol (aka antifreeze) what is used in our food is pharmaceutical grade as opposed to industrial grade, but that being said it is still the same product just a lesser strength.  Besides food products, you can find it in mascara, hair dye, shampoo, nail polish and many more. I don`t know about you but I don`t like the idea of the same ingredient that`s in nail polish in the food I`m eating. Thank`s but I`ll pass.
You will also find artificial sweeteners, various dyes, and I like this one on the ingredient list, contains less than 2% natural flavours.

In case you haven`t heard how important it is to consume water, here are a few reasons.  Your body needs water to function properly.  It is used to regulate temperature, digest your food, and help your blood flow better (when you are chronically dehydrated your blood becomes thicker). As a result of the blood being thicker your body has to work harder to push it through your veins.  This in turn can increase your blood pressure.  It keeps your joints and connective tissues hydrated.  When they are dry and brittle they are prone to injury.

Those are just a few of the reasons why water is important, but let`s face it plain old water can be boring, so here are a few suggestions to add a little yumminess to plain old water.

Homemade Flavoured Water

Watermelon and Rosemary
Lemon Ginger
Watermelon cubes Lemon slices Pineapple cubes Fresh ginger grated
small sprig of Rosemary Lime slices Cherries fresh mint leaves
fresh mint leaves Orange slices fresh chocolate mint leaves or regular mint leaves cucumber slices
Orange slice Drizzle of pure maple syrup lemon slices

Add ingredients in the amounts you think you would like.  I crushed the mint in the containers before adding the rest of the ingredients to release the oils and bring out the flavour.  You can also crush (muddle) some of the fruit as well to release the flavours.  They are best if you let them sit for a few hours or overnight so the flavour can develop.
IMG_0876        IMG_0875
Here is another natural water flavour enhancer for you  Terra Beata juices.  You can find Terra Beata farms in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  If you`re in the area you can stop in any time.  In addition to their juices you will find, preserves, dried fruit and frozen cranberries.  It is also the first and only cranberry U-pick in Nova Scotia.  The U-pick opens on Thanksgiving weekend so if you`re in the area stop in and get some yummy fresh cranberries for the holidays.

You can find their juice (Cranberry, Blueberry, Tart Cherry and Cran-Raspberry) on the shelves in the juice aisle at the Superstore.  One 473ml bottle can make 1 or 2 L of flavoured water.
There you have it, just some ideas to make drinking water a little more interesting. Please share any flavour combinations you like.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strawberry Muffins


It’s been awhile since I actually sat down and wrote a blog post.  I haven’t been totally absent from the online world though, I’ve been posting on the FB page for the blog.  So if you think I’ve gone amongst the missing hop on over and like the FB page.

Back to work after a very soggy Canada Day long weekend.  There wasn’t too much excitement here, Saturday started with a trip to the market.  I was on a mission to find local Valley strawberries.  Nothing says summer than some juicy fresh strawberries.  I found some spray free berries from Annapolis and oh my they were good.  Notice I said were…that would be because they are all gone. IMG_0848

We have a few Farmers Markets around here Alderney Landing, Halifax Seaport Market, Musquodoboit, and The Brewery Market.  Farmers Markets are bursting with fresh local produce this time of year.  Besides the local produce  being far more flavourful than what you pick up at the grocery store, shopping at local markets supports our local farmers.  Why would you choose to buy flavourless hard strawberries from the US or Mexico that were picked, who knows how long ago, when our local berries, the best berries you can find, are in season. 

My friends brother posted this recipe on FB and they looked so yummy I had to make a batch.  I changed up a couple of ingredients ( coconut sugar for some of the white sugar, coconut oil for half of the butter and almond milk for cows milk)  I wanted to use spelt flower but I couldn’t find it.  I’m assuming it’s at the bottom of the deep freeze and I couldn’t be bothered to dig everything out to find it.


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 2 cups organic unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 3 tsp organic sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture. Add vanilla. Gently stir in strawberries.

Spoon batter into muffin pans. (It will be a thick batter)

Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 400º for 20-25 minutes (makes 12 muffins)


So head on out to your local farmers market this weekend and support our local farmers!



~ Jackie

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cumin Scented Black and Basmati Rice with Cumin Coriander Lamb Chops

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!

Wow it’s been a month since my last post.  Time sure does fly!  It seems Spring is being a little elusive this year.  We had a pretty good week weather wise last week so the radishes and spinach are starting to poke their way through the dirt. Still waiting on the beets and carrots and this dreary rainy weather isn’t helping.  I’ve been asking hubby for a cold frame for a little while now so the other night he whipped this one together for me.936661_10151618284595435_1409820058_n

The plan is to plant in late summer, early fall and have fresh veggies for some of the winter….Hopefully we’ll see some nice greens and carrots in November.

I thought I would try my hand at growing potatoes this year, so I was going to pick up some seed potatoes that is until I went to visit my parents yesterday.  Here’s what I found in their cold room.264565_10151621999470435_58374571_n

You’re not seeing things, that would be little baby potatoes already growing on the wrinkled old sprouting potato.  Apparently it’s pretty easy to grow potatoes, no sun, no dirt just a dark cool room.  Hopefully I don’t kill them when I plant them.

I made this recipe a few weeks ago using black rice.  As some of my friends will attest to I have a “rice cupboard”.  I have them all red, black, wild, basmati, brown basmati, rice mixtures…. you get the idea. Strangely enough I really don’t eat rice all that often.  I have had the black rice in the cupboard for a while now so I figured it was about time I gave it a try.

Black rice,  also know as “Forbidden Rice” because it used to only be available to royalty.  Ancient emperors believed it would lengthen their lives and secure their thrones longer.  I don’t know about securing their thrones but it does appear to have some health benefits.  The purplish black pigment of the rice tells us it is rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins .  These would be the same anthocyanins found in blueberries.  Black rice may actually contain more antioxidants than blueberries.  It is also high in fibre, lower in sugar and higher in vitamin E than other rice.  If you want to find it around here (HRM)  you can buy organic black rice at the Bulk Barn.

Cumin Scented Black and Basmati Rice with Cumin Coriander Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

  • 2 lamb chops
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rub both sides of the chops with the spice mixture.  Bring to room temperature.  Preheat skillet (cast iron works well) over medium heat.  I cook my lamb till it is done to medium.  When cooked through let stand for a few minutes so the juices can be absorbed back into the meat.

Cumin Scented Black and Basmati Rice

I cooked the rice in separate pots but you could probably do them together. I would increase the amount of brown butter though if you cooked them together.

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup black rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Finely chopped fresh cilantro to taste
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • 2  cloves of garlic chopped
  • water or chicken broth
  • lemon slice

Cook black rice in water according to instructions.

For the Basmati

Melt the butter in your pot until it turns a light brown.  Keep an eye on it, once it turns brown it will quickly burn.  Add rice, onion and garlic. Stir until your rice is nice and toasty.  Add the cumin to the rice mixture, toast for about 15 seconds or so. Add the broth and bay leaf.  Cover tightly reduce heat and cook till liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 mins or so.  Fluff with a fork, stir in cilantro, black rice and a squeeze of lemon juice.

cumin black rice and lamb chops 

You really should give black rice a try.

~ Jackie





Sunday, April 14, 2013

Homemade Hazelnut Spread–aka Nutella


It always amazes me how quickly the weekends go by, and how my workdays seem to drag on forever.  I’ve said it before, but I would love to know who came up with the idea of a 5 day work week and 2 day weekend…. seriously what were you thinking!?


I’m sure many of you have had a jar of Nutella in your cupboards at one time or another.  I’ve had tHalifax-20130210-00275he odd jar of Nutella here and there but it was never a staple in my diet.  When I started seeing their commercials about how nutritious it is and how you should start your kids day off with a breakfast that includes Nutella I was skeptical.  I had never looked at the ingredients so the next time I was at the grocery store I checked.  Yes it does have hazelnuts, skim milk powder and cocoa but surprise they left a few out and guess what the first ingredient on the list is….. SUGAR !  This sugar would be processed white sugar of course. Then we have modified palm oil, whey powder, lecithin and vanillin.


PALM OIL – is not the same as coconut oil which is cold pressed and minimally processed.  Palm oil uses solvents in their processing.

LECITHIN –  When obtained from natural sources, Non GMO Soy (plant source) and Eggs (animal source) they are a good thing.  Lecithin contains choline which is a micronutrient the body requires and is important for heart health and brain development.  The problem is the lecithin used in processed foods is almost always derived from soybeans which are most likely genetically modified unless stated otherwise. The lecithin is extracted from the soy beans either mechanically or chemically using hexane (a solvent made from crude oil).

VANILLIN – Synthetic vanilla flavouring.  Today, most of the synthetic vanillin comes from various processes using guaiacol. It is derived from wood creosote (a yellowish, greasy liquid.)

So if you’d prefer to avoid these things you can make your own hazelnut spread. 

Hazelnut Spread

  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp fine grind sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond, hazelnut, milk any will work)


In a food processor or high speed blender process nuts till they start to form a paste.  You may have to scrape down the sides.  Add coconut oil and process till it starts getting smooth.  Add remaining ingredients.  Add milk in increments and process till it reaches the desired consistency.

That’s all there is to it. 



Even though all of the ingredients are natural you should think of it as treat not an everyday staple in your diet.

Have a good week!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Moroccan Lamb

The calendar is telling me it’s Spring but I’m just not feeling it.  Snow last night, and it’s cold and rainy today.  If this is Spring can we just skip straight through to Summer please! So in an attempt to bring some Spring inside I picked up a pretty bunch of tulips.  Fresh flowers just brighten up a room and who says they should just be for special occasions, so when you’re out and about today pick yourself up some pretty spring flowers.
I made this dish last weekend.  It was quick, easy, flavourful and best of all a one pot meal. 
Moroccan Lamb with Chickpeas
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • EVOO
  • 3 large leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed or 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 4 medium carrots thinly sliced (I used my mandolin)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries  (golden raisins would work too. I would eliminate the soaking step if using golden raisins )
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest (organic is best)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 /2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper (sea salt or Himalayan salt)
Soak the dried cranberries in hot water and maple syrup.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb to pan cook till no longer pink. Remove from pan and discard any drippings.  Add oil to pan, sauté leeks and carrot till soft add garlic; saute for a minute or so.  Add cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne; and tomato paste sauté  briefly to wake the spices up, about 30 seconds or so, stirring constantly. Add lamb, broth, wine, salt, pepper, drained cranberries, and lemon zest bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice
Serve over brown rice, or quinoa topped with more fresh cilantro, toasted pine nuts, and goat feta.
If you’re a little unsure about lamb I urge you to try it. I get mine from Getaway Farms.  Their livestock is 100% grass fed and delicious.  If you would have told me a year ago or even 6 months ago I would be loving lamb I would have told you that you were crazy.  I’ve learned how important good quality meats are to my health.  Our Thyroids need good quality protein (veggie protein doesn’t cut it) My Thyroid, in particular needs as much help as it can get.  I would have to say lamb would be my meat of choice right now.  That being said the beef products from Getaway Farms are amazing as well.  Their farm is in the beautiful Annapolis Valley but they have a storefront at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market and are open 6 days a week.
Have a great weekend everyone!
~ Jackie