Category Archives: Healthy Living

Homegrown vs. Store-Bought Eggs

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The difference between homegrown and store-bought eggs is amazing. This week, Antoinette layer her first egg! The yolk is such a deep yellow, and the taste is amazingly rich and flavorful. Here, see for yourself: Continue reading Homegrown vs. Store-Bought Eggs

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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What can you do with extra basil? Make dairy-free pesto!

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If you can believe it, November 12 was the final basil harvest of the season from my Texas garden. This was a great year for basil – the summer was hot, and the basil loved its place near the tomatoes and bell peppers (yep, companion planting does work!).

This harvest yielded about 20 cups of basil leaves. Isn’t it gorgeous? The smell in the kitchen was so fresh and liquorish-y. There’s nothing like fresh herbs.

basil harvest

Here’s how to maximize your basil harvest (or, anytime you have some extra basil on hand:

Here’s what you can do with a big basil harvest:
• You can make basil cubes, two ways. Chop up the basil and freeze the basil in water OR freeze the basil in olive oil.
• You can do something slightly more complicated but only requires five ingredients. You can make a dairy-free pesto!

How to make basil cubes

For basil ice, you need the following equipment:
• Food processor (or a good, sharp knife)
• Two ice cube trays
• One measuring cup

And, it only requires three ingredients:
1. Basil (of course)
2. 1/2 cup water
3. 1/2 cup olive oil

Here’s how to do it:
• Chop your basil in the food processor (or with your knife).
• Spoon a teaspoon of chopped basil into each ice cube well.
• Fill your measuring cup with water.
• For the first ice cube tray, pour water over the basil in each ice cube well, making sure the basil is submerged.
• Then, empty your measuring cup and fill it with ½ cup of olive oil.
• For the second ice cube tray, fill each well with oil, again ensuring that the basil is covered by the oil.
• Pop trays in the freezer until hardened.

basilcubes

These can be stored over the winter and used in sauces, soups, or even in omelets! Just pop a cube out of your tray and its ready to use. I add the water-based basil in stews and steamed veggies. The olive oil basil cubes I melt as a base for eggs, marinara sauce, or even as a dip for crusty, whole grain bread.

How to make dairy-free pesto

Why dairy-free pesto? It’s delicious, for one. And, it is creamy with an amazing depth of flavor, even without the cheese. It’s helpful to have a dairy-free pesto on hand in case you (or anyone you know) is sensitive to dairy. You can first mix this dairy-free pesto sauce with pasta, rice, or any other grain. Then, if you’d like to add Parmesan to your dish, you can sprinkle your meal with the cheese after you’ve served the dairy sensitive folks. Also, if you are vegan or have vegan friends, this recipe is perfect!

basil pesto

For the dairy-free pesto, you need the following equipment:
• Food processor
• Zester
• Hand juicer
• Two measuring cups

And, it only requires five ingredients:
• 5 cups of washed basil leaves
• 1 cup olive oil
• Lemon zest from ½ lemon
• Lemon juice from ½ lemon
• ½ cup pine nuts

Here’s how to do it:
• Lightly toast your pine nuts at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes. You’ll know when the nuts are done when they have turned a very light golden color.
• While the nuts are toasting, zest your lemon and set aside.
• Next, juice the lemon into a measuring cup.
• Then, add ½ cup of olive oil into your other measuring cup.
• By this time, the pine nuts should be toasted. Take them out and set aside to cool.
• Put half your basil (about 2½ cups) in the bottom of the food processor, and add your lemon zest on top.
• Begin pulsing your basil, and add lemon juice while the leaves are being chopped.
• Add ¼ cup of pine nuts to your mix.
• Add ½ cup olive oil.
• Next, add the rest of your basil (by now, there should be room in the processor).
• Finish by adding the rest of your pine nuts and olive oil.
• Then, taste your pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste, as you like (I don’t salt mine at all, actually).

Troubleshooting tip: Pesto should be a spreadable consistency and have a balance of flavor with the tang from the lemon, the creaminess from the nuts and olive oil, and fresh flavor from the basil. If the pesto is too thick, add oil or lemon juice. If it’s too watery, add pine nuts and basil leaves. If it tastes like it has too much lemon, add some basil leaves and olive oil. If it’s too creamy, add a bit more lemon juice. And, if it’s not fresh enough, add more leaves. Pesto is an art rather than a science. Play with the ratio of ingredients to fit your taste.

dairy free basil pesto

I store my pesto in a quart size freezer bag. This way, when I want to make pesto pasta, a pesto rice casserole, or if I want to have a pesto dip for bread, I can simply break off a bit of the pesto in the bag and save the rest. The good news is that a little pesto goes a long way – it is so flavorful and rich!

…and an observation (just for fun). I’ve found that lemon juice really brightens the color and flavor of pesto. You can see the differences in the batches when lemon wasn’t used as much. Just look at the difference in the color!

dairy free pesto with lemon

How do you like to use basil in your cooking? Let me know in the comments.

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Vegetarian (or Vegan!) Indian Okra

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This time of year in Texas, okra is in abundance. Okra is an early fall/end-of-summer veggie, and I love it. The texture is my favorite – those lovely little seeds in okra are like little pearls! So, I felt incredibly lucky the other the other weekend when my mom gave me some farm-fresh okra from her CSA.

The funny thing was, I had been craving Bhindi Do Pyaza (okra with onion and spices) from my local Indian restaurant. Instead of placing an order, I decided to cook a dish like it myself. So, I found a recipe for bhindi masala. After reading it, I decided to go for it! However, I did change up the ingredients a bit. I love lots of spices, especially if yogurt is in the dish to cool it down. So, in my recipe, I added cashew milk yogurt. And, I wanted my dinner to make a complete protein, so I also added garbanzo beans. The results were delicious, and I was able to bring the leftovers to lunch the next day.

Here’s the recipe for Indian Okra:

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp mustard seed
2 small onions, chopped (I enjoy a mix of purple and white)
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ginger
2 cups chopped okra
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans
1/4 cup yogurt

Spice mix:
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

1. Add olive oil to a medium pot. When the oil is hot (it shimmers), lower the heat add the cumin and mustard seeds. Stir them around the pot until they become golden brown.

2. Then, add the chopped onions and stir.

indian okra onions

3. Once the onion becomes translucent, add the garlic and ginger.

4. Next, add the okra. Let the okra brown before moving on the the next ingredient (this prevents it from becoming too slimy).

indian okra onion and okra

5. Add chopped tomato and tomato paste until well incorporated.

indian okra tomatoes

6. Then, add the garbanzo beans. NOTE: Make sure you rinse your garbanzo beans so that the icky, salty liquid goes down the drain.

7. Let all your ingredient marry together before adding the ground spice mixture (turmeric thru cardamom, above). The dish will become dry. That’s perfect!

8. Take everything off of the heat, and stir in the cashew yogurt.

indian okra incorporated

9. Serve over brown rice. The meal is complemented well by garlic naan and a crisp, fresh green salad.

indian okra final dish

The dish is deliciously spicy, and has the perfect balance of acidity from the tomatoes, smokiness from the roasted okra, creaminess from the garbanzos, and coolness from the yogurt. Yum!

Do you enjoy okra? Let me know what you like to make in the comments!

Vegan Indian Okra

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

How to adopt a healthy habit

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Want to adopt a healthy habit? You aren’t alone. Continue reading How to adopt a healthy habit

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Herbs and Spices from Seven Cuisines from around the World

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Do you like spices and herbs? I certainly do! I love to combine herbs and spices to diversify the flavors of a dish. There are so many combinations that celebrate cuisines from around the world. You can use these blends with the same base ingredient to get a variety of dishes. Continue reading Herbs and Spices from Seven Cuisines from around the World

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

No Sugar Added Key Lime Bites

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Don’t you just love the flavor of key limes? They are citrusy fresh, have a tangy bite, and bring out sweetness in a whole new way. Today I am going to give you a dessert recipe. The best part? This sweet treat has no sugar added (and, no fake sugar either). Even though there isn’t any sugar added, the key lime bites are incredibly sweet and delicious. And, the recipe only calls for three ingredients. How simple is that?

This post includes three recipes for no sugar added key lime bites. Each recipe includes just three ingredients, and the only special equipment you need is a food processor and a handheld juicer. I have tested a couple of different ingredients and encourage you to try each variation.

Walnut Key Lime Bites

This has to be my favorite version. The creamy nuttiness from the walnuts pairs perfectly with the tangy bite of the key limes. I love it when key lime pie includes nuts, and the walnuts are reminiscent of that wonderful pie crust.

INGREDIENTS
10 key limes
1.25 cups walnut halves
1 cup pitted dates (no sugar added)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Begin by roasting your walnuts in the oven until they turn a golden color. This will bring out the flavor of the nut.

no sugar added key lime bites 2

2. While the walnuts are roasting, zest the key limes and set the zest aside.
3. Then, juice the key limes, and set aside.
4. Once the nuts are golden, add 1/4 cup of them to the food processor. Process the nuts until they are chopped into very small pieces, but not quite sand-like yet. Set this aside in a medium mixing bowl.
5. Now for the easy part. Add your and walnuts, zest, and dates to the food processor. While they are mixing together, pour in your key lime juice until a big globby ball is formed.

no sugar added key lime bites 4

6. Use your hands to form tablespoon-sized balls.
7. Roll the balls in your chopped walnuts that you set aside in the mixing bowl.
8. Put on a tray and pop in the freezer until you are ready to serve!

Pistachio Key Lime Bites

The green pistachios add a fun pop of color to they key lime bites. Since pistachios are not as soft as walnuts, you do have to chop them in the food processor for a little longer.

INGREDIENTS
10 key limes
1.25 cups shelled pistachios (unsalted)
1 cup pitted dates (no sugar added)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Begin by roasting your pistachios in the oven for a few minutes. You definitely don’t want these to burn.
2. While the pistachios are roasting, zest the key limes and set the zest aside.
3. Then, juice the key limes, and set aside.
4. Once the nuts have been roasted for a few short minutes, add 1/4 cup of them to the food processor. Process the nuts until they are chopped into very small pieces, almost like sand. Set this aside in a medium mixing bowl.
5. Now for the easy part. Add your and pistachios, zest, and dates to the food processor. While they are mixing together, pour in your key lime juice until a big globby ball is formed.
6. Use your hands to form tablespoon-sized balls.
7. Roll the balls in your chopped pistachios that you set aside in the mixing bowl.
8. Put on a tray and pop in the freezer until you are ready to serve!

Graham Cracker Key Lime Bites

Ok, so this variation does include the sugar from the graham crackers. I include this variation for folks who are dealing with nut allergies. Plus, if you are ok with some sugar, these bites taste JUST like key lime pie served in a graham cracker crust.

INGREDIENTS
10 key limes
6 sheets of graham crackers
1 cup pitted dates (no sugar added)

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Zest the key limes and set the zest aside.
3. Then, juice the key limes, and set aside.
4. Add 2 sheets of graham crackers to the food processor. Process until they are crumby. Set this aside in a medium mixing bowl.

5. Now for the easy part. Add 4 sheets of graham crackers, zest, and dates to the food processor. While they are mixing together, pour in your key lime juice until a big globby ball is formed. If the ball is too sticky, add a square of graham crackers until the consistency is solid.

no sugar added key lime bites 3

6. Use your hands to form tablespoon-sized balls.
7. Roll the balls in your graham cracker crumbs that you set aside in the mixing bowl.
8. Put on a tray and pop in the freezer until you are ready to serve! Especially with this recipe, popping in the freezer keeps the graham crackers from becoming too soggy.

no sugar added key lime bites1

I love the way my cheeks feel when I take a bite of my key lime bites. Yum!

What do you like about key lime? Let me know in the comments!

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Five foods you can top with tomatillo chimichurri

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Have you ever made chimichurri? I made my first this week. My mom had gotten me cute little tomatillos from the farmer’s market, and I had just harvested the first Anaheim peppers from my garden. I usually make a white bean chili with these ingredients. Instead, I decided to grill up the veggies and blend them in this special sauce. And, it turned out to be a hit! The recipe is so simple, and the results are delicious. Continue reading Five foods you can top with tomatillo chimichurri

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Seven lessons on healthy living from backyard chickens

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A few weeks ago, I hinted at the idea of getting backyard chickens to have fresh eggs. Well, it has happened! And, today our backyard chickens have been with us for one week. What a week it has been. I have learned so much from those three little chickens. My interactions with them have introduced to me new ways to be creative, examples of purposeful living, and I have gained a new perspective on healthy living. Today, you are going to read about seven lessons about healthy living from backyard chickens.
Continue reading Seven lessons on healthy living from backyard chickens

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Six ways to sneak more fruits and veggies into your day

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Most of us know it’s important to get your fruits and veggies. I aim for 7-9 servings each day. What many of us don’t know is how to get THAT MANY fruits and veggies into your daily eating routine. That’s what this post is all about: six sneaky ways to include more fruits and veggies into your day.
Continue reading Six ways to sneak more fruits and veggies into your day

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Quick, easy weeknight meal: Baked Salmon en Papillote

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Sigh. It’s a weeknight. You’re tired. You’re hungry. You’re out of dinner ideas. Never fear! I have a quicky, easy weeknight meal for you to try. Today, I am going to introduce a meal that is versatile, quick, and easy to cook. The technique – “en papillote” – is one you can use over and over with a variety of ingredients. Continue reading Quick, easy weeknight meal: Baked Salmon en Papillote

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!