Learning about Herbs

The past few months have been a crash course in learning some really neat herbal tools. Nutrition and nutritional products have always been my primary focus but the past few weeks have involved learning some basic herbal tools. I’m in the midst of an herbal training course and that has been helpful. Mostly though I’m just in awe of how user friendly, tasty and effective their addition to our lives has been.

www.beeyoutiful.com has been sharing a series of recipes that are pretty awesome. A few of them are mine and some of them are the creations of fellow Beeyoutiful Employees.

Below is a personal favorite. Adults and children benefit from it equally. We use it when there is a cold on the loose and have found it particularly beneficial with coughs or body aches and pains that are based in any sort of inflammation.

Liquid Gold Coconut Milk

Liquid Gold Coconut Milk

Liquid Gold Coconut Milk

  • 1 can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. raw honey or maple syrup
  • Tiny piece of fresh peeled ginger root (or 1/4 tsp. dried ginger powder)
  • Tiniest pinch of cayenne (generally omitted for children)

Add all ingredients into a small sauce pan. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly mix all ingredients together while it gently warms on medium heat (Or blend at high speed in a regular blender before heating in a pan). Serve and drink immediately.

A new term I’ve learned is fomentation. According to dictionary.com a fomentation is  and means:

noun
1.

encouragement of discord, rebellion, etc.; instigation.
2.

the application of warm liquid, ointments, etc., to the surface of thebody.
3.

the liquid, ointments, etc., so applied.
In the herbal world it refers to the application of warm liquid, usually a strong herbal tea like infusion that is held against the area that needs attention.
We’ve just started to use fomentations for sore throats and on lungs with severe congestion.
Lung & Throat Fomentation
1/4 cup dried Lobelia
1/4 cup dried Mullein
1/4 dried Plantain
Steep herbs in 10 oz of boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes. Strain through a piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter. Discard herbs and save tea. Soak a piece of plain flannel or cotton cloth in herbal tea infusion and wrap around throat or lungs. Leave for 10 minutes and replace with another piece of soaked cloth. Can be applied and used as often as needed.
What is your favorite way to use herbs?
Steeping pitcher

Steeping pitcher

Homemade Vita Gummies

When you have picky kids like I do it becomes necessary to come up with creative and sometimes off the wall ways to get nutrients into their reluctant, gaggy little mouths.

This month I got around to trying something new. Raw veggies are one of the hardest things to get in our kids. Especially when they are sick. Which is of course when they need those nutrients most.

Enter the magic of the gelatin based gummy. I’ve blogged before about how fantastic gelatin is for the body, here. The marvelous thing about this is that you can customize it to whatever your children need. Can’t get liquid vitamins into them? Turn them into Gummies. Not sweet enough? Add Stevia or maple syrup.

Our kids have been getting raw veggie juice with whole food based Vit C. They gobble them up like they are delicacies. Haven’t the heart to break the news to them that some of their arch veggie enemies are housed in the nummy Gummies. Some secrets it’s best for a mama to keep to herself.

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The ratio of liquid to gelatin that I use is roughly 4 cups liquid to 2 and 1/2 tablespoons bovine gelatin. Additional gelatin can be added if you want them extra jiggly.

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We recently purchased a small hand juicer. It’s fun for the kids to use. Goes just fast enough to make enough juice for gummy purposes. Is easy to clean and oh so much easier than hauling out our huge electric juicer that is best suited for big jobs. Best of all it was cheap enough that even if it only lasts a couple of years it will have more than paid for itself in productive kid distractions and expedient nutrients for kids.

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Garlic Paste: Easy Peasy Poultice

Step by Step Garlic Paste Poultice

Step by Step Garlic Paste Poultice

We are big fans of Garlic in our family. We cook with it. Supplement with it. And use it medicinally. Garlic is one of the most incredibly potent antibiotics nature makes and also has components in it that boost the immune system in multiple ways. Once a fresh clove of garlic is crushed elements intermingle and create something called allicin. Allicin exhibits incredibly powerful anti bacterial and anti fungal effects. The nutritional industry has figured out ways to stabilize what is, in nature a fragile and limited time availability compound. Once a garlic clove is crushed the clock starts ticking. You only have a guaranteed 15 minutes from the time allicin is activated till the time it begins to fade. Some experts claim it lasts as long as 40 minutes. Immune boosting products that contain stabilized allicin are really fantastic and are an ideal way to get those benefits with no work and no smelly breath involved.

Supplements can be expensive. Especially for a large family on a tight budget. They also require the ability to swallow pills and are typically dosed for adults, not children.  For children, finding a way to get affordable allicin rich garlic compounds into them involves poultices. A while back I did a video tutorial on how to make a garlic poultice. This is the method we used in our family for several years and it works incredibly well. However, it is also wet and a bit on the messy side. This year a friend introduced me to the concept of Garlic Paste. We experimented with it and discovered that for our kids this is a more efficient and effective way of doing garlic poultices. So, without further ado, here is my DIY instructions on how to make:

Garlic Paste Poultice

The quantities in this tutorial should be enough for 2 to 3 pairs of child sized feet or 1 pair of large adult sized feet.

Start with a full head of fresh, raw, organic garlic. Why organic? The point of this is that it is going to be absorbed into the body and blood stream at a rapid rate. Any residual fungicides, pesticides and chemicals that are left on commercially raised garlic will be absorbed along with all the good properties. If it’s a choice between regular ol’ cheapest thing the local store has fresh garlic and none at all, by all means use what you can get. But, ideally, my recommendation will always be organic for this purpose.

Pre-minced garlic purchased at the store in glass containers, even that from the refrigerator section will not work for this purpose. Pre-peeled cloves will also not work nearly as well. Stick with the real deal still safely ensconced in it’s feathery papery layers.

Head of Raw Garlic

Head of Raw Garlic

Loosen all the outer dried layers off of it enough so that you can divide the individual cloves out. Once the cloves are separated lay on a firm surface (I use our granite counter top or a large wooden cutting board) take something solid like the flat bottom of a glass or bottom of a mortar and do a quick “whap” on each of the cloves. The purpose isn’t to crush them but to pop loose the dried individual outer peel enough so that they are easily removed.

Whapped garlic cloves Prior to Peeling

Whapped garlic cloves Prior to Peeling

Once the cloves are peeled they are ready for the next stage!

freshgarliccloves

This next stage you have a variety of options. I personally prefer using a tool we purchased a while back for this purpose. A high quality garlic press. Ours has been going strong for years. If you don’t own a garlic press you can crush the garlic with a fork and finish off the mincing with a knife. It can also be pummeled into small bits in a mortar and pestle.

Mincing the Garlic via a Press

Mincing the Garlic via a Press

This is what a head of garlic looks like after it’s minced. One of the advantages of mincing is that it goes fast and thoroughly mixes all the different parts of each clove together ensuring optimal allicin creation.

Head of Minced Garlic

Head of Minced Garlic

This is where the instructions differ from the water and heat based poultices we did before. Although some properties are drawn out faster and more effectively with the hot water it can be somewhat tricky to make sure the water isn’t too hot. Making it into a paste means that the active properties will be drawn out at a slower rate via the warmth of the skin.

A crucial component of the paste is the base the minced garlic is mixed with. Something too thin will not allow you to maintain that all important “paste like” spreadable consistency. It will also not adequately buffer or protect the skin from the burning elements of the garlic. Part of what makes the paste preferred by us is that it can be worn longer periods of time with reduced chances of irritation and burning over the water poultice method.

The original tutorial I read about this recommended using petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is a no-no in our house mostly because…well, it’s derived from petroleum. So, it was important to me to find an acceptable substitute. Coconut oil is too thin and melts too rapidly in contact with warmth. Same with olive or almond or any of my normal go-to carrier oils. The first couple of batches I used Beeyoutiful’s Body Butter. It worked incredibly well and was the perfect consistency. It’s also rather an expensive base. With a second sickness hitting our house I needed something that would be affordable to use multiple times per day. As I stood in front of our open refrigerator wracking my brain for what I could use it occurred to me. Lard! That lovely tub of white lard. Not the best smelling but relatively cheap, natural and safe.

lard

Ideally you want to use at least 50% ratio of base carrier to minced garlic. For very small children, infants or individuals with extra sensitive skin the ratio can be increased to 2 parts Lard (or carrier base of your choice) to 1 part minced garlic. Once the base and garlic are mixed together it should be a thick, spreadable concoction.

The Mixed Garlic Paste

The Mixed Garlic Paste

Although technically this paste could be used on any part of the body my preferred spot is the feet. The skin is thicker and more protected from burning there while at the same time having a very high concentration of receptors that handles the uptake of the best properties of the garlic extremely well. Make sure the footsies are clean and dry and then slather the paste on. It’s Ok to be generous!

Garlic Paste spread on the foot

Garlic Paste spread on the foot

To top the paste off you can use water proof bandages which are my preference because they are nice and tidy with minimal risk of mess leaking out as the oil warms. Ran out of those before writing up this tutorial though so used my fall-back. Folded paper towels. You want the paper towel to be folded in enough layers to keep the oil from leaking out all over everything as the mixture warms against the feet. I use medical tape to secure it in place.

tapeandpapertowels TapedPoulticePasteThe finished product on my 2 yo Cmans footsies. For the record, he isn’t crying because of the foot paste, he was on his third hour of crying in misery from the on-set of a virus with full body malaise. He felt much improved after the garlic paste treatment and ran around happily for a couple of hours despite still having a low-grade fever!

Some cautionary safety notes:

Please understand that raw garlic potency and “burn factor” can vary a lot from one batch, one harvest, one head and one variety to another. There is no way to know for sure how “hot” a particular batch of paste is going to be. For this reason please DO NOT leave on feet all night as some tutorials recommend. Far too many individuals have been burned this way. Especially do not leave on the feet of children. Check frequently to make sure no initial redness or irritation is starting. My policy is to check every 10 minutes with the paste on our children and more frequently if they start whining or complaining about it. Garlic is powerful. It has literally burned holes into peoples feet. As with all things anything that has properties to be incredibly potent also has the potential to cause harm if not used with common sense, precaution and wisdom.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if it’s “done” or if it’s been left on long enough to do a good job. A rule of thumb that has served us well is to leave it on until you can smell garlic on the breath of the individual receiving the poultice. It’s a sure sign that adequate levels of garlic have been absorbed into the blood stream to do an effective job against whatever you need it to do. As soon as we smell the garlic breath we remove the poultice immediately. And prior to that if any irritation of the feet happens.

Let me know if you try this! Happy and safe poulticing and to all a goodnight!

Rosemary Lemonade: Simple and Delicious

Rosemary Lemonade

Rosemary Lemonade

A favorite beverage in our house is fresh lemonade. The tart sour of fresh lemon juice mixes beautifully with the sharp sweetness of Beeyoutiful’s debittered liquid Stevia. A really nice treat graduates to something bordering on the divine when a sprig of fresh Rosemary is added. Allowing the lemonade to steep with the rosemary for 30 min or more gives it such a unique and delicious flavor! The longer the Rosemary is left in the Lemonade the richer the flavor becomes. Not only does the Rosemary add an amazing flavor you get all of the health benefits that Rosemary brings to the table as an herb as well. 

Want to take it to the next level? Mix 50/50 Black Mango tea with this Rosemary Lemonade and serve over ice. You are officially ready for front porch sitting on a warm spring or summer day. Enjoy!

 

Garlic Kale Salad

I’m not a huge fan of raw greens. For many reasons. One of which is the issue of the anti-nutrients that cooking or culturing neutralizes in greens. So, even if I loved them, raw greens are still not a great idea from a nutritional standpoint on a frequent basis. A couple of years ago though I had a delicious raw kale salad served as a side at a slow food restaurant. It was so yummy 2 years later I still think about it every time I prepare Kale. So, tonight, I threw together a knock-off version of it using the delicious, mild and delicate curly leaf kale provided by our wonderful Winter CSA. Got some recipe ideas from a couple of on-line sources and cobbled together my own. It’s yummy. I ate 3 servings of it in one sitting.

Garlic Kale Salad

  • 2 bunches curly leaf kale (although any kind of Kale will do)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (raw is useful because the extra enzymes in it make the kale more nutritionally accessible in it’s raw state)
  • 3 large cloves raw garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cultured g/f soy sauce (Can substitute Coconut Amino Acids in it’s place if soy needs to be avoided at all costs)
  • 1 minced anchovy fillet or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (this is totally optional but please don’t leave it out even if you typically think of anchovies as disgusting. It simply adds a bit of mild salty tang with no residual fish taste once it’s blended into the whole recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Strip leaves from the stems (discard stems). Wash and dry the leaves. Tear the leaves into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce, anchovy (if using), pepper and salt. With clean hands, firmly massage and crush the greens to work in the flavoring. Stop when the volume of greens is reduced by about half. The greens should look a little darker and somewhat shiny. Taste and adjust seasoning with more Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and/or pepper, if desired.
  3. Leave for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Can be made a day ahead and stored in refrigerator. Tastes bolder and more flavorful the second day!

Garlic Kale Salad

Got Vision?

I married a really wise man. Before we got married we talked. A lot. Long distance relationships are good like that. You are forced to fill the air time with words that would otherwise be taken up in silence or giddy chit chat just soaking in each others presence in person. Not to say those in person local relationships are inferior on the communication front (to be honest I still feel a twinge of jealousy over how easy the whole in person romantic experience must be) but I know for us the states separating us were instrumental in us having good premarital communication.

Steve and I

Steve and I

So this wise guy I was gonna marry asked a lot of questions. He wanted to know if our visions, or our goals for a future life together were compatible. If I even had a vision for the future. We made a lot of plans and outlined a lot of goals together.

7 years down the line the details of those plans and goals have changed a LOT. The core of our “vision” has remained the same however. This past week someone asked me about this crazy dream we have of developing a natural themed community-neighborhood. We have a lot of unorthodox plans and dreams. But it’s fueled by the overreaching vision and goals we had all those years ago.

We wanted to raise a healthy family in both body, minds and emotions.

We want to teach our children to be strong, to be leaders and how to serve others and the world at large with kindness.

We want to leave whatever patches of this earth that come into our possession better than we found it.

We want to encourage and help others as we are able to.

Out of these simple heart desires the driving force behind a supplement company was born. The two homes we have lived in in our marriage have housed a lot of folks at all different stages in life. We put a lot of time and effort into learning about health and how to live our lives more sustainably and responsibly. We spent a lot of time with our children. We adapt almost every area of our lives to incorporate our children.

Steve and the Doodlebug: A tiny Bee Keeper in Training

Steve and the Doodlebug: A tiny Bee Keeper in Training

We love to dream. We’ve learned that it’s Ok to dream big. We’ve learned it’s Ok to make mistakes along the way trying to learn how to make those dreams a reality. We’ve made big mistakes along the way. We’ve learned, we’ve adapted, we’ve tweaked. We’ve had to pay and are still paying for some of those mistakes. The whole process of mistakes = learning new and important lessons is something we’ve come to embrace as a part of life. The College of Life has been expensive for us and the certifications not as respected as Harvards but we are grateful for them anyway.

One of the dream-goals we are working towards right now is the purchase of a piece of property large enough that it can be subdivided and a community developed. It’s a logistical nightmare and there are probably a 100 ways we can think of right off the bat for it to easily go wrong. But we’ve learned that some of the best things in life come with a very high probability for failure. We were told when we partnered in the launch of www.beeyoutiful.com that it was a foolish idea. It was destined to fail. There were a thousand reasons NOT to start that business. We counted the cost and decided to do it anyway. It’s been a headache, it’s dominated the majority of our married lives but for every frustrated  and even tearful moment it’s taken from our lives it’s given that and more back. It’s allowed us to work together as a couple in our own home. It’s allowed our children to be more active parts of our lives. It’s been the vehicle to allow us to become physically healthier. It’s been the source and means of good to what now number in the hundreds of peoples lives. We would never have done it, never have stepped out and taken the risk of a brand new business if we had not been willing to dream, hope big and act on the vision we wanted for our family.

One thing we have learned that a dream is just a dream if it is never brought into the realm and responsibility of real life. We are working to bring our current big dreams into the realm of our reality in a lot of small ways. The first and most obvious are financial. It just makes sense to gain financial freedom so that is the front receiving the bulk of our efforts right now. The other is trying to learn as much as we can about how to properly and effectively manage a property. How one goes about doing sustainable and natural animal care and raising. How to garden efficiently and effectively. About 98% of this knowledge is purely head knowledge and hypothetical at this point in our lives. So, we are hacking away at that percentage ratio to get it much lower by the time a financial breakthrough can be obtained. We are going to get a small chicken tractor and start raising some chicks. This year if we are still on this property we are going to build a key hole garden to test it against more traditional raised beds and some of Ruth Stout’s gardening techniques. We plan on identifying and learning about the types of trees on our wooded hill. Steve is managing his bee-hive organically without the use of antibiotics and chemicals that most bee keepers use and is learning what it would take to manage multiple hives. All of this real life practical small scale knowledge will help lower our real life experience ignorance for a bigger property with bigger logistics if that ever comes to fruition. In the meantime our lives are the better for the knowledge and experience we are gaining.

Steve teaching a friend how to work the bees with the hive in our backyard

Steve teaching a friend how to work the bees with the hive in our backyard

So what is the vision for your family?  Do you have big dreams? What are you doing to make those dreams and goals a reality? Do you include your kids in the dreaming big process?

Summer Garden Veggie Baby-food

Carrot N Squash Squished Delight

  • 1 cup of medium to small diced garden fresh carrots
  • 2 small squash or 1 medium to large yellow (or other heirloom variety) Can substitute or add Zucchini
  • 1 Cup Bone Broth (Might need a few tablespoons extra)
  • Real Mineral Rich Sea Salt
  • Optional: Yolk of 1 Free Range Egg
  • Optional: Small pinch of freeze dried ground grass-fed liver
  • Optional: Pinch of powdered beef gelatin

Chop carrots and squash up while broth is brought to a slow simmer. Add them to the broth and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until veggies are very tender and soft. Using an immersion blender OR a food processor puree veggies and bone broth until smooth and creamy. Add extra bone broth if consistency is too thick. Add egg yolk, powdered liver and beef gelatin if desired. Add salt to taste erring on the side of lightly salting since infants tastebuds are more sensitive then adults.

Recipe can be doubled and tripled if desired. Allow to cool and then freeze in ice cub trays. Can be thawed for meals on the go later!

Special Cautions: It is very important to safely source eggs if you are going to use them with an infant. It is highly controversial giving egg yolks to an infant because traditionally they known to provoke allergic reactions. This is partly why it is so important to use ONLY free range eggs that have not been fed grains. Often times the reaction to egg yolks is not to the egg yolks themselves but to the grains (GMO soy or corn) that have been fed to the hens.

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Insomnia = Chicken Research

So in addition to a new baby making my sleeping times sporadic I’ve had an awful case of insomnia. Nothing like being a literal walking zombie so tired your bones ache yet not being able to sleep. So, while my baby is sleeping and I’m *not* and my ability to concentrate on things I should be concentrating on is nill I fill my time with randomly selected research projects.

Tonight it was all things chicken. We really want to get a couple of hens so our kitchen scraps can go to good use. Avoiding roosters right now because our subdivison neighbors would probably be very displeased with us if a Rooster started welcoming the very early morning loudly the way they like to do.

One of my research items was to find a Soy Free grain recipe that I could make at home. It can be difficult to find soy free chicken feed and even when you can find it is usually very expensive. We hope and plan to feed our future chickens mostly on our kitchen and household scraps but occasional grain supplementation will be needed.

I came across this recipe that looks very useful. Original credit for the recipe goes to the Weston A. Price Foundation. Figured this might be helpful for other future or current chicken owners out there who would like a soy-free alternative.

Soy Free Chicken Feed

Heirloom Breed Chicken

Heirloom Breed Chicken

7 parts wheat
2 parts whole or cracked corn
2 parts kamut
1.5 parts sesame seeds
1 part hulled barley
1 part millet
1 part oat groats
1 part quinoa
1 part sunflower seeds
1/2 part flax seeds (soaked and dried)
1/2 part kelp granules
1/4 part finely ground eggs shells (make sure they’re dried/cooked first)
fraction of non-iodized salt

Has anybody ever use this recipe or any other homemade chicken feed formulation?

 

Falling in Love with Fall: Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Many of my friends have been posting excitedly about the advent of that seasonal deliciousness known as S*bucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I used to love most things produced by S*bucks but somewhere along the way of our healthier living baby-steps journey more and more of their drinks have been falling short of what used to be the height of my drinkable cravings. Part of the problem is that I have become a coffee snob. (deep breath)  There. I said it. The coffee at this mass-produced-cookie-cutter-box-store-of-consistency tends to be both bitter and acidic to my tastebuds now. In order to cover for this unpleasantness large amounts of flavored and sugary syrups tend to be added to their mixed drinks. The second confession is that my tastebuds have changed so much that the high pitched flavor of the syrups they use seems *too* sickly sweetish to me now. (This is coming from the girl who used to mix extra honey or sugar in because it wasn’t sweet enough. Oh how far I’ve come!)

All of the above to say, it’s not only significantly cheaper for me to indulge in my coffee habit at home now (Or at my favorite independent coffee shop in Nashville that is a bi-monthly treat/splurge these days) it also usually tastes better! Low acid, smooth roasted organic beans turned into a deep-rich-brew (All the flavor without the bitterness, unless I mess up the water temp/coffee ratios of course)  with my own concoctions of flavorings and syrups added to has become my preferred way of drinking coffee.

Pumpkin Themed Fall

Pumpkin Themed Fall

Last night I made my first attempt at a knock-off version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I found what looked to be a great basic recipe and proceeded to make some massive modifications to it. I’m quite pleased with the results. Please keep in mind, if you prefer the really sweet taste of the S*bucks version of this drink you will want to modify my recipe to include more sugar, or drizzle some extra caramel sauce over the top.

Decorative Pumpkin and Sage

Decorative Pumpkin and Sage

Sorta-Kinda-Healthy-Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

Attempt at Pumpkin Latte Art

Attempt at Pumpkin Latte Art

– 1 and 1/2 Cups of Water

– 2/3 Cup Raw-un-refined Cane Sugar

– 1/2 Cup raw Honey

– 5 Cinnamon Sticks (Or 1 Tablespoon+ a bit Ground)

– 1/2 (or more if you like Ginger as much as I do) Teaspoon Dried/powdered Ginger

– 1/2 Teaspoon whole Cardamon

– 1 heaping Teaspoon whole AllSpice

– Optional: 1/2 Teaspoon Clove

-Optional: 1 Teaspoon Nutmeg

(I personally left both the clove and nutmeg out of my version of this since I prefer the flavors of Cardamon and All-spice)

3 to 4 Tablespoons Organic Pumpkin Puree. Can use canned or frozen, just make sure it’s been well strained if it’s homemade-put up pumpkin.

Instructions: Simmer water and spices together on low for 30 min. to allow flavors to develop. Add Raw Sugar, Honey and Pumpkin to mixture. Whisk in until well mixed and sugar is dissolved. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and see if the spice ratio needs to be adjusted to suit your personal preferences. If the flavor is all you expect it to be remove the syrup from the stove and strain through a piece of cheese cloth *or* a fine metal mesh strainer. I personally used two old Berrywell bottles to store my finished syrup product in.  Easy to label and store in the refrigerator and even easier to pour precise amounts from into my coffee as needed.

I *love* this stuff. Much richer, more real and earthier flavors than I’ve experienced anywhere else which suit my new tastebuds just fine. Add as much syrup to your latte or coffee as you desire + a dollup of cream with some whipped cream added to the top. If you are after a truly decadent and sweet experience drizzle a homemade caramel sauce on top of the whipped cream.
Aaaah. So.Amazing. In addition to tasting like something that should be banned from any health-nuts list of food items you can help justify this homemade delicacy by the reality that all of the spices used in it are incredibly powerful immune boosters. If you take the time to simmer it long enough a lot of the medicinal properties will have time to be released and infused into the syrup making it truly justifiable as colds and flu’s begin to make their rounds.

If you think I’m jumping the gun on celebrating Fall allow me to explain why I feel justified in doing so. First of all, the leaves around here have started to change their colors and gently drift down and there is a wondrous crispness in the air in the mornings and evenings. Second of all, I am due to have a baby right smack in the middle of what is traditionally the most enjoyable part of Fall so I’ve decided to get a jump start on all things Fall and enjoy them as much as I can before my days are taken up with post partum recovery and snuggles with a newborn babe. (Happy sigh) I can’t wait! 😀

 

Tuscan Squash Casserole

DaMan is not crazy about squash. Not even a little bit. He doesn’t even pretend to tolerate it very well and all but visibly cringes when he sees it appear on the supper table. My challenge to myself this summer has been to create a squash dish that would rock his world and make him appreciate this very underappreciated veggie. A couple of nights ago I managed to pull it off!  He not only devoured it happily but gave it rave reviews and requested it again soon.

You all know how I am with measuring and keeping track of recipes as I make them so here is my best guess at what I did. Writing it down as much for my sake as anybody elses in the hopes I can successfully re-create this dish again tomorrow.

Spicy Tuscan Squash Casserole

2x Round Yellow Squash. I used an heirloom variety provided by our CSA called yellow scallop squash. Thin Slice.

Yellow scallop squash

Yellow scallop squash

1 Free Range Egg

Free Range Egg

Free Range Egg

2/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Crumbled Feta Cheese

2 Tablespoons Tuscan Herbal Dried Seasoning Mix

Tuscan Seasoning Mix

Tuscan Seasoning Mix

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Mix. I used an Organic blend of spices from Costco but something like Mrs. Dash would work well too.

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Blend

Veggie Herbal Seasoning Blend

1/3 cup pureed, Roasted Peppers. You could do these from scratch if you wanted by broiling in the oven, peeling the skins off and removing the seeds and running it through a food processor. I used some that were canned in a glass jar. We like spicy around here and the ones I used were pretty hot. Adjust the amount/type of peppers based on personal heat preference.

1/3 cup Sour Cream

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Spray the bottom of a glass pyrex 8×8 square pan with Olive Oil. Or take a stick of butter and rub it around to grease the bottom. Lay the first layer of thin sliced squash over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle that layer with Veggie Seasoning Mix. Add another layer of squash and sprinkle seasonings until all the squash has been layered into the pan. It’s important to sprinkle the seasoning on top of *every single layer* for the best flavor. In a bowl mix together the Egg, Sour Cream, Feta Cheese, a couple Tablespoons of the Tuscan Seasoning and Peppers. Add Salt and Pepper to taste and mix well. Pour and Spread mixture over the top of the seasoned layers of squash. Allow to drip down sides and seep through the layers. Bake at 375 until done.

I baked ours in the toaster oven since I didn’t want to heat up the whole house with the big oven. It took a bit longer than I think it would have in the big oven, about 40 minutes. Bake only until squash is just tender and you can easily poke a fork through the middle. Try to avoid over-baking or it can be soggy and or mushy making it that much harder for those who dislike squash to eat it. Top of casserole should be browned and bubbly around the Feta Cheese lumps.

Enjoy!