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I’m not one to buy ready made sausage – I just don’t trust the grocery store to use decent ingredients and tend to concoct my own recipes anyway.  I came up with this one last summer to accompany some grilled fresh veggies from my garden, but I use it for everything, from spaghetti sauce to Sausage Vegetable Noodle Soup and everywhere else sausage comes in handy.

I use grass fed beef for this recipe since I’ve never thought much of pork, nutritionally speaking, but it’s really the seasonings that make it what it is.  Feel free to use it with any kind of meat; even ground venison or turkey would probably make good sausage.

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

3 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon garlic, minced or finely grated

2 tablespoons lightly packed, finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

1.  Over medium low heat, lightly toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet.  Then grind them in a spice mill.

2.  Mix the ground beef with all the seasonings in a medium bowl.

3.  It’s best to cover at this point and place the bowl in the fridge so the flavors have a chance to blend, but you can use it right away.  Form it into meatballs, brown it in a skillet, or freeze it to use later :)

Once, when I had run out of the plain yogurt I use to start a new batch, I asked my Amish neighbor, Fannie, for a cupful.  The homemade yogurt she gave me was so thick, I could almost turn the spoon upside down without it sliding off!  I was impressed.  The yogurt I make at home had usually turned out good, but rather runny, so I was glad when Fannie told me her simple secret.  Gelatin.

I think we ate this muesli for breakfast every day my mom was visiting last summer, and for about four weeks after she left!   It’s full of goodies like toasted coconut, pumpkin seeds, dates and raisins, and delicious served with strained yogurt.

The way I make this recipe, it’s not soaked or sprouted, but you could sprout the oats and soak the seeds, then dry in a dehydrator and roll through a grain flaker if you had the inclination.  We used to do it that way when we had access to a friend’s grain flaker, and it wasn’t too time consuming – mostly just waiting.  I’d say that the lengthy process of making our food more nutritious brought a real sense of satisfaction to the eating!

Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats, barley, or wheat, or a combination

3 cups flaked coconut

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup flax seed, freshly ground

2 cups chopped dates

1 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a 9 x 13 pan, combine the oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.  Toast in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Remove from heat once the coconut is lightly golden.

Add the ground flax seeds, dates and raisins.  Serve with strained yogurt.

Serves 4 -6

Peppermint Patties

Last spring, I followed a 14-week low carb anti-inflammatory diet, during which time I needed some kind of snack that came close to satisfying my cravings for chocolate and sugar.  I got the idea for this simple frozen patty from the Carob Chips recipe in Nourishing Traditions, however this version uses stevia, which does not affect blood sugar, and the strongly flavored peppermint oil covers the unfamiliar taste of the stevia.  Freezing them just adds to the refreshing minty blast.

On a side note, the 14 week low carb anti inflammatory diet must have made some serious changes in my body. I have always had sugar cravings. Always. And I eat a lot. I mean, generally more than my husband. No, I’m not fat. I just have a really big appetite and a hearty metabolism to go with it. But I’m getting off track… This 14 week diet I did allowed no sweeteners (except stevia), no fruits except lemons, grapefruits and berries, no grains, no beans, and no starchy vegetables, at least not for the first 6 weeks. It was really tough at first, especially as the main chef of our house, but now that it is over, I have lost all cravings for sugar.

Update: It’s been a year and a half since my 14 week diet, and I still don’t crave sugar that much. If I do get a bit of a sweet tooth, it’s easily satisfied by a piece of fruit. Has anyone else had this experience? I’d love to hear your comments.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup melted virgin coconut oil

3/8 cup carob powder (sift it if it’s lumpy)

2 – 6 drops pure peppermint essential oil

1 – 3 drops liquid stevia or 1 – 3 tiny dashes powdered stevia

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together very well.  (You don’t want to bite into uncombined peppermint oil or stevia!) Spread 1 1/2 inch circles thinly onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and store the patties in a container in the freezer.

Makes 10 – 12, depending on how thick you make them.

Yucatan Beef

Tender, flavorful, and so versatile.  Serve it in tacos, on a green salad, or eat it with chips and guacamole.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 onions, diced

1 1/2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks

2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup beef stock

1 – 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced (I buy these in a can, and freeze the leftover chilies in a small container to use later.)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup Cultured Tomatillo-Cabbage Salsa, or other green salsa

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

In a large saucepan over medium high heat cook onions, beef and garlic for 5 – 7 minutes, until beef is nicely browned.  Stir in beef stock and scrape up browned bits on bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and add remaining ingredients.

Simmer covered for 1 hour until beef is tender and sauce is thickened.

Serves about 6.

Slow cooker variation: Instead of simmering for an hour on the stove, add an extra half cup of beef stock and cook everything in the slow cooker on low for 6 – 8 hours.

When we lived close by, my cousin Lisa and I used to get together to make huge batches of sauerkraut together.  It was always a great big mess and great fun to work and share a meal together when we were finished.  She used to bring along a delicious (and very expensive) fermented green cabbage salsa.  I don’t remember what brand it was, only that it was so unaffordable that we decided to try and copy the recipe.  I’d say we came pretty close.

The salsa Lisa and I copied was not chunky at all, so we processed it in my Champion Juicer with the homogenizing plate.  Alternatively, you can process it in a food processor to whatever consistency you prefer.

1 head green cabbage

6 tomatillos

1/4 onion

1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, depending on personal taste

1/2 bunch cilantro

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon salt

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons whey

Process all the ingredients in a Champion Juicer, Vita Mix, or food processor until you reach the consistency you like.  Place the mixture in 1 – 2 quart jars (the top of the salsa should be at least 1 1/2 inches below the rim of the jar – the vegetables will expand), wipe the rims carefully so the lids fit properly, and cover tightly.  Set at room temperature to ferment for about 3 days.  Then transfer to the fridge.  Use within about 6 months.

Try this salsa with eggs and raw cheese for breakfast, on top of a green salad, in Yucatan Beef, or anywhere else you like green salsa.

Coconut Hot Cocoa

Delicious!

1 can coconut milk (14 oz)

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Whisk until warmed and combined.  Serve in heated mugs.

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