How to Make and Store Dried Tomatoes

With the growing season quickly coming to a close, I’ve got a glut of San Marzano tomatoes right now. Seems like the perfect time to try sun-drying them. After reading this beautifully photographed process of making sun-dried tomatoes a few weeks back, I really wanted to go the sun-dried route. But since the weather has … Read more

Homemade Pear Liqueur

If you really want to get into the fall spirit(s), try this simple homemade pear liqueur recipe. The hardest part is the wait!

Use What You’ve Got: Strawberries + Strawberry Jam Recipe

The strawberries I recently planted haven’t fruited yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating a whole lot of local strawberries this season already. Lately I am buying them from a few different farm stands in my town and they are fabulous.

strawberries | healthy green kitchen

I love eating them “as is,” but use them in all different recipes, too.

Strawberries are pretty fragile: in the past, I’ve sent far too many to the compost because I didn’t store them properly. But that was before I was really tuned into the food waste issue…things are different now! Since I’ve been writing posts to help promote Glad’s #SAVEITSUNDAY program, I’ve really learned a ton about food protection, including how best to store strawberries.

How to Prep and Protect Strawberries:

When you get your berries home from the grocery store/market, or even if you pick your own, you want to avoid washing them before you store them (wash them right before eating/using in a recipe instead). This helps stave off the molding that can happen due to the moisture the strawberries soak up when you wash them. Place the unwashed berries in a single layer in a bowl, on a plate, or in a glass or plastic food protection container, like GladWare, that you’ve lined with a tea towel (or paper towel).

protecting strawberries | healthy green kitchen

Seal the container and keep on the countertop if it’s not too hot in your kitchen and/or it’s just for a few hours. Otherwise, store them in the refrigerator. (Source: Glad)

Before you even head out to purchase your strawberries though, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to use them. This will allow you to buy the proper amount! (But if you end up with too many, never fear…just trim them and freeze for adding to smoothies and such).

What To Do with Strawberries:

Here are some of my recipes that use strawberries along with recipes from blogging buddies. And scroll down for a simple strawberry jam recipe that you’re going to love.

Read more

Spicy Lacto-fermented Pickles + A Weck Jars Giveaway

Once a month, I feature a chapter from my book and partner with the folks from MightyNest on a related giveaway. This month, I’m focusing on the health benefits of cultured foods. Read on to learn more about how nutritious these can be, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for beautiful jars in which to make your own delicious versions.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

Naturally cultured foods and drinks are teeming with vitamins, live enzymes, and natural probiotics (bacteria that are helpful for reducing the amount of harmful organisms in the intestines). These were prevalent in the diets of our ancestors, yet they’re not frequently consumed by most people today. Cultured (aka lacto-fermented) foods are good for everyone, but they are particularly useful if your digestion is poor or your immune system is weak (75% of your immune system’s cells reside in your digestive tract!). Cultured foods foster a healthy digestive environment, and contribute to optimal wellness overall.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

How lacto-fermentation works: Bacteria known as lactobacilli convert sugars and starches into lactic acid. The presence of lots of lactic acid results in a food that’s exceptionally nutritious and much less prone to spoilage. Before there was refrigeration and before foods were canned to extend their shelf life, they were naturally preserved in small batches using the lacto-fermentation method. Examples of lacto-fermented foods and drinks include yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, and vegetable preparations such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented pickles.

spicy lacto-fermented pickles | healthy green kitchen

I try to include at least one serving of something that’s been lacto-fermented in my diet every day, but I eat more when I have any sort of digestive issue going on or on the rare occasion that I have to take antibiotics. You can purchase high quality versions of cultured foods at natural food stores, but I think knowing how to make your own is a good skill to have (plus you’ll save money). In the photos for this post, you see lacto-fermented asparagus, carrots, and cucumbers. I’ve included the recipe for the cucumbers below, along with some of my favorite fermentation resources.

Lacto-fermented vegetables are a good place to start if you want to begin making your own cultured foods. These are particularly beneficial for you because they contain many nutrients as well as fiber: you can add them to all sorts of dishes as condiments. I’ve been making my own cultured vegetables for years: once you get the hang of the process, you’ll see how easy it is (you don’t need much more than veggies, salt, and a little time), and you’re sure to become hooked. Then you can look forward to always having some cultured veggies on hand to enhance your meals…and your health!

(Text adapted with permission from my book One Simple Change: Surprisingly Easy Ways to Transform Your Lifeby Winnie Abramson. Copyright 2013 by Chronicle Books.)

Read more

Candied Violets

Violets pop up all over my yard every year at this time, and I’m always extremely excited when they do. Violets are edible, and though picking them can be a little painstaking, I really enjoy eating and making things with the delicate purple beauties. Yesterday, I made candied violets.

candied violets | healthy green kitchen

As I mentioned above, violets are delicate…fragile. If your lawn is similarly dotted, and you’d like to use them in a recipe, plan to do so right after you pick them (otherwise they will wilt). I decided to make just a small amount of sugared violets (I will tell you why tomorrow) so I didn’t pick that many flowers. If you want to make lots of candied flowers, or a syrup or jelly with your violets, you’ll need to pick quite a lot.

violets  on plate_

To make candied/sugared violets, all you need is the flowers, some sugar (I used organic sugar), and something to get the sugar to adhere to the flowers. Generally I would use beaten egg white, but since I wanted these candied violets to be vegan, I used a slurry of flax seeds and water*: approximately 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water. The mixture was somewhat thick so I did add a little more water as I was working.

Superfine sugar is the best type of sugar to use for candied flowers: you can whir regular (or organic) sugar in a food processor to make it more fine, if you like.

Read more