A Peek At My Garden + OXO #SproutTime Giveaway

I am so happy to finally give you a little peek at my 2014 garden, the place where my husband and I have been working our butts off most weekends for the past few months.

garden lead photo

Here’s what it looked like earlier this spring…
March 21, 2013:

march garden 1

April 20, 2013:

april garden 1

april garden 2

The top photo in this post and the photos below show what it looks like this morning!
June 23, 2014:

garden in bloom 1

garden in bloom 2

garden in bloom 3

(Want to see what it looked like 5 years ago when we got started? Check out this post.)

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Tomato Basil Socca Pizza

A bunch of bloggers whose work I adore have come out with cookbooks lately. One such blogger is Erin Alderson of the blog Naturally Ella. Her brand new book is called The Homemade Flour Cookbook: The Home Cook’s Guide to Milling Nutritious Flours and Creating Delicious Recipes with Every Grain, Legume, Nut, and Seed from A-Z.

The Homemade Flour Cookbook | healthy green kitchen

This book is based on the very cool concept that you can easily make your own fresh and nutritious flours at home. As much as I love to cook and bake, making my own flours isn’t something I’ve delved into much before (apart from blending oats to make oat flour), mostly because I assumed you needed special equipment (like a grain mill). While Erin does recommend investing in a grain mill, it turns out that you can do quite a lot more than make oat flour with a high-powered blender (which I already own). You can also mill some flours in a coffee grinder!

In this book, Erin not only delves into all the different ways you can make your own wholesome flours from different grains (including gluten-free grains), legumes, nuts and seeds, she also shares 100 very yummy-looking recipes that utilize the various fresh flours. The photos in the book, taken by Erin, are beautiful.

The Homemade Flour Cookbook | healthy green kitchen

Because I have a big stash of dried chickpeas, I decided to try my hand at grinding chickpea flour in my blender. I was pretty skeptical about it working at first: chickpeas are so hard! After a minute or two the flour still looked like small rocks, but I played around with a few of the settings on my Blendtec and found that at #3, the chickpeas turned to a fine powder after another few minutes. Hooray!

chickpea flour in blender | healthy green kitchen

I used my chickpea flour to make Erin’s recipe for Tomato Basil Socca Pizza. Socca is a flatbread that’s a specialty of Nice, France. I’ve never had socca but I know it has a reputation for being very tasty. I was happy for the inspiration to make it (I’d been meaning to try it ever since seeing this recipe on David Lebovitz’ blog ages ago).

Socca is so simple to make: all you need is the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt. You soak these together for an hour, then you cook the batter in a hot oiled skillet under a broiler.

chickpea flour soaking | healthy green kitchen

I’ve purchased chickpea flour in the past and used it in gluten-free baking. It always had this odd, very bean-y flavor to me, which I didn’t love. I have to say that my fresh chickpea flour didn’t taste “off” at all: I really loved it in this base for an easy pizza. So while you can definitely use store-bought chickpea flour in this recipe, I recommend trying to make your own if you can because it’s fresher and really does have a different, milder flavor.

socca pizza | healthy green kitchen

Many thanks to Erin for turning me on to making my own flours. I really look forward to seeing what I can do with ancient grains, legumes, nuts, etc. I cannot wait to try out more of the recipes in this book: there are so many incredibly creative and healthy savory and sweet recipes to choose from! And I have one extra copy of the book from the publisher to give away to one of my readers…the directions for entering the giveaway are below the recipe :)

socca pizza from the homemade flour cookbook | healthy green kitchen

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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.)

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Thoughts On Clutter Control + A Spring Cleaning Giveaway

It’s been such a long winter around here…I am so glad it is officially over. Now that it’s spring, I’ve got cleaning and organization on the brain. In my book One Simple Change, I wrote quite a bit about clearing out the clutter from your life. In this post, I’m going to excerpt some relevant … Read more

Be Kind To Yourself + A Self Care Giveaway

Last month I announced that I’ve partnered with the folks from MightyNest, an online store specializing in natural, non-toxic products for the kitchen and home, on a series of giveaways: I am so excited about this partnership! Valentine’s Day is behind us and I am betting you doled out lots of love to others this … Read more