Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Slow-Cooked Beef and Veggie Soup (nutrient-dense : grain-free)

When filling our freezer with meals for my husband to take to work for lunch, I like to make large batches so there are plenty of lunches to last awhile.  My husband's favorite freezer lunches include Beef & Beans, Double Cheese Burgers with fermented pickles and chips, Ham, Bean, & Bacon Soup, meatloaf & mashed potatoes and, now, this new Beef and Veggie Soup recipe.

In this recipe, a relatively tough piece of meat is transformed into tender goodness through the magic of slow-cooking.  This soup gets a flavor boost from plenty of spices, and it is loaded with veggies.  What a great way to stock up the freezer!

Please note: this recipe makes a very large amount of soup which literally fills up my 6-quart slow cooker. If you have a smaller slow cooker, you will need to reduce the ingredient amounts.

Slow Cooked Beef and Veggie Soup
Serves 10-12

  • 2 large yellow or white onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup of vermouth* or dry white wine (or substitute more water)
  • 3 cups of filtered water
  • 3-4 pound beef roast, preferably grassfed (such as chuck or rump roast)
  • 1 Tb plus 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp plus 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tb celtic sea salt, divided in half
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided in half
  • one 18-ounce jar of diced tomatoes (I prefer Jovial brand diced tomatoes, which are in a glass jar) 
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped (I leave the skin on the potatoes)
  • 2 cups of green beans (I use organic frozen green beans for easy prep)
  • 1&1/2 cups of frozen green peas
  1. About 10 hours before dinner, put the onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker. Pour in the vermouth and water. Place the beef roast on top of the veggies. Sprinkle with 1 Tb dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1&1/2 Tb salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Pour the jar of tomatoes over the top. Cook on LOW.**
  2. About 5 hours before dinner, add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans to the pot. Nestle them down into the sauce. Sprinkle with another 1&1/2 Tb salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
  3. About 30-60 minutes before dinner, pull the beef out onto a cutting board. Allow to cool a bit, and then carefully trim away and discard any gristle or chewy bits.  Shred the meat with a fork, or chop it into small pieces.
  4. Return the meat to the pot. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper as needed. Add the green peas and remaining spices (1/2 tsp each of dried basil and oregano). Turn the heat to WARM  and let it sit for ~30 minutes. (If your slow cooker doesn't have this setting, just turn it off and let it sit 30 minutes with the lid on.) Don't skip this step as it allows the meat to soak up the juices and become super moist. 
  5. Ladle into bowls and enjoy! Grain-free cheesy bread makes a fantastic accompaniment to this soup. 

*I love to cook with vermouth, as it doesn't go bad like unused wine. Vermouth is shelf stable, can be used in place of dry white wine in cooking, and can be stored at room temperature indefinitely.

**Adaptations for if you'll be away from home all-day: Cut the carrots and potatoes into large pieces (~2-inches) so they don't get overcooked.  Go ahead and put all of the ingredients (except for the peas and 1/2 tsp each of dried basil and oregano) into the slow cooker in the morning.  Leave it on LOW all day (8-10 hours).  As soon as you get home, pull the meat out onto a cutting board, remove any gristle, and either shred the meat with a fork or chop into small pieces.  Return the meat to the pot, add the remaining spices and frozen peas, and put a lid on it for about 20-30 minutes on "WARM" (if your slow cooker doesn't have this setting, just turn it off and let it sit 20-30 minutes with the lid on).

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Carrot, Coconut, and Ginger Muffins (nutrient-dense)

My newest muffin recipe combines three great flavors: carrots, coconut, and ginger. The base of this muffin recipe is my current favorite flour combination: coconut flour, ground crispy nuts, and Einkorn (an ancient variety of wheat that is naturally lower in gluten and higher in protein than modern wheat). These muffins are nutritious, moist and delicious. Paired with a glass of raw milk, these make a great breakfast or snack.

Carrot, Coconut, and Ginger Muffins
  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  (I prefer If You Care Unbleached Baking Cups because the muffins do not stick to the sides of the cups.) 
  2. Zest the lemon using a microplane rasp or other zester. 
  3. Combine the Einkorn, coconut flour, ground nuts, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Whisk it all together to break up any lumps.  
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  5. Peel and shred the carrots. I like to use a box grater to shred the carrots.
  6. Combine the butter and sucanat in a large bowl (a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer works great for this recipe). Cream together for a couple minutes until the mixture turns slightly lighter in color.
  7. In the meantime, combine the eggs and vanilla extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the eggs at this point.
  8. Once the butter and sucanat have become well-mixed, mix in the eggs one-at-a-time.  With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in each egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well. (It is okay if the mixture looks a bit curdled during this step.)
  9. Add the sour cream to the wet mixture and mix it all well.
  10. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just-combined.  Because the Einkorn flour does contain gluten, make sure not to overmix or the muffins will be tough.  The batter will become rather thick, but don't worry about it.
  11. Stir or mix in the shredded coconut and chopped crystallized ginger.
  12. Use a 3-Tb scoop or large spoon to scoop the batter into the muffin cups.
  13. Bake the muffins at 350 degrees F for 27-33 minutes, until a they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out dry.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before serving.
  15. Enjoy! 


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