Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

A few of you asked me to blog the recipe for Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole, so here it is! This simple recipe combines hash brown potatoes, cheese, and gravy into a yummy casserole.

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole is my husband's current favorite lunch to take along to the office. I make a large batch and freeze single-serving portions in 2-cup glass Pyrex storage dishes, which he then re-heats in a toaster oven at work. He eats this as a main course for lunch, but it also makes a delicious side dish at any time of day.

Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
Serves 8-10
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, preferably of the rich yellow nutrient-dense dense type
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped small
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1&1/2 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade 
  • 2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp fine-ground celtic sea salt
  • 6 Tb white rice flour*
  • 16 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Two-16 ounce bags of organic frozen hashbrowns (regular and southern-style both work fine; I use either Cascadia Farms or Sno-Pac Southern Style Organic has browns) 
  1. Melt the butter in a very large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and saute for about 10-15 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft. I like to use a bamboo spatula to saute the onion. It's okay if the onion takes on a bit of brown, caramelized color while cooking.
  2. In the meantime, mince the garlic. Shred the cheese using the large side of a box grater.
  3. Combine the milk and broth in a large bowl.  Whisk the liquid while pouring in the rice flour. Whisk it well, so there are no lumps.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. When the onion is done, add the minced garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Whisk the broth and milk mixture into the pan with the onion. Whisk in the salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. This mixture will get rather thick because of the rice flour, but that is just what it should do. Turn off the heat.
  7. Fold the frozen hash browns into the onion/gravy mixture. If you did not use a very large skillet, you may need to use a large bowl for this.
  8. In a 9X13 glass baking dish, layer half of the hash brown mixture, then half of the shredded cheese, then the remaining hash brown mixture, and top with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned. If desired, the broiler can be turned on for the last 3-5 minutes to brown the cheese, but watch it carefully as it can burn easily with the broiler on!
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
*If you want to know more about why I use white rice instead of brown, check out this article.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

My Family's Spring Diet

When I blogged a few months ago about My Family's Winter Diet, I promised to share what our Spring, Summer, and Fall diets look like as well. We are still primarily eating a nutrient-dense diet, but rather than aiming for perfection, I am aiming for an unstressed, maintainable diet that my family can eat for many years to come. We do eat somewhat seasonally, so our diet changes a bit with the seasons to reflect which fruits and vegetables are in season.  

Each Saturday morning, I spend a few hours in the kitchen preparing baked goods for the coming week. Typically, this includes making one custard cake (clafoutis), one or two batches of muffins, and perhaps some cookies or waffles to freeze. By preparing these items on the weekend, our breakfasts throughout the weekdays are very quick-and-easy. Here is a snapshot of our Spring diet.


  • Since I wake up early, I often eat two breakfasts. My first breakfast is generally simple, followed by a more substantial breakfast a couple hours later. 
    • My second breakfast is most often sprouted whole wheat or white sourdough toast with eggs and frozen veggie mix sauteed in butter, usually with a glass of raw milk. I have a dose of extra-virgin cod liver oil with my second breakfast perhaps once a week (as determined by when I feel a craving for it). At this time of year, I spend so much time outside that I don't seem to crave cod liver oil as much as I do during the winter months, so I reduce how often I take it to match my desire. 



  • My husband takes frozen homemade leftovers to work for lunch everyday, which he re-heats in a toaster oven.  This Spring, his favorite leftover lunches are:
  • This Spring, the lunches my children and I are eating most often are:
    • Cheesy scrambled egg sandwiches, with mayonnaise, served on sprouted whole wheat bread or gluten-free waffle
    • Lunchmeat rolls with cheddar cheese, homemade honey mustard, and fermented pickles, with a side of avocado oil chips or crackers (Absolutely gluten-free flatbread is a great, grain-free option that we all enjoy)
    • Leftover soup (from the freezer)
    • Canned sardines, served with buttered crackers or sourdough toast (or waffle for my daughter)


Snacks and Desserts

  • The only snacks my kids are allowed between breakfast and lunch is fruits or veggies, which they have to get for themselves. That makes it where they are certain to be hungry at lunch (whereas previously when they were allowed more-filling snack options, they often didn't eat well at lunch). In the spring, their fruit and veggie snack options are:
  • My husband typically has one of the following snacks while at work:
  • Perhaps 40-50% of the time, the kids will have a small snack after our afternoon Quiet Time, usually consisting of nuts, fruit, or cookies (such as butter shortbread or chocolate macaroons). I am always ravenous when I wake from my daily nap, so I always have an afternoon snack such as plain whole-milk yogurt, butter shortbread, apple and cheese, etc.
  • The kids and my husband have a snack before bed every night; usually fruit, fried fruit, yogurt, or applesauce. About twice per week they will have dessert such as ice cream or cookies. I'm not generally hungry after dinner, so I don't usually eat anything before bed.
  • Perhaps once a week, my husband and I will each have a package of Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.



The drinks we consume the vast majority of the time are:



  • I make a from-scratch dinner meal about 2-3 times per week (and I always make a large portion so there will be enough to freeze for my husband's lunches, or for us to have as leftovers). I can't stand eating the same thing two days in a row, so I plan to eat leftovers a few days later, or freeze them for a future use. This Spring, as the temperature is warming up, we move away from soup and onto other foods. The dinners I'm making most-often are:
  • Side dishes I've been making most often this Spring are:
    • Butter smash boiled potatoes (I haven't blogged this recipe, but I will if there is interest)
    • Coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, and celery (I could blog this recipe, too)
  • On days when I don't make a from-scratch dinner, we have leftovers or dinners which include some already-prepared ingredients (which I consider to be compromise dinners). The ingredients in our compromise dinners aren't absolutely perfect, but they are pretty good, and incorporating these items into our diets allows for busy days when I don't have hours to spend in the kitchen. Our most commonly-consumed compromise dinners this  Spring are:
    • Pizza made with Against the Grain crust, quick-and-easy homemade pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sauteed mushrooms
    • Nitrate-free sausages such as kielbasa or hot dogs, served with frozen sweet potato fries or chips, and fermented pickles
    • Tuna salad or chicken salad sandwiches, made with canned tuna or chicken, served with kettle chips and fermented pickles
  • We eat out at a restaurant about 2-3 times per month. We also often eat Sunday dinner at my mom's house, and are often blessed with leftovers to often bring home which will make for an easy meal some other day of the week.




Do you find it helpful or interesting to see what we're eating?  What are your favorite Spring meals? 


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Parmesan Fried Chicken (grain-free : nutrient-dense : gluten-free : primal)

I am very excited to share this recipe for Parmesan Fried Chicken. With a crispy crust and juicy meat, this amazing recipe has quickly become a family favorite in our house. The ingredients are simple and nutritious: the chicken is coated with a grain-free mixture of Parmesan and arrowroot, and fried to perfection in a combination of butter and coconut oil. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Parmesan Fried Chicken
Serves 5

  • 5 skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 tsp finely-ground celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • one egg, preferably from pastured hens
  • 1 Tb whole milk
  • 1 Tb grassfed butter
  • 1 Tb refined coconut oil
  1.  Debone the chicken thighs. There is a simple tutorial here that shows how to remove the bones. (I save and freeze the chicken thigh bones until I have accumulated enough of them to make a pot of homemade chicken bone broth.)
  2. Grate the Parmesan cheese. I like to use the small holes on a box grater to grate the Parmesan.
  3. In a pie plate (or other wide-bottomed dish), combine the Parmesan, arrowroot, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir to combine with a fork.
  4. Break the egg into a medium bowl. Add 1 Tb milk, and beat with a fork until well-combined.
  5. Set up the work-line with chicken, followed by the bowl of egg, followed by the Parmesan mixture.
  6. Dip each chicken thigh into the egg mixture, and then into the Parmesan mixture. Coat all sides of the chicken with the Parmesan mixture.
  7. Once all of the chicken is coated in the Parmesan mixture, melt 1 Tb each of butter and refined coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. I use a 12-inch stainless steel skillet for this recipe.
  8. Once the butter and coconut oil are shimmery-hot, add the chicken to the skillet.  My skillet is large enough to cook all 5 chicken thighs at once, but if your skillet is smaller, you may need to cook a few at a time. If desired, cover the skillet with a splatter screen to cut down on the mess on the stovetop.
  9. Cook the chicken for about 8-10 minutes, until it has developed a nicely-browned crust. Then flip the chicken and cook the other side for 8-10 minutes. Do NOT move the chicken around much once it is cooking, as that will prevent the crust from cooking properly and make the chicken more likely to stick to the skillet.You may need to reduce the heat to medium if the skillet starts to get overly hot.
  10. Use a probe thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of a chicken thigh. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. This is an important step that ensures the chicken will be cooked perfectly.
  11. Remove the chicken from the skillet and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving. The rest time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. 
  12. Serve and enjoy! I love to serve Parmesan Fried Chicken with potatoes and simple buttered veggies or coleslaw.

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