Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chef Tess Low-Carb Grain and Seed Bread Recipe (Plus the Skinny on Carbs)




I'm here to share some outstanding ideas for those who are struggling with carbohydrates. Food and science have come a long way. Hold on a minute. I need to put on my geekish lab coat (and sky-blue hair net). Okay...now I have the proper ceremonial  garb to talk techno-rocket-chef. Take a walk with me, if you dare, into my secret lair. Yes. I did rhyme right there. I'm winking at you. Do you see me? Okay. Now. Are we ready to be serious?

I'll start off sweet. There's been a lot of talk in the media and in blood-sugar news (Do you think the blood sugar news delivers on Sunday? With comics?). For the most part the thing that the publications can agree on is the fact that sugars that are broken down in your body from starches that you eat will have an impact on the "blood glucose" level in your body. For diabetics and those wanting to control their blood sugar level, the use of foods that have a minimal effect on how fast your blood sugar levels rise is a really happy idea. I have a sister that I call Auntie Em. I've loved her my whole ding-a-dang life and have seen her struggle with type 1 diabetes. It's a frustrating disease with fatal side effects if not taken care of properly. So, can I start out in all seriousness, by saying that though I'm silly sometimes, I know that this is a very important post. It can affect a lot of people to have some idea of how to eat to help control their blood sugar levels. If you're not diabetic, when someone says they are diabetic, it is not something to take lightly. When their blood sugar levels get too low or too high, the results could land them in the hospital.  However, controlling your blood sugar is not only a concern for someone struggling with diabetes, but also for anyone wanting to lose weight. Period. It's a proven fact. If you eat food that keeps your blood sugar levels at a nice even rate, you will burn fat. Now do I have your attention?  What a treat.

Revolutionary Ideas

A few years ago, Auntie Em had me read a book called "The Glucose Revolution". I had a paradigm shift my thinking when it came to carbohydrates. I no longer used the the term "complex carb" like I had in school. The evidence was put clearly enough for me to know that my line of thinking when it came to carbs was one that needed to be re-visited. Since that book there has been a lot of research on how blood sugar is effected by carbohydrates. There is now a lot of evidence supporting a method of tracking the impact carbohydrates have on your blood sugar using a chart called the Glycemic Index. "The Glycemic Index is a numerical Index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response (i.e. their conversion to glucose within the human body). Glycemic Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose serves as a reference point, and is given a Glycemic Index (GI) of 100." For more information on the science behind this index, go here.

Switch it Out

For the most part, I found that I could easily change how I looked at carbohydrates. By choosing ones that were low on the Glycemic index, I could still eat carbohydrates and lose weight. For Auntie Em, this meant that she too could eats some carbs more than others and still control her blood sugar levels. It made a huge impact on my family and my life. So, that's what I'm sharing today. Generally, I try to keep my GI under 55 on the index. I still eat carbs, not in excess, but found some result really amazing for foods I thought were "complex". In general, grain that is kept whole, cracked or rolled will have a lower GI than those that are milled into flour. The only exception is Almond flour, it's high in protein and very low GI. Even so, whole grain flour, because of its fiber, will be lower on the GI. I've also discovered the benefits of using a lot more fiber in my diet!  Wow does fiber effect...a lot of things...um...including your colon health. How's that for being tactful right there? What a treat.
In all reality, there are other factors, but the one that most excited me was seeing what the common foods were that I used, that could easily be changed or replaced with lower Glycemic index foods to help me. You will want to read about the Glycemic Load and how you don't have to entirely avoid all high "GI" foods. Here's a chart that I found helpful. Portion size does matter. Darn it...you still can't eat until you pop...but at least you can feel great knowing you're taking care of something very important to your health.

Glycemic Indexes and Glycemic Loads for Common Foods
The table below shows values of the Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) for a few common foods. GI's of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. GL's of 10 or below are considered low, and 20 or above are considered high.


Learning More: Here

Hooray for Bread!

The good news, is that we can still have bread. We just need to use a lot of whole grain with fiber and protein. In this battle I employ Vital Wheat Gluten very often as a lean protein boost.  For those who are really concerned about impact carbs...this is a bread that I think you'll really like that is also lower on the GI...and at 5 net carbs a slice, even the diabetics will call it their new best friend! What a treat.

Chef Tess Homemade Low Carb Bread
Yield 1 loaf (12 slices at 5 net carbs each)

4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3T olive oil
1 1/4 cup warm water (no hotter than 115 degrees)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Pyure Organic Stevia Erythritol baking blend
1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1 cup Blanched Almond Flour
1/4 cup Flax seed
1/4 cup Corn Bran
2 Tbsp.  Sesame Seed
1/4 cup Teff


  • In a gallon size bowl, combine the baking powder, salt,  Erythritol, Vital Wheat gluten, almond flour, Flax seed, corn bran, Sesame Seed and teff.
  • In a medium bowl combine the yeast, sugar, olive oil and water. Set aside until yeast mixture activates and bubbles. Add to the dry ingredients and knead by hand about 3 minutes until a mass of seeds can be seen safely nestled in a mesh of vital wheat gluten. Form into a ball. Cover and allow to raise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 
  •  Punch down. Transfer to a counter top that has been lightly misted with water. Form into a loaf (tutorial here). Lightly coat the top of the loaf with a misting of oil. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to raise 45 minutes longer. 
  •  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread 35-40 minutes (until over 165 degrees internal temperature). 

There you go! What a treat!  Happy baking. Happy new world of carbs!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shakshuka : The Versatile Middle Eastern Low Carb Egg Dish






Those of you who have been with me long enough remember the early days of the blog when I first introduced many of my loyal friends to some of my fast, delicious, and super simple comfort foods. My children were young. I ached to express my culinary creativity with my sweet family and dear cooking students. At that time, as it has often been through the years, every penny counted. I wasn't the chef buying truffle oil and expensive wine. I just wanted to feed my babies healthy good stuff.

 I still want all the whole food I can give them.

So, back when we embarked on the "whole foods on a budget campaign", I never in a bazillion years would have known that it would have led us to book deals, radio show hosting and my own TV show airing weekly in Las Vegas. If anything, I thought maybe I wouldn't absolutely lose my mind under a pile of dirty dishes and endless laundry while listening to "The Wheels on the Bus" on a loop.

As for the food, nothing has changed here at home except for the fact that my boys are now teenagers and eat like they have hollow legs. The job title has been added upon, I'm no longer just a full time stay at home mom, but also a full time Caregiver to my aged Mother in Law. When life turned I was given the challenge of being the full-time bread winner working in restaurants and bake shops as an executive chef, it was a struggle to find a balance.

God blessed us with a miracles this year and I am finally now able to be home again as a food writer, chef and recipe developer for a large grain company (and thankfully only having to travel a few times a month away from the home). It's funny how life changes. Both boys are now home-schooled. Little Man is almost done with college!  Granny is still here. Ace is still plugging away. Things are crazy every single day, but we love it!

However, we still want whole food. We still want to stay on budget. We still want it to be super delicious! Super. Freakin'. Drop-dead-happy-delicious. If anything, after all these years, I expect extra awesome flavor in as short a time as possible! 

So...that brings us to today's adventure.  One of the early day recipes we lovingly referred to as  2 Ingredient Ravioli Eggs...
We ate it often. My kids still love it and ask for it.

Fast forward eight years since I introduced it here on the blog.   I've seen a trend here in the Phoenix valley. Bistros and upscale neighborhood foodie establishments are starting to have a similar egg dish on their menu to the one I grew up adoring. We've seen them called "Eggs in Purgatory" but the original dish actually is North African in origin and is well known in the Middle East and Isreal. Earlier this week I saw it on one of my favorite food sites, Serious Eats and I knew I had to share my version of this more complex recipe.   It's a classic comfort dish, simple to make and quick.  Though this more "exotic" version has several more ingredients than my childhood favorite, it has found it's way into my heart with it's spice and additional vegetables. Change up the sauce with southwest seasonings and you've got an awesome fajita version of this dish. Add Bacon, caramelized onion, tarragon, and fennel instead of the cumin and you've got a delicious French version. Keep it simple with just tomato and egg...and you've got what my dad, The Pansy Man, would make for us at the end of a long work day or as a satisfying Saturday morning breakfast with thick wedges of homemade bread from fresh ground wheat.

The sky is the limit on how you can customize this one. However you change it up, it will always be one of my go-to classics. 

Shakshuka (Middle Eastern Poached Eggs)
YIELD:Serves  6-8
Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons garlic infused Avocado oil
  • 1  ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large red pepper (bell pepper for milder heat, or a hotter variety, such as red horned pepper, depending on your heat preference), stems, seeds, and ribs removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh small hot chili (such as jalapeno), stems, seeds, and ribs removed, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp.  sweet Hungarian or smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 ½  teaspoons whole or ground cumin seed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup minced cilantro and parsley, blended
  • 10 eggs
  • Sliced Kalamata or black olives, feta cheese, or artichoke hearts, for serving (all optional)
Directions
Heat oil in a large, deep 12-inch skillet with lid. When shimmering, add onion, pepper, and chili and spread into an even layer. Cook as you would fajita vegetables, without moving until deeply brown and beginning to almost char, about 6 minutes. Stir and repeat. Continue until softened, about another 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about a minute. Add Spices and toast about 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes, stirring carefully. Lower temperate to low simmer. 

With a spoon, make a whole near the edge of the pan and carefully break an egg into the whole. Repeat until you’ve partially submerged all 10 eggs in the pan. 

Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes for runny centers and 8-10 for a more well done firm center, until egg is poached to your preference.

Sprinkle with the herb mixture and additional toppings if desired.  Serve hot with fresh toasted bread. 


We like the eggs a little harder in the center.
My Fitness Pal Nutritional Information : Serving size 2 eggs, 281 calories, 17 gr. Carb, 5 grams fiber (12 net grams carbohydrate), 15 g protein, Fat 17 g.

There you go. A simple and delicious way to have a quick satisfying dinner.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rambling Review: Isopasta High protein Low-Carb Pasta


Remember the day I promised you guys that I'd only review on my blog the stuff I liked, because I'm classy that way? Well. Here's a good one.

I recently found a low-carb pasta that is based on protein...and it's really good.

 I didn't get paid to do this post. 
They didn't send me any free product. 
This is just my own  experiment and observation because I thought it sounded too good to be true! 



 It's called IsoPasta
photo courtesy of Isopasta 

Things to note:
  • At first, the price threw me. I'm admittedly a cheapskate and I'm used to the normal pasta prices at the grocery store, but then I did the math. For low carb, what I'd pay for a protein supplement or protein bar anyway, I could actually eat a rather filling and tasty meal. 
  • It makes a lot of pasta!  One bag of their pasta along with vegetables and lean beef, made about a half gallon of finished fusilli. They called this 5 servings, but the pasta is so filling, it was really more like 8. Plus the calorie count was 170, including only 7 net carbs and 30 grams of protein. 
  • Cooking time is real.   The package actually says to cook it for 30 minutes. That threw me off too. I'm a chef. I like a good texture to my pasta, but on this one they aren't kidding. 30 minutes and it is the texture of regular pasta. 
  • It's really filling.  I can eat this at noon and not have a hunger pain until six hours later. Not many protein bars can offer that.
  • It's so much like pasta, it's scary.  Like really scary. For those missing pasta in their life, it's a real blessing!


There you go. Just a quick review of something yummy!  Have an awesome Tuesday my darlings!


Monday, September 11, 2017

1 Week of Meal Prep Recipes for Health, Fitness and Saving Money



 Over the last year or so, I've been making an effort to prepare fresh meals for the week ahead of time. Part of this is has been to save money, since there's less tendency to opt for the last minute take-out meal if there's food already prepared at home. The other part of this, has been that I've been really trying to watch what I eat for health reasons.  So, today I'm going to share a few menu's and base recipes that can make several different flavorful meals.  Those who've been following my blog for a few years know that this is something I do regularly and it was the basic idea that I used on my TV show in Las Vegas. It just saves so much freakin' time! Different from my Meals in a Jar, this is fresh food. Most of these can easily be put in the freezer as well, so it's possible to have them on-hand for longer than a week. I make at least two of each of these meals, that way I have some for lunch and some on hand for dinner. This also ensures that my teenage boys will also have healthy choices available.

14 meals

Grilled Chicken 5 ways with Bell Peppers and Vegetables
Grilled Shrimp with Multi-Grain Stuffed Bell Peppers
Smoked Maple Salmon Slaw with Sprouted Quinoa

 Grilled Shrimp with Multi-Grain Stuffed Bell Peppers
yield 2 meals
  • 12 oz shrimp, peeled and veined
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic infused Avocado Oil
  • 5 mini bell peppers, cut in half and seeded. 
  • 1 cup cooked mixed grains (wheat, oats, triticale, or rye)
  • Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Green onions

 Directions: Saute shrimp in avocado oil. Remove from the pan and divide between two freezer safe meal containers.  Saute the bell peppers in the pan until tender. Arrange around the shrimp. Fill each pepper with a Tablespoon of cooked mixed grains.  Season well with all purpose seasoning, pepper flakes and green onions. Chill immediately.  To reheat, microwave 2-3 minutes on high. If frozen, 4-5 minutes.
 Smoked Maple Salmon Slaw with Sprouted Quinoa
yield 2 meals

  • 12 oz. Smoked Salmon filet 
  • 1 tsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Chef Tess All Purpose Seasoning
  • 4 cups cole slaw greens
  • 10 drops stevia
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic infused avocado oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fine minced onion
  • 1 tsp. poppy seed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked sprouted quinoa

Directions: Grill the salmon until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup and season well.  Divide salmon between 2 meal containers. In a large bowl, combine the slaw greens, stevia, vinegar, oil, onion, and poppy seeds. Season to taste. Divide between the two meal containers, next to the salmon.  Divide the quinoa between the containers, 1/2 cup each.



Grilled Chicken 5 ways with Bell Peppers and Vegetables 
yield 10 meals
A few weeks ago I shared how I've been on a real chicken kick the last bit and experimenting with a ton of flavor ideas to add some real jazz to my family's table with very little extra effort on my part. Yes, I do use Ahuacatlan Avocado Oil in this recipe. They sent me several cases of it to play with and I've been super impressed with the high smoke point and buttery flavors that it adds to my cooking. A high smoking point, by the way, is the best way to ensure that you won't be adding free radicals to your diet. 

One batch of marinade base will season 3 lbs of chicken breasts (about 10 breasts). Just baste them well in the marinade base.  Divide this marinated chicken into 10 meals in 5 quart sized freezer bags with 2 breasts each to give you the meal variations. It's the perfect amount for a fast meal.  Then, simply combine the flavor ingredients in the quart sized bag with the breasts.  Allow to marinate at least an hour in the fridge, but I prefer overnight.  Then, drain marinade and bake or grill as desired. 

Marinade Base
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Here's the flavor options:

Lime Poppyseed
Add 3 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 
2 Tbsp. lime zest 


Greek Festival

To base add: 
3 Tbsp. fresh minced dill
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp.  ground fennel seeds
 Garnish with kalamata olives and diced red pepper after cooking.

Orange and Onion Balsamic
To base add: 
3 Tbsp. orange zest
1/4 cup garlic
1/4 cup minced white onion

Raspberry and Rosemary

To base add:
1/4 cup raspberry juice concentrate 
1 Tbsp. minced rosemary
1 tsp fennel, ground


Hawaiian Pineapple Orange Guava

To base add:
1/2 cup Pineapple Orange Guava Juice concentrate
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 Tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

There you go! Now line up 10 meal containers and put one of each of the chicken variations in each container. Add 1 cup of grilled bell peppers  and steamed vegetables to each container and you're set!


Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2 Shelf-Stable Complete Pizza Kits for Camping and Beyond


    I spent an evening a while back teaching how to make these awesome shelf-stable pizza kits with some of my friends in Utah.  These are "just add water" simple and they use the technology of freeze-dried cheese. Yes. It is real cheese. Yes, it hydrates beautifully and gets gooey and awesome for pizza. Yes it is shelf-stable for a very long time. These kits are perfect for any day of the week! They're easy to make, and delicious!  They can travel anywhere without needing a fridge for the ingredients. 

The crust is a quick rise with the addition of some baking soda and buttermilk powder so it will raise light and fluffy without yeast! The other secret, is the addition of a tablespoon of lemonade powder. It is just enough to give the lemon-herb crust a fantastic depth. I use my spice blends because I know what they taste like. If you have a favorite, go with it, right? That being said, mine are online here. I'm not checking your cupboard, do whatever you want my dears.

Pizza Kits for Camping and Beyond
Each kit:
  •      1 quart-sized bag crust mix
  •      1 snack-sized bag sauce mix
  •      1 sandwich-sized bag 2 cups freeze-dried cheese

 I use freeze-dried mozzarella cheese for the Italian and Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese for the Enchilada Pizza.

Storage: Place all bags in a mylar bag or PETE container with a metal lid and an oxygen absorber.* Seal. Store meals in a cool dry place.  Meals will be shelf-stable up to 2 years with an oxygen absorber*If making vegetarian pizza, no oxygen absorber is needed, but they will only be shelf-stable about 6 months.
Crust quart bag:
No-Raise Lemon and Herb Pizza Crust Mix
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1T Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning (or Fajita seasoning for Southwest pizza)
1T SAF yeast or Instant active-dry yeast

Directions: Combine with 1 ¼ cup cool water and knead until a soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest 5-10 minutes. Roll or stretch-out into a 10-12 inch circle. Top with hydrated sauce and cheese and place in a heated Dutch oven or baking pan. Bake 425 degrees 25-30 minutes until cooked through.

Sauce Bags :
Chef TessBakeresse Instant Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup tomato powder
2T  freeze-dried onion
2T freeze-dried bell peppers
2T  freeze-dried mushrooms
1T granulated honey
1tsp Chef Tess Romantic Italian Seasoning (online they are here)
1/4 cup ultra-gel
Directions: Add 2 cups warm water (depending on how thick you want your sauce) and stir well.
For meaty sauce, add 1/2 cup freeze-dried sausage and increase water to 2 1/2 cups. Always use an oxygen absorber if you use the real meat. 

Chef TessBakeresse Instant Fiesta Enchilada Sauce Mix
1/4 cup ultra-gel
1 ½ T
 freeze-dried onion
2T  
tomato powder 
2T -4T ground ancho chile powder
1/4 tsp Chef Tess Wise Woman of The East Spice Blend 
(online they are here)
1T Chef Tess Fajita Seasoning 
(online they are here)
1 tsp baking cocoa (not hot chocolate)
2 tsp chicken bouillon (I like the no msg versions)
2 tsp
lemonade powder

Directions:  Combine the enchilada sauce mixture with 2 cups of  cool water. Whisk well. 

For Chicken enchilada pizza: add 1/2 cup freeze-dried chicken to the sauce bag and increase the water to 2 1/2 cups when hydrating. Always use an oxygen absorber if you use the real meat. 

I apply a label with the baking directions onto the container so I can remember what the heck I'm supposed to do. 

They look like this:

Chef Tess Bakeresse Shelf-Stable
Gourmet Pizza Kit
Crust Directions: Combine with 1 ¼ cup cool water and knead until a soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest 5-10 minutes.  Hydrate sauce and cheese. Roll or stretch-out into a 10 inch circle. Top with hydrated sauce and cheese and place in a heated Dutch oven or baking pan. Bake 425 degrees 25-30 minutes until cooked through.
Sauce Directions: Add 2 cups warm water (depending on how thick you want your sauce) and stir well.
Cheese: Lightly mist with cool water and allow to hydrate about 10 minutes. Top Pizza.
Chef Tess Bakeresse Homemade Shelf-Stable
Gourmet Pizza Kit
Crust Directions: Combine with 1 ¼ cup cool water and knead until a soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest 5-10 minutes.  Hydrate sauce and cheese. Roll or stretch-out into a 10 inch circle. Top with hydrated sauce and cheese and place in a heated Dutch oven or baking pan. Bake 425 degrees 25-30 minutes until cooked through.
Sauce Directions: Add 2 cups warm water (depending on how thick you want your sauce) and stir well.
Cheese: Lightly mist with cool water and allow to hydrate about 10 minutes. Top Pizza.
Chef Tess Bakeresse Homemade Shelf-Stable
Gourmet Pizza Kit
Crust Directions: Combine with 1 ¼ cup cool water and knead until a soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest 5-10 minutes.  Hydrate sauce and cheese. Roll or stretch-out into a 10 inch circle. Top with hydrated sauce and cheese and place in a heated Dutch oven or baking pan. Bake 425 degrees 25-30 minutes until cooked through.
Sauce Directions: Add 2 cups warm water (depending on how thick you want your sauce) and stir well.
Cheese: Lightly mist with cool water and allow to hydrate about 10 minutes. Top Pizza.
Chef Tess Bakeresse Homemade Shelf-Stable
Gourmet Pizza Kit
Crust Directions: Combine with 1 ¼ cup cool water and knead until a soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest 5-10 minutes.  Hydrate sauce and cheese. Roll or stretch-out into a 10 inch circle. Top with hydrated sauce and cheese and place in a heated Dutch oven or baking pan. Bake 425 degrees 25-30 minutes until cooked through.
Sauce Directions: Add 2 cups warm water (depending on how thick you want your sauce) and stir well.
Cheese: Lightly mist with cool water and allow to hydrate about 10 minutes. Top Pizza.
.

There you go my darlings! Shelf-stable pizza kits! Have fun with these! Onward and upward my darlings!


Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Freezer Friday: One Simple Marinade Base to Make 5 Unique Marinades


I've been on a real chicken kick the last few days experimenting with a ton of flavor ideas to add some real jazz to my family's table with very little extra effort on my part. Why? Because school started this week.  I've got a ton to do.  I don't need to worry about dinner on top of everything else in my zany but perfect nut-fest of a life. Right? 

 We all  need recipes like that! Today I'm saving you the effort of having to test a bazillion ideas. These are keepers...all of them! I'm really partial to making the base and putting it a gallon bag a few times, then just adding the flavor additions to the separate bags.  Then add chicken and throw it in the freezer! It's marinated and ready to bake or grill when you defrost it later. Boom yes!  Yes, I do use Ahuacatlan Avocado Oil in this recipe. They sent me several cases of it to play with and I've been super impressed with the high smoke point and buttery flavors that it adds to my cooking. A high smoking point, by the way, is the best way to ensure that you won't be adding free radicals to your diet. 


Marinade Base
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


One batch of marinade base will season 1 1/2 lbs of chicken. It's the perfect amount for a fast meal.  Simply combine the ingredients in a gallon sized bag and transfer chicken to the bag.  Allow to marinate at least an hour in the fridge, but I prefer overnight.  Then, drain marinade and bake or grill as desired. 

Here's the flavor options:

Lime Poppyseed
Add 3 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 
2 Tbsp. lime zest 



Greek Festival

To base add: 
3 Tbsp. fresh minced dill
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp.  ground fennel seeds
 Garnish with kalamata olives and diced red pepper after cooking.

Orange and Onion Balsamic
To base add: 
3 Tbsp. orange zest
1/4 cup garlic
1/4 cup minced white onion

Raspberry and Rosemary

To base add:
1/4 cup raspberry juice concentrate 
1 Tbsp. minced rosemary
1 tsp fennel, ground


Hawaiian Pineapple Orange Guava

To base add:
1/2 cup Pineapple Orange Guava Juice concentrate
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 Tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

There you go! Easy and delicious marinades to make your life simple!


Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess


Friday, August 4, 2017

How to Make Your Own Raw Chocolate- Guest Post




This is the second time I've had a wonderful guest post from Gemma Hodgson, and what's not to love about this one?! Her previous post was Why Grow Your Own Sprouts and it was so full of great information and healthy benefits, that I couldn't resist when she offered to also do this one on how to make your own chocolate.  Take it away amazing Gemma!


Make Your Own Raw Chocolate! It’s Easy!

Lucky for the billions of chocolate lovers around the world, numerous studies have established that yes, chocolate can actually be good for you. One study published in May, 2017 in the journal Heart by researchers at Harvard, found that the consumption of moderate amounts of dark chocolate was linked to a significantly lower risk of atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat that can be deadly). The researchers concluded, “Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioral factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias.” 

Other research has pointed to many more benefits of dark chocolate – including its incredibly high magnesium content. Raw cacao is actually rich in iron, PEA (a compound thought to enhance mood and energy levels), and flavonoids –known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Fascinating studies have pointed out that chocolate can improve cognitive performance, reduce the likelihood of stroke, play an important role in preventing memory decline, reduce levels of bad cholesterol (and raise levels of good cholesterol) and even promote beautiful skin (because of its flavonoid content). The sky is the limit when it comes to the benefits of chocolate, yet often, the type we consume, is far from healthy.

What is the Problem with Chocolate?
Most commercially accessible chocolate (especially milk chocolate) contains inordinate amounts of refined sugar, which promotes insulin resistance, is bad for heart health, and causes tooth decay. So bad is sugar for the teeth that dentists are currently recommending that children avoid bottled juice, since the high sugar content tends to stick to teeth and cause decay, often leading to painful, expensive procedures which would be so easy to avoid by consuming a more nutritious diet. Milk chocolate, which melts easily, also poses a high risk for tooth health.

The average milk chocolate actually contains very little cacao – it tends to comprise 50 per cent white sugar and 35 per cent milk solids – how much room does this actually leave for the cacao itself? The high sugar content means that the bad actually outweighs the good. The best way to reap all the benefits of the potent cacao bean, is to make your very own raw chocolate. Raw chocolate actually contains three times more antioxidants than green tea. By avoiding dairy (which blocks antioxidant absorption), we can make our favorite treat even healthier. In addition to containing a wealth of flavonoids, raw chocolate is also high in fiber (which makes us feel full and which therefore can be of aid in a weight loss diet), in anandamides (which boost mood and promote a sense of well being), and sulphur (a mineral that can aid in making our skin, hair and nails strong and beautiful).

Best of all, raw chocolate is so easy to make! Follow our basic recipe below:

Raw Chocolate
Ingredients (serves 6)
8 tablespoons cocoa butter
4 tablespoons cocoa liquor
2/3 cup raw cocoa powder
8 tablespoons raw honey
pinch of Himalayan salt
* any additional ingredients you would like such as raw nuts, goji berries or other dried fruit

Instructions:
Sift the raw cocoa powder and set aside. Melt the cocoa butter in one pan and the cocoa liquor in another pan; use the boiler method for both to ensure the chocolate is not cooked but just melted. Mix the cocoa butter and liquor in a bowl, adding the honey until the mixture is smooth. Add the raw cocoa power and salt and mix again. If you like citrusy flavours, add an edible, therapeutic grade essential oil like bergamot or mandarin – use just one drop, as essential oils are very potent and you wouldn’t want them to overtake the chocolatey taste.
You can add any additional ingredients at this stage; some people love to chunk up their chocolate with anything from raw cashews to dried blueberries. Pour your chocolate mix into a mold – you can use any silicone mold you like, to make rectangular shaped bars, or mini bonbons.

The good news is that you won’t have to wait to long to sample your little big of heaven, since the chocolate will harden in as little as 10 or 15 minutes! If you like to blend fruit with chocolate, take large, ripe strawberries and dip them into the chocolate then place in the fridge until the chocolate hardens – the result will be so decadent, you’ll find it hard to believe it’s actually good for you!



Thank you so much for sharing this Gemma! Now everyone can make more chocolate! What's not to love about that?!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess