Category Archives: Cooking Tips

How to use Young Coconut

You’ve seen fresh coconuts in the stores, well lately, fresh young coconuts are becoming popular in health food stores, however, most shoppers don’t know what to do with them because they are not like a full-grown coconut that you just crack open and eat the meat inside. A young coconut is not fully developed yet, the meat inside the shell is very soft and slimy, like the consistency of a cooked egg white. It does not taste as good as mature coconut meat; so what do you do with it?

Young CoconutIf you are into coconut water, there is nothing in the world that tastes better than the coconut water you get from a fresh, young coconut. It rivals anything in a can, bottle or box. So the first thing to do with a young coconut is save the water. The best approach to using young coconut is to take a very sharp knife and cut away as much of the surrounding fiber shell as possible, then, hack away at the top of the coconut as if using an axe until you cut a small hole or crack in the top of it, then turn it upside down onto a glass or cup to catch the wonderful tasting coconut water. You can keep in in a jar with a lid in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days.

Now for the meat, since it does not taste like the coconut meat we are accustomed to, it takes some creativity to figure out just what you can use it for, but for starters, you must crack the coconut in half (I have found the best way to do this even with a mature coconut is to throw it down as hard as you can onto a concrete walk, garage floor or driveway to bust it into pieces or crack it enough to break it open. This actually works like a charm with the least amount of effort. You may have to throw it down onto the concrete a few times to crack it enough to split it open.

Once you are able to split the coconut into pieces and break it apart, take a spoon and scoop the tender young meat off the shell and use it in the following ways.

1.) Add it to dishes. Young coconut meat adds an interesting slight coconut flavor to chicken, fish and salads. Also add it to smoothies.

2.) Coconut chips: It’s easy to cut the young coconut meat into strips and dehydrate them for a great tasting snack that’s also high in calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium. Even better yet, make them into a awesome treat with our recipe below.

Chocolate Covered Coconut Chips Recipe:

1 fresh young coconut

1 dark chocolate organic candy bar

Cut and slice the coconut meat as described above. Dehydrate it with a dehydrator or an oven at a low-heat; such as below 300 degrees. Once dried, coconut chips can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 months to make a fast, easy to grab snack.

Melt a dark chocolate candy bar in the microwave for 30 seconds, dip and coat the coconut chips in the chocolate, put them on a plate to cool. Once cooled, the chocolate will harden on the chips making a wonderful, highly nutritious and non-processed treat.

The Difference Between Coconut Milk and Coconut Water.

Coconut water is the juice, or water, found when you crack open a fresh coconut. Coconut milk is made by blending the coconut meat and water together into a fine milk, much the way almond milk is made.

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Juicy Prime Rib Roast

This olive oil rub holds the juices in and the rosemary gives it a nice flavor.

Prime Rib Roast. Makes 8-10 servings.

1 or 2 bone standing rib roast

1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed with a mortar and pestle or using the bottom of a cup to crush it on a cutting board

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

Mix the olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a small dish. Put rib roast in a baking pan or this is also good on the grill. With a fork, poke the roast all over. Rub the oil mixture all over the roast so it is well coated.

Bake in a 350º oven for about 1 hour or until a meat thermometer reaches the temp for medium rare. Baste the roast every 20 minutes with more of the rub.

Prime rib is best cooked to medium rare and chefs take great pains to make sure this cut of meat is not overdone.

Keep in mind, the meat will actually continue to cook for a couple minutes after it is removed from the oven. The internal temperature can go up as much as 2-3 more degrees until it starts to cool off.

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Cooking Tip: About Molasses

Molasses packs a powerful nutritional punch in just a small amount. 1 Tbsp of Plantation brand molasses contains 600 mgs of potassium and 20% of the RDA of calcium and iron.

During the sugar making process, juice extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets is boiled down until the sugars crystallize and precipitate out. The syrup left over after crystallization is referred to as molasses. Typically, sugar cane juice undergoes three cycles of boiling and crystallization to extract as much sugar as possible. White sugars are then “bleached” to make them white while molasses is not.

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Cooking Tip: Cooking Oil Differences

Cocount Oil: is the only vegetable oil that does not oxidize when heated at high temperatures and is therefore the best oil for frying. Oxidation can cause toxins in food. Coconut milk (not the liquid that spills out when you crack it open, but the liquid extracted from the pulp of the coconut) is very nutritious and high in protein. Coconut is also very high in fat,but coconut oil is a “good fat” as long as it is not hydrogenated coconut oil. Coconut oil is just about the only carb that will give you energy and not spike insulin levels. Fifty percent of the fat content in coconut oil is lauric acid, which when converted by the body is anti-viral, anti-protozoa and anti-bacterial, having been known to destroy such viruses as HIV and herpes, measles, the flu, giardia and other bacteria. Coconut oil has the highest amount of lauric acid of any food out there.

Significant Nutrients: Coconut milk is very high in potassium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. 1 C of the milk has 630mg of potassium, 240mg of phosphorus and 2.2mg of manganese.

Olive Oil: High in Omega-6 fatty acids. A heavy oil but this is a better oil for frying than some of the lighter oils like grapeseed because it has a high viscosity, which means it won’t burn at higher temperatures. Olive oil can also be kept at room temperature without getting rancid.

Grape Seed Oil: A nice, light oil good for salad dressings and cooking anything where you do not want the olive oil taste. High in Omega-s fatty acids, vitamin E and good fats. Should be refrigerated or it gets rancid quickly.

Flavored Oils: Walnut oil, sesame oil, pumpkin seed oil etc are all mostly used to add unique flavors to dishes and nutrients and are not used as primary cooking oils.

NOTE: When substituting olive oil or grapeseed oil for butter, reduce the baking time by about 5 to 10 minutes. When oil is used in recipes in place of butter, it tends to make baked goods brown much faster and darker. A recent study suggests eating foods that are too browned may lead to the sugars creating acrylamide – a toxin proven to cause cancer.

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Dehydrating Foods

dehydrated_preservesDehydrated foods make great, healthy snacks, a convenient lunch or a vitamin-saving way to preserve foods.

Most commercially dried fruits and vegetables use sulfides and preservatives even on dried foods as a precaution. Many people have allergies to these preservatives and if you don’t want chemicals on your foods, you might consider dehydrating your own. Dehydrated fruits make excellent snacks as drying preserves almost all of the vitamins and nutrients of foods.

Dehydrating Basics: Clean and slice vegetables very thin. They will dehydrate better if cut into thin slices rather than chunks. Lay all the pieces out on racks in a dehydrator or use metal oven racks. Make sure none of the vegetable slices overlap or touch each other.

They must be completely dry before you store them or they will get moldy, so it’s better to over-dry them than not dry them enough.

If using an oven to dehydrate, you will have to get some very small-spaced metal racks or use cookie sheets and flip the produce on a regular basis until completely dry. Use a heat setting of 200 degrees or less. You want to dry it not cook it, or it will still rot and spoil. Dehydrators are not that expensive and well worth the investment. They will pay for themselves in no time.

dehydraterPeach or Apple Chips:

Rinse and clean fruit. Core or pit it but leave the peels on for flavor and nutrients. Slice thinly, about 1/8 inch thin or less. Arrange on dehydrator or oven racks and dry according to directions.

When fruit is dry enough to snap it in half and it is not rubbery or flexible, it’s dry enough for chips and to store for about 6 months in a glass jar with a lid.

Not only do these make tasty nonprocessed snacks, but you can add them to your homemade granola. Recipe is on page 122.

Banana Chips: Slice bananas 1/8 inch thick or less. Banana slices must be dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from browning while they dry. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice in a bowl and after slicing the bananas, drop them into the bowl to coat them. Then arrange them on racks for drying.

Dried Vegetables: Vegetables such as Okra, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions etc., can be preserved and used in soups, stews or other dishes. The best way to use them once dried is to either put them in a dish with enough liquid to re-hydrate them fully, or to soak what you need for a recipe for a couple hours to re-hydrate them before use.

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Cooking Tip: How Long to Cook Seafood.

Fish and seafood should be cooked just until hot in the middle. When they are over-cooked, they get rubbery or mushy. However, every fish fillet is a different thickness and so are most pieces of seafood, so how do you know when they are done to perfection? Shrimp, crab and lobster will turn bright red or pink when done. Fish will pull apart easily with a fork in the middle of the fillet. Tasting a little portion as they cook is the best way to tell, and check them every couple of minutes because they overcook very quickly.

Get the pot steaming first before you add the seafood.

Cooking Times For Steamed Seafood:

Lobster: about 11 minutes for 3/4 to 1 pound lobsters, about 13 minutes for 1 to 1 1/4 pound lobsters, and about 14 minutes for 1 1/2 to 2 pound lobsters.

Crab Legs: large Alaskan Kind Crab: 13 minutes

Shrimp: large: 8-10 minutes

GRILLING

1. Place King Crab Legs (thawed or frozen) on preheated Grill Grates (8 to 10 minutes on Low-Low/Med Heat, lid down).
2. Grill crab legs with lid-down on Low-Low/Med Heat. For charcoal, grill after the red hot peak, gray coals only.  Close lid.
3. Grilling Time for Frozen: approx. 12-15 minutes, turn after 6 minutes. Grilling Time for Thawed: approx.  8-10 minutes, turn after 5 minutes.  You will see a trace of sizzling natural juices on your GrillGrates just before Crab is done.

Grilled Shrimp is best on a skewer. Grill on hot, preheated grill for just 5-8 minutes until bright pink.

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Make Your Own Caramels / Sweetened Condensed Milk

Stir 2 cups sugar (Rapadura tastes good) in a saucepan with a heavy bottom until it melts completely and browns slightly, do not burn.

sweetcond_milkAdd 14 ounces, sweetened condensed milk, or make your own by mixing 1/4 cup organic cornstarch with 14 ounces of milk. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat until starts to thicken then add 1/2 cup honey or 1 cup sugar substitute.

Cook just until thick.

Pour hot caramel onto a greased cookie sheet and cut into desired sized caramels. Let cool and wrap in individual pieces of waxed paper.

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Healthier Mashed Potatoes

It’s not really the potatoes that make this dish fattening and full of cholesterol: it’s the butter. Well this recipe has a solution to that without missing any flavor. In fact, most people say this has more flavor because you taste the potatoes and seasonings that are not overpowered by the lard-taste of butter. You will never miss the butter, except around your bellies or thighs.

Makes 4 servings:

4-6 large potatoes. (yukon golds, reds or purples are best for this because they have more flavor and are softer than russets.)

1/2 cup soy or almond milk

1 tsp sea salt

couple sprinkles of fresh ground pepper

1-2 Tbsp grapeseed oil

Optional: chopped chives, parsley or cilantro

Steam the potatoes until soft. Using a potato masher, blender or food processor, blend the potatoes with the rest of the ingredients until smooth and creamy. You may need to add a dash more grapeseed oil or milk depending on how big your potatoes are. Mix in chives, parsley or cilantro.

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How to Use Fresh Pumpkin in Recipes

pumpkin-pureeBy now, we should all be aware that the cans used for canned foods are coated with a thin layer of plastic on the inside. That means all canned foods leach petroleum by products from plastics into the food they contain. Canned Pumpkin is one of the worst. We believe in using fresh ingredients whenever possible, but using fresh pumpkin in place of canned in recipes can be a bit tricky. This is because canned pumpkin is pressed to squeeze as much water out of it as possible so it’s very condensed. Fresh pumpkin tastes so much better though, and with a little preliminary preparation is well worth it in taste, vitamins and reducing toxins.

We find the easiest way to use a pumpkin for baking recipes is to cut the stem off, then chop it into smaller chunks or slices, remove the seeds (but save them for roasting later – see our roasted squash and pumpkin seeds recipe)  then bake it on a cookie sheet until soft. About 45 minutes at 350º.  Baking it takes most of the water out of it so it is more dense like canned pumpkin. You can steam it, but it will have a lot more water in it and may not work for baking recipes.

After it’s cooked until soft, then cut the peeling off. It is much easier to cut the peeling off of hard winter squashes and pumpkins after they are cooked and not before. Besides, leaving the skin on during cooking holds in nutrients.

Cut the cooked flesh into chunks and put them in a blender or food processer to puree. You can freeze the extra for use in other recipes later.

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Quinoa Without the Bitter Taste

Quinoa (pronounced Keen Wa) is a very nutritious grain that is also gluten-free so it has become quite popular in health food stores. It is one of the few vegetable sources that is a complete protein all by itself.

However, quinoa also naturally has bitter saponins on its outer coating, so it must be rinsed thoroughly, for at least 1 minute in cold, running water before it is used. The grain is very fine, so using a fine strainer, rinse the grain under cold-running water while rotating it and flipping it in the strainer to try and rinse the grains on all sides as much as possible. This removes most of the bitter saponins and then quinoa is actually quite delicious.

Cooking Quinoa:

1 cup quinoa – thoroughly rinsed

Place quinoa in a saucepan with enough water to cover it by about 1/2 inch. Add salt and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until grains burst and are soft. Flavor with honey, fruit and milk and eat it as a cereal – one that is much more nutritious than boxed commercial cereals.

Sprouting Quinoa:

For macrobiotic diets, and to get the most nutritional value out of grains, they should be sprouted or soaked and not cooked – hence the sudden popularity of the “overnight” method of soaking oatmeal instead of cooking it. This can also be done with any of the softer grains such as quinao.
Rinse quinoa thoroughly, put it in a jar with a lid, cover with at least an inch of cold water. Sprinkle with salt (if you have hard water, salt helps sprout the grain), cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

 

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