Happy New Year 2018! Did you make a resolution to lose weight, eat healthier, or cook at home more often than eating out? If you answered yes to any of these options, chances are you may need to seek out the best chef knife to get the job done. We know first-hand the value of having the right knife for the right job, and to make sure the knife stays sharp!
When I started this personal chef business in Seattle, I opted for investing in one really good 8” Santoku chef’s knife instead of purchasing a set of knives with multiple functions. Culinary students and graduates probably feel naked without their black case laden with artillery, but one is good enough for me. It seems standard at home to display a whole block of knives, however there’s usually just that one “go-to” that is consistently used. If anything else, a short paring knife and a serrated bread knife make the most sense to round out your options. Keep your knife collection simple, functional, and to the point (yes, pun intended).
If you are considering a change in your cutlery, check out this article on Best Chef Knife Reviews by Reviews.com. We are not specifically endorsing any of this site’s recommendations. We just want to give you some food for thought so you can make a decision based on what best suits your cooking interests.
No kitchen is complete without a few good knives, and no knife is complete without a sharp edge. If your knives are just not cutting it (pun intended), invest just a couple minutes of your time to get an edge on those blades. Wusthof makes an easy-to-use hand-held knife sharpener that you can find online or at a gourmet kitchen store near you. It has entails a 2-step process for a coarse edge and a fine edge. Granted, using it yields a bit of a “nails of a chalkboard” reaction for me, though the brief noise discomfort is worth the effort. You may be thinking that a sharp knife equals less crying over onions, but what about crying over sliced fingers? To which I ask, have you labored over a butternut squash with a dull knife before? That’s a sure-fire way to guarantee you’ll be a two-fingered bandit in the kitchen afterward. Sharpening your knife even once a week is a good routine to help you handle your produce and meats with ease. I rest my (knife)case.
Equip your kitchen with the best chef knife you can afford that also feels comfortable to use. Then you will be more inclined to slice, dice, and julienne some delicious meals to stay healthy!
Author: Chef Laura Taylor, excerpted as a preview from her upcoming book
Posted in Kitchen Inspiration and tagged chef knife, cutlery, healthy eating, kitchen organization
The Salt and How to Shake it – Enjoying a Mineral Rich Diet for your Health
“What do salt cravings mean and isn’t too much salt bad for you?” Salt is a mineral that has over 1,400 uses but our most common is seasoning and preserving our food. Salt has a fascinating history being held as sacred and high in value. As early as the 6th century people were using salt and money interchangeably as the value of one ounce of gold could be used for one ounce of salt. The word solarium argentum is the name for the Roman soldiers pay and where we derive our word salary from. Soldiers got their month’s salary and part of that pay was a ration of salt.
Salt on our table
When it comes to choosing a salt, we tell our clients to choose one with color either from the earth or from the sea. The processing of iodized table salt cooks the majority of minerals off, bleaches and dilutes it with anti-caking agents and is high in bromine, a known disruptor of iodine. Although common table salt has iodine, the bromine renders this useless to our bodies. This processed salt gives all salts a bad name by causing high blood pressure as well as many other health issues. Himalayan salt is mined from deep within the earth and since it is incredibly old, it has been protected from environmental effects and pollution that has happened over the course of history. It has 84 trace minerals in it and is one of our favorite salts. Redmon’s real salt is another great choice for a natural mineral and minded in Utah – always an advocate for local products! Celtic salt usually has a grayish to purplish color to it which comes from the clay of coastal salt flats in France. It is deemed by mainstream culinary world as the best salt available, its methods for harvest follow 2,000 year-old Celtic culture and tradition.
Naturally Mineral Rich Foods
Herbs are really foods and an extension of our diet that we in the western world separate. Parsley can pull heavy metals and toxins from the blood. Notice the salty mineral taste of parsley. Celery is high in magnesium; notice the naturally salty taste as well. Also, try freshly brewed nettle and alfalfa tea is one of our favorite mineral drinks, practically a liquid multivitamin!
Organ meats like liver are filled with iron, vitamin A and many of the B vitamins. Organs are the inner pipes of the animal and the nutrition absorbs easily without conversion or much help. We have pureed chicken liver (in the food processor) and added it to meatloaf or meatball recipe. For the best flavor, we like to use two types of meat, such as beef and pork with the pureed liver mix in with vegetables and oats (for meatloaf) if you choose to eat grains.
As ancient as we are, this was the original food. In fact, the first restaurants in France (not what we think of as they are today) sold only broth and the word restaurant actually comes from the French verb sur restore’ meaning restore. Stocks are made by adding your vegetable scraps and/or bones to water with herbs to extract all the liquid nutrition. Bone broth is growing in recognition and popularity for its ability to heal the gut and provide us with extra collagen and gelatin for our joints, bones, hair and skin. This liquid gold can be added as part of a new health routine. Try have a cup in the morning or evening.
Dark leafy greens are high in vitamins like Calcium, C, Magnesium and vitamin K which builds the blood and allows us to make clots. Together these are part of an orchestra of vitamins (D, K, calcium, magnesium, C and A) that build strong bones.
Root vegetables develop underground pulling the minerals of the earth around them into their tuberous bodies. Some people are put off by the flavor of beets as they taste like “dirt”. We politely correct them by saying that beets taste like the earth and with the right seasoning and preparation such as balsamic with fresh herbs or some sweet smokey paprika they balance out nicely. Beets are a blood builder, meaning that they have all the minerals needed to create healthy balanced blood. Carrots are high in beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, which is important to eye and skin health.
Vegetables of the sea! High in minerals with the ability to detoxify the body of radioactive compounds. The people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan ate a lot of kelp and survived the radioactive fallout from nuclear attacks.
Himalayan Salt Sole Recipe
Sole is a natural super saturation of salt in water. Follow this recipe for Sole and add a teaspoon of the concentration to your glass of water. Notice how it tastes and feels in your mouth and also how your body feels within the next half hour.
1 large quart mason jar with a non metal lid
Medium pieces of Himalayan salt rocks or 1-2c if using smaller granules
Clean spring, artesian water, or filtered (free of any contaminants)
For more information about the health benefits of Sole (pronounced Solay), check out this post over on wellnessmama.com
Historically people and animals have craved salt due to its mineral content, which we are largely composed of. When your next salt craving hits ask yourself first what kind of foods have you been eating lately and try experimenting with a mineral rich food from nature or a bit of sole in your water instead of reaching for a refined snack.
Posted in Uncategorized
East meets West in our Client’s Kitchens! Pho sure!
Looking for a healthy, delicious, gluten-free recipe suitable for a cold day in Seattle? You have come to the right place! Welcome to Honest to Goodness Personal Chef Services where East meets West in the life of Chef Alison Adair.
The vast geography of Vietnam surprises me every time I visit. In just a few hours, you can travel from a beautiful beach, to rolling hills, through thick jungles to gorgeous mountains and sand dunes. With the help from the EasyRider Tour Company, a Vietnamese local, and a Harley Davidson, I embarked on a four-day tour through Vietnam to learn about local culture and delicious food. Most of all, I fell in love with pho and fresh spring rolls!
I utilized my experiences in Vietnam as inspiration and adapted those meals to fit the dietary needs of my Honest to Goodness personal chef clients. Both of these recipes bring a wealth of flavors and also nutrient-rich foods to your table.
- First, dip the Brown Rice Wrappers into warm water for about ten seconds to get soft
- Lay the wrapper flat, and in a row across the center place your filling leaving a little space uncovered on each side
- Filling options: cooked shrimp cut in half, firm tofu, shredded red cabbage or carrots, avocado, cucumber, fresh Thai basil, cilantro, lettuce
- Once you have filled the wrapper fold the uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper (basically like rolling a burrito)
Serve the rolls immediately with or without a sauce, or package in the refrigerator for later. I like to dip my rolls in San-J Organic Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce. Of course, you could add more ingredients to the tamari, but why do that when the rolls are already filled with so much greatness?
What the Pho is Pho (pronounced “fuh”), you may be thinking? Pho is a healthy soup packed with fresh herbs and rice noodles. Traditional Pho is made from Vietnamese ingredients but with a French connection. Since great broth is key, Pho takes a very long time to make. However, I’ll share a short cut with you. You could call this Faux Pho if you like, although the taste is far from Faux!
When I want a quick, delicious, and comforting meal, I enjoy the taste of “HAPPY PHO”, Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Soup. The package contains the noodles and spice mix. I like to mix two of their flavors, zesty ginger and shiitake mushrooms, with Pacific Brand Beef Broth (they also make lovely vegetarian and chicken broths). First, boil the broth (substitute water if you don’t have broth) then add the spices. Next add fresh mushrooms and your choice of sliced beef or tofu. I like to use a filet mignon cut thinly because it is lean and oh-so-tender. Lastly, add the noodles and any fresh herbs you like such as basil, mint, or cilantro.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy a little taste of Southeast Asia in your Northwest kitchen! If you are still unsure of your cooking skills and want some hands-on instruction, contact me to teach a cooking class for you and some friends in the comfort of your own home!
I hope you get a chance to enjoy a little taste of Southeast Asia in your Northwest kitchen! If you are still unsure of cooking skills and want some hands-on instruction, contact me to teach a cooking class for you and some friends in the comforts of your own home!
Posted in Guest Bloggers, Healthy Living, Recipes, Travel and tagged gluten-free, herbs, pho, recipe, soup, spring rolls, travel, tropics, vacation food
Ignite your Immune System by Firing up your Blender!
Winter Smoothies for your Health
Is your Immune System ready for a late-winter pick-me-up? Spring is coming soon, but the grey, drizzly days of February can be a bit daunting in the meantime. We suggest you bust out that blender to brighten your spirits! Try one of these delicious, energizing smoothies or tonics, packed with what our bodies crave this time of year!
This Immune Boosting Green Detox smoothie is 100% AIP/Paleo compliant and oh-so refreshing! Citrus Beet Energy Juice comes together in a juicer or your blender with beets and winter fruits for an afternoon boost of energy. The antioxidant mix in the Master Immunity Boosting Smoothie is also a powerful tool for cold and flu prevention. When you need something warm to hit that reset button, this quick Hot Detox Tonic is ready in no time with ingredients from your pantry!
Beat the winter blahs from the inside out!
Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes
Seasonings for the Season!
Sprucing up your Spice Collection in Preparation for Holiday Cooking
Greetings! Is your spice collection ready for Holiday Cooking this season? I’m Chef Marie, and as the calendar transitions to fall and winter, I have some tips on starting your own indoor herb garden and the staple spices you need to have on-hand for upcoming holiday cooking. I used to grow all sorts of plants, vegetables, herbs and spices when I lived in San Diego, CA. My dog didn’t seem to care for them and left them alone. However, I have cats now and they love to eat everything alive in my house! Flowers in vases, my lucky miniature bamboo and yes, even my little containers of herbs. So, barring any greenery-munching pets, I hope these ideas inspire you to start your own fresh indoor herb garden.
Start your own herbs plants from the roots of herbs you’ve used from previous cooking!
- When using fresh chives, save the white part of the chives with its roots, place it in a container with 2 inches of water. In a few days they will be ready to plant in soil, starting your next crop.
- Plant Parsley and Mint tops directly into the soil and will root pretty soon.
- Have an abandoned garlic bulb showing a sprout of green on the top? Tuck it into some fresh soil!
- Some herbs can be grown just in water instead of planting in soil – what a simple idea! A few examples of herbs to try are Mint, Oregano, Sage, Basil, Lemon Balm, Thyme, Tarragon and Rosemary. Take cuttings from these herbs and place them in fresh water. Some may take longer to root but just be patient!
Just remember to not over-water. Feel the soil before each watering, making sure the top 1 ½ to 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch. Make sure to fertilize your herbs every 6-8 weeks, for nice, lush plants, that will provide plenty of fresh leaves for your Holiday Meals, and beyond! If you don’t have a bright, sunny window for your indoor herb garden, you may need to substitute fluorescent lighting during our Seattle winter months.
Fall is a great time to refresh your spice collection
I love to cook Asian and Latin Cuisines so I have lots of those spices in my pantry. Your spice collection will reflect the preferred flavors of your household. For your Holiday Cooking basics, start with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and cinnamon, making sure each is of the freshest and highest quality.
- In culinary school, salt and pepper were the first seasonings we were presented. Not iodized salt or ground pepper, but kosher salt and peppercorns that we ground into our own fresh black pepper. As I continue to grow as a chef, I now use fine sea salt as it is more naturally processed than the kosher salt. I still grind my own black pepper as I find the taste is better when its freshly ground. Invest in a good pepper mill, and leave behind the pre-ground stuff! I just like to have the feel of the spice in my fingers to have better control of the level of seasonings in the food.
- Oregano is a very versatile spice, found in Latin, Mediterranean and New American cooking and a cornerstone to every cook’s spice cupboard.
- Don’t overlook the aromatics, Garlic and Onion powder. Their flavor uplifts your cooking both with taste and smells.
- Cinnamon can be used for both savory and sweet cooking.
You can buy most spices either ground or dried. Ground spices lose their potency after 2-3 years, where dried spices last longer in your pantry, about 3-4 years. Despite these shelf-life times, we personally recommend cooking through your herbs and spices on a more frequent basis to maintain their optimal freshness. Keep them in a dry, non humid area, and go through them from time to time, discarding older jars to replace with new.
Thank you for taking the time to read this guest post. What are your favorite herbs and spices to cook with?
Posted in Holidays, Kitchen Organization and tagged gardening, herbs, holiday cooking, spices
Choco-Chia-Berry Protein Smoothie
Whether you want a breakfast on-the-go, midday meal replacement, or post-workout snack, blending up a protein smoothie is a great way to keep energized, well-nourished and happy! If you are in a bit of a flavor rut, give this one a try. You’ll get a protein and fiber boost to help keep you fuller longer. The extra boost of anti-oxidants and Omega-3s combined with the flavorful sugar-free preserves is a tasty way to support your overall health goals.
This quick and tasty smoothie is the last of a 3 part series of recipes created using delicious, gourmet products from Nature’s Hollow. These jams and sauces are made with Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is ideal for diabetics or anyone concerned about their sugar intake. Let us know what you think!
Choco-Chia-Berry Protein Smoothie
*low-sugar, low-carb, low-sodium, gluten-free, dairy-free option, soy-free option
Yields: 2 servings
2 cups unsweetened milk of choice (cow, almond, soy)
2 scoops low-sugar chocolate protein powder of choice (we used Vega Protein & Greens Chocolate Flavor)
2 Tbsp chia seeds
4 Tbsp Nature’s Hollow Mountain Berry Sugar-Free Jam Preserves
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes.
Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes and tagged dairy-free, gluten-free, low-carb, low-sodium, low-sugar, smoothie, soy-free
Raspberry Coconut Cake Donut Holes or Muffins
Satisfying a sweet-tooth while staying within dietary restrictions is an important hurdle to overcome in order to make life-long healthy food choices. For this blog post, I would like to share part 2 of a 3 part series of recipes created using delicious, gourmet products from Nature’s Hollow. These jams and sauces are made with Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is ideal for diabetics or any one concerned about their sugar intake. I have incorporated ingredients that are supportive of almost any dietary guideline. For those of you with a gluten-free lifestyle, these coconut cake donut holes are thoughtfully designed just for you!
Raspberry Coconut Cake Donut Holes or Muffins
*low-sugar, low-carb, low-sodium, gluten-free, dairy-free option, soy-free
Yields: 24 servings
¼ cup butter of choice, melted
¼ cup sunflower, grapeseed, or softened coconut oil
½ cup coconut sugar (or ¼ cup coconut sugar + 2 Tbsp Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Honey )
2 whole eggs (or chia/flax eggs made with 2 Tbsp chia seeds/golden flaxmeal + 6 Tbsp water)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla or coconut extract
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups coconut flour
2-2 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (coconut flour absorbs more liquid than wheat flour)
1 jar Nature’s Hollow Raspberry Sugar-Free Jam Preserves (or other jam of choice)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a donut hole pan or mini muffin pan.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla/coconut extract.
Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the almond milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. If using a donut hole pan, make small rounded balls of dough to place in each hole cup.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center holes/muffins comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and set pan on a rack to cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove donuts from pan to cooling rack.
Once donut holes/muffins have completely cooled, use a turkey baster to squirt in a small dollop of raspberry preserves for a filled cake donut treat!
Healthy living — how sweet it is!
Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes and tagged dairy-free, dessert, gluten-free, low-sugar, soy-free
Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce
Sweet, sticky, slightly Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce brushed over grilled-to-perfection chicken pieces or falling-off-the-bone ribs is a cornerstone of the summertime meal plan. For this blog post, I would like to share part 1 of a 3 part series of recipes created using delicious, gourmet products from Nature’s Hollow. These jams and sauces are made with Xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is ideal for diabetics or any one concerned about their sugar intake. Enjoy your end of summer grilling without compromising your health goals!
Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce
*sugar-free, low-carb, low-sodium, gluten-free option, dairy-free, soy-free option
Yields: 6-8 servings
½ cup Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Ketchup
1 jar Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Apricot Jam Preserves
1 cup V8® Low-Sodium Vegetable Juice or V8® V-Fusion Light Peach-Mango
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Coconut Aminos, Gluten-Free Tamari, or Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Nature’s Hollow Maple Sugar-Free Syrup
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (add more based on spice preference)
1 Tbsp smoked paprika, dulce or picante
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp celery seed
1 pinch ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-60 minutes (go with the longer timeframe if you want a thicker sauce versus a marinade).
Cool and store in refrigerator up to 1 month.
Posted in Healthy Living, Recipes and tagged barbecue, dairy-free, gluten-free, grilling, low-carb, low-sodium, soy-free, sugar-free
Recipe of the Month
by: Laura Taylor, CPC
I love summer in Seattle, don’t you? Even if you don’t live in Seattle, you might still love a refreshing drink to boost your energy during the midday heat.
After a fun session yesterday cleaning out one of my client’s pantries to make it more Paleo-friendly, I felt inspired to concoct a creamy Paleo smoothie with a protein boost to restore my energy. If you are not a huge fan of avocados, don’t worry. This coconut avocado smoothie hides the avocado among other delicious flavors. You could even add a touch of kale or spinach to woo your inner Shrek! My afternoon refreshment was a satisfying way to refuel and tide me over until dinnertime. I just felt better with each sip, like my insides were being nourished. The leftovers became a great Paleo breakfast the next morning too! This smoothie recipe is very simple, quick, and easy to make.
Laura’s Coco-cado Paleo Smoothie
Yields: (3-4) 8 ounce portions
1 large ripe California avocado
1 can Trader Joe’s reduced-fat coconut milk
1 cup cold unsweetened almond milk (use more for a thinner drink consistency)
1 scoop protein powder (i.e. PaleoPro)
2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 cup green grapes*
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
15 drops liquid Stevia
Slice open the avocado and scoop flesh out into your blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy consistency. Add additional vanilla extract and liquid Stevia to taste.
Drink what you want and save the remainder for the upcoming days.
Cheers to your health!
*Due to the high natural sugar content in grapes, you may choose to eliminate the grapes in lieu of more liquid stevia. Fresh ripe pears and apricots are lower-sugar fruit alternatives that will taste just as great.
Posted in Healthy Living and tagged avocado, coconut, paleo, recipe, smoothie
In this blog post, I aim to share with you a little bit about my creative process for a recent dessert inspiration. My partner and I were out to dinner last weekend at an Indian restaurant in Seattle that we hadn’t tried before. The food and atmosphere were great! Too bad I walked away without my leftovers in hand that I intended to savor for lunch the following day.
But that’s beside the point. At the end of the meal, the server attempted to satisfy our sweet tooth with the dessert menu. My partner has been craving tiramisu a lot lately, which happens to be one of my signature desserts. The odds of finding this classic Italian dessert in an Indian restaurant were slim to none. Sure, we could have left the restaurant and sought dessert in an Italian restaurant nearby. I often feel disappointed with restaurant tiramisu, so that creative lightbulb went off in my mind. Wouldn’t it be interesting to make an Italian-Indian fusion version of tiramisu?
Quick! What are classic Indian flavors for sweets and desserts? My mind ran through a selection of ginger, cinnamon, mango, rosewater (wait, that’s leaning more toward Persian cuisine), almonds, saffron, coconut, pistachio, cardamom, and raisins. I envisioned the pack of ladyfingers already in my pantry, the lady in waiting to be transformed into an elegant, exotic dessert. There was also a box of Tazo Chai Latte that would be a perfect substitute for the espresso or coffee in which ladyfingers are typically soaked. All that remained were a couple other key ingredients to pull off this dessert inspiration.
After we left the dinner table, I told my partner I had a plan. We walked to the Safeway around the corner where I purchased mascarpone cheese and fresh, ripe mangoes. The booze aisle proved a little perplexing as I wanted something clever to blend with the coffee for soaking the ladyfingers. Lo and behold, and luckily on the clearance rack, there was a bottle of caramel whiskey marked at 50% off. Perfect!!
We got home, where I set right away to peeling and pureeing the cut mangoes in my blender. I wanted a super-smooth consistency. Once the mangoes were sufficiently smooth, I added in the mascarpone cheese along with a dose of powdered ginger, a good splash of Madagascar vanilla, and raw agave syrup to taste. This I continued to blend until achieving a silken creaminess with a sweet tang. Since the color of the mango was diffused by the creamy mascarpone, I made a quick infusion of saffron with a splash of warm water and let that rest for a few minutes. This greatly enhanced the dessert filling’s color in a natural way using ingredients still true to Indian cuisine.
In a separate bowl, I poured an equal mix of chai and caramel whiskey in which I dunked the ladyfingers to absorb. The process for making tiramisu is a relatively simple one. In the bottom of a casserole dish, I placed a single layer of boozy-chai ladyfingers. Top that with a heaping scoop of the mango-mascarpone then smooth the cream out into a full layer. Next comes a sifting of high-quality cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti) over the entire dessert. Repeat the process for another two or three complete layers of ladyfingers, mascarpone, and cocoa powder, with the cocoa powder serving as the final layer/garnish of your completed dessert.
Voila! I now present to you The Dinner (and Dessert) Whisperer’s MANGO-MISU!!
Posted in Recipes and tagged creativity, dessert, fusion, tiramisu