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This trip has taught us a lot. 

We were ready to go home. We were looking forward to seeing our family, our friends, speaking English, and eating all of the wonderful food that we can’t get in Bolivia. Throughout our year in Bolivia, what we talked about was our vacation. But, as we got closer to our date of departure, we started losing our excitement for going back home.

We realized that we would be abandoning our congregation, our bible studies, and even our progress in learning Spanish. Who takes a vacation for 2.5 months? We started to regret our decision and wondered if we should shorten it. 

To add to that burden, our congregation threw us a “welcome” party only a few days before we left for the States. A few cried begging us to return and not to forget them. From that experience alone, my husband and I determined that we cannot take extended vacations anymore. This will be our first and last, if we can help it, so we better enjoy it while we have it.


Then, we started noticing that we referred to the States as home and to Bolivia as home. In reality, they both are our home. When we came back to the States, we received comfort from our family and friends. We enjoyed spending time with everyone and wish we had more time with them. But, at the same time, we are happy to be going back to Bolivia. We miss our friends and new family. We miss the work that we were doing. We miss having a spiritual routine.

However, we learned from our time in the States that we need to keep ourselves spiritually fed in English. We made sure that we got all of our assemblies in English while in Bolivia, but we didn’t listen to English meetings every week. We started reasoning that since we studied it in English, we got the information we needed. But, going to meetings in English, during our vacation, strengthened and refreshed us and we didn’t even know we were weakened. And now we are even more determined to listen to the English meetings every week. This will add to our load, but it is essential for our spiritual survival.
Now we are a week away from being home in Bolivia. And we are excited. This year starts a new adventure with new challenges that we have no idea how they will work out. This year will let us really see where our faith is because everything will depend on our reliance on Jehovah. The idea of it is terrifying, but we know that our Father is amazing and takes care of his people. He’s been proving that to us over and over again.

We had a wonderful vacation that was packed full of mini vacays. Jehovah truly gives until there is no more want. The next post will outline where we went in 2.5 months. And there will be plenty of pictures, I promise. Then, we will move on to Life in Bolivia – part 2.

 

Sweet Potato Chips

I was talking with a friend the other day who was raving about this sweet potato hummus that she made and fell in love with. I have to admit when she told me the ingredients she used, I was sold. This post, however, is not about sweet potato hummus, so don’t get side-tracked. 

When I got home, I wanted to make her hummus, but I can’t eat pita bread. Veggies with hummus is good, but I don’t know how I feel about eating sweet potato hummus with vegetables. One day, I’ll try it and found out exactly how I feel.
Then, I came up with this great idea: Make sweet potato chips. This way, I can have all the flavors together without any of the allergens. This is so easy to make that I don’t know why I haven’t try it before. By the way, hummus with sweet potato chips are absolutely delicious.

Sweet Potato Chips

  • 2 sweet potatoes, sliced in 1/8 in slices (use a mandolin or a knife)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 farenheit. Place sliced potatoes in bowl. Pour in oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix. Make sure potatoes are coated with oil.

On cookie sheet, put potato slices in one single layer. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Potatoes should have brown crispy look to them. Allow to cool completely. Enjoy!

Ginger Bug and Ginger Beer/ Soda (Part 2)

Since moving here we have seen how unrealistic is it to stay away from foods. We are told not to eat at the street vendors, don’t eat salads or foods you can’t peel, don’t drink water that’s not boiled or bottled. This is relatively easy when vacationing. We are doing the best we can, but when actually living here and having friends and responsibilities and starting to develop roots, it’s not so easy. 

Now, maybe it’s easy if one chooses to be perpetually rude. When over someone’s house, and they offer you something, it’s rude not to take it. Or someone will buy food off of one of the street vendors as a nice gesture for us. The first couple of months we were saying no all the time. But, after a while, we realized that it begins to sound like we think we we’re better than Bolivians. That we want to live here, but we don’t want to be like them. Or that we prefer our Americans foods over theirs. That is not the case. So, we are trying to find the balance between becoming acclimated to the culture and keeping ourselves healthy. And that has meant taking risks with what we eat.

When we have total control of our meal, we have been adding probiotics and other friendly bacteria to our system. My husband has been pumping himself with fermented food. He’ll eat a bowl of beans and pour some fermented salsa and yogurt on it, then he will wash everything down with the ginger beer. He has felt better since his stomach illness and is determined to continue feeling well. Now he is bugging me to make saurkraut, which is a little more work than this beer. So, expect that in the posts soon.

Eating fermented foods can be scary at first. We are taught that everything should be kept in the fridge. Once they start getting old, it’s time to throw it all out. And there is reason for this as we want to keep ourselves safe. But, there are many foods that we eat that are “old” and fermented: yogurt, cheese, beer, wine, pickles, saurkraut, and the list goes on. The key is knowing how to treat food properly. Also, if it smells bad, don’t eat it. 

Thankfully, the ferment time on this beer is low, so there’s little room for it to go wrong. And if you properly santitize everything, as suggested in the previous post, you don’t have to worry too much. This recipe is a beginner’s step into the world of fermenting. And for those who are pros, it’s a quick food to make for your digestive health. 

There is a reason it’s called Ginger beer and not Ginger ale. Ginger ale has the carbonation added to it, like regular sodas. It’s not fermented. Ginger beer, however, is fermented with no CO2 added to it. We love this beer in our household because it’s self-carbonating. Unlike regular sodas, which will go flat after being opened, this beer continues to feed on the sugar and produce the CO2 fizz. So, each day, you will open up the beer and hear the gas escape – which, to me, is such a satisying sound.

Ginger Beer /Soda

What you need: 2-liter bottle, lemons, sugar, ginger, sea salt or pickling salt (don’t used iodized salt)

Fermented Foods: Ginger Bug and Ginger Beer/ Soda (Part 1)

My husband and I had a strong addiction to soda. There was nothing like the burn of the carbonation going down our throats. A little over ten years ago, we gave up the stuff. Now the constant features in our house are water and wine. Nowadays, soda only shows up in our house when guests come over.

imageWell, there is an exception. In fact, there will be all sorts of exceptions in this post. This recipe will, also, contain sugar. Gasp! Before you click off, hear me out til the end and then decide if this recipe is worth your time or not.

I, personally, don’t desire soda anymore. But there are many people who do, like my husband. Or more accurately, he craves a bubbly beverage. How can I make a drink that is bubbly, but is really good for you as well?

imageThat’s where fermented beverages come in. This ginger soda is similar to Kombucha in that it is, also, a probiotic drink. In my opinion it, also, has the fizziness and sweetness of Kombucha. But, there is one big difference. This one is really fun and really simple to make. The worst part of the whole process is being patient. You don’t need any special supplies or spend a lot of money.

All you will need is ginger, sugar, unchlorinated water, lemons, a 2-liter plastic bottle (I used a old water bottle) and salt. These are the total ingredients you will need for both the ginger bug and the soda.

We will focus on the ginger bug first. This bug – there really should be another name for this – is the starter we will need to make the ginger beer or soda. It will take about 5 days to process. And you will need to continually feed it to keep it active. But, don’t limit using this starter for soda alone. You can use it as a starter for fermented fruit, ketchup, vegetables, etc. Only your creativity limits you. Be aware that the starter has a ginger taste, so it might put a little of that flavoring in whatever you use it for.

imageBut, why is this unrefined, no sugar added wife posting a recipe that adds sugar? I have a strict diet, that only allows a little wiggle room. But, this fits into my wiggle room without noticeable consequence. How? In order for bacteria to grow it needs to feed on something. In this case, the bacteria is feeding on the sugar that is being added to the ginger bug and ginger beer. The feeding results in the carbonation in the soda. If there is no sugar for the bacteria to eat, the bacteria will die. In other words, the sugar added to the ginger bug and soda is for the bacteria, not for you and me. Though the soda is still sweet, it’s a light sweetness. And since the soda is meant to be drunk in modest amounts at a time, it is not something I am too concerned about.

FYI: Fermented foods contain some alcohol in it. It is the by-product of bacteria eating sugar. For the most part, the alcohol level is so low that it’s undetectable. But especially in the case of this ginger beer or ale, the longer you ferment it, the more alcohol it will have in it. This has a low fermenting period, so the levels will be low. But, hopefully with knowledge comes wisdom and you will use this according to what’s best for you. Be wise my friends.

Also, a word about food safety. Make sure you sanitize your utensils and bottles and containers properly before using them for your fermented foods. We don’t want bad bacteria to enter your foods. It’s not hard to sanitize. I place everything in boiling water for 15 minutes. Use tongs to get them out and allow to cool and dry completely. There are other methods as well. Become familiar with them and do what’s best for you.

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Ginger Bug (Starter for your Ginger Beer/Soda/Ale)

What you will need:

Ginger (organic is best)*

Unchlorinated water (distilled is best)#

Sugar (white or unrefined)**

In a glass container, pour in 1/2 cup water, 1 TBSP of sugar and 1 TSBP of grated ginger (do not peel). Place a loose towel over it or cheese cloth secured with a rubber band. This will keep dust and bugs out of your mixture while allowing it an airflow. Set in a room temperature area, away from the sun. Each day for five days, add 1 TBSP of sugar and  1 TBSP of grated ginger. By the fifth day, it should be fizzing. It is now ready for use. Use 1/4 of a cup at a time.

With the remaing mixture: In order to keep your bacteria alive you must continue to feed your mixture. Now feed it every day by adding 1 TBSP of water, 1 TBSP of sugar, and 1 TBSP of ginger. Or you can place it in the fridge and feed it once a week.

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* If you cannot find organic ginger, peel the skin before using.

# I have yet to find distilled water in Bolivia, so I just boil the water. The chlorine in your water will kill the bacteria in your bug, so don’t use it.

** I have seen notes advising not to use honey for your ginger bug. The reasoning is that because honey has antibacterial properties, it will prevent your ginger bug to grow. I have used raw honey with success, but it took longer than with regular sugar. Use as your own risk.

Have you made a fermented drink? Tell me how it turned out.

Illness and Fermented Foods

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One of the churches

In the past four months, my husband and I have moved three times. If you have been wondering why I  been MIA for so long this is where I lay the blame. It has been a tiring and frustrating experience. But, I am determined to hang on long enough to like it. And though it’s only been a short period of time, I feel like I have grown considerably. I have always thought of myself as an easy-going person. But, this has made me realize that I have needs. Though they are not grand needs, I can not take everything, like I previously thought. So, I have learned quickly to say what I want and don’t want and I’m realizing that the things that used to be needs are not that important.

 

We have, finally, settled into an apartment in Sucre. We bought furniture that is all used,since it didn’t look much

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The new furniture doesn’t look much different from the used

different than the furniture that was new. And we are no longer living out of our suitcases. I even have a six-burner stove where two of the burners don’t work. But, that is not the best part. We have hot water and gas in our apartment. AND the toilet is not sitting in the middle of the shower. It’s really the little things. But, seriously, we can finally feel comfortable in our place. It doesn’t feel like home yet, but that will take some time. 

As I mentioned, we moved into a city called Sucre. It’s a little over 9,000 feet high and a much bigger city than our previous location, Tarija. Because it’s bigger, we can find items IMG_2792.JPGthat wasn’t easily found in Tarija – like dates! Sucre is the university city, so we find lots of foreigners in this location as well. I’m sure that, also, contributes to the ease of finding products. But, there are some disadvantages. Tarija focused on keeping its city clean. I don’t know what Sucre focuses on, but it’s not cleanliness. Dog feces are nearly everywhere and often we can find the natives using the streets to do their thing along with the animals. It’s hard to find public restrooms or even public trash cans. So, I don’t really blame the residents. But, it’s still sickening. We carry antibacterial wipes with us everywhere we go. And it’s difficult to want to eat anything off of the street carts because lack of restrooms means lack of sinks to wash ones hands.

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Despite the difficulty, Sucre has its charm

Though we try to our to keep away from the bad bacteria, it is impossible to do it completely. In fact, friends of ours who have been living here for a while told us to expect to get sick often. In fact, they eat from everywhere hoping that their bodies fully adjust to the germs out here. And though I have no desire to get sick, I have made myself ok with the idea. But, I still choose to be careful. What concerns me more than getting sick here and there is obtaining a parasite. I curse the day I watched those documentaries on parasites. I wonder if there are parasite cleanses I can do occasionally as a precautionary stance? Looks like I’ve got some research ahead of me.

 

Well, my husband is the first to get sick. He’s been sick for over a week now. He started out with a fever and body chills, along with diarrhea. He has been able to ease all of the symptoms, except the diarrhea. So far, he has been sticking to a liquid diet and that seems to be helping him out. If he eats solids, it’s cooked rice or bread. But, he once had coffee and alcohol, and his body hated him for it.

I’m not going to post any recipes on this page since diarrhea, poop, and all those nasty words doesn’t seem to fit in well pictures of delicious food. But, I will say that I have been working on fermenting foods to help with his digestion – to help with our digestion, to be more exact.

FERMENTED FOODS

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Fermented food gives the body the probiotics it needs to digest food, like yogurt. According to Prevention.com, “They often begin as whole foods, and with the help of microorganisms, their sugars and carbs are converted into compounds like lactic acid—the stuff that gives pickles and sauerkraut their signature sour taste. The process also turns these foods into probiotic powerhouses that boost levels of good bacteria in your digestive tract, improving the health and balance of your body’s collective microbiome, or bacterial community. A healthier microbiome, in turn, has been shown to aid in digestion, increase immunity, prevent disease, and—according to some preliminary studies—reduce blood pressure and keep you slim.” We are hoping that if we pump our bodies with the good bacterial, it will help us combat the evilness that wants to come into our bodies while living every day life.

Right now, I have a ginger beer, a hot sauce, and some vegetables fermenting in my kitchen. This is not my first rodeo. I have been fermenting foods for a few years now. But, I had fallen off of the wagon in the past year when there was no longer any routine in our lives to rely on. But, I’m back on again and riding with a vengeance. These bugs will not beat us!

If you would like more information on food fermentation, check out the websites listed below. I will, also, show the recipes for my fermented items in future posts.

Side Note: I really like being in Bolivia. There is just a sort of humor in what we see around us that makes me need to speak about it. I will not pretend that everything is perfect. But, as time goes by, things will become more and more normal in our eyes.

Transitioning into life in Bolivia

IMG_2295My husband and I moved from California to Bolivia about a little over a  month ago. We have been planning this trip for two years, saving and simplifying our lives so that it was a relatively smooth transition. Considering the big jump that we have made, it did go smooth.

It’s been a short period of time, but we are doing fine. Our biggest obstacle, so far, is the language. Thankfully, our friends have taken us to the government offices we needed for our residency visas and have acted as our translators. They have, also, given us tips on how to get around and how to haggle in the markets and with taxi drivers. Apparently, when a Bolivian sees an American, they assume we are rich, so they will jack up the price of an item. Honestly, I don’t blame them, though it is unfair. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in South America.

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The produce markets

The first stop on this move was in Santa Cruz, where the humidity and heat was extremely high. The heat topped out at 99 degrees farenheit and the humidity was around 70%. Mind you, it is very rare to find a house in Bolivia with air conditioning or heating, so needless to say, I did not enjoy the weather. I slept for the first three days, trying to recover from the last three months of packing and organizing life affairs, and then would wake up in a pile of my own dripping sweat. There was no reason to take a shower that was anything, but cold. Even still, when I got out of the shower, I started dropping sweat again. All day, I would walk around with perspiration dripping from me endlessly. I couldn’t drink enough water to catch up.

Santa Cruz’s saving grace is the people. They are so kind and hospitable. Twice we were invited to someone’s house where they served us grilled steak with rice, yucca, and vegetables. We have met a few lovely families that we will be eager to see when we have to go through Santa Cruz again.

 

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A river runs through the city of Tarija

After about 10 days in Santa Cruz, we flew into Tarija, which is wine country. Tarija is about 6,000 feet above sea level and my lungs could tell. My heart started beating fast, so I had to take deep breaths to catch my breath. Thankfully, it is much cooler here and it has a classier feel to it. Tarija works hard to bring in tourism, so the plazas, neighborhoods, and shopping areas are all designed to be inviting.

We will be here for one more month, while finishing up the steps needed to get our residency visas. After that, we will decide if we will stay here or move to Sucre.

 

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The roof top patio

We rented a two story, three bedroom apartment, which I love! My kitchen is on the top floor and it looks out onto a roof top patio, where I did my exercise this morning. The bedrooms are all on the first floors.

 

For the first month, this unrefined wife had struggled to keep everything unrefined, though I did keep away from sugar. My biggest downfall had been white rice. But, I have also had white bread and crackers. It was starting to take a toll on me. I felt bloated and sluggish. During that time, I had lived under the dietary mercy of the friends that took us in.IMG_2315 But, now I have own kitchen again. And I am learning how to survive without refined foods in Bolivia.

Bolivia has a large variety of fruits and vegetables that are so delicious. But, guess what is the one thing it doesn’t seem to have? DATES!!! What am I supposed to do?

There is only one thing I can do: adjust.

This is the beginning of a new life, in a new land, during a new year. And so the direction of this site will start reflecting that. My posts, sadly, will only be once a week. My husband and I moved down here on our savings and we need to find work. I’ve been working hard making jewelry to sell when we get back to the states. But, that will only take us so far. In the mean time, we are working hard to find other avenues to make money. So, much of my time will be focused in those areas.

Life here is proving to be quite an adventure – more than I expected. But, I love being here. It is a much slower pace of life and I have more time with my husband. The people are friendlier than I’m used to and the area is beautiful. I am going to fight as hard as I can to stay and to thrive.

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Bolognese (Meat Sauce) Recipe

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In less than two weeks, my husband and I will be on a flight to Bolivia. As you can imagine, things are hectic. We are working on getting our life affairs in order. There have been pending issues that haven’t been resolved like claims with our car insurance or medical bills where adjustments need to be made – Somebody please tell me why does it cost $800 to put on a bandaid? Do hospital bandaids have some kind of mystical power that no one else has access to?

The biggest stressor, however, is finding time for our family and friends. We didn’t realize how much we would miss everyone and we haven’t even left yet. It’s been overwhelming because we cannot spend time with all of them before we go. In fact, we have been turning down invitation after invitation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some have even asked to stop by the house for five minutes and we can’t seem to arrange that. But, our friends are patient and so loving, which makes our departure so much harder to do.

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Somebody please hold me. Wait, I don’t have the time.

Thankfully, there is a going-away party, but even the thought of that is nerve-wracking. To spend a whole day ugly crying is not in the top ten list of things I want to do. And yet, there is no other place I would want to be than surrounded by those whom I love dearly.

Amidst all that has been happening, I have been comfort eating. Generally, when I’m consumed with disquieting thoughts, the food I make becomes richer and heavier. I haven’t even bothered stepping on a scale. Thankfully, because I’m careful with my sugar intake, my weight stays pretty consistent. It may go up a few pounds, but then it will go back down quickly when things are normal again. So, I have been making nachos, cheesecake mousses, pancakes, cheese grits, Mexican rice and beans, and especially, pasta – all without added sugar, of course.😉

In my pasta craze, I have craved a good Bolognese. Bolognese sauce is a meat sauce that is composed of more meat than tomato. It, also, contains wine, stock, dairy and other veggies.

IMG_1956This is not a sauce that is thrown together in a few minutes, but, instead, it simmers for a few hours. The time it takes is worth it though. This is one of my and my husband’s favorite sauces. I have been caught eating it alone without the pasta. For a time saver, make a large batch and freeze it in portions that suit your family

As a side note: Posts will be sporadic for the next month until we get settled. Thank you for your understanding and patience.


Bolognese Sauce

3 tbsp butter

1/4 olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

2 carrots, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 pound ground pork

4 oz. pancetta, sliced thinly or bacon, ground

2 cups red wine

1 can italian whole tomatoes, put in blender til smooth

1 cup stock (beef)

1 cup milk

Directions
Put oil and butter in large heavy pot over medium- high heat. Sautee garlic, onion, celery, carrots until soft, 10-15 min. Put meat (beef, pork, and pancetta) in pot and cook til brown, breaking up with spoon, about 15 min. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, about 4 min. Add blended tomatoes and simmer uncovered for an hour. Add stock and cook for another hour. If sauce gets too thick, add water, 1/4 cup at a time. Add milk and cook for 45 minutes. Taste it! Then season with salt and pepper, according to your taste. Serve with your favorite pasta. Enjoy!

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Easy Weeknight Meal: Cabbage and Smoked Sausage

My husband and I are in the middle of packing for our move to Bolivia. We have less than a month before our departure date. Anxiety and anticipation are taking over my thoughts. Even now, I sit wanting to give you something witty and funny to read and all I can think about is, “What am I forgetting to take with us?” Despite the stress, I still need to eat and I need to make sure I eat quality foods. Otherwise, Bolivia authorities might turn me away at the doors because they will see my crazy coming once I step off of the plane.

Re-enactment of the result of eating sugar.

Re-enactment of the result of eating sugar.

When I am stressed out, I eat. But I, also, don’t like making food for myself. At one time, I would have run out and picked-up the worse thing to eat to comfort myself in. Those days are over and I have to find nutritious food for myself.  However, my feelings of not liking to cook for myself are still alive and kicking.

My laziness leads to my staring in the fridge, walking away for five minutes and then coming back into the kitchen to stare into the refrigerator some more. I’ll whine to my husband about how hungry I am. He’ll ask me, “What do you want to eat?”, without looking up from his computer. I’ll say, “I don’t know” and all gets quiet. A few minutes later, the cycle begins again.

Nowadays, I try to make sure we always have smoked sausage in the fridge. So, when I start whining, my husband can just say, “I’ll make some cabbage and s1287ausage.” It is a very simple meal, but satisfying. The sweetness of the cabbage and onion balance out the sausage well. It doesn’t need anything else to complete the meal, but if you’re feeling especially ravenous, go ahead and add some brown rice to your plate or a sweet potato with butter.

This is a meal that cannot be messed up easily. The measurements are estimates, add more or less according to your taste.


Cabbage and Smoked Sausage 

Serves 4

1 small onion, sliced

1/2 head of cabbage, cut into strips

1 pound smoked sausage or kielbasa sausage, sliced

salt and pepper to taste.

In skillet, heat pan over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of oil to pan. Add sausage and cook until brown. Add onions and sauté for a couple of minutes and then add cabbage to pan and sauté until soft, about 15 – 20 min. Season to taste. Serve immediately

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Pumpkin Rye Oat Pancakes

I love the comforting scents of foods, especially Autumn foods like apple pie, butternut squash soup, spaghetti squash sautes, cranberry sauce, gingerbread, and sweet potato pie. There is one food whose scent I love, but whose taste I struggled with for a time, Fall’s mascot, the pumpkin squash.

squash. pumpkin

I grew up eating sweet potato pie. Every November, my dad would make many sweet potato pies and give them to friends and family. He made the most delicious pies I have ever tasted. This was amazing because in general my dad did not cook. And when he did cook, my siblings and I would find a way to distract him, so we could take over. I love my dad and he does many things well, but cooking is not one of them. Love you, Dad.

I digress. Until junior high school, I have never tasted pumpkin pie, or anything pumpkin for that matter. One day, a friend offers me a slice of pumpkin pie and I admit to her that I had only had sweet potato pie. “It tastes the same”, she insists. Satisfied with that answer, I ate it willingly. And it was the grossest pie I’ve ever had. Did the girl have taste buds? It didn’t taste remotely the same. After that, I decided that I did not like pumpkin. And I seriously questioned my friend’s taste in food.

But, I came around years later and tried it again in pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cupcakes, and even pumpkin pie. I realized that I like pumpkin in everything, except pie. When I see an orange pie, my senses keep looking for that sweet potato taste. In the great debate between sweet potato and pumpkin pie, sweet potato wins, especially if it’s my dad’s sweet potato pie.

So, this recipe is not a pie, but a cake. More specifically, it’s a imagepancake. Rye adds a nice nuttiness to the the cake and the oats keep it from being so dense. Instead of topping it with maple syrup, I topped it with date paste and plain unsweetened yogurt. Trust me, it’s really good. The sourness of the yogurt cuts the sweetness of cake nicely.

Here we have a whole food and unrefined breakfast that is ridiculously good. I ate two pancakes and when I came back to grab another they were all gone. My husband devoured them. I will have to find a way to make him pay retribution later, but, in the mean time, enjoy!


Pumpkin Rye Oat Pancakes

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk w/ 1 tsp vinegar or lemon (let sit for a couple of minutes before using)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

Mix wet ingredients together in medium bowl: pumpkin, buttermilk, butter, honey, vanilla, and eggs. Set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients in another bowl. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredient. Heat skillet over medium heat and allow to get hot. Cook on one side until brown and bubbles start to form, then turn over and allow to cook until brown. Serve.

*For oat flour, put 1 cup of rolled oats into a blender or food processor, grind until it’s of flour consistency.

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Authentic Marinara Sauce – Delicious, Quick and Easy

I love pasta. Whenever I didn’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen, I would grab a jar of sauce, boil some pasta and call it a meal. In the last few years, though, I’ve noticed that most commercial jars of marinara sauce contain added sugar. It boggles my mind. Tomatoes are sweet on their own; why do we need to add sugar? The simple answer to that question: we don’t need to add sugar to marinara sauce. In fact, we dimageon’t need to buy it either. We can make our own. To make a basic marinara is easy and quick, and is often the base to many other sauces.

The first time I had an authentic marinara was at an Italian restaurant in New York. I was a little thrown back. It tasted nothing like I was used to from the commercial canned versions. It tasted fresh and light and it had a vibrant red color. For a moment, I thought that I ordered the wrong thing. But, what was wrong was that stuff I had been eating for years, not the food I just ordered. You can’t even compare the two. After eating a fresh marinara, I realized that it’s hard to taste anything in a jarred sauce. Everything tastes muddled. Since then, I haven’t turned back. In 15-20 minutes, I can make as close to authentic of a marinara sauce as I can with no added sugar. I really get the best of both worlds. And you will too.
One of the kimageey ingredients of a good sauce is a good tomato. It would seem obvious to use fresh tomatoes, but this is one of the few times canned tomatoes might be better, especially if you want a quick sauce. Even still, we are picky about the tomato we use. Make sure they are italian tomatoes, like San Marzano. It’s best if they are whole. Tomatoes degrade the more they are processed. Of course, you can use whatever tomato you want. We are not feeding world class chefs who will judge our every choice. We are just trying to eat real food without added sugar. For a cheaper option, go ahead and buy the tomatoes that fit your budget.

A traditional marinara has tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and fresh basil or oregano. When we add additional ingredients to it, it becomes another sauce. But, I’m not looking. If you want other ingredients to your sauce that’s between you and your kitchen.  Enjoy!

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Marinara on brown rice pasta


Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)

1 – 35oz can of San Marzano whole tomatoes, including juice

1 tsp salt

6 leaves of fresh basil or more, according to taste, chopped*

Use a skillet, not a deep pot. Heat oil in skillet on medium heat and saute garlic and pepper until fragrant about 30 seconds to one minute. If you brown the garlic, it is ruined. Add canned tomatoes to skillet and use potato masher to break it up, leaving it chunky. Season with salt. Turn heat on high until boiling, about 2 minutes, and then turn it down to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. It should have thickened but still be vibrant.  Turn off heat and add chopped basil. Taste it before serving. If it needs more salt, add it.

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*If you use dry herbs, saute with garlic in the beginning. Do not add fresh basil in the beginning, it will muddle the taste.