Category: Nourish Page 2 of 4

Simple Vegetable & Chickpea Soup

Nothing hits the spot on a cold winter day like a warm and cozy bowl of soup. This recipe has quickly become one of our favorites and is one we’ll be making again soon.

About five years ago, I was trying to get to the bottom of years of acid reflux, frequent colds and congestion and seasonal bronchitis, so I removed certain foods from my diet for about 10 days. It was during that time and in the months that followed, that I discovered dairy products to be the #1 trigger of my sinus and respiratory issues. Once I removed dairy, my health issues practically disappeared.

It was amazing.

I had been learning about the health benefits of food for years at that point. But I never realized how connected my diet was to why I got sick so often and wasn’t feeling my best.

Since that time, I’ve continued to “clean up” my diet with the goal of feeling as good as possible as often as possible. I take supplements and probiotics to repair and restore my health after taking years of antibiotics and acid reducers. In addition, I’ve found that foods containing gluten trigger me as well, so I steer clear of them.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking my body through an experiment. It’s kind of like an investigation to better understand why I’ve been feeling a little “off” for the past few months. Because I wanted to get to the root of what my body is trying to tell me, I’ve been following the protocol in the book The Elimination Diet. It’s written by renowned nutritionist, Tom Malterre, and his wife, Ali Segersten, who also authored the Nourishing Meals cookbook.

One of the recipes I tried was for a simple vegetable soup. I used the concept behind the soup as my guide and created my own version of it, which I’m sharing with you today.

It’s full of nourishing, calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients that promote healing and a sense of warmth and comfort. It makes enough to feed 8-10 people, so we like to make it at the beginning of the week to take care of 4-5 meals for both of us. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and serving it with a few hunks of avocado on top is especially delicious!

Veggie Lover Chickpea Soup

Ingredients

Veggie Lover Chickpea Soup

If you're looking for a comforting, nourishing hug in a bowl, try this soup!

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups celery chopped
  • 2 cups carrots chopped
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms cleaned and chopped
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups kale destemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or 2 tsp Herbamare
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a 4 to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the remaining chopped vegetables, beans, thyme (if you have it) and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

  3. Add kale, parsley, salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

This soup serves about 8-10 people.

We store it in glass mason jars. If you are going to freeze it, leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the jar to allow for expansion in the freezer.

The Easiest Kale Salad Ever

I’ve been making this salad recipe for OVER FIVE YEARS and can’t believe I’ve never shared this recipe with all of you before!

It’s the simplest recipe and the first way I ever tried eating kale.

If you’ve ever been turned off to eating kale because it tasted bitter or was difficult to chew, give this recipe a try. I bet it will change your mind!

Most of us don’t crave salads this time of year because the weather has gotten colder for many of us. As a result, we tend to be drawn to more warming, grounding foods like soups, stews and chilis. Because I tend to eat seasonally, I’m more apt to saute or steam green veggies or throw them into soups, stews, or frittatas instead of having cold salads everyday.

When I do want a salad, I opt for heartier greens like kale, Swiss chard, or peppery arugula in my salads instead of lighter, more watery greens like romaine or Bibb lettuce.

Another benefit to eating a salad like this in the winter is that it is packed with immune-boosting ingredients. Since 70% of our immune system is located in and around our digestive system, what we eat really does matter!

  • Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which have antiviral and antibacterial effects. Their pungent, bitter flavors are health-promoting and detoxifying.
  • Lemons have antiviral and antimicrobial activity
  • Garlic may help the immune system function better during times of need such as in cancer
  • Chickpeas are packed with protein and fiber that keep us feeling full and our blood sugar balanced, which helps keep inflammation at bay

Not only is this salad loaded with ingredients to keep your immune system strong, but it will stay fresh in the fridge for at least two days! Check out the recipe below, and feel free to change it up by adding your favorite toppings.

Easiest Kale Salad Ever

The trick to not having bitter kale? Massage the leaves with lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt for about 1-2 minute to break down the bitterness!

Course Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch curly kale stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 lemon juice only
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt add more, to taste
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove peeled and minced

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, massage lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic into kale leaves with your hands until they start to turn dark green and shrink by about 1/3 in size. 

    If you're using nutritional yeast, toss it in with the greens. Store salad in fridge for about 30 minutes to allow lemon juice to break down bitterness in greens.

  2. Add chickpeas and sunflower seeds and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Optional add-ins

  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Chocolate Hazelnut “Ferrero Rocher” Truffles {Gluten-Free}

Last weekend I went to a Christmas party with a group of friends and shared these tasty sweet treats for the first time. They went over REALLY well!

I actually made a version of this recipe two years ago but wanted to come up with a new and improved version that was more authentic and closer to the real thing.

If you’ve ever had one of those fancy, gold-wrapped hazelnut chocolates by the brand Ferrero Rocher, you’ll see where the inspiration for today’s treats comes from. I’ve always been unsure how to pronounce the brand, and apparently I’m not alone. Over 20,000 people have watched the YouTube video for how to pronounce “Ferrero Rocher.”

This recipe takes a few more steps than a typical recipe I make, but I can assure you it will be worth every minute! Try these at home, and bring them to an upcoming holiday party or event.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did 🙂

Yield: 21-24 truffles

Ingredients

24 hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup raw hazelnuts
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup Medjool dates, pits removed
1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown rice crisps
3/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Set the toasted hazelnuts aside in a bowl. Then, grind 1 cup hazelnuts, cacao powder and salt in a food processor until it reaches the texture of a fine meal.
  2. Add dates, maple syrup, and vanilla and process until a dough starts to form. Pour brown rice crisps into the food processor feed tube or hole while the processor is still running, just until crisps are incorporated (you still want pieces of the crisps to be visible).
  3. Turn off food processor, remove dough and shape it into a large ball. Remove 1-inch pieces of dough and shape into smaller balls. Wrap each ball around one of the toasted hazelnuts and press with your fingers to seal. Set balls aside on parchment-lined baking sheet or small cutting board.
  4. In a double boiler (glass pyrex bowl positioned over a small saucepan filled with 1-2 inches of water over medium heat), melt chocolate chips and coconut oil, stirring until smooth and silky. Turn off heat and allow steam to continue warming the chocolate. Roll balls, one at a time, in the chocolate and remove using a toothpick. Place chocolate-coated balls on parchment paper.
  5. Once all balls have been coated in chocolate, put them in the freezer to set, about 30 minutes. Store in your fridge or freezer.

Pecan-Coated Pumpkin Spice Bites

Isn’t pumpkin the best?

Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin fudge, pumpkin-spiced anything. If I can find a way to get pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice into it, I will.

I’ve made this delicious pumpkin spice dip multiple times over the past few weeks and have been trying for the past two years to come up with a pumpkin energy bite recipe.

It took me a half a dozen attempts before coming up with this winner 🙂

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I like to think of these no-bake bites as triple pumpkin bites because I used just about every component I could – pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie spice, and a teeny bit of pumpkin puree.

They’re like a taste of fall in every bite – pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and all things pumpkin.

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Pecan-Coated Pumpkin Spice Bites

For a sweet and salty, chewy and slightly crunchy bite of fall, you have to try these no-bake bites!

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 18 bites
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

Coating

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds shelled
  • 1.5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

Instructions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup pecans and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in food processor until small hunks of pecan remain. Pour into medium bowl and set aside.

  2. Combine pecans, pepitas, spices and salt in a food processor and pulse until it reaches a fine meal.

  3. Add vanilla, dates and pumpkin puree and process until everything is combined. Remove from food processor and shape into a large ball.

  4. Tear off 1-inch hunks and roll into a ball between your palms. Roll ball in pecan mixture and store in glass container in the fridge. You can also freeze them!

10 Tasty New Food Finds from Natural Products Expo East 2016

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been!

From the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore to the Culinary Nutrition Expert Retreat in Toronto, a Holistic Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin and the New Jersey Veg Fest yesterday, and teaching a few workshops in between, I’ve been on what felt like a natural health tour of North America.

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I’ve also gotten some clarity around how I want to focus and what I want to share. I feel drawn to go deeper on this blog than I have been in the past few months. I’m grateful for your patience with me as I’ve been a bit less regular with posts over the past month, but the clarity I’ve gained during that time was worth it.

One of the reasons you’ve told me you come to me with questions or follow me on Instagram and Facebook is to be up to date on the latest and greatest natural food products that I use in my own home and recommend to you. I know one of the most frustrating aspects of starting to eat well and remove foods like dairy and gluten is the overwhelm you feel when you step into the store and blankly stare at a wall with 20 options for one product.

How do you know which to choose?

I’m here to make it easier AND to introduce you to some fun, new products before they hit stores. For the past three years, I’ve attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore as Press because of how much this community supports my efforts on social media (THANK YOU!).

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I want to pay it forward by sharing with you my top finds from the expo. As with all of my recommendations and recipes, they are all gluten-free and dairy-free.

I think you’ll be excited to see what is going to be coming to grocery stores in the coming weeks and months!

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1) Hilary’s Eat Well Breakfast Sausage Patties

I first found out about Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burgers two years ago at my first Expo. To be honest, I wasn’t someone who ate veggie burgers; I thought they were pretty nasty and full of a bunch of ingredients I wouldn’t have in my own pantry.

These burgers are different. They are one of the ONLY foods we have in our freezer at all times. Bill loves to have them for breakfast, topped with an egg or on top of a sweet potato hash, and we also love them toasted and then crumbled up on a salad. I featured these burgers in my mason jar salad recipe at the end of the summer. They are SO good!

To make things even better, they now have a breakfast sausage version. It contains all real food for ingredients (i.e., no weird soy protein isolates) AND is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and egg-free. The two versions I tried were Apple Maple and Spicy and my favorite was definitely the Apple Maple.

Where to Find Them: Click this link to find a store near you where you can buy all of Hilary’s Eat Well products.

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2) Farmhouse Culture Ginger Beets & Kraut Krisps

Since over 70% of our immune system sits in and around our digestive system, eating fermented foods is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system, not get sick, clear up our skin, reduce bloat, and have regular bowel movements (at least 1/day!).

I’ve been a fan of Farmhouse Culture’s Kimchi and Sauerkraut for about a year now and a few months ago I started taking their Gut Shots to support my digestive and immune systems. When I stopped by their table and saw their new branding (love it) and their new products, I was stoked!

The ginger beets were amazing and would be delicious chopped up and put on a salad or just eaten as a snack. But one of the coolest snacks I tried all day was the Kraut Krisp. With almost 50% sauerkraut, organic corn masa and a shelf stable probiotic blend in the seasoning mix, this is a chip you can feel good about eating. The dill pickle is amazing! I’m hoping to see both of these yummy foods in my local store soon!

Where to Find It: Here is the link to their Store Locator. On the link is a Product Request form that you can print out and take to your local store!

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3) Beetnik Organic Frozen Meals 

We discovered beetnik Organic frozen meals about a year ago.What I love about them is that they are made with real, whole food ingredients and taste more like a homemade meal than a frozen one.

They are Bill’s #1 go to choice for lunch at school when he hasn’t packed leftovers or planned ahead. As an elementary school teacher, he’s lucky if he gets 20 minutes to enjoy his lunch, so convenience is key, but so is staying fueled and energized throughout the day.

Bill has liked every single one he has tried, and I know he’ll be excited to check out some of their new flavors like Ragu Alla Bolognese, Pollo Alla Cacciatora, Organic Lemon Chicken with Cauliflower Rice, Organic Shepherd’s Pie with Grass Fed Beef, and Organic Beef Chili with Sweet Potato. The first two are pasta sauces, and the last three are paleo-friendly and grain-free.

Where to Find Them: I buy them at MOM’s Organic Market or Roots Market, but you can use this store locator to find them near you.

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4) Miyoko’s Creamery {Dairy-Free Cheeses}

When you stop eating dairy, one of the things you miss the most is the creaminess of cheese. Fortunately, food has come a LONG way, and brands like Miyoko’s give us the opportunity to get that beloved texture back 🙂

At the Expo, they were sampling their Smoked Farmhouse, Fresh Loire Valley and Double Cream Chive cheeses as well as a few others. They also have Garlic Herb, Sundried Tomato Garlic, Winter Truffle and Herbs de Provence varieties. Organic cashews are the base of their cheeses and give them a rich and creamy texture

Where to Find It: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market or Whole Foods but you can use this store locator to find where they are sold near you!

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5) Soul Sprout Snacks

After undergoing a rebranding from Two Moms in the Raw (who I’ve written about here) to Soul Sprout, these snacks are better than ever. They have granola bars, almond butter truffles, nut bars, grain-free cereal, and almond protein crackers.

Their plant-based snacks are made with sprouted ingredients and have recently undergone a makeover in the ingredient list. They used to use agave as a sweetener but upgraded to coconut sugar, which is less controversial and even more delicious.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, but Whole Foods and The Fresh Market carry their products as well. Look for them at your local grocery store or shop online on their website here.

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6) Jackson’s Honest Chips

I first tried these chips at Expo East two years ago and fell in love. They have become our go to chip and I’ve introduced them to dozens of people through my workshops and cooking classes, and my coworkers are kind of obsessed with them, too. They’re perfectly crunchy and incredibly satisfying.

The founders of the company created the chips as a result of helping their son recover from an illness doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat. They discovered how powerful coconut oil was in his healing and use it as an ingredient in all of their chips. My favorite variety is the sweet potato chips, but they introduced two *new* products at the Expo – Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Rippled Red Heirloom Potato Chips. All I can say is YUM.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans or The Fresh Market, but you can find them near you using their store locator here.

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7) Cappello’s Cookie Dough

I first fell in love with their chocolate chip cookie dough two years ago at the first Expo East I attended. Their cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free and use almond flour as the base. They introduced three new kinds of dough at the expo: Double Chocolate, Lemon Zest and Ginger Snap. I have a pack of each sitting in my freezer right now along with some of their fettuccine and lasagna sheets that I can’t WAIT to use!

Where to Find Them: I’ve bought their products at MOMs Organic Market and Whole Foods Market, but you can find them near you using this locator.

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8) Simple Mills Crackers & Baking Mixes

I fell in love with Simple Mills baking mixes when I met them at Expo East two years ago. They have the best boxed bread mix, pancake and waffle mix, cake mix, muffin and cupcake mix, and pizza dough. I use their bread mix to make this delicious paleo-friendly, gluten-free stuffing, perfect for the upcoming holidays!

At the Expo, they were introducing their new almond flour crackers. My favorite is the Sun-dried Tomato Basil version, but they also have a Fine Ground Sea Salt and Rosemary & Sea Salt variety. You HAVE to try them!

Where to Find Them: I buy their products at MOMs Organic Market, Target, Home Goods (hit or miss!), or online at Amazon. Use their store locator to find them near you.

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9) Forager Dairy-Free Yogurt

I used to eat yogurt every day growing up. I didn’t like sandwiches as a kid, and yogurt was one of the few foods that was easily portable and filled me up. It took me 25 years to figure it out, but the yogurt I was eating wasn’t the healthiest. It was usually full of lots of sugar and the brands I used to buy (Yoplait and Dannon) rank as two of the BOTTOM FIVE of a list of 129 yogurts rated by the Cornucopia Institute here.

Most dairy-free yogurts have a funky texture and more gelatinous than smooth and creamy. Fortunately, companies like Forager are beginning to step up their game and bring us delicious dairy-free yogurts that taste closer to the real thing. I loved how velvety smooth their cashew milk-based yogurt was and think you will, too!

Where to Find It: I’ve found their other products at MOMs Organic Market, so I’m hoping they will carry the yogurt soon! You can find out more on Forager’s website.

img_827010) Coco-Roons Superfood Cookies

I have to admit it – I used to hate coconut. At Halloween, every Mounds bar or Almond Joy went straight into the trash. No thank you! Over the years, I’ve come to love coconut no matter what form it takes – coconut flakes, milk, oil, and butter. It’s so rich and full of flavor.

One of my favorite desserts are the Coco-Roons made by Wonderfully Raw. My usual go-tos are the brownie and vanilla maple versions, so I was super excited to find out that they rebranded AND introduced two new flavors at Expo – Salted Caramel (YESSSS) and Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Where to Find Them: The best deals are at Home Goods, but you can also buy them at MOMs Organic Market, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Safeway. Check out their store locator for more store options!

Well, that’s a wrap, friends! Those are my first ten finds. I think you’ll love them and can’t wait to share another round of awesomeness in my next post!

HEX Ferments: The Difference, The Flavor & The Future

This is the second part in a two-part series. Did you miss the first post? To learn about the start, the art and the heart of HEX Ferments, click here

I had the privilege of interviewing Meaghan Carpenter, one of the founders and owners of HEX Ferments, a fermented food and drink company located in Baltimore. I was drawn to her story because of how her company embodies the core of my food philosophy – to connect with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel; to savor our food, prioritizing quality and taking time to enjoy it; and to nourish our bodies with vibrant, life-giving food.

The Difference

So, what makes HEX Ferments different than other fermented foods and drink companies? Meaghan had a lot to say about that and was passionate about the quality of what they create.

We source and ferment for peak flavor. […] We work with layering flavor. Our staff are all trained in the culinary field. We’ve hired people that know how to work with flavor. We don’t use a lot of dried spices. We use a lot of fresh herbs and spices and we source from local farms for about 90% of our produce. That helps us to get the foods that are the freshest and at the peak of their flavor and nutritional profile.

The health benefits of HEX’s products vary greatly from most products on the market, especially in the case of something like pickles. Most pickles on the market are made with vinegar, which acts as a preservative to make them more shelf stable. It’s used as an instant acidifier.

hex-picklesUnfortunately, most vinegars are denatured or killed, so the nutritional benefits of fermented food are lost; there’s no probiotic component to vinegar pickles. The way HEX produces their products preserves the nutritional integrity and gives us the host of benefits we expect.

HEX naturally ferments their products through the process of lactic acid fermentation, which creates the beneficial microbes that characterize pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. The next time you’re in the market for a jar of pickles or sauerkraut, make sure you read the label. You want it to be a “living food” with live cultures, no heat and no vinegar.

Not only does HEX prioritize using high quality ingredients and best in class fermentation practices, but they are also particular about the vessels in which they make their products. Unlike most large companies, they don’t use plastic barrels lined with plastic to ferment. When you’re creating a food that acidifies itself, you’re creating a lot of microbes that are really powerful that can eat away at plastic. Because of that concern, the team at HEX ferments in stainless steel, which also helps to keep their products tasting the same as well. That is considered the gold standard for how to ferment.

What I was surprised to learn next gave me another reason to take pride in having HEX Ferments as one of our own. They are the only fermented food company in the U.S. that makes and sells everything at their storefront. This gives their customers a unique experience and the ability to taste and smell everything and talk to the people who have a hand in making the food.

The Flavor

People often come up to the stand and aren’t shy about their feelings toward fermented foods, “I hate sauerkraut.”

Instead of being flustered or offended, Meaghan responds gently, “I’m sorry to hear that. That just means you haven’t had really good sauerkraut. You can learn to like sour.”

If you’re new to fermented foods, it can take a little while to adapt to their naturally sour taste, but Meaghan gave me some suggestions that could help.

  • Pickles are a great way to start because most of us are already familiar with them and have tried them before. Try some cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
  • Try kombucha. It’s an easy entry point because it often has a bit of sweetness to balance the sour, and people tend to like its fizziness.
  • Their carrot confetti made with pickled carrots is a good starter and converted a former sauerkraut hater into a weekly customer.
  • Mix and eat things like sauerkraut with food. If you eat salad, instead of adding dressing, take a few tablespoons of the kraut, chop it up, mix it into your salad and add some olive oil.
A few bottles of HEX's brightly colored kombucha

A few bottles of HEX’s brightly colored kombucha

So, how much sauerkraut should you eat? What amount of kombucha is best to drink?

Start small. Keep in mind it is a living food and you’re introducing billions of bacteria into your system.

Meaghan suggests starting with one tablespoon of kraut or kimchi a day with food (i.e,. chopped up on a salad, as a condiment, mixed in with grains and beans, on a sandwich, etc.) and see how your body reacts. Her stepmother swears by breakfast consisting of an English muffin with peanut butter and HEXs juniper caraway sauerkraut. I can’t say it appealed to me, but Meaghan’s enthusiasm about it might get me to try it!

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Sauerkraut pairs nicely with tacos in this dish with Clavel’s tacos and watermelon radish pickles

For kombucha, Meaghan recommends starting with four to six ounces on an empty stomach in the morning. This has helped her and others with chronic constipation.

As with any food, slow down and pay attention to how your body responds and then increase the amount you’re eating or drinking or stay where you are. Over time, it’s likely you will be able to eat more.

The Shop (Where to Find It!)

To learn more about HEX Ferments and their upcoming events and for locations where you can find their products, check out their website at www.HexFerments.com.

Locally, you can find their products at MOMs Organic Market, Whole Foods, Graul’s, and Eddies Market as well as at the Waverly Farmer’s Market in Baltimore on Saturday mornings.

fullsizerenderIf you’re in the DC area, swing by Each Peach Yes! Organic Market at Capitol Hill, or the Arlington MOMs Organic Market for a jar of their famous kraut or kimchi. Hex also has a presence at the Silver Spring Farmer’s Market and Bethesda Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.

If you’d rather skip the trip to the store or market and order online, you can order their products through Washington Green Grocer, Relay Foods, Hungry Harvest, and Hometown Harvest.

The Future

HEX Ferments is experiencing a ton of growth and will be expanding to a larger production space just down the road from Belvedere Square, where their storefront will remain. They will gain over 1,000 square feet of space.

A sneak peek at the new space

A sneak peek at the new space

They have plans to teach a few workshops in the fall and look forward to introducing more people to the art of fermentation. I’ll be sure to keep you updated about those events through my Facebook page and this blog.

Over the years, Meaghan and Shane have grown to appreciate and embrace all that Baltimore has to offer. They look forward to continuing to build community through HEX Ferments, as they invite us to connect with our food, how it makes us feel and where it comes from; appreciate food as beauty and art; and nourish our bodies with living, healing food that will leave us looking and feeling our best.

Have you tried HEX Ferments products? Do you have a favorite? Feel free to share below!

HEX Ferments: The Start, The Art & The Heart

I had the privilege of interviewing Meaghan Carpenter, one of the founders and owners of HEX Ferments, a fermented food and drink company located in Baltimore.

I was drawn to her story because of how her company embodies the core of my food philosophy – to connect with our food, where it comes from and how it makes us feel; to savor our food, prioritizing quality and taking time to enjoy it; and to nourish our bodies with vibrant, life-giving food.

The Start

What is this place?

Aside from what she had seen in John Waters’ movies, Meaghan Carpenter knew little about Baltimore when she moved here on a whim 12 years ago. The heat and humidity of Charm City in August and her cockroach-infested apartment weren’t the welcome she had anticipated when she picked up her life in Minneapolis to relocate here. She says “a boy” brought her here, but she stayed for a different boy, Shane, who’s now her husband.

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Over the years, Meaghan’s initial impression of Baltimore has faded, as she has grown to appreciate and embrace her new home.

I feel like Baltimore is this really incredible city that is this melting pot that never seems to fully merge. People come from all over the place. But everybody has a pretty strong identity here. It doesn’t feel like a homogenous city at all.

Meaghan always loved food, grew up spending time in the kitchen with her parents, and worked in restaurant kitchens for years but never considered food for a career.  Both she and Shane have been connected to fermented food since childhood. They grew up eating the harvest from their parents’ vegetable gardens and learned the art of canning at a young age (“You can only eat so many cucumbers, zucchini and carrots” Meaghan confessed.).

They were raised eating sour foods, a taste most Americans have not developed. It was their early introduction to sour, fermented foods that would eventually influence the business they formed together nearly four years ago, a fermented food and drink company called HEX Ferments.

When Meaghan was in college, she was part of a natural foods store co-op and learned how to make simple kimchi and sauerkraut. She noticed it helped the digestive issues she had in college that stemmed from her very poor diet. When she started sharing simple meals of rice, beans, steamed veggies and sauerkraut with the co-op staff, she noticed by how much better she felt. She carried that with her and it would come in handy years later.

schlossmanhex0422It would take two transatlantic trips to the U.K. before Meaghan and Shane would delve more deeply into the art of fermentation. Both she and Shane spent some time separately in Ireland, where Shane worked on organic farms in Wales and saw a different side of fermentation – wines, meads and preserved foods – the side most of us are more familiar with here in the States.

It was in Ireland that Meaghan first learned about the sour, tingly, fermented drink called kombucha. She fell in love with it, and as soon as she got back to U.S., she put out a flyer asking who had the culture needed to brew kombucha. Meaghan was in luck. She learned the simple instructions for how to do it and has been making kombucha for the past 15 years, well before the recent kombucha craze started.

Years after Meaghan’s introduction to kombucha, she and Shane quickly realized that when they got together, they loved playing with flavors and having food experiments. They had a garden and had an overabundance of cabbage and decided to make sauerkraut. So Meaghan dug out Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz, a book she first learned about through the co-op, and they got to work. Since then, they’ve visited Sandor’s farm in Tennessee and have been mentored by him along with another husband-wife fermentation team from the Cultured Pickle in Berkeley, California.

hexplusculturedI loved what Meaghan had to say about what happened once they embarked on the journey to come together and explore the art of fermentation:

We instantly got rehooked into it all. Once you make fermented foods and you learn about it, there is the potential to get bitten by its mystery and magic, and there’s no turning back. Once you’re hooked into it, that’s it. It’s an obsession. We became totally and immensely obsessed.

Their friends loved what they made and suggested they open a business, but Meaghan and Shane were hesitant. They were enjoying their hobby and didn’t think they wanted to have a business doing it, even though Shane had been in business for himself since the age of 17.

But sometimes your calling finds you, and if you’re meant to do something with your life, it can be nearly impossible to escape. Meaghan was working at a desk job where she was “totally bored”. She was also teaching and making art, but she was not satisfied and found herself researching how to start a fermented foods business. Fueled by their newfound obsession and bolstered by Shane’s entrepreneurial skills, they decided to go for it and start HEX Ferments. It’s been nonstop ever since.

The Art

Meaghan designed the HEX Ferments logo and partnered with a fellow MICA alum to render the logo and set the vision for their brand. The inspiration for the name comes from Hexology folklore, which uses signs and symbols to protect relationships, secure the harvest, and ward off the unwelcome. In the same way, fermented foods protect and support our body, digestion, immune system and overall health and well-being.

hex-logo-web-01

Through her work, Meaghan has the opportunity to combine her two loves – food and art. She doesn’t see a separation between the two and credits her art education at MICA with her visual, creative problem-solving skills, which have served her well in business.

I see what we do as art. We get to play with flavors, and textures, and colors and beautiful objects and we get to put them together and let them slow cook, also known as ‘ferment’.

The inspiration behind unique flavor combinations, like Juniper Caraway Kraut, Carrot Confetti, Lover’s Truce Kimchi, and Butterfly Lime kombucha, often stems from whatever is in season.

The HEX team scours articles, recipes, and books for inspirations as well and considers their experiments a form of play. Meaghan said naming them is like naming a child and she and the team come up with names together.

hex-kraut hex-kraut-jarsFor Valentine’s Day, an abundance of local beets inspired the creation of a complex kimchi called Lover’s Truce. And when Meaghan was given green tea and saffron tea from Afghanistan by her brother-in-law, it wasn’t long before Saffron kombucha was born.

Meaghan flavor preferences vary seasonally, so she didn’t have a go-to kraut or kombucha. If she had to pick, the plain sauerkraut that is currently at the peak of its ripeness and the Carrot Juniper kombucha were at the top of her list.

Customer buying habits are more particular. Some customers shop by color (i.e., “I only buy things that are red.”) while others have their standby flavors like Garlic Oregano and never waver from them. At times, Meaghan and Shane will come up with make something that’s “super crazy” in a small batch, and people will eat it up and come back months later looking for it. They like to keep things fresh, fun and seasonal.

The Heart

When I have the opportunity to talk to people about food and hear their story, what I gravitate toward most is their food philosophy and the language they use around food.

My approach toward food is to invite people to be curious about eating – to connect with why we eat, how it makes us feel and where our foods comes from; to savor food and make eating a joyful experience; and to nourish our bodies with energizing, life-giving, real food, so we can look and feel our best.

When I asked Meaghan about her philosophy around food, I discovered that we share a similar approach and both prioritize being connected to our food along with nourishment:

I see food in different levels. I see food as culture. I see food as commodity and food as nourishment. The level that we operate in is all three. HEX sees food and our food system in a holistic approach. We need to address the entire system of what brings food, nourishment and culture to our plate.

I couldn’t agree more.

It’s a privilege to have a company right here in my hometown that is so committed to upholding the integrity of their food and nourishing people every day.

Stay tuned for the second post in this series to learn more about what makes HEX’s products different from everything else on the market, get some tips for how to incorporate these foods into your diet, and get a sneak peek at some plans for HEX’s future.

Raw Blueberry Cashew Gelato & Sesame Tahini Cookies

Did you know that the same foods that support our heart and help it heal can also boost our mood? Foods that help one part of the body tend to be good for others as well.

During a recent Heart Healthy Happy Hour hosted by the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Miller, preventive cardiologist, speak about the importance of taking care of our heart, so we can feel good, be well and live longer. For a recap of the top three tips he shared (and a video that will make you laugh until you cry), check out the last blog post here.

To enhance the presentation and bring it to life, his wife, Dr. Lisa Miller, a podiatrist and chief recipe creator, showed everyone how to make the two recipes I’m sharing with you in today’s post. They are perfect for summer, refreshing, colorful and delicious!

millers-tiih

During his presentation, Dr. Miller highlighted some of the top 50 heart-healing, mood-boosting foods, and the recipes prepared highlighted nearly a dozen of those ingredients. For the health benefits of these ingredients, check out my last blog post.

As with all of the recipes on my blog, both of these recipes are dairy-free and gluten-free. The first is raw and both are vegan. Enjoy 🙂

Raw Blueberry Cashew Gelato

blueberry-gelato

Ingredients
1/4 cup raw cashews (preferably soaked overnight in salted water)
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Drain cashews (if soaked) and discard soaking liquid.
  2. Place all ingredients in blender as listed and blend until smooth and uniform resembling gelato/ice cream. A high-powered blender works best for this. Add a tablespoon spoon or so of almond milk if it isn’t blending easily enough but keep it minimal so the dessert stays thick.
  3. Pour into pretty cups and serve immediately.
  4. Top with your favorite granola or a sesame tahini cookie, if desired.

Sesame Tahini Cookies

sesame-cookies-miller

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup tahini
1 tsp almond extract
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl, blend tahini, maple syrup, almond extract and oil.
  4. Blend dry and wet ingredients together.
  5. Add in sesame seeds.
  6. Form dough into 1” balls and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes until lightly brown.

Once cool, you can can dip 1/2 of the cookie in melted dark chocolate and place in the fridge to harden. Otherwise, serve them as a side to the raw blueberry cashew ice cream!

8 Great Healthy Date Ideas for Summer

Making time to connect with each other is one of the keys to being well and feeling nourished (in every sense of the word!). As adults, it can be easy for us to stick with what we know and do the same activities over and over again, especially in the summertime.

I love hanging out poolside as much as the next person, but if you’re looking for fun and nourishing things to do in the summer to change up the typical routine, I have some great ideas for you, your friends and your family.

Spending the past weekend with my friend, Jessica Yeager, a fellow culinary nutrition alum and blogger, inspired me to write this post. We don’t see each other that often, so I planned some healthy and fun activities for us to do when she came to visit me in my hometown of Baltimore.

If you live in or near Baltimore or plan to visit at some point, these are places and things I highly recommend checking out and trying. If you live elsewhere, use these ideas as inspiration and the links I provide within each tip as resources for fun things to do where you live!

date-ideas-cover

#1 Visit a Local Restaurant that Serves Nourishing Food

Where We Went: One of my favorite places to have lunch, dinner or brunch just outside of Baltimore is Great Sage restaurant. They specialize in plant-powered vegan dishes and offer lots of gluten-free options, so I know I can go there and eat a delicious meal without any concern that my body will feel unwell afterwards. I had just been the week before to celebrate my birthday but knew we had to go back when Jessica came to town.

We met up with our friend and fellow culinary nutrition alum, Katie Hussong, for dinner and were greeted by the friendliest and most hospitable restaurant manager I’ve ever met, Scott Carberry. My husband, Bill, had taken me there the week before for my birthday dinner, a tradition we started last year.

great-sage-collage

We started our meal with refreshing ginger-ades and a rich and creamy spinach artichoke dip that you’d forget didn’t contain cream or dairy. The Avocado Pink Peppercorn salad with roasted beets and sliced watermelon radishes on a bed of Bibb lettuce was the highlight of my meal and one of their most popular summer salads. The bean and lentil burger and hearts of palm crabcake rounded out our meals, and we had to order dessert. Great Sage’s carrot cake is to die for and is gluten-free and dairy-free.

You Can Do It, Too! If you’re looking for healthy places to eat in and around Baltimore, check out this post on the subject. If you’re not local to the area, use these tips to find healthy places to eat near you. The Happy Cow website/app are my go to resources for finding healthy eateries and the app Food Tripping is worth checking out, too.

#2 Pick Your Own Fruits or Veggies at a Nearby Farm

Where We Went: Just outside of Baltimore lies one of the best kept secrets where you can pick your own organic berries – Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm. I found out about a few years ago from friends at church, who love to take their kids there, and it is worth the trip every time!

From blueberries to black raspberries and blackberries, this beautiful farm is the place to come for Baltimore’s best berries. They also harvest bunches of lavender, which you can purchase as well.

Grab a bucket and get picking! You pay by the pound and may end up with more than you intended. If that is the case, I just lay them out on a baking sheet in the freezer WITHOUT washing them, wait until they freeze and then put them in a freezer-safe bag or container to use for smoothies, fruit crisps, pancakes and other goodies later.

hybridoma

You Can Do It, Too! Want to learn more about Hybridoma? Click here to visit their website. To find a pick-your-own farm near you, check out LocalHarvet.org and search by zip code.

#3 Grab a Quick & Healthy Lunch {& Try Something New!}

Where We Went: There are so many places to find a healthy lunch in Baltimore, but one of my favorite places is the Naked Lunch cafe inside of MOMs Organic Market (my favorite grocery store) in Hampden. MOMs and Whole Foods Market both have great options for a quick, affordable and nourishing lunch when you’re on the go, but the Naked Lunch wins out for me.

Jessica tried the jackfruit BBQ (one of the trendiest foods on the scene these days!) with a side of the cauliflower steak. I had the cauliflower steak bowl, which was served on a bed of brown rice, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach tossed in a chimichurri sauce. Talk about flavor!

cauliflower-steak-moms

You Can Do It, Too! The MOMs in Hampden, DC, Rockville and Bryn Mawr (PA) all have Naked Lunch cafes, so if you are near any of those areas, check one out. If you’re outside of those areas, use Happy Cow, Food Tripping or Yelp! to find a healthy lunch near you.

#4 Hit Up a Local Festival or Event

What We Did: Each year in the summer, Baltimore hosts Artscape, America’s largest free arts festival that attracts over 350,000 people over three days. There are dozens of artists, musicians and food vendors to visit, including quite a few that are health promoting. Rhythm Superfoods was there giving away free bags of kale chips and considering how hot it was, we knew we had to grab one of the frozen fruit pops made with local and organic ingredients from Pop Couture. Jessica tried the Banana Coconut and I had the Mint Lemonade. So refreshing and delicious!

We made sure to stop by the tent with what I think is the most beautiful art on the planet – watercolor food art done by Marcella Kriebel from nearby DC. Her artwork is stunning and is hanging in several areas in my house, including my new kitchen. Check out Marcella’s work on Etsy. I snagged a picture with her at her booth at Artscape, and I’m going to interview her for a future blog post, so stay tuned!

artscape-2016

You Can Do It, Too! Check out websites like Everfest, Eventbrite and Eventful to find local festivals, concerts, and events near you. These websites are great to check out if you’re going on vacation and want to know some fun things to do where you’re staying.

#5 Go Where the Locals Go

What We Did: My #1 favorite place to spend time in Baltimore is Belvedere Square Market. I grew up going there on Saturday mornings with my mom and now go to see “my people” and eat some of my favorite foods. We stopped by Plantbar, a juice and smoothie bar with other grab-and-go meals and treats, that specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free options. My friend, Daniela, opened it a few years ago after the success of her other restaurant with the same vibe, Zia’s Cafe, in Towson. We had a Daily Greens juice with some ginger added. It was refreshing and energizing, perfect for a pick-me-up after walking around in the heat at Artscape.

From there we stopped by Hex Ferments, a fermented food shop that uses local, organic ingredients to make create fermented food combinations, including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, and kombucha. The Butterfly Lime kombucha was our favorite that day…probably because it was purple! We each grabbed a pickle and sat down to enjoy a snack before our last stop at my absolute favorite chocolate place in the world – Pure Chocolate by Jinji.

belvedere

I wrote about her story and her chocolates here, but all you need to know about this place is that you have to try it. She specializes in making incredibly decadent, beautiful and creative combinations of chocolate treats that happen to be raw, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Every person I’ve ever taken there raves about it, and it is a highlight of living in Baltimore. We had the peanut butter stuffed Turkish figs, peanut butter and jelly fudge, and the blueberry tobacco (quite unique!) and lemon cranberry Pucker truffles.

You Can Do It, Too! To learn more about Belvedere Square, visit their website here. They also have a summer concert series on Friday nights that is a lot of fun, too! To find where the locals eat near you, check out the LocalEats website.

#6 Shop Local and Make Dinner At Home

What We Did: It would have been easy to find another place to go out to eat, but we were ready to relax a bit and keep dinner simple. We stopped by MOMs Organic Market again and grabbed some fennel, leeks, and Cappello’s paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookie dough.

We came home and started chopping up our veggies, adding in some garlic and broccoli. We roasted the fennel, broccoli, and onions in the oven at 400F for about 40 minutes total, taking the broccoli out halfway. We sautéed the leeks and garlic on the stovetop, adding in a can of cannellini beans just before we were ready to eat. We tossed the roasted and sautéed veggies and beans together in the pan and topped it with a few squeezes of lemon juice and salt and pepper and had ourselves a locally grown, quick and tasty meal.

dinner-jess

We finished off the night with some of THE best gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookies from Cappello’s. You can eat the dough raw (we may have done this) and/or bake it into cookies!

You Can Do It, Too! Hit up the farmer’s market or grocery store near you to grab some foods that are in season. Roast, steam or sauté them and then toss everything together with a plant- or animal-based protein and top with a vinaigrette or simple homemade sauce. Keep it simple 🙂

There were two things we didn’t get to do that we’ll plan to do the next time we hang out, so here are two more ideas for you…

#7 Take a Hike!

What You Can Do: There are so many peaceful and beautiful hiking and walking trails nearby, and you can find some where you live by visiting AllTrails.com. I’m stoked for the hiking I’ll be doing during my upcoming trips to Upstate NY and Portland, Oregon! It’s a great way to move more, talk and enjoy the beauty around you, as well as the both of you being able to reap the benefits of walking.

#8 Go on a Groupon Date

What You Can Do: My husband and I and our friends have used ideas on Groupon to explore fun activities we might not think of on our own. From cooking lessons and paint nights to yoga classes and sporting events, you can find some fun ideas for things to do on Groupon…and save money at the same time!

So, there you have it! Those are a just a few ideas for how to upgrade your summer plans to include health, community and wellbeing and have fun at the same time.

Now, I’ve got a question for YOU! 🙂

What are some of your favorite healthy activities to do or places to go in the summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Mason Jar Meals: Carrot & Chickpea Salad {Video}

Are you looking for some ideas to make meal prep during the week quicker, easier and more nourishing?

I’ve been teaching my Meal Planning Made Easy workshop to a bunch of different companies lately. One of the recipe demos I like to show is how to make mason jar salads. They’ve easy, versatile, and convenient. You can prep a few of them at a time, so you can literally just grab, go, and shake your lunch during the week.

Below is a visual of a mason jar salad how-to.

If you want to add crunch from nuts or seeds or add some creaminess with avocado, it’s best to add them just before serving so the nuts and seeds don’t get soft and the avocado doesn’t turn brown. I also wait to add things like the veggie burger that goes on top of this particular salad, so it doesn’t get soggy.

I love this mason jar salad how-to illustration from Real Simple.

This particular recipe for a Carrot Slaw and Chickpea Salad is from Relay Foods, an online grocery store service we’ve been using for the past few months to make meal planning less expensive, more convenient…and a little more exciting!

My husband, Bill, and I LOVED this salad! 

It’s packed with flavor, textures and colors. The only ingredient that might not be familiar is watercress, which is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery taste. It’s packed with antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds. It’s often in a clear bag or box in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and you may have to go to a health food store to find it. An easy substitute would be arugula, a leafy green with a similar peppery taste. To learn more about the health benefits of watercress, click here.

This recipe also happens to include our FAVORITE veggie burger  – the Hemp & Greens burger by Hilary’s Eat Well. They’re allergen-friendly veggie burgers made from real food…no fake stuff here! Crunchy, flavorful, and delicious when baked, you can crumble them into a salad. We’ve tried every flavor and always have a package of them in our freezer. We buy them at MOMs Organic Market, but you can find where they sell them near you using this store locator.carrot-slaw-ingredients

I decided to take a stab at making one of those Buzzfeed Tasty-type videos, showing the how to of this recipe, so you can see me make it step-by-step.

My husband, Bill, is WAY more talented with technology than I am, so he did all the editing. I now know some tweaks I’ll make the next time I shoot a video (which will be for the easiest kale salad ever!), but I think this one is a good start!

I made a few modifications to the recipe in the video to simplify it, so you can either use the original recipe from Relay Foods for this Carrot Slaw Salad with Watercress and Chickpeas Mason Jar Salad OR try the simpler version below that’s made with a quick lemon vinaigrette.

Carrot & Chickpea Mason Jar Salad with Arugula

Course Salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rachel Druckenmiller

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 pound shredded carrots
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 5-ounce package arugula or spinach
  • 2 Hilary's Eat Well veggie burger patties toasted
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or almonds

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt, oil, and honey. Pour desired amount into the bottom of each quart-size mason jar (about 2 tablespoons).

  2. Prepare each mason jar salad by adding even amounts of the chickpeas, carrots, and greens.

  3. Cook the burger patties according to package directions in a toaster oven. Toast the patties just before serving to enjoy them crispy and warm (rather than soggy) if you're eating them throughout the week for lunches. Add the patties and nuts to the salad jar, cover with a lid and then shake it up or pour it in a bowl and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you are going to make a few of these ahead of time, toast the burger the day of and put the nuts or seeds on at the last minute, so they stay crunchy.

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