SuperNatural SuperFoods: Stock 25 Items For Health’s Journey


Click to view the larger photo (& read labels better)

I’m still pulling notes together to create my monthly newsletter; this month’s topic is healthy eating. But what a huge subject! It was the topic at a recent retreat session, with a fun show-and-tell . The group got a “hands-on” experience, as I had packaged up 26 different food items, each representing a particular feature of healthy foods.

Anyone seeking a healthier diet can begin to incorporate more and more of these foods into their family’s meals. A friend always said, “Progress, not perfection”. I think it’s wise to realize that we don’t need to suddenly adopt a radical, hard-core diet, living exclusively off of wheat grass juice or what-have-you. (Although I do love wheat grass juice!)

It’s a process. Several years back, when I’d first heard about coconut oil, I bought a jar, stuck it in my fridge, and continued to ignore it for the next six months. No worries- coconut oil has a really long shelf life! I finally broke into it, eventually learning how to incorporate it into meals.

Actually having healthy ingredients in the cupboard or fridge is the first step. Most will keep longer than prepared foods, so if you’re slow to begin using something, don’t be too discouraged. Remember: Progress, not perfection.

So here’s a run-down of the show-and-tell foods I shared with my group:

1. Turmeric: A bright yellow spice with no prominent flavor, but chock full of antioxidants. It’s even been connected with improvements in Alzheimer’s patients. Like most spices, it’s a super food with a lot of “bang” for its buck. Add it to any colorful meal; it will add more color, with no overwhelming curry flavor. (I even mix some into my tea!)

2. Oregano: Like spices, herbs are also full of antioxidants and other nutrients- most all are of high ORAC value (which means they’ll absorb those free radicals that can lead to disease and premature aging). You can make meals healthier just by adding a generous dose of herbs.

3. Chili Peppers, Paprika, etc.: Used as a spice, this “spice group” actually comes from various dried, ground peppers. As high as red peppers (and other family members) are in nutrients, their dried form is more concentrated. Extra nutrients! You can only use so much cayenne, but you can add paprika to color many dishes (even tomato sauce, soups, etc.). You’ll raise the nutrient level in the process. I look for organic, as peppers are on the dirty-dozen list.

4. Cinnamon: Most spices are excellent sources of antioxidants (and have high ORAC value). Cinnamon in particular should be on your radar. Like turmeric, it’s been thought to be of some benefit in treating early Alzheimer’s; also, it can manage low blood sugar too. I get “Ceylon” cinnamon, as opposed to Saigon or Cassia. The latter contain more coumarin, which could build up in the body, ultimately affecting the liver, in larger quantities.

5. Cacao Nibs: OK, you can put dark chocolate in the super-food category too (along with unsweetened cocoa powder). But the lesser-known “cacao nib” (which is the whole, raw form of chocolate) is actually pretty tasty too. Sure, some folks say the nibs taste a little like bark or gravel. Ha! I put them into confections, in place of chocolate chips, and really enjoy them. Some fancy chefs on the Food Network were adding them as a garnish on savory dishes. That works too!

6. Olives & Olive Oil: Many (supposedly healthy) polyunsaturated oils on the market are quite refined and genetically modified.  The olive tree has needed no genetic modification– pure olive oil is GMO-free, and has kept entire ethnic groups healthy for years. Virgin, cold-pressed olive oil is wonderful– it will bring health and flavor to the table. (See more about olive oil here.)

7. Red Palm Oil: This bright red oil comes from the pressed, red fruit of the Red Palm Tree. Like olive oil, it’s been used in its unrefined form for millennium. It’s loaded with nutrients, with many health-giving features (see more info here).

8. Coconut Manna (Puree): Coconut puree is not the same as coconut oil, but rather, it is the whole (meat) of the coconut, processed into a smooth paste. Marketed as “coconut manna”, “coconut spread”, “coconut cream concentrate”, “coconut butter”, etc; it can be used in smoothies, in sauces, soups and the like. It will add flavor and fiber, and contains coconut oil too, so it has a list of health benefits. (See here for details.)

9. Coconut Oil: Like the coconut puree, this has a list of benefits (see here). It can be added to various foods (oatmeal even), and can also be used in cooking. Add it to a hot pan when cooking veggies, to saute them, or heat the coconut oil a bit before adding spices to ethnic dishes. This oil has also been suggested as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.

10. Steel-cut oats: A notch above “rolled oats” as far as processing is concerned; since less heat is generated when the oat grains are steel-cut, and more nutrients are retained. Rolled oats have had more heat applied, when the hard oat grain gets pressed into that familiar flake. But either of these breakfast foods is superior to the standard breakfast cereals, from a nutritional standpoint. Most boxed cereals have been subject to high pressure, high temperature extrusion. This is how those cute shapes and designs are formed. (See more on extruded cereals here.) It’s a controversial subject, whether the high heat and pressure used to create most boxed cereals leads to a loss of nutrients. To be safe, you might eat some steel-cut oats now and then. Just add boiling water to a 1/3 c. of the oats, let soak until the next morning. The oats will cook much quicker that way, should you want to cook them a few minutes more in the morning.

11. Quinoa: This is actually not an grain but a seed, and it is gluten-free and high-protein. I personally love the red or black varieties, as they make an interesting addition to a meal. But the blond version is just as nutritious. You can start slow, just adding a sprinkle of cooked quinoa to garnish soups or other dishes; freeze the rest in little packets. Like many other seeds, quinoa has an outer coating of bitter saponins and phytates, so it should be rinsed well to remove those, before cooking.

12. Millet: This is a fun grain– it can be cooked like rice, or added to baked goods for a crunchy texture. It’s a nice change-of-pace “cereal” for breakfast (although it takes 40 minutes or so to cook…) It’s gluten-free, and a good source of B-vitamins too.

13. Buckwheat Groats: I love my buckwheat groats. They aren’t an actual grain, but a seed of the rhubarb family, and gluten-free. They are also soft enough that I can grind them in my little coffee/spice grinder, to make a “whole-grain flour” for pancakes. For a cooked side dish, they only take about 15 minutes to cook (plus 10 minutes of sitting). They can be toasted first, or not. Very nutritious!

14. Brown Rice: A great way to add more whole food to our meals. plus it’s also gluten-free. (We can get way too much gluten in our modern diet!) Brown rice will take 45 minutes to cook, but extra can be put up to freeze, for a quick, handy meal down the road…

15. Nuts: Brazil nuts in particular contain selenium, which can be hard to come by in our modern diet. Just a couple a day will provide what you need. But don’t overdue nut consumption- even though they are a whole food, and are far better than a bottle of polyunsaturated oil, they can upset the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. It’s hard for us to get enough Omega 3 oils (found mainly in wild-caught salmon and such), and the more Omega 6s we eat (from nuts and other polyunsaturated oil sources), the more unbalanced the ratio becomes. Macadamias have become my fave nut, since they contain the least amount of Omega 6s. They contain more saturated fats, which, as it turns out, helps keep that Omega ratio in check.

16. Cashews: Cashews are especially handy in dishes needing some extra “creaminess”, as they can be blended with some water to make a “milk”. Add to soups, smoothies, sauces…

17. Almond Meal: More from the “nut family”, almond meal can “sneak” into a lot of baked goods, adding extra fiber, healthy oils, and nutrients. Make a great crust for your next bar recipe, using some almond meal in place of cracker crumbs and such.

18. Almonds: All nuts are so good for us. But almonds seem especially handy to carry around in a small baggie, for instant energy when sugar levels are getting low. The almonds will digest slowly, but will satisfy the tummy until dinner time…

19. Beans: Beans have plenty of fiber, plenty of nutrients and protein, and they’re low-glycemic. Certain legumes (lentils, split peas, red lentils) will cook up quite quickly, making a fast, easy, but healthy meal. Pre-soaking will help to remove the phytates, which inhibit absorption of other nutrients.

20. Flax Seeds: It can be challenging to get the full array of essential oils as a vegetarian, but flax seeds are one of the few vegetable sources of omega 3’s. AND, they’re a #1 source for lignans (a great antioxidant, phyto-nutrient). But the oil can go rancid quickly; it’s best to fresh-grind flax seeds in a little coffee/spice grinder. Put in smoothies, or baked goods too- the nutrients hold up, even after being baked. Whoo-hoo!

21. Chia Seeds: What? Even good for your mood?! (See more here.) Chia seeds, like flax seeds, are a good source of Omega 3’s. And they can help sustain your energy– is that why marathon runners love them so?

22. Brown Sesame Seeds: Of course sesame seeds also have all the health-giving qualities of other natural, whole nuts and seeds. They make a nice garnish on top of dishes, or added to baked goods. But note that the brown, unhulled kind are more nutritious. Those cute little white ones have been bleached- not quite as wholesome.

23. Unsulphured Dried Apricots: All dried fruits have a more condensed nutritional profile. Unsulphured ones will not have as bright a color, but they will be more natural. Back in the 80’s, when I was pregnant and horribly anemic, the doctor’s iron supplements weren’t working. But I started drinking beet juice and eating dried apricots, and my levels went WAY up. Cool, right?!

24. Raisins: Ditto the above for dried apricots. And what a great way to sweeten oatmeal- not just a sweetener, but one with fiber and minerals too!

25. Figs: Also, ditto the dried fruits above. So many health benefits! (See here for info.)

Use this page for reference, if you’re wondering where to start. Take this list to the health food store, stock up, and begin your journey to healthier living! Look for organic whenever possible, as foods grown organically will be more nutritious. And it’s a great way to show support for all the farmers out there who are trying to avoid pesticides and chemicals.

That should be enough info the chew on for now!




(“Whether You Eat or Drink”): Pleasing God with How We Eat

Grateful-Table-Redwood-Christian-RetreatWomen, Redwoods, laughing, singing… I must have just returned from our church’s annual Women’s Retreat! How fun, right?

I’m going through notes I used for a session on “High Energy Radiance”, which focused on healthy eating. “Super Natural Super Foods”, you might say.

Grateful-Table-High-Energy-RadianceI thought I’d put all the nutritional info in my monthly newsletter, but keep track of key verses in this post. After all, we don’t just live “by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God!” (It’s not just about the food.)

It’s not actually Sunday today, but here’s my “Soul Food Sunday” post, from this weekend’s session on healthy eating:

1.) Eat more natural, whole foods. We can try baby steps, adding a few healthy foods at a time. We don’t have to put anything on a “NO” list, but we can keep the following verse in mind. We don’t want to be “slaves” to sin, with an out-of-control compulsion to eat unhealthy food!

” ‘Everything is permissible for me’–but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’–but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

2. Avoid “gluttony”. It’s easy to think of gluttony applying to gross pigs. But really, an obsession with food, even uneaten food, is a form of gluttony. Interesting that C.S. Lewis describes gluttony as falling into one of three categories:

  • Wanting more pleasure from something than it was made for.
  • Wanting it exactly our way (delicacy). Prepared just right, just the right amount. etc. (Pampered instead of becoming strong by suffering the minor inconveniences of life)
  • Demanding too much from people (excessive desire for other people’s time or presence). The object of affection is expected to provide an unreasonable amount of company.

“Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. ” – Proverbs 23:2

3. Splurging? We all ought to be able to “splurge” on occasion. And we can ask God to bless it, even if it is full of sugar and butter. That might help!

“Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

4. Contagious Self Control. One of the fruits of the “Spirit is… self-control” (Galatians 5:22). As a witness to others, that fruit of self-control can manifest in our bodies. Studies show the reality of “peer pressure”: When we have willpower, it encourages others. When we fall short, we encourage our friends to fall short. Having self-control strengthens others’ resolve as well as our own.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

5. What you CAN eat. Think about all the delicious, whole, healthy foods you can eat (that are actually quite delicious!).

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

Meyer Lemon Bars w/ Crispiest Crust (Or Try “Shaker-Style”)

Sunflowers, meyer lemons, mint, and lemon bars

This recipe is similar to many others, except that we’ve found a way to insure a crispier crust. The sugar and lemon in the filling gets heated first, before adding the eggs and salt, before pouring over the partially-cooked crust. The crust “seals” better this way.

Another difference in this recipe: At The New Deli, we’ve started processing lemon peel and juice with the sugar and salt in our VitaMix blender. (Another quality blender might do.) This saves time (and knuckle skin), since it’s easier to peel the lemon with a potato peeler, than to zest it. We suspect that this method helps to infuse the sugar thoroughly with the lemon flavor. Also, this step can be done a day ahead, which is helpful.

Easiest Lemon Bars: Process peel in blender, w/juice and sugarSee note at bottom of page to make “Shaker Style” (using whole lemon slices). It looks extra pretty, but alas, it can be messier to eat!

Meyer lemons are sweeter than the typical grocery-store “Eureka” lemons, but those may be substituted. Either way, look for organic lemons, as this recipe uses the outer rind, where pesticides and fungicides can lurk. Serves 8 or so.


  • Zest of 2 Meyer lemons*
  • 3 TBS. lemon juice*
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 3/8 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 eggs, well beaten


1. This step can be done a day ahead if desired. Wash lemons; use a potato peeler to get peel off. Juice the lemons, to get 3 TBS. Into VitaMix blender (or other decent blender), add the following: > Peel from 2 lemons* > 3 TBS. lemon juice* > 1 1/2 c. sugar > 3/8 tsp. salt

2. Make the crust. Process just until crumbly (not too fine) and press into 9″ square pan, and partly up the sides: > 1 1/2 c. flour > 3/4 butter > 3/8 c. confectioner’s sugar

3. Bake crust 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

4. To prepare the filling, heat the lemon zest/lemon juice/sugar/salt mixture in a pan or in the microwave for 3 minutes or so. Stir in the eggs one at a time, plus the salt. Use: > 3 eggs

5. Mix thoroughly, pour on top of pre-baked crust.

6. Bake 20 minutes more, until it sets up. Cool before cutting. To make a more elegant dessert, serve with a scoop of ice cream and a sprinkling of poppy seeds.


* OR, for “Shaker Style”): Use 2 large Meyer lemons, sliced, in place of the juice and zest. Add the paper-thin, seeded lemon slices to a large mixing bowl; add the granulated sugar and toss well to coat, “marinating” for a day. Proceed with recipe, skipping Step 1.


Chipotle Potato Soup, Using Dried Chipotles, No Canned Stuff

This soup gets its color from grilled carrots. The veggies simmer until tender in a covered pan, with some water added; as the water evaporates, the sugars in the starches caramelize, making a rich, flavorful soup. Extra virgin olive oil adds richness without the saturated fats; a healthy soup- even vegan!

Grilled carrot, onion and celery, plus potatoes and chipotle peppers, make soup

The deep, smokey flavor of the chipotle peppers gives it a kick. Using dried chipotle peppers (found in many supermarkets’ spice sections) is most economical and lends more chipotle flavor than canned goods containing only a small percentage of chipotles. Depending on the quantity of veggies used, this healthy recipe serves 8 or so.


  • 2 dried chipotle peppers, stems removed, plus extra for garnish, if desired
  • 1 large onion, chopped in large chunks
  • 2 large carrots, in chunks
  • 1/4 of a bunch of celery, in chunks
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 3 lb. or so potatoes (about 4 med. lg.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • parsley or cilantro for garnish
  • Optional: “Chipotle Pepper Oil” (recipe here)


1. In a very hot skillet or pan (preferably iron), sear chopped veggies: > 2 dried chipotle peppers, or to taste > 1 large onion, chopped in large chunks > 2 large carrots, in chunks > 1/4 of a bunch of celery, in chunks

2. Add a big splash of water to the pan now and then, to allow for more steaming of the veggies. Turn the veggies as they brown, letting them continue to brown on high heat. This will caramelize the natural sugars in the vegetables, adding extra flavor.

3. Once the veggies seem well-browned, add them to a pot, also adding: > Approx. 3 lb. or so potatoes (about 4 medium large), peeled and cubed > enough boiling water to cover

4. Simmer vegetables until tender (about 20 minutes). Process with an immersion blender, or use a food processor, taking care not to over-process (or potatoes can get too starchy). Also add: > 1/3 c. olive oil > 1 1/2 tsp. salt

5. To use chipotle peppers for garnish, prepare some extra peppers by slicing a few and microwaving in a small bowl with a splash of water and oil. Garnish the soup with: > Parsley or cilantro > the extra chipotle peppers

6. Optional: Just add a drizzle of “Chipotle Pepper Oil” (recipe here)

Coconut Oil for Mental Health: Why/How To Use, Where to Buy

It’s not just an exclusive club that gets hit with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Anyone can fall prey to these horrible conditions. But truthfully, I hadn’t given it much thought until earlier this year, when my 73-year-old mother became suicidal, paranoid, and delusional.


Let the oil melt in a low-temp oven (or use double boiler); pour onto aluminum foil, chill, then break into easy-to-use pieces!

Mom had always been a fun, loving, intelligent, faith-filled woman. Who was this new person? The doctors had just diagnosed her with Alzheimer’s, and I had begun a mourning process. I was grieving the loss of “mom”; I hardly knew this new person.

Friends and family began praying, and I also began an in-depth study on Alzheimer’s and dementia. While there has been little breakthrough in treatment or prevention, Dr. Mary T. Newport’s studies proved hopeful (find her book on Amazon here). She began researching in hopes of treating her husband, and found some promise in coconut oil, which is an excellent source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs). The Alzheimer’s brain is insulin-deficient, but the MCTs provide fuel, leading many patients to a stabilization or even a reversal of symptoms.

This was the best news I’d heard yet. I’m now keeping my mom supplied with a “coconut bark” confection I make regularly (see recipe here), and she’s been using coconut oil in her oatmeal. Months later, she has (oh, so thankfully) been given a better diagnosis. And while she is also receiving some drug therapy, the coconut might be helping too. We’re going to keep eating it, just in case!

Here’s the low-down on what/how/where to find quality, economical coconut oil:

Grateful-Table-Coconut-Manna-How-To-Put-UpNext step, how to make coconut oil handy to use? It doesn’t have to be refrigerated, since it’s so stable, but in colder climates, you might find a jar of coconut oil to be a hard, solid mass, difficult to get out of the jar. If that’s the case, warm it on a double-boiler (or in a low-temp oven), to melt it, then pour melted contents onto aluminum foil (with a little ridge around the edges). Let sit overnight on counter; by morning, the coconut oil will firm up. Once firm, break into pieces, making it much easier to use.

This method works particularly well for coconut butter (AKA “coconut manna”, “coconut spread”, or “coconut cream concentrate”). Such products contain the coconut meat and fiber too (not just the fat), so they need refrigerating. If the jar’s been processed into chunks (as mentioned above), the refrigerated chunks will be much handier to use than trying to chip some off the solid block.

Meanwhile, here’s three great things about coconut oil:

  • 1. Don’t Fear the Fat- This particular fat can increase metabolism, has antibiotic qualities, is a great antioxidant (think, anti-aging), AND it helps the body absorb the minerals it needs.
  • 2. Instant Energy- Coconut oil is easily digested and goes straight to the liver to be used as energy. This is a plus even for those with diabetes and gallbladder issues, as it doesn’t need bile or pancreatic enzymes in order to be utilized.
  • 3. Tasty Treats- Coconut oil can be used in cooking, when stir-frying veggies, or to add flavor (and nutrition) to soups and sauces. Other coconut products include cream, milk, coconut “flour”, and coconut puree. The puree is blend of the coconut meat, full of coconut flavor and fiber too; it forms the base for the coconut bark recipe. It might be marketed as “coconut spread”, “coconut manna” or “coconut cream concentrate”.

I add coconut “manna” to my smoothies every morning; my husband adds it to his oatmeal too. Have you tried using coconut oil (or cream, manna, spread, etc.)? What did YOU think?! (Comments welcome :D)

Red Palm Oil for Health (Tho Not So Tasty)

I’ve been researching various oils. For more about Rapeseed Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Canola, and Olive Oil, see the article here.

Coconut oil’s going mainstream- it’s even at Trader Joe’s. And red palm oil hit the headlines, thanks toGrateful-Table-Red-Palm-Oil Dr. Oz. But what’s the truth about red palm oil (the unrefined, bright red version, not the refined stuff that makes junk food junky).

It’s been used for over 5,000 years. So, unlike some newly created, genetically modified oils (canola, for one), it has a proven track record. (Some foods are so new that we don’t even know their effect on future generations.)

Red palm oil is loaded with carotene; it’s in a good form too, as carotene needs fat in order to be assimilated. It also contains lots of other nutrients (and I mean, lots), including super potent forms of Vitamin E. Red palm oil contains all four of the different tocotrienols, which have 60 times the antioxidant activity of our typical “vitamin E”. The tocotrienols increase blood flow to the brain and slow damage done by free radicals (aiding in Alzheimer’s and dementia prevention, too). Yay!

Another feature: even though red palm oil is a saturated fat (solid at room temperature), it has been proven anti-inflammatory, removing plaque build-up in arteries. Without a plaque build-up, less cholesterol collects in the area. The presence of cholesterol is not actually the cause of heart disease, but a symptom of a problem. And while it’s quite profitable to sell cholesterol-reducing drugs to address that symptom, how much better would it be to address the real problem?! An anti-inflammatory diet could probably do much to address heart-disease problems, and red palm oil is there to help!

Also, RPO goes straight to the liver- instant energy that doesn’t need to be processed more before getting used as energy. Easily metabolized foods are like paying cash, giving you instant energy. Alas, foods that like to turn to fat are like credit card debt: Easy to take on, but paid back with interest (or, lots of exercise and hard work). You pay a “fee” for having eaten it; since it got stored as fat instead of getting used as instant energy, you have to “pay” to get it back out of storage, before you can use it for energy!

If you’re ready for this serious super-food, find a good, sustainable oil, like this Red Palm Oil (100% Organic). From an environmentally sound source, it’s grown by small groups of farmers in West African villages. Unlike the refined stuff we become accustomed to (that is so easy to eat to excess), virgin RPO has a curious, rather strong flavor. To make it more palatable, I always use other strong flavors with it, like garlic and spices. Which are super good for us too, so that’s just fine!


Soul Food Sunday: The Peace of God (Philippians 4:7)

I must confess, I can’t do it all. I could post more often, but then who would do the gardening, cooking, and cleaning?!

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

But it is time to post again. It’s almost Easter Sunday, and even though I don’t have an Easter Wallpaper to post, I still thought I’d share the one I’ve got on my desktop right now. It’s good to remember this passage, from Philippians.

Just before the verse about God’s peace, verse 4:6 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Perfect. Pray, give thanks, and don’t worry!

And verse 4:8 follows, with, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

Looks like this is the recipe for Peace:

1.) Don’t be anxious

2.) Do pray and give thanks

3.) Do think about all that is good

Wallpaper: Desktop Backgrounds w/Verses

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

If you like the verse, you might want to select one of the links below, and use the photograph and scripture for your computer background.

To use for desktop wallpaper, left click on appropriate monitor size, then right click and choose “select :

Background for wider monitors

Background for shorter monitors

Broccoli Salad: Easy Recipe for Potlucks, Parties

Here’s a version of the classic broccoli salad; a great dish for picnics and potlucks. Broccoli is one of those cruciferous, healthy veggies, so a tasty recipe that helps people eat it up is perfect. Serves 10.

Broccoli Salad topped w/ peanuts, in black bowlINGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 TBS. sugar
  • 1 TBS. white vinegar
  • 6 c. fine-chopped broccoli
  • 2/3 c. raisins, golden
  • 1/2 c. red onion, diced fine
  • 2/3 c. roasted, salted peanuts, chopped (or substitute crumbled bacon or roasted, salted cashews)


1. Mix the following in a big bowl: > 1/2 c. mayonnaise > 1 TBS. sugar > 1 TBS. white vinegar

2. To dressing, add: > 6-8 c. fine-chopped broccoli > 2/3 c. raisins, golden > 1/2 c. red onion, diced fine

3. Mix well. Before serving, top with: > 2/3 c. roasted, salted peanuts, chopped (or substitute crumbled bacon or roasted, salted cashews)

4. Prepare the dressing and broccoli a day ahead if desired; toss it all together at the last minute for extra freshness.

Make “Mixes” from Scratch- Healthy Way to Save Time & Money

We make “mixes” all the time at The New Deli. So, when we need to make a new batch of whatever (meatballs, meatloaf, salad dressings, etc) in a hurry, we don’t have to add a bunch of individual spices– that would take too long! We have jars of various dry mixes, and just need to add a few other ingredients to complete a recipe fast.

Display of sage, fennel, oats, and others herbs and spices, mixes in jars$AVE Time & Money: Four Homemade Mixes

For anything you make often enough, you will save time if you make a big batch of parts of the recipe that will store well. Examples? Angel Sweeza of Heart-Hands-Home has many recipes listed here. (She’s posted a lot of baking mixes, for bisquits, cookies, cakes, oatmeal mixes, tortillas, etc.)

Here’s four more ideas for you:

1.) “Meatball Mix”: You can check out our Spaghetti and Meatball recipe here. And you might notice that there’s a rather long list of ingredients (twelve, just in the meatballs). But we make meatballs so fast at The New Deli because we already have seven of those ingredients blended and processed into a “Meatball Mix”. All we add to that is a little Parmesan, egg, and the beef. If we want to make a vegetarian version, we just use some Parmesan, “Meatball Mix”, and a falafel-type dry mix. After adding water to that, we’ve got a vegetarian-style “meatball” that’s seasoned like yummy Italian sausage. So good!

2.) “Meatloaf Mix”: If you like to make meatloaf, and like to doctor yours up with a long list of herbs and spices, it could save time for you to have the blend on hand. You could make meatloaf several times, but more easily. At our deli, we process oatmeal with some sage, dried onion, and salt. We add some of that mix to each batch of meatloaf. Two great things are happening: We’re using a more gluten-free “filler” in place of the typical bread crumbs often added to meatloaf, and: We’re adding a few extra seasonings at the same time, without having to go through a longer list of ingredients, adding them one at a time, each time.

Another nice thing about having this blend of oats and herbs around: Wow, it makes a great dredging “flour” for chicken. (A gluten-free flour at that!)

If you happen to love The New Deli’s meatloaf, and want to make it yourself, we do add another long list of goodies to it. But we don’t add ’em one at a time- we have a seasoned tomato paste on hand; we just add a spoonful of that to each batch of meatloaf. If you want that recipe, you can find it here. (It also has multiple uses, for salad dressing, soups, etc.)

3.) Italian Dressing Blend: Another trick of the trade, from The New Deli! We get pretty busy most days, and don’t have time to make each batch of Italian from scratch. But we do have time to mix it up, using some of the “Italian Dressing Concentrate” that we keep in the freezer. It is a processed blend of fresh garlic, basil, oregano, tarragon and salt; when we’re running low, we blend up some of it with olive oil and red wine vinegar. The immersion blender works great for this, but a regular blender or processor, or even hand-whisking, would work too.

For the exact recipe for a single batch of the dressing, see here. But you can increase the recipe and store portions in the freezer, like we do. It’s quite handy!

4.) Taco Mix: If you make lots of tacos, you might try making your own taco mix. For starters, you can make your own chili powder. The main ingredients are cumin powder, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne (and perhaps some ground oregano). Many companies also add MSG, but who needs that?!

Experiment to get your favorite blend, for “Taco Seasoning”.  It did seem that, to be “authentic” (as in “more like store bought”…), my mix needed a hearty dash of sugar. Palm sugar would be a healthy substitute, and it would still give that taco meat that flavor we love. All I added to the mix was some homemade chili powder, sugar, and salt. A dash of vinegar tossed in after cooking the beef was the finishing touch. The kids were pretty impressed with a homemade taco mix that tasted (at least) as good as store bought. Only cheaper and healthier!

PS I’ve added this post to the “Simple Lives Thursday” blog hop post on my online friend Diana’s website, My Humble Kitchen. Lots more good links to articles for making life more simple!

How Not to Kill a Mocking Bird (Urban Homesteading Gone Bad)

Grateful-Table-Jungle-YardFREAKY FRIDAY: Pet Stories of a Wannabe Frontier Woman

It’s Friday already. Guess it’s time for a fun post (not so food-related, but that’s OK, right?)

You can make out a corner of our “jungle” in this first picture. Twenty-eight years later, full of mature trees. That same corner of the yard didn’t look that lush when we first moved in! That was back when we thought having chickens would be a good thing… (You can see a picture from 1986 on the left, featuring my dad feeding the chickens. The trees were pretty small!)Grateful-Table-Early-Yard-Baby-Trees

We also had a puppy. Briefly. A friend had convinced us to adopt a Doberman Pincher puppy that needed a home. Big mistake! Miles was 3 years old, the “puppy” would barrel him over, not to mention, chew everything in sight.Grateful-Table-Young-Son-w-Dog-Baby-Avo-Tree Both she (“Lenka”) and Miles look so relaxed, sitting next to the avocado tree we’d just planted. (Which is now two-stories tall!) She looked pretty harmless in the pic on the right, but don’t be fooled.

Lenka saw to it that the drip system we’d put in got chewed up; the seat belt left hanging outside the car door got destroyed… even the plastic-encased metal rope we used to tether her to a long line in the doggy run area got chewed up. It was crazy. Didn’t last. Put an ad in the paper and found her a new home… Even though she was awfully cute. As a puppy.

Grateful-Table-Two-Sons-One-ChickenMeanwhile, we procured some cute baby chicks and ducks. They ate pretty much every new plant I put in. They had their good points while it lasted: Great eggs and good fertilizer. They ate all the deli veggie scraps that we brought home. Great compost!

Alas, that too was not meant to last. I had tried to keep the rooster from bothering our little toddler, but it had jumped up and pecked on baby Tyler’s head one too many times. It was almost mocking us! Grrr– Mama bear was angry! Mind you, I was not really a frontier woman. I didn’t have a sharp ax to chop off the chicken’s head. (They say that’s a messy way to do it anyway.)

But I did wring its neck. This was in 1989, before I even knew about the internet, or I could have looked up this article on how to properly kill a chicken. I would have then known that “wringing its neck” (despite the expression), is not the best way to accomplish the task. Peter Dickerson’s humane directions (whereby the head is quickly detached in a particular grip, while holding the bird upside-down) would have been better to follow…

I do not recommend chicken slaughtering for the majority of us. As disturbing as killing it is, it will also continue to move around a bit (even when killed humanely). They say it’s “just the nerves”, but it’s very unnerving! I held my poor old rooster down, that last minute or two while he twitched, and I cried.

A freshly killed chicken also needs to be “dressed”. You can watch a video here, on how to do that. I didn’t have the video–I was on my own, pulling weird stuff out of that bird, and, well… it got pretty gross!

I didn’t want to eat chicken for quite some time. I did try to turn that old rooster into good stock for soup. The meat tasted like rubber bands, and I couldn’t quite stomach the chicken stock after the traumatic experience. I haven’t killed my own livestock since, But if I ever try again, I’m going to follow directions!

Now we just have a cat. And a few fish in our pond. That’s about our speed right now. And there’s enough stray cats around, siting on fence posts looking pretty, that we never get too lonely for a new pet…

Life is good : )