I love to be in the kitchen. It is a way for me to unwind when I am stressed, feel a sense of accomplishment, and just do something that I truly enjoy. I love trying out new recipes and seeing how I can “tweak” them to make them my own. Lately, I am especially loving real food recipes, and also, finding items that one would normally purchase at the store that I can make myself at home. Or, finding things that my family would like me to buy (that I refuse to spend money on b/c they are full of nasty ingredients), and figuring out how to make them myself. This purpose is twofold – it saves on money and lowers the grocery budget, and more importantly, it is real food. No preservatives, chemicals, ingredients you can’t pronounce, etc. I’ve been “toying” around with many ideas, and my husband would say that my kitchen is looking like a science experiment – I have mung beans sprouting, kefir culturing, kombucha brewing, chicken stock simmering, pinto beans thawing, and more. I’ll be posting recipes as we go along, through trial and error, but here are two that I made today, that we are absolutely loving – they even got the thumbs up from my kiddos – which is a big deal. :0)
Peach iced tea. When my kids were little, they loved this stuff, and I (ashamedly) let them drink it. A lot. They lovingly termed it “peachy tea,” and even have other family members calling it the same. It is now on my list of do-not-buy, and you would think they would rather walk a mile on hot pavement barefoot, than not be allowed to have it. (Ok, I exaggerate, maybe a little, but truly, they loved this stuff) Why won’t I buy it? Well, for starters, the first ingredient is sugar. Not tea. Next is malic acid (for tartness), then instant tea. Instant tea granules are made by using low pressure to extract liquid from fresh tea leaves. The liquid is then freeze dried to form a powder. Unfortunately, this type of processing destroys most of the antioxidants that make tea such a healthy drink. In fact, according to reports by the USDA, powdered iced tea loses more than ninety percent of its antioxidants when it’s processed – and some instant teas have almost no antioxidant catechins, once it’s reduced to a powder. The list of ingredients continues with natural and artificial flavors (which can cover most anything the food companies want to add – they don’t have to specifically list them when it’s under this label), silicone dioxide (to prevent caking), artificial colors (we’ve all heard of the dangers of food dyes – do a google search and read for yourself. I, myself, prefer to go without, thank you very much) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C – if they have to add vitamins to a product, that’s a good sign that it’s not natural).
So, in an effort to hear “wow mom, you’re so awesome,” and to provide an alternative to “peachy tea” and soda (which we’re also trying to avoid), I came up with this recipe. It really is delicious, and tastes nearly the same, although maybe not so sickeningly sweet. I, myself, think it tastes even better. So here you are:
4 black tea bags (or substitute equal amounts of black loose leaf tea)
3 1/2 C boiling water
16oz peach nectar (chilled)*
~Steep tea bags in boiling water for 4-5min. Stir in peach nectar. Chill. Enjoy. How do you like that? Cue the Staples “that was easy” button.
*I used the Bionaturae Organic Peach Nectar that I get from “Azure Standard.” No added sugar, just organic fruit juices. You could also use the “Santa Cruz” brand, that you can purchase at most grocery stores.
Try it and let me know what you think!
Ranch dressing. Who doesn’t love this stuff? Well, my son, for one, but that’s beside the point. I haven’t bought the bottled stuff in years – I think it’s nasty, and the long list of ingredients includes: soybean oil, sugar, and MSG. Mmmm, doesn’t that sound delish? So, for a long time, we bought the powdered kind, thinking that it tasted better and was better for us than the bottled. Think again. The first ingredient is maltodextrin. This is used as a food additive, commonly found in the production of sodas and candy. It is such a highly processed ingredient, that the majority of the protein is removed. Then comes buttermilk, salt, and the ever-popular MSG. Again, do a study on what MSG does to your body, and you be the judge of whether or not you want to voluntarily consume it. Let me give you a head start – MSG is a neurotoxic substance that causes many adverse reactions, including dizziness, violent diarrhea, anaphylactic shock, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. (from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Falon). There’s a party. Consume at your own risk. It’s in everything – start reading labels.
Also, no matter how we made it, or what we tried, the dressing always came out runny. Nothing like pouring watery “soup” on your salad. So today, I adapted a recipe that I found online, and came up with this. Guess what? I like it even better, and it got my daughter’s stamp of approval – and she is a Ranch aficionado. We were doing the snoopy happy dance in the kitchen.
1 C sour cream*
1 C mayonnaise or kefir
1/2 C buttermilk
1 T dried parsley (you could use fresh, minced, but I didn’t have any on hand)
1 T dried minced onion
1-2 T garlic powder
1-2 t salt (or to taste)
~Grab a quart-sized jar, dump the ingredients in, and shake to your hearts content. Enjoy. It’s that easy.
*I’m a sour cream snob – “Daisy” is the only brand I’ve found that uses only grade A cultured cream. That’s it. Read the list of ingredients on yours – you may be surprised.
So enjoy, and let me know if you try it and what you think. More recipes to come….
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