DIY vanilla stevia drops

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Stevia is my sweetener of choice and I find liquid stevia is far superior to any other form.

A small bottle of stevia drops is about $16. If you opt for the cheaper brand the dropper is plastic and I think it really affects the taste.

I love making my own things and saving money so here is my attempt at making vanilla stevia drops.

I found ground stevia leaves at a local herb shop. The sweet green powder was about $4 for a cup. So I have now found the most natural and cheapest way to buy this sweetener. On its own the herb is super sweet and has a bit of a grassy flavour. I don’t mind that, but we’ll see how the tincure works out.

I have purchased several flavours of stevia drops including, vanilla, root beer, orange, caramel and chocolate. Vanilla is my favourite and most versatile.

Warning: This is an experiment, not a tried a true recipe. I’ll update this post in a couple weeks to one month and let you know how it turned out.

You will need:

Two vanilla beans (I used Mexican vanilla)
1/2 cup dried stevia leaves
375 ml of vodka (or any other hard liquor)

1. Cut the beans lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla seeds. The put the seeds and empty pods in a jar.

2. Add stevia leaves and alcohol.

3. Let sit in a dark cupboard for two to four weeks.

4. Strain mixture. I am going to fill all my empty stevia bottles with it.

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Kefir

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Kefir is delicious and easy.

For my vegan followers, kefir can be used in almond, soy or rice milk.  Once of these days I am going to make a batch of homemade almond milk and ferment it with kefir. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s flavour is different from standard yogurt, and it has so many health benefits.

It has bacteria and good yeasts that are not in yogurt. These good little guys attach to your gut and actually sweep out all the bad bacteria and yeasts.

I am like a mad scientist in the kitchen when it comes to fermenting. I ferment veggies, dairy and water.  Kefir is something everyone should make it at least once.

I buy little packs of kefir starter from the health food store. You may be able to score some kefir grains off a fermenting friend, if you have one.

My recipe calls for one litre of milk, but I like this so much I double the recipe to two litres when I make it.

What to do:
Put two litres of milk in a pot and heat slowly. The heating slowly is really the key here. I set the dial to three and then wait for nearly an hour. You want it to get just before boiling. You can use a thermometre look for 82C or 180F.

Then remove from heat, transfer to dish or jar. Let cool on counter to 23-25C or 73-77F.

Take a small amount of cooled milk and mix with kefir starter. Then pour back into the jars. Leave on the counter for 24 hours and place in fridge. Leave in fridge for eight hours before consuming. This ensures the fermenting process is over.

You can then flavour with fruit or chocolate. I even like it plain on a potato.

I have tried to make yogurt a few times and each time it failed. I am convinced kefir is fool-proof.

Berry good syrup – A toddler must

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I started making berry syrup after my daughter and I made some kefir. She wanted it to be flavoured like yogurt.

Her request was strawberries. I am allergic to fresh strawberries, but not cooked ones.  So we came up with a cooked syrup.

This will now become a staple in my home. You can add it to milk for a healthy flavoured milk, no scary ingredients and there is some vitamins and fibre in this one. OK I know the fibre and vitamins are minimal, but still more than a bottle from the grocery store.

I mix the syrup with plain yogurt and kefir and we also like it on our gluten-free waffles.

In this post I made raspberry syrup, but you can use whatever berries you want. I also want to try it with mango.

You will need:

2 cups of berries (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 cup of water

1. Cook all ingredients in a pot in low-medium heat.

2. When it’s bubbling and the berries have plumped. Remove from heat and blend.

3. I strain out the seeds using a fine mesh strainer when I transfer into jars.

Enjoy.

Lemon millet patties

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Here is yet another recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.

This is a delicious addition to a meal.  My daughter loved them and so did my friends.

If you have never cooked with millet, it is an amazing grain. It is very sticky and gluten free. This is the best veggie patty I have made. I may consider adding some beans in a batch one day.

Ingredients
1 cup millet
2 cups water
pinch salt ( I prefer either sea salt or Himalayan rock salt)

2 small carrots
Green onions (the original recipe calls for one or two, but I used six)
handful of fresh parsley
4 tablespoons lemon juice (I juiced one lemon)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
coconut oil for sauteing

1. Rinse dry millet in a fine strainer under running water. Place rinsed millet, water and salt in a pot with tight fitting lid. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

2. Place chopped veggies, lemon juice and zest, and salt in food process and pulse. Then add millet and pulse until it’s mixed.

3. Form mixture into patties and cook in a pan with coconut oil.

Tip: You can add cook them in any oil, but the coconut really adds to the lemon flavour.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup (cooked)

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I have been working with a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Kyle Morrison. He has been giving me some recipes and meal plans to follow. This is one of his recipes. This is a cooked vegan recipe.

Ginger root peeled and minced: 1 inch

Cinnamon stick

Buternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed

Sweet potato

Stock or water 6 cups

Olive oil, 1  tablespoon

medium onion

2 pears cored and chopped

up to one cup of coconut milk

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 red pepper diced

1. Place ginger, cinnamon stick, squash and sweet potato in soup pot. Cover with veggie stock (or water) and bring to boil and simmer.

2. Heat olive oil in pan. Cook onions until caramelized.

3. Add 1/3 cup water to pan add pears cook for a few minutes until water is reduced. Then add pan contents to soup.

4. When squash and yams are cooked add coconut milk, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick.

5. Puree in blender or food processor.

6. Garnish with diced red pepper and a small drizzle of coconut milk (optional).

Spicy broccoli walnut salad

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This was thrown together with some random items in my fridge. But I haven’t been this excited about a new invention in a while.

1. Take a couple small handfuls of walnuts and pulse in the food processor with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon coriander and a small drop of cold-pressed olive oil.
2. Put the walnut mix in a large bowl.

3. Pulse together some green onions and a large handful of kale in the processor until they are all small flakes. Add to large bowl.

4. Chop up about two cups of broccoli into small peices and add to bowl. Toss together with 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  Season with Himalayan rock salt, pepper and some cayanne pepper.
Tip: The salad I made turned out really spicy and I think would be great served with some flax crackers. If you are not totally raw I think it would taste really great wrapped in a tortilla. It could also be served in a large romaine lettuce leaf.

Grain-free tabouleh

This is super quick and easy. If I had parsley on hand I would have used it.

1. Chop up one cucumber, 1/2 onion and one red pepper.

2. Add some chopped up mint leaves.

3. Then add a couple drops  of olive oil, juice from one lemon and some Himalayan salt.

Tip: Let sit in fridge for at least one hour before serving. Can be made the day before.