Homemade Herbed Garlic Salt with Lemon

Herbed Garlic Salt (so many uses, delicious, and a great food gift!)

This beautiful homemade seasoning salt is overflowing with fresh herbs, flavorful garlic, and zesty lemon peel. You can use this homemade seasoning salt in so many delicious ways, or give it away as a lovely food gift. Sprinkle it over vegetables or chicken to be roasted, or season pan fried salmon with it, for example.

Salt has been valued since ancient times, with wars waged over salt routes, and many hundreds of miles traveled in search of it. But salt has become a beast of a different sort through the modern refining process. We especially look for unrefined salts that still contain trace minerals and aren’t harshly treated and refined with chemicals. You can use whatever salt you like best, or is available to you. This recipe uses a coarse or kosher salt. Here are two possible unrefined salt choices (some links may be affiliate links): Celtic Sea Salt , Redmond Real Salt (Kosher/coarse)

This specific recipe is an adaption of this Tuscan Salt recipe from The Splendid Table. Ever since I listened to this episode of the podcast, I have meant to make it. Now that I finally have, I have to say that it makes everything taste better! What I love about it is that it take just a few minutes of active time to make, but saves so much time when you are cooking. Instead of having to gather a variety of spices for a single dish, you can just use this to season the whole thing. I made baked French “fries” the other night and used this on it instead of regular salt, and it was so good! We were impressed.

And with something as delicious as this, it would be perfect as a food gift. Packing can be as simple as a cute 4 ounce canning jar. As an aside, if you don’t already, having a microplane zester/grater can be really helpful for a variety of tasks, including zesting lemons for recipes such as this one.

How to make an herbed garlic salt (delicious for home use, for for giving as a gift!)

Homemade Herbed Garlic Salt with Lemon
 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of coarse of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of mixed fresh herbs (I used ½ each of fresh sage and thyme and 1 cup of rosemary)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, and coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250F.
  2. To measure herbs, place loosely in a 2 cup measuring cup (no need to press down on herbs).
  3. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor, and blend until the herbs and garlic are well blended, and the salt is finer.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet, and place in the oven, middle rack. Bake until dry (this will depend on how wet your salt and herbs are - 15-30 minutes should do it. Check about every ten minutes and give a quick stir when checking.
  5. Remove from oven and cool, and then store in an airtight container.
  6. While this will be "good" indefinitely, for best flavor, use up within 3 months.

 

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball (perfect for Christmas and the New Year!)

Tangy, with crunchy walnuts, savory shallots, and sweet cranberries, this goat cheese ball is perfect for the holidays! It is easy to whip together, can be made days in advance (or even frozen) and makes a lovely addition to a cheese platter or to serve along side celery sticks or rich whole grain crackers. Or give it as a food gift (or hostess gift.)

Personally, I am putting together some snack-y hors d’oeuvre to have out for Christmas day/afternoon when we are together as an extended family. Smoked salmon ( #affiliate link  here is a lovely example), this cheese ball, and my favorite liver pate (served with home pickled onions) with some gluten free and regular crackers will make a special but nourishing addition to the usual holiday fun.

Freezing cheese balls

I have never tried freezing a cheese ball before, but Martha Stewart says you can freeze cheese balls for up to a month, which is perfect for my plans of pre-making as much of the food as I can. This cheese ball is now nestled in my freezer well wrapped, waiting for Christmas cheer and magic to happen. But I admit, it may be a little smaller after we all had a few samples of it. ;-)

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Notes on Ingredients

You can use raw, soaked and dehydrated or toasted walnuts. To toast, stir constantly in a cast iron pan over medium heat until the nuts are starting to brown.

I love these Organic Apple Sweetened Cranberries (affiliate link) for projects like this one.

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball - A delicious appetizer, party food, or food gift!

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball
 
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Tangy, with crunchy walnuts, savory shallots, and sweet cranberries, this goat cheese ball is perfect for the holidays! It is easy to whip together, can be made days in advance (or even frozen) and makes a lovely addition to a cheese platter or to serve along side celery sticks or crackers! Or give it as a food gift (or hostess gift.)
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of chévre goat cheese (look for the soft goat cheese logs)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fat of choice (such as avocado oil, home rendered fats, etc).
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ⅓ cup dried, sweetened cranberries (I used fruit juice sweetened), roughly chopped
  • ¼-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, over medium heat saute the shallots in fat/oil of choice until softened and starting to brown (about five to seven minutes). Make sure you stir almost constantly to prevent burning.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the goat cheese with the cooked shallots, ⅓ cup walnuts, and cranberries.
  3. Using a spatula, scoop into a rough ball, and then use your hands to pat into a ball. Cover the surface with the extra chopped walnuts.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Or freeze up to one month, well wrapped.
  5. Serve with crackers, crudités, cucumber slices, or celery sticks!

 

Vanilla Lemonade (A whole fruit vitamin C rich beverage)

Lemonade with vanilla and whole vitamin C powder. A hydrating way to get your daily vitamin C powder in that is delicious too!This lemonade is a wonderful combination of tasty sweet and tang, plus it offers a hearty dose of vitamin C from whole food sources! It’s lovely for drinking when fighting off a cold or illness (or for hydrating if sick).

This lemonade is unique for a couple of reasons – first, it uses peeled whole lemons for more potential health benefits (and you end up using fewer lemons, which is frugal too!). Secondly, the vanilla is amazing with lemons! Who knew? Thirdly, I add a whole fruit source of vitamin C to make this drink a wonderful, whole food source of vitamin C!

Today is the first day of December, and we are getting in the Christmas spirit over here. Our tree is up, and I have running lists of holiday plans for us (including fun posts coming up for this blog!). But I am also trying to keep us well during this holiday season so that we can enjoy them. This little drink is just part of my “stay well” eating/drinking plan.

There is some controversy over how much vitamin C we should optimally consume every day, and whether we should use any vitamin C supplements or not. Personally, I have used a more typical vitamin C pill, but I feel most comfortable with it getting it from real food, or concentrated real food powder. For those of us who follow Dr. Price’s dietary recommendations, getting a whole food source of vitamin C in every day is part of his protocol. This lovely refreshing drink is one great way to do so.

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This was inspired by the “Singing Canary” Trim Healthy Mama drink, but is a simplified version (I choose not to use turmeric or protein powder), My version also uses a whole food source of vitamin C, rather than a synthetic version. My version also contains fewer milligrams of vitamin C in total.

Vitamin C and pregnant women and nursing mothers

One thing to double check with your health care provider about is how much vitamin from any sort of supplement you should consume when pregnant or nursing. I have gotten different answers on this question. The most conservative response is probably given by Medline Plus (a service from the National Library of Medicine)

They say, “Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vitamin C is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in the recommended amount of 120 mg per day. Taking too much vitamin C during pregnancy can cause problems for the newborn baby.”

Two dieticians answer that question here, a summery being that eating vitamin C rich food and taking a multi-vitamin will give you plenty of vitamin C (and taking large doses could be harmful for your baby), and the second opinion being that you shouldn’t take over 2,000 MG of added vitamin C per day.

You can also get helpful charts for general info on recommended amounts of vitamin C (from diet or supplements) from WebMD, where they also point out that, “A substantial number of Americans may have low intake levels of vitamin C due to the inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables.”

The point is this – vitamin C is an important vitamin, but you can over do it, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. Many midwives recommend the higher amount (2000 milligrams per day), so there is a wide range of advice in how much to take when pregnant is optimal.

For the rest of us, it makes sense to me to get our vitamin C from food as much as possible – which is why I love this recipe!

Vitamin C from lemons in recipe: According to WhFoods.com, ¼ cup of lemon or lime juice contains 23.61 MG of vitamin C (and a small amount of folate as well!). But the pith and the peel has even higher concentrations of certain elements that could be especially healthful. Intriguing research has shown that those who consume citrus peels have a lower risk of skin cancers (read here and here), and research shows that some of the elements could be helpful in preventing breast and colon cancers. So, save those citrus peels from this recipe to use in other ways!

Whole Food Vitamin C

If you’d like to up the vitamin C content even more, you can do what I do by adding some of this Vitamin C powder made from acerola cherries. From Traditional Market, “Freeze drying and spray drying changes the acerola’s pH and reduces its vitamin levels. This vitamin C is processed with a proprietary gentle low heat method. As a result, the natural cherry color flavor and smell remains unchanged. Lab tests confirm that no vitamin C is lost during the process. Each bottle contains at least 25,000 mg of only naturally occurring vitamin C per bottle. This is truly natural vitamin C—there is no ascorbic acid added or synthetic vitamins added at all. It’s just powdered organic cherry.”

I love this stuff! It also works well in smoothies. A ¼ teaspoon has 250 mg of vitamin C, so to get 2000 mgs, I use 2 teaspoons. It has such a mild flavor, that you could easily use less as well.

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/VitaminC

Ingredient links:

Gluten free vanilla extract
stevia
raw honey
Whole Fruit Vitamin C Powder

Vanilla Lemonade (A whole fruit vitamin C rich beverage)
 
 
You could also add 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1-3 teaspoons MCT oil, and a small amount of protein powder, if desired.
Ingredients
  • 2 lemons, peeled (white pith left on)
  • 1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whole Food Vitamin C extract of choice (I use this one), I use ¼-2 teaspoons worth, depending on how much vitamin C I am wanting.
  • Stevia or honey to taste
  • Dash of unrefined salt, optional
Instructions
  1. Slice the peeled lemons into 4 pieces, and remove any seeds. Place in a blender with 3 cups of water and blend well, until smooth.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve or a nut bag into a large rim jar or bowl.
  3. Pour back into jar, and add the vanilla extract, optional salt, if using, and stevia or honey to taste (start low and build up). Blend briefly, and then pour over a 2 quart jar full of ice. Add water to reach the rim of the jar. Enjoy!

 

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (Dairy Free Tested!)

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (the dairy free version tastes wonderful as well!). One less dish on the stove is a win!

These creamy mashed potatoes are so easy to make, and take one thing off of your stovetop! Plus, dairy free friends, be glad, they worked so well when made without cream of milk. This Thanksgiving, I am trying to make as much as I can beforehand so that I am not running around like crazy finishing five dishes all at once. For example, my Grain Free Caramel Apple Tart is going to be made the day before Thanksgiving.

One of the dishes often made at the last minute are the mashed potatoes, so I was so excited when I saw this method of making slow cooker mashed potatoes. I knew I had to make a test run of it to see how it went (I especially wanted to do a test run as I was adapting the recipe to be dairy-free!).

The technique is simple: You cook cubed potatoes in broth, garlic and seasonings for 3-4 hours, and then you mash them with melted butter and milk of choice (I used coconut milk, and no one even noticed the coconut flavor, even my coconut hater of the family). Then it can keep warm for even hours in the slow cooker. Because I used my roasted “Hearth” broth (so good!), and then these potatoes are slow roasted  (since they aren’t boiled) the mashed potatoes had a lovely roast-y flavor.

One thing that I noted was that the color was perfect when first mashed, but after being kept warm for 3-4 hours after mashing it, it started to turn slightly brownish, so for Thanksgiving, I am planning on not leaving it for hours on warm, but mashing it closer to when we serve it. I cooked mine on hot at first, so it cooked fairly quickly (at 3 hours they were well cooked), but if you wanted to cook them more slowly, you could certainly try it on low for longer.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (the dairy free version is delicious as well!). One less dish on the stove is a win!

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Note on Ingredients

If you’d like to use coconut milk, make sure you use full fat. If you’d like to use another dairy-free option, I’d recommend homemade almond “cream” (a thicker almond milk).

Simple Almond Cream Recipe

Let 1 cup of almonds soak for 1-8 hours in warm water with a couple pinches of salt. Rinse, and then blend in a high power blender with 2 cups of filtered water. Pour through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, and squeeze gently to remove all of the liquid. This makes a very rich almond milk, perfect for savory and sweet dishes

We tolerate butter just fine, so I use butter. Those only a little sensitive can often tolerate ghee fine. But for truly dairy free mashed potatoes, I have been surprised at how lovely a very mild olive oil tastes in mashed potatoes. I mention that in this stove top dairy free mashed potato recipe.

What potatoes to use? There is a lot of debate on this issue. I tested this recipe with russet, but some love Yukon for mashed potatoes as well.

Tools

I definitely recommend using a potato masher (such as this one) to get the right texture. This is the large and inexpensive slow cooker I use.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (Dairy free tested!)
 
Author:
 
Makes enough for 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds russet potatoes, or potatoes of choice, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced (optional)
  • 1½ cups broth of choice (such as Hearth broth, or chicken broth)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ cup melted butter or ⅓ cup mild olive oil (plus extra for oiling slow cooker)
  • ½ cup canned full fat coconut milk, homemade almond milk (see above), or whole milk, cream
  • Extra milk or broth for thinning down as needed.
Instructions
  1. Oil the sides of the slow cooker. Cube the potatoes into ½- 1 inch pieces (uniformly). Place in slow cooker, and add the garlic cloves, if using, and the broth of choice. Salt with about 1 teaspoon unrefined salt, and a generous sprinkle of pepper.
  2. Cover, and put slow cooker on low, and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the potatoes are soft.
  3. If there are any potatoes on the side that browned at all, you can remove with a spoon, if desired, for a very smooth texture. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes to desired texture (smooth or slightly chunky).
  4. Heat the butter and liquid of choice, and mix thoroughly into the mashed potatoes. If you want them thinned out at all, simply add more to taste/texture desired.
  5. Now keep the potatoes on "keep warm". I tested this for about 3½ hours on "keep warm". The texture near the end of that time started to get a little dry, so I would recommend adding a little more hot liquid before serving if you do. It also will start to turn a little less white as time goes on, so personally, I plan on keeping on "warm" just until serving, but not keeping it on warm for hours.