Wishing everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!
Summer is (almost)here, along with all of those pesky critters that seem to have been hibernating over the winter– ncluding my least favorite, the mosquito.
This year, I went on a hunt for a natural remedy that is less toxic and harsh than store-bought bug spray that usually includes DEET (http://www.nrdc.org/thisgreenlife/1006.asp). There are so many great remedies out there (some that I already knew about), and others that I am definitely going to try see which ones work for me.
Here are the top 9 ways I’ve found to keep from getting eaten this summer:
1. Know where they are. You may notice that there are a lot more mosquitoes around water. Lakes, pools, ponds, and any place there is standing water will attract the pests. If you know you are going to be around water, be sure to plan ahead and carry your natural repellant with you.
2. Don’t smell too good. Mosquitoes are attracted to floral and sweet smells, like perfume and body lotion. Reducing these as much as you can may help lessen your attractiveness to them.
3. Spritz yourself with vanilla. Simply dilute pure vanilla extract in water and spray it on.
4. Wear light clothing. Mosquitoes are drawn to darker clothing and colors. Wearing light colored clothing can be your first line of defense against these insects.
5. Make a garlic paste. This is not something I can see people doing everyday, but it is definitely great for repelling those little critters. Make a paste with garlic powder and water and apply to pulse points, behind the knees, on shoes and ankles, and a bit on your cheeks or somewhere on your face and neck. (Keep it out of your eyes, it will sting!) You can also spray garlic powder and water around your yard and bushes for an extra preventative measure. (Rumor has it it will also keep away unwanted vampires.)
6. Dab on a little Eau de Vinegar: If you don’t mind the smell of vinegar (and neither do those around you), dabbing on a little vinegar is a great way to repel mosquitoes. Put a little bit on exposed areas, or dilute with water and use as a spray. Many people swear by this one!
7. Use essential oils. Citronella, lavender, catnip, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, tansy, basil, thyme, cedar, tea tree, peppermint, and lemongrass will all help keep the mosquitoes at bay. Mix with rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or water, (just one or any combination), shake well, and spritz on your body. You can also add a few drops to baby oil or olive oil and rub onto your skin, avoiding the mouth and eye areas.
8. Eat up! Certain foods we eat are rumored to repel the bugs. B1 vitamins, brewers yeast, lemon and, of course, garlic have all been thought to deter mosquitoes because of the smell that comes out of your pores after eating them.
9. Exercise your green thumb. Potted plants, such as lemon thyme, citronella, lavender, basil, catnip, pennyroyal, tansy, and marigolds, will help keep mosquitoes out of your yard. Place them around your porch or patio, and when you need a little more protection, break off a leaf and rub it on your clothes and skin. You can also infuse the leaves in water and use as a spray.
Everyone has a different body chemistry that may make different methods work better than others. Try them out and let us know which of these natural remedies worked for you!
When the springtime hits, I like to take on a challenge by doing a raw foods cleanse. With social gatherings and weddings surrounding me these days, I have shortened my usual 6 week cleanse to 3 weeks. I like to think of it as spring cleaning for my body. I thought it would be fun to share a delicious and easy raw food recipe.
If you aren’t into doing a full-on raw cleanse, this hearty, delicious green smoothie is a great way to supercharge your body with a bountiful amount of delicious nutrients. This wonderful recipe for one of my favorite green smoothies is from one of my favorite raw-food blogs: rawmazing.com
Good Morning Green Drink
2 cups organic spinach
1 1/2 cups organic grapes
2 organic carrots
1/2 organic cucumber
1/2″ piece of ginger
1 stalk organic celery
1/2 to 1 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix. Start with 1/2 cup water and add more to desired thickness. Blend until smooth.
I also like to add some raw protein powder and instead of water, add some coconut water for added flavor. The best part about these smoothies is that you can easily change the ingredients to best suit what you prefer!
When I think of Easter, I think of a big delicious Easter ham. This year, however, we are having a much smaller family gathering, and we will have so many leftovers! What do we do with them?
OMI tip: Try a farm-to-table approach and buy your ham from a local farmer. Or see if your local grocery store carries (or can order) no-nitrate ham.
Perusing the internet, I have found a meal for every part of the day, from a ham cup with scrambled eggs to a delicious ham, broccoli, and cheese pocket to a light, savory ham and lentil soup. (Veggies, eggs and cheese can be found at local farmers markets and artisan shops, as well.)
Try out these tasty recipes for the week after Easter and let us know what you think.
(Photo Credit: http://www.recipebyphoto.com/breakfast-ham-cups/)
Ham and Cheese Egg Cups
6 free-range brown eggs
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of cheese you prefer)
2 young organic green onions
12 ham slices, cut a little thick
salt and pepper
Don’t feel limited by these ingredients! You can add just about anything, from mushrooms to tomatoes to spinach to onions, etc. and even top them off with avocado!
Grease pan with non-stick cooking spray; line with ham slices.
Sprinkle cheese inside ham slices.
Pour in the egg mixture (ggs, salt and pepper) beat well with a fork.
Chop small green onion tops and divide among cups.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes
Ham, Broccoli And Cheese Pockets
Pizza Dough (enough to make 2 large pizzas)
6 tablespoons grainy mustard (optional)
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups organic broccoli florets, cut small
1/2 pound ham, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Lightly dust a cookie sheet with fine cornmeal or line with Silpat or parchment paper.
Combine mozzarella and cheddar cheese and set aside.
Divide pizza dough into 6 equal-size balls.
Roll each ball into a thin circle. Make sure to keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel while working.
If using mustard, spread 1 tablespoon all over circle. Place 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese mixture on half the dough. Top cheese with 1/3 cup broccoli and 1/6th of the ham. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.
Fold dough over the top to form a pocket and press all the air out. Seal the edges using a fork.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Brush olive oil on the top of each pocket and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown.
(A great option to freeze and eat later, or all week for lunches!)
(Original recipe courtesy of Serenabakes)
Delicious Ham and Lentil Soup
3 cups organic chicken broth
3 cups water
1 medium organic onion, cut into thin wedges
1 ½ cups chopped organic celery
1 ½ cups thinly sliced organic carrot
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
6 ounces cooked ham, diced
1 ½ teaspoons dried organic thyme, crushed
3 cups shredded fresh organic spinach
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved
In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine broth, water, onion, celery, carrot, lentils, ham, and thyme.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
Stir in spinach. Ladle into bowls. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese.
(Original recipe courtesy of bhg.com)
With Valentine’s Day just a few short days away, and the thoughts of strawberries and chocolate dancing in our heads, I was reminded of this delicious dessert, a twist on the traditional Neopolitan ice cream, that I made last year for my husband and I immediately had to share. Try it out with your significant other and leave a comment on how it turned out for you!
Strawberry Chocolate Decadence
Organic butter (for greasing pans)
2 cups diced organic strawberries
1 box vanilla cake mix, batter prepared according to package directions
1 box chocolate cake mix, batter prepared according to package directions
1 8 oz package cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (1 cup for a slightly less sweet flavor)
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract (recipe and ingredients below)
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
12 medium organic strawberries, sliced, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two large-sized muffin pans with butter and set aside. Place diced strawberries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until berries starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely. Prepare vanilla cake according to package directions. Pour batter into one of the muffin pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Prepare chocolate cake according to package directions.
Pour batter into the remaining muffin pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, place thickened strawberries in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add cream cheese and butter, mixing until smooth and creamy.
Place the slightly larger layers (these will be the cake bottoms) on a sheet of wax paper. Spread strawberry mixture thickly over the bottoms. Cover with remaining layers of cake. Each cake will have both a chocolate and a vanilla layer. Place 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside for garnishing. Place remaining chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until chocolate has melted and is very smooth.
Pour over tops of cakes, letting drip down the sides. Let set for 20 minutes at cool room temperature if serving right away. Or, refrigerate until ready to serve. Cakes can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Garnish tops of cakes with slices of strawberries and reserved chocolate chips before serving. Makes 12 single-serving cakes.
1 lb. strawberries
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
Pick off stems and slice strawberries.
Place the strawberry slices in a saucepan with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Cover the pan and turn on medium heat to bring to a simmer.
Cook the strawberries for about 30 minutes or until the slices start to become very soft.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it into a plastic container to catch the liquid. Pour the liquid through the strainer to separate the liquid from the solids. Squeeze excess juices from the cheesecloth into the plastic container.
Pour the liquid back into the saucepan and turn it on medium heat. Leave the saucepan uncovered. Cook the liquid until it is reduced to 1/4 cup. Reducing the liquid evaporates the water in it and concentrates the flavors.
As we gather together for the holidays, there is typically food involved in our celebrations. Here are some great recipes to incorporate into your festivities, with inspiration from different holiday celebrations from latkes to prime rib. Whatever you decide to make, make it delicious!
Peel potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water so they won’t turn brown. When ready to prepare the latkes, drain the potatoes. Place potatoes and onions in a food processor fitted with a knife blade; pulse until smooth. Drain mixture well. Pour potato mixture into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add enough flour so that the mixture holds together.
Pour 1” of oil into a large, deep frying pan; heat over medium-high heat. Carefully drop ¼ cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil. (Flatten the pancake slightly so the center will cook.) Fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through; drain on paper towels.
Serving Suggestion: Serve the latkes with applesauce.
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning, seasoned salt, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.
Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. (The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don’t need to be stripped) Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into ½” to 1” thick slices. Place greens in pot with meat; add butter.
Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, adjust seasoning to taste.
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Joe’s Prime Rib
Chef Joe, who we have given the honorary title of “Official OMI Chef,” provided us with a wonderful prime rib recipe you will be sure to use over and over again.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Preheat oven to 425° F. Tie prime rib using butcher’s twine in 3 or 4 equal spacing increments. Rub the entire prime rib: top, bottom, and sides all over!
Roast at 425° for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce temp to 275° and continue to roast until the internal temp in the very center of the roast is between 110°-120°F for medium rare (120°-130° for medium).
Allow roast to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing with a very sharp knife.
To serve with your delicious prime rib, try one of these excellent sauces:
Horseradish Cream Sauce
Place all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to meld. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.
Au Jus Sauce
Mix all ingredients in pan; bring to a boil and strain.
Now that dinner is over and you’re looking to add something sweet, here’s a great recipe for delicious Nutty Chocolate Matzo Crunch.
Yield: 4 Servings
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and top with a wire rack. Place matzos on top of rack. Drizzle chocolate over matzos until almost covered. Immediately sprinkle evenly with chopped nuts and salt. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until set, about 15 minutes. Break into pieces. (If chocolate softens, return to refrigerator until set) Matzo crunch is best eaten the day it is made.