Best Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe Ever!

Mayonnaise is a staple in a North American refrigerator. It finishes a sandwich, adds to a salad, and provides a tasty dip for vegetables. It can be transformed into a dressing, whipped into devilled eggs, and slathered on salmon. And it can also contain preservatives, additives, high fructose corn syrup, transfats, and GMOs. It is also often sold in plastic jars which may or may not be leaching toxins into the product. Yum. Thankfully, it isn’t difficult to make.

With basic ingredients such as egg yolks, oil, salt, mustard and a bit of sugar, you can easily make up a batch that will last for several weeks in your fridge. The hardest part of making mayonnaise is getting it to emulsify. Normally, oil and water don’t combine, but we can force a combination with the use of egg yolks and this makes a creamy sauce. The first few times I tried to make it I made an oily, separated mess. That’s because each recipe I read about told me to use a blender. I have discovered the secret of easily making it emulsify and now I am going to share it with you.

The key to any emulsification is (lack of) speed. TAKE YOUR TIME! When you are adding the oil to your mixture, do it REALLLLLLLLLY slowly. A very slow, steady stream is key. Now here we go!

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 free range egg yolks
  • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar or distilled vinegar but the taste will change subtly)
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (or my homemade mustard)
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (Optional. I use organic cane sugar. With sugar it tastes more like Miracle Whip )
  • 1.5 c. neutral-flavored oil (I use grapeseed)

Directions:

  1. Combine eggs, vinegar, mustard, salt and sugar in a wide mouth mason jar.
  2. Using an emersion blender, combine ingredients well.
  3. SLOWLY and steadily pour oil into the jar while blending continuously. Move blender up and down a bit, and around the jar constantly, while pouring the oil in. An extra set of hands to hold the jar is helpful but not vital. Pour the oil so slowly that it will take several minutes to complete. Once about 3/4 of the oil has slowly been added you will start to feel the mixture emulsifying, or thickening.
  4. Continue to mix until oil is completely emulsified.
  5. Store in refrigerator for up to several weeks.

Note:

This product contains raw eggs so make sure your eggs are from a good source, and keep product refrigerated.

This post has been linked to From The Farm Blog Hop #40, Waste Not, Want Not Wednesdays #35Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #80, and Fat Tuesday July 9th.

7 Snacks You Should Never Buy Again (Plus Recipes)

We all know eating whole food is vital to our health. Making meals from scratch and baking from scratch can eliminate the unknowns and unnecessaries in your diet. Since we know all this, why are the grocery stores full of premade meals, baked goods, and packaged snacks? That’s easy. Because it is easy. And quick. Time is always of the essence to most people and it is much easier to buy it than make it. Or is it?

Here are my picks for 7 snacks you can easily make at home with minimal time and effort. The best part is how surprisingly easy they are to make!

  1. Yogurt
    Store-bought yogurt usually contains thickeners, artificial colors and flavours, high amounts of sugar and preservatives.  The ingredients may be GMO.  You can EASILY make thick, rich, creamy yogurt from milk, cream and a yogurt starter or a Tbsp. of plain yogurt.  So easily you’ll wonder why you have never done it before.  Click here for the recipe.
  2. Ice Cream
    Store-bought ice cream contains thickeners, ingredients to make it stay frozen longer, ingredients to make the ice cream feel creamier, artificial flavour and color, preservatives and is high in sugar.  The sugar, unless it is organic, is almost guaranteed to be GMO. With an ice cream maker you can make healthy ice cream with 3 basic ingredients: Milk and/or cream, sugar and vanilla.  That’s it!  And it tastes WAYYYYYYYYYY better.  Click here for a recipe.
  3. Granola Bars
    Once you stand and stare at your astounding selection of granola bars and then start reading labels, you’ll realize that they are pretty much just a highly processed junk food.  They contain WAY too much sugar (likely GMO unless it is organic), preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and transfats.  Granola bars are very easy to make without the above ingredients.  And they taste better too.  Click here for a link to my granola bar recipe.
  4. Fruit Leather
    Fruit Roll Ups, or any variation of fruity snacks, generally contain an alarming amount of GMO sugar, thickeners, preservatives, color and artificial flavouring.  With the use of a food dehydrator, (and can also be done in the oven), you can make your own fruit snacks from just plain mashed up fruit.  You can add a bit of honey, maple syrup or organic sugar to sweeten it a bit if necessary.  The kids love it.  Click here for my instructions
  5. Smoothies
    Don’t waste your money buying a “smoothie” from McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant selling smoothies.  If they contain real yogurt you are lucky.  They will also contain artificial color, flavour, thickeners, too much (GMO) sugar, and if you are lucky enough to find real fruit in them, it likely won’t be fresh, local or organic.  Smoothies are so ridiculously easy to make.  You just need a blender, yogurt, your choice of fruit/vegetables, and a touch of your choice of sweetener, if you choose.  Click here for a simple smoothie recipe..
  6. Popsicles or ice cream/yogurt – sicles
    Commercial popsicles are either made from (GMO) sugar, water, artificial color and flavouring and preservatives, or if they are all natural and made from real fruit, they cost an arm and a leg.  Click here to find out how to simply make frozen treats from plain old fruit (or fruit juice), homemade ice cream, yogurt or left over smoothies.
  7. Chocolate shell for ice cream.
    Don’t waste your money buying those chocolate sauces you pour on top of your ice cream.  They are loaded with preservatives, colors, thickeners, wax, artificial ingredients and more.  Make it OH SO SIMPLY from healthy coconut oil and chocolate.  Find the recipe here.

This post has been linked to From The Farm Blog Hop #38.

School Snacks! Healthy, Chewy, Granola Bars.

Granola bars are one of the snacks of choice for many children, and adults too.  They are convenient, they taste good, and they fill you up.  But are they healthy?  Most granola bars are high in sugar and salt and in many cases, contain high fructose corn syrup.  Lots of granola bars contain soy ingredients, and most, unless they specify it or are certified organic, contain genetically modified ingredients.  They are also individually wrapped in plastic or foil which is unsustainable and adds unnecessary waste to the landfills.  Fortunately, they are easy to make, can be made with less sugar and salt than commercial bars, and can contain wholesome, natural ingredients. 

Until recently I haven’t made a granola bar that ALL of my kids enjoy ALL OF THE TIME.  But now I have, and this recipe is so flexible you can change the flavour easily by adding different fruits, nuts, seeds, and more.  These bars hold together nicely, are sweet enough to keep the children coming back for more, and are low enough in sugar to make most moms happy.

For this recipe I have used organic sunflower seed butter.  Sunflower seed butter is higher in protein than peanut butter, has a great flavour, and is generally safe to send to nut-free schools.  It is low in saturated fats, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and high in vitamins, especially vitamin B.  Click here for more information on the health benefits of sunflower seeds.  Rather than adding a highly-processed protein powder to make a protein bar, this bar is naturally and safely high in protein.  With grains from the organic oats, protein from the seeds and seed butter and fruit from the dried fruit, this bar is pretty much a complete meal and a great snack for anyone.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. rolled oats or multigrain cereal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. oat flour
  • 1/2 c. crisp rice cereal
  • 1/4 c. demerara cane sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 c. total of assorted nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate chips etc. I use dried cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, dried apricots etc.
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seed butter

Directions

  1. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl or 2 cup glass measuring cup, combine wet ingredients and mix well.
  3. Combine wet with dry and mix well.
  4. Press very firmly into a well-greased 8×12 inch or 8×8 inch baking dish.
  5. Press again with a flat, firm object to compact it even more.
  6. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until it is starting to turn golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
  8. Press carefully and firmly once more with flat, firm object to compact the bars further.
  9. Cut into pieces before it totally cools.
  10. Do not remove from pan until it is cool to the touch.
  11. Store in an air-tight container.

Tips:

  • If you want to decrease the sugar, take out the demerarra sugar first.  The honey and seed butter are what holds the bar together.
  • Feel free to substitute the seed butter for nut butter if allergies aren’t an issue.
  • Coconut oil can be replaced with melted butter or another cooking oil of your choice.
  • Heating up the wet ingredients a bit helps them combine.
  • This recipe doubles nicely and can still fit in an 8×12 inch baking dish.
  • To guarantee these to be GMO-free, choose certified organic ingredients or ingredients labelled GMO-free.

This recipe is adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Quaker Style Chewy Granola Bar recipe.

This post has been linked to Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday October 2nd, Turning The Clock Back’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, Fresh Eggs Daily’s Farm Girl Blog Fest #3, Homestead Barn Hop#82 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days Sustainable Ways #47.

Oat Flour Vegetable Crackers Recipe

We hardly ever have crackers in the house.  Not because I have anything against healthy, wholesome crackers, but because every time I look at them in the grocery store I think to myself “I can make those” and I pass them over.  Then I go home and don’t make them.  Crackers aren’t hard to make, but if you have kids in the house who would eat them like chips given the opportunity, they are hard to keep in stock.

A lot of commercial crackers contain preservatives, artificial color or flavour, and possibly high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.  They are for the most part, just another processed food.  They don’t have to be though.  Tasty crackers can be made from good, wholesome ingredients as well.  This recipe tastes something like vegetable crackers, but the ingredients are much more simple.  Check out Nabisco Vegetable Thins.

Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), CANOLA AND/OR SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM AND/OR PALM KERNEL AND/OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL,  DEHYDRATED VEGETABLE BLEND (CONTAINS CARROTS, ONIONS, CELERY, RED BELL PEPPER, CABBAGE, TOMATO, PARSLEY), SUGAR, SALT, LEAVENING (MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA), DEXTROSE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ONION POWDER, HYDROLYZED SOY AND WHEAT PROTEIN, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), NATURAL FLAVOR, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, DISODIUM GUANYLATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER).

NOT good.  MSG, HFCS, Trans fats, artificial color and flavor.  Try this recipe that contains nothing but good, wholesome ingredients!

Homemade vegetable seasoning. Dehydrate then grind the vegetables to a powder. Green onions, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½  to 1 3/4 c. oat flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  •  ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. water
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • salt to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk first  6 ingredients together.
  3. Cut butter into dry mixture with a pastry cutter until it is pea-sized and crumbly.
  4. Mix water and vanilla together.  Toss into dry mixture with a fork until dough makes a ball.  If dough is too sticky add more flour by the Tbsp. as needed.
  5. With a sheet of parchment paper over top, roll out dough on a baking stone (or on any cookie sheet, but with parchment underneath as well.)  Roll as thin as you can.
  6. Sprinkle with salt as desired.
  7. Cut into squares.
  8. Bake at 400F for about 8-10 minutes or until crackers are starting to turn golden and getting firmer.  Don’t bake them so long they crumble!
  9. Cool a few minutes on baking sheet then using a metal flipper, transfer to cooling rack and cool fully.

Notes:

  • This recipe can be made with whole wheat or spelt flour in place of oat flour.
  • To make a plainer version of this cracker omit the vegetable seasoning and sesame seeds.
  • I make my own vegetable seasoning by dehydrating and then blending to a powder vegetables such as green onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and more.

Adapted from Kitchen Stewardship’s Cracker Recipe.

This post has been shared on The Morristribe’s Homesteader Carnival #17.

What’s Wrong With This Picture? School lunches stripped down.

I found this picture at stockxchng, a free photo source for internet use.  It was called “healthy school lunch” or something to that effect.  Take a close look at it.  A whole wheat sandwich.  Some fruit slices.  A granola bar.  A juice box.  A bag of cheetos.  Ok, well we all agree the cheetos aren’t healthy.  But the rest?  Do they or do they not make up a healthy lunch?

Today’s society would promote this as a healthy lunch.  We are told that whole grains, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and so on are good sources of nutrition.  And they can be.  The problem is, not all products are created equal.  Just because it is labelled whole grain doesn’t mean all the other ingredients are good.  And just because it has fruit in it doesn’t mean that it is healthy.  We need to go beyond that and read more labels.  Generally the rule of thumb is: the less ingredients the better and the easier to pronounce the better the ingredients are.  The exception being the Latin names for herbs etc. which I can’t pronounce for the life of me.  So let’s check out this lunch.  What exactly is wrong with it?

Whole wheat bread 

Check the label on your bread.  Does it contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS?)  if it does, your whole wheat bread has been demoralised.  HFCS is, among many other health problems, a leading cause of obesity.  Many breads, even ones labelled 100% whole wheat, contain HFCS.  Alternative: look for a loaf that contains a natural sweetener such as sugar or honey, which should be far down the list of ingredients, meaning that sugar is NOT a main ingredient in your bread. 

Processed meat
Processed meat contain nitrites, often contains HFCS, preservatives, and is high in sodium.  Is processed meat a good choice for a school lunch?  Absolutely not.  Alternatives: cooked meat, not processed meat.  Nut or seed butters (when allergies aren’t present).  Cheese.  Vegetables.  Cream cheese.  Low sugar jam.  Honey.  Butter.

Canned fruit slices.  These fruit slices are in plastic or metal containers that more than likely are lined with Bisphenol A  (BPA).    BPA, among other things, is a known endocrine disruptor and a potential carcinogen.  As well, cooked fruit contains less vitamins than raw fruit.   Alternatives: fresh fruit and/or vegetables. 

Fruit juice.  Fruit juice is fruit stripped of peels and pulp.  Peels and pulp are high in nutrients and fibre.  Therefore fruit juice, even 100% pure, is practically empty calories, high in sugar, and can cause dramatic blood sugar level spikes and crashes that interfere with learning and behaviour.  Alternative: tap water in a stainless steel container.

Granola bars
Most commercial granola bars are high in sugar.  If you consider that 4 grams of sugar equals 1 tsp of sugar, and you offer your child a granola bar with a sugar content of 16 grams of sugar, you are feeding her 4 tsp. of sugar in the bar alone, for a snack.  Add a fruit juice to that and you can expect her blood sugar to sky rocket and later, crash.  Alternatives: crackers and cheese, a cookie or granola bar (homemade is best) that is low in sugar. (Think 8 grams or less per serving).  Fruit. Dried fruit bars.  Nuts and/or seeds. 

Yogurt

Most people consider yogurt to be healthy.  The probiotics contained in active cultured yogurt are very beneficial to digestion and overall body health.  Ever checked the sugar content in a small container of flavoured yogurt?  The vanilla fruit ones can be between 20 and 30 g of sugar per serving!!!  That is the equivalent of 5-7 tsp of sugar in one little package of yogurt.  Also, the yogurt is in a plastic container which is likely made of bpa.  Alternative: plain yogurt sweetened with a drop of vanilla and a little bit of honey or jam.  Homemade yogurt is best: you can easily make homemade yogurt using simple ingredients such as milk, cream, and a tbsp of yogurt as a starter.  No additives, no colour, no artificial flavour, no preservatives or artificial thickeners.  Store in glass or stainless steel containers when possible.   

Now that I have stripped down that lunch box, what is left?  If you look at the alternatives, most of these will fit nicely into non-disposable containers to make for a litterless lunch.  Another favourite around our house is left-overs.  That healthy chili you made for supper?  The pancakes you made for breakfast?  Perfect for a lunchbox, and can be kept warm in a stainless steel insulated thermos.  So it all comes down to the ease of grabbing pre-packaged lunch and snack items versus the health and eco-friendliness of packing a low sugar, low salt, preservative-free, non-disposable lunch.  It’s more work, you betcha.  But it’s worth it.  Which will you choose?

And then there is wild blackberry home-made ice cream.

The quietest time in the house is not nap time.  It’s not when the kids aren’t home.  It’s when we are all eating ice cream.  My usually chatterbox kids are absolutely silent, except for the lip-smacking sounds of ice cream being enjoyed.  Thoroughly.  A few years back we were terribly disappointed when the “all natural” Breyers vanilla ice cream became double-churned and  “natural vanilla” with a bunch of additives including Poly Sorbate 80.  We wrote to them to complain and were told that everyone prefers the double churned style but the double churning process could not be done in an all natural way.  We were given a handful of coupons for the ice cream.  We handed the coupons over to someone else and never bought Breyers again.  Our little protest against changing a perfect product to something less desirable (to us, anyway).  We still bought ice cream in general, and enjoyed it.  It has always annoyed me though to read ice cream ingredients and find things like:
Modified Milk Ingredients, Glucose, Mono And Diglycerides, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Cellulose Gum, Guar Gum, Colour, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan, Glucose-Fructose
What are modified milk ingredients anyway?  How about Mono and Diglycerides?  (Click and find out)  We all know “colour” isn’t natural, and as for polysorbate 80… yikes.  Glucose-fructose is deceptive but it is the same thing as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).   Coconut oil is good for you.  Hydrogenated coconut oil isn’t.  There are so many man-made ingredients in store-bought ice cream that don’t need to be there.  Some are preservatives, some are thickeners, some make it melt slower, some are for color, and some are for flavour.

For Father’s Day this year, I copied my sister-in-law and bought my husband an ice-cream maker.  So far I have made fresh strawberry, blueberry, blackberry chocolate chip mint, and vanilla ice cream.  The ingredients?  (For the fruit ice cream) Fresh organic fruit, fresh lemon juice, whipping cream, organic milk, cane sugar, and vanilla extract.  All natural, as organic as you want it, no preservatives or coloring, and flavor-FULL!!! 

My favorite so far is the wild blackberry ice cream.  I followed the basic vanilla ice cream recipe that came with the machine not altering anything except for the addition of the blackberries:  I soaked a cup of blackberries in 3 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of sugar for an hour.  Then I cooked them in a pot for about 5 minutes, or until they mashed into a dark purple juice.  I strained the juice into the ice cream mixture.  What a treat!!!   The ice cream was naturally pink from the blackberry juice, was made from fresh, wild blackberries picked that morning, and a fantastic, mild blackberry flavour.  Served over fresh blackberries, this makes perhaps the best summer dessert ever!

Our ice cream maker is a Cuisinart Classic Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.  It is bpa-free and makes 1.4L of delicious, all natural ice cream.  It comes with a recipe book and is easy to make.  The mixing of the ice cream takes 20 minutes, and then you can either eat it as soft ice cream, or pour it into a container and place in the freezer for 3 hours to make hard ice cream.  I paid about $60 for it.

The cons of home-made ice cream:

  • It takes about 3.5 hours to complete if you want hard ice cream
  • It melts faster compared to store-bought ice cream
  • It doesn’t last very long in the freezer compared to store-bought ice cream

The pros

  • It is all natural
  • it doesn’t contain added ingredients that aren’t necessary (unless you want bionic ice cream that doesn’t melt, that is a fluorescent color or that lasts forever in the freezer).
  • You can make it with organic ingredients if you choose
  • You can add whatever you want to it!

The cons aren’t cons to me since I avoid bionic food products.  I love to make home-made ice cream.  I love knowing what is in the ice cream, and I love the superior flavour.  The contented silence of ice cream being eaten is complete to me now.  I know their treat is a safe one, and I value that above all.  (Oh, OK, and the silence…)