Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Oils

Herbed oils can be made easily and used in small ratios (1/2 to 2 tablespoons) on salads and in stir fries. Experiment to find other ways these oils can be used.

Make these when the herbs are harvested from the garden, so they are at their freshest. The oils will store for up to one year.

The basic preparations work like this:

  1. Place three 2-inch sprigs of herbs/leaves into each, per each cup of oil that the jar will hold.
  2. Put one garlic, shallot, or other ingredient into the necessary jars, per cup of oil that each jar will hold.
  3. Heat oil over low-medium heat until warm with a good scent; about three to five minutes (longer if lots of oil). Do not boil.
  4. Pour oil into jars, over the other items.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Cover each jar.
  7. Tie a tag around each bottle, with raffia or twine, with its’ ingredient list and ‘From (Your Names’) Kitchen.’ Also note how long the oil will last once given as gift, or an expiration date. Mention how each oil may be used.

Try these combinations or experiment with your own:

  • Dill and chives
  • Garlic, oregano, and thyme
  • Rosemary and sage

Tips:

  • Purchase oils in bulk and/or on sale to save money. You can also use coupons to save money.
  • Find other oil and herb combinations, but stick with healthy, Paleo-friendly oils.
  • Try using larger quantities of herbs to see if you like the flavorings better.

 

References:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

Zucchini and Cucumber Salad

There’s nothing better than fresh produce and herbs from your garden. If you do not grow your own, the grocery store carries everything you’ll need, as does the Farmer’s Market. Many things can also be found at roadside stands, usually quite affordably.

Salads are a great way to highlight fresh produce, and can serve as a stand-alone snack or a nice side to any lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

small zucchini

small cucumber

cherry tomatoes

olive oil

fresh mint

  1. Wash the fresh produce and dry on a towel. Rinse the mint and pat dry with another towel.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half, and place them in a medium size bowl.
  3. Cut the ends off the zucchini and the cucumber and discard. Cut these vegetable into bite-size chunks. Add to the bowl.
  4. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
  5. Chop some mint and sprinkle over the other ingredients.
  6. Mix all gently.

Tips

  • The cheapest way to make this is by growing your own herbs and vegetables.
  • Save more money by shopping around for what you have to buy. Where is the most affordable place to purchase fresh produce in your area?

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a slow cooker meal made with root vegetables and a cheap cut of meat.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Affordable, Good for You Lunch Ideas

It’s important that we keep lunch options available that are easy to prepare as well as healthy to consume. Lunch is the perfect time to pack some more nutrition into your diet, particularly if you don’t snack. The ideas below are per person.

  • 1 nut butter and banana sandwich.

  • 1 nut butter and pickle sandwich (my best friend loves these with peanut butter, but nuts are a legume so I try not to eat them often!).

  • 1 salad of lettuce, shredded cabbage and carrots, and diced tomato with a homemade vinaigrette. This can be topped with ¼ cup diced chicken, turkey, or ham, or a hard boiled egg.

  • 1 bowl of watermelon (when on sale) mixed with ½ cup of coconut yogurt or coconut cream.

  • 1 homemade paleo tortilla topped with leftover chicken or turkey, shredded cabbage, and diced tomato. Warm and enjoy.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

One-Pan Meal Using Venison

One-pan meals can be made using a variety of meats, including ham, turkey and ground beef. Venison is a good option as well. Deer and moose meat will both work. For this recipe you might use either, or even a combination.

Ingredients

1 to 2 cups of venison

1 cup chopped sweet potato

1 cup chopped squash

1 can corn, drained

olive oil

sage or parsley

  1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the meat and vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally until everything is warmed through.
  3. Turn the burner to low and sprinkle an herb over the mixture. Warm until cheese is melted.

Tips

  • Use produce from your own garden to save money, or buy store brands.
  • Rosemary is another herb option.
  • Sea salt and pepper can also be used.

Serving Suggestion

  • Pumpkin pie is a wonderful dessert type for this dish.

Sweet and Sour Kielbasa

I like to try new variations on foods, so I came up with this idea. It is a simple recipe that wont take long to make. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil

kielbasa

½ to ¾ cup paleo sweet and sour sauce

1 can pineapple tidbits, with liquid

  1. Melt the oil over medium-low heat.

  2. Add kielbasa to the skillet and warm for few minutes.

  3. Add the sweet and sour sauce and the pineapple, and cook until everything is warmed through.

Tips

  • Use store brand ingredients to save money.

  • Fresh pineapple has a superior in taste.

Serving Suggestions

Shannon

Teriyaki Kielbasa

(Update 2017) I love keilbasa, though I eat it less and less often each year it seems. I’m cutting costs while trying to stick to a mainly Paleo lifestyle. When you’re eating with health in mind, your priorities change. But I still like the keilbasa once-in-a-while.

Ingredients

extra virgin olive oil

kielbasa

½ to ¾ cup paleo  teriyaki sauce

½ cup diced beef

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat after adding 1 or 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.

  2. Add kielbasa to the skillet and warm for few minutes.

  3. Add the teriyaki sauce and the beef, and cook until everything is warmed through.

Tips

  • Use store brand ingredients to save money.

  • Try other types of meat in place of the beef.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a ½ each of baked white and sweet potato topped with chives and a little ghee.

  • Serve with baked squash and sweet potato, and a side salad.

Shannon

 

Baked Sweet and White Potato

Potatoes being one of my favorite foods, I try to mix things up by trying new things. I especially love eating potatoes during the autumn and winter months, though they can be enjoyed any time.

Ingredients

sweet potato

white potato

  1. Wash the potatoes, cutting off bad spots, and cut each in half.

  2. Place, skin side down, on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.

  3. Mash the white potato with the peel.

  4. Scoop the sweet potato out of the peel and add to the potatoes, mixing the two together.

 Tips

  • Use potatoes from your garden for the ultimate in money savings and nutrition.

  • Try different types of potatoes.

 Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a beef or chicken roast.

  • A side salad will also go nice with these potatoes.

Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Mozzarella Cheese

Summer salads are the best. Fresh produce picked in your own garden adds scrumptious taste to any salad, including this one which uses tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs you can grow yourself.
(Update 2017) I used to eat a lot of cheese, but not so much these days. It does not fit in with the Paleo lifestyle I’m trying to create for myself, but that isn’t to say I will never have cheese again. Once-in-a-while, I’ll have some in a salad or something, but not every day, week, or even month.

Ingredients

10 cherry tomatoes

small cucumber

½ to ¾ cup chunks of mozzarella cheese

extra virgin olive oil

mint

basil

  1. Rinse the produce and they fresh herbs. Pat dry with a dish towel.

  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place in a bowl.

  3. Chop the cucumber into bite size pieces, disposing of the ends.

  4. Add cheese chunks and mix with the produce.

  5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the salad, and sprinkle with diced mint and basil to taste. Mix and serve.

 Tips

  • Mozzarella is not exactly a hard cheese, but can still be found in block form. Simply cut into bite size pieces.

  • If block cheese is not available, it is okay to use shredded.

 Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with soup.

  • This dish goes well with a meal of meat and potatoes.

Tomato Slices with Mozzarella Cheese

I love trying new things, and this is one of the recipes my nephews and I enjoyed for the first time last week. It is simple to prepare. I purchased a block of Mozzarella which was used in more than one recipe.
(Update 2017) I used to eat a lot of cheese, but not so much these days. It does not fit in with the Paleo lifestyle I’m trying to create for myself, but that isn’t to say I will never have cheese again. Once-in-a-while, I’ll have some in a salad or something, but not every day, week, or even month.

Ingredients

1 large tomato

mozzarella

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

pepper

basil, crushed

mint, crushed

  1. Rinse the tomato and cut into ¼ inch slices. Place on a plate.

  2. Cut the mozzarella into ¼ inch slices as well and place one on each tomato slice.

  3. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes with cheese.

  4. Top each with a sprinkling each of sea salt, pepper, basil and mint.

Tips

  • Use fresh herbs and tomatoes from the garden to save money. The cheese does not come cheap.

  • I use sea salt and pepper grinders because I can easily control the amounts I use, and because they seem to have better flavor.

  • I’m slowly building up my organic herb and spice collection. At this point I purchase them. When I move, I plan to grow them. I’m only buying what I’ll use. These have so much more flavor than the traditional herbs and spices I’ve purchased over the years, and they’re healthier.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with soup or stew.

Shannon

Fresh Garden Salad

My mom is picking vegetables left and right from her garden. Two weeks ago she told me they were filling their cupboards and freezer with all they will need for the winter before giving any to me, my sister, and brother. Last week, she sent up a huge head of cabbage, a bag of small cucumbers, and a bag of green beans. All very yummy. Soon we will have zucchini!

Fresh Garden Salad

section of cabbage

small cucumber

handful of green beans

1 to 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. Rinse the vegetables well.
  2. Shred the cabbage and place in a bowl.
  3. Chop the cucumber and add it to the bowl.
  4. Snap the end off each bean, break into pieces and add to the bowl. Mix everything well and dish up.
  5. Add oil to the top of each salad and mix to coat.

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables are abundant from the garden.
  • Use an herb flavored oil.

Serving Suggestion

Shannon