Category Archives: Family Table

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Things in your fridge it’s OK to feed your dog

Five kibble-enhancements

I would argue that it’s not just OK to feed your dog some fresh food but vital. 

When I was a new mother I was horrified at the idea of filling up my baby’s little tummy with what they called baby cereal. You know — the stuff coming out of the box that looks like shredded plastic. And when you mix it with water, you get something that looked like paper mache paste. Nope. Not doing it. Going to give baby real food (hence the book Feeding the Whole Family).

When I became a proud doggie owner, and started scooping brown pebbles into the bowl each day, I had baby-food flashbacks. This stuff smelled better than baby cereal, but it looked even worse. The last thing I needed were more things to do, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give my doggy kibble alone. I did research.


Book Giveaway: Fermented Foods For Health


This fabulous book from colleague extraordinaire has just hit the shelves.  It’s timely, well-researched, full of vital information and healing recipes AND we’re giving away a copy!

Use the Power of Probiotic Foods to Improve Your Digestion, Strengthen Your Immunity, and Prevent Illness
by Deirdre Rawlings

We advocate eating fermented foods as a part of your daily diet on Cookus Interruptus (hence our sourdough bread fundraiser, recipes for sauerkraut and more). Fermentation is a process that uses microscopic organisms to transform food into easily digested, long-lasting, probiotic rich foods.   Increasing good bacteria in your diet is important for intestinal health—and a healthy intestinal tract means a healthy immune system, as 70% of our immune system resides in the intestines.

Holistic nutritionist and naturopath Deirdre Rawlings, Ph.D., makes  incorporating these vital foods into your meals simple and accessible. She does this not only with recipes for relishes, tonics, chutneys, yogurt, kefir and more, but also by clearly outlining these powerful foods work therapeutically.

I’m often confounded by the constant bickering between advocates of restrictive diets; each side claiming their way is the right way. Ms. Rawlings supersedes the nutrition rabble babble by cutting to one of chief causes of our ill health – poor gut bacteria – and gives us a toolkit for feeling better.

You want this book; you NEED this book, right?  Be the winner.  Here’s how to enter: Continue reading

Why You Should Keep Eating Grains


There’s a lot of grain-bashing going on these days. Is it true that not all grains are created equal? Yes. Should we be thoughtful about which grains we consume? Yes. But, we should not be frightened into banishing all grains from our lives forever just because some of them aren’t up to par. Grains, when chosen carefully, have a world of greatness to offer the human body. Not convinced? Keep reading to find out why some grains are worthy of grubbin’ on.

  • Whole grains eaten as whole grains are better than whole grains eaten as their pulverized friend, flour. When grains are reduced to flour, their surface area expands significantly–and this is true for all flours, no matter if they came from a whole grain initially. This expanded surface area makes it much easier for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the whole grain, which speeds up the starch to sugar conversion. Flour products, then, have a higher glycemic index than the whole grain itself.You can be pretty sure you’re eating a natural, whole grain with a low glycemic index if you have to chew it (or if you can see grain pieces in the food). When it comes to grains, the more work your jaw has to do, the better.  Kasha, not cake.  Quinoa instead of muffins.  RIght?
  • Eating homemade sourdough toast isn’t the same thing as eating a fried doughnut. The oily and sugar-laden doughnut is made from refined flour and is arguably nutritionally void. It’ll give you a blood sugar spike, and then a crash, leave you hungry and craving more sugar, and will likely upset your tummy. Homemade sourdough, on the other hand, is as nutritionally dense as it gets. It’s full of vitamins and minerals, won’t spike your blood sugar, and is easy on the digestive system. Read more sourdough greatness here, and allow yourself to eat some (or another fresh, whole grain bread) without telling yourself you may as well have just eaten a doughnut.
  • Sprouted grains are like whole grains on nutrition steroids, and that’s a good thing. The concentration of protein, vitamins, and minerals is much greater in sprouts than in mature grains.The science of sprouts is much like that of sourdough–easier digestion and more bioavailability of nutrients. Sprouts are also an excellent choice for vegetarians. Read more here, and be on the look out for sprouted whole grain products. You can feel good about eating them.
  • Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates. Bodies NEED complex carbohydrates. Bodies CRAVE complex carbohydrates, because they are their main source of energy and fuel. The brain depends exclusively on carbohydrates for fuel, and muscles need their fair share, too. Muscle-building requires energy, and again: complex carbohydrates = energy. In terms of calories and energy for muscles, whole grains are the most economical part of a meal. Nutrient density (the nutrient to calorie ratio) is a thing! And whole grains have got it goin’ on. The energy punch they pack is incomparable to fruits or vegetables. What does this mean for you? Whole grains are good for muscles.

See? Grains are not evil doers. In fact, they are a whole lot of good. And you needn’t shun them, or feel terrible about yourself for fueling your body with the quality ones. When it comes to grains, quality and form is key. The rest of the goodness will follow naturally.

Top 10 Reasons to Eat Sourdough Bread

matt-breadJust about everyone has an affinity for some kind of bread, and most of us have heard of a reason or two why we maybe shouldn’t eat slice after slice of it. While there is some validity to the bread-bashing, sourdough made from your own unique starter of wild yeast and bacteria often defies the negativity, and it does so purely by its nature. The crafting of sourdough is an ancient art, and one of which we’re pretty fond–for a few (or 10) reasons. Continue reading

Hope for Picky Eaters


Apparently I was a picky eater growing up. I had an aversion to fine foods. Little did I know, this was not my fault. I did not arbitrarily shy away from certain foods, and I am happy to report that years later, much of my hated foods list has become part of my favorite foods list.

Hated to Favorite #1: Beets

Come on, who really likes canned beets? So not yummy. And those beets were the only ones I knew. Thankfully, I have discovered freshly roasted beets. Try them. You’ll thank me, and your body will thank you.

Hated to Favorite #2: Sweet Potatoes/Yams

I always associated sweet potatoes and yams with Thanksgiving, which meant they were candied. Turns out sugary potatoes aren’t my style. However, roast these root veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper, and I will eat them like candy.

Hated to Favorite #3: Quinoa

I feel like quinoa is the one food everyone has to be in love with in order to declare oneself a healthy eater. I could not jump on the quinoa train, though, and I really tried. Then I discovered quinoa cooked in coconut milk, which gives it a miraculous new flavor and makes for a choice breakfast item.

Hated to Favorite #4: Walnuts

I think I despised walnuts because my baby-sitter made picking black walnuts out of the yard an after-school activity. That woman was a saint on earth, but picking walnuts was not fun. My devotion to walnuts now is as immense as was hers, and I am oh-so-thankful. I top everything with walnuts.

Hated to Favorite #5: Yogurt

Low-calorie flavored yogurt is gross. It is sour and unsatisfying. I gave yogurt a second chance in the form of creamy, organic, plain, whole-milk yogurt. I spiced it with cinnamon and sweetened it with maple syrup and fell in love. Try it- love may be just around the corner for you, too.

So, you see, there is hope for picky eaters. Check out the videos below to see other ways to enjoy some of my now fancied foods. Have some patience and be curious, and your hated foods may become your favorite foods, too.

People who tell me they hate this vegetable reconsider, maybe even fall in love, when they taste pressure-cooked beets. The magic pot renders them tender and silky. The gritty texture and sometimes dirty flavor goes away. Cmon.  Give ’em a try. We use these in oodles of dishes – massaged kale salad, tossed green salad, rice and quinoa dishes, rolled into chicken breasts. And they make an exceptional snack, appetizer or gift. Let Steve show you how to make a jar today! Hip hip hooray, brightly colored vegetables! Roasting sweet potatoes makes them super sweet. Combining apples and kale is divine. Put them together and what can we say?  Fabulous vegetable dish coming your way.

"How to" Start Your Happy New Year

Happy New Year! We hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season and are embracing the new year. If you’re like many, it’s possible that holiday festivities have worn you out and have got you dreading the kitchen. Thinking about ways to enhance your kitchen and cooking experiences may be the last things on your mind.

BUT, what better time to get back to basics and make sure you aren’t selling yourself short in the kitchen? Or, on the contrary, maybe you’ve made a resolution to cook more and/or eat more at home. Whatever your circumstance, now is the perfect time to check out the timeless Cookus ‘how-to” videos below. They’re a great reminder to not forget about the foundation of efficiency as we so often get distracted by striving to be efficient.

Cheers to health, happiness, good food, and kitchen fun!
Gentlemen, turn on your fans. Everything you’ve been taught about smoking fat needs to go right out the window. Steve powers through the step-by-step on this baby. You’ll never wonder how to do this again. Today’s pressure cookers are safe and efficient. I love using mine to cook beans, grains and root vegetables, even applesauce. Here’s how. A dull knife is the most dangerous tool in the kitchen. Learn this inexpensive, tried and true method to keep your knife sharp. Soon you also will see no reflection (on the knife blade, not in the mirror…gee).

Green Smoothie Love

Green smoothies are all the rage these days. even calls them hot. And it’s not without good reason either. Smoothies are maybe the the easiest way to get a whole lotta green goodness in just a few delicious sips, and green smoothie recipes can be as simple or as complex as your palate prefers.

What are the benefits of drinking greens, you ask? Well, the chlorophyl in greens helps to detoxify the body and enhance oxygen transport, greens contain oodles of antioxidants that protect your cells from free radical damage, raw greens promote healthy digestion, and liquid greens can provide a boost of energy–just to name a few.

A few of our favorite websites that give bunches of info on making green smoothies are:

Green Monster Movement

Good Clean Health

No Meat Athlete – Runs on Plants

For the green smoothie beginner, the Green Monster Movement has a super simple recipe that even the biggest skeptic will love. Their Virgin Green Monster calls for:

1 tablespoon flaxseed (optional)
2 cups organic spinach
1 banana
1 cup juice from kale* (or 1 cup organic milk)
5 ice cubes

Blend away. That’s it. Getting your greens has never been easier.

Once you’re into the green magic, getting creative with composition can be a lot of fun and surprisingly scrumptious. Good Clean Health shares a printable Smoothieology Guide that newbies and pros alike will love. Based on the Smoothieology Guide, one of my favorite recipes is:

Base: 1 cup fresh green juice*
Fat: 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Fruit: 1 banana
Vegetables: 2 heaping handfuls spinach
Superfood: 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Spice: 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Blend away and enjoy. And then smile. Your body will thank you for the delicious nutrition.

The possibilities for green smoothies really are endless. Another one of my favorites includes pumpkin, kind of like this one from Happy Herbivore. Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe? We’d love for you to share in the comments below. And if you just can’t get into smoothies, check out the Smoothie In A Bowl. You might fall in love.

*To make green juice, you will need a juicer and some raw greens. Kale, spinach, Romaine, Swiss chard, and collard greens are a few options. For a quick and fun visual tutorial on how to juice, watch this video–Make Juice, Not War.

Recipes Children Like

Feeding kids can be a really fun thing. Even if your kids are picky eaters, experimenting with different foods and recipes is often a rewarding experience. It may mean that dinner ideas come and go, but if nothing else we learn what doesn’t work. After all, kids are honest, and that’s why we love them.

There are days, though, when the adventure that comes with culinary exploration just isn’t appealing. Lack of time and energy prevail over the desire to be the hero who introduces the latest and greatest kid-friendly creation. It is on those days that we rely upon sure-fire dishes to please the whole family–especially the kids.

If you’re thinking that these palate-pleasing, kid-friendly dishes will be either painfully boring or disturbingly unwholesome, think again! We’ve got a slew of tried and true recipes that kids LOVE. And you’ll love everything about them, too. Look below for a few of our foolproof favorites, and click here if you want to learn more about teaching kids to love healthy food.

Who doesn’t like cheddar cheese sauce? Let Jane show you how this simple addition can make blanched vegetables oh-so-yummy. Serve alongside roasted chicken and you’ve got dinner for everyone. To get the recipe, click here. Frosting really makes everything better. And this one is loaded with golden-orange color, sweet earthy flavor, and A and C nutrients. A great way to utilize leftover yams and sweet potatoes. Frost up Pumpkin Pecan Muffins, ginger cookies, carrot cake or raisin bread and you will become very popular. For the recipe, click here. For whatever reason, kids love noodles, and these are no exception. Super easy to make, and you can even do them gluten-free. Add some fried tofu (another kid favorite) to the mix and dinner is ready. Click here for the recipe.

Mother Nature's Magic: Edible Mushrooms


Ever stop to wonder about just how awesome and efficient Mother Nature is? I sure hope so. But if not, let me give you a real quick reason to: Mother Nature has got our backs, and a perfect example of this is the abundance of Vitamin D rich mushrooms found in nature during dark and dreary days.

The human body can make Vitamin D (super important!), but it has to be exposed to sunlight to do so. As you can imagine, Vitamin D manufacturing is a little bit of a problem when sunny skies and warm weather are scarce. Fortunately for us human folk, mushrooms contain this nutrient and have no problem growing in dark, cool, and damp conditions. How handy! It gets better, too- these guys may help to fight sickness by boosting the immune system, which is also quite convenient during winter weather (AKA cold and flu season). Good lookin’ out, Mother Nature.

Some other fun facts about mushrooms are:

  • Ancient Egyptians considered mushrooms to be a food reserved for royalty only.
  • A mushroom is a fungus–not a vegetable or an herb as is commonly thought.
  • Mushrooms are 80-90% water.
  • One portabella mushroom contains more potassium than a banana.
  • Ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms provided strength for warriors in battle.

So, what are you waiting for?! Get to cooking with these royal edibles! Look below for some tasty recipes to get you started, and check out this article if you want to learn about how to maximize your Vitamin D intake via fungi.

Farro (aka emmer) is a chewy, satisfying whole grain. Soak it and cook it slowly to maximize flavor and tenderize the texture.  The fresh herbs and mushrooms add amazing aroma. For the recipe, click here. Toasted buckwheat groats (aka kasha) is a superior gluten-free grain that is underutilized. Cynthia shows you how to make it with potatoes, mushrooms and onions added. Yum! Click here for the recipe. This succulent entrée is crazy simple.  The mirin (sweet rice wine) and tamari meld with the chicken to make a dark sweet sauce. The oven does all the magic. To print the recipe, click here.