Mushroom Kale Barley Stew

Mushroom Kale Barley Stew

This. Stew.

Is everything.

It’s the kind of warm, comforting, nourishing food I crave.

The warm broth, the earthy mushrooms & kale, and tons of delicious whole grains.

This kind of food just makes me feel GOOD.

Warm, happy tummy. Lightness. Nourishment. Gratitude.

Man, it just reminds me how much I appreciate home cooking.

Seriously, nothing pre-made or store bought will ever compare to the smells, tastes, and textures or homemade soups & stews.

I’m obsessed with the way a warm pot on the stove permeates the house with an enticing aroma and brings everyone together in anticipation of a delicious family meal.

The entire process of cooking- the shopping, the prep, the cooking, the serving, and the communal meal- brings me a sense of almost meditative calm. It’s my favorite way to cap off the day & reflect with gratitude on the events that occurred. Truly, nothing is better.

In the great words of Michael Pollan, “In the kitchen, you can reclaim the present.”

Do you agree? How does cooking resonate with you??

Mushroom Kale Barley Stew

Mushroom Kale Barley Stew
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts halved & thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups barley (or short grain brown rice for a gluten-free option)
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) vegetable stock
  • 1 (8 oz) bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, like chardonnay
  • Freshly grated Romano cheese, for serving (optional)
  • Garlic bread or crusty baguette, for serving on the side (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large dutch oven or soup pot. Warm over medium heat, then add the leeks. Season with fresh cracked salt & pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, and add the mushrooms and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent the garlic from burning.
  4. When the garlic is fragrant, add the can of tomatoes, barley, and 6 cups of vegetable stock. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30 minutes.
  5. After the stew has been simmering for 30 minutes, uncover, add the kale, 2 more cups of vegetable stock, and 1/2 cup wine. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until the kale is tender and the stew has the desired texture (it will absorb more liquid and become thicker as it sits).
  6. Ladle into bowls and top with grated romano cheese. Serve with garlic bread or a crusty baguette for dipping! This stew makes great leftovers- the flavors deepen as it rests.
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How To Make Almond Milk

Squeezing Almond Milk | ericajulson.com

Almond milk.

It’s one of those items you can easily pick up at the grocery store & be on your merry way.

But, like many things, it tastes SO MUCH better when you make it at home.

I mean, fresh stuff usually tastes better than processed/preserved/shelf stable alternatives, right???

Lots of people make homemade almond milk to avoid extra food additives found in store-bought varieties.

These are usually gelling or emulsifying ingredients used to keep a smooth even texture of the almond milk (carrageenan, guar gum, gellan gum, locust bean gum, soy lecithin, sunflower lecithin, etc.)

There is a lot of fear mongering on the internet about the dangers of carrageenan in particular, but much of that is based on old science conducted with a degraded type of carrageenan (known as poligeenan), that is not used in commercial food production. Check out this article and this article for a nice review on the safety of food-grade carrageenan.

While avoiding these additives isn’t likely to play a HUGE role in improving your health (your overall diet quality matters much much more), it may be helpful for people who experience gastrointestinal distress to avoid them. (People with IBS, leaky gut, gut dysbiosis, ulcerative colitis, or excessive gas & bloating).

These gums & gelling ingredients are metabolized by some types of gut bacteria & can create excessive gas/bloating in some people (1, 2). It’s wise to listen to your body & pay attention to how your specific body reacts.

If homemade almond milk agrees with you more than store-bought, then by all means, jump on the homemade almond milk train!

You might be wondering why anyone would drink almond milk in the first place…

There are lots of reasons!

  1. People who are lactose intolerant & suffer from gas/bloating when they consume cow’s milk often enjoy almond milk as a replacement.
  2. People who are allergic or sensitive to casein (a protein in milk) often drink almond milk instead.
  3. Vegans often enjoy nut milks instead of animal products.
  4. It tastes awesome! And can be a great change-up from the monotony of traditional milk.

The process for making almond milk is relatively simple.

  1. Soak almonds.
  2. Drain almonds.
  3. Blend the soaked almonds with water + optional flavorings until smooth.
  4. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag.
  5. Capture all the creamy milk in a bowl.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  7. Dehydrate & save the almond meal for making crackers or cookies, or compost it.

I like to drink it straight up, use it in smoothies, add a dash to my morning coffee, or occasionally enjoy it with some muesli or oatmeal. Yum!

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on making your own.

It’s a really fun activity to try with friends or family over the weekend 🙂 Little kids LOVE squeezing the nut milk bag & learning that “milk” can be made from nuts!

Once you get almond milk under you belt, you can even branch out and try making milk from other nuts, like cashews, pecans, or even hemp seeds!

Step 1: Soak 1 cup of raw almonds overnight in the fridge.

This helps soften them up & make them creamy when blended.

(And yes, it’s important to buy raw almonds, not roasted salted ones 😉 )

I just place them in a bowl & cover with water, like so:

Soaked Raw Almonds | ericajulson.com

Step 2: Drain the almonds.

The next morning, when you’re ready to make your almond milk, drain the almonds & be impressed by how plump & delicious they look.

Soaked Almonds Strained | ericajulson.com

Here’s a nice comparison of the soaked almonds on the left, and the original raw almonds on the right:

Raw vs Soaked Almonds | ericajulson.com

Step 3: Place the almonds + water + flavorings in a blender.

Okay, I don’t have a picture of this step. But it’s pretty self explanatory.

You can use anywhere from 2-4 cups of water per 1 cup almonds, depending on how rich you want your almond milk (less water = more intense almond flavor).

For flavorings: You can keep it simple & just season the milk with a dash of sea salt before blending, or you can get fancy & add vanilla bean or extract, medjool dates, honey, or agave for sweetener, or even spices like cinnamon or cardamom. Yum!

Step 4: Drain the mixture through a nut milk bag.

I highly recommend purchasing one of these:

This is the type of bag I use. It makes the whole process a billion times easier.

Simply pour the mixture in (while holding over a bowl):

Straining Almond Milk | ericajulson.com

and squeeze to release all the delicious juices:

Squeezing Almond Milk | ericajulson.com

Step 5: Bottle your awesome tasting almond milk

Bottled Almond Milk | ericajulson.com

I really like these Weck Juice Jars (used in the picture above).

They’re both stylish & functional.

Plus, seeing the almond milk in these beautiful jars makes me want to enjoy it ASAP (which is a good thing, since it only lasts 3 days in the fridge).

Step 6: Save that almond pulp!

This is technically optional, but it hurts to throw away those perfectly good almond remnants left in your nut milk bag.

What you have is essentially moist ground almond meal (since it has been blended up into a fine powder by your blender).

You can spread the pulp out onto a baking sheet and bake at your oven’s lowest temperature for a few hours until it’s dried out, or you can dehydrate it in a dehydrator, and the result is almond meal that will be shelf stable & usable to make crackers & cookies! How fab is that?

I recommend storing your almond meal in the freezer to extend the shelf life as long as possible & keep the flavor nice & fresh. There’s nothing worse than rancid fats!

In case making almond meal isn’t your jam, check out this recipe from My New Roots for raw nut pulp hummus! Such a creative way to use the leftovers!

Almond Milk Recipe
Cook Time
10 mins
 
Servings: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds
  • 3 1/12 cups filtered water for blending + extra water for soaking
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • {optional} 1 whole vanilla bean pod for vanilla flavor
  • {optional} 2 medjool dates for sweetness
Instructions
  1. Place the almonds in a bowl & fill with enough water to cover. Keep the bowl in the fridge & allow the almonds to soak overnight.
  2. Remove the almonds from the fridge & drain. Place the drained almonds into a high-powered blender with 3 1/2 cups filtered water, a pinch of sea salt, & the optional vanilla bean & dates. The dates add sweetness, while the vanilla bean gives a nice hit of vanilla flavor. Mmmmm.
  3. Blend on hight for a minute or two, until the almonds are completely pulverized & the milk has a smooth and even consistency.
  4. Open your nut milk bag and have a friend hold it above a bowl while you pour the blended nut milk mixture into it. (If you don't have a friend to help you, simply prop the bag up on the bottom of a bowl & pour carefully!)
  5. Let the smooth milk strain out through the holes of the nut milk bag & use your hands to squeeze as much liquid as possible from the almond pulp.
  6. Store the nut milk in a closed container for up to 3 days in the fridge, & use the almond pulp in whatever creative way you desire!

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Homemade Almond Milk

Orange Energizing Juice

Orange Energizing Juice | ericajulson.com

I really wanted to call this “Halloween Juice,” because it’s so awesomely vibrantly orange & halloween-y!

But logic took over, and I decided to call it “Orange Energizing Juice.”

Because juice is awesome.

Whenever I drink fresh juice (NOT store-bought) my body just giggles with happiness.

It’s like l can FEEL the nutrients seeping into my body & making me feel awesome.

For this recipe, you really do need a juicer (not a blender).

While I love high-powered blenders (like Vitamix) for smoothies, I like to change it up and also make fresh juices from time to time.

I get asked this question all the time, “Which is better, blending or juicing?”

And my answer is BOTH!

They are both awesome, for different reasons.

Pros & Cons of Blending: 

Blending leaves all the fiber in the smoothie, which is fabulous for your gut. It also helps slow down the absorption of the sugars, preventing a blood sugar spike & crash. With blending, you’re more likely to feel full & have steady energy for a longer period of time after drinking. But, that fiber also binds some of the vitamins & minerals, so you don’t actually absorb all of them. Rest assured, you’re still getting plenty of nutrition 🙂 I like to think of blended smoothies as meals. You can make them really filling by adding extras like avocado, banana, nut-butters, chia or flax, the possibilities are endless!

Pros & Cons of Juicing: 

Juicing separates the fiber from the juice & discards it. You’re left with a delicious glass containing just the juice & nutrients from the fruits & vegetables. Since the fiber has been removed, there is nothing slowing down the digestion & absorption of the nutrients. It’s like taking a shot of insta-absorb vitamins.

But the lack of fiber also means there’s nothing slowing down the absorption of the sugars, so you may also get a blood sugar spike (something to be aware of if you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic). If you’re worried about this, try enjoying green juices that use lower-sugar fruits & vegetables. They’re still delicious! I think of juices as snacks / nutrient boosters. They’re definitely not a meal replacement, but they could be a great addition to your routine. Try ’em out & see how they make you feel!

I use a Champion Juicer:

Which I really love. It’s super heavy duty & can make juice out of pretty much anything!

It can also make delicious sorbets & nut butters if you use the blank screen instead of the juicing screen.

It’s a serious piece of equipment, but totally worth it if you’re into juicing. You can save so much money by making your own juice instead of purchasing them from pricey juice bars!

Here’s what went into my juice:

Orange Energizing Juice Ingredients | ericajulson.com

Lots of orange, as promised!

You simply assemble the juicer, turn it on, and feed the items through. The fresh juice comes out of the bottom, and the pulp comes out of the tube.

You can feed most fruits & vegetables through whole, but it’s a good idea to peel citrus fruits first. Otherwise, the rind will clog the juice screen & you’ll get less juice. The rind also tends to impart a bitter flavor that you probably don’t want!

Is it okay if I call this juice beautiful??

Autumn Energizing Juice | ericajulson.com

Orange Energizing Juice
Prep Time
15 mins
 
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 5 large organic carrots
  • 2 organic oranges, peeled & cut to fit into juicer
  • 1 organic lemon, peeled & cut to fit into juicer
  • 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 cameo, honey crisp, or fuji apples, cut to fit into juicer
Instructions
  1. Assemble & turn on your juicer. Feed the fruits & vegetables through, alternating between soft items (oranges & lemons) and firmer items (carrots, apple, ginger).

  2. Catch the juice underneath & enjoy right away or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. (I like to enjoy mine with a few ice cubes to make it extra refreshing).
  3. Discard the pulp, or repurpose it in other recipes.

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