essentials to make & store

almond butter

8th April 2012


Spring is here and the garden is exploding with colours and fragrance.  The Jasmin is in full bloom and the wisteria is in its full, lilac beauty.  This also means there is so much work to do in this explosion of growth and enthusiasm.  I just unloaded my car with bags and bags of manure and a whole box full of summer seedlings, which need to be planted today after I write this post.  But first, a favourite and a constant staple in our house – toasted almond butter.

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Roasting the nuts before grinding is optional.  I like how it brings out the wonderful nutty aroma of the almond.  If you decide to keep them raw just keep in mind the grinding process will be much longer and you will require a very powerful grinder. You can try all sorts of nut or seed butter creations, like sunflower – cashew – brazil or combining sesame – macadamia, almond – hazelnut.  Just make sure with hazelnuts you remove the bitter skins by rubbing them together after roasting.  I prefer using just almonds, as their qualities are less heating than most other nuts & seeds. 

If the nut butter doesn’t come together or you need to speed up the process,  add a tablespoon of walnut oil or oil of your choice after the first 4 minutes of grinding.  The process is a bit daunting, but just have patience and don’t quit too early.

My favourite way of eating almond butter is smeared on two halves of a Medjool date for a sweet at the end of a meal.  My son loves to eat crunchy apple slices dipped in almond butter and enjoys it with home-made strawberry jam on bread.

Makes a wonderful welcome gift for someone special.


toasted almond butter

Makes approximately 2 cups

ingredients :

4 cups whole raw organic almonds

¼ teaspoon rock salt (optional)

preparation :

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Spread the almonds out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 12 – 15 minutes until fragrant and they are just starting to brown lightly inside, be careful not to over roast them.   Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Transfer the almonds to a food processor, add the salt and blend, using the highest setting for 1 – 2 minutes to grind them to a powder.  Scrape down the sides of the container.  The whole process takes between 12 to 18 minutes, all depending on the machine you are using, the quality & quantity of the almonds and how well they are roasted.


After two minutes, it should look like coarse almond meal:


After 4 minutes, the oils will start to release:


As it keeps blending it will release more of the oils and look like this.  You may need to stop and scrape down the sides.


Usually, by 8 – 10 minutes it will look like this.  A ball may form, break it up into a few pieces and keep blending and scraping down the sides…..


After 12 – 14 minutes, it will look like this.  Keep going….you want to wait until the oils are fully released.


And finally, two to four more minutes, blend until it is completely smooth with a slight sheen.


I find that the almond butter needs to sit for an hour or two after making it for the flavours to intensify and come together.  Store in a jar in the fridge and use within one month.


Goodness shared from Stacey

orange marmalade jam

6th February 2012


There is an orange tree that sits right on the edge of the vegetable garden. In Spring, the citrus trees are in full bloom and two of the triangles are carpeted with their snowy, white blossoms.  The air is sweet, pungent and glorious.  Its scent follows you around wherever you go. In Summer, the blossoms are replaced with round, green balls of fruit and in Autumn, the fruit starts to blush a soft yellow.  And by the start of Winter, the two triangles in the vegetable garden are carpeted with oranges that fall ripe and ready from the tree.  This year these oranges are small.  It was a long, hot, dry Summer and this poor little tree suffered. I did find some bigger ones though and their juice is sweet.  Perfect for a sticky, orange marmalade jam with a taste of sun on toast.


orange marmalade jam

Makes 4 jars

ingredients :

1 kg juicy oranges – approx 5 large oranges

1 lemon

500g light brown sugar

preparation :

Using a small, sharp kitchen knife, cut the oranges and the lemon in half and then in half again so that you have quarters.  Scoop out as many seeds as you can and then thinly slice each quarter into fine shreds and small pieces (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture).

Place the oranges, lemon shreds and sugar into a heavy enamelled pan.  Bring to the boil, cover, then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily.  Simmer, covered for 3 hours, until the peel is soft.  In intervals, lift the lid and scoop off any seeds you may have missed that have floated to the surface and stir.

Ladle into sterilised pots and seal.  I usually freeze the jars and defrost as I need them.  Because of the low sugar content, the jam needs to be kept in the fridge.


Goodness shared from Stacey

strawberry jam

8th May 2011


Someone had left a big bucket of beautiful, very ripe strawberries in my kitchen while I was out on my afternoon walk yesterday.  I am sure I will find out who it was over the next few days.  Living in a Moshav and having a very open house allows neighbours, friends and children to wander in and out as they please. They look like they were picked fresh from the fields which are nearby.  We are spoilt with our strawberries this time of year,  being able to buy them freshly picked from the fields, if the time it right.  Perfectly ripe for strawberry jam.  This recipe is based on Anna’s recipe and it makes about 6 medium jars which I freeze as I need them.  What I love most about this recipe is that it allows for the sweetness of the strawberries to come through without being overpowered by the sugar.  Because of the less sugar, it is a little on the watery side and I do end up scooping it out with a spoon onto my bread.  The taste is sensationally strawberry-sweet!

I have grown them in the garden a few times, but the ruby-red, ripening fruit would lure in my three peacocks, and they would always find them before I did.  Now I have replanted them in a sunny corner in the garden, just outside my kitchen window, so I can enjoy watching our peacocks find them as a surprise treat.



strawberry jam

For jam making I prefer the smaller strawberries, they have much less water content.  If using the larger ones buy them very ripe.  This is a very easy recipe that requires no chopping.

Makes 6 – 7 jars

ingredients :

2 kg small strawberries, topped

600g light brown sugar

preparation :

No need to chop the strawberries just rinse well and top them.   Place in a wide, deep saucepan and sprinkle over the sugar, allow them to sit overnight, so all the juices can be drawn out of the strawberries.

The next morning, bring to boil and boil rapidly for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow to settle for half an hour.  I take a potato masher and roughly break up the strawberries, then scoop up all this red goodness into sterilised glass jars.  Because of the low sugar content, this jam needs to be refrigerated.  Close your eyes and enjoy the lingering smell that fills the kitchen, just for a moment or two.


Goodness shared by Stacey


21st June 2010

My diet has been very simple at the moment, mostly craving really good simple food.  I have been experimenting with raw foods and putting my dehydrator too much use.  Tonight I have in the dehydrator a wonderful raw granola “I am Great” (taken from my ‘I am Grateful’ cookbook which consists of grated apple, soaked almonds, sunflower seeds, buckwheat, cranberries, dates, coconut and cinnamon. I have also been trying to eat less bread and making all sorts of linseed crackers and almond toast from soaked and sprouted seeds than dehydrating them in my special oven.


But my favourite food at the moment is a bowl of brown rice.

Yesterday I sautéed tofu, zucchini and red peppers, added a little tamari and gomasio and that was another delicious meal. The other day I rolled brown rice mixed with a little bit of left-over almond pulp into nori rolls with some avocado, grated carrot and crisp cucumber..yum. On the weekend it was more of an elaborate meal with a simple red dal and a green salad with a big bowl of brown rice. Today I had my bowl of brown rice with a salad and drizzled a tahini and lemon sauce over the top, but my most favourite is eating it plain and simple sprinkled with gomasio. It tastes so comforting, clean and wonderfully grounding.

Gomasio is a nutty, salty condiment which you can sprinkle on soups, salads, stews or use as you would salt. Sesame seeds have a high calcium content. They also have wonderful amounts of manganese, copper, iron, zinc and vitamin B1. My version is a slight variation on traditional gomasio by incorporating a sheet of toasted nori for a salty sea flavour and additional nutrients.

You can use any type of sesame seeds, though preferably the tan ones opposed to the white. The white ones which are sold at the supermarket are hulled and maybe even bleached. I don’t recommend them, as it’s the hull that keeps the oil inside from getting rancid. You could also omit the nori and make a spicy gomasio by adding crushed red pepper flakes.

I used a quick modern-day grinding method but for a more meditative and energetically calming method, you can use a traditional mortar and pestle by grinding it in smaller batches.


Makes 1 cup

ingredients :

1 cup tan sesame seeds

2 teaspoons freshly ground sea salt

1 sheet toasted nori

preparation :

In a small skillet, toast the salt for a couple of minutes and put aside, then add the sesame seeds to the skillet and dry roast them on a very low heat for about 10 mins, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to brown. Don’t be tempted to increase the heat as the longer lower temperature will result in more even heat distribution, more even browning, and more of a potent roasted flavour.

Using a small blender or a coffee grinder, place the still warm sesame seeds and salt, roughly broken-up nori sheet and blend together. Be careful not to grind too much: you want some of the texture of the seeds to remain.

Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Goodness shared from Stacey

pumpkin & flaxseed blend – omega 3 & 6

11th May 2010

We are continually bombarded with the importance of including Omega-3 and Omega-6, amongst other essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  Unfortunately, these often come from companies trying to sell their supplements.  I am a huge believer in that, if I aim to eat a healthy, clean, balanced diet, there is no need for extra supplementation.  A great money saver.  Another downside to taking various multi-vitamins and supplements is that too much of a good thing can actually cause more harm.  Certain vitamins and minerals are harmful in large doses and can interfere with the absorption of iron, calcium and other ‘goodies’.

And what are those Omega benefits?

Omega-3’s have anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant properties as well as many other important health benefits.  They reduce inflammation and can provide protection against cardiovascular disease, arthritis, skin conditions, depression and other mood-related disorders.  Omega-6, when sourced through diet, has anti-inflammatory properties.  It can help the bloating and pain associated with PMS.  It also maintains healthy skin, hair and nails and generally helps to bring about hormonal and emotional balance.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 interact with each other so the balance between them is crucial for good health.

Knowing this, I have decided to try and ‘supplement’ my body the ‘natural food’ way.  This recipe is a mix of ground pepitas and flaxseeds that provide the minimum healthy dietary intake of both Omega-3 and Omega-6.   Usually, one is taken more than the other in the form of fish oil supplements, however, a balance of both is important.  So, this seed blend does that perfectly.  Flaxseeds are high in Omega-3, whereas pepitas(pumpkin seeds) are almost equally equivalent in Omega-6.   Sunflower seeds and walnuts provide high sources of the 6 as well if you would like to vary your mixture.

omega blend

ingredients :

100g  flaxseed (I used a mixture of golden and brown)

100g pepitas

preparation :

In a spice blender, combine the seeds.  Grind to a fairly fine mixture.  This may need to complete in stages, depending on the size of your grinder.   Pour into a glass jar with a lid.  Shake well to distribute seeds evenly.  Store in the fridge.

Use 2 heaped teaspoons on cereal, in pies/quiches, salad dressings.  The list is endless.  I add mine to my morning oats.  This quantity provides the daily minimum healthy dietary intake of both Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Goodness shared from Donna


27th August 2009


Ghee is the most amazing substance, melted, it pours like liquid gold.  At room temperature, it is semi-soft and creamy.  Ghee can be kept at room temperature for months and heated to frying temperatures without burning.  Ghee takes only moments of hands-on time to make at home. It’s derived from butter through a process of cooking off the milk solids until it becomes an easier to digest, healthier alternative to butter and oil or as an ingredient to add flavour and richness to foods.  To some, it’s known as clarified butter, to others the golden elixir of healing.

Ghee is a source of beta-carotene and vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Beta-carotene and vitamin E are both valuable antioxidants, helpful in preventing injury to the body. Ghee contains between 4 and 5 percent linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid often lacking in a vegetarian diet. Because the casein butter has been removed, ghee is lactose-free and contains no oxidized cholesterol.  According to Ayurvedic text on health, ” Ghee is good for the eyes, stimulates digestion, supports skin glow, enhances memory and stamina, balances hormones and helps to promote greater longevity.”

Ghee heals your body from the inside.  In Ayurveda, ghee is recognised as one of the most sattvic foods.  Ayurvedic doctors have used ghee for many hundred years.  Ghee is known to reduce heat in the body, sharpen the memory and intellect, lubricate and strengthen the digestive track.  It helps you on your journey to reach higher levels of consciousness and towards enlightenment.  It is the yogic tradition to mix ghee into each meal every day.


ghee (clarified butter)

This makes about 1½ cups of ghee and will take about 10 – 12 minutes to prepare.  The good quality of ghee rests on the quality of butter, so use the best available and use unsalted. This is important. 

ghee stage 1

500 grams, unsalted organic butter

Place the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil over a medium heat.  It will take approximately 5 minutes to melt down.

ghee 2

Initially, it will froth and foam, and then begin to settle down.  Around the 8 minute mark, the froth will subside, it will then start to bubble and crackle quite vigorously and with much noise.  It will continue like this for another 3 – 4 minutes,  then the bubbling will soften.

ghee stage 3

You will know you are near the end when the ghee boils rapidly, then begins to slow down.  Use your sense of hearing as you will hear the intense bubbling, then a quieter sound.  Watch carefully, the ghee will burn quickly at this stage. Burnt ghee takes on a granular texture when chilled and turns a dull beige colour because the lactose sugars have caramelized to burned.

Cook until a thin crust begins to form on the surface and milky-white solids fall to the bottom of the pan.

When you become more experienced in making ghee, I like to leave it another 30 seconds after the bubbly has disappeared, to intensify the flavour. Do this carefully as it is easy to burn the ghee. I keep a small wooden spoon nearby and depending on the quality or brand of butter it may foam and threaten to foam over – this is where the spoon is needed to stir the top part of the foam so that it subsides.

ghee froth

Turn off the heat, and allow the pot to continue to sit on the stove, it will continue to bubbly slightly.

ghee stage6

Eventually, it will turn from white to fawn-coloured.  The ghee will become clear, translucent and pleasantly fragrant, it is done.   Allow to cool slightly in the pot.

finished ghee

It is optional to pour the hot ghee through a very thin sieve.  I use a tea strainer.  Or alternatively allow the ghee to settle and pour the ghee as is, into a jar using the leftover residue to make a delicious treat.  See below.  Avoid letting any moisture or water into the ghee as this promotes bacterial growth.

ghee straining

Additionally, the residue left in the strainer and the pot can be turned into a sweet.  Add ½ cup whole wheat flour to pot, stir for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add 2 teaspoon of sweetener, jaggery or unrefined sugar and keep stirring another 2 minutes.  Add ½ cup milk, stir and turn off heat. Form into balls and enjoy!  An alternative combination: use sooji (cream of wheat) and coconut or add to the pot cooked brown rice.

As it sits it will become semi-soft and creamy.  (Unless you live in a very hot climate, it will stay liquid.)  Ghee does not need to be refrigerated and can be kept on the counter for months.  It never lasts that long in our house.  Use as a replacement for oil/butter in cooking.  It can also be used to ‘cool down too spicy food’.  My son, loves it drizzled on rice.

solid ghee - finished

Goodness shared from Stacey


22nd June 2009


I woke up on Friday with newfound energy and found myself in the kitchen inspired to make my weekly supplies of granola, tofu, ghee and dosa batter.  All in one morning!

As a family, we try to stay away from the processed boxed cereals.  As these are heated to such high temperatures and pressures, this makes them very hard to digest.  I needed to come up with something that would tempt my children and keep them tempting.  Something that tasted good.  This granola seemed to do the trick.


meet our very naughty, mischievous, goats – Grace & Ester


Enjoying this version above, dried apricots, macadamia, orange & lemon zest


Lately, I have been grinding 2 cups of the oats to a rough flour and add ½ cup water to the wet ingredients  – creating clusters of crunchy oats throughout.  

I often prepare a batch of granola and a jar of homemade almond milk to give as a gift for a house-warming or just to say thank-you.  Just bottle it in a jar or paper bag with a homemade label.

Makes about 6 cups 

ingredients :

500g  flaked rolled oats (crushed/rolled if prefer a smoother granola)

200 – 300g flaked almonds/finely chopped slivers whole almonds

50g each of sunflower and sesame seeds

65g/¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

¼ tsp ground cardamom powder

2 tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp fine rock salt

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

½ cup of ghee/cold-pressed coconut oil/olive oil (I use an equal mix of ghee & oil)

½ cup maple syrup

¼ cup brown rice syrup

160g/1 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped (sultanas, cranberries, dates, goji, figs or dried apricots)

preparation :

Pre-heat oven to 350 F/180 C.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flaked almonds, seeds, coconut flakes, cardamom, cinnamon powder and salt, stir to combine.   In a separate bowl whisk together the melted ghee & oil, maple & brown rice syrup and vanilla essence.  Pour over the oat mixture and combine well, for about a minute, so all is well-coated.

Spread the granola mixture out on a deep baking tray and roast in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes.  Turn the granola over every 8 – 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  The granola will continue to crisp as it stands.  Once cool, stir in the dried fruit.  Serve with fresh milk, home-made almond milk or creamy yoghurt and with seasonal fruit.  Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!


Shared goodness from Stacey

almond milk

17th June 2009

Making almond milk is very easy and so delicious.  All you need is a high-speed blender, a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.   If you use soy milk, rice or almond milk in the box you will never go back to using them again after tasting home-made almond milk.  Nut milk are rich in protein and depending on your choice of nuts and seeds, also high in vitamins and minerals.

I prefer using just almonds, as their qualities are less heating than most other nuts & seeds.   Almonds have a warming nature and sweet flavour.  Ayurveda considers almonds one of the best of all nuts, useful for building ojas, an essence that vivifies intellection and spirituality as well as reproductive abilityAlmonds are highly regarded in Ayurveda for their nutritional value.  Almonds are 20% protein.  They are also rich in Vitamin E, magnesium and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

You can use almond milk anywhere you use regular milk.  I use it in my porridge in the morning, making chai tea and in smoothies.  It is also great served warmed with a little maple syrup, cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla essence.


almond milk

When making nut milk, it is very important to soak the nuts or seeds overnight.  I always have a batch of already soaked and drained almonds in the freezer for instant nut milk.

ingredients :

1 cup raw almonds (soaked overnight)

3 – 4 cups filtered water

preparation :

Soak the almonds overnight. Drain, rinse well and place soaked nuts into your blender.  Add the filtered water.  Blend on high until the nuts are completely broken down.  Pour your milk into a nut milk bag or a cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the milk as possible.  I sometimes blend in a few dates and add a few drops of vanilla essence for a sweeter milk.

The milk keeps for about three days in an air-tight jar in the refrigerator.

You can save the nut pulp to replace flour when you bake or add it to your morning porridge or use in a savoury hummus.

Shared goodness from Stacey

easy sprouting & a recipe

16th June 2009


Lettuce goes to seed so quickly in the Summer heat here in Israel.  So during this season, I need to get creative as to what I can put into my salads.  This is where sprouting comes in.  Normally I just sprout mung beans by themselves, but a few weeks ago I experimented with this combination: equal amounts of mung beans and the small, dark brown Beluga lentil.

Sprouting increases the nutrient value, vitamin and enzyme content of grains, beans and seeds, and making them more digestible.  They have a cooling, cleansing, and detoxifying effect on the body.  After an overnight soak, the sprouts are ready in just two to three days.

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easy sprouting

It is always best to purchase organic lentils, beans and seeds, as the conventionally grown ones have often been irradiated prior to storage, making them unable to sprout.

ingredients :

½ cup mung beans

½ cup dark brown beluga lentils

Rinse and soak the mung beans and lentils in a bowl overnight.  The next morning, drain, rinse again and place back in the bowl or alternatively you can leave in the strainer to drain over the bowl.  Keep the lentils out of direct sunlight or in a dark area or cupboard.  The sprouts should be rinsed 2 or 3 times a day and then drained well.  When they reach their required length which takes 2 – 3 days, store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator; this helps to slow the growing process and preserve their freshness.  I like to keep the tails short and sprout them just for 2 days.  The shorter the sprouting time the sweeter the sprout, the longer the tail grows, the more water it retains; the less flavour and tend to be watery.

In the warmer months use them raw on salads, like this one or add them to a green smoothie.   They add a delicious crunch and freshness.   In the colder months, because of their cooling quality, it is better to lightly cook them for a softer and a more digestible dish like in the recipe below or used in this lemon rice.


carrot & mung bean sprout palya

Serves 4, as a side dish

Can also be made with the addition of finely chopped cabbage as well as the carrots and sprouts.

ingredients :

1 Tbsp ghee/oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

¼ tsp turmeric powder

4 fresh curry leaves

3 medium carrots, grated

1 cup of sprouts (see above)

1 Tblsp  fresh lemon juice

¼ cup dried shredded coconut

salt to taste

fresh coriander

preparation :

Heat a little ghee/oil in a deep skillet.  Add the mustard seeds, wait until they splutter, turn grey and pop, then add the cumin seeds, turmeric powder and curry leaves.  Add the mung bean sprouts and cook for a minute or two, continually stirring (not too long as you want to keep some of the crunch to the sprouts) add the grated carrot and mix in with the sprouts.  Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, grated coconut, salt, and freshly chopped coriander.  Gently mix to combine.  Serve with your favourite grain dish and a simple dal or with an Indian dosa and slices of avocado.


If you would like to read more on sprouting this is a great site –

Shared goodness from Stacey

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