Sunday, December 21, 2014

the pollen family table + the mullies family table

"this is the dish of awesomeness mom."
- mac

"i kind of like it. i really like the sausages. now can i get 3 chocolates?"
- tommy

"i really like it, it's the best thing ever."
- abbie

= my kids reaction over the pollan family table's inspired baked ziti (how i've never made this dish before... i don't know...)

let's get to it.

i have been given the pleasure to review a new cookbook:

the pollan family table 

"My Grandmother Mary taught us, "Cooking is not a science, but an art, mistakes are ok, messes are fine - The pleasure is in the creating and the sharing of the result."
- Lori Pollan @PollanFamilyTable.

about two and a half years ago, i gave away/donated most of my cookbooks. i was in the early throws of our family food change and i reasoned if the cookbook didn't fit my new standards of clean food or if it wasn't gluten free, it just couldn't stay.

my perspective is evolving quite a bit. nowadays, i am drawn towards cookbooks that have something more to offer than just a required list of amazing recipes. i want a story. i want to go into an author(s) mind and go on a journey. is there a common thread to connect our kitchens and pantries? why do they love food? what made them write a cookbook? can this book help me & my family get more "cooked"?

the pollan ladies (corky, lori, dana & tracy) are the masterminds behind this new cookbook. lori, dana and tracy's brother, michael pollan, joined the family cookbook party and wrote its poignant forward.

from the get go, this book tapped into my earliest of food memories, the family tables that shaped my life. about a paragraph in, i looked up and closed two dampish eyes (i am a major weeper). first, it brought me back to sitting at my childhood family table with my mom, dad, sister and brother. our meals, our laughter, our ups and downs... growing up with mom's famous lasagna, waffles.every.weekend, steak dinners, tuna casserole (oh i need to make that again!). my dad unequivocally teaching me the art of food experimentation (close your eyes lindsey and taste this!)

secondly, it took me back to my "'s" family table. my grandma dorothy canning everything from her huge garden; i can still taste her peaches on my tongue; her rolls were made by hand with local lard (cinnamon rolls were the very best); my favorite job was picking fresh beans from her garden for dinner (and eating them raw of course); she was the first person i had ever known to make homemade salad dressing (because my grandpa tom hated "that crap in the bottle").

thirdly, i traveled back to my aunt valerie's family table and my "grandma.on.the.lake's" family table where emil and millie inspired us to make and eat kolachki, potica, cream sausage, beet salad, cucumber salad, and crab dip with endless fruit-veggie-cracker spreads - the mullies kitchen sits in the footprint of their quaint cottage i miss almost everyday.

ooooohhhh the memories of these family tables and all who dined together with us!

this cookbook successfully wove together my past, present and future kitchens: memories of cooking and eating as a child, teenager, adult, wife and mom well into 14 years of marriage and a family food change. all of it swirling together with my current daydreams of my children (all grown up) cooking in their own kitchens and coming back home to me.

what kind of food memories will i leave in my children as my mother and grandmothers have given to me? will mac, abbie and tommy wax poetic about dishes from their childhood and request recipes to make over and over again?

so i just asked them: "what are your favorite dishes that i make?

mac: "the dish you made last night and homemade pizza"

tommy: "taco nachos with cheese"

abbie: "homemade pizza, taco nachos, ribs, the cheesy pasta we had last night and smoothies."

honest food sophistication.

gulp. i'm in the process RIGHT NOW of forging their food memories. i've made plenty of mouth watering dishes for the kids (+ plenty of thumbs down meals) but perhaps i haven't made any dishes often enough (other than pizza, tacos and nachos apparently) for my kids to be remembering them enough to request them.

this list must blossom in 2015.

what perfect timing for the pollan family table to enter into my kitchen. i clearly need some help in forging a shifley family table full of favorite meals. lori, dana and tracy all have kids, they all lead busy busy lives and these recipes work at their family tables. and that's exactly what i am looking for:

time tested
thumbs up
belly filling
dishes of awesomeness

to get my kids waxing poetic and coming back for more at our family table = a 2015 new year's resolution.

michael pollan explains it perfectly in his forward:

"My mother and sisters are not professional cooks, and this, oddly enough (or maybe not so oddly), probably explains why this eminently practical cookbook really works. Because most of us aren't professional cooks either. They never lose sight of the few core principles that set this cookbook apart: All the dishes can be made with ingredients available at any American supermarket; most can be put on the table in less than an hour (some in half that time); the recipes take nothing for granted and never assume lots of prior experience in the kitchen; and they all appeal equally to kids and adults."

this book is not a special diet book. anyone can cook from it no matter where one is on the food continuum. they don't overly proselytize about eating "healthy" or tell you to cut this or that out of your diet. the focus stays on cooking, sharing and togetherness around the table. they discuss the importance of using fresh, organic, local and sustainably sourced ingredients when you can & when budgets allow. if you are on a special diet or if you have an allergy, substituting for it should be a snap (many recipes are naturally gluten free!). i like to cook plant based as much as possible so i'm itching to try out the"vegetarian and meatless monday" section on my family. most importantly, their pantry item list is no fuss, simple and solid. i super love the "culinary ABC" section and "sage advice" - it is so helpful to have these vital tips & practical (best friend) explanations of cooking terms all in ONE PLACE.

the pollan family got me thinking about what kind of family table i want to create, about what really happens when we all get a chance to sit down and share a family meal. our table captures the full range of human emotions... a 5, 8, 10, 37 and 41 year old's happiness, sadness, frustration and excitement... you name it and we've been there. it's a pendulum swinging back and forth, teaching and breathing life into our hectic, hungry souls. thank you pollan family for helping me to embrace everything that happens when we sit down together.

so our pollan family table adventure begins with baked ziti.

this ridiculously simple recipe sent mac back for three helpings and sent us all to.the.mullies with my best cooking compliment yet. i subbed in some breakfast leftovers - farmer nick's bacon and sausage (a local lake county farm that produces antibiotic free, pasture raised livestock) that i buy now from our new mundelein gem: dakotah's indoor farmer's market. you better betcha the kids and i will be back to make those luscious turkey meatballs soon!!

baked ziti with bacon and sausage
inspired by the pollan family table's "golden baked ziti with bite-size turkey meatballs" pg 158

sea salt
1 pound gluten free ziti
4 strips of antibiotic free/nitrate free bacon
6 links of antibiotic free/nitrate free pork sausage
1 c of homemade tomato sauce (i had leftovers i needed to use!)
1.5-2 c grated manchego cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 375 degrees. salt boiling water and add pasta. cook pasta until "al dente, about three minutes less than directions on the package. meanwhile, chop up the bacon and sausage. drain the pasta and transfer it all back into the still hot cooking pot. dump in about a cup of pasta sauce (mine was leftover, thick tomato soup) plus the meat and mix thoroughly. dump it all into a baking dish and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

"it has some sort of cheese layer over it and the cheese layer makes me die of awesomeness because it is so good. it has bacon, i mean, who doesn't like bacon. i don't know how you did it mom, but you put all my favorite foods in one dish. i love it."  - mac

a worm hole has opened to my past, present and future. i am quilting my kitchen & cooking adventures into fabric made from food and family. for good food is the one thing we can never walk away from nor stop from doing. eating and cooking well is the one thing i hope my kids will do with or without me.

it's time to eat and cook more together for good food is for-ever. thank you pollan family for inspiring me and my evolving family table.

now i need to go call my sister - cuz i have a book i really need to talk to her about...

we have some recipes to tackle together katie!!!

i'm so excited your family will be joining my family in our new sister series:
to the mullies with the pollans - coming soon in 2015.


comment below with your favorite childhood food memory (who do you remember first cooking with?) and i'll enter you into my.very.first.mullies.drawing for your very own copy of the pollan family table cookbook. on behalf of the pollan clan and myself, we can't WAIT to give it to you!

**the contest starts today and ends on 12/31/2014 so that you can join me in revolutionizing your family table in 2015**

here's mine:

my 1st "cooking" memory: in 8th grade, my mom called from work and asked me to get the blueberry muffins started. it was my first solo job. i thought to myself, "i'm making bread!" therefore, "mix by hand" = stick my fingers in the eggs, oil and powder and go to kneading town.  "wait... where is my ball of dough?" i'll never forget my mom calling me to see how it went and her laughing and laughing... when i questioned why it stuck so horribly to my fingers. she explained, "mix by hand" meant mix with a spoon/whisk you silly willy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

a lucky #3 for the 52 new foods favorites campaign

i can't believe it!

three of my lovely gumption recipes have been chosen in the 52 new foods "favorites campaign"!

click on the link below and it will take you to the voting page where you can select 4 of your favorites and be entered for a chance to win a free 52 new foods cookbook!

vote here for your favorites: crab salad with avocado + breakfast cookies + homemade ranch

i'd be tickled pink and thank you if you end up voting for ME or any other of the food ambassadors who have been chosen in this talented group of bloggers:  terri salminen (netherlands), susan ng (canada), julie kimball cockburn (oregon), mardi michaels (canada), amy baker wambold (arizona).  i linked you to all of their wonderful cooking blogs... these girls blow my mind.

and just in case you missed it, click the picture below to link back to the full #52newfoods inspired post with my first 10 recipes (my lucky 3 included).  

no go vote and win yourself a sweet new cookbook... i'm sending you lots of good luck.



it makes me crazy when i run out of egg mix for my french toast:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

santa's got a sweet spot for mamacita's holiday G-hoppers

watch me now - to the mullies with holiday G-hoppers on youtube

the kids and i cooked (or should i say mixed?) this craziness up together this past sunday, november 30. i finished editing the video on tuesday, december 2nd, our lovely 14 year wedding anniversary. 

it's a special video because of the sweet timing + it truly captures the energy, the fun and the unpredictable adventures we're having cooking together in the kitchen. this recipe was developed with gumption (no recipe to lead the way, just concepts i have learned over the last 2+ years of clean food experimenting). i'm so very proud of it.

enjoy and make this recipe stat... cuz eating these g-hoppers will surely hit your sweet spot.


it came upon a midnight clear...

when lindsey (santa's mamacita) took on the 52 new foods no-bake holiday cookie challenge, she immediately knew what delicious dessert concept she wanted to tweak.

she loved two types of ice cream: mint chocolate chip and pistachio.

her favorite birthday + college dessert = grasshopper pie (the house dessert at her northwestern KKG fraternity house).

mamacita's first idea was an ice cream xmas tree cookie. she envisioned rolling out the cacao dough, stamping out xmas trees, topping them with the holiday green ice cream and garnishing them with crushed dye-free candy cane... pretty and festive yummies. however, the xmas trees and icing seemed a bit tedious and not so easy peasy.

like a bolt of lighting, a glorious idea came to life: "what about mini grasshopper pies!?" alas, lindsey couldn't find dye-free candy cane, so, with santa's nice 52 new foods list in her head, she thought, "but of course!  i'll yank some gorgeous pomegranate seeds out from their fridgy-bed!" 

away to the kitchen, mamacita flew like a flash, donned her red apron and gathered her reindeer & stash. she sprang to her food processor, to her team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

merry christmas to all (you filthy animals) and to all a good night!

to the mullies with holiday g-hoppers 
inspired by 52 new foods: avocados, pomegranates & raw cacao

raw cacao crust:
2 c raw almonds (soaked overnight, rinsed and drained)
2 c raw cashews (soaked overnight, rinsed and drained)
(click here to find out why i like to soak my nuts)
1.5 c organic raw cacao powder
12 pitted medjool dates (for the 12 days of christmas of course)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c sun dried goji berries (soaked in water for 10 minutes to soften. rinse and drain)
1/2 c almond butter
1 tsp sea salt

raw g-hopper ice cream:
4 organic avocados
2 c organic coconut butter (i found my jar at AWH)
4 tsp pure mint extract
2 tsp vanilla
12 T (3/4 c) pure maple syrup or coconut nectar
large handful of fresh mint leaves (stems discarded)
pinch of sea salt

note #1: the raw cacao crust recipe is enough to fill either 2 full pans of mini g-hoppers or 1 pan of mini's and a pie crust. i made a french silk ice cream pie with it (we haven't taste tested yet, so i'll get back to you on that classic filling!) i have doubled the avocado recipe (the video shows us making a single batch as what the final product amount would be!) i figure with the holidays, you need the double batch amount! if not, just cut both of these recipes in half. 

note #2: not a fan of mint? well, i gotcha bunny! omit the mint leaves + extract and process in pistachios. play with your nut amount! i would start with a 1/2-1 cup and taste test from there. no need for salt probably either, as pistachios are salty indeed. also, i would also use a vitamix (or any powerful blender) if you would like it smooth vs chunky.

using a large bowled food processor, process the nuts together until you have a small, uniform mince. add in all ingredients and process until smooth and thick play-dough like consistency.  your kids will have a ball with naming this concoction...

clean the food processor.  add in all of the ice cream ingredients and process until smooth.  

assembly: using a 1 inch ice cream scooper, place balls of pie crust into each cup.  cover your finger with a plastic baggie and press to form a mini pie mould. (super funny stuff to do... i have such potty humor... and let's face it, kids think this is absolutely gross-hilarious!) clean your ice cream scooper (aka pooper scooper) and scoop out your g-hopper ice cream into each cacao cup.  smooth tops with a butter knife or spatula and garnish with crushed pistachios, pomegranates, crushed dye free red/white peppermint candy, mini chocolate chips... so many festive options!!! be creative!!!



i hope this post and the many other #52newfoods simple recipes this holiday season inspire you to get cooking just one day a week with your kids - the lovely & manageable premise of the 52 new foods challenge cookbook

the mullies kitchen = my training room and we're adding more weight every week!

note to self: don't fret or give up when those kitchen performance "plateaus" hit... it takes a bit for that new muscle memory to take hold (believe me, i know).

go food revolution + team 52 new foods = december's blog of the month!!!!!

happy happy no-bake holiday partying with your kids!

to the mullies we go...



special props to my dear friend jenn who lovingly came up with "holiday hopper" and i added in the g (is for grasshopper) spot. silly, creative, foodie friends are the best.  love + thank you jenn!!


a lot of peeps have been asking me who puts together these lovely videos.  i do.  just me and my iphone with just shy of 3 GB's of memory:)  here's the challenging part: i unfortunately only have a 16 GM phone (i can't even get the new apple update at this point) and i have to delete all pics and videos off my phone to have space for a new video undertaking.  so i know i can shoot about 1.5 GM's of photos and video before i begin editing through imovie (or else i don't have enough space to save the finished product to my phone and upload!)  aahhhhhhhhh!  needlesstosay, i have developed quite an easy process:  shoot what i'm doing in the moment = exactly how cooking with kids shakes out = thumbs ups + thumbs downs + endless comedy + love + a family cooking legacy + fun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 in pictures

i'm feeling lazy... must be all the food still digesting...

a have few words and lots of pics of our wonderful family thanksgiving.  above is the fun flipagram and below are my favorite pics in chronological order from thanksgiving eve morning to the main event.

...tomorrow comes a very special no bake holiday cookie recipe inspired by the 52 new foods cookbook... you're gonna l.o.v.e. it:)


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

food nerd alert - a summer repost

nerd alert.  put your pocket protectors on.

just now, robyn o'brien posted this article on facebook and i decided to find and repost this blurb i buried in an early summer post and bring it to life again. as it's the passion behind the cooking love that's driving and compelling me forward everyday and i'm ecstatic to see more articles coming out on this subject.

"what would you do if you weren't afraid?"

it's catching on... the waterfall is spreading...  can you hear it roar?


I started this blog with a question:  Will this family food change help improve Abbie's symptoms and avoid an ADHD diagnosis with subsequent medication?  I'm signing off this Summer with my theory on why our family food change helped Abbie shed the ADHD and sensory processing symptoms. Was it the reduction in refined sugar?  The elimination of artificial color and preservatives?  The removal of gluten?  Or was it something else that connected these elements?  Today I'm going to talk about GUTS and connect some dots.

Here we go...

Antibiotics (ABX)
The effects of ABX on our gut bacteria are known by most of us.  Use them too often and they kill off the good AND bad guys in our guts; Think Vietnam agent orange carpet bombing.  Throughout our lives (starting in the womb), we get numerous, sometimes unnecessary (sometimes life saving) doses of ABX.  In addition, our factory farmed animal meat is loaded with it.  ABX make animals big and fat fast and they help animals survive the unnatural conditions of crowded factory farm barns.  How much ABX is left in the meat when we eat it?  More than we think.

Filtering the GMO debate
GMOs have really come into the limelight over the past two years.  I certainly had no idea about them when I started looking into our food.  One must separate genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) first so that we can talk about our guts.  Think of what humans do in GEO's as forced plant sex... we've been doing it by hand in fields and in laboratories for centuries.  On the other hand, GMO's are created when scientists splice a class of herbicides such as glyphosate (the active ingredient in the popular weed killer "Roundup") with the plant seed's own DNA so that every cell of the plant gives off the neurotoxin.  These crops are classified as systemic neoniconitoids (SN-GMOs) and were approved in the glorious 1980's.  Because they are cheap, these crops overwhelm the ingredient lists of our processed food and new research is showing these crops have put the world food supply at risk.  But how could they have been approved in the first place?!  Here's what happened: These herbicides cause a fatal neurological pathway disruption (the shikimate pathway) in plant and bacteria cells which kills them.  This pathway does not even exist in our human cells so it was deemed safe back in the 80's because industry scientists and the FDA were not paying attention to the bacteria in our guts.  Like the tobacco industry, SN-GMO safety has been determined by its own GMO seed industry research, not by independent research = big red flag.  Also, their testing trial length is 90 days = not an appropriate length for human safety standards.

Are you still with me?:)

Enter in the science of Microbiology and the Human Microbiome Project.
Since the 1980s, we have learned much about the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies.  To this day, we have only scraped the surface on the association between our gut bacteria in both healthy and diseased individuals.  Here's the nitty gritty (and read more in this book): Our gut bacteria outnumber our human cells 10-1 in our digestive track.  The loss or weakening of our gut bacteria lining in our intestines = Dysbiosis or "leaky gut syndrome".  Food proteins can then sneak into the blood and these foreign proteins stimulate an immune response in our body = food sensitivities & allergies.  In addition to digestion, we are learning that gut bacteria handles mood regulation, neurotransmitter production (the ADHD brain?) and immune function.  The gut-brain relationship is a glorious new scientific frontier.  Bottom line: Bacteria = the building blocks of earthly life.  Bees, farm animals and humans all have gut bacteria and these little buggers keep us alive.

Connecting Roundup,  SN-GMOs and ABX
Common non-SN-GMO crops such as wheat and sugar are doused with Roundup to kill the crop and hasten the harvest.  Remember that Oregon Farmer who discovered illegal SN-GMO wheat in his fields a few years back? (Monsanto had planted and tested SN-GMO wheat in OR, but alas it was never approved by the FDA).  Imagine the farmer's shock when he sprayed his crop with Roundup and the wheat didn't die... So, not only do we have Roundup and other harmful herbicides INSIDE the DNA of our food protein, but we also have it sprayed all over the OUTSIDE of super common conventional food crops + we may not be able to STOP this crap from spreading in the wild. Yum.  The combination of toxic herbicide load, SN-GMO foreign food proteins and ABX overuse is altering and wiping out our gut bacteria which is leading to a wide range of unintended physical and mental health issues, unique to each person's own DNA.

Our food change worked.  Eating and cooking with real food (and choosing cleaner, organically processed food) helped repair Abbie's guts... all of our guts.   We will continue to avoid fake foods - artificial color and preservatives, SN-GMOs and heavily herbicide ridden foods like the dirty dozen, wheat and refined sugar.  Abbie has food sensitivities to these foods which was causing her symptoms.  We do cheat and symptoms come back, though never as severe.  Turns out we all feel better when we eat clean, and we're certainly slimmer (Me, Chris and my parents have lost a grand total of 75+ pounds with no "dieting").  It's the key to our continued, imperfect success and it's the common thread connecting all of the amazing health success stories I read about every day.  Each of our food maps look different and I'm hoping to give my Abbie, Mac and Tommy a foodie pen so they can write without me someday.  

So where do we go from here?

Spread the word birds: Russia just completely banned GMOs.  And Europe has always either labeled them or banned them (Europe also puts labels on food with artificial color explaining it causes hyperactivity in children).  Americans are unknowingly stuffing our faces with SN-GMOs & fake food because we have no labeling laws and we innocently trust our pisspoor FDA regulated food industry standards.  Read about how the famous Seralini Study has been republished after three rounds of rigorous scientific peer review (after being retracted by an editor who was a former Monsanto employee).  I hope we continue to reach out and hold the hands with the rest of the gathering world on GMOs and labeling laws.  You know what they say, "open hands are hard to hold on to anyway"...  I super hate the ending of Titanic.

I hope you enjoyed and were able to follow my somewhat simple, geeky synopsis.  We have a light on the path that is much brighter than when I started two years ago.  I'm so glad I didn't wait to try cleaning up our food and I'm here to cheer you on.  

Go balls out for real food with me.

Don't let the torch go out.  Find your inner nerd.  Read and google about how to achieve strong, stellar gut... 

Find your inner athlete and start practicing in the kitchen.  Don't give up on your meal planning and bring your kids along on some fun cooking runs...  

Become a Food Patriot and start changing the marketplace with every purchase towards food companies you can trust.  YOU make a difference no matter how small a change you are making...  

Join our Food Revolution and help Jamie Oliver, me and the other 1000+ global Food Ambassadors get compulsory food education back into our schools... 

Come on America, let's have a big Food Day together and make our mark on the world as the generation who turned this mother ship around.