dandelions

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I remember when my grandmother picked dandelions many years ago. She would equip herself with a knife and a white plastic bag and would disappear for a couple of hours. She knew exactly when to go pick them and how to cut them in order to minimize the work involved to prepare them. When she came back the bag resembled a big stuffed pillow. She would ask for our help in cleaning and separating her find. The dandelions were to be cleaned and processed the same day in order to get the ultimate benefits.

So if you’re a longtime dandelion picker or just beginning,  you will find the post “Dandelions as Food and Medicine“, written by herbalist and forager Sarah Lawless very educational. Sarah’s blog “Fern & Fungi”  is a treasure house on foraging.  Discover what is growing all around us!

My neighbor’s backyard is not only big but also dandelion heaven. The flowers are a beautiful deep yellow and very big. She is elderly, so rarely uses her yard. It is all fenced in, no dogs, and no pesticides.  So I have her permission to forage as many dandelions as I want. Looking from my window at these beautiful flowers I went to pick a few and decided to make this jelly. This is a very easy and fun project to do with kids. It will become one of their favorite activities to look forward to in the spring and learn to appreciate this amazing power flower!

ingredients

4 cups water
4 cups dandelion blossoms 
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ( 1/2 package) powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
rind of 1/2 lemon cut in very thin strips

instructions

Bring water and dandelion blossoms to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, pressing solids. Discard blossoms.

Combine pectin and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring dandelion liquid and remaining 4 cups sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar.

Add the pectin mixture, stirring constantly to dissolve pectin and sugar. Add lemon juice and rind, and boil for 1 minute. Skim foam from the surface. Let cool slightly.

Pour mixture into an airtight container. Cover with a lid. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

Colorful carrots can make an amazing side dish, both in presentation and taste. Easy and quick to prepare, these can be roasted in the oven or grilled on the barbecue. I had some place on my pizza pan so I decided to add finocchio. Turned out great!

ingredients
colorful carrots (cut in even sized pieces)
finocchio (cut in even strips)
olive oil,  balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic,
parsley, and or any other spice you like
bread crumbs

instructions

put cut carrots and finocchio in a pan

add oil, balsamic vinegar and all spices
toss until well coated

add bread crumbs

line a pizza pan with parchment paper and place carrots and finocchio

drizzle a little more olive oil  all over

place in 350* oven on roast for 30 minutes or until tender

(if you don’t have the roast option on your oven, roast for 15 minutes on one side
and turn over to roast another 15 minutes on other side)

serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired


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veganleeks

This is a perfect snack! Sweetened with the natural goodness of banana and dates, these muffins are moist and full of nutrition. A great gluten-free option, the almond flour used in this recipe provides more protein and monounsaturated fats (aka the good fats) than most other processed wheat flours. Top with pumpkin seeds or raisins and you have a yourself a satisfying snack that will fuel your body. 

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lupini beans

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Thanks to a great blog Olives & Okra, you will find everything you need to know about the lupini bean. From the history of the bean to the method of preparation.

We ate lupini beans around the holidays when I was growing up. I always thought of lupini beans as an Italian food, but lupini beans are popular in Mediterranean, European, Middle Eastern, and South American cultures. Depending on where we lived in the country, lupini beans could be hard to find. Lupini beans are readily available in the northeast but not so easy to find here in the south until the last few years. I pick up a jar when I find them, and when they are affordable (prepared lupini beans can be expensive depending on where you buy them). Now that dried lupini beans are becoming popular here, we can make them at home. The process is a bit lengthy. Preparing dried lupini can take longer than a week, but it is well worth the wait. We no longer wait for the holidays to enjoy lupini beans. We snack on them all the time.

There are a number of websites that provide instructions on preparing lupini beans. Each offers a different approach. Some pre-boil the beans after the first overnight soaking. Others soak the beans until the toxins are gone, then boil them and add the salt last. Others use the water bath canning method to preserve lupini beans. I bought several bags of dried lupini beans, and I tried several methods before coming up with my own method. The instructions below work the best, I think. I also wrote to the folks at Fresh Preserving (an excellent source of information) about the appropriate canning method to use for preserving lupini beans.


LUPINI BEAN FACTS

  1. Lupini beans, or lupin, are the yellow beans of the lupinus genus plant.
  2. They belong to the pea family.
  3. Lupini beans are second to soy beans in protein.
  4. Lupini beans are high in fiber.
  5. Unprepared lupini beans contain potentially harmful bitter alkaloids that can poison you.
  6. Lupini beans are considered an ancient food. It is believed that the edible lupini bean was first enjoyed by the Greeks. Lupini beans were cultivated by the ancient Romans and were considered food of the poor. Ancient Egyptians also consumed lupini beans.
  7. Lupini beans are consumed today, mostly in Mediterranean, European, Middle Eastern, and South American cultures.
  8. In the United States, lupini beans are typically sold prepared  in a salty brine.

Dried Lupini Beans Before Soaking | Olives-n-Okra


THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

Consult the guidelines below before you get started. This will help make sure that the lupini beans are safe to eat and properly stored.

  1. Depending on preference, lupini beans can be pre-boiled before or after the soaking and brining process or not at all (see Step 1). I like the beans to be a little firm, so I don’t cook them if I plan to eat them right away. (The beans can be eaten immediately after the brining process is complete.)
  2. Canning salt should be used in the brine instead of table salt. Table salt leaves a white milky sediment in the jars (see Step 2).
  3. Soak the lupini beans in glass, aluminum, cast iron, or any material that will not absorb toxins. Do not use a plastic colander or container to rinse and soak the beans. Plastics will absorb the toxins and can be released into the contents of the colander or container when it is used again.
  4. Rinse the lupini beans and soak in fresh brine at least twice a day (see Step 2). Brine also helps keep bacteria from developing. Refrigerate the beans.
  5. Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning lupini beans. Lupini beans are hot-packed in preparation for pressure canning (see Step 3).

WHAT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED

INGREDIENTS

To make four quarts of lupini beans in brine, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of dried lupini beans
  • canning and pickling salt (4 pound box)

EQUIPMENT

To properly prepare two pounds of dried lupini beans, you will need the following equipment:

  • metal colander
  • 8-quart metal or glass  sauce pot
  • ladle
  • 4 quart wide mouth mason jars
  • dissolvable labels and a permanent marker
  • home canning utensil set (jar funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, bubble remover and head space tool)
  • secure grip jar lifter and handler
  • 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker

HOW TO PREPARE LUPINI BEANS

STEP 1: SOAK THE LUPINI BEANS OVERNIGHT

Pour the dried lupini beans in a large metal colander. Pick through the beans with your fingers and discard discolored, shriveled, or partly shelled beans. Dried beans are usually picked over before they are packaged, so you probably won’t find a large number of defective beans. You will also notice that the beans are pale or white and have a small opening on one end. Rinse the beans thoroughly with cool tap water. In an 8-quart stock pot, add beans and cover with four quarts of cool tap water. Soak beans overnight or for 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse well. The lupini beans are reconstituted—they are yellow and the clear pliable outer casing is noticeable. Clean the pot and lid with warm soapy water to remove any toxins that might remain.

Preparing Lupini Beans for Soaking Collage | Olives-n-Okra

STEP 2: REMOVE TOXINS FROM THE LUPINI BEANS

IMPORTANT: Lupini beans are naturally toxic. The beans contain bitter alkaloids and require an extensive soaking and brining process to remove the toxins.  This is the most important step in preparing lupini beans. Any toxins that remain in the lupini beans will make you sick. You may notice an odor during the soaking process. This odor is caused by the toxins. It will eventually fade away as the toxins are released from the beans.

Add the beans back to the clean stock pot and fill with four quarts of cool tap water. To prepare the brine, add one tablespoon of canning and pickling salt per quart of water (4 tablespoons) to the lupini beans. Cover, and refrigerate the lupini beans overnight. Drain and rinse the lupini beans twice a day. While the lupini beans are draining, clean the pot and lid with warm soapy water. Add the lupini beans back to the stock pot with fresh brine. Repeat this step until the bitterness is gone.

NOTE: It generally takes about 7-9 days to remove all of the bitter alkaloids from the beans, that is, if the beans are rinsed and put in fresh brine twice a day. If you nibble (don’t swallow) on a lupini bean around day 3 or 4, you will notice that the beans are a little tender and extremely bitter. The bitterness decreases substantially around day 5. Continue the soaking, rinsing, and brining process until all bitterness is gone. You can decrease the number of days that it takes to complete this process by draining, rinsing, and brining the beans two or more times per day. It will still take a good 5-9 days to safely remove the toxins.

STEP 3: PROCESS THE LUPINI BEANS

Once all of the toxins have been removed and there is no longer a taste of bitterness, drain and rinse the lupini beans again. The lupini beans can now be eaten or used in a recipe. Lupini beans will last several weeks in the refrigerator if not processed in a pressure canner. To eat lupini beans, pop the bean out of the casing through the small opening. The casing is also edible, but it’s overly chewy.

Pressure Canning Lupini Beans Collage | Olives-n-Okra

To store the lupini beans in Mason jars, you will need to process them in a 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker. I use 4 quart wide mouth Mason jars to can lupini beans. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and keep hot until ready to use. Put beans in a large stock pot; cover with cool water by 2 inches. Bring lupini beans to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Pack hot lupini beans into hot Mason jars using a jar funnel, leaving about 1-inch head space. Add one tablespoon of canning and pickling salt to each quart jar. Ladle hot cooking liquid over beans, leaving 1-inch head space. Remove air bubbles using bubble remover and head space tool. Adjust lids and rings. Process quart jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 50 minutes. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the use and care of a pressure canner. When beans have been safely removed from the canner, and are cool enough to handle, write the date on dissolvable labels and press labels on jars. Processed lupini beans should be good for about one year. Store in a cool, dry place.

NUTRITION

Lupini beans are second only to soy beans  in protein. Nutritional information for this lupini bean recipe is as follows:

Serving size: 41 g; Services per recipe: 22; Calories: 160; Fat: 3g; Saturated fat: 0g; Trans fat: 0g; Carbohydrates: 9g; Sugar 2g; Sodium: 460mg; Fiber 6g; Protein: 14g; Cholesterol: 0mg.


Prepared Lupini Beans | Olives-n-Okra

farro

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Aviva

Farro is a small, brown, ancient grain with a distinctive nutty flavor and chewy texture.  It can be cooked and added to soups and salads or used instead of pasta or rice in classic dishes like macaroni and cheese or risotto.  Flour made from ground farro can be used to make bread or pasta; however this preparation is less popular than eating the cooked grain.  Farro is high in protein and a good source of complex carbohydrates.  Unlike other grains, farro does not lose nutritional value through processing.  It is also the lowest calorie grain.  Farro is self-propagating and grows well in dry climates.  Most of the farro eaten today is exported from Italy.

Farro originated in the Middle East, where it was one of the first plants to be cultivated.  It was a staple food of the Roman Army, who carried it throughout the Roman Empire.  However, as different types of grain were cultivated, farro became less popular as a staple food due to its low yield.

Farro is often confused with spelt, but they are not interchangeable and must be cooked differently.  This confusion stems from the Italian language, where the word “farro” is translated as spelt.  Spelt is an unshelled kernel commonly ground into flour, whereas farro is a shelled kernel that is usually cooked.  Because spelt is unshelled, it requires a much longer cooking time.  Unfortunately, some retailers of farro and spelt use the names interchangeably, so it is important to follow the cooking directions written on the package.

A highly nutritious and delicious grain, farro can usually be bought in bulk at health food stores.  As an ancient grain, farro has not been altered genetically to improve yield or ease of production which leads   it to have a higher price than other grains due to its low-yield and higher processing requirements.  Farro is sold in three grades.  The longer the farro grain, the better the grade.  It can be stored in a sealed glass container to keep it from absorbing any moisture from the air, but the best way to keep farro fresh is to store it in the freezer, either raw or cooked.