Nettle Pesto aka “Nesto!”

SAMSUNGNettles are available during the later spring and deep into summer, as long as you know where to find them (and you have a pair of gloves!) You may have come across nettle before- a small plant that leaves your feet and shins stinging, burning and itching with small bumps- hence the name, “Stinging Nettle!” Despite the name and reputation as a “poisonous plant” nettles are a delicious wild food that offers beneficial medicinal properties!

Nettles often grow along larger rivers. If the young shoots are less than 6cm in height, you can gather these without gloves and can eat them raw (added to salads, etc in the early spring.) As the summer progresses, the plants get taller and the stinging hairs appear. This is when you’ll want your gloves to harvest!SAMSUNG

Nettle can grow to about 2-4 feet tall. The somewhat tear-drop shaped, dark green, opposite leaves are a few inches long, with very coarse teeth. The leaf tip is pointed, and its base is heart-shaped (as pictured.) The stalks, stems and leaves contain tiny hairs and look fuzzy.  The stems and leaves are both edible when prepared correctly (stinging compounds deactivated.)

It is quite easy to remove the stinging from the nettles so they can be consumed safely.

Instructions for Collection and General Preparation:

SAMSUNG1. Collect your nettles. Be sure to practice sustainable foraging methods as to allow future nettle crops to continue to flourish! Use gloves to prevent stinging and burning from the nettles. (Also consider your arms, as you’ll likely be reaching into bushes of nettles!)

2. Rinse the nettles in a strainer.

3. In a large pot, add the nettles and enough water to cover them. I like to add a pinch of sea salt as well.

 

SAMSUNG4. Bring the nettles to a boil. Allow them to boil for about 10 minutes. (When I strain the water from the cooked nettles, I like to save some to add to soup broths!)

You can can the cooked nettles (follow instructions for canned greens.) You can freeze them for longer storage or refrigerate them for more immediate use.

Nettles are often called a “super food” because they rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids.  Nettles are 29 times higher in Calcium and 9 times higher in Iron than spinach (which is typically touted as a superfood!) Nettles are tonic to the liver, blood and kidneys, aiding in a necessary process of detoxification of the body; they are a reliable diuretic that balances blood pH and filters waste from the body, including uric acid.  This process can be especially useful in the treatment of arthritis, gout, eczema and skin rashes and irritations. Nettles contain homeostatic properties, or a remedy to stop bleeding.  A strong decoction (boiling to make a tea, for example, or steeping to make a tincture) is traditionally used to treat wounds and hemorrhage.  This can assist with building blood after menstruation, birth or other blood loss. When nettles are fresh, tinctured or freeze-dried they have anti-histamine qualities that may be effective for acute allergic reactions.  Nettles are both astringent and anti-inflammatory, which help with the symptoms of allergies and many other ailments.

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I prepared my first nettle recipe last spring after collecting a small bag full along a river- Nettle Pesto, aka Nesto. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:
1 bunch of nettles (approx 6 cups raw, approx 2 1/2-3 cups after boiled- instructions above)
2 garlic cloves, raw
Pinch of sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small bunch basil
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
Optional: 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

(I have also made this with goat cheese added- delicious!)

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Nesto Instructions:
1. Prepare the nettles according to the boiling directions, above.
2. Strain the nettles and allow to cool for a few minutes before proceeding.
3. While the nettles are cooling, add all other ingredients to a food processor. I like to save a few nuts to top the nest when plated.
4. Add the nettles and blend until the mixture is the texture of pesto.

Enjoy the Nesto as a dip to your favorite vegetable, add a spoonful of Nesto to more olive and a bit of vinegar for a delicious salad dressing, or use on top of your favorite meats or grilled vegetables!

You can opt to use this Nesto in place of pesto in mostly any recipe.

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Enjoy!

 

SAMSUNG    SAMSUNG

 

For additional information on spring foraging, check out Arthur Haines’ Youtube video on Spring Foraging. 

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Buffalo Drumsticks

I recently got this ghee from OMghee and couldn’t wait to try it! In fact, I ate a spoonful before I even used it in a recipe… it was delicious. For my first recipe with this new product, I wanted to make something that I usually use butter in, and replace it with this ghee. I happened to just get a few lbs of chicken drumsticks and I always have Frank’s Red Hot. So buffalo drumsticks it was! This was a fast, easy recipe with few ingredients- one I will be making again in the near future (and often!)

Ingredients
Chicken drumsticks
Approximately 2 Tbsp Ghee
Frank’s Red Hot sauce
1 tsp garlic granules (optional)
fresh chopped parsley (optional)

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Steps
Melt 1 Tbsp ghee in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat
(Can also use stainless steel, but cooks better in cast iron) 

Preheat oven to 450

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Once ghee melts, spread it to cover the bottom of the pan
Place drumsticks on the pan
Spread hot sauce over drumsticks

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Cook over medium-high heat of approximately 10 minutes
At the end of the 10 minutes, place small amounts of ghee on top of each drumstick
(Sprinkle with garlic powder, if you have chosen to use it) 
Remove from heat and place cast iron pan in the oven
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes

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Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving

Optional: Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, or eat with THIS ranch dressing

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Enjoy!

 

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Don’t Miss the Paleo f(x) Livestream!

Can’t make it to Austin, Texas for Paleo f(x) this weekend? Me either. Bummer, right?

Well… for those of us who were not able to make the trip to see it live, there is an option for a LIVESTREAM! Watch it in HD quality, from home, on your laptop, desktop, tablet or even your phone. That’s right- your own “front row” seat, right in your living room!

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All presentations on The Paleo Magazine and Victory Belt stages are available to stream live, all three days, April 11 – April 13, 2014. This includes 45 sessions and some big Paleo (and not-so-necessarily-“Paleo”) names, including:

Friday

Chris Kresser — How to Win an Argument With a Paleo Critic
Dr. Terry Wahls — Maximizing Nutrient Density for Optimal Health
Robb Wolf — Ketogenic Diets for Traumatic Brain Injury
Dan Pardi — Why We Really Get Fat (and What to Do About It)
Dr. Jacob Egbert — Your Doctor Knows Very Little About Health
Kendall Kendrick — The Power of Imperfectionism

Saturday

Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf — The Robb & Mark Show
Sarah Fragoso — How to Undo the Paleo Diet
Diane Sanfilippo — Reintroducing Non-Paleo Foods
Dr. Michael Ruscio — What to Do When Paleo Fails
Jordan Reasoner — Hacking Digestion: Common Paleo Mistakes
Dr. Christopher Ryan — Paleosexuality

Sunday

Dr. Lauren Noel — Tailoring a Paleo Diet & Targeted Supplements for Women’s Health
Dr. Daniel Stickler — Becoming Super-Human
Nora Gedgaudas — The Silent Autoimmunity Explosion
Dallas Hartwig and Dr. Helen Messier — Genes Aren’t Destiny (But They Do Matter)
Arthur Haines — Hunter Gatherer Diets: a Useful Lens for Examining Diet Mythology
John Durant — Gross! Evolution of Disgust

And… 

Mastermind Panels (occuring throughout the 3 days)

Workout Nutrition — The best nutrition before, during and after workouts
Hacking Stress — Maintaining calm in our modern, non-paleo world
Gluten and the Gut — Gluten-free is the new black. The reality behind the hype
Paleo and Addiction — Healing addiction, disordered eating, and beyond
Moving Past the Mirror and Scale — Focusing on health, getting past Barbie and Ken
Paleo Life Hacker — Maximize travel, adventure, and self-reliance with Paleo life hacking
Self-Reliance — When it all goes Road Warrior, are you ready?
Building Not Burning Bridges in the Paleo Movement — Building bridges to others in the Real Food Community

And many more! For a complete list of the sessions, see THE SCHEDULE HERE.

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If you participate in the Livestream, watch at the time given on the schedule in CST (Central Standard Time): it really is live from Austin!

A ticket to attend the event was over $300.00… but that is not your only option for hearing some of the expert presenters at the event! With LIVESTREAM You can pick and choose which days you want access to, or purchase all three days for a fraction of the ticket cost. CLICK HERE to check out the presenters, the bios and the presentation topics!  (Click the link, then the On Demand tab)

Share with your friends who couldn’t make the trip!

 

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A Week of Meals in Keirsten’s Kitchen

I have been asked by a few people what I eat on a regular basis. I post a lot of pictures of my meals to my facebook and instagram pages, and believe it or not, most of the recipes I post are my actual meals I eat each week. (I often make the meal and snap a few pictures along the way, and if it comes out good, I retrace my steps to write up the recipe!)

I took a random week (per your request!) and snapped pictures of my meals and caloric beverages (meaning everything except fresh spring water, really.) This was not a typical week, though, considering I was invited to dinner at a friend’s house twice (although I made some of the dinner for one) and I met a friend out to dinner. I also went to the Portland, Maine farmer’s market and filled up on kombucha, so I had some every day this week. Overall, though, I think it is fairly representative of my overall diet. You’ll notice that I often skip breakfast. I do not regularly eat breakfast, and find that I have more energy throughout the day when I eat a little later in the day. What I did not include, was that I drink coffee nearly everyday. Most often, a dark roast organic coffee or an iced coffee with a shot of espresso. I sometimes add a small bit or raw sugar. I always add ground cinnamon : )

Enjoy!

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Chaga Hot Chocolate and More!

If you’ve followed Keirsten’s Kitchen and receive my email updates, you know that I have spent the past 4 seasons learning about wild foods here in the Northeast. One of my first introductions to wild foods was a delicious, earthy, bold tea made from chaga, courtesy of Arthur Haines. (You can see and follow his facebook page HERE.)

Wild Chaga gathered from the Maine Woods by Keirsten's Kitchen

Chaga, known as Clinker Polypore, is a fungus growing on birch trees in Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, Northern US and Canada.  Most who come across chaga would not recognize it as a mushroom or fungus, as it looks like a protruding, cone-shaped piece of charred bark, or even several pieces of black, dense, cork-like cankers that are growing beneath the bark of the birch tree. The interior is an orange-ish color, ranging from yellow to more af an orange/brown. It is easiest to find chaga in winter, when leaves and branches do not obstruct your view.

Here is a view from a recent walk through the woods in Southern Maine. The bright burnt orange caught my eye from about 30 feet from a trail I was walking. Someone found this before me! You can see where 2 large pieces of chaga were growing from the birch tree and have been cut off. The person(s) who found these pieces came prepared to climb- these were about 20-25 feet up the tree!

Harvested Chaga in the Southern Maine woods Keirsten's Kitchen

Since being introduced to chaga, I have successfully found it on 3 separate occasions while walking through the woods! Of course, each time, I wasn’t looking for it… (when I do go out specifically looking for chaga, I never seem to be able to find it!)

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