Individual Omelet

This is a great way for everyone to get what they want. Order up!

2 eggs
1 T. cold water
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper, as desired

Add any of the following:

2 T. cheese (cheddar, jack, swiss, etc.)
1 T. chopped onion, green onion
1-2 T. diced tomato, green pepper, mushrooms, crumbled bacon, anything you want!
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper, as desired

Whisk eggs, water, salt and pepper until frothy. Heat a medium non-stick fry pan to med-hi. Drizzle a tsp. of oil on hot pan. Slowly pour eggs into pan and quickly sprinkle desired toppings. Cover pan with same-size lid. Allow to cook one minute. Using a spatula, gently fold omelet in half. Replace lid and turn down heat to low. Allow omelet to cook 1-2 more minutes, until omelet is firm when pan is shaken and omelet is puffy. Slide onto plate and serve with salsa.

For a crowd, whisk 2 eggs and 1 T. water per person in mixing bowl, and have a variety of toppings for personalizing omelet. I have two pans going, and a heating element on HI, and one on LO, rotating pans as needed.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These chewy, sweet/salty bars are my mother-in-law, Virginia Jensen's version of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. They usually make a good, if brief, showing at most of our gatherings.

3/4 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt

Cream butter and peanut butter with sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix thoroughly. In separate bowl, mix oatmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt. Blend into creamed mixture. Press into cookie sheet. Bake at 325° for 12 minutes.

1 c. peanut butter
1 1/2-2 c. chocolate chips

Take cookie base out of oven and spread with peanut butter while still warm. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top and place back in oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven and lightly spread melted chocolate chips over peanut butter with spatula. Allow to cool before cutting into 1.5" x 2.5" bars.


At BBQ's or alongside the catch of the day, a summer standby. Easy and cool.

1/2 (16-oz.) bag shredded cabbage
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Serve cold. Serves 6.

Pork Chops & Pears

I don't even remember where I got this recipe, but I have been making it a long time. I remember I replaced sweet potatoes with the pears. It was a good switch. Oh my goodness. My, my, my.

1/4 c. butter
2-4 pork loin chops
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can or bottle pear halves, with juice

Rinse chops and pat dry with paper towel. Place flour, salt and pepper in a gallon size ziploc bag and shake gently to mix. Drop in pork chops and shake gently to coat . Set bag with chops aside. Melt butter in large skillet. Add 2 T. pear juice and swish. Turn heat to MED HI and place chops in butter. Brown chops for 1 1/2 minutes each side. Gently arrange pears around chops and pour remaining juice over all. Cover with lid and cook over MED heat for 30 minutes. Serve with baked or mashed potatoes, and green vegetable. Serves 2-4.


Sloppy Joes

My mom made these on busy nights that called for quick and easy. Whether you are feeding a crowd, or just love the song, "Lunch-Lady Land" running through your head, these simple sandwiches are sure to please. Sloppy Joes... sloppy, Sloppy Joes, yeah.

1-2 lbs. hamburger
1 onion, chopped
3 T. flour
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. water
2 T. vinegar
1 heaping T. mustard, brown or yellow
4 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
*1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
*1/2 c. green bell pepper, diced
hamburger buns

Brown hamburger with onion in saute pan on MED HI. Add flour and stir well. Add ketchup, water, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and remaining ingredients. Stir and let simmer on MED until thick. Serve on hamburger buns with a side of COLESLAW or carrot sticks. Serves 6-8.

Hot Cocoa- Family Style

Enough for the whole family! Get this going before the kids are up, and you will be hailed Queen.

2 c. sugar
12 T. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 c. water
4 c. milk (or rice milk, if needed)
2 tsp. vanilla

In pot, blend sugar, cocoa, and salt. Slowly whisk in water and milk over HI heat. Bring just to a boil, stirring constantly, and remove from heat. Add vanilla.

Hot Cocoa- Single

This is easier than you think. And the taste...ohhhhh. Mixes can't duplicate this. My daughter's friend, Laura, called it, "Amazing."

2 T. sugar
1 T. cocoa powder
1 dash salt
1 c. boiling water
1/8 tsp. vanilla

* dash cinnamon, for sweet zing, OR
* dash Chinese 5 spice, for mellow warmth, OR
* dash chipotle powder, for pick-me-up heat (and great for colds, too)

Place sugar, cocoa, salt, and *optional spices, if desired, in mug. Add boiling water and stir until smooth. Add vanilla, and milk, if desired.

Roasted Red Pepper & Cheddar Dip

My talented sister-in-law, Jennifer Anglesey, makes this wonderful dip and I had to have the recipe. I pull this one out several times during football season. I love it with fresh, crisp veggies!

1 (8-oz.) cream cheese
2 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 c. roasted red pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Turn out to a serving bowl and serve with crackers, chips, breadsticks, pretzels, or fresh vegetables. Also great with apple and pear slices and grapes.


Fry Bread

My Mom would make this for Family Night treat, or really, whenever the mood struck. We would just eat them as they came out of the fry pan. I love them dripping with butter and honey. Lip-smacking. Have a napkin.

4 c. flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 3/4 c. milk or water

Mix dry ingredients and add liquid to make soft dough. Knead until smooth by hand or in mixer with dough hook. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit 30 minutes. Heat fry pan, or wok with 1/4" oil. Test with small pinch of dough. Oil is hot enough if dough immediately starts to sizzle and puff. Take a golf ball size portion of dough and flatten with your fingers in a pinching motion, to about 3-4 " in diameter. Gently place in oil and fry until golden, turning once. Remove to paper towels. Serve with butter, honey, jam, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar.

Navajo Tacos

Here in Cody, WY, a big, colorful Pow Wow is held on the grounds of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. These crispy, chewy, melty meals are sold by the hundreds, maybe more. Oh, they are so good.

1 Recipe FRY BREAD, making circles of dough 6-8 inches across

1 Recipe CHILI CON CARNE (or leftovers), OR
TACO meat filling

Top with:

shredded cheese
shredded lettuce, OR
tomato, chopped
onion, chopped
sour cream


Creamy Potato Bake

I have made this for a number of potlucks and it is gone so fast. For Scalloped Potatoes, omit ham and cheese. As if you would ever want to.


Remove from heat, and cover. Butter 9 x 13 casserole dish. Turn oven on to 400°.

5-6 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. ham, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

As potatoes, onions, and ham are sliced, place in big mixing bowl. Mix together and pour into casserole dish. Pour cream sauce over potatoes. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and sprinkle cheese over top. Place back in oven, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Cream Sauce

A mild, creamy white sauce adaptable to creamed soups and casseroles. Delicious.

6 T. butter
1/2 c. flour
4 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper

In medium saucepan, melt butter over MED-HI heat. When butter starts to bubble, whisk in flour. Keep stirring, creating a paste, for 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir constantly until thick and creamy. Add salt, sugar, and pepper. Remove from heat.


Chili Con Carne

I love chili, and it was one of the things I missed from a can. But, I was raised on the homemade stuff, and I love this rich, deeply flavored recipe. It took years to perfect. We like ours with a dollop of sour cream... my kids laugh when I say dollop.

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 T. chili powder
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 (16-oz.) cans diced or crushed tomatoes
1 (24-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (24-oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
*1/8 tsp. chipotle chile powder for more heat

In soup pot over MED HI heat, cook and stir ground beef, onion, celery, green pepper until beef is browned. If desired, spoon off grease. Stir in chili powder, cocoa, salt, sugar, cumin, onion powder, and tomatoes. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-30 minutes. Stir in beans and heat through. Simmer until desired consistency, longer for thicker chili. Serve with CORNBREAD.


Peach Salsa

Sweet, spicy confetti on a chip! For a yummy standard salsa, just omit the peach!

2 tomatoes, diced
1 peach, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 T. sweet onion, finely diced
1 T. fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 T. anaheim or jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced
1/4 t. salt
squeeze of lime or lemon juice

Prepare tomatoes, peach, peppers, cilantro, and onion. Blend gently in a small bowl. Stir in salt and lime. Serve with chips, over chicken, fish, or pork, on tacos, etc.


Candied Pecans

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. butter
dash salt
1/2 c. pecan halves or pieces

Heat brown sugar, butter, and salt in small non-stick saute pan until bubbly, stirring constantly. Add pecans and stir to coat, continuing to cook for one more minute. Remove pan from heat and level out pecans on bottom of pan. Allow to cool in pan. Break up into small pieces when cool.

*Any nuts may be candied this way.

Pearberry Pecan With Grilled Chicken

This party of a salad was inspired by a lunch special my daughter and I tried at Maxwell's, a local restaurant now quitting business. Maybe they should have put it on their regular menu. It is mouth-watering.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T. olive oil
1 T. vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika

Mix oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and paprika. Pour and rub on chicken. Grill until no longer pink in center. Keep warm in foil.


2 c. baby spinach
2 c. mixed greens, spring mix, etc.
2 firm pears, cored and diced
1 c. red or green seedless grapes
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. bleu, gorgonzola, or feta cheese crumbles
2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Mix greens in large salad bowl. Add pears, grapes, cranberries, cheese, and bacon. Toss. Break up cooled candied pecans and sprinkle on top. Slice chicken into diagonal strips and place on salad. Serve with BLEU CHEESE, SIMPLE VINAIGRETTE, or FRUITY VINAIGRETTE dressing.

Baking Powder Biscuits

My Aunt Barb handed me this recipe. I make these over rolls because 1. I never seem to plan ahead enough for yeast breads, and 2. They are SO good and filling and tender and tasty, and...well, you get the idea.

5 c. flour
3 T. + 1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 T. sugar
10 T. butter
1 egg
1 1/2 c. milk or water

Heat oven to 350°. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter with pastry cutter. Measure out liquid and beat one egg in to the measuring cup with fork or small whisk. Stir into dry ingredients using a large spoon and a slicing motion until moist, with a few lumps. Knead slightly, but do not over mix. Break off enough dough to form a 2" ball of dough. Pat to 1/2" thick and place on cookie sheet. May also roll out all dough and cut with a biscuit cutter or over-turned glass. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until pale golden. Makes about 15 biscuits.

Potato Soup

This is a creamy, hearty soup that will satisfy your need for home cooking. Don't forget the fluffy BISCUITS on the side. Is it bad manners to dip your bread in your soup? Who cares!

6 c. water
6 potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 slices bacon, crumbled OR
1 c. ham, diced
1 (14-oz.) can corn, drained
1/2 c. flour
2 c. milk or cream
1 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. sage
1/8 tsp. pepper

Bring water to boil in large soup pot over HI heat. As water heats up, prepare vegetables and bacon. Add potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery to water. Boil until potatoes are tender, but firm, checking with a fork. Add bacon and corn. In jar or cup with lid, shake milk with flour until smooth. Stir slowly into soup and allow to thicken. Add salt, sugar, thyme, sage, and pepper. Stir and turn off heat. *For speedier preparation, substitute frozen peas and carrots for celery and carrots.

Do You Have Any Of These Symptoms?

  1. Severe headache
  2. Nausea, diarrhea, vomitting
  3. Irregular heartbeat, blood pressure, racing heart
  4. Depression, mood change, bipolar, SAD
  5. Abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, colitis, IBS
  6. Balance problems, dizziness, seizures, mini-strokes
  7. Tenderness in localize areas, neck, back, etc.
  8. Sleep disorders
  9. Blurred vision or difficulty breathing
  10. Chronic fatigue or sleepiness
  11. Excessive perspiring or shuddering and chills
  12. Shortness of breath, chest pains, asthma
  13. Swelling, pain, or numbness of hands, feet, or jaw
  14. Pain in joints or bones
  15. Flushing or tingling of face, chest, pressure behind eyes
  16. Gagging reflex or difficulty swallowing
  17. Hyperactivity, behavioral problems
  18. Chronic post-nasal drip
  19. Skin rash, itching, hives
  20. Bloated face, dark circles under strained eyes
  21. Extreme thirst or dry mouth
  22. Difficulty concentrating and poor memory
  23. Slowed speech
  24. Chronic bronchitis symptoms, allergy reactions, dry cough, hoarseness or sore throat
  25. Heavy, weak feeling in arms or legs
  26. Irritable bowel or colitis
  27. Anxiety attacks, rage, panic attacks
  28. Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, MS, Parkinson’s
  29. ADD, ADHD, Rage disorder
  30. Weight problems, obesity, hypoglycemia

I had 10 of these symptoms. I don’t anymore. Unless I get some MSG. And I know when I do.

This is a list from my mom’s website, msgmyth.com.

Additive Avoidance Tips

This blog is about avoiding additives, vs. complete elimination. It is nearly impossible to find every food item without some additives. In these cases, finding the best brand containing the fewest additives is the goal. This is where becoming a “label reader” will guide you to the best choice. Here are some tips to help you along.

- Familiarize yourself with names of additives and read labels. Print out the list of additives names and keep it in your wallet for shopping.

- The fewer the ingredients listed, the better. And, the farther down they are on the list, the less amount is used.

- Use whole milk, real sour cream, butter. Low fat, no fat, and diet foods and beverages contain mass amounts of additives to try to replace the flavor and texture that is lost. I worried about our weight with these changes, but I quickly saw that the switch only improved our metabolism. I don't give it a second thought. I am just so glad to taste the good stuff, and use everything in moderation.

- Beware of sulfites: meta-bisulfites, sodium bisulfite, etc. These are added to foods that discolor quickly, like frozen potatoes, canned white beans, dried fruit, seafood, white grape and apple juices. They can cause terrible stomach problems very quickly for those who are sensitive. Be very careful with restaurant shrimp. I ask every time if their shrimp is treated with sulfites. Ask about seafood at the grocer's butcher counter. It is usually possible to find a brand of shrimp frozen with only salt water. Again, read labels.

- Look for canned tuna, salmon, and chicken in water and salt only. No broth or “protein”. Starkist Gourmet Choice Solid Light Tuna Filet (in water or olive oil), Safeway Select Tongol Tuna, or Kirkland brands are good.

- Look for additive-free convenience. Some examples: Paradise Valley All Natural Creamy Mashed Potatoes (Costco), Health Valley canned soups (still read label), Kirkland canned tuna, salmon, and chicken (Costco), McCormack Parsley Patch garlic seasoning blend (Costco), organic salad dressings (read labels), bagged salads, coleslaw shreds, Kozy Shak puddings (great for quick cream pies), Glen Muir tomato products, Safeway Select brand (read labels), Albertson’s Wild Harvest Organic Pasta sauces and boxed cereal, Pacific Foods boxed Chicken Broth and Tomato soup, Herdez Salsas, frozen vegetables for quick soups, casseroles, stirfry.

- Avoid “solution” and “extra tender” meats in the meat and frozen department. Look for “minimally processed”, and “all natural” labels. I buy Cook's brand ham and rinse it well. Safeway Select also has an "All Natural" ham that is good.

- Tortillas and baked goods, bread can be made with L-Cysteine, or dough conditioners. Some good brands: Guerreros, Mission, and Kirkland (Costco).

- When seasoning dishes, add sugar along with the salt, about a 1-2 ratio. These two work together in bringing out optimum flavors, and actually reduce the amount of salt you might use otherwise.

- Avoid canned soups in general. Read labels.

- Avoid flavored chips, potato or corn tortilla. Some Kettle Chips are okay, but again, read the labels. Plain old salted original can be flavored up with my recipes for BBQ and Nacho seasonings for chips.

- I read once that color is nutrition. The more color variance in your meal, the more nutritionally balanced it will be. Think about a simple plate (and one of my favorite meals) of browned meatloaf with red glazed ketchup, green peas and orange carrots, and golden garlic mashed potatoes. Throw in some berry cobbler for dessert and you’ve got a rainbow! It is also helpful in filling out a menu. Ask yourself, “What colors am I missing?” Of course, you don’t have to use every color in every meal, but the idea is to have a variety.

- As a busy mom, I have made compromises. I am not supermom. I buy bread, white and wheat, and 100% juice boxes for school lunches. I buy cereal for our busy mornings, but I avoid corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors. I buy ketchup, mustard, and mayo, checking labels for the “cleanest” product. I buy occasional packages of Foster Farms or Jennie-O chicken hotdogs, or Falls Brand Wieners for a special treat, and Bush’s Original Baked Beans for those nights on the go. These are my personal compromises, so I may keep my sanity, and my family’s additive levels minimal.

- I do not take vitamin supplements, use diet shakes and bars, Instant breakfasts, or supplemental beverages. These are loaded with additives and fillers, binders, and gelatin. We get what we need from the good whole foods we eat, and enriched breads, pastas, and cereals.

- Most people, when considering this way of eating and cooking, are concerned about the cost. It is understandably assumed that this will be more expensive. Walk into a whole foods store and things are expensive. But I am not suggesting you buy everything at a whole foods store, all organic, all natural. There are many, many items full of additives in a whole foods store (textured vegetable protein, anyone?). I ask you to consider the expense of prepared foods. When your pantry is stocked with the basics (see Pantry Suggestions) for additive avoidance cooking, you are using basic, inexpensive food items that many times are more cost effective than their additive-filled counterparts. Other than the expense of replacing the old brands with the new, I have seen no increase in expense in our budget. In fact, without having to rely on pre-packaged, frozen, or boxed meals, I don't go to the store as often. I use what I have to make something from scratch, or close to it. Yes, a few items will be more expensive (real butter, cane sugar), but I am saving in other areas, and the difference is minimal. Really.


Pork Chops & Rice

I remember smelling this dish when I got home from after-school activities and just loving my mom. (sigh) I feel 10 years old.

3 c. rice (white, wild, or a mix of both)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic herb blend OR:
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. sage
1/8 tsp. pepper

1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 lbs. pork chops (or chicken pieces, skinned)
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. water

Turn oven on to 400°. Pour rice evenly into a 9 x 13" casserole dish. Sprinkle salt, sugar, paprika, garlic blend, thyme, sage, and pepper over rice. Sprinkle onion and celery evenly over rice. With a spoon, gently stir to mix a bit. Place pork chops or chicken in a layer on rice and pour broth and water over all. Cover with foil and place in oven for one hour. Remove foil and continue to bake until juices are clear when thickest part of meat is cut with a knife.

Peach Cobbler

Every year we go get a truckload of peaches and pears from an orchard in Idaho. Every year I can 5-6 boxes of peaches (scratch that, we eat a box). This is about the next best thing to just biting into one of those juicy, sweet Elbertas. And, we can eat this all year round.

4-6 c. peaches, sliced (fresh or canned in water or juice, drained)
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°. In medium mixing bowl, mix peaches and lemon juice. In small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir into fruit. Pour fruit into buttered 9 x 13" baking dish.


2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 T. shortening
1 egg
1 c. milk
more sugar

In medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut shortening into flour until crumbly. Whisk egg into milk and add to dry mixture. Drop dough by large spoonfuls evenly over fruit. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake 30 minutes, until cobbler is golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Home-Made Tortillas

These are so much better than packaged. They are extra work, but if I have the time, it is worth it. They are soft and thick, and the perfect warm wrap for your taco filling. Delicioso.

3c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. water
1/3 c. oil

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of flour and add water and oil. With clean hands, mix and knead until well blended. Form dough into apricot-sized balls, cover with plastic wrap in bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes. Heat fry pan or griddle to MED HI.
Roll each ball of dough out on clean counter sprinkled with flour. Roll in a very thin circle and place immediately on hot, ungreased pan. Cook about 30-40 seconds on each side. Makes about 10-14 tortillas.

Tacos & Tostadas

When I first started cooking this way, I was startled by a thought. "How in the world do you make taco meat without the little packet of taco mix?!" Then I calmed myself down, studied the ingredients on the packet, went to work, adding this and that, tasting along the way, and ole'.

1 lb. ground beef, pork, or chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 T. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder (trust me)
1/4 c. water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
*1 can corn, drained

In frying pan, brown ground beef and onions. Add chili powder, salt, sugar, cumin, onion powder, and cocoa. Mix well over MED heat. Add water, black beans, and corn, if desired. Simmer until beans are warmed through and water has cooked down.


18 count hard taco shells, OR
1 pkg. fajita size flour tortillas, OR
1 pkg. tostada shells, OR
2 c. jack or Colby jack cheese, shredded
1 c. tomatoes, diced
1/2 head lettuce, shredded
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
sour cream

Tacos: Spoon filling into warmed taco shells, or down center of flour tortillas for soft tacos. Add desired toppings. For soft taco, fold up bottom of tortilla over end of filling, fold over sides, keeping bottom tucked.

Tostadas: Heat oven to 300°. Spread filling on tostada shell to edges. Top with cheese. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat to fill cookie sheet. Place in oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Pile on toppings as desired.


Red Curry Chicken & Steamed Rice

This recipe is my version of a favorite dish served at Shiki, a Japanese restaurant here in Cody, WY. It is so pretty and so full of flavor. To lighten up on the heat, use half yellow curry powder, half red. The kids love it!

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced in strips
1 T. sesame or vegetable oil (if you have toasted sesame oil use a little of that, too, because YUM)
1 lg. onion, sliced in strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cans coconut milk (unsulphered)
1/2 c. unsweetened, unsulphered coconut flakes (optional)
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. flour
1 T. red curry powder OR
1 tsp red curry paste +1 tsp green curry paste (more or less to taste)
3/4 T. salt
3-4 T. sugar
1/2 c. milk or cream

Get rice started, following instructions below, or using a rice cooker. Add oil to hot pan or wok. Sprinkle chicken with salt and sugar. Add to pan and fry over HI heat until golden on edges.
Add onion slices, pepper strips, carrots, and coconut flakes. Stir fry until onion starts to become translucent.
In a medium sauce pot whisk curry into coconut milk over MED heat.
In a shaker bottle or mason jar with lid, shake together broth and flour, to blend until smooth. Slowly whisk flour mixture into curry mixture and stir as it thickens.
Add salt, and sugar; taste and adjust. Stir until thick and smooth. Remove from heat.
Drizzle in milk or cream while stirring. Add curry mixture to chicken and vegetables.
Serve in bowls or on plates, ladled over rice. Sprinkle a little coconut or chopped cashews over the top, if desired.

Steamed Rice
6 c. water
3 c. rice

Add water and rice to large pot. Place over HI heat and bring to boil. As boiling begins, cover and reduce heat to MED. Boil for 5 minutes, then turn off heat. Rice is ready when all liquid has been absorbed. Leave covered. Fluff with fork before serving.

Quick Cornbread

This cornbread is fast, moist, and as good as a side to chili and stew as it is under strawberries and whipped cream for shortcake. Often, I will take a good, basic recipe, and branch it out. This is an offshoot of CHOCOLATE MAGIC CAKE. Serve with butter and honey, if you think it needs it!

2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. cornmeal
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. oil, OR
1/2 c. oil + 1/4 c. applesauce
2 c. water
1 T. vinegar
1 egg

In large bowl, blend flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add oil, applesauce, water, vinegar, and egg. Mix well. Pour in greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350° for 34-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Buffalo, NY Chicken Wings

My mom grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. Some people think "buffalo wings" is just a clever play on words (ie. buffalo don't have wings), but actually, the recipe for these tangy, spicy little numbers originated in that area of our United States. These are easy, lip-smacking, messy morsels. The blue cheese and celery are a cooling factor. AUTHENTIC, baby.

3-4 lbs. frozen chicken wings, solution-free, washed

Heat oven to 400°. Oil a large edged cookie sheet, or 2 9 x 13 baking dishes. Add chicken to pans in single layer. Turn pieces to coat with oil. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. *May also use deep fryer according to manufacturer's instructions.

Wing Sauce
1/4 c. water
5 T. ketchup
4 T. butter
3 T. cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 T. mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
2-5 dashes Tabasco

In a large pot over MED heat, whisk water, ketchup, butter, vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, cayenne, garlic, and pepper. When thoroughly blended, taste and add Tabasco until desired heat is reached.
Add chicken pieces to sauce in pot. Place lid on pot and, holding lid in place, carefully shake pot to coat chicken. Serve immediately, or transfer to warming dish. Serve with BLUE CHEESE dressing and celery sticks.

German Pancake

Laurel (Banner) Orr was my best friend in high school. I practically lived at her house on the weekends and in the summer. This recipe always reminds me of her mom's big country kitchen and the messes we would make. Oh my gosh, we were silly.

1/4 c. butter
9 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
3 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lemon, juiced
4 T. powdered sugar

In 9 x 13 baking dish, melt butter. Beat milk, eggs, flour, sugar, and salt together with whisk, mixer, or in blender. Pour batter into dish. Bake in 475° oven for 18 minutes, or until pancake is firm in center. Pancake will puff. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with juice of lemon. Tap powdered sugar through a sifter or sieve and sprinkle liberally over pancake. Serve with maple SYRUP. Serves 8. Cinnamon Sugar may be substituted for powdered sugar.


Chocolate Frosting

My Mother-in-law, Virginia Jensen, makes this smooth frosting. Its good. Really good. Save some for the cake.

1/3 c. butter, melted
3 T. cocoa powder
1/4 c. milk
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

With mixer, beat cocoa into butter. Add milk and powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Beat until smooth and spreadable.

Chocolate Magic Cake

This cake is my old reliable. Moist and rich and chocolatey.

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
8 T. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. With the back of a 1 cup measuring cup, make 3 indentations.

In one hole add:
2 T. vinegar
1/4 oil

In 2nd hole, add:
1/2 c. applesauce

In 3rd hole, add:
1 T. vanilla

Pour over all:
2 c. water

Heat oven to 350°. Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly. Pour into ungreased 9 x 13" cake pan. *May sprinkle 2 c. chocolate chips over top. Bake 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and frost or serve warm with ice cream.

New York Grilled Chicken

Every time we would visit my Mom's family in New York, my Aunt Barb would put on a big BBQ with this chicken as the focal point. I get raves whenever I serve it. It disappears!

1 egg
1/2 c. oil
1 c. cider vinegar OR
1 c. lemon juice, fresh squeezed OR
1/2 c. of each
2 T. salt
1 tsp. sugar
*1/4 tsp. thyme, fresh or dried
*1/4 tsp. sage, fresh or dried
*1/4 tsp. marjoram, fresh or dried
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cut up fryer chickens OR
8-10 lbs. chicken pieces (legs, thighs, breast)

In large container suitable for marinating, beat egg with whisk or fork. Add oil and beat again. Egg mixture will thicken. Add vinegar, salt, sugar, thyme, sage, marjoram, and pepper. Blend well. Add chicken pieces to coat. Seal container and refrigerate. Marinate at least 30 minutes to overnight. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until juices run clear.

*For an East Indian flavor, substitute 1 T. fresh chopped mint , 1 clove minced garlic, and 2 T. plain yogurt for thyme, sage, and marjoram.

Sour Cream Enchiladas Casserole

We don't do Cream of Mushroom soup... big no no in Additive Avoidance cooking. This was what I came up with to compensate. It OVERcompensates. SO yummy and creamy.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 T. butter
2 lg. mushrooms, finely diced
2 c. milk
1/3 c. flour
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 pt. sour cream

Turn oven on to 350°. Wrap chicken breasts in foil "pouch", sealing edges, and roast for 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms in butter over MED HI heat in medium saucepan. In a shaker or mason jar with lid, shake flour and milk until smooth. Add slowly to mushrooms, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Turn down heat and stir in salt, sugar, and sour cream. Cover and set cream sauce aside.

2 (7-oz.) cans Herdez Salsa Verde, or diced green chiles
1 med. onion, chopped finely
1 (2.25-oz.) can chopped olives
8-10 flour tortillas
1 lb. colby-jack cheese, grated

In a large mixing bowl, shred chicken breasts into bite-size strips with hands. Add salsa verde or chiles, onion, and olives. Pour cream sauce over and gently mix with large spoon. In a buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish, layer 1/2 tortillas, tearing to fit, 1/2 chicken mixture, and 1/2 cheese. Repeat layers once more. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.


I am so excited about this blog! I have spent the last 2 years compiling favorite recipes, formulating new ones, and remaking them with a notebook and measuring spoons, trying to get them out of my head and down on paper. Then, 3 days ago, I made the decision to create this blog, so anyone can enjoy them, and maybe discover the benefits of Additive Avoidance eating.
I can't get the recipes on here fast enough. I have so many recipes I would like to share. I do have them all on a recipe program, but it takes about 10 minutes each to transfer them here, so I will be adding a few any chance I get. I will also be adding cooking tips and additive avoidance pointers. As I build up the recipe entries, just know that every time you check here, there will be something new to try! I was going to wait until I had more of a library, but I can't wait to start sharing! Please note that most of these are my own recipes, or my version of a favorite. If the recipes are from some other source, I give full credit in the notes with the recipe. Also, since I haven't been taking pictures of my food the last 2 years, I will be adding pictures to recipes as I go along, and keeping the camera in the kitchen. After all, I make these dishes, too! Eat and feel better!

Fruity Vinaigrette

I threw this together at my sister-in-law, Erica Jensen's house. I had brought the Strawberry Feta Salad, but had forgotten the store-bought raspberry dressing at home. She had a lot of confidence in me and offered some of her freshly sliced strawberries she was using for the dessert later. "I bet you could make something like it", she encouraged. I am so glad she did. This stuff is addictive.

1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. fresh orange juice, or pureed strawberries, raspberries, or any berry
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. onion powder

Blend or shake all ingredients together. Keep refrigerated.

Strawberry Feta Salad

My sweet friend, Bobbi Moss, makes this wonderful salad and everyone goes gaga... lots of moans and eyerolls. Bobbi just had a baby girl yesterday, 9/2/08, so congratulations, Moss Family and baby Reagan Bonnie!

3 c. baby spinach
3 c. mixed greens
1 c. finely diced strawberries
1 c. finely diced celery
2 T. finely diced red onion
1/2 c. CANDIED PECANS or slivered almonds
2 T. crumbled feta

Assemble just before serving. In large salad bowl, gently toss spinach, greens, strawberries, celery, and onion. Sprinkle nuts and feta over top and serve with strawberry FRUITY VINAIGRETTE.

Shepherd's Pie

This is a family favorite, literally hailed with shouts of "Hooray" as the smell is recognized. It is a very good, savory smell. MMmmmmm.

1-2 lbs. hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. sage
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1 can corn, drained
1 can green beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 c. ketchup
1 T. mustard

In large saute pan, brown ground beef with onion. Add salt, sugar, thyme, sage,pepper, garlic, and onion. Mix well on MED heat. Add corn, green beans, tomatoes, ketchup, and mustard. Blend and heat through. Transfer beef mixture into 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Mashed Potato Topping:

4-5 med. to lg. potatoes
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. salt, more to taste
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 pinch sugar
1-2 c. cheddar cheese, grated

Scrub potatoes and quarter. Boil in water with skins on. When fork-tender, drain and mash, adding milk, butter, salt, pepper, and sugar. Spoon gently onto beef mixture and spread to edges of casserole dish. Sprinkle top with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400°, for 10-15 mins., when cheese is melted and beef mixture is bubbly.


Fluffy Pancakes

This recipe is from my mother-in-law, Virginia Jensen. They are a standard at our house for breakfast or dinner. Add 1/2 c. berries, applesauce, yogurt, or oatmeal for variety, but I love them best with half wheat flour, just like she makes. Yummy goodness in the morning.

2 c. milk
2 T. vinegar
2 T. oil
1 egg
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour, all white, or 1/2 wheat

Measure milk and add vinegar. Let sit to thicken. Meanwhile, mix oil, egg, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Mix in milk. Add flour and baking powder. Mix until smooth. Add a little water if too thick. Let sit while pan or griddle is heating up. Pour about 1/3 cup batter per pancake onto hot, oiled surface. Turn with spatula when edges are light golden. Serve with butter and SYRUP.

Vanilla Poppy Seed Cake with Strawberry Cream

This cake was inspired by my good friend Gnene Rineer, who was inspired by a local bakery. Maren requests this one for her birthday. Decadent and light at the same time!

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. poppy seeds
3/4 c. oil
2 T. vanilla
1 c. milk
1 c. water

Heat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in large bowl. Add oil, vanilla, milk, and water, and mix thoroughly. Pour into ungreased 9 x 13" pan and bake 40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Strawberry Cream

1/2 pint whipping cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. strawberries, finely chopped

With mixer, whip cream. As it starts to thicken, add powdered sugar. When soft peaks form and stay when spoon or beaters are lifted out of bowl, gently fold strawberries into cream. Serve cake with large dollops of strawberry cream on top, or spread top of cake with strawberry cream before slicing.

BBQ Sauce

This zippy sauce is sweet, tangy, and full-bodied. The chipotle chile adds smoky heat. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

2/3 c. ketchup
4 T. cider vinegar
2 T. molasses
1 T. mustard
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
*1/4-1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a small glass bowl. Baste on grilled or broiled chicken or pork, steaks, burgers, or use as condiment and dipping sauce, or on BBQ chicken pizzas.

Lemon Chicken Pasta with Basil

Some of my husband's favorite recipes are my spur of the moment, toss together, whatever is on hand concoctions. I hear him groan and say, "Write this one down." Love it.

2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed out of skins, coarsely chopped
2 Ibs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 c. bow tie pasta, prepared al dente (firm, not soggy)
1 lemon, juiced
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried basil, or
2-3 T. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. frozen or fresh broccoli florets
1/2 c. roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. black olives, chopped
2 T. grated parmesan cheese

While pasta is cooking according to directions, heat large heavy saute pan over MED HI heat. Add olive oil and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add chicken and saute until golden brown along edges. Add lemon juice, salt, sugar, basil, pepper, and broccoli, and reduce heat to MED. Saute gently. Drain pasta and place in large serving dish. When broccoli is crisp-tender, add red pepper, olives, and more olive oil if needed. Heat, gently mixing with big spoon. Pour chicken mixture over pasta in serving dish. Toss gently with pasta, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and serve.

*Garden Version: Substitute onion, summer squash, zucchini, bell pepper, and tomato chunks for broccoli, roasted red pepper, and olives. Add tomatoes last, just before tossing with pasta.

Chicken Soup With Spaetzle

Comfort Food. We have Mom’s German heritage to thank for this one. Tastes like home.

1 whole fryer chicken, washed, neck and giblets removed
6·8 c. water
1 lemon or lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, skinned and quartered
1 onion, chopped
4 lg. potatoes, diced
2-3 c. carrots, chopped
1 can corn
4-6 stalks celery, chopped
2 T. salt
1 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. sage
1/8 tsp. rosemary
1 1/2 c. raw egg noodles
OR 2 c. cooked rice
SPAETZLE (german dumplings)

In large soup pot over HI heat, cover chicken with water. Add juice of lemon and garlic. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to MED, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink through breast meat. Carefully remove chicken to plate and allow to cool a bit. Add onion, potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, salt, sugar, pepper, thyme, sage, and rosemary to chicken stock. If using noodles or rice, add now. Bring back to boil and simmer until potatoes are tender. Pull meat off bones of chicken in bite-size portions and add to soup. If adding spaetzle, continue to below. If not, take soup off heat and serve.

Spaetzle (I double this)
3 eggs
3T. milk
1 T. butter, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. flour
1/8 tsp. baking powder

Beat with mixer: eggs, milk, and butter. Beat in salt, flour, and baking powder until smooth and glossy. Drop by spoonfuls, sliding batter off spoon with finger, into simmering soup. Batter will puff up into little dumplings. Simmer 10 minutes.

Mexican Cabbage Salad

I have eaten at enough authentic mexican restaurants to know I got this one right.

1/2 bag shredded cabbage
1 tomato, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, squeezed
2 T. green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
In medium bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing well. May omit tomatoes and peppers. Serve as side dish, or in place of shredded lettuce for Mexican dishes such as tacos, burritos, tostados, etc. Serves 6.

Sour Cream Ranch

The kids beg for this dip! Everyone does!

1 c. sour cream
1 T. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. fresh snipped chives, or 1/4 tsp. dried
dash paprika
pinch dill weed

Mix sour cream with milk until smooth. Add salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chives, paprika, and dill weed. Serve cold as salad dressing and dip for veggies or chips.

Pancake Syrup

My dad has been making this syrup since I can remember. It is the next best thing to real maple syrup. Actually, to make expensive maple syrup stretch farther, I combine the two. Sweet and flavorful.

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 dash salt

In saucepan, bring sugars and water to boil. Boil for 1 minute, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Serve warm, or refrigerate. Keep refrigerated between uses. Makes 2 cups.

Sour Cream Pancakes

These thin, light pancakes are my brother-in-law's secret recipe. Ssshhhhhhhh. They are delectable!

2c. milk
1 egg
2 T. oil
2 T. water
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sour cream
2 c. flour, OR
1 1/2 c. flour plus 1/2 c. cornmeal

Whisk together milk, oil, egg, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until frothy. Mix in flour, then sour cream, thoroughly. Batter should be fairly thin. Heat pan or griddle. Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake on hot, oiled surface. Turn when edges firm up. Pancakes will be very light when done.

Pantry Suggestions

A sample of brands we use every day.

Flour, unbleached, no malted barley flour…….Hodgeson Mills, Bob’s Red Mill
Sugar…………………………………………..cane sugar, not beet sugar
Powdered sugar………………………………..cane sugar
Brown sugar……………………………………cane sugar
Salt……………………………………………..sea salt if available
Black pepper
Garlic powder………………………………….not garlic salt
Fresh garlic bulbs
Vegetable oil……………………………………canola
Olive oil
Sesame oil
Baking soda
Baking powder
Cocoa powder…………………………………..baking cocoa, not mix, Hersheys, Ghiradelli, Ambrosia
Organic vinegar
Chili powder……………………………………not taco seasoning
Cumin, ground
Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Paprika, Dill
Chipotle powder, Ceyenne, Chinese Five Spice
Basil, Italian Seasoning Herb Blend
Garlic and Herb blend…………………………. like Mrs. Dash or Kirkland Parsley Patch
Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Ginger
Jif peanut butter
Pacific Natural Foods Organic Chicken Broth….packaged in a box, or homemade broth, none other
Pacific Natural Foods Tomato Soup…………….packaged in a box
Canned tomatoes, diced, pureed, crushed………Muir Glen, organic, read labels
Refried beans……………………………………vegetarian or no-fat, check store brands, read labels
Canned beans……………………………………black, pinto, kidney, red
Canned corn, green beans
Salsa……………………………………………..Herdez, read labels
Canned tuna, salmon, chicken…………………...in water and salt, no broth or protein
Canned pumpkin………………………………...not pie mix
Unsweetened natural applesauce
Potatoes………………………………………….white, russet, gold, red
Rice……………………………………………..long grain, unprocessed white (not Minute), brown, wild
Brown mustard
Mayonnaise……………………………………..not Miracle Whip, read labels
Sour cream………………………………………real, whole, Daisy, Knudsens
Whole milk, Rice Dream rice milk
Real Butter………………………………………not margarine or substitute
Lemons………………………………………….not Realemon juice
Carrots, Celery, Bagged shredded cabbage, Lettuce
Peas, peas and carrots, spinach, stir-fry vegetables, turnip greens, berries, broccoli, corn

We Are What We Eat

I think I can best sum up my theory about how food affects our well-being by sharing with you my simple belief that our bodies were created for this earth, and that certain plants, minerals, and animals were created to sustain our bodies. The more we tamper with these basic foods, through processing and adding man-made chemicals, the harder our bodies have to work at figuring out what to do with stuff we aren’t programmed to ingest or digest or have coursing through our systems. As we eliminate these, our bodies can relax and say, “Oh, hey! I know just what to do with that.” And so they can operate at optimum performance. Which may be why my family has not worried so much about our weight since we have made this change. Our bodies are, after all, machines. Arguably, they are our most important machines. Shouldn’t we give priority to how we fuel them?

My Reasons

Why write a cookbook about Additive Avoidance Cooking? I have 3 reasons. The first reason is because raising a family while avoiding food additives is a difficult task, a tremendous undertaking. Although my Mom was determined in her efforts to improve our eating habits, my youngest brother was the only one left at home when we began. I was married 3 years, with a 2 year old and a baby on the way. We have 4 children now, ages 5-15, and through the years I have found ways to adapt our way of eating to our busy lives of school, work, sports, music lessons, dance lessons, church meetings and activities, school lunches, after-school snacks, breakfast before the bus, sleepovers, birthday parties, road-trips, and any other kind of busy that comes with raising a family. With this perspective, I hope to bring ideas specifically for those of us who may be a bit overwhelmed at the notion of making everything “from scratch”, but want to improve our quality of diet while leading busy lives.

The second reason is my friends and family have asked for my own recipes again and again. Some have shared wonderful recipes with me. Why not put them all in one spot? I use every single recipe in this book. I did not include anything that I do not love to make or eat! Some of my friends did not have the opportunity to learn basic cooking skills, so I am making the directions clear and easy to follow, as well as including a pantry list. Learning to cook is like anything else. It takes practice, the right tools, a few vocabulary terms, and determination.

The third reason for compiling this book, is that 3 or 4 years ago, my oldest child, Chelsea, “the Planner”, dramatically exclaimed, “If you don’t teach me how to make all these yummy things, I will not be able to eat anything when I go to college!” Mind you, she was 11 or 12 years old then, but I promised her I would write my recipes down for her before she left for college. I remember college and not eating well, and certainly not having very much direction in what was simple, quick, and could provide my body with the nutrition it was in such great need of. Since that promise, Chelsea has reminded me every so often, and with only 3 more years hanging delicately between now and college, I thought I better get going on making my promise good. Most of the recipes in here are for a family of 6-ish, but can be cut in half for 1-4 people, and there is nothing bad about delicious leftovers! 90% of my (and my husband’s) lunches are, happily, leftovers.

Me & MSG

In my early 20’s it was discovered, through my family’s recent health problems and my Mom’s persistence in looking beyond “stress” as the cause, that Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, was the culprit of our regular headaches, hot flashes and flushing skin, fuzzy memories and vision, difficulty concentrating, and occasional clouds of depression, just to name a few, that had descended on my brother, sister, and me, in our adulthood. My Mom had struggled with these and other issues since her early adult life, but now she was seeing it in her usually healthy, bright, energetic children. She came across a list of symptoms caused by MSG, and there we all were, in black and white. After making a quick study and learning the names of ingredients that contained MSG (there are many), we cleared out our cupboards, went shopping, and almost instantly felt a difference in our well-being. My own doubts that a simple change in common food items could rid me of headaches that came on at 5:00 p.m. everyday, were set aside as the migraines completely disappeared. It was so empowering to discover that what I thought was inability to cope, was actually just a chemical wreaking havoc with my nervous system. Within weeks I noticed my post-nasal drip was gone, along with my racing heart, nosebleeds and nightmares. I felt like a weight had been lifted and my outlook was brighter, like blue sky after a winter of gray. It is why I titled this blog, “Taste of Blue Sky”. I noticed if I did get an accidental dose of MSG, one or any combination of these symptoms returned. Now those occurrences are so rare, they are immediately recognizable, and I can usually track down what I ate that caused the reaction. The change was so drastic, I went from experiencing these symptoms several times a week, to 3-5 times a year. We were amazed.
It seemed a natural course for my Mom to find out all she could about this neuro-toxin, talk to authors, researchers, lobbyists, the FDA, then write her own book, Battling the MSG Myth, A Survival Guide and Cookbook©2007, which includes her own story, her years of research, testimonials, and, of course, recipes. The information she has gathered is astounding, the people she has helped are countless. I am on my 3rd copy, because I just wear the book out. For excerpts of her story, sample recipes, message board, and more information and tips, visit her website at www.msgmyth.com.

What Additives?

We have all read an ingredients list at one time or another. Generally, additives are those long, hard-to-spell-or-pronounce words, as well as some you may even recognize. They are “added” to a basic recipe to enhance, preserve, or improve the flavor, texture, or color of the product. They are generally chemical, man-made derivatives of naturally occurring substances. They are cheaper in mass production than pure ingredients. In most cases they do not add nutritional value, and, as I will illustrate, can do more harm than any good. There are new scientific findings, all the time, showing additives that were once thought safe, are instead destructive. Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, has been labeled by the Society For Neuroscience as an “excitotoxin”, stimulating nerve cells until they die, and by the New England Journal of Medicine as a “neurotoxin”, or, translated, brain-function poison. Aren’t these labels warning enough? This additive is added, without regulation of quantity, to so many different prepared foods, it would be very difficult to gauge how much we are consuming. MSG is, in fact, an ingredient used in other additives under different names. The following is a list of ingredients that contain some form and amount of Monosodium Glutamate. This is just a sample, but a good guideline when shopping and reading labels. Aside from having “monosodium glutamate” directly on the label, products that contain these other sources allow the manufacturer the ability to place a “No MSG” or “MSG Free” label on the package.

Autolyzed Yeast
Autolyzed “anything”
Beef, chicken, or pork flavors
Calcium Caseinate
Flavors, flavorings
Glutamic Acid
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
Hydrolyzed “anything”
Natural Flavors
Sodium Caseinate
Soy Protein
Textured Protein
Whey Protein
Whey Concentrate
Yeast Extract
Season Salt

Why Me?

Many of my friends have asked me how I came to enjoy cooking so much. Some find it tedious, baffling, ho-hum. I have also had my share of staring blankly at the pantry at 5:15 p.m., wondering what to make for dinner. But, I do love creating a good, wholesome meal and sharing it with others.

My mom treated cooking as an adventure, so we were always trying new things, old things, and anything between. Although she had well-worn cookbooks, Mom often threw things together simply by what she knew about the ingredients she had on hand. While doing so, she always seemed to be telling me, describing to me, explaining to me what she was doing. She had me smelling, tasting, stirring, and judging. Our gathering place was the kitchen. It was my cooking school.

Even so, making batches of cookies, cakes from a mix, and heating cans of soup through high school and college did not make me a cook. Although I considered myself as knowing “how to cook”, until I applied the lessons I had learned, I was not one. As a newlywed, I started compiling recipes and marking up cookbooks. I followed suggested menu ideas and familiarizing myself with ingredients, seasonings, herbs, and spices. I began to think of cooking as a science. If you know the properties (scent, taste, texture, etc…) of the substances you are working with, and have observed their reactions to different mixtures and applications of heat, then it stands to reason that you can be relatively successful in predicting the outcome of new recipes or in making up your own. This became my cooking philosophy. Not to mention, I have always enjoyed a challenge. Now, as scientific and lab-oriented as that sounds, cooking should be a creative and heartfelt experience. The rewards are not only delicious meals that are good for you, but the satisfaction of sharing your creation with family and friends. I do not know one soul who does not appreciate something good to eat!

I do enjoy cooking, and I think it shows. That can be said of most anything. If you enjoy football, it shows. If you enjoy decorating, it shows. If you enjoy ______, it shows. The trick is, what if you don’t enjoy cooking? What if it is a burden or a stumbling block? We are all different, but we all need to eat well. I have kept that in mind while putting this book together. I have cooked for 2 to 25 people, with weeks to plan, or minutes to spare, at most times on a budget. The recipes and ideas compiled in this book are geared towards busy people at any level of expertise, cooking for a crowd or just themselves, who want delicious, healthy food that will energize and lift their physical and mental capacities.