I’m a big fan of vinegar, so much so that I’ve been known to eat it by the spoonful. I always have a wide variety of vinegars in the house, there’s quite a collection going in the pantry. Most of my vinegars are specialty ones that only get used on special occasions, like my 30 yr old balsamic, which usually gets eaten with a spoon every now and then. For daily use, I stock up once a year on vinegar from Napa Valley Naturals. I’ve looked for small farm balsamic and have yet to find it. Why do I purchase from them? Because they have organic, it comes in glass bottles, and it’s the best vinegars I’ve found in my search.


These aren’t the only vinegars used, I also use a ton of apple cider vinegar, which I make myself from local unpasteurized cider. I’ve also made my own wine vinegar, but I haven’t found the right kind of wine yet to make vinegar that I like, so I get my wine vinegar from Napa Valley Naturals. If I had to choose one kind of vinegar to use for the rest of my life it would be apple cider vinegar because I can make it myself from local ingredients, but I’d certainly miss a good balsamic!

What kind of vinegar do you use most often?

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My plate, a simple series where I show you what was on my plate, or maybe in the pan right before it goes on my plate.

I grew up in South America, so liver was always on the menu along with other organ meats. As a result I like it, a lot. Mr Chiots, on the other hand, had to learn to eat it. He wasn’t a big fan of liver in the beginning, but he knows it’s super nourishing and thus eats it whenever I serve it. We try to eat some kind of organ meat every week.

Why do we eat it once a week? Organ meats, liver in particular,  are some of the most nutrient dense foods you can get, which is why they find their way onto our plate once a week.  A few  years ago, when we started eating it once a week, we noticed a marked difference in how much energy we had, must have been all the B vitamins. Be careful though, only eat liver from pastured local beef, since the liver removed toxins you don’t want to be eating liver from CAFO cows. If you want to see just how healthy liver is, head on over to World’s Healthiest Foods and read their article. Other organ meats are also very nutrient dense and offer a wide variety of flavors and textures. Beef tongue was a particular delicacy that we were served often in Colombia.  I’d like to encourage you to add a few organ meats to your diet.  Experiment with cooking methods and you just might find that you like them and if you don’t, at least you know you’re doing your body some good!

Does liver or other organ meats every make it onto your plate?

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Cooking and food preparation can become a bit of a drudgery at times, we sometimes fall into a rut of making the same things over and over cooking it the same way. It can be hard to break out of that cycle. One way to inject some excitement into your cooking and eating is to try new foods. Another way is to try new cooking methods. I grew up in a Colombia and the long, slow cooking of meat over fire was a part of almost every celebration. I grew to love the taste and always equated it with happiness and celebration. Here at Chiot’s Run you’ll find me cooking over the fire on occasion, not as much as I’d like to but often if I have time and it’s a beautiful day. It is the one way I like to spend some down time. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a fire and it’s even better when the smell of good food is mingled with the smoke!

There’s no need for expensive grills or special equipment. My grilling rig consists of a few cinderblocks and an old grill grate, they cost me nothing.


This past week I roasted a whole chicken over the fire out back. It was a whole chicken from Martha’s Farm that I rubbed with a good measure of freshly ground pepper, sea salt, and chiptole powder. I put in over the hot coals for about an hour and half and we enjoyed it with a garden fresh salad, and potatoes & onions cooked in a cast iron skillet over the fire. Everything was drizzled with a bit of good balsamic vinegar and we were feasting like kings! In past I’ve roasted fish, venison, beef and lots of various fruits and vegetables. It’s wonderful to inject a little smoky goodness into your diet and get out of that cooking rut!

What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, or meat to eat grilled?

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This morning as I was shaping the rolls for our family Easter meal I started to think about the traditional foods that we have for each holiday celebration. Easter for us always includes ham, rolls, potatoes, and a few other sides. As Americans we don’t have as strong a food heritage as a lot of other cultures, perhaps that comes from our country being made up of so many different cultures. Nonetheless, it’s important for us to establish and keep these traditions with our families.



Our Easter meal is not much different than Christmas, though these past few years we’ve been trying to make our sides more seasonal (like brussels sprouts at Christmas instead of green beans). Perhaps next year I’ll see about finding lamb from a local farm for Easter to try to give this holiday it’s own identity. Seasonal sides could be: asparagus, wild greens, sweet overwintered carrots, early spring lettuce, peas if you’re lucky, and who could resist cream of ramp soup as a side? What could be more wonderful than aligning your holiday meals with the seasons they inhabit and giving them each an identity of their own.

What traditionally graces your table for various holidays? Do any of your holiday meals include seasonal food?

Head on over to this post for my roll recipe, which my nieces & nephew call “Auntie Susy’s FAMOUS Rolls”.

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If you’ve never had fried sage leaves as a garnish on your soup or pasta you’re missing out. They’re delicious, healthy, and quite easy to make. If you have a sage plant in your garden, no doubt you’ve been looking for ways to use them up. Sage is one of my favorite flavors, I use it all the time in my cooking. One of my favorite ways to eat them is fried. Simply fry them in nourishing deep yellow pastured butter from a local farm and you’ve got yourself something special. I always have to fry up extra because I snack on them while dinner is finishing up!

FRIED SAGE LEAVES
1 large nob of unsalted butter* (preferably organic pastured butter)
a handful of fresh sage leaves, any size works, the small ones are less intense than the big ones
a sprinkling of freshly ground sea salt

Melt butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, throw in the sage leaves, cook, stirring occasionally until they stop sizzling. Remove from pan and cool on a plate.

You’ll be left with sage brown butter in your skillet, which is quite a treat itself. It’s wonderful drizzled on top of soup or pasta, and is at it’s best when enjoyed over pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli.

*about a quarter to a third cup or so, depends on the size of your skillet, I use an 8 inch skillet and you want between 1/8 to 1/4 inch of butter in your skillet.


Herbs and spices are great way to pack a ton of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, phenolic acids and phytochemicals into your diet. These fried sage leaves are a great way to add some of that nutrition and the healthfulness of butter as well. Sage is a powerhouse when it comes to healthfulness, after all, it’s name is derived from the word that means “saved”? In addition to all of the antioxidant goodness it possesses, sage is a powerful anti-inflammatory and memory booster. I won’t go into all the details about sage, if you want to read more about it’s healthy benefits head on over to World’s Healthiest Foods.

What’s your favorite herb?

For more info on the healthfulness of herbs/spices here are some books to read:

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My plate, a simple series where I show you what was on my plate, or maybe in the pan right before it goes on my plate.

Earlier this week, Mr Chiots had to travel, so I needed a quick meal to whip up the night before that would be good for him to eat cold the next day. What’s better cold than pizza? I didn’t have time to make dough for the crust, so I used a sourdough caibatta that I had in the freezer. I cut the bread in half, smeared the cut sides  with roasted tomato passata and loaded it up with vegetables: homemade olives, caramelized homegrown onions, sun dried homegrown tomatoes and completed it with a good measure of local raw milk cheese.

Into the oven it went for a few minutes to melt the cheese to hold everything together. I sent half of it with him and kept the other half for my own dinner. He enjoyed his cold while on the road, while I warmed mine in the oven for a few minutes. Pizza can be a healthy meal if you use sourdough crust and load it up with lots of healthy toppings. It’s also a great traveling food because it’s almost just as good cold as it is warmed up.

What’s your favorite pizza topping?

 

Many years ago I came across this recipe on Wednesday Chef for Baked Eggs with Leeks in Cream and I’ve been making my own version ever since. One of the best reasons to make this dish is that it’s quick and easy, yet it looks and tastes like it took much longer. The perfect brunch to impress visitors.

The beautiful thing about this dish is that it can be made with whatever you have in the kitchen or whatever happens to be in your harvest basket that morning.  In mid summer tomatoes, peppers and basil would be heaven; in spring asparagus, leeks and cheese are perfect. The possibilities are truly endless. Assemble them the night before letting them rest on the counter overnight or if you’re squeamish about food being warm put them in the fridge overnight (they’ll cook much better if you warm them on the counter for an hour before baking).

BAKED EGG COCOTTES
(serves 2-4)

3 to 5 tablespoons butter or bacon grease (more for ramekins)
your choice of filling: sautéed vegetables, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, herbs…
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
4 large farm-fresh eggs
1/2 cup cream or whole milk
fresh chives or other herbs – chopped
Grilled or toasted bread slices
buttered ramekins, 5 inch cast iron skillet, or Cocottes

Preheat to 350 degrees with rack in center. Rub inside of ramekins or cocottes with bacon grease or butter, set aside. In a cast iron skillet, melt butter or bacon grease and cook vegetables until soft. If you’re adding a variety of vegetables you can add each one to the pan in cooking length order (ie. potatoes first and leeks last), or you can cook them all separately so family members can assemble their own cocottes with whatever they like.

Layer vegetables into bottoms of dishes, crack an egg on top of the vegetables into the middle of each dish (or two if you dishes are larger or you want a heartier meal). Add enough cream to just cover the egg white, usually 2-4 Tablespoons for each dish. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place dishes on cookie sheet and into the oven for 15-25 minutes, until egg whites are cooked and yolks are still soft. If you don’t like runny yolks cook a little longer. Sprinkle with chives or chopped herbs after removing from the oven. Serve as is or with a piece of good crusty bread for dipping.


The filling options are endless, these particular ones were made with: leeks, potatoes, sun dried tomatoes and sautéed kale. But you could easily add bacon, smoked salmon, sausage, herbs, spinach, cheese, onions, olives, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini….

I like egg yolks as runny as they can be with the whites just barely set. Mr Chiots isn’t quite into that as much so his stays in the oven a little longer.

What about you – runny yolk or cooked through?

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This morning I ran across this story on The Blaze about a four year old girl at a school in North Carolina. Her lunch was determined to not be “healthy” enough by a school monitor. It was taken away from her and she was fed chicken nuggets instead. What was in her brown paper bag that her mom packed for her? a turkey & cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice. Can you believe a mom would send this horribly unhealthy lunch to school for her child?

Growing up my mom always packed my lunches for me and they often consisted of these same kind of meals, except usually we had carrot sticks instead of potato chips. I’m appalled that the girl was fed chicken nuggets and milk as a “healthy” alternative.

What was your typical lunch when you were in school?

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
- Thomas Jefferson

My plate, a simple series where I show you what was on my plate, or maybe in the pan right before it goes on my plate.

I talked about Eating Healthfully On the Road last week. Funny thing is that we were on the road for the past two weeks, traveling down to Florida for work. We stopped at Biscayne National Park in the early afternoon on February 27, 2012 and enjoyed a delicious healthy meal from things I had packed the previous week. Spinach from a local farm smothered in a homemade mustard yogurt dressing topped with hard boiled eggs, dried organic cranberries, crispy soaked walnuts and some tuna salad I had made before we left. It was healthy, delicious and filling. It was also super quick!

If you notice I always travel with real plates and silverware – no paper, plastic or anything of the sort. I carry some non-toxic dishwashing detergent and sponge. It only takes a few seconds to wash up the dishes and the meal is so much more satisfying when enjoyed with real silverware!

What’s your favorite on the go meal?

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Josie asked:
“I would love to hear more about ideas you may have for eating while traveling. We are planing a trip out west this summer and it would be wonderful to have some ideas to save us from drive through food. Many thanks.”

Finding healthy food while traveling can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you want to avoid processed and non-organic food. In many areas of the country it’s not easy to find healthy local food easily as a visitor, thus it takes some pre-planning on your part. Taking the time to plan ahead will not only save you money on restaurant costs, you’ll also have more energy and you’ll be less likely to come down sick while traveling. Mr Chiots and I have taken a lot of road trips and have come up with a few techniques to eat healthfully while on the road. Here are some things we do to ensure we’re eating healthy nourishing food on the road.

PLAN AHEAD: figure out the route you’ll be taking and use LocalHarvest.org, RealMilk.org, EatWild.com or Google to find small farms, farm stands, local food restaurants and farmer’s markets along your route. Make sure you note days/hours of operation as sometimes smaller local shops can have strange hours. When you are at a farmer’s market or local shop ask a few folks for recommendations. Some of our best sources for local food have come from recommendations from the locals. It has been our experience that large cities are often the easiest places to find markets with local, healthy food alternatives. I have a google map that called “places I want to go” and whenever I hear of a garden, interesting museum, small farm, local restaurant or other interesting thing I add it to this map. Since I’ve been adding to it for a few years I now have a great resource for our travels, generally there are a few great places to visit and get healthy food no matter which direction we head out in.

ENJOY THE LOCAL FLAVORS: A little time of research before you set off will let you know if the area you’re visiting has any specialties. If you’re headed to Main, dine on lobster and blueberry pie; in Gloucester, fried clams from Essex Sea Food is a great option. It’s not always about eating healthy but about enjoying what each specific region, city, area has to offer. It may not be organic or healthy but at least it’s fresh and local.

Eating Lobster in Bar Harbor

DON’T LET YOURSELF GET TOO HUNGRY: Nothing will ruin your healthy eating intentions while traveling faster than letting yourself get too hungry. This can be a challenge if you’re trying to plan your meals around specific locations. Keep the car stocked with protein rich snacks that will help keep you from needing to stop somewhere to grab a quick bite.

STOCK THE CAR WITH HEALTHY SNACKS: If you’re famished you’ll be more likely to make bad choices or have to settle for less than ideal food. Keeping the car stocked with healthy will keep you from getting too hungry. Choose snacks that like, there’s no reason to stock up on snacks you don’t like, then you’ll simply end up wasting snacks if they go bad and still eat drive-thru food. Some of our favorites are: cheese, jerky, bacon, olives, sourdough bread, salad, crispy soaked nuts, hard boiled eggs, a cooler with milk, yogurt, salad & greens, tuna salad, baked custard cups and other things. You’d be amazed how simply drinking a glass of milk or eating a cup of yogurt can help curb hunger and keep you healthy when you’re on the road. Local milk is also fairly easy to find in most areas.

BE UNUSAL: Don’t fell like you need to stick to the common idea of what a meal is or what time is the right time to eat. When you’re on the road a meals of cheese, olives, jerky, vegetables and fruit is perfectly healthy. Sometimes you may need to adjust your eating times if you end up reaching a destination early or late. Sometimes that means eating one big meal mid-afternoon rather than lunch and dinner if the local restaurant happens to fall at a certain place.

THINK OUTSIDE THE DRIVE-THRU: Consider purchasing a small backpacking stove so you can cook your own meals. We often stop at rest areas and warm up soup or cook scrambled eggs. Sometimes a hot meal is what you need and having a few tools to prepare simple one pot meals can make all the difference. Come up with some quick one pot or one skillet meals that you can prepare in a snap. One our favorites is fried potatoes, onions, mushrooms, green peppers with eggs poached on top. Even just scrambled eggs will be a quick healthy meal while you’re on the road – and eggs are pretty easy to find along the way.

INVEST IN A FEW ITEMS LIKE WATER BOTTLES AND INSULATED MUGS: If you’re a coffee drinker, buying a Chemex or other simple coffee make can save you big $$$ on the road and it can save you the letdown of all those bad cups of coffee. Investing in a few nice stainless steel water bottles (we have 8 Klean Kanteen bottles in various sizes) and insulated mugs will repay themselves many times over (we love these Klean Kanteen Insulated Mugs because they keep hot beverages hot for hours). Refill the water bottles at rest stops or from your own filter that you take with you. Make your own coffee in the morning and fill your mugs so you don’t have to stop (unless you can find a fantastic small local coffee shop that is).

WHEN YOU FIND SOMETHING GOOD, STOCK UP: When you do come across a great market, restaurant or farm stand, stock up on food for the next couple days. If you find a great restaurant, consider getting a meal or two to-go so you can eat it the next day. If you find a great farm stand, refill your cooler and snack box with fruit, vegetables and other healthy snacks.

GIVE YOURSELF SOME LAST MINUTE OPTIONS: There are a few national chains that offer healthy food. If you haven’t come across a farmer’s market or a farms stand, stop at the local grocery store and get some food. If you’re hungry and don’t feel like eating anything you have in the car, stop at Chipotle or a similar restaurant that offers fairly healthy local options. This is where planning ahead comes in handy. If you spend an hour or so before your trip programming local/healthy food options into your GPS or noting them on your map, you’ll have a great reference and can avoid unplanned stops.

LIGHTEN UP A BIT: You’re on vacation, so cut yourself a little slack in the food department. Savor those fried clams and french fries without guilt. While we never “swing through the fast food drive-thru” while traveling, we will stop at a local shop and enjoy french fries and burgers at times. Most of the time you should be able to find local healthy stops, but when you can’t – enjoy it!

What tips do you have for healthy eating while on the road? Any great small local places in your area you’d recommend to people traveling through?