Tag Archives: food

8 Easy Ways to Remove Processed Food

12 Aug

Fresh Green Beans and Carrots...to be prepped for dinner...

Over the last 3 years, I have replaced most processed and prepared foods from my family’s diet.  It wasn’t and isn’t always convenient but it definitely has changed our health for the better!  We used to eat all the wrong stuff!  Everything I bought was ready made out of a box, can, or freezer.  If you’ve ever read the labels on a box of Hamburger Helper, it doesn’t even sound edible or tasty!   I have four very active and hungry children! It is a challenge to feed everyone and do it on a budget while at the same time keeping the meals healthy!  There are a lot of chemicals, additives, and preservatives in processed foods.  There are lots of things that we shouldn’t be putting into our bodies let alone feed to our children!  I started to recreate our favorite processed foods in my kitchen with the most basic ingredients.  Even though we are on a tight, shoestring food budget, I manage to buy certain organic ingredients that will maximize the nutritious benefits for my family!  Anyone can learn how to eat the healthiest meals and improve your family’s health!

Here are a few of the things that you can start doing right away!

1.  Rule of thumb – if you can’t pronounce words, recognize the ingredients as a food, and don’t have any of the things listed on the label in your cabinet, don’t buy it!  Read the ingredients of your favorite, go-to processed meals.  The labels are like commercials on the box, they will tell you things or put pictures on the box that really have nothing to do with the product inside the package.  For example:  a picture of a cow in green grass on a farm when in reality, the product came from a cow on a factory farm, laying in mud, sick, and pumped full of antibiotics!

2. Look out for the worst offenders in processed food ingredients:  MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame, high sodium content, non-organic corn or soy, partially hydrogenated oils, hydrolyzed soy/corn/wheat protein, and high fructose corn syrup.  If the product is supposed to be meat, from an animal, it shouldn’t have soy fillers in it!  95% of the non-organic soybeans in the US are genetically engineered to withstand very large amounts of pesticides and herbicides, not exactly a health food!  And soy is in everything!  I should know, since I am allergic to soybeans!

3.  Stay away from flavor packets!  These are always very high in sodium and contain lots of unnecessary chemicals.  It is better to use an organic and/or homemade beef, chicken, or vegetable stock to add flavor to brown rice and meats.  Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, and cilantro will take your meals to the next level of flavor and are so much healthier too!  My pantry is always stocked with fresh garlic and basil, these two together make tomato sauce taste wonderful!

4.  Fats.  Healthy fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet.  Not all fats are created equal and some do so much more harm to you than others!  Omega 3 fats are great and those are: coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, organic butter, and pastured egg yolk.  There is a whole host of nuts that are high in Omega 3 fats as well.  Healthy Omega 6 fats are from grass-fed beef and free-range poultry.  Fresh, wild caught seafood contain healthy fat and Krill oil is a great supplement to take!  Get rid of the soybean, corn, canola, margarine, and shortening because these oils are not heart healthy and overly processed!  Be aware that a lot of restaurants use these unhealthy oils and it’s best to avoid fried food and fast food for this reason.

Organic Fruit Salad

5. Choose fresh vegetables and fresh fruit as side dishes.  You don’t need the boxed rice and canned corn. Balance your dinner plate with a healthy protein and lots of colorful raw, steamed, broiled, grilled, baked, and sautéed vegetables!  My kids are in love with sautéed broccoli!  I drop it into boiling water for 6 minutes and then I sauté it with olive oil, fresh garlic, sea salt, and black pepper until fork tender.  They actually fought over the broccoli a few nights ago and there were no leftovers!  To add variety to our meals I’ll serve fresh strawberries or apples with dinner instead of pasta or rice.  Strawberries go great with roasted chicken!

6.  A word about salt.  Table salt has added iodine in it because people weren’t getting enough of this nutrient through everyday eating, right.  So how about we get iodine by eating things from the sea. Table salt will increase your blood pressure and has more sodium per serving than sea salt.  Why not just use sea salt with naturally occurring iodine and less sodium per serving!  We made the switch to sea salt and now table salt tastes way too salty to me and I am more sensitive to salty foods so I avoid them as much as possible.

7.  It’s always better to eat naturally occurring foods than highly processed foods.  For example:  Butter and margarine.  Years ago studies came out the saturated fat was bad, anyone remember that?  So, companies came up with a way to make a butter-like substance out of vegetable oil.  With vegetable right in the name, it’s got to be healthy right?  Well, not exactly.  You see, butter is churned from the milk of a cow.  If that cow is grazing in grass and happily lounging on a farm that butter will be so much better for you than digesting a factory processed, trans fat and hydrogenated “vegetable” oil.  I think factories and I think pollution, smog, and chemical by-products.  Definitely eat butter in moderation though.  Moderation is key with fats and salt!


8.  Last but not least is sugar.  Sugar actually comes from a plant called sugar cane.  There are other sources of sugar that are in processed food though.  Genetically engineered sugar beets and high fructose corn syrup are the two most common ingredients found in processed food.  Our bodies process cane sugar, or sucrose differently than fructose.  A word of caution – high fructose corn syrup is made from genetically engineered corn, which is not naturally occurring in nature but created in a lab to withstand mass quantities of herbicide/pesticides.  The BT corn variety releases the pesticide when the insects bite it…and that is was makes high fructose corn syrup.  So again, naturally occurring vs highly processed is the choice to make.  I gave up conventional sodas 3 years ago.  When I do get a hankering for the sweet fizzy stuff, I grab a cane sugar soda instead.  Most of the time, I drink water.

So to sum up:  Buy Organic and Support your local farmers!  Go to some farmers markets in your area and try some fresh fruit and veggies!   Take a cooking class to learn some tips and techniques and start preparing homemade meals for your family!


Dr. Joseph Mercola


Raise your hand if you like chocolate…

29 Jul


75% of the world’s cocoa supply comes mainly from two countries in West Africa; Ghana and the Ivory Coast.  Cocoa from this region is sold to many chocolate companies including Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle.  These companies in chocolate industry benefit directly from child labor, human trafficking, and modern day slavery.  In order to compete, cocoa farmers need child labor to keep their prices low because they are barely paid a living wage for their beans by these multi-million dollar chocolate companies.


Children end up working on these farms for several reasons.  They need to work to help support their families, they are sold by relatives to traffickers and farm owners, or they are abducted by traffickers from their small villages and sold into slavery.  The age of these boys is usually 12 – 16, although boys as young as 7 have been filmed doing the dangerous work of harvesting cocoa pods.  These kids are subject to beatings for working too slowly or trying to escape, they are exposed to toxic chemicals that are sprayed on the farm, and they work with machetes with the potential to sever appendages.  The children on these farms are not allowed an education, proper nutrition, and they live in unsanitary conditions.

Ten years ago the major chocolate companies promised to do something about these children and traffickers.  So far NOTHING has been done!  This year, they have made promises again to eradicate slavery from their supply chains, but it will be up to us, the consumers to hold them accountable.   If we keep buying their chocolate, we are continually contributing to the problems and misery of these kids.  Every holiday, every special occasion, every day chocolate lovers around the world indulge in the chocolaty goodness of child slavery!


The ILO says that the worst forms of child labor include, “likely to harm health, safety or morals of children”, if the children use “hazardous tools”, and the work “interferes with schooling”.  This describes what the children in West Africa live with daily.  For years Hershey’s, Nestle, and Mars have sourced their cocoa from these child abusers without batting an eye.  Only now, they have pledged to do something but is it just a public relations trick?  They say it’ll take years to source fair trade chocolate, but should we still go on buying their products waiting for the day when these kids are given a better way of life.  In another 10 years, the same problems will still exist and nothing will have changed unless, we take a stand today and stop buying slave produced chocolate, even on holidays and special occasions.  Most Americans have no idea where their favorite products come from…if they only knew, imagine the changes that can be made.  When your craving a candy bar, go for the ones that actually care about human beings…try a Green and Blacks, Alter Eco, Theo, Whole Foods Whole Trade Chocolate, Equal Exchange, and Sun Spire, just to name a few.   Slave harvested chocolate is cheap.  In order to pay farmers a fair wage and to source from farms that use ethical and sustainable practices, Fair Trade chocolate companies have to charge more for better quality!  Chocolate used to be a luxury and maybe convenience and low prices shouldn’t be the driving force behind our purchases.  I want to challenge you to take a stand, encourage your family and friends to join you too!  Together we can make a difference!!

Green and Blacksequal exchange SunSpire-Organic TheoChocolate1 wfmo_dark_chocolate_tanzania1

Check out these resources for more information:

Global Exchange

Fair World Project

Food Empowerment Project

The Dark Side of Chocolate

The Dark Side of Chocolate documentary

Lemon and Raspberry

3 Jun

Large and Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

These cookies happened totally by accident, a happy, happy accident!  I was on Martha Stewart’s website looking at cookies recipes and I came across this Old Fashioned Lemon Cookie Recipe.  I’ve been toying with the idea of offering a lemon option at the farmers market because several customers had asked about it.  I happened to have a lemon sitting on the counter and I already had the other ingredients, so I decided to give these lemon cookies a try.  I compared Martha’s recipe to my own sugar cookie recipe and it was pretty much the same, so I just added the lemon to my own recipe. I added a lot more lemon to my recipe!

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies

So, I followed Martha’s instructions and didn’t chill the dough but getting them onto the cookie sheet was a bit challenging.  I sprinkled them with a fair trade cane sugar before baking  for added tastiness.  I wanted to be able to offer samples of these cookies at the market so I made some little and I made some bigger.  The bigger ones, really came out huge!

Large Lemon Cream and Raspberry cookie

After the cookies came out of the oven, they looked really good and they were a bit crunchy.  I really liked them.  My 4 year old liked them too!  Some of the little ones didn’t come out looking very smooth, but the second and third batch came out smooth, like the picture above.  Eva, my daughter, and I had to eat the uneven ones, of course!  She kept sneaking  back into the kitchen and eating cookies!

I still had some lemon juice left over and I was contemplating glazing the cookies or making some kind of icing for the tops.  I couldn’t decide what to do and I was concerned about how the icing would do once I put the cookies in the bags for the market.

2012-12-01 10.33.11

This is how I package the cookies for the market ^.

So, I thought, what if I make cookie sandwiches and put a lemon cream inside the cookies!  I made the lemon cream and i started to pipe the icing onto the cookies.  I had just purchased 2 jars of organic jam, raspberry and blackberry.  Unfortunately, the blackberry jam had huge seeds in it and I couldn’t use it in these. 😦  The good news is raspberry goes really well with lemon and so I put the two flavors together and success!!!  I am in love with these cookies!  The litmus test would be how do they do at the market.  I sold the mini ones in single bags for $.50 each and the big ones, as one customer fondly referred to them as whoopie pies, sold for $2 each.  The next day the cookies were much softer even after they were in the fridge all night.

Mini Lemon Cream and Raspberry Cookies


They sold out!!   Everyone was delighted and I was very pleasantly surprised!  These may just make the regular rotation!  I love creating new products. Baking brings me joy!

These cookies can be ordered by the dozen and they can be made gluten-free with almond flour by request!  If you live in Northeast Florida you may order a batch today via email or Facebook!

Thanks everyone!!

Thumbprints – a very popular treat

13 May

Strawberry and Raspberry Thumbprints

This delightful treat is one of the most popular things that we sell at the farmers market.  The recipe isn’t complicated or even that special, it’s the technique and time that it takes to make these joyful tasty bite-sized yummies that makes these so great!

Buttery Thumbprint Dough

I start out with a basic cookie dough, whose name I will not say…gotta keep trade secrets, secret, you know!  The dough gets refrigerated and when it’s ready, I start making little balls of yummy, buttery goodness…

Buttery Thumbprint dough

These get rolled in cane sugar to be prepped for the thumb indents and shaping to come…

Thumbprint cookie dough

This step takes the longest…shaping each ball into to the thumbprint shape.  Of course, I am a perfectionist when it comes to baking goods, so I have to make each one the same size and same shape.  This process takes about 2 hours…once the dough comes out of the fridge until the finished dough goes into the oven.  I put the jam in before I bake them and then they are baked to perfection!  I’ve made these with apricot, orange marmalade, raspberry, and strawberry jams.  Raspberry is the favorite!  I sell out of those every time at the market and it never seems like I make enough!  I’m probably going to have to start doubling the recipe and just make raspberry.  I would like to try blueberry jam though…I love blueberry!  Sometimes, what I love doesn’t translate into sales though…I will try it out and see how it goes!

2012-12-15 10.34.08

Here are the finished, packaged cookies…this picture was taken at Christmas, hence the snowman plate.

The best thing happened this weekend at the market.  A customer bought a bag of the raspberry thumbprints and she started walking away from the table.  She casually opened the bag, took out a cookie, and popped it into her mouth.  She exclaimed, from several yards away, “These are the best cookies ever!!”  I turned around to see where that exclamation came from and she waved to me.  I laughed and turned to the next customer walking by and said, “After that endorsement you almost  have to buy something now!”  That person, immediately came to the table to check out what I was selling!

I love my job, well it’s not really a job when it’s your own company and you get to do what you love!

New Product: Coffee Gateau

24 Apr

Coffee Gateau Mini Cupcakes

This weekend at the St Johns River Farmers Market we will have these lovely cupcakes available for sale!! Yummy! This recipe is a family recipe passed down to me from my mom and grandma. We call it Coffee Gateau, which means Coffee Cake. In America, Coffee Cake is something totally different from this recipe though. My mother was born in England and they do things a bit differently than Americans, so sometimes the names for food are the same but the food itself is not! My mom makes this as a 2-layer cake most of the time and I’ve changed the recipe into mini cupcakes. This is my all-time favorite cake and the one that my mom makes for my birthday every year! I’m excited to debut it at the market and coffee lovers are sure to love this cake! Of course, I make it with organic and fair trade coffee, sugar, and vanilla! Gotta make it fair trade!

Coffee Gateau Mini Cupcakes
The cupcakes have a coffee buttercream and chopped pecans on top!

Oh and another thing, I’ve used organic ingredients to avoid gmos!

Check out my facebook page for more information about what we will be making this week! We are working on getting things in place to start selling online, but unfortunately, we can’t yet!

I’m looking forward to being at the market this weekend! Coffee lovers unite!!

The Un-Peanut Butter Cup…

18 Apr

The best non-peanut butter cups!

These things are awesome! Let me give you a little back story to my struggle…

I have loved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups since I was a kid.  I love Reese’s Pieces, the mini cups, and the big ones!  It has been 3 and 1/2 years since I’d eaten any type of Reese’s product.  I became allergic to peanuts and soybeans at the age of 33!  I had to give up A LOT of my favorite childhood treats, actually, all of my favorite childhood treats because everything has soybeans in it and if it doesn’t have soy in it, it’ll have peanuts.

So anyway…

I am an activist against slavery and all that as well, so most of my favorite childhood treats are made with slave-harvested chocolate and cane sugar as well.  I am really limited as to what I feel morally comfortable eating already, plus add to that my allergies, and that takes pretty much everything off of the table…literally!

I shop at Whole Foods and I always peruse the chocolate candy isle because I’m always looking for soy-free, peanut-free, and slave-free chocolate to eat.  I saw this new brand, Sun Cups and thought, hmmm….what is that?

The front of the package said Nut Free, so I picked it up to investigate further.  It is made with sunflower butter!  I thought to myself, ‘ yeah, but I’m sure the chocolate has soy lecithin in it…’  I read the ingredients and I didn’t see any soy listed and it also stated that it does not contain soy, which is confirmation that I can actually eat this treat!  I was getting so excited standing there in the aisle and I had to restrain myself from shouting out loud!  I continued to read the small print and when I got to the part of Rain Forest Alliance Certified, I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I felt like I won the lottery.

Rain Forest Alliance Certified Sun Cups...

What are the chances of finding something that is free of allergens and slavery!

The only thing left to do was to taste it.  Once I paid for my things and got into my vehicle, I tore open the packet and it looked just like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup!  I bit into it with anticipation and it tasted so delicious!  My taste buds were doing the happy dance!  It has been so long since I was able to enjoy nutty chocolatey goodness!  I was supposed to take a picture of the chocolate for this blog post, but I didn’t take the time to stop eating to snap a photo!  Oh well!

Thank you SunCups!!  I love companies that think outside of the box!  They also make caramel and mint varieties as well.  I can’t wait to try them!


Christmas at the Farmers Market

20 Dec

2012-12-15 10.35.39

This is our table from last week’s farmers market. We are currently selling a variety of Christmas Cookies and Gift Baskets.


Thumbprint Cookies

Here is one of our baskets with cookies, fair trade tea and fair trade chocolates.

2012-12-15 10.35.14

We also have some baskets with fair trade coffee. You can mix and match what you would like in the baskets and the prices range from $10 -$30.

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies

Last week we had sugar cookies dipped in fair trade chocolate.

2012-12-15 10.34.08

These Thumbprint cookies were a big hit! We made them in apricot and raspberry varieties. We almost sold out of these last week. We will definitely have them again this week!

2012-12-14 16.52.20

These have been a crowd favorite and one of my favorite cookies! Classic Chocolate Chip. Some had walnuts too! Chocolate Chip Cookies were my first cookie that I baked on my own way back when I was just a teenager.

On the menu page there is a list of all the cookies that we make. We only bring a few varieties to the market and we do special requests as well. You can always order a dozen or three and pick them up this Saturday! Come out and see us on the 22nd at the St. Johns River Farmers Market on Rt 13 in Fruit Cove. The market is set up inside Alpine Grove Park from 10am – 2pm every Saturday. This is the last chance to get a gift basket for your neighbors, teachers, friends, and family! We make everything from scratch with organic and fair trade ingredients!

Merry Christmas from The Cooking Activist!!

Human Trafficking Awareness at the Jacksonville Zoo

9 Oct

On September 22nd I was part of a human traffikcing awareness event at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. It was called the SCTNow Jacksonville 5k walk and the purpose was to gather the community together to educate others about trafficking and modern-day slavery.

SCTNow sign on my table
This is the SCTNow sign that was on my table.

SCTNow 5k walk 9-22-12

My company handed out free fair trade cookies and muffins to the participants of the SCTNow 5k walk.

The Cooking Activist Company Table
The Cooking Activist Company Table

The Cooking Activist
This is me, The Cooking Activist!

My business partner and friend, Monica Greenblott, is the SCTNow Jacksonville Ambassador and she organized the walk. We set up a table and when people finished their walk, I got to talk to them and tell them what I do.  I love to talk about this cause.  It is dear to my heart and I am very passionate about it.

The Cooking Activist Company

My cookies were made with fair trade sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips.  I also use organic and non-gmo ingredients when I bake because I am concerned about the health ramifications of pesticides and other cancer causing side-effects of gmos.  When a product is labeled as fair trade or ethically resourced or something along those lines, it means that there wasn’t any child labor/slaves harvesting the product.  The label also guarantees that the the farmer gets a fair price for his goods and no adults were enslaved or in debt bondage in order to harvest or manufacture the product.  The supply chains of many popular products are full of modern day slavery and  human trafficking.  Buying products with a fair trade label shows you that the company takes action against human trafficking and avoids slavery-produced goods.

Fusion Ministries
These lovely ladies are representing Fusion Ministries of Jacksonville!

I also made Banana Oatmeal Muffins, which the bananas were Whole Trade guaranteed by Whole Foods Market.  Whole Foods has a program called the Whole Trade Guarantee that investigates the supply chains of companies and their bananas have the this Whole Trade sticker on them.  Their pineapples, teas, coffee, and other products with this sticker show that they are ethically sourced.  I was excited to use these bananas and it made the muffins a wonderful example of how we can use products that are ethically sourced.

World Relief Jacksonville and NEFHTTF
This is my friend Michelle Clowe, who is the current Chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Coalition and she is the Human Trafficking Liason for World Relief Jacksonville.   There is another 5k coming up on October 13th called The Human Race.  Another friend of mine, Seth Johnson, is coordinating this 5k for  Transitions Global, another great organization that rescues and restores girls trafficked into the sex trade.

I had a wonderful time meeting new people and educating others about the importance of consumer purchases in the fight against modern-day slavery and human trafficking!

World Relief Jacksonville signage

There are much more exciting things coming my way this fall! Stay tuned for more exciting updates!! Remember to buy fair trade and check the labels for ethically sourced companies!!

Crispy Salmon Cakes

21 Sep

I have been experimenting with salmon lately.  Salmon is very good for you but I have refused to eat for years.  I just had the thought in my head that salmon did not taste good and I only tasted it once or twice in the last 15 years.  For someone like me, that is always experimenting with food and constantly trying new recipes, this is actually very strange.  I had totally written off salmon as an option.  I also am a proponent for healthy, natural, organic foods and yet, salmon was off limits to my repertoire of healthy foods.  So I recently decided to give salmon a go.  My husband likes salmon and my daughter, who tried it for the first time because my mom brought some over, likes salmon too.

Crispy salmon cakes with sauteed kale and mushrooms served with mashed sweet potatoes

This is my second attempt at making salmon and I will blog about the first attempt with another blog post at a later date.  The moral of all this would be; don’t write off a food just because you tried it once or twice a long time ago.  Especially if that particular food is a super food.

Wild Sockeye Salmon

I recently started using Pinterest which is dangerous, time consuming, and absolutely wonderful!  I’ve found loads of new recipes to try and exciting ideas for baking!  I’m in love and this recipe for crab cakes came by way of Pinterest.   I made a few changes to it:


2 strips of pastured bacon, cooked in the oven at 400 degrees until crispy(about 15 minutes), bacon fat reserved and bacon set aside to cool and then crumble.

1/4 cup chopped organic onion

1 medium organic egg

1/2 cup soy-free mayonaise (because I’m allergic to soy) if you use soy, Always use organic soy products!

2 tsp organic Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp organic cane sugar, Fair trade whenever possible

1/2 lemon, zested

2 1/2 wild sockeye salmon pieces (15 ounces), baked at 400 degrees with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper, 10-15 minutes, cooled, skin removed, and flaked. Avoid farmed salmon like the plague!

Wild Salmon, individually wrapped

1 medium organic white potato, baked, cooled, peeled, and fluffed with a fork

1/4 cup soy-free bread crumbs (Whole Foods 365 brand)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Black Pepper

Olive oil or expeller pressed canola oil and reserved bacon fat for cooking


I baked the salmon, potato, and bacon at the same time earlier in the day to  give them a chance to cool.  I put the salmon in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat in a small saute pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Cool the onions for a bit.

Mix the bacon, onion, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add the salmon and potato, mixing gently after each addition. Separate into 12 parts, onto a plate.  The mixture is wet, which is good but hard to work with.  Place the plate with the salmon, into the freezer for about 15 – 20 minutes.  It will be much easier to work with semi frozen/very cold.

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and pepper, to taste. Very carefully, press the salmon into patties and cover with the the bread crumbs.  It is easier to do 4 at a time and keep the uncoated salmon in the fridge or freezer.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and/or bacon fat in a large saute pan over medium heat, and cook the salmon cakes in batches until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil, as necessary. Remove the cooked patties to a plate and continue with the next batch.

I served these patties with an amazing Kale and Mushroom dish which is a Rachel Ray recipe.

Picture of Smothered Mushrooms and Kale Recipe

I followed this recipe almost exactly. I used white organic mushrooms because that is what I had. I also used Sherry Cooking Wine instead of Marsala wine. My husband and my oldest daughter loved the kale! It was really good and I would definitely make it again!
I also paired this dish with mashed sweet potatoes. I was hoping to have leftover potatoes to make sweet potato cakes with, but we ate them all!

For the potatoes:
I baked 2 large sweet potatoes at 400 degrees until they were soft, about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on them because they tend to drip and one potato was done before the other. I let them cool off a bit and then peeled them and mashed them up with a little organic heavy cream, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and organic brown sugar to taste. So easy, yet so tasty!

Loaded Potato Wedges

16 Sep

Loaded Potato Wedges

Football season is here and I wanted to experiment with a favorite type of food most likely served at sports bars around the country: Loaded Potato Skins. I’m actually not a big fan of potato skins, but I am a fan of potato wedges and cheese fries. I thought…hmmm…what if I made loaded potato wedges that combines two favorite potato styles that I love!

I found this great recipe for garlic potato wedges here at The Purple Foodie blog.   I used this recipe for a basis of this great dish!  These potato wedges are delightful by themselves too!  I changed the recipe a little, I ususally change recipes to suit my own tastes, to use organic ingredients, and to make dishes soy-free.  I have food allergies and have to make mostly everything from scratch.   I always look for organic and non-gmo versions of ingredients in all of my recipes.

Non-gmo cornstarch

8 smashed garlic cloves

6 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil

5 organic potatoes, washed and cut into wedges

2 tablespoons of non-gmo cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon Simply Organic Ranch Dressing Mix

2 oz monteray jack cheese

2 oz colby jack cheese

4 slices of pork bacon, farm fresh pastured piggies with no antibiotics or hormones

Homemade Ranch for dipping or Organic sour cream and chives

Green Onions for garnish if desired (I didn’t have any on hand today, but I’m sure it would have tasted great!)

1.  Smash garlic cloves, remove skins.  Put the olive oil in a small saucepan with the garlic and heat to a slow simmer.  Turn off the heat and let it marinate.

2. Place the bacon on a baking sheet and put into a cold oven.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Flip the bacon after 10 minutes and cook 10 more minutes.  Depending on the thickness of the bacon, it may not need this long in the oven.  Please keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn or get too crispy.  Let the bacon cool and then crumble into bits.

3. While the bacon cooks, fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Gently place the potatoes in the water and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and dry them on paper or cloth towels.

4.  Mix the cornstarch, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and ranch mix.

5.  Take 5 tablespoons of garlic oil and place on a baking sheet, you can use the same sheet you cooked the bacon on and you can use the oil from the bacon plus the garlic oil.  Don’t use more than 5 tablespoons oil total!  Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and toss in the oil.

6. Sprinkle the dry season mix over the potatoes and mix well but be gentle not to break the potatoes.  You will probably need to use your hands!  Don’t be afraid to get a little messy while cooking.

7.  Bake for 30 minutes on 440 degrees.  Turn the potatoes halfway through baking to get crispy all over.  Remove potatoes and place in a glass dish, cover with the shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.  Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

8.  Serve the potatoes with sour cream and chives or ranch dressing.  Sprinkle with chopped green onions on top, if desired.

I use the Simply Organic ranch mix with the grassfed buttermilk and a soy-free mayo.

Organic ranch dressing mix and grassfed buttermilk

I have made ranch with my own seasonings before too, but the organic mix is just as good and so easy!  Enjoy and try not to eat all of it by yourself!  These are very addicting and I found it hard to stop!  The cayenne pepper gives a nice kick but if you are serving this to kids or someone that doesn’t like spicy, omit the cayenne pepper.