Simply Delicious Raw Chocolate

There is no ‘wrong’ way to make raw chocolate. I encourage people to modify the ingredients and personalise this basic raw chocolate recipe according to your preferences. Here are the approximate quantities of a great batch of raw chocolate I made recently as part of a healthy snack demonstration for a group of ladies. It disappeared quickly and received many positive comments.

  • 1 cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup cold pressed virgin coconut oil at room temp, or warm.
  • 8 dates (soaked overnight and chopped, include water)
  • 1/2 cup brazil nuts & walnuts (soaked overnight and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds (optional)
  • ±2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. If your coconut oil is hard, stand the container in hot water until it softens. Never microwave your ingredients! When thoroughly mixed, pour into a glass dish or a pan lined with parchment paper, spread around. Place in the refrigerator to harden – or the freezer if you are in  a hurry to eat some delicious raw chocolate!

Remove the parchment paper and cut on a chopping board. When the chocolate is too cold it may crumble. Be careful when serving because it may crumble. Store in the refrigerator.

In my raw chocolate demonstrations I like to discuss health, making more healthy food choices, adding more delicious and ‘good for us’ foods to our plates, and ORAC values. Most people are aware that eating chocolate, especially dark chocolate has specific health benefits. However, consuming raw cacao powder delivers a phenomenal array of mineral content and unique properties.

According to David Wolfe, Cacao is the best natural food source of antioxidants, Magnesium, Iron, Chromium, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin C. Omega 6 Fatty Acids, Phenylethylamine (PEA) (Cacao is one of the great weight-loss foods because the minerals and the PEA molecule help shut off the appetite).The ORAC value of raw cacao powder is off the charts when compared to fruits we have come to think of as high in antioxidants. The ORAC Value for blueberries is 32, wild blueberries 61, compared to raw cacao powder with a value of 955. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity assay is a standard measure of antioxidant concentration.[1]

I really liked the result of soaking the dates and the nuts overnight. There are benefits to soaking nuts (reduction of phytates) but they also enhance the delivery. Soaking also made the dates moist and mixable. I use walnuts because they are excellent for brain health and brazil nuts because they delivery selenium.

Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of the actual raw chocolate – it was so good and appreciated by so many, that it was eaten up fast! I need to make another batch and try to remember to take a picture! [Edit: I did it! Note the picture at the top. It was also delicious!]

Author: Becky Hastings is a wife, mother, grandmother, and passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counselor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety. From time to time Becky shares easy recipes that can help you have a healthier life!

[1] David Wolfe, Superfoods, The Food and Medicine of the Future, 2009.

Make Your Own Easy Milk Kefir

I just made a quick video to show how easy it is to make your own milk kefir! I’ve been making my own milk kefir for around 3 years. When I started it was a bit of a daunting procedure, but I’ve figured out how to make it easy and delicious. In this under 3 minute video I share some great tips and insight I’ve discovered. This is the real me. Not too much make-up, and just a normal kitchen. My daughter helped me by recording, but we only had one take!

Adding probiotics to our diet has a lot of immune boosting benefits. Here are some of my recipes that contain kefir:

Chia Breakfast Salad
GF Waffles
The Best Curry You Ever Made
GF Banana Bread

If you’d like some dried kefir grains, I have a limited supply, but am happy to send them to you for the cost of postage.

Thanksgiving 2015

Author: Becky Hastings is a wife, mother, grandmother, and passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counselor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety. From time to time Becky shares easy recipes that can help you have a healthier life!

 

Make Your Own Tomato Soup

Since we try to eat clean, organic, non-processed foods, there aren’t too many restaurants we frequent in our town that majors on the franchise model. But, I do have a confession: I love Panera Bread’s tomato soup. It’s a little expensive for a bowl, and I don’t eat the bread, but occasionally I indulge myself. Many times I considered trying to match their recipe, but last week, after having a significant molar pulled, I really needed some soup! So I finally attempted it, and was delighted with the result.

For the same price as a bowl of tomato soup from Panera, I can make a huge pot. Not only is it delicious and economical, it is also quick and easy. I encourage you to give it a try. As always with my cooking, I use a great deal of flexibility. I have made it two times and both times were different, but still great.

I added jalapeño and cayenne pepper just because I enjoy hot flavors and they are both really beneficial for healing and the immune system. You can leave them out to have a milder flavour. See notes at the end on optional ingredients to add.

  • 2 Tablespoons oil suitable for heating (avocado, coconut, or butter)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 – 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes ( I used Simple Truth Organic)
  • Either one 25 oz jar of your favorite tomato pasta sauce (I used Simple Truth Organic Tomato Basil) OR another 28 oz can of diced tomatoes.
  • 1 cup chicken stock (the 2nd time I used beef stock)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil, or 5 leaves fresh
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne (red) pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) half and half, cream, or milk

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in your preferred oil until translucent. Add jalapeño, if you like the heat. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the half and half. Bring to a boil. Allow the pot to simmer on low with the top off for about 15 minutes, then add the half and half, milk or cream and allow to heat through. Use an immersion blender or transfer all (or part) to a regular blender. Serve with whatever you enjoy. It’s great plain, but it was also really good sprinkled with cheese!

Optional variations: For an additional nutrition boost, the second time I made it, I added 4 carrots to the above recipe. When it was put through the blender, there was no obvious indication of carrots, except that it may have been a little thicker – and the beta carotene content was boosted!

[Edit: I just made this again on 29 March 2017 and included about 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash cut into cubes, a handful of leafy green beet tops, 1 whole peeled fresh tomato (because it was very ripe and needed a place to be useful) and 3/4 inch of fresh turmeric root! I only added the turmeric at the blending stage, so it wasn’t cooked. Because the butternut is sweet, I omitted the honey. It was great!]

I’m sure it will be easy to freeze and reheat, but I didn’t have enough left over to try!

DSC_0062Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus, seeker of truth and health. Facing a world quite different from the one in which I grew up, I seek to research and understand the very real dangers threatening the health and freedom of today’s parents, providing information to navigate towards joyful family living!  Posted 31 January 2017

 

 

GF Banana Bread

img_3536In August 2012 I decided to do a 21 day sugar fast. I’d been doing various similar fasts for a couple of years. Sometimes I would fast from sugar AND coffee (tough). This time I added bread/wheat to my fast. It was remarkable how after about 2 days of eating no wheat products how much better I felt. I never thought I had a problem or any sensitivity to wheat, but cutting it out left my gut/digestion feeling so good and I had so much energy, that even after 21 days I decided I could live without wheat forever! If you had told me that I would make this decision, I wouldn’t have believed you because I really enjoy baked items. But that short fast cured my addiction and I no longer felt compelled to devour bread, doughnuts or cake!

I admit I have had the occasional cookie or cinnamon roll when my daughter has made them. But by and large I have avoided most wheat containing foods since August 2012. I didn’t immediately rush to find gluten-free flours and replacement recipes. I just stopped eating muffins, cake, bread, etc. I truly feel so much better that it is easy to find other food choices that satisfy.

However, recently I have been hankering for banana bread. Maybe it’s because of the Christmas season. Maybe because I had a lot of ripe bananas. So after nearly 4 1/2 years of gluten-free living I have experimented with baking my first GF banana bread!

I reduced the sugar to 1/3 of a cup, so it’s not exactly sugar-free – but it is LOW sugar! I usually write my recipes in steps so that it is really easy to follow – that is the way I wrote them for my children to learn to cook. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill because they have a great ethos and are employee owned, but other than the GF flour, you could probably substitute other brands. Also, if you don’t have the Arrowroot, you could just try  cups of Bob’s GF Flour.

GF Banana Bread

In a bowl combine together:

  • 1 and  ¾ cups Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour
  • ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (organic)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda (Bob’s)
  • ½ tsp Himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½-1 cup pecans from my friends Al & Mary at Pearson Farm (I used whole pecans, but it makes it challenging to cut into slices, so next time I will probably chop them).

I combined the following in my Vita-Mix, but if you don’t have a blender, or food processor, just use what you have to mash the bananas and mix with the other ‘wet’ ingredients.

  • 2 eggs (organic)
  • 3 very large ripe bananas (organic)
  • ½ cup butter melted (organic)
  • 3 Tbl milk kefir (or milk, or water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined with a wooden spoon. Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter (I used glass), pour batter in. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes then remove from the pan.

Seriously, I have probably made hundreds of regular banana breads in my 34+ career as a mother of five children. This GF loaf came out of the pan better than anything I’ve ever made. It was so good I had to take a picture of the bottom!

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This is my second GF recipe. My first is GF SF waffles. They are light and fluffy and really easy to make. I don’t indulge in them often, but enjoy making them for children and grandchildren.

Thanksgiving 2015

Author: Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counsellor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety. As a diversion, she sometimes posts recipes!

Waffles – Again!

Belgium style waffle makers have larger indentations

Belgium style waffle makers have larger indentations

All recipes are a work in progress! I am getting consistency good results with this combination and wanted to share it with you! Where possible I use local organic ingredients! Bob’s Red Mill is a great company to support because it is employee owned, AND is the best source of brown rice flour and tapioca flour I have found. In presenting recipes I like to intermingle my ingredient list with the method. I hope this is helpful to you! This recipe makes about 6 ‘not quite full’ size waffles in a ‘Belgium waffle’ style waffle iron. It you fill it full, it will probably make 4 waffles. When I used my other waffle iron – which has now been retired – it would make about 8 ‘not quite full’ size waffles. I combine everything in one bowl and mix by hand. Make extra to freeze for a handy future breakfast! The recipe can be doubled, perhaps tripled if you have a lot of people to feed, or want a lot to store in the freezer!

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup kefir (or buttermilk, or milk with 1 Tbl lemon added)

Add:

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan  salt

Whisk all together. It should be bubbly, then Add:

  • ± 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter, or a combination

Add:

  • ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour

Mix just until thoroughly combined. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot waffle iron. Cook until the light changes colors (or follow the procedure for your particular brand of waffle maker).

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This recipe is #glutenfree and #sugarfree. If you are following a strict #dairyfree diet, I would substitute pure water for the milk kefir. I have substituted water in pancake recipes in the past and found excellent results. Let me know (in the comments below) if you try it!

Thanksgiving 2015

Author: Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counsellor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety. As a diversion, she sometimes posts recipes!

Yummy Pancakes

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These delicious pancakes are not only YUMMY and LOVED by all ages, they are also  #paleo, #glutenfree #dairyfree #sugarfree and #healthy! All ingredients are as organic and local as possible!

Batter blended in a Vita Mix. Pours easily and makes nice circles.

Batter blended in a Vita Mix. Pours easily and makes nice circles.

My good friend, April, mom of many, shared this amazingly simple recipe with me. It’s too good not to share…

  • 1 or 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8t. baking powder
  • a squirt of vanilla
  • dash of Himalayan salt

Mash everything together with a fork. Or, if you have a blender or food processor, dump in all the ingredients and process for a minute or so. I prefer the texture and result from using the Vita Mix, but use what you have.

Batter made using the mashed method. Still delicious!

Batter made using the mashed method. Still delicious!

Heat coconut oil in a skillet for several minutes to a medium heat (if skillet is too cool the batter may stick and be much harder to turn). Pour by spoonfuls and cook. Flip and cook on the other side. Makes 14 or so small pancakes and can easily be doubled. Serve with organic maple syrup, honey, fruit, yogurt, cinnamon, butter, etc. Choose whatever combination appeals to you!

So simple. So fast. So delicious! So healthy! A great treat for anyone trying to adjust to  gluten free.

Thanksgiving 2015Author: Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus and truth. Sometimes she blogs about recipes so that they will be easy to find in the future!  As a breastfeeding counsellor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety. 

Chia Breakfast

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A refrigerator stocked with six portions of Chia Breakfast! What a great way to start the day!

We all love fast food.  Many times we NEED fast food.  We have a deadline, a place to be, an important reason to be there, but not enough time for eating our healthy breakfast. Chia is a great plant based source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and is extremely versatile.

img_3350It is time to think differently.  What can I make that is fast, nutritious, good for me, AND will travel well? Chia breakfast to go.  The following is more of a guide than a recipe – personalise this process and make it your own! My quantities are only rough estimates – I very rarely measure anything!

Foundation ingredients:

  • Chia seeds (about 1/2 T per serving)
  • Water to cover
  • Homemade kefir or plain yogurt (±1/3 Cup per serving)
  • Nuts
Chopped fresh ginger, jalapeño pepper, and turmeric

Chopped fresh ginger, jalapeño pepper, and turmeric

  • Goji Berries, Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Seeds, sunflower or pumpkin
  • Honey
  • Fruit, chopped (apple, pear, pineapple)
  • Berries, fresh or frozen (cherries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
  • Veggies, chopped especially celery, cucumber, or kale. Celery is a great to add because it naturally helps pull metals from the body i.e. ‘detox’ and I love the crunch it provides!
  • Ginger, chopped fresh
Fresh Turmeric

Fresh Turmeric

Optional ingredients, adjust to taste:

  • Cinnamon (boosts metabolism)
  • Salt (Himalayan for mineral boost)
  • Turmeric (fresh is available, great anti-inflammatory)
  • Jalapeño pepper, fresh, chopped (anti viral)
  • Coconut, fresh or large flake
  • Coconut oil (A great brain boost, stir in fast after you add the veggies, so it doesn’t clump!)
  • Hemp seeds (also known as Hemp Hearts)
  • 1 Tbl raw cacao powder
  • 1 Tbl raw maca powder
  • Flax seeds, ground (not too much)

For those who are more hard-core focus on more veggies (celery, cucumber, kale), more superfoods and less fruit. Adding hemp can be expensive, but it provides a great energy source. We’re all at different stages of our journey, but I think most people will be able to find some way to modify this concept so that they can enjoy it.  If you decide to have eggs for breakfast, or want to do “intermittent fasting”, you could always save your chia breakfast for lunch!

img_3349If it seems like a lot of effort, remember, you are preparing breakfast for several days in advance. I like to organise my breakfast ingredients into three categories: refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. This helps me streamline the preparation process.

I wrote about my previous Chia Breakfast variations here and here and here

Thanksgiving 2015Author: Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counsellor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

decadent-chocolate-cake-quinoaThis recipe is based on quinoa and is amazingly moist. My friend, Simela, says it works equally well using millet. While I generally try to avoid sugar, this recipe with the quinoa, butter, coconut milk, coconut oil, and eggs, makes it lean towards the more healthy of decadent chocolate treats! My presentation skills are not high in my skill set, but I thought the picture looked quite appealing! I imagine adding some blueberries or other berries on top would increase the appeal.

cake-cherry-sliceThis recipe is quick and easy to make if you have a blender. I’m not sure what the results would be without a blender. I used my Vita-mix, and since I was using such a powerful blender, I decided to try something I’d never seen before in a cake recipe. You know how it says, “whole eggs”? Well, I washed my farm fresh eggs bought directly from a local farmer, and put the WHOLE eggs into the Vita-mix! So, my cake has the additional benefit of calcium and probably a few other necessary minerals! We can all use more minerals!

cake-eggsMy cake is based on inspiration from my friend, Simela, and the explanation found here. Of course, I can never follow recipes exactly, so here is what I did:

Combine in blender:

  • 4 whole (I literally used whole clean eggs in my Vita-mix! I blended them on high until no crunchy noises were heard!) If you don’t have a Vita-mix, or aren’t into consuming egg shells, just crack and use the 4 eggs as normal!

Then I added the following ingredients and blended again.

  • 1/3 Cup raw milk (from my local dairy farmer)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (I used sprouted organic)
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter (I never use a microwave to melt butter – unlike some people who bake in my kitchen. I always melt slowly over low heat)
  • 1/4 Cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla

In a separate bowl I combined:

  • 1 Cup Hershey’s dark cocoa (I often use raw cacao, but when you are going to be cooking, there is little point in using raw cacao which is more expensive)
  • 1 Cup organic brown sugar (because that is what I found in my pantry. My friend Simela, always uses honey – just less than a cup – in hers. I think I will try honey next time.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder (I left out the baking soda/bicarb because it ALWAYS seems to give baking a bad taste)
  • Himalayan salt, several turns, probably around 1 tsp, but life is too short to measure exactly.

I poured the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stirred to mix thoroughly. I lined 2 pans with parchment paper and divided the batter between them. The batter was a bit stiff and I spread it around and popped them straight into a 350 degree (180 Celsius) oven and baked for 25 minutes.

It works best to prepare the icing BEFORE. But I neglected to read that part – or at least digest that information enough to put it into practice! I did however, put the can of coconut milk into the refrigerator the day before, so it was nice and cold, which is important.

ICING:

  • I melted one whole 12 oz (340 g) bag of Private Selection 43% Cacao semi sweet chocolate chips. I’m sure a variety of chocolate would work, for me the darker the better.
  • I opened the can carefully and scooped out all the thick part of the coconut milk. It was about 1/2 of the can and added it to the chocolate once it was melted. You can taste it at this point to see if you want to add more coconut milk, depending on the darkness/sweetness of your chosen chocolate. I stirred everything together, then allowed it to cool on the counter, then in the refrigerator.
  • After it was cold, I whipped it for about 45 seconds.

Putting it all together:

cake-insideAfter the cake cooled I put it carefully on a plate with the bottom side up, smothered it with 1/2 of the icing, added the 2nd cake bottom side up, and smothered it with the remaining icing. I put the whole thing in the refrigerator to get cold.

I did have a piece for breakfast desert. It is satisfying, without leaving you craving more – a good place to be!

Thanksgiving 2015

Author: Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, passionate follower of Jesus and truth. As a breastfeeding counselor for over 23 years Becky is devoted to helping parents make wise decisions for the long-term health and wellbeing of their babies. As a member of a Vaccine Safety Education Coalition, Becky writes and speaks on the topic of vaccine safety.

3rd Prize Chili

Red potOrganic 3 Bean Chili Con Cashew (Vegetarian)

This is my variation of an original recipe known as Chili Con Cashew by Kathryn J. Canfield, in Whole Foods for the Whole Family, published by La Leche League International. All the ingredients are organic, if they were available. This chili won 3rd place in a local chili cook off.

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. each basil and oregano
  • ±1 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
  • ±1 tsp. curry powder (can’t get enough of those spices!)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder (great anti-inflammatory food; add to everything!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or less
  • a few dashes of black and cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 2 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 42 ounces chopped/crushed tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup dry red wine

Salute garlic and all vegetables (except tomatoes) in the coconut oil in a saucepan for several minutes. Add all the spices (except the bay leaf) and stir.

Stove Top Method: Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer on low, stirring occasionally for ±2 hours.

Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Method: Dump the contents of the saucepan and all the remaining ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5+ hours. In order not to waste any of your spicy flavor, add some of the tomato liquid to the saucepan, stir and pour into the crock pot.

Serve with sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, corn bread, or WHATEVER YOU LIKE! It is also great as leftovers and can even be eaten cold!

ENJOY!

Becky Hastings

The Best Curry You Ever Made, Mom!

curry-powder-1554845-640x480Once upon a time, I didn’t know how easy and delicious curry was! I didn’t know the wonderful medicinal properties of the spicy combinations. Then I started practicing. I realized it was a lot easier than I thought, and I’ve been getting better and better at getting just the right mix of flavors! When you cook curry on low heat and add lots of beneficial spices, it delivers great nutrition.

I like to cook by intuition. It’s gotten easier over the years. Every once in a while I will cook something so tasty I have to stop and write down every step so that I’ll be able to do it again, or share it with my daughters.

This is my curry recipe that received rave reviews by my 15 yo daughter so I thought I should write down EXACTLY what I did! I must apologize for not taking a picture.

Please try it and let me know how it works for you. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. I generally try to use all organic ingredients.

CurryUPDATE Slow Cooker/Crock Pot Versions: Alternatively, you can throw it all in a slow cooker and cook on high for about 2 hours, or on low for 4-6 hours! You don’t even need to brown the chicken! Just put any vegetables on the bottom, then the uncooked chicken, topped with all the other ingredients that you sautéed in the pan (including the coconut milk). You can add some kefir or yogurt just before serving. Delicious and EASY!

IMG_0423Becky Hastings, married to John for 34+ years, mother of 5, author and curry loving grandmother of 4 so far! I have a passion for Jesus, health and family.