Toxic Free Kitchen

Real food for real health —
how to choose, prepare, and enjoy foods that nourish and heal

Raspberry Coconut Bonbons


These are luscious, elegant bonbons that taste like candy but have absolutely no sugar of any kind. They are just luscious fresh ripe raspberries in a crisp hard shell of coconut butter. It tastes a lot like raspberries dipped in white chocolate.

Coconut butter is like peanut butter—it’s coconut meat ground to a smooth paste. When gently warmed (just put the jar in a bowl of hot water), it will become runny like honey. I like to use Artisana 100% Organic Raw Coconut Butter. It’s also called coconut manna by other brands.

They are very easy to make.



  • fresh organic raspberries (large raspberries are easier to work with than small ones)
  • coconut butter (1 tablespoon per raspberry)


  1. Choose a plate or pan that fits in the oven and cover it with unbleached parchment paper (otherwise the bonbons will stick).
  2. Warm the coconut butter to a runny consistency by placing the jar in a bowl of warm water. How long this will take depends on how much coconut butter is in the jar. You can melt a smaller amount by placing it in a smaller jar before putting it in the hot water. You may need to change the water several times. You can also just heat it in a small pan til it melts, but if you want to keep it raw, use the hot water.
  3. Dip a soupspoon into the melted coconut butter, then place a raspberry on top. Then turn it upside down onto the parchment paper, and do your best to guide the coconut butter under the raspberry and on top.
  4. Freeze until the coconut butter is hard and crisp.
  5. Serve straight from the freezer. They will start to melt, so it’s best to eat them as soon as possible, like ice cream.

Antipasto Salad


Antipasto (plural antipasti) is an Italian word that means  means “before the meal.” It is like an appetizer, and is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. A traditional antipasto includes things like cured meats, olives, marinated mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, various Italian cheeses, and a variety of vegetables in oil or vinegar.

I remember walking into an Italian restaurant in New York some years ago and there was an entire counter of beautiful plates of all sorts of vegetables prepared in many ways. You could order whichever you wanted for an antipasti plate to begin your meal.

But I think the whole idea of antipasto is a great pattern around which to design a lunch. It’s a delicious break from having a salad based on lettuce or greens. You’ve got your protein and a lot of vegetables. As you can see, I’ve just taken fresh vegetables like cucumber and tomatoes and combined them with roasted chicken, roasted red peppers (which I made myself—so much better than the peppers that come in a jar), and an assortment of olives from the olive bar at my local natural food store.

Recipes will be coming for things to put on your antipasto plate. For now, I just wanted to give you the idea, because it has opened up a whole new world for me about what salad can be.

Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake is one of my favorite summertime foods.

When I was a child, growing up just outside of San Francisco, we only had strawberries in season, and strawberry season happily coincided with my June birthday. A local bakery made a wonderful three-tier cake with strawberries and whipped cream and I always had that cake for my birthday.

Here’s an easy way to make paleo strawberry shortcake.

Make my Almond Flour Biscuits. Cut each biscuit in half, pile on the sliced strawberries, and top with Whipped Coconut Cream.

For Independence Day, add blueberries too for a red, white, and blue dessert.

Whipped Coconut Cream

coconut cream whipped

I’ve used coconut milk in various ways for many years, and occasionally wondered if it was possible to make whipped cream from it.

I tried whipping coconut milk once, but it didn’t work.

However…you can whip coconut cream! It’s fabulous! And it so easy.

Just get a can of coconut milk (yes I know, cans…BPA, but I’ve read that Native Forest Classic Coconut Milk is BPA-free) and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Be sure to get the Classic coconut milk and not the Light variety—what you need is the cream. You can also buy Native Forest Organic Coconut Cream and that should work too. Haven’t tried that as they don’t sell it at my local store.

coconut cream in canIf you are using the milk, in the morning, the cream will have hardened and you can separate it easily from the milk.

Whip it up and you’ll have a delicious topping.

No sweetener needed, though you can add one if you want.

Add a little vanilla too.


Almond Flour Biscuits


I love these biscuits. Very easy to make, and even more delicious than wheat biscuits. Make them large or small. I eat them plain or with butter—sometimes a little honey—or make things like Strawberry Shortcake.

Yesterday I made 8 small biscuits out of this recipe by rolling the dough into a ball with my hands, then flattening the ball into a disc. Then I sprinkled each one with a bit of coconut sugar and cinnamon. Very well received by my friends who got to taste them.

makes 4 big biscuits


  • 1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or other natural sweetener*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, coconut oil, or melted butter
  • 1 egg


  1. In a medium bowl, mix the almond flour, coconut sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the egg with the ghee, coconut oil or butter.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and with a fork until they are incorporated.
  4. Drop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, or roll out between two sheets of parchment paper, and cut into shapes.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees, until biscuits are browned on the bottom edges.

Water Kefir



Diann DirksLast week I interviewed my friend Diann Dirks on Toxic Free Talk Radio, where we talked about how to make water kefir.

I had no experience with water kefir or any idea even of what it was, but Diann explained it’s benefits so well that I immediately ordered “water kefir grains” to get started.

Water kefir is a fermented drink made by placing a specific starter in water. Add sugar, and in a couple of days the sugar is practically disappeared and in it’s place are all kinds of good things for your body that are the result of the fermentation process. No, it’s not alcoholic. It’s fizzy and you can put all kinds of flavors in it. And it’s a great way to hydrate your body through the summer.

Listen to the archived show about water kefir with Diann Dirks

And there’s more about Water Kefir at
How Fermented Foods Help Your Body Detox

Diann’s Instructions for Making Water Kefir

Start with good drinking water which has no chlorine, chloramines or fluoride in it, and has chemical waste taken out. Don’t use regular tap water as it usually contains chlorine and other chemicals which will damage the grains and not be healthful. Well water, spring water, and good filtered water are all good. Don’t use structured or ‘alkanized’ water. Only remove contaminants. Good filtered water like the PureEffect water filtration systems Debra recommends is perfect as it leaves the good minerals in but removes all the chemicals, industrial waste, radiation, fertilizers, animal waste, radon, heavy metals and prescription medications from the water.

If the water is without minerals, add some minerals using a pinch of high mineral content salt such as Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, a pinch of baking soda (not powder), or liquid minerals now and then.

You can use coconut water instead of water for first ferment.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar – Sucanat, organic cane sugar or organic brown sugar (if using Sucanat or other unrefined dehydrated cane juice, take 1/2 cup boiling water to dissolve it first, then add cold water up to the 4 cup mark)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons Kefir grains

Sugars can supply the minerals such as Sucanat, jaggery or rapadura, or black strap molasses 1/4 tsp with 1/4 cup white cane sugar – preferably organic – to give the minerals the grains required.

Pure organic fruit juice can be used instead of water but it is recommended that several batches of just water and sugar be used because it stresses the living Tibico to only use juice. Alternate juice with water every 5 or 6 batches to preserve your grains if you really love that flavor. Or, just add fruit juice in the second ferment, or combine the finished water kefir with fruit juice just before drinking. Use 2 quarts of juice for 4 Tablespoons of grains when using only juice.


  1.  Pour the liquid, whether water, coconut water or fruit juice and 3 or 4 Tablespoons of grains into a glass container
  2. Cover with a cloth held with a rubber band – or paper towel – to let in air
  3. Set on the counter away from direct sunlight, and in enough of a warm space to allow the fermentation to take place. If it’s comfortable for you without a sweater, it’s a good temperature.
  4. Let the mix set for 24 to 48 hours.
  5. Strain out the grains with a non-metallic strainer (grains are damaged by contact with metal except non-reactive stainless steel), then start the next batch. The grains do not have to be rinsed nor the glass jar washed out between batches. Just start with new water, sugar and your grains as usual. The grains should be fed sugar and water every 48 hours to stay healthy, and should have some form of minerals like minerals in good water, minerals in the sugar, or added salt or baking soda – pinch or two. Grains will change color and size over the different seasons or depending on the kind of sugar used from clear to dark brown. They last indefinitely as they are a live organism when provided with water, sugar and minerals, not refrigerated for long periods of time nor often, and get some minerals. The grains are quite forgiving.


  1. Take the finished water kefir juice and pour into quart jars.
  2. Add your favorite dry or fresh fruit, fruit juice, flavorful herbs etc. and cover tightly.
  3. Leave the second fermenting jars on the counter for 4 or 5 days, checking the carbonation (be careful, it can build up), then refrigerate.
  4. The finished second fermentation can last several months in the refrigerator covered. If you are using whole fruit – fresh or dried, or herbs, you’ll want to strain them out and rebottle and cover tightly. You can puree fresh fruit and leave it in without straining.

Cream Soda Water Kefir
Add 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract to a glass.

Ginger Soda
2 coin sized pieces of ginger

Fizzy Lemonade
2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon

2-3 tsp quality organic orange zest (not juice) to standard batch 24 to 48 hours in first ferment for orangeade flavor.

Blueberry-Pomegranate soda
1/2 cup Knudsen juice/quart of water. Can substitute cherry, raspberry, grape, apple or other flavored juice in the same proportion in with the grains, strain out grains when finished.

Or experiment with your favorite flavors, fruits, herbs or spices such as cinnamon.

* The double fermented flavors can be made into popsicles.
* Can be used as a base for smoothies or ices in hot weather.
* It can be used with gelatin to make a kind of delicious jello.
* Can be used as a facial wash or as hair rinse.
* Grains are edible.
* Water Kefir can be fed to dogs to help their digestion and general health.
* Can be used as a starter for breads or pancakes like sourdough starter.
* Can be cold-infused with medicinal herbs for another way to deliver benefits.
* Excellent source of pro-biotics for gut health, to cleanse the endocrine system and liver, builds strong bones, eases aches and pains, improves vision, boosts immune system, good for digestive problems, good source of enzymes, good source of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for protein building, and balances the internal eco-system of the whole body. It aids the nervous system, promotes good sleep, and helps with depression, ADHD and autism per recent research.
* Great beverage to replace soda pop and sports drinks, coffee and tea. Can be drunk in large amounts with no ill affects, and no sugar overload. The sugar is digested in the fermentation process.

Can grains be stored?
Yes, 4 to 5 days in small glass container with sugar and water. Can be frozen when strained well, placed in plastic or glass containers and frozen. Can be dehydrated – spread on plate, covered with paper towel, well ventilated area (or in dehydrator low heat or just air), turned each day to detach them from place so they don’t break. They’re done when they’re crystallized and not sticky. Good way to ship them in padded envelope. Rehydrate them by soaking in water at room temperature till they get jelly like, then use with sugar and water as usual.

Do they get alcoholic?
Water Kefir might get up to .5% to 3% alcohol depending on time. The longer it ferments, the more alcohol. If made into mead using honey instead of sugar (thought this will damage the grains after a few batches), less alcoholic content than usual methods of making mead – low alcoholic percentage.

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Sweet and Sour Kale Salad

salad on a bowl
Last weekend I went to TWO potlucks, (yes, I go to a lot of potlucks!) so I needed to make a lot of something quick.

I decided to make two big bowls of kale salad and I came home with two empty bowls. People loved it who didn’t even like kale!

It’s very simple. I’m just going to give you general instructions because you’ll just make it however you want.

The dressing was simply apple cider vinegar and raw honey about 2 parts vinegar to one part honey.

The key is to make a “chiffonade” of kale. Just remove the stems from the center of each leaf, and stack them up. With a good sharp knife, slice across the wide of the pile to make a very thin slice.

Put the chiffonade kale in a bowl and add the honey vinegar. Let it sit to soften the kale. It can actually sit for hours, like from morning til night and it will taste good at any point, as it gets softer and softer.

I added chopped cucumber, raisins, and chopped green onions. Just toss them in.

Delicious, delicious, delicious!

Be creative with this and add any vegetables, fruits, seasonings, whatever you want to this basic kale recipe.

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Mediterranean Salad

salad on wooden bowl

I eat a big salad every day for lunch. I really do. Periodically I invent a new salad and that becomes my favorite for a while.

Currently it’s Mediterranean Salad with Quick Chick and Tahini Sauce.

I just put a pile of green leaf and red leaf lettuce in the bowl, top with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, and Greek olives, and Tahini Sauce. Then salt and pepper on top because I like to taste it rather than have it mixed in.

And that’s it. Very quick when I already have the chicken cooked and the dressing in the fridge.

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Tahini Sauce

tahini gressing

A couple of weeks ago I was at a potluck. My friend Maggy brought some steamed vegetables with tahini sauce. She said, “Anything tastes good with tahini sauce!” and when I tasted it I agreed. I think the key to eating vegetables is to have a variety of yummy sauces to eat them with and this is certainly one of them.

I had to make a recipe, so I went to our natural food store and they had the ingredients listed on the sauce. I copied them down and came home and started experimenting. I left out a few ingredients but I think it’s pretty close. Close enough for me!

artisana tahiniWhen you make this, I strongly suggest using Artisana Organic Raw Tahini. I’ve tried several brands and this one is tastes the best and has an aliveness to it. The others are more bitter. Tahini is simply sesame seeds ground into a butter. All the Artisana products I’ve tried are just exquisite. Very high quality. They seem to be out-of-stock both at my natural food store and online, but worth looking for in the future.

I’ve put the measurements in parts, so you can make any amount. If a part is a teaspoon for example, 4 parts is 4 teaspoons. When I make this now, I start with a half jar of tahini and figure the proportions from there.


  • 4 parts tahini
  • 4 parts olive oil
  • 4 parts coconut amions or gluten-fre tamari
  • 2 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 1 part raw honey (or more to taste)
  • garlic (fresh or powdered to taste)
  • ginger (fresh or powdered to taste)


Just mix everything up in a bowl or jar. I now have an empty tahini jar that I am reserving to be the tahini sauce jar.

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Quick Chick

quick chick

Now I think it’s best to get a whole chicken, roast it, and use the bones to make bone broth (see Roast Chicken & Bone Broth).

However, I also know there are times when that’s just not possible and yet you still need to have some protein on hand.

That’s why I’m giving you these simple instructions. So you can have chicken on hand anytime.

The best chicken I can buy locally at an affordable price is Coleman’s Organic Chicken in a three-pack at Costco. This gives me six to eight chicken breasts.

I just sprinkle salt and pepper and celery seeds on top and put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 34 minutes, and I have chicken.

Not perfect, but workable, organic, I have control over what gets put on it,  it’s available and affordable, it’s better than take-out chicken and it’s a step in the right direction.

It lasts at least a week., and I always have cooked chicken on hand.

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