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- 1 1/4 pounds Meyer lemons
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Working on large plate to catch juice, cut lemons in half lengthwise, then very thinly crosswise. Discard seeds. Pack enough lemons and any juice to measure 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to large nonreactive pot. Add 5 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand uncovered overnight.
Measure lemon mixture (there should be about 5 1/2 cups). Return to same pot. Add equal amount of sugar (about 5 1/2 cups). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Add pinch of salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer. Maintaining active boil and adjusting heat to prevent boiling over, cook until temperature reaches 230°F, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to jars. Cover and chill. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
In a Jam
To some extent, this propensity of mine toward impulse produce buying is problematic. I have a (more than) full-time job. I have a home and a family to care for. I have responsibilities. But once those seasonal wonders are in my house, staring at me from the kitchen counter, I cannot rest until I turn them into something delicious. What can I do, but to keep stirring up something fun in the kitchen and sharing it with you here on In a Jam?
For some reason, I've been on a bit of a citrus kick lately. First, there was the key lime curd. Then, the Meyer lemons appeared in my local market and I scooped up three bags. For the uninitiated, Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The skin is smoother than that of a traditional lemon and is a deep yellow to almost orange color. The peel of a Meyer lemon is generally thinner and the juice is somewhat sweeter, with less acidity than normal lemons. All of these traits make them a wonderful choice for culinary experimentation.
The first thing I made was a Meyer lemon curd, using the exact recipe I shared on the blog last week, only with lemons instead of limes. Even though the Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter, they still had plenty of acid content to make a delicious curd.
Then I decided I absolutely had to do something that would take full advantage of the amazing color of the Meyer lemon peel. An obvious choice? Marmalade. But not just any marmalade. A Meyer lemon marmalade with a touch of vanilla bean that would play beautifully off the tart/sweet of the citrus. I think you're really going to enjoy this recipe. The end result is a delicious lemon preserve with the exotic taste of real vanilla and pieces of orange-colored peel that taste like candy.
Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade
(Original recipe appeared in Bon Apetit, although I've made several changes here, including adding instructions for water bath canning.)
6 to 7 Meyer lemons (approximately 1 1/2 pounds)
5 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
Double Up: Meyer Lemon Marmalade & Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade
As the poet Sir Mixalot penned in his beloved”Baby Got Back”, you can “double up” on Meyer Lemon Vanilla and Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalade. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)
Why Meyer Lemons?
These delicate skinned beauties are smaller than the Eureka lemons you often find in your local grocery store. Meyer Lemons are a cross between a Mandarin orange and a lemon. The flavor is not as tart as the common Eureka lemon. Meyer Lemons make a versatile marmalade that can be used in a variety of recipes.
Why Two Flavors?
Everyone has different taste buds. One of my marmalade fans loves the added vanilla bean and vanilla extract. Another follower prefers the original. So I made both. Since Aunt Becky’s Meyer Lemon and Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Marmalades were so popular last year (sold out by mid-summer), I doubled my Meyer Lemon order. But don’t wait too long. Once it’s gone, you’ll have to wait another year for the next harvest.
How Can I Order?
If you live in the Portland, OR area, you can email auntbeckys at gmail.com and we’ll coordinate a meeting place. If you live further or want your marmalade shipped, check out Aunt Becky’s Etsy page for ordering.
If you’re a marmalade lover, more flavors are coming soon including Seville Orange Marmalade, Navel Orange Marmalade and Pomelo Marmalade.
Three Citrus Vanilla Marmalade | FIJ Mastery Challenge 2017
Winter citrus is my favorite way to brighten the gloom of the season. Make this sweet, colorful, and highly adaptable Three Citrus Vanilla Marmalade any time you need a little pick-me-up on a cold day!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links at no additional cost to you. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Made with vibrant Cara Cara and Blood Oranges and beautiful Meyer lemons, this Three Citrus Vanilla Marmalade is a sweet, tart, and surprisingly warm way to brighten up the winter season. The touch of vanilla balances out the bitter bite of more traditional marmalade recipes, leaving you with a delicious preserve with a broad appeal. Take advantage of the season&rsquos amazing citrus bounty and make a batch of this lovely spread for those times you need a pick me up this winter. Not to mention, Three Citrus Vanilla Marmalade makes a great DIY gift for friends and family over the holidays!
Jump to Recipe
The Art of Making Marmalade
Earlier this month, one of my favorite bloggers &ndash Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars &ndash announced she would be hosting a year-long food preservation mastery challenge . Each month she will feature a new skill, following up with sample recipes and posts on how to accomplish the technique. She even started an online Facebook group, where participants in the challenge can share their triumphs (and failures), ask for advice, and just chat with other canners and preservationists. Between the move and the holidays, I haven&rsquot canned anything since November. This is a stark change from a few months ago, when I was canning something once or twice a week. How could I turn down such an easy excuse to break out my tools and take command of my new kitchen? Of course, I immediately signed up.
J anuary&rsquos skill is making marmalade, which is one I&rsquom rather familiar with. People often ask what the difference is between marmalade and jam, and honestly in many ways they are similar. The point of note is that marmalade specifically contains the zest and juices of citrus fruits &ndash typically the whole fruit depending on the method used. Because of this, it&rsquos commonly a little bitter due to the pith of the citrus, making it a highly contentious preserve with regard to taste preferences. You either love it, or you hate it.
While people can argue about the taste of marmalade, no one can deny that it has a long and storied past, with similar hard-set preserves dating back to Medieval Europe. I could honestly write an entire blog post just on its history, but I&rsquoll save that for another day. I became a little obsessed with marmalade last winter, and went a bit crazy reading into it and experimenting with blood orange recipes. I even took an incredibly enjoyable class with Camilla Wynne of the Canadian-based Preservation Society when she visited the The Brooklyn Kitchen last year. You should check out the location if you live in the area, as they offer some great classes in a really cool location. This particular class was called &ldquoThe Dark Art of Marmalade&rdquo (If I hadn&rsquot already loved marmalade, that name would have done it). I learned a lot from Camilla, and I turn to her cookbook, Preservation Society Home Preserves , often for interesting and out-of-the-box ideas for flavor combinations.
Making marmalade is a time intensive process, more so than a lot of other jams. While other styles exist, most traditional-style marmalades use (nearly) the whole fruit. Even the seeds are often retained for the pectin, and then removed before bottling. There are two primary ways to make marmalade : 1) the sliced fruit method and 2) the whole fruit method. As the names imply, the first involves slicing the citrus whole and then soaking it overnight before making the marmalade (see the Meyer lemons sliced above). The second calls for boiling the whole (well-washed) citrus fruits in a big pot of water until soft, and then chopping them up for the preserves (see the various citrus below). Quick Note: There is a third marmalade technique that uses a &ldquocut rind&rdquo method, but I won&rsquot go into that here as it isn&rsquot one that I typically use.
The soaking and boiling serve a very important purpose, as both methods help to break down the bitter pith of the fruit and soften the rinds. While there will still be some bitterness from the peel, this process makes the fruit edible. This being said, marmalade making can easily be broken up into a number of steps over multiple days, so not everything needs to get done in one long, tiresome set of hours (and in fact it&rsquos better if you don&rsquot). For more information on the processes and their differences, check out Marisa&rsquos recent article on the subject.
Regardless of the style you choose, there are so many ways to make this very special preserve. With the marmalade bug upon me and beautiful winter citrus in season, I made two recipes last week. I thought I&rsquod share the results with you.
Strawberry Meyer Lemon & Rum Marmalade
After finding a scant two pounds of Meyer Lemons at the local Whole Foods, I decided to use half along with some frozen strawberries I&rsquod saved from the summer for this very popular recipe. Like many other participants in the challenge, I used Marisa&rsquos recipe from Preserving by the Pint , stirring in 3 tablespoons of aged rum at the end.
As the frozen strawberries were a little bland, I also added ¼ cup of local honey to the mix to enrich the flavor. The end result is sweet and bright, and my husband absolutely loves it. I can only imagine how much better it would be with fresh strawberries!
As called for, I used the sliced fruit method for this recipe. Many sliced fruit marmalades require soaking the fruit overnight, but this one can be soaked for as little as three hours. If time is an issue, you can always stash the soaking fruit in the fridge for a day or two and come back to it if you need to. That&rsquos the great thing about marmalade!
Three Citrus Vanilla Marmalade
In my second marmalade experiment of January 2017, I decided to make a mixed citrus marmalade after finding some beautiful Cara Cara and blood oranges at the store. While I&rsquom very familiar with blood oranges, I&rsquod never used Cara Cara before. True to the descriptions I&rsquove found, the pink-fleshed Cara Cara navel orange is very low on acid, and to me tastes like a cross between a mild orange and a sweetened grapefruit. It also has a very slight floral note somewhere, which some have compared to rose petal. Its flavor is subtle and delicate. In contrast, the blood orange is bold in color and flavor. It gets its distinctive crimson flesh from the antioxidant anthocyanin, and its far more tart and acidic than the Cara Cara. It makes sense why many prefer blood orange juice for cocktails and sauces, due to its strong taste and vivid color.
Mixed together, this Three Citrus Vanilla Marmalade is delicious. It&rsquos bright and warm, and while some of the bitter bite of traditional marmalade remains, the addition of vanilla bean balances that out beautifully for those that prefer something sweeter. My personal note is to add the vanilla bean sparingly. If you are using really great citrus, you don&rsquot want to mask those flavors too much. Taste the base marmalade first, then add a quarter of the vanilla bean and taste again. Go from there to get the flavor you want.
Testing for Set
As a final note for beginning canners: If you&rsquove never made a jam or jelly before, the term &ldquoset&rdquo might be unfamiliar to you. It refers to the consistency of your fruit preserve once it has a chance to cool off. Determining the set of your jam is tricky. How long it takes to set is influenced by many uncontrollable factors, such as water content of your fruit and your current humidity. Even skilled home preservationists don&rsquot get their sets right every time because of this, so don&rsquot be hard on yourself if it takes some practice to get it right.
One easy way to check the set of your preserve is with the chilled plate test: Put a saucer or two in your freezer when you start preparing your jars and lids. When you think your marmalade might be ready, remove the mixture from heat, and put a small dollop of the preserve on the chilled plate. Put the plate back into the freezer, and then wait 60 seconds. Pull the saucer out and push through the marmalade with your finger. If it&rsquos still a pure liquid, the marmalade is not set yet. Put it back on the burner and keep boiling. If it ripples and folds in front of your finger and has a thicker, &ldquojelly-like&rdquo consistency, your jam is done. Let it rest and jar your creation according to the recipe. I encourage you to look into the tests and examples and find the ones that work best for you.
Now enjoy this bright and vivid winter preserve while you can still find the citrus in season!
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
This marmalade makes a delicious accompaniment to our Blueberry Lavender Scone recipe, plain croissants or even a piece of buttered toast. Vanilla adds warmth to the citrus essence of this marmalade and tones down any pucker associated with lemons. Thyme’s herbal tones balance out the sweetness and add a further complexity to the overall flavor.
6 Meyer lemons (preferably organic)
1 vanilla bean
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Gently scrub and dry the lemons.
Juice one of the lemons and set aside the juice.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the remaining five lemons. Try to remove only the zest without capturing the white pith. (The pith imparts a bitter flavor.) Set aside half of the peel for another use if you wish. (It freezes well.) Thinly slice the remaining peel into strips - as thin as you can get them!
With a sharp paring knife, remove the white pith from the lemons. Discard the pith. Slice the lemon flesh into 1/3 - 1/2 inch rounds. Discard any seeds. Place flesh and sliced peel in a medium sauce pan.
Slice vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape seeds from bean and add both to sauce pan. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, for about an hour or longer, until reduced by half. Add sugar and thyme sprigs. Simmer for 20 minutes, then carefully remove thyme sprigs. (A fork works well for this.) Continue to simmer, 1 hour or longer, until thickened and syrupy. Stir occasionally while cooking to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in reserved lemon juice.
Spoon into jars and allow to cool before covering with lids. Refrigerate for up to one month.
We recommend using organic Meyer lemons if they are available. Since they are concentrated in the cooking process, the purer the better!
Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade - Recipes
Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.
Almost every morning, I slather jam or marmalade on toast.
I’ve also used it time and again for filling batch after batch of thumbprint cookies.
And I’ve warmed it to brush on fruit tarts to give them a dazzling gloss.
But “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” (Andrews McMeel), of which I received a review copy, really opened my eyes to so many other ways you can use jam in everyday cooking. The book is by Rachel Saunders, founder of Blue Chair Fruit Company, a jam company that specializes in jams made from sustainable fruit grown in the Bay Area.
How about a vibrant beet soup made with red plum jam? Or prawn and squid paella made with nectarine jam? Or even tempeh stir-fried with mushrooms, bok choy and greengage jam?
You’ll find those recipes and other creative fare in these pages, along with recipes to make jam if you don’t want to just buy a ready-made jar from the market.
“My Roast Chicken” appealed to me because the whole bird is roasted with a lemon marmalade and fresh rosemary mixture slathered underneath its skin.
With a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, I always end up with a steady supply of this fragrant citrus that’s a cross between a Eureka lemon and a tangerine. I use them to make pitchers of lemonade, all manner of baked goods, and Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, a Bon Appetit magazine recipe that I’ve been making every winter.
My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.
I was curious as to whether the marmalade would make a real difference or if it would turn this chicken into dessert.
Even though you don’t use a lot of marmalade, you definitely can taste it, even if some of it will leak out of the chicken during the roasting and scorch in the pan. But don’t fear. Plenty will be left to give the chicken a distinctive citrus. Combined with the rosemary, it creates a resiny flavor with just the slightest hint of sweetness. What’s especially nice is that the marmalade adds more depth than just plain lemon juice would. The high sugar level will mean the chicken may get quite dark brown in spots if any of the marmalade leeches out onto the skin. But the near-charred bits don’t affect the flavor at all, and actually add a bit of smokiness.
I made one addition to the recipe — adding some halved Yukon Gold potatoes to the bottom of the pan to cook along with the chicken. They soak up some of the chicken juices as they cook. When you remove the lemon halves from the cavity of the chicken after cooking, be sure to squirt the juice on the meat and the potatoes. The roasting will have tamed the lemons even more, giving their juice a delightful caramelized sweetness.
After all, nothing goes together like chicken and potatoes. Except maybe chicken, potatoes and lemon marmalade.
Blue Chair Cooks “My Roast Chicken”
1 (3-pound) chicken, at room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon marmalade, store-bought or home-made
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, preferably European-style, at room temperature
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lemons, preferably Meyer, quartered or halved, and seeded
12 Yukon Gold potatoes, halved or cut into quarters if large
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place a v-rack in the roasting pan and set the pan aside.
Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry. Place the marmalade on a cutting board and chop it briefly to break up any large pieces. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the marmalade, coarse sea salt, rosemary and butter together into a paste. Carefully work your fingers under the chicken’s skin to loosen it from the flesh. Start from the neck and try not to tear the skin. Gently work the butter mixture under the skin with your fingers, spreading it as evenly as possible over the bird.
Brush the outside of the chicken all over with the olive oil, then sprinkle it liberally outside and in with kosher salt and pepper. Stuff the lemon halves or quarters and rosemary sprigs into the cavity, packing them tightly as possibly. Roughly truss the chicken by tying the legs together at the neck end with kitchen twine.
Scatter potatoes around the bottom of the pan. Place chicken breast side up in the prepared pan and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side down and roast it for a further 20 minutes. Turn it breast side up again and continue roasting until it is just cooked and the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh joint with a skewer, about another 20 minutes. As soon as the chicken is fully cooked, turn it breast side down and prop it against the side of the pan at a 45-degree angle with the legs up so that the juices run into the breast. Tent the chicken with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
To serve, remove the lemon quarters from the cavity, carve the chicken, and squeeze the lemony juices over the carved meat and potatoes.
Adapted from “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” by Rachel Saunders
More Lemony Goodness to Try: Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade
Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade - Recipes
I have a confession to make: I had a serious case of the jam jitters.
Don’t get me wrong. I love jam. In fact, I enjoy it almost every morning, spread thickly on sourdough toast or an English muffin.
You see, I was a can-o-phobe. There are some notable culinary life passages we all face: Cooking that first Thanksgiving turkey. Baking something with yeast for the first time. Shucking that first oyster. Add to that list, jam-making for me. I’d conquered those other rites long ago. It was high time to tackle this one, too.
When I won a load of homegrown Meyer lemons from 5 Second Rule’s recent raffle, I wanted to put them to good use. So, Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Vanilla Bean seemed like a most fitting tribute.
Jam-making veterans had told me how easy it was to do. They took such pleasure in doing something so old-fashioned and nuturing, and not to mention cost-effective in this horrific economy.
For years, I had put off trying my hand at jam. Well, I’d have to buy a water bath canner, for one thing. I’d heard horror stories of jams that didn’t gel. And I worried I’d end up poisoning friends and family members alike if I screwed it up.
So, this recipe was perfect for a neophyte like me. It required no water bath canner or any pectin. It consisted of only lemons, sugar, salt, water, and a vanilla bean. I could store the jam in jars in the refrigerator after I’d sterilized them in the dishwasher. It was as easy as can be.
I used a mandolin to slice the Meyers thinly, and then removed all the seeds. As the lemons simmered in a big pot on the stove with the other ingredients, the house smelled incredible. Meyer Lemon #5, anyone? The natural, fresh, floral, citrusy fragrance was as intoxicating as any expensive perfume.
My only hitch was that I couldn’t get the boiling mixture up to 230 degrees. I came up 10 degrees short, no matter how long I simmered it or at how high of a heat. No matter, the jam set up perfectly once it was refrigerated for a few hours.
As I stared at my jars, looking for all the world like they were imbued with pure sunshine, I admit that I felt proud. And when I spread my marmalade on toast each morning, I smile at its sweet-tart taste, and its thick, rind-laden, pulpy texture.
Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade
5 1/2 cups (about) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Working on a large plate to catch juice, cut lemons in half lengthwise, then very thinly crosswise. Discard seeds. Pack enough lemons and any juice to measure 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to a large nonreactive pot. Add 5 cups water bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat let stand uncovered overnight.
Measure lemon mixture (there should be about 5 1/2 cups). Return to same pot. Add equal amount of sugar (about 5 1/2 cups). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean add bean. Add pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer. Maintaining an active boil and adjusting heat to prevent boiling over, cook until temperature reaches 230 degrees, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to jars. Cover and chill. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
Note: If you have trouble getting the mixture up to 230 degrees, use a trick I learned from cookbook writers Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein. When boiling the marmalade mixture, add the peels from one apple, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with twine. The natural pectin from the apple skins will help thicken the marmalade to the perfect consistency even if you can’t get the mixture heated to 230 degrees. Just remove the cheesecloth-wrapped peels before transferring the marmalade to jars.
Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade
1 1/4 lbs. meyer lemons (about 5 lemons)
1 vanilla bean (or 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste)
optional: additional vanilla beans for jars
Working on large plate to catch juice, cut lemons in half lengthwise, remove the pithy white membrane, then cut half moon slices very thinly crosswise. Discard seeds. Pack enough lemons and any juice to measure 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to large nonreactive pot. Add 5 cups water bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat let stand uncovered overnight.
Measure lemon mixture (there should be about 5 1/2 cups). Return to same pot. Add equal amount of sugar (about 5 1/2 cups). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean add bean. Add pinch of salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer. Maintaining active boil and adjusting heat to prevent boiling over, cook until temperature reaches 226°F, stirring occasionally, about 30-40 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to jars. Place a half of vanilla bean in each jar. Cover and chill. (Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade - Recipes
As you can probably tell, I've been on something of a Meyer lemon binge as of late. Our Meyer lemons haven't been as abundant as we would like, but thankfully I know some generous people who have kept me fully stocked for over a year! Their single tree is consistently full of fruit, and I have been the lucky one to benefit the most. Devastatingly for me, they have sold their house with the amazing tree, and I am trying to find a variety of ways to preserve my last big haul.
Today and yesterday I made two batches of Bon Appétit's Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade with a few tweaks of my own, and with tremendous success! Though the final product takes some time, it really is a simple recipe and worth the delay.
I appreciate the Meyer's delicate tartness and wanted the lemons to shine, so I decided to reduce the amount of sugar and vanilla called for in the original recipe. Not too sweet and not too tart. Perfection!
Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade
Adapted from Bon Appétit
1 1/2 lbs Meyer Lemons
5 Cups Water
4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Vanilla Bean
Slice the lemons in half from stem to flower end. Cut each half into very thin slices. Some have found a mandolin helpful, but I preferred the serrated edge of my very sharp bread knife. Carefully remove any seeds and discard (many marmalade recipes call for using the pectin in the seeds, but I found it to be a completely unnecessary step, as the pith provides plenty of pectin and the sugar will also aid in thickening). The slices should result in approximately 2 1/2 Cups of lemon slices and juice, packed into a measuring cup.
|Lemons after simmering and sitting for 12 hours|
Bring it all up to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once a rolling boil has been reached, lower to a slightly gentler boil and insert a clip-on candy thermometer, and stir occasionally to avoid scorching or over-boiling. Remove the pot from heat when the temperature reaches between 200 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. This should take between 15 and 30 minutes.
While the marmalade comes up to temperature, place a saucer in your freezer--you will use the chilled plate to test whether the marmalade is ready for taking off the heat and ready for putting in jars.
Also at this time, prepare 6 already-cleaned 8 ounce jars and canning lids in hot water.
Kale, Quinoa & Cranberry
Kale salad with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and Aunt Becky’s cranberry sauce is a nice start to the New Year. I must first give credit to another lovely blogger, Kellies Food to Glow, for the original inspiration to use fresh cranberries in a vinaigrette, Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette. I must then give credit to my friend Deb who introduced me to kale 7is years ago. You can follow the rabbit trail or just skip to the recipe below.
In September 2006, I was diagnosed with MS. I was 32. I had physical symptoms from my neck down, including the ability to walk only with a walker and three physical therapists holding onto me, muscle spasms, numbness, a sensation of electric shock when I bent my neck and incredible pain when my skin was touched. It was horrible. But I was oddly at peace too. I prayed for several years leading up to my diagnosis that God would do whatever it took in my life to change me. Ironic as it may sound now, I believe my MS diagnosis was the answer to my prayers.
Researching like mad, I learned that the traditional drug therapy for MS, kind-of sucks. It has a 30% effectiveness rate, unless you take the one that kills people and the number jumps to 50%. Also, it destroys your internal organs and makes you experience flu-like symptoms weekly for the rest of your life. No thanks. Different neurologists paraded through my hospital room daily giving me statistics and trying to scare me into starting the drug therapy. They told me there was a high likelihood that I would be in a wheelchair in 5 years.
After I was released from the hospital, my friend Deb came over to talk. She and two of my other friends from my church did the Gerson Therapy, a two year detox therapy, for cancer and MS with good results. I had no interest in doing the therapy because I knew it was incredible difficult. I told Deb that if God asked me to do the Gerson Therapy, He was asking for everything. She just looked at me in her calm and gracious way and gently asked, “isn’t that the point?”. Dang it! I knew I couldn’t weasel out of it.
I won’t go too much into the details, just the highlights. The Gerson Therapy is a two year plan that includes organic, freshly made juices, so many vegetables I felt like all I did was chew, and coffee enemas. It’s all organic, vegetarian, almost no sugar, no alcohol, no processed foods, no fat except flax seed oil, and no dairy except plain non-fat yogurt. It’s basically the most difficult and grueling thing I’ve ever accomplished. I even took a juicer to Mexico for a camping trip and did the therapy on the warm, lovely beach in Puerto Penasco. (This is a super dorky picture and it’s 6am, but you get the idea.)
My favorite analogy is to think of your body as a cup of mud. Slowly, clean pure water drips into the cup. After two years, your body is clean and pure and actually able to heal itself. You can check out the details at the Gerson website or check-out the book “The Gerson Therapy” from the library. There are also several documentaries on Netflix about the therapy.
So that’s what I did. I had two more major flare-ups. One during the therapy and one a year after I finished in October 2009. In the past 4 years, my MRI results show no scar tissue or new MS activity. This is not supposed to be medically possible. My other three friends are also cured of cancer and MS. Five years after completing the Gerson Therapy, I ran my first 5k.
Back to the kale. After about a year into the Gerson Therapy, the same vegetables get really boring! Deb introduced me to kale. I first steamed it over a bed of onion and carrots. Kale can be bitter so the light steaming over sweeter veggies counteracts the bitterness and makes it taste yummy. This week, I went on a kale-bender. Not that there is such a thing, but it makes me laugh. I tossed raw kale with grated carrots, balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries and sliced almonds for lunch every day. Yum! Tonight, I decided to up my game and create a new recipe with cranberry sauce vinaigrette.
For those of you who haven’t cooked quinoa, it cooks like white rice. A ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa does the trick. Quinoa is considered an “ancient grain”. That doesn’t mean it’s only for the elderly, just that it’s pure and whole and chock-full of vitamins and minerals, just like kale. Don’t be afraid. Just try it.