Pho-A Soup That Heals

We gotta start with the stock home made or it won’t be healing! This can be gluten free or grain free. Your choice.


Pho-Classic Vietnamese Soup

Vietnamese Spiced Beef Stock (Nuoc Dung Bo)

3 lbs meaty beef bones or oxtails
14 cups purified water
1 3-inch piece of ginger
1 onion, cut in quarters
1 tbsp salt
6 whole star anise
1½ cinnamon sticks
2 large bay leaves
4 whole cloves
1 tbsp coconut sugar or raw agave nectar
2 tsp fennel seeds

Place bones in a roasting pan and roast in oven on 350° F until browned. Remove bones
and put into a large stockpot. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan. Place pan over burner
and add cold water. Scrape up all the good brown bits and add the contents of the pan to
the stockpot. Add more COLD water to cover the bones. Make sure liquid comes no
higher than 2 inches from the top. Salt and return to a boil. Stir in the star anise,
cinnamon, bay, cloves, ginger, onion and sugar. Put the fennel seeds in cheesecloth, a
tea ball, or in tin foil that’s been pierced all over, and add them to the pot. When the stock
comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, skimming, for about 4 hours. Strain and
remove fat. ***To make this into a super stock as I like to call bone broth, simmer for at least 24 hours and add water as you need to. You also must add at the start, either cider vinegar or lemon juice to help extract the minerals from the bones. I think lime juice would be nice in Pho too…just 1/4 cup. Why bone broth? It’s full of minerals, collagen (helps joints and other tissue), glycine, glutamine and proline. The minerals are in a form that can be readily absorbed…things like calcium, magnesium, silicon, sulphur, phosphorous and more. This can help reduce inflammation which is a big part of getting healthy. It can also boost your immune system. Best of all…it heals your gut lining and leaky gut is an immense health problem these days. It causes all kinds of troubles including auto-immune diseases.

Now for the soup itself…

Phó (Vietnamese Beef-Noodle Soup) Serves 6 big bowls and I think there might be leftovers:)

If you like Asian soups and can tolerate some spice, this is the ultimate comfort food. It’s
a snap to make once you get hold of all the ingredients and in many cities and other locations we have access to an amazing array of Asian ingredients. Depending on personal tastes, variations on phó would include crunchy tripe, tender long-cooked brisket, savoury beef balls, or silky tendon. Or it could come as a light chicken version, phó ga. A good phó restaurant would be expected to list 15 to 20 of these choices.

Whatever your preference, this soup is delicate but filling; fragrant and satisfying–and
historically interesting. Phó is a blend of Mongolian beef hot pot (the Vietnamese were
the only people who defeated the Khan’s invading armies–that grilled their meat on their
shields and made “hot pot” soup in their helmets), Chinese spices, and SE Asian herbs.

So gather the ingredients and prep…

½ pound phó rice noodles (These can be the real thing, banh phó, or rice sticks or any
rice noodle at all.)  So this will be gluten free but not grain free. For grain free, you can substitute zucchini spiralized to make noodles. Just cook for a short time in the broth and voila, veggie noodles. I’m thinking abut trying a mix of daikon with the zucchini.


8 cups Vietnamese Spiced Beef Stock (above)
Lime juice to taste.
2-3 tbsp nuoc mam (fish sauce made from fermented anchovies available in some
supermarkets and Asian markets) or other Southeast Asian fish sauce
¾ pound slab of boneless beef (top round is fine but I spoil myself with fillet), partially frozen then sliced into paper thin slices (ask your butcher). I was even able to get the
butcher at Save on Foods to slice it for me.

Accompaniments: ¼ cup sliced green onions, ½ cup Thai basil or regular, 2 cups fresh
mung bean sprouts, 6 lime slices, finely sliced jalapeno peppers, and nuoc mam.
Cook the noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain (or follow package directions
for whatever noodles you’re using). Heat spiced beef stock, lime juice, and nuoc mam (fish sauce) in a large non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the broth for about 30 minutes. If you are using zucchini noodles, put them in the broth about 5 mins before ready to plate.

Arrange green onions, basil, bean sprouts, chilies, and lime slices on a platter.
When ready to serve, distribute the noodles evenly among the deep bowls, then top with
meat slices. Pour the hot broth over both, filling the bowl, and serve immediately, with
porcelain spoons and chopsticks and with the platter of accompaniments, nuoc mam (fish sauce), and chilli sauce on the side. This is a meal in a bowl!

Accompany with a bottle of chili-garlic sauce (Tuong ot Toi Viet-Nam, if you can get it) or
chili oil drizzled into broth for extra heat on the side (Yum!).



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The Perfect Salad (mine at least)


This is one serving but you can make this for the family too…just increase
ingredients accordingly. For me it gets me to want to eat a lot of salad so that’s a
good thing and it’s a great one for lunch or dinner.

2 cups Mixed organic greens (I like some arugula and baby spinach as well)
Pickled Pear or Granny Smith Apples (recipe to follow)—just a few pieces
6 Cherry tomatoes cut in ½ (try to get different colored ones like orange, green,
red and yellow)
1/4 c Chopped Red Onion, green onion (scallion) is ok too.
1/3 c Fresh or frozen green peas (just blanch them briefly in boiling water)
Crumbled Cheese (about ¼ c) best choices are either creamy goats, some kind
of blue, feta or boccocini but use what you like. I love Gorgonzola or an herb
goats. Feta is nice too and adding some Calamata olives if using feta is great.
¼ c Toasted Spiced Pecans or walnuts (recipe to follow)

Serve with a Cider Vinegar Dressing (recipe to follow).

The nice thing about this salad is that is seems really special but you can have
the pecans, pears/apples and dressing made up ahead and stored so that when
in a hurry, that’s all done and it’s just a little bit of prep.

Pecans: Melt 3 TBSP unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add a splash of
Worcestershire sauce and a splash of Tabasco…more if you really like it hot.
Also add, ½ tsp salt and pepper and ½ tsp granulated garlic. Melt the butter and
stir. Remove from heat and add 1 c pecans (walnuts are ok too). Stir to coat and
pour all into a pie tin.
Place in the oven on 350 F until fragrant. About 5 to 10 mins.
Watch them carefully as they can burn easily. Remove from oven and cool. Store
in fridge.


cider dressing

I just put all into my Vitamix (high speed blender) and blend.

1/3 cup raw unfiltered organic cider vinegar. I use Braggs.
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup raw honey or agave can work too
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo)
1 tsp salt and pepper

Spiced Pears or Apples: This is for one small jar using one pear or apple so
adjust accordingly.

Make the brine:
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. vinegar (I use raw coconut vinegar but cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
are ok too.)
¼ tsp salt
1 large pear, cut up into thin slices. I didn’t peel.
1 cinnamon stick

Mix water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Put sliced pear into a small
mason jar with the cinnamon stick. Pour hot brine over them and let them sit for a
couple of hours before using. Store in the fridge.

To serve salad…Place all ingredients in your serving bowl and toss with dressing.
Make this into a real meal with some left over roast chicken or other left over
meat or fish of your choice.



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Thai Curry Bowl with Chicken or Beef

Serves 4   PRINT

One night I was looking for an easy way to use chicken and was craving something a bit spicy and curry like. Well, I have a new favorite now:) And the great thing is that there are so many variations and you can use up leftovers easily in this dish. I’m making this a gluten free meal and variations for a completely no grain dish. It can be made vegetarian too just by adding more veg and toasted nuts on top. The original inspiration recipe called for packaged ramen noodles, which are gluten free but you can use thin rice noodles prepared as the package says but a tad underdone so they can finish cooking in the liquid and absorb more flavors. You can also get thin brown rice noodles which are healthier than the white. Another option is GoGo gluten free spaghetti noodles which are rice and quinoa. They take a while to cook so again make sure they are slightly underdone. To make this grain free, spiralize a medium zucchini and cook lightly in salted water but again…keep it underdone so it can cook a bit in the liquid and absorb the flavors of the curry.

*2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
*1 lb boneless chicken thighs or breast or a mix, sliced (see beef/seafood variations)
*2 roughly chopped green onoins
*1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (you may add more to your liking)
*1 clove garlic, minced or grated
*½ lb lightly steamed asparagus, chopped in bite size pieces
*1 red pepper, thinly sliced (orange or yellow peppers are ok too)
*1 or 2 hot red or green chillies, seeds removed unless you like it really hot and chopped finely (optional)
*12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
*1/4 cup thai red curry paste (yellow or green ok too)
*2 teaspoons smoked paprika
*1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk organic preferably
*4 cups chicken broth preferably home made (use more if you think it’s too thick)
*1/4 cup gluten free tamari (soy like sauce)
*2 tablespoons fish sauce (leave out if vegetarian)
*1/2 cup creamy ORGANIC peanut butter (use almond or cashew butter if you like)
*1 lime, juiced
*2 tablespoons agave for a touch of sweetness
*4 packages Ramen noodle soup, seasoning packets discarded (you may also just use your favorite pasta)
*chopped toasted peanuts or nuts of your choice, for serving
*chopped cilantro, for serving


Prepare your noodles or zucchini noodles as I mentioned above. Cooked to a slightly underdone state. Set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and the chicken or whatever meat you are using. Brown the chicken for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is barely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pot and reserve.

Add another tablespoon of oil. Cook the mushrooms until slightly browned and add the peppers (sweet and hot), garlic, green onions, asparagus and any other veg you may be using. Cook until veg are lightly cooked. Add in the curry paste and smoked paprika, stirring until the curry paste has coated the veggies. Add 1 cup chicken broth and allow to heat up. Carefully stir in the peanut butter until completely smooth.

Add the chicken back into the pot along with the coconut milk, remaining chicken broth, tamari, fish sauce, lime juice and agave. Bring the soup to a boil then turn to simmer. Add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes or until happy that they are fully cooked.

Once the noodles are ready, serve soup immediately and garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and peanuts.

Variations: Use sliced beef fillet or ground beef. You can use other veg like snow peas, zucchini, green beans or whatever you like or may have leftover. You could also use prawns (shell removed) and just let them cook in the liquid at the end with the noodles for a few mins. Other white fish like cod or halibut can work here too. Instead of chicken broth, use beef broth if using beef in the dish. If using seafood, stick with the chicken broth.
You can get a coconut based sauce to replace tamari. It’s called Naked Coconuts- soy free seasoning sauce-organic and raw. Coconut Milk-Let’s Do…Organic-organic creamed coconut.
If using veg that are harder like broccoli or cauliflower, lightly steam first.
Now get creating:)

How a spiralizer works.



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Cashew Cheesecake or Terrine (this is a raw food dessert)

 raw cheesecake
Special Equipment:
1. High speed blender like a Vitamix. If you don’t have one, you can still make this but it won’t be as creamy. It will have nutty flecks.
2. 9 inch (23 cm) springform pan or terrine mold which measures 4 by 12-2/3 inches. If you don’t have one, use small loaf pans. However, if you are serious about cooking a good terrine mold will last you a lifetime. I have a Le Creuset.
4 cups raw cashews, soak for 1 hour at least in 2 L of water, discard water and rinse nuts
1 cup filtered water
1 cup raw agave sweetener or nectar (once you’ve tried this, you may decide to cut back the sweetener especially if you are adding fruit to the recipe.)
1 cup melted coconut oil (I melt mine in dehydrator on 113F) but if no dehydrator then you can place an oven proof glass or metal container with coconut oil inside in a gentle water bath on stove top.
1 TBSP raw vanilla extract or at least organic
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 lbs fruit of choice…it can be frozen or fresh (you can choose to leave the fruit out if you want a white traditional looking cheesecake)

2 cups whole raw pecans or walnuts (other nuts are ok too like brazil, macadamia, almonds or a combo)
¼ cup pitted medjool dates (the dates need to be soft, hence the medjool)
½ tsp good quality fine ground sea salt like fleur de sel or Himalayan


For the crust…place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the crust is relatively smooth. Press into the bottom of your pan of choice.

For the filling…In a high speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.

If you are using fruit in the cake or terrine, now you can get creative. The last time I made this I took ½ the filling out of blender and added about 1 lb peaches that I had been given and they were wonderful organic peaches from our neighbours treeJ I skinned and pitted them first. The skins mostly came off fairly easily but if not perfect don’t worry. In a high speed blender everything gets pulverized.
I blended the second ½ with 1 lb frozen organic raspberries. For best results (which I forgot) before adding raspberries to the blender, press them through a sieve to remove seeds. You can of course do just one kind of fruit if you don’t want the extra steps.

Now I had to different colours and flavours of filling. I was able to make a terrine and cheesecake with this due to the added volume from the fruit. So for the cheesecake, I put the peach in first and then added the raspberry and swirled it around.

For the terrine, line the pan completely with plastic wrap. I added peach layer first and put it in the freezer for a while to slightly harden and then I could add the raspberry and smooth it out without disturbing the peach layer. Both terrine and cheesecake are kept in the freezer. When you want to serve the cheesecake, remove the springform sides and let the cake have a bit of time to soften so you can cut slices. This is a very rich dessert so you don’t need a lot.

You can use your imagination to decorate…a few raspberries or peach slices on top, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a raspberry coulis…your choice.

To serve terrine…a bit tricky but I managed…let it thaw for a while until you can pop it out onto a flat plate or plastic cutting board. Now you can cut serving slices and decorate as you choose. It’s really pretty as is but you can have fun with it if you like.

Keep what you aren’t using in freezer. This goes a long way due to the richness.

Co-Creative Health Solutions
778-788-4325 (revised site coming soon)


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Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Desserts, raw


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Simple but Satisfying Easy Ground Beef Casserole

ground beef casseroleSometimes we need a budget saver and super easy meal. Make ahead is always a bonus too. It’s nice to come home from a long day and pop a casserole in the oven. Toss together a salad and voila. Dinner is served! You can make this gluten free with rice noodles or another gluten free pasta choice.

Ingredients PRINT

Ø 1 lb lean or regular ground beef
Ø 1 medium onion, chopped
Ø 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
Ø 1 (1 lb) can chopped tomato, undrained
Ø 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Ø freshly ground black pepper to taste
Ø 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Pacific Natural Foods Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup (condensed))
Ø 1 (8 ounce) packages noodles (macaroni style work well but up to you)
Ø 2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


1. Brown ground beef, onion and pepper.
2. Drain excess fat if necessary.
3. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and soup.
4. Allow to simmer while cooking noodles until al dente. Don’t over cook them because they will cook more in the casserole while in the oven.
5. Drain noodles.
6. Add cooked noodles and 1/2 of the cheese to meat mixture.
7. Pour into casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Casserole, Mains, Meat


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Wolfgang Puck’s Organic Soups Product Review

wp soup multiIdeally I would like to make my own soup but every now and then a quick meal is needed and I try to make it as healthy as I can. So our local store on Gabriola (Canada) had a special on the new Wolfgang Puck organic canned soups. They were on for 2 for $5. It’s really one meal in a can (no water added) so this could be a bit pricey for some people and also consider that the full price will be more than that. They will be less money in the US I would assume. However, the ingredients are very reasonable and all organic. So far the ones I have tried are truly excellent tasting. I’ve tried the Tortilla, Tomato and Basil, Chicken and Dumplings, Corn Chowder and Minestrone. There is gluten in some of them so if you are avoiding that, pay attention to the addition of pasta and flour in some varieties. There are a few other kinds but I haven’t tried them yet or we can’t get them here.

A little bit about Wolfgang Puck…if you don’t watch the Food Network, you might not know that he is a famous chef…:)

The name Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with the best of restaurant hospitality and the ultimate in all aspects of the culinary arts. The famous chef has built an empire that encompasses three separate Wolfgang Puck entities: Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc.

WPPuck began cooking at his mother’s side as a child. She was a chef in the Austrian town where he was born, and with her encouragement, Wolfgang began his formal training at fourteen years of age. As a young chef he worked in some of France’s greatest restaurants, including Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and the Michelin 3-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence. At the age of 24, Wolfgang took the advice of a friend and left Europe for the United States. His first job was at the restaurant La Tour in Indianapolis, where he worked from 1973 to 1975.

Wolfgang came to Los Angeles in 1975 and very quickly garnered the attention of the Hollywood elite as chef and eventually part owner of Ma Maison in West Hollywood. His dynamic personality and culinary brilliance that bridged tradition and invention made Ma Maison a magnet for the rich and famous, with Wolfgang as the star attraction. He had an innate understanding of the potential for California cuisine, and was pivotal in its rise to national attention during the late 1970s.

You can read more about the famous chef here

So all in all a VERY good tasting, relatively healthy choice for a quick meal or something you could take to work and heat up easily. I recommend it.



What Do We Feed Our Puppy?

Georgie on the chair (1 of 1)-2

Not quite tall enough yet to steal Nutty the seagull’s food.

I’ve had some people ask specifically what we feed our 4 1/2 month old Akita puppy who, by the way, is now over 30 pounds. She was at the vet for a check up a couple of days ago and another client said, ‘That’s a movie star dog.’ The vet couldn’t stop stroking her fur back and forth and was obviously impressed with her health and temperament. On the way back to the Gabriola ferry we stopped at Buddies Natural Pet Food for a month supply of raw food. That’s all they do…raw food. There’s no kibble or anything processed in their store. They have their plant in Duncan, stores in Duncan, Victoria and Nanaimo. They have other locations on the mainland etc so see the retailers link below. The food they sell is fit for human consumption. There are other brands of raw food available as well such as Red Dog, Blue Cat, Mountain Dog Food and Pets Go Raw.

So Buddies sell bags of frozen 1 and 2 lb blocks of ‘meals’. By that I mean for example, beef and chicken (with ground bones), veggies and innards in the right proportion to what they would eat in the wild. This is important. So if you are going to feed your pet raw food, do it right. Yes you could make your own but the ground bone is important so that requires the right equipment.

Right now because Georgie is growing, we are using the beef/chicken meal as it is high in protein. They do have poultry on it’s own (chicken, turkey, duck), rabbit, lamb, pork, venison, etc. This time I bought a 20 lb bag of the 1 lb blocks and she gets about 1 of these per day (around $60). I also bought a bag of lamb necks, chicken necks and beef necks. These are almost all edible and serve as part of a meal. So this should stretch us to about a month. I also buy local (Gabriola) ground beef and make small balls and freeze so I can use these in between meals if she is hungry. She gets as much as she needs and we just watch her waistline. If it looks like she’s losing her waistline, we back off a bit. I divide her meals into 4 right now but 2 is fine. I’ll go to that when she is a bit older. Right now she needs the sustained energy so more times a day seems to suit her best. I’m home most of the time so I can do it but if you are working then 2x a day might be more practical.

Buddies also sell a variety of other supplementary foods for a change like herring (a stinky outdoor treat), antlers, tripe and they have supplements. I get supplements for Georgie from Standard Process Labs as they have a nutraceutical veterinarian line which is great. I give her 2 Optimal EFAs per day from Biotics which is 1000 mg. They also have treats available that are dehydrated so still technically raw. However, I make my own treats since I have a great dehydrator. Dehydrate at no higher than 113 F to keep treats raw. Over that and enzymes are destroyed. Click for recipes Beef Jerky and other jerkies. I have some in the dehydrator right now and she likes to hang out underneath it…just in case. LOL I also make cookies (no grain just meat, coconut flour to bind and other goodies so they are very packed with protein and flavour. Here’s a variation on the cookies too. I have also dehydrated thinly sliced sweet potato and I had some huge carrots from a local organic farm the worked too. I give her those from time to time. She likes apple and I dehydrated some cranberries but they take forever so I took them out early and throw a few in her meal and she likes those too. If you have a finicky pet, you will have to experiment. Ours seems to like everything except perhaps oysters:) We collected some at the beach and she wasn’t too interested in them. A new addition to Buddies line is dehydrated meals for ease when traveling…just reconstitute and voila! Buddies have a discount system too so you can get a break when you buy over $100 and all new customers get a discount.

Georgie on the chair (1 of 1)

Lounging around. Much to my surprise, shortly thereafter she leapt on to the glass outdoor coffee table. EEEK! Thank God it didn’t break!

So I guess that’s about it. It took a bit of figuring to start with but it’s easy now and it’s definitely paying off. Think of the life of your pet and how much more quality it will have and less trips to the vet. This is how they were meant to eat. Just like us…no processed stuff just real food.

I’ll talk a bit about vaccines another time. Oh and by the way, last night Georgie slipped while charging around the yard. Later I noticed one ear was bugging her. There was nothing to see inside so my husband, Rodney (aka Dr. DiffRANT) checked her neck and it was out so he adjusted it and no more ear problem. So keep in mind that some pet issues might need a chiropractor and there are some around that will see animals.

Retailers…coming soon to Fort Langley!store

I forgot, I make kefir too and she gets a bit of that every day for good gut flora:)

March 2015 update…Buddies doesn’t have it’s own retail outlet in Nanaimo anymore but Bark and Fitz now carries it at the same price. They just recently got out of the franchise and are called Fetch for Dogs. Same owner and location.

6338 Metral Drive, Unit 4B
Nanaimo, British Columbia

Sorry...can't help showing her off:)

Sorry…can’t help showing her off:)


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