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Why I Hunt
No hunter ever feels pleasure in taking an animal’s life, and often there is a lot of initial guilt. “City girl” is a name I’m frequently given. I don’t take offence to it. I mean I AM a city girl. I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario. It doesn’t get more city than that! However I was never afraid to get a little dirt under my nails. I grew up at my family cottage boating in the summers and snowmobiling and skiing in the winters. I was always active in sports like rugby, volleyball, wrestling, and figure skating. I also have an undeniable love for horseback riding. While I lived in the city, I always thrived in the outdoors. Growing up in an Italian household my meals consisted of homemade pastas, fresh produce from the garden and cured meats like prosciutto hanging in the cold cellar of my grandparents’ basement. My grandparents told us stories about life on the farm raising their own livestock and shared the ways they would preserve food to last winters. They had to harvest their own animals and grow their own produce. It sounded like a lot of work, and at the time I was glad to have grown up in a time where our food was so readily available. As I got older, I started experiencing firsthand the repercussions of mass farming and eventually developed health issues due to consumption of processed foods. When I met my future husband, Joe, he told me he was a hunter. My first thought was “WOW what a MANLY thing to do”. You don’t meet many hunters downtown Toronto. I was quite intrigued but had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. One day after a successful hunt Joe invited me over to his home. I was met with a scene straight out of a Dexter episode. He had quartered an entire deer and was butchering the meat in his kitchen. On the outside I was smiling but I’m pretty sure inside I was having a slight panic attack trying to keep calm. The most meat I had ever prepared in my whole life was some chicken breasts out of the grocery store package – and even that grossed me out. The competitive side in me was itching to prove that I could handle it. At one point, he picked up the heart and handed it to me. Trying to hide my slightly disgusted face I asked, “What are you going to do with this?” He looked at me puzzled and replied, “Eat it! What else would I do with it?” That night he cooked the heart for me and from that moment on you could say - he had MY heart (inert laugh track here). I couldn’t help but think about those conversations with my grandparents and never in a million years thinking that I would be going back to these traditional ways of providing for our family. After harvesting my first deer I felt that I had a much deeper appreciation for the food I was eating as my grandparents always did. The more open discussions Joe and I had, the more I realized that hunting was not just about “killing” an animal, NOR was it a “manly” attribute but rather a LIFESTYLE for women and children as well. It’s about wildlife conservation, a word I never thought would be in my vocabulary. It’s about providing true organic healthy meat to nourish our bodies. It’s about the experiences in the great outdoors, walking where very few have been before and having a true connection to every meal. When I listen to Joe tell stories about hunting with his father they usually translate to important life lessons – he can relate anything in life to things he has learned growing up in the outdoors. You experience failure and learning from mistakes, what it is like to struggle and push through to become successful. You learn to never give up despite roadblocks and adversity. When we harvest an animal we don’t only have meat in our freezers, we have stories exuding joy and excitement, sometimes fear and failures. No hunter ever feels pleasure in taking an animal’s life, and often there is a lot of initial guilt. From that guilt only comes more appreciation, less waste and some delicious food. My story is probably one that many hunters can relate to, especially those from areas where hunting is not understood or even possible like large industrialized cities. Don’t let the title of being a “city” man or women deter you from being a part of something so great for wildlife and our own well-being.
Sweet Chilli Turkey Stir Fry
Starts off with a sweet touch of honey, ends with a kick of spice! This easy meal takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, and guaranteed to be a recipe the whole family will enjoy. Feel free to add any other veggies you desire to this dish, I've used broccoli and carrots as well! Ingredients 1 large white onion 3 cloves of garlic 1/2 cup honey 1 tbsp red chilli flakes (use less or more for your preference of spice) 1 Lb ground turkey bunch of bok choy asparagus 2 cups brown rice salt and pepper to tase Instructions Start cooking your rice first: 2 cups rice with 3 cups water (I always use my instant pot but its the same ratios for stovetop) I like to add SAGE spice and 1 tbsp coconut oil to my rice as well for some added flavour Add 2 tbsp of coconut oil (or avocado oil) to a pan on medium Chop 1 large white onion, 3 cloves of garlic and stir until onion is translucent Add chilli flakes, salt/ pepper and honey to the pan and combine Remove from the pan into a separate bowl and add more oil to the pan Add the turkey to the pan, salt and pepper to taste Once the turkey is cooked through add your veggies to the pan, COVER and add a bit of water if there isn't any left from cooking the turkey Once the veggies are steamed to your liking add the honey mixture and stir together, ENJOY! Make sure to comment on my instagram page @huntingholistic once you try the recipe!
Instant Pot Pho
Gluten free, vegetarian and dairy free! The perfect comfort food on a cool rainy day, or any day really lets be honest! This recipe takes a total of 25 minutes to make in the instant pot, if you don't have an instant pot, Pho takes about 6-10 hours on low heat (stovetop) to make the broth. I was reluctant to purchase the instant pot, and honestly it can be a little intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it, it's super easy and saves you so much time! Ingredients BROTH: ⋒ 1 large white onion, sliced ⋒ 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced ⋒ 5 star anise ⋒ 4 whole cloves ⋒ 3 cinnamon sticks ⋒ 1 tablespoon fennel seeds ⋒ 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds ⋒ 8 cups organic beef stock (sub chicken/ veg stock) ⋒ 1 tablespoon brown sugar ⋒ 2 teaspoons fish sauce ⋒ pink himalayan sea salt to taste ⋒ rice noodles ⋒ thin sliced meat of your choice (if not vegan) * freeze 30 mins before use. This makes it easier to slice the meat thin, and make sure the broth is boiling to ensure it gets cooked thoroughly* GARNISH : ⋒ Thai basil ⋒ Mint ⋒ Bean sprouts ⋒ Green onions ⋒ Lime wedges ⋒ Hoison sauce (I used gluten free) and hot sauce (fire) Instructions ⋒ In a PAN on MED heat, add ANISE, CLOVES, CINNAMON, FENNEL, CORIANDER and roast until fragrant (3minutes) ⋒ start a pot of water for noodles ⋒ use SATUEE button on the instant pot, add 2-3 tbsp COCONUT or AVO OIL ⋒ add ONIONS, GINGER sauté for 3-4 mins until translucent ⋒ add STOCK, FISH SAUCE, SALT and SEASONINGS from pan ⋒ turn on HIGH PRESSURE for 10 MINS ⋒ add RICE NOODLES to boiling water, cook for 3 mins, strain and rinse with cold water * I like to put them back in the pot and add some sesame oil * don’t put it back on the hot burner or noodles will burn! ⋒ strain instant pot broth ⋒ add noodles to your bowl, scoop in the amount of broth you like and then add your garnishes, hot sauce / hoison sauce and ENJOY Tag me in your creations on instagram @huntingholistic and let me know if you want more instant pot recipes!
Lemon Blueberry Loaf
Lemons and blueberries just seem to go so well together. I must admit, I'm usually more of a sweet tooth kinda gal, but I absolutely loved the tartness in this recipe. Quick tip for the glaze , when I start making a recipe that requires coconut milk I always forget to put a can or two in the fridge so that the fat hardens (as this is the part we will be using in the recipe) So If you don't keep your coconut milk cans in the fridge go do it now so that its ready by the time you want to make the recipe. Ingredients Loaf : 1 1/3 Cup Almond flour 1/3 cup Coconut flour 1 Teaspoon baking soda ¼ Teaspoon salt ¼ cup 100% maple syrup 3 large eggs 1/3 cup squeezed lemon juice Zest of 1 large lemon ¾ cup fresh blueberries Glaze : 3 Tbsp Coconut milk (just the fat from the top) **Best to leave a can in the fridge for a day before making the loaf!** 1/4 cup squeezed lemon juice Zest lemon ( just a few pass overs) 1/2 cup Blueberries, make a reduction (can put in the microwave for about 30 seconds, its much easier!) optional : add 1/2 cup icing sugar for a sweeter kick to the loaf, Ive tried it both ways and it just depends on your taste buds. Instructions Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a 8×4 inch loaf pan with parchment paper Add almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl In a different bowl mix the eggs, maple syrup, lemon juice & zest Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until well combined Add in the blueberries and gently fold together Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes At 40 mins check the loaf to see if a toothpick comes out clean Let the loaf completely cool before removing from the pan Now you can make your glaze! Place 1/2 cup blueberries OR any berries of your choice in a glass container and put in the microwave for about 30 seconds. To that container, add lemon juice, zest, coconut milk fat and OPTIONAL icing sugar (I used sugar alternative called "Swerve") I put it in the fridge for about 5 mins to let the blueberries cool and thicken a bit then poured over the loaf. Add more blueberries and some lemon zest for presentation. TAG ME on instagram or Facebook and share your lemon blueberry loafs!
Venison Steaks and Lion's Mane Dinner
With wild, foraged lion's mane mushrooms and spruce tip pesto Fully foraged meal straight from the supermarket (the great outdoors). Minus the asparagus! although, on one of our bear hunts this year we came across some wild asparagus which was absolutely delicious. If you ever come across some it is a must taste! they are so much better than store bought (isn't everything?) For the venison I put some Hi Mountain seasoning Trail Dust which gave it a perfect kick along with a little pepper and Himalayan salt. I let that marinade a bit while I start to heat up a pan with about a 1/4 cup of water and place the asparagus in the pan, covered and add some pepper and salt to those. In another pan I heated up our foraged lions mane mushrooms from last season which were marinated in gluten free teriyaki sauce with some onions and garlic as well. While those are heating up, I turn my cast iron pan in med- high with some avocado oil ( can be heated to higher temperatures without becoming toxic) Its best to wait until the pan heats up before placing your venison steaks on the pan. ** the steaks can also be done on the BBQ or smoker as well whatever your preference is** I like to do about 2-3 mins per side for our steaks which were about 1.5 - 2 Inches thick (we like out med rare - rare) To top it off I finished the meal with my new favourite foraged greens...Spruce tips. Click here for my Spruce tip pesto recipe!
Chickpea Curry with Rice
Gluten free & Vegan I feel like I could eat this curry everyday! Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and many health benefits like lowering blood pressure (coriander) and anti-inflammatory (turmeric) Ingredients - 4 Servings 2 Cups rice of your choice 1- 1.5 Onions , chopped 3 Large garlic cloves, minced 1 Inch fresh ginger, chopped 1 Small can Chickpeas, Drained 1 Small can diced tomatoes 1 Can full fat coconut milk 1 Cup Veg or chicken broth 1 Tbsp curry paste 2 Tbsp Turmeric 1 Tbsp Garam masala spice 1.5 Tsp pepper 1.5 Tsp Himalayan salt 2 Cups fresh spinach 1 Lime ( half for cooking and half for taste after) 1 bunch of Cilantro chopped Instructions Start by adding 4 - 4.5 cups of water and 2 cups of wild rice to a pot and bring to a boil, cook for 40 mins or until desired texture While the rice is cooking, Add 3 tbsp of Coconut oil to a separate pot on medium heat Add onions, cook until translucent then add garlic Add curry paste, turmeric, garam masala, ginger, pepper, salt, Stir until fragrant for 2 mins Add coconut milk, diced tomatoes, broth, lime juice, chickpeas and let it come to a slight boil Lower the heat, cover and let it cook for 35 mins or until your chickpeas are softened Before serving, add in the spinach and cilantro and stir until wilted slice lime wedges, cilantro and dollop of dairy free yogurt! TIPS: -- if you want to add meat of your choice, include it with the spices and cook until all sides are browned (sometimes I find I may need to add more coconut oil at this point) -- goat cheese is also a great topping to add (one of my favs)
Easy Vitamix Broccoli Soup
Get your veggies in! This easy #glutenfree #dairyfree soup will have you going back for thirds! From start to finish this recipe takes 10 minutes! Such an easy and healthy dinner or lunch the whole family will enjoy. This recipe yields 4 servings Ingredients 1 White Onion 2 cloves Garlic 1 Head Broccoli, chopped steamed 1 cup fresh spinach 1 cup Oat milk 1 cup chicken/ veg/ bone broth cilantro to tase S & P to taste Instructions Sautè the onion and garlic while the broccoli is steaming Add oat milk, broth, spinach, cilantro, salt and pepper to the blender Once onions are translucent add them and broccoli to the @vitamixca blender for 1 minute I like to leave a couple extra pieces on the side chopped to garnish with some extra cilantro, salt and pepper ***feel free to add any other veggies to the mix
Instant Pot Goat Curry
I made this in my instantpot but it can easily be done on the stove a well (this way was just faster) you can substitute the meat for chickpeas / lentils and include any veggies you like. My favourite ingredient from this dish would have to be #Turmeric I'm obsessed with it lately I put that s**** on everything! (sorry franks).
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects! Which I personally need more of for my gut health! PRO TIP👉🏼 Turmeric is best absorbed in the gut if eaten with fats/ oils! Base 2 cans coconut milk 1 cup veg broth 2-3 tbs red curry paste 2 onions red 3 cloves garlic 1 inch ginger fresh, chopped 1 - 1.5 lbs goat meat cubed 1 cups broccoli 1 cups peas 1 can bamboo shoots 2 cups rice 1/2 squeezed lime juice Spices : 2 TBSP turmeric, 1 TBSP cumin, 1 TBSP paprika, 1.5 TSP coriander, 1.5 TSP cardamom, 1/2 TSP nutmeg/ cinnamon, 2 TSP black pepper, 2 TSP salt Garnish : Thai basil, Cilantro, Lime Instructions 1. Turn on sautee mode on instant pot, add 3tbsp olive oil, add onions saute until translucent, add garlic and ginger saute 2 mins 2. While that is cooking, put rice in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil on the stovetop 3. Add all spices and curry paste to the instant pot, stir for 2 mins 4. Add coconut milk and veg broth and let come to slight boil 5. In a pan with coconut oil brown your meat on med - high heat for 1-2 mins on each side 6. Add bamboo shoots, broccoli and peas , browned meat, lime juice to the instant pot 7. Turn on high pressure for 7 mins , garnish with thai basil, cilantro and lime on the side Comment below or tag me in your curry posts!
Spruce Tip Pesto
Out of basil? check your backyard! I was pleasantly surprised with the texture and taste of these spruce tips. I can't wait to play around with them and come up with more ways to use them. Check out my other post 5 Ways to use Spruce Tips for some ideas! Recipe 1 Cup Fresh spruce tips (washed) 1 Cup parsley ( I used Italian parsley) 1 Clove of garlic 1 TBSP Cilantro chopped 1/2 Cup Olive oil 1/2 Cup Pine nuts 1/2 TSP of Himalayan salt Instructions Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth or until texture you like
Gluten Free Venison Pizza
The crust is #vegan #dairyfree and #glutenfree This might be my new favourite pizza topping! We eat venison pretty regularly in our household, but not like this! There is nothing more satisfying than cooking with ingredients that you've harvested or grown yourself. This venison was harvested last November by my husband Joe, and was featured on his hunting series on Wild TV network called "The Edge". For this recipe I replaced the olive oil that you will see below with Bear Fat that was harvest by myself this spring. You can check out my Rendered Bear Fat post as well. It have the pizza a beautiful golden outside with a soft inside. Many people are scared to eat wild meat for fear of that so called "Gamey" taste. We have only come across this gamey taste one time in the last few years and that was because of the deer that was harvested was older and that can sometimes happen. We have found its all in the way that you cook it...LOW AND SLOW usually does the trick with any wild game. Recipe 2 Cups warm water 2 TBSP honey or monk fruit sweetener 3 TBSP Intant yeast 2 1/2 Cups Gluten free baking flour 1/2 Cup Almond flour 2 TSP Baking Powder 1 1/2 TSP Himalayan salt 2 TBSP Olive oil Instructions 1: combine water, yeast and sugar / honey to a cup and whisk together 2: in separate bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt and whisk 3: add yeast mixture and olive oil to the flour bowl slowly while mixing together (if you have a mixer use it on slow then speed up to medium once thickens) Use a spatula to get all excess off sides of the bowl and form into a ball. Cover and let sit for 30 mins 4: Pre heat oven to 425 F, use water on your hands or oils to press dough into a 12” pan (you will have to continually wet your hands as you move the dough around it gets sticky) 5: bake dough for 15-20 mins, add toppings and bake again for another 10-15 mins NOTES: you can add any topping you like, I also make a beet, spinach and goat cheese pizza the same way and it turned out amazing! If your Gluten free flour blend doesn't contain XANTHAN GUM then you need to add it as well. 1/4 TSP per 1 cup of flour and add to dry ingredients before mixing in to wet! Leave me a comment below or tag me in your pizza posts!
5 ways to use Spruce tips
Did you know these could be in your own backyard? Spruce tips are the undeveloped buds at the tip of the tree branches, they are normally harvested in the spring time before they mature. They have an amazing and pretty PUNGENT citrus tase that will pair well with so many meals or drinks.
Here are some nutritional benefits before we dive into using them.
Spruce tips are high in VITAMIN C, which is essential for the body’s immune system. PINE OIL is concentrated in spruce tips which is know for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects that could help with a number of conditions . It can be put on bug bites, skin rashes, dry skin or on your chest to relieve congestion . They contain FLAVENOIDS which are powerful antioxidants and POLYPHENOLS that are responsible for the energy provided to our cells which can aid in helping digestion amongst many other benefits.
Tips for harvesting When you're harvesting, look for the bright green ends
It’s best to harvest them from a mature tree, or branches that you are pruning as taking too many from a young tree could stunt its growth.
The smaller the tips the more flavour and nutrients it has. Sometimes the larger more mature ones don’t taste as good.
There are different species of spruce trees, so the tips may taste different from tree to tree. The trick is to find one that grows the least bitter tips… taste testing is fun anyways, right? Don’t worry none of the species are poisonous! Tips for cooking It’s best to use them when they are fresh, but if you vacuum seal them and freeze them they can last a long time. If you’re going to freeze them I would recommend using them blended as they won’t have the same texture afterwards.
When heated or cooked the tips dry out and turn dark. They actually lose some of their flavour and nutrients this way as well. This style of use is not the most favoured way. I have not seen a recipe done this way but if you have and it turned out please let me know :)
5 Uses 1. Dried spruce tips in tea : Indigenous tribes have used spruce needles for the relief of sore throats and coughs, add it in if you’re feeling a little under the weather 2. Add raw spruce tips to your water with fresh mint and cucumber for a fresh cup of vitamins and minerals 3. Spruce tip pesto : Add spruce tips to your pesto recipe for a beautiful hint of citrus and added nutritional benefits! Go check out my recipe! 4. Meal topping: Chop up tips and add to your favourite salads, soups and more! 5. Extract Pine oil by covering the needles in olive or grapeseed oil on LOW heat, until you start to smell the citrus aroma and can see the oil heating. Remove and let it strain for an hour or until the oil cools. If you have tried any of these ways to use Spruce Tips please leave a comment below or feel free to email me or connect on social media to share!
Spring Bear Hunt
It was a warm Friday afternoon in April, I was finishing up studying for the day when my husband asked if I wanted to go for an evening drive to try and find me a bear. Since it was pretty warm out I didn’t think we would have much luck, but I was up for getting outside. For us, hunting is not just about getting an animal. Any excuse to spend time out in the wilderness we will take. I love driving up into the mountains, loosing cell service and enjoying the beautiful views along the way We got up to the height we wanted, got out of the truck and started walked. We were moving along and keeping quiet when we came across some scat (POOP, pictured below for your pleasure haha) that looked pretty fresh. We knew the bears were around but you never know if you’re going to be able to actually see one and get a shot at it. While seeing fresh sign is always exciting, you never really know if you’ve already spooked the animal or not. At this point I’m trying to run through every scenario in my head. Best case scenario you see it from a distance and are able to have time to set up and take a more relaxed shot….but as we know this isn’t always the case. Im also learning that bears are very hard to identify between males and females. Shooting females is not illegal (unless they have cubs with them) but ideally you want to keep the females around so that they are able to reproduce more. Not even 10 minutes later, Joe and I are coming up on a logging slash…when we see this black ball in the corner of our eyes in the ditch below us. In my head i’m thinking “was that a….” and Joe says “Kristen, theres your bear!”. Im in such disbelief that I had to ask him if he was serious, because we are always playing practical jokes like that when were hunting especially if we haven’t seen any sign or animals for a while. It just keeps you on your toes and gets the heart rate going a bit ;) We watched it walk up onto the road in front of us, it had not winded us at this point so it was causally making its way up. This also allowed us to see if it had any cubs (which it didn’t). As it was walking across the road, it looks straight at us and quickly scurried into the tree line above. We slowly creep up around the corner, knowing that it had spotted us so we didn’t have much time left. There he was at the edge of the tree line, standing on his hind legs and his front paws leaning up against the tree exposing his private parts (that’s how I knew it was a “he”). I was in such awe, being so close and him just staring at us ready to climb at any moment. I shoulder the gun, put the crosshairs on him, took a deep breath in /out and pulled the trigger. He immediately shot up the tree in the blink of an eye, and just as I was second guessing my shot and loaded another bullet I could tell with each step he took up the tree he got weaker, and weaker and finally fell to the ground. He was gone in less than 10 seconds with a perfect double lung that severed the aortic artery, leaving me with a perfectly intact heart for dinner. It’s funny when I write out the story and my emotions during those moments I’m able to connect so much more to the animal. When you’re in the moment, you forget to take a step back sometimes and really soak it in. You’re just running on adrenalin, and once you shoot the animal the real work begins. When it all comes together in the end there are no other words to describe it but pure gratitude, gratefulness and honour. We always thank the animal, with our words and our actions in using as much of it as possible. That, we take most pride in.