>> Monday, February 23, 2009

We have become completely addicted to popcorn in our family. So much so that we're buying corn in bulk now (organic of course!). We have ditched the microwavable stuff for good and have turned toward the goodness of homemade. So healthy and so yummy!
Here are some tips for successful popcorn making...
1. Choose a pot with a heavy bottom but not too big and not too small. My hubby likes to use our 3 quart saucepan.
2. Heat 1/4 cup oil on high. Choose your oil carefully. Make sure it's an oil that is best suited for medium to high heat. Coconut oil, grapeseed oil or sesame oil are good choices. Some people use olive oil but we haven't had good success and it's not meant to be used for high heat. AVOID canola, it's not that healthy. Experiment. Different oils will give you different flavors. Grapeseed is our personal favorite.
3. Drop one kernel of corn into the bottom of a hot pan and cover with a lid. When it pops, add a single layer of corn to the bottom of the pan and re-cover.
4. Turn heat down to medium high as corn continues to pop, occasionally shaking back and forth. You might want to dump some of the popcorn into a bowl to allow space for the rest of the popcorn to pop.
5. Remove from heat when there's about 15 seconds in between "pops".
6. Serve immediately with flavors of choice. Experiment with different toppings. Some like parmesan cheese, some like honey and butter. There are a gazillion different ideas out there. We're rather boring in our family and prefer plain old salt.
For popcorn inspiration click here.


Super Simple Salmon Stew

>> Saturday, February 21, 2009

We've been getting a lot of great salmon from our food co-op lately. But I can only eat baked salmon so many times. So I went in search of something else to do with all this healthy fish. In the end, I came up with my own concoction that was so incredibly simple to make but tastes even better! Here's my recipe but keep in mind I don't measure, so these are basic guidelines...

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped (I don't peel to keep it even simpler)
chicken stock
olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add potatoes and salmon and just enough chicken stock to cover. Add salt/pepper. Simmer until potatoes are soft (about 30-40 minutes). Just before serving, stir in a cup or so of milk into the whole pot. Serve with a pat of butter on top. YUM!! Leftovers taste even better.

And by the way, salmon is low in calories and saturated fat, yet high in protein, and a unique type of health-promoting fat, the omega-3 essential fatty acids. As their name implies, essential fatty acids are essential for human health but because they cannot be made by the body, they must be obtained from foods. Fish contain a type of essential fatty acid called the omega-3 fatty acids. Wild-caught cold water fish, like salmon, are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than warm water fish. In fact, the fat composition of salmon has recently been evaluated as superior not only because of its rich omega-3 content, but also because of its great ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s and its health-supportive balance of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Each of these features in the fat composition of salmon helps reduce risk of unwanted inflammation and help maintain the integrity of our immune and circulatory systems. In addition to being an excellent source of omega-3s, salmon are an excellent source of selenium, a very good source of protein, niacin and vitamin B12, and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B6. (taken from whfoods.com)


Natural Healing

>> Friday, February 20, 2009

My foster baby has a cleft lip/palette. He is very prone to getting ear infections. He got one this week but I decided NOT to take him to the doctor and put him on yet another antibiotic which destroys the good bacteria in his gut and makes him prone to even more infections. This time I treated him with natural oils (yes, Laurie the same oils I wash my dog with!). I mixed 1T olive oil and 5-10 drops of tea tree oil, warmed it in the microwave for 30 seconds and put about 10 drops of this solution in his ear. Within 2 days he was completely back to normal and his immune system was spared.

In fact, tea tree oil has over 1000 different uses. It's known for it's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. My kids use it to help with acne. We also use it for dry scalp. I've even used it for ringworm!! (when you have foster kids, you get all kinds of things coming through your house!). Two of my babies have feeding tubes which are prone to infected tissue called granulomas. I've tried EVERYTHING under the sun to try and heal their tummies, including prescriptions, but nothing worked like tea tree oil. No more granulomas. It might be worth keeping a bottle of this invaluable oil in your house.

Another one of my all-time favorite remedies is Emergen-C. My nurse practioner recommended this to me awhile ago and now my whole family swears by it. We start taking it at the first signs of a cold or virus. Or we take it under times of stress to help boost our immune systems. Olivia takes it every year when she's dancing in the Nutcracker (a very high period of stress!) just as a precaution and she's one of the few dancers that doesn't get sick during production week. You can buy Emergen-C just about anywhere...Walgreens, CVS, Kroger. Each packet contains 1000mg of Vitamin C and other essential vitamins. Vitamin C is essential for keeping your immune system healthy.

And for times of dehydration, skip the Gatorade which is full of sugar and try coconut water instead. Known for it's healing properties, coconut water (not to be confused with coconut milk) is as close to human plasma as anything else you can find. It has more potassium than a banana and 15 times more potassium than Gatorade. If you want to learn more about coconut water click here.

And of course don't forget about yogurt (preferably homemade). Most of your immune system lies within your gut. Your gut needs good bacteria to stay strong and fight infection. Yogurt is full of good bacteria and will keep your gut happy. If you gut is happy, then the rest of your body is happy.

Here's to your health!


I Stand Corrected

>> Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Immediately after posting about Wendy's chili and McDonald's southwest salad, this article came to me about the hidden chemicals in what seems like "healthier" food in fast food restaurants. Even McDonald's coffee isn't just coffee. Now I'm depressed!! So maybe my 80/20 rule will have to become 90/10 or I'll have to find another solution to eating out altogether. Although I still do believe that if we lay a good foundation for our bodies, that they will forgive us if we eat not so healthy food.

Here's the article if you want to be depressed too...
(NaturalNews) The movie Supersize Me has probably had more of an effect than the producers anticipated. Since then, in the fast food industry, there has been a market trend promoting menu items that appear to be healthy. But most of these menu items have ingredients that health conscious consumers would prefer to avoid.

Most health conscious consumers consider healthy foods to be things like raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and clean meats like wild Alaskan salmon, or free-range chicken or turkey.

Some ingredients that health conscious consumers consider unacceptable are MSG (or free glutamate, or free glutamic acid, including anything hydrolyzed or autolyzed), trans fats (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils [3]), artificial colors, artificial flavors, and most preservatives.

Many so-called healthy fast food menu items, upon closer inspection, do not live up to the health hype. Most of the meat from any of the major chains has anything but a simple ingredients list. They add emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, artificial colors, trans fats, and hidden ingredients under generic labels such as spices, or natural and artificial flavors.

Some of these food additives are not foods at all, but are chemicals that are generally recognized as safe. Most of these additives cannot be found at your local grocery store, probably because they aren't food. But some can be found at your local hardware store, though in inedible products like low tox antifreeze, silicone caulk, soap, sunscreen, and play sand.

to read the full article click here


Natural Body Care

>> Monday, February 16, 2009

It's important to think about everything we put into our bodies. But we can't forget about what we put on our bodies as well. Our skin is the largest organ we have. What we put on it affects what happens underneath it. Typically lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc. are full of harmful chemicals.

I've been successful at replacing most of my hair care products. I have discovered tea tree shampoo from Trader Joe's that I love that are free from sodium laureth sulfate. They also have a deodorant that is made without aluminum (another ingredient I try to avoid). I haven't found any all-natural makeup products that I like yet but I'm still searching.

But my most recent discovery that I'm very excited about is Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap. Made with the purest ingredients, including organic coconut, olive, hemp and jojoba oils and scented with organic essential oils, these are high-lathering soaps that foam naturally, without any foaming agents. I discovered it as I was looking for an all-natural soap to use on the babies. I was skeptical because I bought what seemed like a small bottle for $5. But once I got it home, I quickly realized that it only took a few drops to really lather up my little monkeys and now their skin has never felt softer. Then, I started using it for my face wash and it has never felt smoother. And because a little goes a long way, it's not as expensive as I thought.

But what's even more exciting is that you can use it all around the house. Apparently, there are 18 different uses: laundry detergent, dish detergent, hand soap, even pet shampoo. So now I'm really getting more bang for my buck. AND at the same time I'm confident that I'm using something that is healthier for my body and my environment.

I'm hooked.


Eating Out

>> Saturday, February 14, 2009

Generally my rule is 80/20, which means that 80% of the time I eat whole, natural foods and the other 20% of the time I don't worry about it. That pretty much means that everything we eat while we're at home is unprocessed because I spend 80% of my time at home. I don't even keep anything in my house that would tempt me. However, I do enjoy eating out. And sometimes because of our busy lifestyle it's a necessity. Because I know that I have laid a good foundation for my body, I try not to feel guilty if I'm out and bombarded with bad choices. Sometimes, I'm at a friend's house and I don't have a choice and therefore I just don't give it a second thought. But if I do have a choice, then I try to choose wisely.

When I was first getting started, the key for me was to plan ahead. In fact, I researched my favorite restaurants, even viewed their menus online and made a list of what I would order when I'm out. This took forethought and effort but made it easier in the long run because I didn't panic and wonder what in the world to eat.

Here are my general guidelines for eating out:
  • Avoid sandwiches and wraps because the buns are ALWAYS made with white flour.
  • No breading or sauces. They are most likely full of white flour and sugar.
  • Avoid buffets. Their food is usually prepared with lots of butter and sauces.
  • If I go to Mexican restaurants (Mo's is my favorite!), I ask for a "naked" burrito. They will serve beans, rice, and veggies in a bowl instead of a tortillas with white flour.
  • I also ask if their tortilla chips are made with corn or white flour. Skip it if it's white flour.
  • Avoid any/all dairy products. Dairy sold in public is highly processed and full of hormones/chemicals. Skip the cheese!!
  • Ask the waiter to cook meats and veggies in olive oil instead of butter, because butter in restaurants is usually full of unwanted fats. Order veggies steamed.
  • Order meats/eggs/fish rather than casserole type dishes because you never know what's in those sauces. Pick steak over meatloaf everytime.
  • Avoid cream based soups made with processed butters, flours, etc. Choose veggie soups.
  • Anymore, restaurants have their menus online. If I know where I'm going, I look up their menu online and choose what I'm going to eat before I go. Most restaurants even have menus for special diets (dairy-free, wheat-free) making it even easier to make choices.
  • And, of course, skip the soda which is full of white sugar or even worse, artificial sweeteners. Choose water instead or unsweetened iced tea.
So, here are my favorite places to eat:
Wendy's: I order chili and if I'm really hungry a baked potato with chili on top. I skip the cheese on top though.
McDonald's: LOVE their southwestern salad! Not too much else to choose from here, except maybe a grilled chicken sandwich without the bread.
Taco Bell: Surprisingly, Taco Bell came out with their Fresco Menu. There are about 10 items to choose from which have no cheese/dairy on them. Instead they use fresh veggies and pico de gallo. We order the crunchy tacos which uses corn instead of white flour.
Starbucks: green iced tea, unsweetened.
Ted'd Montana Grill: One of my favorite restaurants because they serve grass-fed beef.

Remember, many restaurants claim that their food is healthy merely because it's low in calories or fat. But you can eat low fat and still have a poor diet. It's about the QUALITY of food. It's better to eat a good steak, than to eat a cheeseburger topped with a bun made with highly processed white flour. Try to choose "whole" foods. The closer it is to the way God made it, the better.


Eating Healthy on Food Stamps??

>> Friday, February 13, 2009

Ari Armstrong set out to prove that you can eat whole foods for the same cost (or less) than Americans receive for food stamps. He goes on to suggest that recipients of food stamps are complaining that they're not receiving enough money for food stamps while insisting that they're buying cheap, processed foods. Ari suggests that rate should not be increased and wants to help educate people how to make better choices.


Week's Diet Proves Good Nutrition Possible on Low Budget

Ari Armstrong ate nutritious food February 4-10 for less than food stamps provide. For the week, he ate only meat, dairy, eggs, olive oil, vegetables, fruit, walnuts, chocolate, tea, and spices. He did not eat any grains, vegetable oils, hydrogenated fat, potatoes, or processed sugar.

For compete details about the diet, including receipts and photographs of select meals, see http://tinyurl.com/a9l7z3.

Armstrong spent $33.07 for the week, or $4.72 per day. (He added 78 cents of bananas to preliminary figures.) However, he had around $5.30 worth of food left at the end of the week, bringing the daily total to around $4. Food stamps provide $5.68 per day to a single individual -- see http://www.fns.usda.gov/FSP/faqs.htm.

Armstrong said, "With this diet, I wanted to prove again that eating well on a low budget is possible. I also wanted to protest increases in the food-stamp budget. People should not be forced to fund the unhealthy food-stamp program. Instead, I favor voluntarily funded food banks, which are better able to offer nutritious food to those in need."

Ari and his wife Jennifer spend a month in 2007 eating a higher-carb -- but still nutritious -- diet for $2.57 per day each.

click here for the complete article



>> Thursday, February 12, 2009

I updated my resource page today. Hopefully, I can add even more as the days go by.


What Did I Do??

>> Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our family belongs to a food co-op where we receive raw milk, cheese, pastured eggs, beef, organic produce, etc. As a member of the co-op, I'm responsible for driving out to the farms every month or so to pick up all the food. We receive our food from several Amish families that live about two hours away. I love it when it's my turn to drive because it's such beautiful scenery. And it's always so educational to visit the farms and meet these Amish families. Considering these families are nourishing MY family, I hold them dear to my heart.

Well, today was my turn. I took my three-year-old son to ride along. When we arrived I asked if he could go in the barn to see the cows. They said, "yes, I bet he would love to see the puppies too!" At that moment seven beautiful, white little pups came bounding out of the barn. My insides were shouting, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! Don't even ask!" But I did. I have such a weakness for dogs. She told me they were for sale. Then, I asked what kind they are and she said Eskimo Spitz. Then I knew I was doomed. You see, my 15-year-old son has been researching the Spitz breed and has had his heart set on one. What could I do? I had to say yes! And I did.

Unfortunately, I don't get a cell phone signal out there on the farms. So I couldn't call and discuss with my husband first. I had to make an executive decision and take my chances that he would be ok with it. Even though I know darn well that the last thing we need is a puppy. Well, let's just say he wasn't pleased. But once he saw how happy my son was, I think he understood.

Isn't she cute? My son hasn't picked out a name for her yet. But he's researching Eskimo or Indian names.

And by the way, if you're ever interested in finding an organic co-op near you, you might want to check out these links.



Menu Monday

>> Monday, February 9, 2009

Here's what's on the menu for this week:

Breakfast: rice pudding
Lunch: leftover tortilla soup
Dinner: going to ballet, hit drive-thru on the way
to do: soak quinoa

Breakfast: omelets
Lunch: rice/kimchi
Dinner: teriyaki salmon, citrus rice
to do: soak oats

Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: egg salad sandwiches, fruit
Dinner: crock pot ragout, salad
to do: soak rice

Breakfast: eggs, toast
Lunch: homemade mac/cheese, carrots
Dinner: chinese chicken salad (new recipe, I'll let you know how it goes)

Breakfast: peanut butter toast
Lunch: turkey sandwiches, fruit
Dinner: eggplant bruschetta, salad
to do: soak wheat flour for muffins

Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: chili, cornbread
to do: make lasagna for church

Breakfast: blender pancakes
Lunch: make lasagna for church
Dinner: home fellowship


Amazing Tortilla Soup!

>> Sunday, February 8, 2009

We tried a new chicken tortilla recipe tonight. The recipe was called Amazing Tortilla Soup and it truly was amazing! Or as Rachel Ray would say, "Yummo!" I doubled the recipe so we can have plenty for lunches throughout the week. We served it with tortilla chips and shredded raw cheese on top.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/2 medium green pepper
4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1. Sauté onion, garlic, jalapeño and green pepper with olive oil in a large pot until soft.
2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the large pot and bring to a boil.
3. After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and shred.
4. (Two forks work well to pull the chicken apart!).
5. Return shredded chicken to the pot and simmer an additional 45 minutes.
6. Serve, topped with crushed tortilla chips if desired.


About Me

>> Friday, February 6, 2009

FYI...I updated my About Me post today. Feel free to take a look.


Making Yogurt

>> Thursday, February 5, 2009

We've discovered a new treat in our family...homemade yogurt. The idea of making my own yogurt seemed daunting to me at first. But then I discovered how incredibly easy it is and now I'm hooked.

Yogurt is well known for it's health benefits. Yogurt is full of active cultures that kills harmful bacteria and encourages friendly bacteria. Yogurt will make your gut very happy and even help with issues such as constipation and diarrhea. However, the yogurt sold in stores is full of sugar and has been pasteurized to the point that all the good bacteria is often killed, defeating the purpose.

To make homemade yogurt you'll need:

1 quart whole milk (we prefer raw milk, try to at least find high-quality, unprocessed milk)
1 tablespoon of a store-bought yogurt (try to find organic plain yogurt and make sure it says "live cultures on the carton)
glass jar

1. Fill the glass jar with boiling water so it's warm when you're ready to fill with milk. You don't want a cold jar to drain the warm milk of it's heat.

2. Heat the milk to 160 degrees. Some heat to only 100 - 110 degrees. The more you warm the milk, the more bacteria you kill. However, the less you warm the milk, the runnier the yogurt will be. I like to compromise and heat a little more for a thicker yogurt. But I'm still experimenting in this area.

3. Once the milk is heated, remove from heat and cool to 110 degrees.

4. Pour out the water from your jar and pour in milk. Add 1 T of your store-bought yogurt. This is your yogurt culture; the catalyst for growing new bacteria in your new yogurt. The more you add, the more you crowd out the bacteria which will produce a more sour, watery product so don't think that more is better.

5. Cover your jar and sit on a heating pad for 8-12 hours. I leave mine sitting overnight. You want to maintain a temperature of 110 degrees. Some people will put in the oven but my oven doesn't go low enough. Some say you can turn the oven light on and leave the oven off and this will maintain a good temp. Others will put in an insulated cooler filled with hot water. Find what works for you. But the goal is to keep your yogurt warm so you can incubate the bacteria.

6. Put in the refrigerator for another 3-6 hours. This will help your yogurt thicken.

7. Once the yogurt has reached the desired consistency...ENJOY! We like to mix fruit preserves or maple syrup in ours. But don't forget to save a couple tablespoons for your culture to start a new batch (or two) of yogurt.


Blender Batter Pancakes/Waffles

>> Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pancakes are a Sunday morning tradition in our family. I've tried many different methods/recipes in my attempt to perfect them. But I finally discovered the one recipe that not only tastes great but is very healthy and inexpensive. This recipe involves soaking the grains. The grains and a few other ingredients sit in your blender overnight. Add a few more ingredients the next morning and you have the perfectly nutritious delicious batter.

Soaking the grains before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. Soaking enables much better digestion. In fact, my stomach always felt heavy and full after eating normal pancakes. But after eating these pancakes my stomach felt light and satisfied. Use grains that are raw whole uncooked grains, not flour! Experiment with millet, barley, spelt, and kamut grain for varied tastes and textures. Since my husband can't eat gluten we eat a rice/oats combo.

Recipe adapted from SueGregg.com
Yields 20-24 pancakes

1. Place in blender; blend at highest speed for 3 minutes.
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups butter milk or kefir (or non-​dairy alternative)
2 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown rice or uncooked rolled oats (or other grain variations, experiment! Our favorite is half rice/half oats) The batter should always swirl about a vortex in the blender. If it doesn’t, slowly add more liquid until the hole reap pears. This is the secret to light and tender waffles. Batter for pancakes may be thicker, but keep batter relatively thin and keep it churning.

Cover blender; let stand at room temperature overnight or 12-24 hours.

Preheat waffle iron at highest temperature, or griddle on medium high.

Just before baking, add and re-blend on highest speed for 1 minute:
1 egg, optional additional liquid (if batter needs thinning for vortex or churning)

Blend in thoroughly, but briefly (assisted with rubber spatula, if needed):
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt, to taste

Pour batter onto hot waffle iron, sprayed with olive oil. Bake about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes in waffle iron until crispy.

We like our pancakes served with all-natural sunflower butter and pure maple syrup.




>> Monday, February 2, 2009

This is a post under construction. I am going to attempt to document all my favorite recipes here. Check the link above often as I will be updating daily.

Blender Batter Pancakes/Waffles
Soaked Oatmeal
French Toast


Salmon Melts
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Corn Chowder
Veggie (Fat Flush)
Black Bean
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Super Simple Salmon Stew

Salads (I make my own dressings)
Apple Cranberry
Mandarin Walnut
Monte Cristo
Southwest Salad

Chicken w/ Red Peppers
Chicken w/ Red Potatoes
Honey Mustard
Chicken Pot Pie
Mustard Lime Chicken

Crock Pot
BBQ Chicken

Eggplant Bruschetta

Ginger Lime Swordfish
Teriyaki Salmon

Meat Loaf
Steak and Potato Stir Fry
Shepherd’s Pie

Taco Seasoning
Teriyaki Sauce

Apple Crisp
Green Smoothie
Mango Smoothie
Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Bread
Basic Muffin Recipe


What's For Dinner?

>> Sunday, February 1, 2009

My niece asked me to post a sample menu. Here's what we're having this week. I don't have time to post recipes today but I'll try to post them tomorrow.

salmon melts
crockpot ragout

peanut butter toast
mac & cheese (made w/ rice noodles and raw cheese)
chicken tortilla soup. tortilla chips

oatmeal (soaked the night before)
lunchmeat (nitrite-free)
salmon w/ ginger lime sauce, salad, rice

omelettes w/ fresh veggies
chicken/red peppers, veggie

turkey burgers. salad, fries

banana muffins
peanutty sesame noodles

blender batter waffles
lunch at our Korean church


Under Construction

Please bear with me as I revise the look of my site.


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