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Archive for March, 2010

As most of you know, I love love love Passionatehomemaking.com!  It is by far my favorite blog and it is a wealth of information about biblical womanhood, simple and natural living, and whole food eating! 

Quite awhile back, she posted about her family’s diet and did a review of the book “Real Food”.  In a separate post, she outlined 12 Steps to Nutritious Eating.  This is basically the “plan” we have followed to start making the switch to a traditional, whole food diet.  Go here to check out the original post!

Even if this article doesn’t interest you, you should definitely head over to her site and check out all that she has to offer!

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Memory Verse: Week 13

Last week was another successful week of memorization and I must say it is really cool to be able to go through them all-12 so far-when it feels like I just started working on them!

Here is the verse fo this week!

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

~John 14:21

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Menu Planning Monday

Last week we did pretty well eating from the pantry, although we did enjoy a DELICIOUS and HUGE pizza on Friday night (in fact, it was SO BIG that we enjoyed it again for lunch on Saturday and lunch on Sunday)….other than that, we enjoyed some simple and yummy meals from the freezer and pantry shelves! 

I am super excited for this week because I have a few new recipes that I am going to try out and I have been itching for a few new meals!

Monday:  Chicken Curry (it is time to make a new batch and fill the freezer up again!), Brown Rice, Broccoli, Peas

Tuesday: Flank Steak Tacos with Fresh Avocado Salsa, Refried Beans, Salad

Wednesday: Macaroni & Cheese (with a new recipe), Chicken (leftover frozen baked chicken from a few weeks back), Asparagus

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Blackberry Glazed Salmon, Bulgur, Green Beans

Saturday:  Chicken & Broccoli Pizza and Salad

Sunday: Easter Dinner?  So far, we don’t have any plans so we might just lay low and enjoy a roasted chicken…we’ll have to wait and see!

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This is Part One of a Two Part series.  Come back next Friday for Part Two!

Lately, I have been thinking about all of the ways that we have started saving money and cutting corners with regard to our food budget.  I thought I would share a few with you…keep in mind that some are really basic and might not be new news to you!

1.  Menu Plan!

This has been HUGE for me!  I can’t tell you how much easier it is to spend money when you are buying foods with no concrete idea of what you are going to do with them.  This is especially true with produce!  I can’t tell you how many peppers, bags of broccoli, or heads of lettuce were tossed after perishing because I thought that they sounded good, but never had a meal in mind for them! 

Menu planning also helps because it allows you to combine needs and shop once.  For example, if you are making three recipes that need slightly less than one onion each you might just buy three onions, BUT you could have bought two and used slightly less onion in each recipe (and even supplemented with dried onion or onion powder).

If you don’t menu plan- I encourage you to give it a try….just try for a few weeks (a month is best)!  For me, it has taken the stress off of “what’s for dinner” and allowed me no room for excuses to eat out or stop at Burgerville! 

2.  Limit Grocery Shopping to once (at most twice) a week

I wanted to leave the “at most twice” part off of this, but lately I have been doing a mid-week trip to get any great deals before stock runs out AND many people find it easier to split their week into two.  Who am I to judge!  The point here is to watch the everyday “I just need to pick up a few things for dinner” routine….it is dangerous….and a slippery slope!  Often that “quick stop” is after work and on the way home…which tends to be a time when you are HUNGRY!  Shopping while hungry is a BIG NO NO-watch yourself….before you know if your cart is full of snacks galore and three times what you planned to spend.  Even the very disciplined tend to pick up a candy bar or a soda pop from the cooler…..it adds up!

This also helps me when it comes to cravings!  There have been times when I watched Giada De Laurentiis make some heavenly pasta dish and JUST HAD TO HAVE IT…..so I made a trip to the store, bought all the special ingredients, grabbed a loaf of bread (who eats pasta without bread, really?), oops….don’t for get a bottle of wine and some veggies…we need a bag of salad and just the right dressing too…!  Bottom line-it gets out of hand quickly and it might just be better to make a note of the recipe for next week and hold off until the next shopping trip….

3.  Follow the sales!

This is a little trickier if you like to try lots of specific new recipes all the time, but for those who are flexible with what you are going to eat, try to plan your meals around the sales.  If chicken is on sale this week, make up three or four chicken dishes and just eat beef or fish once or twice.  If potatoes are on sale, try making twice baked potatoes or homemade fries to supplement a meal.  When freezable items are on sale, buy them and freeze them (more on this in Part Two).  I have general guidelines for grocery prices…If a particular item is much higher than my “good price”, then I will skip it that week and try again later.  This is true for things like apples, oranges, and avocados.  If organic apples are more than $1.50/pound, I will skip them that week and stick with another fruit…if avacados are more than approximately $1.50 each (depending on size)I will probably skip them and try again another week!

4.  Get creative with your pantry!

Leave the cookbook on the shelf for a week!  See what you can make without going to the store for a week.  Ok, you might need to pick up some milk, yogurt, fruits and veggies….but just that and nothing else!  We have had several “eat from the pantry” weeks…trust me, we didn’t starve and the world didn’t end!  Almost everyone has a few boxes of pasta, some rice, a few bags of frozen veggies, some frozen meat, and a few cans of soup or sauce.  It may not be a week full of the most exciting meals one could find, but they will be meals nonetheless! 

If this seems like a big undertaking to you OR you have a super small pantry and don’t really have much stocked up, maybe try just 2 or 3 days of “pantry eating”…it can be challenging at first, but really isn’t too tough once you get some ideas going! 

This is also a GREAT way to clear out your freezer or pantry…every once in a while, you should really get rid of all the random bags of veggies and cans of beans…this is a good way to make that happen!

Also, try to use up your partial bottles of sauces, dressings, marinades by getting creative!   For example, I made something that needed chili sauce awhile back, but chili sauce isn’t really something I use that often.  I used it for my recipe, then went onto allrecipes.com and used the ingredient search to find some more recipes to use it in.  When I still had about 3/4 C. left (after using it in three recipes), I decided to use it as the sauce for our pizza just to use it up and try something new-it was DELICIOUS! 

5.  Keep it simple!

I admit that it can be really fun to cooks a super special meal from a recipe that needs 20 specialty items….it just doesn’t have to happen everyday!  Try to make substitutions to use what you have OR try to find recipes that need some of the same items.  Keep the majority of your meals (75% or so) pretty simple…say less than 10 ingredients (preferably only 1-2 ingredients that you don’t use on a regular basis).

Also, try keeping your fridge cleared out of all the zillions of varieties of dressings…pick two or three that you like and only keep those.  Don’t go out and buy a new marinade every time you are grilling steak, instead pick a good one and supplement it with seasonings and spices from the spice cabinet!

Well, that’s all for now, but come back next week for the second part in the post!

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Head over to Christianbook.com and checkout their selections marked down for the Spring Fever Sale!  They have over 200 items marked down to under a buck!  Some are little trinkets, some are audiobooks, and many are regular books!  I chose 9 books and my total (including shipping) was under $12!  I stuck to the “under $1” items, but it looked like there were lots of great sales that cost just a little more!

My favorite finds were Marriage Under Fire by James Dobson and Feminism: Mystique or Mistake? by Diane Passno

I hope you find something good!

Thanks MoneySavingMom.com for the tip!

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Nourishing Traditions:  The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

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OK, so I didn’t read through this ENTIRE book!  If you have ever seen the thing, you would understand why…it is gigantic and has SO MUCH information in it!  Here is my take on this Cookbook/Textbook…

Nourishing Traditions, written by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, is a cookbook that couples as a textbook filled with not only recipes, but historical and cultural information about the foods that we eat (or should be eating) all the time.  It begins with an overview of the science behind our basic dietary needs and a fairly detailed explanation of it all….what are fats, proteins, and carbohydrates?  What do they do for our bodies?  What types are there?  What effects do they have on us? etc, etc. …she also touches on vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, as well as covers some topics like dietary restrictions. 

Then she gets right into the “cookbook” part of this book…she covers pretty much everything about traditional cooking, beginning with a section dedicated to the “Basics” (cultured dairy, fermented fruits and veggies, sprouted grains and nuts, stocks, dressings, sauces & marinades).  This section was really beneficial to me since we have just started embarking on this journey towards more traditional cooking…I have used her recipes (or variations) to make kefir, chicken stock, and a few salad dressings so far and I am eager to try more!

She then covers appetizers, vegetable salads, and soups.  I have tried a few of the salads and have a few soups picked out to try like coconut chicken soup and mexican soup.  Some of her recipes use weird ingredients that I just don’t see myself using anytime soon (like oxtail…gross), but there is plenty of yummy and simple recipes to make up for the not so yummy ones 🙂

After appetizers, she provides a wealth of recipes for main dishes separated out by meat type.  This is where I really enjoyed scanning through the book, there were many MANY recipes that my mouth was just watering thinking about.  I actually am planning to go back through and take note of everything that I want to try so that I can start working away!  I really like that all of her recipes are pretty simple!  Not many require strange ingredients and, as she is a supporter of butter (thank goodness) everything has a nice rich flavors and nothing tastes fake (because nothing is fake!)

Next, Fallon covers vegetables….she talks about each type and discusses possible cooking methods.  She gives recipes for veggies that have been curried, stir-fried, baked, sautéed, and stuffed….the ideas seem endless!  This section helped me to think of veggies differently since I am a big “steam it and butter it and eat it” type of person and don’t branch out all that much…perhaps trying some new recipes will entice my husband to eat some more veggies!

Her next section is a sort of hodgepodge of info….she covers meat salads (like tuna, chicken, etc.), mexican foods (my favorite section by far), eggs, and sandwiches….it felt like she had a lot of info that she wanted in the book, but wasn’t sure where to put it.  Either way, the info was good so I can’t complain too much!

Finally we come to yet another one of my FAVORITE sections…”Grains and Legumes”….I love rice and beans (and bread, and pancakes, and lentils)…so this section called to me!  In the grains section, Fallon almost always uses the soaking method and provides multiple recipes for basic porridges to casseroles and pilafs.  She also provides recipes for pancakes, waffles, breads, and muffins…almost all using the traditional method of soaking and all using whole grains, whole fats, and natural sugars….once again, I was thankful for a section that covers a lot of things that I cook regularly, but helps me to know how to make them more healthful!  The legumes section provided soaking and cooking directions for several types of beans as well as recipes for baked beans, refried beans, mashed beans, and many casserole dishes featuring beans.  I found this section to be very helpful too!

She then covers snacks and finger foods.  This included soaked and dehydrated nuts (like crispy pecans-delicious!), homemade butters (like almond and peanut), homemade tortillas, homemade crackers, and some cookie recipes.  I feel like I need to glance back through this section now that I am thinking of it…some of those recipes sound really good right now!

Her next section is “desserts” and I have to admit that I haven’t gotten too into this section.  I have drastically cut back my baking, but I enjoy my fake cakes of white flour, white sugar, and food coloring!  I eat sweet treats so rarely, that I feel like it won’t kill me to enjoy a few guilty pleasures!  There is a wealth of information about natural sweeteners as well as many recipes that aren’t bakery style desserts, but still very yummy and healthful like baked apples and coconut bars!

The final section is a section on beverages.  I found this section really interesting and am eager to try some recipes like homemade ginger ale and root beer!

The book ends with a section on feeding babies followed by a section called “tonics and superfoods”.  These sections are filled with more information and fewer recipes. 

Things I liked about this book:

  • Fallon and Enig are supporters of “Real Foods”
  • They believe (and support with research) that a healthful diet includes full fat dairy, meat, and healthy saturated fats
  • They are not shy about controversial topics like soy and raw dairy
  • Recipes are simple
  • Information is overly abundant
  • It is very comprehensive
  • It is simple to understand even if you are new to traditional cooking
  • Not only are you told how to soak/culture/ferment, but also why to do it
  • Appendix A-“Limited Time, Limited Budget Guidelines” (this might have been my favorites resource in the whole book)

Things I didn’t like about this book:

  • It felt like they were trying to make this a political statement (sorry, I don’t know if eating traditional foods is really an attack on conservative thinking)
  • It felt a little overwhelming at first and I found myself leaving it for a week at a time to digest the info (no pun intended)
  • A lot of recipes that we just aren’t going to be eating anytime soon (like organ meats or fermented cabbage)
  • It seemed a little “all or nothing” at first, which was a little discouraging (I got over that eventually)

Overall, this book is one that I recommend to anyone who is striving (or even interested in) cooking using traditional foods and methods.  It is so packed with information that I have found it to be a good “go to” source when I have a question about something.  The margins of nearly every page are filled with information pertaining (typically) to items in the recipes.  Sometimes they are just filled with random facts about foods and often about more controversial topics (like is saturated fat really bad for you).  She also has a cool little feature called “know your ingredients” in which she lists all of the ingredients in a particular product and you have to try to guess what the item is (this was always interesting since the name of the item was rarely anything in the top few ingredients….that’s processed food for you!).  She also has “featured menus” using all recipes from her book which help make the meal come together without too much thinking on the part of the reader.

I am glad that I purchased this book and I am certain that I will use it again and again!

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This recipe is FANTASTIC!  It received RAVE reviews and I love love loved it!  It is really yummy with a nice loaf of French Bread!  It was originally inspired by a wonderful soup I had at New Seasons that was a Lentil Vegetable Soup with Kale.

Beef and Veggie Soup with Lentils:

  • 1  1/2 c. lentils
  • 2 lbs. Ground Beef
  • 1 T. Olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 6 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 c. cabbage (1/2 head)
  • 2 c. kale
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans tomatoes (I used one can whole tomatoes and one can diced)
  • 1 T. salt (more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 T. curry powder

Directions:

  1. Place the lentils into saucepan and add water to twice the depth of the lentils. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse lentils; set aside.
  2. In large stockpot, brown ground beef in olive oil.  Drain fat if necessary.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to stock pot and bring to a boil. 
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 1  1/2 to 2 hours or until veggies are tender.  (Add lentils back to stockpot after about 1 to 1  1/2 hours) 

Makes 1 Large Stockpot full of soup

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