Saturday, July 09, 2011

My blog has moved!!!

My blog has moved to

Check out the new look and my more specific focus - menu planning included!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Menu Plan Week of July 5th

We just returned from the cabin after a wonderful 4th of July holiday weekend!  Back to business on the home front - I'll be grocery shopping tomorrow.  Now that my family has shifted our menus to focus on organic produce and higher quality meats, it is imperative that I menu plan to keep our food budget on track!  More to come on this topic - I have some great tips to share and money-savings discoveries that I have made over the past few weeks. 

My husband will be on a golf trip this weekend so the slow cooker will be my best friend to get dinner on the table for my little guy and I!!!

Wednesday - Chicken quesadillas
**I will use leftover chicken from the roasted crock pot chicken last week, which I shredded and stuck in the freezer.  I will simmer the chicken with stock, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder until the liquid is absorbed.  Use your favorite tortillas and fixings and you have a meal!

Thursday - Italian Beef sandwiches (crock pot, from my menu mailer) and green beans.  Google "Crock Pot Italian Beef" for lots of great recipes!

Friday - Slow Cooker Chicken Breasts and rice (leftovers for lunch this weekend!)

Saturday - Hot Dogs, pasta and veggies

Sunday - Slow Cooker Pork Chops with sides to be determined!  (I never got to these last week!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 27th

With summer in full-swing, I realized I skipped my menu plan post last week when Wednesday came around - oops!  Back on track this week! 

Check out my post below about making water kefir - it's really fun to make and has been a great success so far!  It's a great substitute for plain fruit juice or soda.  I plan to mix it in with smoothies for my little guy, too!
For more menu planning ideas, check out a site I recently discovered - Once a Month Mom - for some great batch cooking/freezing ideas!
Onto my menu this week...

Monday:  Mom's group get together - hot dogs, chips, fruit, veggies, etc.

Tuesday - Crock Pot Roast Chicken with honeyed carrots (from my traditional foods menu mailer)
**I will be using the crock pot again to make chicken broth with the bones from my roast chicken....  stay tuned for more details.
**I highly recommend roasting a whole chicken in the crock pot - very economical and some of the best chicken you will ever eat!!
Wednesday - Mexican Sloppy Joe's and green beans (I will be pulling this out of the freezer, I made a double batch a couple of weeks ago)

Thursday - Crock pot pork chops (I'll use this recipe but sub in the chops - they were on sale this week)

Friday - Date night...  Twins/Brewers Game!

Saturday - Headed to the cabin!  I will be making Grilled Honey Lime Chicken from my traditional foods menu mailer)

Water Kefir

As part of my mission to optimize my little guy's health using whole foods and natural remedies, I have started to make water kefir for him (and my husband and I).  It has similar health benefits to kombucha but it is safe for small children to drink and it is much easier to make (it takes 24-48 hours to brew, using kefir grains, water, sugar and any herbs, fruit or fruit juice, etc. that you would prefer to flavor it once it is fermented).  Here are some pictures of my first experience making water kefir.  Click here for a link to Nourished Kitchen's recipe for water kefir and more information about this very healthy juice substitute!  I purchased my grains from Cultures for Health (they have great tutorials and recipes there, too!)

Here is a more specific explanation of water kefir thanks to Cultures for Health:

"Originating in Mexico, water kefir grains (also known as Sugar Kefir Grains) allow for the fermentation of sugar water or juice to create a carbonated lacto-fermented beverage. Incredibly easy to brew, the starter culture can create a new batch of kefir every 24-48 hours. This makes a fantastic non-dairy alternative to milk kefir and can be flavored after brewing to make a variety of delicious sodas. If you are looking to replace soda pop, your family will love it!"

Rehydrated Water Kefir Grains (use plastic strainer, no metal)

Add 1/4 cup of organic sugar (any) to hot water, mix with plastic or wooden spoon (no metal)

Fill jar with cool water.  Once water is at room temperature, add the grains.

Cover with coffee filter and let it sit on your counter top for 24-48 hours (the longer it sits, the less sweet it will be)  The kefir grains "eat" the sugar, giving the beverage its probiotic qualities.

Strain out the kefir grains and start your next batch!  Here is the finished product!  At this point, you can use a recipe to flavor your kefir.  Over time, your kefir grains will multiply, allowing you to make more batches of kefir at once or to share your grains with others!

NOTE:  For optimal results, use spring water or well water to make kefir.  I boil my tap water and chill it in the fridge, which is also acceptable.

Friday, June 17, 2011

From Healthy to Nourishing

As I continue to tackle some new cooking and diet techniques, I want to share with you a little bit about what I am doing for my family.  Thanks to Nourishing Our Children (see their Facebook page here) for putting together this "checklist" of ways in which you can start implementing traditional foods and traditional cooking techniques into your family's diet! 

Buy a copy of the book Nourishing Traditions
**this is an extremely interesting book - I just started digging in.  Although some of their techniques appear extreme to the everyday American, it is FULL of information regarding traditional cooking methods, some of which are very easy to integrate into your repertoire.

Join your local community:
We encourage you to start with a single item from the list below and create changes one step at a time.

Eliminate all industrially processed soy foods from your household.

Replace sugar with natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw local honey, grade B maple syrup, pure maple sugar, molasses, dehydrated coconut nectar, coconut palm sugar, green powder stevia, rapadura and sucanat.

Replace fruit juices with lacto-fermented beverages, such as kombucha, traditionally made ginger ale and beet kvass.

**I am making my first batch of water kefir this week - stay tuned!

Replace poly-unsaturated vegetable oils and trans fats with traditional fats such as raw and cultured butter, olive oil, sesame seed oil, coconut oil, lard, chicken fat, tallow, etc.

**I just started using coconut oil for cooking and baking the past couple of weeks - it is so tasty.  We even melt some in our oatmeal in the morning - YUM.  You can fry meat, veggies, etc. in it.  You can find it at your local co-op or Whole Foods possibly even Trader Joe's?  I need to check on that...)

Replace industrially produced breakfast cereals with nutrient dense eggs from hens on pasture, non-nitrate bacon, homemade kefir, whole milk yogurt, and soaked oatmeal.

**Who doesn't love bacon?!  :)  Try Beeler's or Applegate - easy to find.

Replace pasteurized dairy products with raw and cultured dairy.

Replace processed, convenience foods (boxed, packaged, prepared and canned food items) with fresh, organic, whole foods.

**Of course, fruits and veggies are a given.  But, I am starting to think beyond that and looking at all of the other processed snacks we eat.  My family eats a lot of breakfast and granola bars.  This seemed like a natural first thing to move away from when it comes to the boxes in my cupboard.  I made my own granola "bars" this week (it came out more like bites than bars - but it was SO yummy - between the three of us it is already almost gone!)  Check out my menu plan post from last week for the link!)

Take your daily dose of high vitamin cod liver oil – with no synthetics added, along with high vitamin butter oil.

**My little guy and I are now taking cod liver oil daily - I mix his with some of his Barlean's Fish Oil (as mentioned in this post).  Again, this is a little "extreme" (it's not the most pleasant stuff) but take a look at some of the history and health benefits, it may motivate you to give it a try!

Check out Nourishing Our Children on Facebook for a wealth of information!!! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 13th

Per my posts last week, I am going through another shift in my cooking repertoire to meet the needs of my little guy as we work to heal his gut and reduce overall inflammation inside his little body with the ultimate goal of eliminating some of the medication that he has been prescribed year-round for asthma.  If we stick to this, we know the results can be awesome (i.e. little to no symptoms of asthma during peak allergy season, the ability to layer some of the foods that have been eliminated back into his diet, etc.)  Currently, we are on a complete elimination diet of all of the top allergens and trying to increase essential fats and good bacteria in his diet wherever we can.  When it comes down to it, this leads me to take a very traditional approach to cooking.  I am an all or nothing kind of person, so I am taking on this challenge with everything I've got. 

Despite all of the menu planning I have done, I decided this new step required some utside assistance.  So, timing could not have been better for me to discover the blog site called Cooking Traditional Foods.  KerryAnn, who runs this site, has weekly menu plans that you can subscribe to that provide grocery lists, the daily plan for cooking meals AND recipes. What I love most is that her recipes are quick and easy (with a little planning and preparation) and very kid-friendly.  I subscribed for 8 weeks in order to kick-start this new approach and provide the guidance and techniques needed to follow this plan.

So, for the next 8 weeks, I will be highlighting some of the dishes from KerryAnn's menu plan (without recipes, but just to give you a sense of her plans in case you are interested!) and recipe links as normal on the days I do not use her recipes.  I will also discuss techniques that, no matter what approach you have to cooking and food, I hope you will find to be healthy, easy options for your family (and maybe some new ideas, too).

Thank you so much for continuing to read my blog and for following me on this journey.  In the meantime, please check out my past posts for great dinner recipes and head to Orgjunkie's blog for more menu planning inspiration!

Menu Plan

Monday:  Mexican Sloppy Joe's

Tuesday:  Leftovers

Wednesday:  Corn and Black Bean Salad on Tortillas
Thursday:  Beef tips with rice

Friday:  Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs with grilled veggies

Saturday:  BBQ

Sunday:  Father's Day!  Turkey Burgers and farmer's market veggies (I'll be trying a variation on this burger recipe - YUM)

I'll be making these very yummy looking oat bars this week!  Lots of opportunity for variation and according to the recipe, they store well in the freezer.  I'll let you know how they turn out!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 6th

Per my last post, I will be tweeking our menu just a little bit going forward to reflect some of the new cooking techniques and ingredients we will be implementing into our diet to help our little guy heal.  Below are some links to new sites I have been introduced to or found on my own. 

Monday:  Whatever is in the fridge :)

Tuesday:  Chicken "hurry" with green beans and mashed cauliflower

Wednesday:  Breakfast for dinner:  Quinoa patties (banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, etc. - YUM - link posted soon!) and yogurt with blueberries

Thursday:  Leftovers

Friday:  Grilled turkey meatloaves with farmers market veggie side (asparagus or other)
***Check out this recipe link for an awesome tip on making three meals - one to eat, two to freeze!

Saturday: Out

Sunday:  BBQ with friends - making veggie pasta salad (I will roast some of the veggies to soften them)

Taking it a step further...

After another asthma attack and further prescription medication administered to our little guy (along with his ears continuing to be inflamed with fluid behind his ear drums, potentially requring tubes if we don't correct it quickly), we have decided to take my son's health into our own hands and meet with a chiropractor/naturalist to discuss alternative options to help heal him from the inside out as opposed to masking his health issues with these medications that could result in long term side effects.  As a result, my family will be taking yet another step towards a more traditional way of eating.  This will take some effort to adjust to in the short term, but so worth it for our overall health and wellness in the long term!  This includes all organic/grass fed meats, dairy free for the little guy (sub in coconut milk), and other food preparations that will help his gut heal, his ears clear up, and his asthma diminish.

So, you will see a few changes to this blog as a result.  I am excited to introduce some of you to cooking techniques and recipes that, like myself, you may be new to.  The people with whom we have surrounded ourselves for the sake of our son's long-term wellness have also been awesome about referring us to resources that I intend to make mention of where appropriate. 

Please let me know your thoughts and ideas, as well.  The biggest thing I have learned in the past couple of weeks is that you don't have to accept the status quo - challenge the "norm" if your gut tells you that it may not be the right path for you and your family!

I found this great list of 10 tips for real food newbies from Nourished Kitchen (thanks to Taiha Wagner for referring me to this site, it is awesome!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan Week of May 23

After a very crazy weekend, I am ready for a fresh start!  Our little guy ended up at the ER with another asthma-like attack.  Again, a reminder about how proactive we need to be from a medical standpoint on his behalf.  This was seasonal-allergy related, I believe; however, we will visit with our allergist and pediatrician this week to target the cause and tackle what is now certain to be diagnosed and treated as asthma.

I am looking forward to a calmer week ahead and such much needed R&R up north at my in-law's cabin next weekend (my menu plan next week will be delayed as a result).  Last week's highlight was yet again the Mexican Lasagna - yum, can't get enough!  I actually added leftovers to scrambled eggs the next morning! :)

Monday - Pizza Night

Tuesday - Spinach artichoke turkey burgers (from last week) with Cucumber Bean Salad (this recipe link also links to a blog I was referred to - loving it so far!)

Wednesday -  BBQ Pulled Pork Leftovers (from the freezer - recipe from Week of May 2 with green beans and leftover cucumber bean salad

Thursday - Curried quinoa with chicken and peas (another great blog with awesome, easy recipes!)

Friday - Off to the cabin!  Burger night...

Saturday - Kitchen Window's Paella on the grill (if you don't know what this is, check out the recipe and Kitchen Window's website for the tools you will need - it is sure to "wow" anyone who you cook it for!  Ours will be made with chicken only)

Sunday - Smoked Ribs

Monday - Leftovers

Tuesday - Home from the cabin... winging it! :)

Check out Orgjunkie's blog for more menu inspiration!