Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Easy Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Health

I want to start a series on little changes you could be making to your diet that will make a big impact on your health. This will include things to either add or take out of your diet. I'm going to start with milk kefir do to the fact that it is so east to do and may take you a while to get the grains, unless you have a friend that can give you some.

Kefir is an amazing cultured milk that has 30 beneficial bacteria that aggressively attack the bad bacteria in your gut.  Yogurt also has beneficial bacteria but only a few and they are not aggressive. If you are scared by the word bacteria just know that it takes good bacteria in your gut to make it function properly. If your gut is unhealthy then more then likely you will not be feeling your best. I really didn't believe it either until I started drinking and cooking with it myself. Actually I should say that I noticed a difference when we moved and I wasn't drinking it that I felt horrible and very tried. Since I have been drinking and cooking with it again I'm starting to feel a lot better and I have more energy. It is so easy and tastes so good that it really has been the easiest thing to stick with.

Now I wouldn't recommend just drinking it plain but it is great as a smoothie base or you can use it in place of yogurt or buttermilk in recipes. I make both raw milk knifer and coconut milk kefir. They are both good it's just that the coconut milk makes a sweeter kefir. You have to make raw milk kefir every so often to keep your grains happy though and I wouldn't use the same grains to do both I found that it messed up my batch of raw milk after I did the coconut milk.

So this is how you do it:

* I recommend getting grains in the long run it's cheaper and you get more out of the grains verses the powdered stuff. I bought mine from a guy selling them on amazon it was cheaper then a natural place and they grew fast and healthy.
*After they have grown large enough to make a pint about 2 TB put them into a  clean pint jar with some raw grass fed milk then use a coffee filter and a canning ring for the lid and let it sit out for about 24 to 36 hours. sometimes I put a tablespoon of cream to thicken and sweeten it a bit.  I put mine in the cabinet above my oven, you want a warm place.
*You will know it is done because the milk will thicken to a drinkable yogurt consistency. I strain mine using a plastic colander over a bowl, then I take my grains and put then into another clean pint jar to start a new batch.
 *I take my finished kefir and put it into a clean jar and stick it into the fridge to be uses when I need it.

I highly recommend giving it a try and if you are still not clear about how easy it is here are some links that helped me.
healthyhomeeconomist - video on kefir
healthyhomeeconomist-what kefir looks like
passionatehomemaking- coconut kefir
passionatehomemaking- more info in kefir

I'm going to be posting some ways to use you kefir in the days ahead. What is your favorite way to use kefir?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Small Farms Need Our Help

So hear is the deal our government is once again trying to have control over something that they shouldn't. We have the freedom to kill unborn babies, we have the right to ruin our health through smoking and drinking, we have the right to treat the men and women who have served our country like crap but we do not have the right to grow and produce healthy food on our own land without the government coming in with guns drawn and shutting it down. PLEASE!

I have tried to write this post several times but I am so frustrated by our governments control over our food, that I couldn't do it with out it turning into a book. So please take a look at these other posts that explain it a lot better then I could. Just keep in mind that if the government takes our right to eat and grow what we want then what is left.




Farmeggedon video

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar for a Sore Throat and Stuff

Well a lot has happened since my my last post. My family has moved and we have not just moved to a new house or new city but to new state. We now live in Washington. It has been hard to move farther away from family and leave all my gardens in there end of season glory, but we are here and making the best of it. The good news is that where we live has a good selection of grass fed meats and raw milk is legal here, so it has been nice to have these options available to us.

My kitchen has been in slow motion since we moved.  Just trying to get unpacked and homeschooling has been a chore not to mention I was sick for the first 3 weeks of being here. There is one thing that I really want to share. Raw apple cider vinegar is awesome. I'm just saying.

As I mentioned I was really sick.  Tired, sore throat, cough the works. I tried all kinds of things for my sore throat and nothing would work, I had to take ibuprofen just to sleep. My sister looked up a home remedy for sore throats all it said was to make a drink out of warm water, honey and apple cider vinegar. I kept putting it off because who really likes the taste of vinegar (wimp). Finally after two weeks of putting it off and not being able swallow or sleep I broke down and made the drink. You probably guessed this but I'm going to say it any way IT WORKED. The first time it worked one 8 oz cup and no more sore throat. I couldn't believe it and so I had to share it. To top it off it did not taste that bad at all. So next time you have a sore throat try this.


8oz warm water
honey (to your taste)
1 TB of raw apple cider vinegar ( I used Bragg's)

What are some of your favorite home remedies?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Here a Can, There a Can, Everywhere a Can Can!

This is only part of the peaches
Have you guessed I've been canning. 80 pounds of peaches to be exact. Yep I'm crazy. But boy oh boy will those beautiful canned and frozen peaches chase away those winter blues, or at least I hope so after all that work. Anyway, as I was canning I was thinking about last year.  I had no idea what I was doing (not that I do now) especially when it came to planning what I wanted to can. So I thought I would share a few very small pieces of wisdom about canning that I have learned in my one year of experience.

First thing is don't be scared it is actually a lot of fun and it is a great satisfaction to know that out of 80 pounds of peaches I have 6 jelly jars of peach syrup, 8 pints of peach salsa, and 8 quarts of sliced peaches, 3 5-gallon bags of sliced frozen peaches as well as 5 small bags of mashed peaches for ice cream all waiting for my family to eat. (This doesn't mention the 3 cobblers and the endless snacks of peaches we have eaten.)

Second: plan, plan, plan. Last year I made so many jams and butters that I still have some. For some reason I thought that canning jams and jellies was a must if you where going to can. Even though they are tasty, my family doesn't eat that much jam, maybe one jar a month or so. So that means that if I wanted homemade jam for my family for the year that would only be 12 jars of jams plus maybe a few for gifts. That means not every fruit that comes into my home needs to become a jam, jelly or butter. This year I really paid attention to what my family ate and about how much. I know that we go through a jar of tomato sauce every 2 weeks. So that means my goal is to can at least 26 cans of sauce. We drink a lot of smoothies so I froze a lot of the fruit that I have gotten in bulk locally.

The third thing I want to say is your local farmers are your best friends in eating raw organic produce for a price you can afford and preserving is the best way to take those in season prices and make them last all year. Eating in season is really the best way to go, it's when the food is the most nutritious and it's when it becomes affordable.

There are different types of preserving (freezing, canning, drying, fermenting, etc.) so do some research and find the best way for you I guarantee that you will love knowing that you have put up healthy, organic food that will make your family happy all winter and it's all with in your budget.

If there is anyone with wisdom for a newbie canner like myself please share.
Happy canning!

Monday, August 9, 2010

These Cookies Are So Good!!!

Honey chocolate chip cookies

Before I started eating "real food" I loved to bake. I have not stopped loving to bake as much as I am still learning how to adapt and find recipes that are yummy but still not so bad for you. My latest quest is to use honey as my main sweetener. Honey has many benefits one of which is especially important to me and that is that it is found to be easily digested and absorbed by the body. I have blood sugar problems and so I thought I might see if my body reacts better to the honey rather then other sweaters. Here is some information I found at the WHFoods website that explains honey better.

"Experimental evidence indicates that consumption of honey may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to other sweeteners. The body's tolerance to honey is significantly better than to sucrose or glucose alone. Individuals with greater glucose intolerance (e.g., those with mild diabetes and Type 1 diabetes) showed significantly better tolerance to honey than sucrose. In addition, the antioxidants in honey, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, frequently by a larger factor than can be explained by their actual amount, may be beneficial for diabetics and help to improve endothelial function (the function of the cells that make up the lining of our blood vessels) and vascular health.
In a year-long animal study comparing the effects of sucrose, honey and a low glycemic index (GI) sugar-free diet, rats on the honey-based diet showed: reduced weight gain and percentage of body fat, decreased anxiety, better spatial recognition memory, improved HDL cholesterol (15-20% higher than rats fed sugar or sucrose diets), improved blood sugar levels (HA1c), and reduced oxidative damage." (whfoods.com)

I made a honey cake from Heavenly Homemakers, that was good you should hop over and give it a try. But I wanted a good cookie recipe so I tried this recipe from cooks.com I tweaked it so that it fit into our life and here it is, some very yummy sort of healthy chocolate chip cookies.

Pre-heat oven to 375
1 cup butter (you could probably us 1/2 coconut oil depending on how you like your cookie)
1 cup sucanat
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour ( I used half white wheat pastry flour and spelt)
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz dark chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and sucanat.
2. Add honey and the eggs one at a time.
3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl then mix into the sugar and butter mixture.
4. Then add the dark chocolate.
5. Drop cookies onto a prepared cookie sheet and cook for 10-12 min.

This recipe does not use honey as it's main sweetener but I will keep looking and tweaking. Do you have any good recipes that uses honey as the sweetener? Please share. Thanks.

This post is part of Monday Mania.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Storing and Grinding Your Own Grain

We have been grinding our own four since November 2009 and I have had no regrets. There is a few things you need to figure out though with grinding your own flour. One is where do to get your grains. Second what do you do with your 5, 10, or even 25 to 50 pound bag of grain. Third what do you do with the flour after it's ground. Then you get to decide what flour to use for what type of baking, but we will save that one for another post.

Where to get grain:
 I get mine from Azure if you have not heard of them you should really check them out. You can buy small bags of wheat berries from Bob's Red Mill or even the bulk bins from places like WinCo but for me Azure had the best price for our family of four and I could get it Organic.

Storing your grain:
Since I have no basement, and a garage that is not handy I was left with my laundry room / pantry to store my grain. I had done my research and knew that the grain needed a cool, dry, and dark place and I had read that you could go to your local donut shop and get FREE 5 gallon food safe buckets. So I called up a donut shop got my free 5 gallon food safe buckets brought them home and started filling them up with my 25 pound bags of  wheat. At the time I had hard white wheat, soft white wheat, hard red wheat and oats. If I was thinking straight and not about all this great grain I was going to be making into tasty treats and breads for my family, I would have realized that unless you have a lot of space to store stakes of 5 gallon buckets it's really not going to work. Soooo I put on my thinking cap and started looking at the situation logically. My first thought was a bunch of Ziploc bags, then thinking I wished they had big Ziploc bags, then thinking THEY do have huge Ziploc bags. I was so excited I went to target right away and got one box of the 10 LB bags and another of the 50 LB bags. Then I went to my favorite place to get organizing things IKEA and I got some stackable boxes that you can get into while still stacked(does that make since). I put the bags into the boxes, filled each bag, labeled the boxes stacked them in my pantry and now I have my grain where I can get to it. 

The best way for me to grind is to do large batches and then store the flour in the freezer. I think I have mentioned this before but I have to two small children and I don't really have the brain power in this season in my life to do a lot of thinking ahead. So as to not get stuck when it's nap time and wanting to make something but having to grind flour (bye bye nap time). I grind 5 gallon Ziploc bags of flour and keep them in my freezer to lock in the nutrients, save time and keep my sanity . I guess that is thinking ahead a little, maybe I'm getting better. 

I hope this was helpful. In another post I will share what I've learned about baking using all whole grain flours.

How do you store your grain?

This post is for Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.

My Newest Sewing Projects!

We are expecting our newest little nephew in about a week, so I decided he needed a blanket. I've made one for each of my other two nephews so he needs one too. My sister trains and loves dogs so I decided that the baby needed a doggy blanket. Here is a picture of how the blanket turned out.

I decided to also make my sister a nursing cover. I got the pattern from here. The only thing I changed was that I lined the back with some thin fleece so it would be softy for the baby and I didn't put the corset bonding in (to lazy).

 I enjoy sewing but I am not great or even that good at it, but these two projects show that practice makes better. Because you really should have seen what my other poor nephews ended up with. You should also know that it only took me two nights (after the kids were in bed) to finish both of these projects.I hope that you enjoyed these projects and encourage you to give them a try.

What kinds of projects have you been working on?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Garden In July

I have finally gotten around to posting some pictures of Our Little City Farm. I hope this shows you that you don't have to have a lot of space to have a garden that will provide your family with lots of yummy veggies. We will see come canning season if I can squeeze enough produce to last us through winter. This is the list of veggies that we are currently growing on our little city lot.

Front Yard: 
  • 1 semi dwarf apple tree
  • 1 elderberry
  • 1 gooseberry
  • 5 strawberry plants
  • 2 cabbages
  • 4 bush zucchini
  • 2 crook neck
  • 2 bush cucumbers
  • 3 asparagus plants
  • lots of beets
  • 6 Amish paste tomatoes
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 celebrity tomato
  • 1 yellow tomato
  • 1 purple tomato
  • 1 grape tomato
  • 12 peppers (different types)
  • 3 pie pumpkin plants
  • bush beans
  • onions
  • 5 basil plants
  • peas (harvested)
  • some carrots
  • some lettuce
  • lots of different herbs and flowers around the edges

Back Yard:
  • 1 semi dwarf sour cherry tree
  • 2 semi dwarf pear trees
  • 2 low blueberry bushes
  • 2 grape vines
  • 2 types of raspberries
  • Raised bed of potatoes
  • 5 corn plants
  • 2 summer squash
  • 3 types of winter squash
  • 1 mini water melon
  • 1 mini cantaloupe
  • 3 more strawberry plants
  • 2 sunflower plants
  • 4 chickens with a coop
  • Lots more herbs and flowers
Just remember you can be very creative in how you fit things into your garden. Notice that I used a lot of bush plants which are also good in pots. Good luck and happy gardening!
What is growing in your garden?

This is a post for Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    One of Those Duh Moments

    Have you ever read something or heard something and thought, that is a really great idea and so simple why didn't I think about that. Well I had one of those moments not to long ago. I was reading an article over at http://grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/ and thought what a great idea. She cooks her beans in big batches and then freezes them. We have been cutting back on meat to make our grass fed, free range meat last and not break out budget. So this was perfect since beans are really healthy for you and a great source of protein.
    I have taken it a step further and I have been doing my rice this way too. Its so simple and it is great for me because I'm not always great at planing ahead and sometimes life calls for last minute prep. You might be thinking that is why we have canned food and instant rice down the street at our local grocery store. You are right but have you read up on BPA or the fact that canned beans  have so much salt in them. Or the health benefits to fresh brown rice. Plus the cost is so cheap that even if you buy high end organic beans or rice you end up saving quite a bit of money.

    So here it is a cheap, healthy, and fast way to eat your beans and rice.

    For the beans:
    Before you go to bed stick your beans into your crock pot and fill it with filtered water about 1-2 inches above the beans.
    The next morning pour out the water and rinse the beans.
    Refill the crock pot with your now rinsed beans and more filtered water about 3-4 inches above the beans.
    Turn your crock pot on low and cook for about 6-8 hour depending on the beans.
    After the beans are cooked let them cool
    I like to dump and rinse the beans one more time, then I fill sandwich bags with about 16 ounces of beans. 
    Then freeze. I think you could probably lay the beans on a cookie sheet and flash freeze then but I have not tried that yet.
    Then when you want a quick dinner or lunch just pull them out of the freezer, heat up and make some bean and cheese burritos.

    For the Rice:
    Cook your rice like you would for dinner, I use long grain brown rice in my rice attachment on my steamer.
    Then let cool and freeze in sandwich bags. I put about 2 cups in each bag. 

    It is so easy to pull out and heat up for a side dish, breakfast or to but in some soup.

    Breaking Free From The Box Part 3

    This is what we use for cereal on mornings that we don't even have time to boil oatmeal. I have worked on this granola recipe for about a year to get it the way we likes it. So even though this is our recipe its very adaptable to what your family likes or needs. I am working on a soaked granola and will post that when I'm finished with it. I am learning the value of soaking or sprouting grains and nut, you can read for your self the health benefits here and here.

    6 cups of oats or half oat and half barley oat
    2 cups raw almonds
    1/2 cup puffed millet
    1/2 ground flax or wheat germ
    1/2 unsweetened coconut
    1/2 dried fruit ( add after cooked)
    1 cup heirloom grain flakes
    1TB cinnamon
    1/2 tsp salt

    1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
    1/3 cup of raw honey or grade B maple syrup*
    2 TB melted coconut oil

    Pre Heat 350
    1. Mix all the dry ingredients
    2. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan on the stove
    3. Add honey to coconut oil and mix then add the apple sauce and mix again
    4. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients. Make sure it is mixed well, be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl.
    5. I put mine into a jelly roll pan and stir it every 10 min or so.
    6. Cook for 30-40 min.

    *At the end I put a little maple syrup on top and mix it in and leave it in the oven while the oven is warm.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Breaking Free From The Box Part 2

    Left Over Oatmeal Pancakes:
    So you made some yummy oatmeal but now you have about a cup or two of leftovers and you don't know what to do with them. Well I'm going to give you a couple of suggestions. One is to freeze them into individual servings so on those morning your husband needs to leave early or you need to leave early and you don't want to get up earlier then you have to to fix something lasting and nutritious, you have something ready to go. It also makes a good snack on those days you need a little extra boost. My second suggestion would be to make oatmeal pancakes. These are very good and it doesn't matter what you put into the oatmeal before because it transfers nicely to the pancakes. For example I made peanut butter, banana oatmeal and the next morning I made peanut butter banana pancakes, they tasted great! They do take more time then just the oatmeal so you could either freeze the oatmeal until you have time to make the pancakes or  keep in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

    3/4 cup oat flour or barley flour (grind 1 cup of oats in blender to make 3/4 cup oat flour)
    1 cup Hard white wheat
    2 tablespoons sugar (depending on what is in the oatmeal I may not add the sugar)
    2 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon sea salt
    3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
    1 1/4 cups whole milk
    1 cup cooked oatmeal
    1 tablespoon honey or grade B maple syrup
    2 large eggs

    Mix your dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
    Mix wet ingredients together including the cooked oatmeal.
    Combine all ingredients and let sit for about 5 minutes. This will thicken the batter and allow the wheat to relax.
    Makes about 18 small pancakes.

    I bet you didn't think it would be that easy did you. Here is some info on the health benefits of oatmeal.

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Breaking Free From The Box Part 1

    It has been a year since we have given up boxed cereals. We all love cereal but it has been worth it, I notice that when we buy cereal as a treat every once in a while we are all hungry with in an hour or so. You are probably thinking thats fine for you but I am not about to wake up at 5:00am to feed my family breakfast. Well neither do I, I love my sleep. So Im going to share with you some of my recipes that I use for our breakfasts over the week. Im going to start out with oatmeal who can't cook oatmeal right. I use old fashioned rolled oats and I promise you that it doesn't take over 10 minutes to make.

    Here is our favorite way to make oatmeal:
    3 cups milk, water, or coconut milk
    2 cups old fashioned rolled oats 
    2 tbs peanut butter
    3 mashed bananas
    1 tbs honey or maple syrup
    pinch of salt

    Put the oats, salt and liquid into a pot and heat on medium high until it comes to a boil. 
    Set your timer for 5 min.
    After the 5 min take off heat stir in the rest of your ingredience.
    serve with milk, a touch more syrup or honey and some chopped nuts.

    Another way we like oatmeal is with strawberries: 
    3 cups milk or coconut milk
    2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
    1 cup sliced strawberries divided
    1tbs honey or raw sugar
    pinch of salt

    For this one you put 1/4 the strawberries in with your liquid salt and oats.
    Boil for 5 min.
    Take off heat and add the rest of the sliced strawberries.
    Serve with milk 
    The oats really take the strawberry flavor. I've tried doing this with peaches but it didn't take on the taste like it did with the strawberries. 

    For extra nutrition:
     Substitute 1/2 the oats with hulled barley oats
    Add 1or 2 Tbs of coconut oil
    1Tbs ground flax ( I use my blender to grind them, grinding them make it digestible.)
    There are many different types of oats you can use each one with it's own benifits. Some times I mix Barley oats with my rolled just to get to extra protein that the barley has. You can check out some different types here.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Yummy Homemade Granola Bars

    I've tried a lot of granola bar recipes since we started this natural eating adventure and these have been by far the closest to the chewy store-bought kind. This has now become a staple in our home with two young kiddos snacks are a must. I have made a few changes to make it a little more healthy but it hasn't changed the taste or the texture. They freeze well so you can make a double or triple batch and have enough for a month.

    Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
    original from smittenKitchen.com

    1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
    1/2 to 3/4 cup dehydrated sugar cane (use more for a sweetness like most purchased bars or use less for a mildly sweet bar) I use 1/2 and it tastes sweet to me.
    1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed until finely ground in a blender, if using flax stick the flax in the blender too.)
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 to 3 cups dried fruits, nuts and seeds
    1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    6 tbsp melted coconut oil or melted butter (sometimes I use half butter half coconut oil)
    1/4 cup + 2 tbsp raw honey or grade B maple syrup
    1 tbsp water

    1. Pre- heat oven to 350 degree's
    2. Mix all dry ingredient's together
    3. I like to stick the fruits and nuts into the food processor to make them bit size
    4. Melt the coconut oil or butter in a sauce pan and melt. As soon as it has almost melted put in the honey and peanut butter stir until combined. *
    5. Mix the wet and dry ingredient's together until well combined.
    6. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, or tin foil, use enough so that the liner comes up over the short sides of the pan making a sling.
    7. If using tin foil butter the bottom and sides.
    8. Put your mixture into the pan and push down using a spatula or plastic rap.
    9. Bake in oven for 25 - 30 minutes, the top should be brown.
    10. Remove from oven and put onto a cooling rack. Leave the granola bars in the pan for 20 minutes.
    11. Use your sling to take the granola bar out of the pan and put them on the cooling rack. Wait until they are cool then use a serrated knife to cut into bars.
    12. Store in an air tight container in the frig.

    *It has taken me a while to get the hang of working with coconut oil because when it cools down its turns solid again. So for these I melt the coconut oil, honey, and peanut butter in a pan it seems to stabilize the oil. It also makes the bars chewy. Coconut oil melts at 70 degrees so if you use raw honey it's not heating the raw honey so much that it breaks down the minerals. If you are using butter this is not needed.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    This Year's Experiment

    I wanted to see just how much food we could grow on our lot.  We live on less them 1/8th of an acre and our house takes up a good part of the lot. But even though it's small with some thinking we have managed to fit 4 chickens, 4 semi dwarf fruit trees, 5 types of berries and a whole lot of veggies. Not to leave out many herbs, flowers and a place for my two kidos to play. I'm here to encourage you, even if all you have is a patio, balcany or a small space by your front door there is a way to provide some healthy, fresh and organic produce for yourself and family. Even if its just herbs on your counter or by your front door.

    When I was trying to decide what and how much to grow I asked myself some questions:
    What do we eat the most?
    What do we eat the most of out of the dirty dozen?
    What do I want to can and preserve?
    Do I really want try cucumbers again? (I have the worst luck with them)

    After all those questions were answered I sat down and researched things like:
    How many tomato pants I need to grow in order to make salsa, tomato soup, tomato sauce to last until next harvest?
    What kind of tomato's are best for these types of recipes?
    This is just an example of the research I did on each veggie I wanted to grow. In my mind that is the only good thing about winter it gives me time to figure out what new thing to try in my garden in the spring.

    Next I figured out just how much space I had by measuring my spaces and making and drawing a plan of each spot. I used the square foot gardening book to figure out how much space each veggie needed.
    In my next post I will show you some pictures of what we did with our small city lot.

    You can find a list of what I'm planting and some pictures of our garden here.