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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Breakfast for 10... $2.14

Bulk extra thick rolled oats, 1 lb .89
6 cups wild blackberries free
1/2 gallon hormone free milk (I can't feed the daycare raw)$1.25


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seafood Pasta

Who doesn't love seafood?  We sure do!

2 lbs pasta (homemade, $1.50 or store bought on sale $1.98)
4 cups white cheese sauce (2 jars alfredo on sale, $3.00 or homemade, approx $2.00)
1 lb frozen tilapia or shrimp or half and half ($3.99/lb on sale)
1 lb broccoli florets ($1.00)

Cook seafood in butter, Celtic sea salt, & pepper until done.  Then break it up and add the alfredo sauce, heating through.  While the seafood is cooking, boil your water and prepare the pasta.  Add the broccoli for the last minute or two of pasta boiling.   Drain pasta, mix in sauce and seafood and ENJOY. 

This is a favorite in our house!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kale Chips, An Inexpensive Crunchy Snack

Our first kale is up and ready, along with a handful of sugar snap peas.  Yum!  I brought it our first small bunch and turned them into kale chips.  The kids gobbled them up in a matter of minutes!

Making Kale Chips is exceptionally easy...

First, pick your kale from the garden.  Wash and pat dry. Pinch of stems and any bad bits.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle/spritz with olive oil or melted real butter.  Finish off with a sprinkling of seasoning (celtic sea salt or a garlic/salt/herb blend, or something spicy, maybe salt and grated Parmesan cheese).  Bake at 350F for a few minutes, watch close. You want them to get dry and crispy but not burnt.  This took about 5 minutes in  my oven.  I pulled the pan out and flipped about halfway through for even baking.


Chicken DIVINE (Gluten Free)

Or at least that's what we call this in our house!

First make 4 cups brown rice in a rice cooker.

Now, make your cream of mushroom soup.

*1 lb mushrooms, washed and sliced into desired size
*5-6 green onions, diced (greens and whites)
*6 Tbs real butter unsalted
*5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
*several small sprigs fresh herbs (I use Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, & Basil)
*6 TBS Tapioca Starch/flour
*1-2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt (go by taste)
* Pepper to taste
*2 cups heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized, raw if possible)
*6 cups chicken stock

Melt butter over medium heat. Add minced garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper, saute for about a minute. Add tapioca flour and create a thick paste (roux). Add sliced mushrooms and green onions. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes until they begin to get soft and give up a bit of liquid. Add cream and stock while whisking. Continue to whisk as soup heats and thickens. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until desired thickness is achieved. This should give you a nice creamy soup consistency, adjust as desired using more or less starch/flour in the roux.

Now, prepare your chicken.

To serve 8 for dinner, I prepare 4 chicken breasts or use leftovers from roasted chicken. I like to add some minced garlic, Celtic sea salt, and pepper in the pan. Cook and dice into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Place the rice, chicken and about half the soup (reserve the rest for later use) in layers in a glass casserole dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese and additional seasoning if desired. Bake at 450 for about 30 minutes until hot and melty.

Serve with a salad full of fresh, green veggies.

Menu Week of May 24 (Gluten Free Options)

This weeks menu for Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie... our focus is on fast or prepared in advance because Spring sports and end of year dance is keeping us HOPPING!

Day 1~
Breakfast: Overnight Steel Cut Oats w/ strawberries, cream, and honey
Snacks: Airpopped popcorn w/ coconut oil, kefir smoothie
Lunch: Tuna and grated cheese on salad & carrot sticks
Steak Stir Fry: Thin sliced grassfed steak on brown rice w/ GF Teriyaki sauce, sprouts, carrots, snap peas, mushrooms, zucchini & asparagus (brown rice instead of rolls for gf)

Day 2~
Breakfast: Honey Oat (GF) Pancakes w/ maple syrup & applesauce
Snacks: HM Not Grahams (gf) w/ nut butter, kefir smoothie
Lunch: Egg omelet w/ mushrooms & cheese, apple slices & carrot sticks
Dinner: Crockpot roasted chicken w/ brown rice, steamed broccoli and salad

Day 3~
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast, cantaloupe
Snacks: Kefir Smoothie, banana w/ nut butter
Lunch: Leftover chicken sandwiches, salad, kale "chips"
Dinner: Crockpot Roast w/ sweet potatoes, mushrooms, carrots & salad

Day 4~
Breakfast: HM sausage, Whole wheat rolls & gf biscuits, mixed frozen berries
Snacks: Kefir smoothie, cheese on flax crackers
Lunch: Chefs salad w/ leftover beef roast, hard boiled egg, cheddar
Dinner: Black beans and brown rice w/ salsa, sour cream, cheese and guacamole, salad

Day 5~
Breakfast: Eggs in a hole, applesauce
Snacks: Kefir smoothie, cucumber slices w/ kefir dip
Lunch: Black bean/rice leftovers in whole wheat or gf brown rice tortilla, salad, apple slices
Dinner: Shrimp, whole wheat soaked pasta & brown rice pasta, Parmesan cheese sauce, salad, broccoli

Day 6~
Breakfast: Maple Sweet Potatoes and scrambled eggs w/ fruit salad
Snacks: Kefir smoothie, veggie sticks w/ kefir herb dip
Lunch: Turkey burgers on a bed of lettuce, kale "chips", snap peas and carrot sticks
Dinner: HM creamy mushroom soup w/ ground beef & brown rice, salad, asparagus

Day 7~
Breakfast: GF oat flour waffles w/ maple syrup and strawberries, scrambled eggs
Snacks: kefir smoothie, hard boiled eggs
Lunch: Creamy mushroom soup leftovers, salad, apple slices
Dinner: Oven roasted chicken w/ mashed potatoes and soaked biscuits, fresh veggie tray, asparagus and mushrooms.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Easy Chicken Dinner

Early this week, I roasted two whole fryer chickens at the same time.  We enjoyed one that night with herbed mashed potatoes (whipped up with REAL butter, whole milk, garlic, and snips of my window herbs). 

The following day, I set the remains to simmer into a delicious chicken stock.  That night, (after straining the bones and not tasty bits) we added veggies, 1 cup of brown rice, and herbs for a yummy soup.

The second chicken was stripped and shredded for chicken tacos.  It's a simple matter to add a bit of olive oil to a large frying pan, toss in some garlic and onion, add the shredded chicken and some lacto fermented salsa.  Then enjoy on homemade soaked wheat tortillas with black beans and kefir sour cream.

The remains were also simmered into a stock, frozen and saved for later use!

4 chicken dinners = $10.00 (plus veggies, potatoes, beans, flour and condiments $2-3 per meal).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wild Venison Sandwiches

Wild game is a healthy and sustainable food (this is assuming that the game is only hunted legally).  Since ours is not a family of hunters, we only have wild game when friends share.  Here's a good way to enjoy it!

Place 1 pound per 3 servings of venison into the crockpot.  Pour a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (We like Black Horse Savory Gluten Free) over it.  Cook on low for about 4 hours or until you can shred/pull it apart with a couple forks.

Shred using two forks.

Serve on whole wheat bread or buns spread with homemade mayo and an organic garden salad.

By preparing your wild game this way, you lose much of that wild flavor that some don't enjoy.  This is a perfect game day meal... throw it in in the morning and enjoy it once you actually have time!

*Don't overcook or it becomes tough.  
**Go here for a great mayo recipe.
***Buns in the picture are not healthy... I sent Teengirl to the market for them. :)

Menu Plan Monday - April 19

In an effort to become more organized... I'm going to attempt start weekly Menu Plan Monday. This should be a no brainer for me, given that once upon a time I was considered anal retentive regarding organization and tidiness... let's just say that having children + a giant Saint Bernard + in home daycare has changed my standards a bit. :)

I'm still planning freezer meals... hopefully I will have a full launch in early May.  Many of our meals are ones that I have chosen with advanced prep in mind.

All meals are served with Organic, Whole, Non-Homogenized Milk.  Raw is best!

Oatmeal, Mixed Berries (previously frozen)
Brown Rice with Cranberries & Almonds
Baked Oatmeal Squares & Raw Applesauce/slices
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Toast with Fruit Salad (Bread recipe link at end of post)
Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough Pancakes & Berry Compote
Dry Cereal Day w/ Bananas (We keep select cereals on hand for now)
Eggs anyway day... usually a Saturday or Sunday treat. With Whole Wheat Toast & Fruit of choice

Whole Wheat Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Organic Garden Salad, Organic Baby Carrots
Homemade Mac & Cheese Bake w/ Broccoli & Organic Garden Salad
Turkey Flatbread Sandwich, Tomatoes & Organic Garden Salad 
Black Beans w/ Rice & Shredded Cheese, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Carrot & Celery Sticks
Scrambled Eggs w/ Whole Wheat Toast, Fruit Salad & Organic Garden Salad
Cheese Quesadilla's, Veggie Sticks & Apple Slices
Tuna & Crackers, Organic Garden Salad & Fruit Salad

Beef Lasagna w/ Chopped Tomatoes and Sauce & Organic Garden Salad
Chicken Enchilada's with Kefir Sour Cream, Fresh Carrots & Broccoli (Tortilla Recipe Below)
Tilapia w/ Seasoned Brown Rice, Lightly Steamed Spinach & Organic Garden Salad
Shredded Wild Venison Sandwiches, Fruit Salad & Veggie Sticks
Black Bean Tacos, Avocado, Tomato, Kefir Sour Cream, Organic Garden Salad
Chicken and Rice Bake w/ Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup, Fruit Salad & Veggie Sticks
Shrimp Alfredo w/ Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta, Organic Garden Salad, Baked Apples

I will link to recipes as they are posted on one of my blogs or the site I get the recipe from!

My tortilla recipe
Whole Wheat Bread Recipe (non-soaked)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Freezer Meals: First Up, Whole Wheat and Gluten Free Waffles

I'm starting freezer meal planning.  It's a bit overwhelming, but I think it's doable and will be easy once I have a routine down.

My plan is to have 22 meals prepped and ready in the freezer at the beginning of each month.  I'm also prepping breakfast foods.  Watch for my game plan in the next couple of weeks.

I started easy, with breakfast.  My plan is to have waffles, pancakes, and muffins baked and ready to reheat.

The first step is to soak my batters.  This can be done using kefir, apple cider vinegar, whey or buttermilk. (If using apple cider vinegar or whey, simply add 1-2 Tbs per cup of regular milk prior to mixing into flours.)

The trick to making both gf and regular waffles at the same time is to have a separate waffle iron for each, separate mixing bowls & utensils, and a separate prep/cooking areas (counters across the room from each other).  I get out the gf ingredients first, mix it first and then switch to the wheat mix.  Ideally, I'd man one waffle iron while my husband or teenager would man the other.  This doesn't always happen, so I have to wash my hands well between batters if cooking simultaneously.

Here are my waffle recipes (Makes about 16 waffles in my iron).  For freezing, this may need to be doubled (or more depending on your family size and consumption).

Whole Wheat Waffles (modified from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

1 3/4 cup whole white wheat flour (King Arthur)
1 3/4 cup unbleached wheat flour (King Arthur)
1/4 cup Sucanat (or agave or honey)
2 Tbs aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
4 free range chicken eggs (or sub 3 Tbs applesauce for each egg)
1 cup liquefied coconut oil or melted pastured butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups kefir (or buttermilk)
If using applesauce, add 2 tsp cinnamon if desired

Gluten Free Waffles- change flours and add xanthan gum in above recipe

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1 1/4 cups coconut flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 Tbs xanthan gum

Night before- Combine flours and kefir in a large mixing bowl.  Allow to sit for 12 hours.

In the morning-
Preheat your waffle iron.
Oil your waffle iron.
Whisk together eggs (or applesauce), vanilla, and coconut oil/butter.
Combine baking powder (and xanthan gum for gf), cinnamon if using, Celtic Sea Salt, and Sucanat (if using liquid sweetener, add to egg mixture instead).
Sprinkle baking powder/sugar mixture over soaked dough from last night. 
Add egg/oil mixture and combine well.  A wooden spoon should work because this will be a fairly liquid mixture.  If too dry, add a bit more kefir until desired consistency is reached. 
Pour onto waffle iron using a measuring cup or ladle (amount will depend on size of your iron).
Cook according to your iron, some have indicator lights... on mine, I just watch for the steam to taper.
Re-oil iron every few waffles as needed.

To freeze, allow to cool.  Place sheets of parchment paper between waffles and store several waffles in freezer bags or containers.  Label with date prior to freezing.  Reheat using toaster oven.

*My preference is to make the standard recipe (using eggs), sub honey for Sucanat, then fold in a cup of applesauce and a couple teaspoons of cinnamon (sometimes I also add diced apples).  If this is my plan, I usually reduce the initial amount of kefir when I soak so that I don't end up with too thin of a batter.

**Since kefir grains can often be found for free (like mine where) or inexpensively and used FOREVER, they are essentially a no cost ingredient... so a quart of kefir is equal to the milk used (coconut milk runs me about $3/half gallon as does non-homogenized milk, organic milk I can get for about $3/gallon).

***Sweetener can be pricey, a pound of Sucanat runs $4-$5.  It can be left out, but I've found that a little sweetener goes a long way and adds a great flavor.  Sucanat adds many vitamins & minerals versus regular sugar.

****Since the price of ingredients is variable, it's hard to put a price tag on these.  However, they are a nourishing way to start the day.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kefir, What?

We've started making and enjoying dairy kefir and our first round of water kefir for "soda" is working away in the cabinet.

When I tell my friends and daycare parents about kefir, they're all, "Whaaaaaaaat?".

It's simple, really.

Pour fresh (raw, if possible) milk into a clean glass quart jar (pour boiling water over the jar after its washed).  Add milk kefir grains.  Place a coffee filter on the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band.  Place in your cupboard (or other dark, warm place) for 24-48 hours.  In our (cooler) house, it takes about 48 hours for a batch to finish, which is perfect because we use half a jar per day in our afternoon smoothies.  Once the kefir is finished, remove the grains from the jar, mix the kefir milk using a plastic utensil and store covered in the fridge.  I place my grains directly into another jar for a fresh batch, if you need to take a break, simply cover them with a small amount of milk and store in the fridge for a couple days.

For the smoothies, we have tried several variations...  in this photo, we used our "base", unfiltered organic apple juice, bananas, and strawberries.

Our base includes:
1/2 quart dairy kefir
2 large handfuls fresh, organic spinach
Small amount of sweetener, we are enjoying maple syrup, agave or honey

To this we add a variety of fruits, some of our favorites have been-
Bananas and Mixed (frozen) berries
Fresh strawberries and bananas
Banana and Peanut Butter
Strawberries and Natural Orange Sherbet

When my kids first discovered that I use spinach, they were all, "EWWWWW".  Then I made a smoothie batch without the spinach and they decided it was much better with.  The dark colors of the berries disguise the color well, if the green color is a turn off in your house.  Today's stayed a bit green since it only had a few strawberries for color.

I was blessed to get my dairy kefir grains from a fabulous family friend whose grains had grown to a larger than needed size, so she simply cut off a section for me.  I purchased our water kefir from Cultures for Health (they also have dairy kefir). Kefir grains may not appear frugal at first glance, but you get to culture batch after batch with your grains and dairy kefir will multiply so you can also share with your lucky friends (water kefir doesn't multiply as much).  My water kefir starter kit was $22.99 and I also purchased 3 grostch style bottles for $4.99/each.  If I can replace my husbands soda habit, the grains and bottles will pay for themselves in less than two weeks time.   Even if he keeps buying his junk soda, the rest of us will be reaping health benefits that far exceed the start up price!

Over at Passionate Homemaking, you can watch a video on making coconut milk kefir, the process is the same for dairy kefir.  I haven't made coconut milk kefir yet, but will start alternating every batch or two (kefir grains should be replenished with dairy at least every few batches to keep them healthy).  I realized (too late) that the coconut milk we purchased at the local Asian market has some nasty preservatives added, so we won't be using it and I haven't made it back for more!

*Side Note* My GF daughter has been having major bowel issues lately... as in can't go without major drama... since we started the smoothies, she's having zero problems in that area.  Coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Soap Making on the Mom-Stuff Blog Tour

Over at Mom-Stuff, you’ll find my post on making your own soap… what a fun, crafty way to spend Spring Break! I’m thinking if we get cracking now… we should have enough made by Mother’s Day for all the Aunties, Grandma’s and God-Mama’s in our lives. What a great handmade holiday idea!

Head on over and check it out!

Don't forget to check out my original blog, LooksGoodInPolkaDots, where it's not just about Mothering, Gluten Free Cooking, and Socially Responsible Living.

Orzo for Lunch

Lunch today... Beefy Orzo.
Today there are 7 children & 2 adults for lunch. Total- $6.89

2 pkgs orzo (on sale, .75/ea) $1.50
1 lb ground beef ($3.50)
4 oz grated Parmesan cheese $1.49
1 cup whole milk (raw or at least non homogenized) .40
pepper & sea salt to taste
1 tsp each garlic & onion powder

Prepare orzo, drain, and set aside. Brown beef. Add garlic, onion, salt & pepper. Add grated Parmesan cheese & milk. Cook until melted and hot. Add drained, cooked, orzo to pan and combine well. Continue heating until hot through. Serve with side salad and carrot sticks (+ $2.00).

**To make Gluten Free, replace the orzo with brown rice.**

Organic salad cost savings tip- I buy a 3lb tub of organic salad mix at Costco for $3.99. This lasts 4-5 days. We have already planted our salad greens in the garden beds and also have some growing indoors as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mom-Stuff Blog Tour

click me This image, or the one in the sidebar will take you to Mom-Stuff to see what it's all about. To find the blog tour, click here.

Beginning Monday, March 8th both of my blogs will be featured over at Mom-Stuff Blog Tour.

Go. Now. You know you want to.

Things We Eat Raw

I'm all for a more raw diet... afterall, there is no disputing that fresh food is good for you.  That said... I'm a moderate Mama and believe that 50-75% raw is a great way to go.

For 50% raw, just make sure half of your plate at each meal is raw.
To reach 75% add raw snacks.
Simple, No?

Things we eat raw:
Fresh fruit
Fresh veggies
Nuts & nut butters
Ice pops (that's another post)
Dehydrated (under 106 degrees F) fruits, veggies, seed crackers/tortillas, and fruit leathers

Things I have no desire to eat raw:
Any recipe that requires multiple expensive ingredients
Kelp pasta
Faux anything

I often make pancakes or french toast for breakfast.  My children, like most, would eat until their belly aches if I let them.  So, we have a two rule.  Everyone gets two pancakes or two pieces of french toast.  The rest of breakfast is fresh fruit.  I slice up apples, oranges, bananas, etc... to fill them up.  Difficulty level to reach 50% raw- EASY

At lunch time, I serve a portion of pasta, sandwich or other "main" dish.  Then I add a large green salad, sliced fresh veggies (carrots, broccoli and snap peas are popular) and slice up some more fruit.  Difficulty reaching 50% raw- EASY

For snacks, enjoy a frozen ice pop (raw), bananas and almond butter, veggie sticks and dip, or a smoothie.  Difficulty reaching 100% raw- EASY (We try for one raw snack and one regular snack a day)

At dinner,  my husband wants MEAT.  I'm not much of a meat eater myself, but I can appreciate the need for a good protein.  Everyone eats a larger portion of the "main" dish at dinner alongside fresh garden salad, veggie sticks, fresh fruit salad (with a little real whip for dessert).  Enjoy a small glass of fresh juice made from carrots, apples and oranges.  Difficulty reaching 50% raw- EASY.

The kids always want a before bed snack, this is the perfect time to whip up a raw smoothie or give them another ice pop.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Private Affair

Who doesn't love FREE STUFF? I sure do! Recently, I won A Private Affair over at Project M.

The game just arrived and I'm excited to share it with my husband. You can get your very own A Private Affair for $34.99 (I think it counts as a date night, except this expense will see you through many date nights). My current date night budget is $100/month.  Since date nights are essential to any marriage and should be made a priority, we allow enough of a budget for one a week. Maybe we will invent another fund to slip date night leftovers into... you know, for those times when we stay in or save money by finding a free event.

I took this photo of my actual game... I cheated a tiny bit and flipped through a few of the cards (the game recommends not peeking in advance so both partners are surprised by the questions).  Each card has a thought or question on it... the purpose is to get couples talking.   I won't share the details here but I can bet this "game" will help improve any marriage.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yummy Beans...

Best ever black beans... sort of refried. (Gluten Free)

1/2 bag black beans .67
1 inch section of bacon (I chopped the ends off the entire package) .50
Fresh herbs from my kitchen
Dehydrated onions & garlic .10
Sea salt & black pepper

Soak beans overnight (better yet, sprout them for about 3 days).
Place bacon into a large stock pot and cook thoroughly, pieces will separate as you cook. If desired, remove from pan and dice into smaller pieces. Soak and rinse beans and add to pan of bacon followed by 5-6 cups of water. Add herbs, onions, garlic, sea salt, and pepper (I add to taste). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to 4 (med-low), cover and allow to simmer until all liquid is absorbed and beans are starting to "fry" in the pan. Mash beans as they cook. Enjoy immediately with fresh tortillas.

If you plan to make a large batch and save for reheating later, I'd add more fat so that the beans don't dry out. This could be accomplished with more bacon or added lard.

I intended to have a photo, but the kids gobbled these right up!

You can find my recipe for a yummy Gluten Free sausage & rice casserole over at Polka Dots.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent... a Time of Reverance and Repentance

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Our family will be attending Mass and beginning our Lent journey.

I will be giving up caffeine. This is a big one for me! I'm addicted to soda and coffee. I'm sure there will be some migraines in the next few days, but we will get through it! *Sigh*.

The children are giving up sweets, or at least candy. This will be difficult, because, well, they are kids and like most children they love their sweets.

I feel strongly that the children need to attend the Mass tomorrow night. This will enable them to move toward a full understanding of our faith and this special season. We give up food as a sacrifice to help us remember and ponder on the ultimate sacrifice, our Lord Jesus. Each time I crave a soda or a steaming cup of coffee, I will reflect on a much larger sacrifice. This is a time for sacrifice, fasting, and prayer.

My focus during Lent on this blog will continue to be on our food, however we will be practicing some dietary changes, such as no Meat on Friday's. Hopefully I can still pull off fish and vegetarian meals that both fit our budget and keep my omnivore husband happy.

I'm also shopping for First Communion dresses (and lots of accessories) for two of my daughters, Kaylee and Kenzie. I have a feeling this will not be a frugal endeavor because this sacrament is a once in a lifetime experience and I don't want to place my focus on frugality when it needs to be on the solemnity of the occasion. I frequently have to remind myself that frugality, like anything else can become a hindrance to faith in the way of a false God if I allow it to completely consume or over shadow my Spiritual life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nutrition Goals

Nutrition Goal #1- bye bye conventional sugar

For the last few years, we've only used organic evaporated cane sugar but I know it's still not ideal. We are making the switch to rapadura/sucanat (pure evaporated cane sugar with molasses still in the crystals), agave (which we've also been using for years), local honey (also not new), and stevia. The kids enjoy a sweetener on their breakfast cereals, rice, and oatmeal. For this purpose, I like Sun Crystals. I give each child a packet with their breakfast cereal. This way, I'm in control of portion size and they are still getting a bit of sweetness. The kids really enjoy being in control of their own packets. Sun Crystals are a combination of stevia and cane sugar, with 5 calories per packet. Once packet is equal to the sweetness of one tablespoon of sugar. The sugar switch may cost a bit more. I currently can purchase organic evaporated cane sugar for about $1.00/lb. Sucanat runs about $1.63lb for organic in 50lb bags or $1.02lb for conventional.

Nutrition Goal #2- bye bye soda pop and juice

This is the hard one for me. I have an addiction to Coca-Cola. Hubs is addicted to Mt. Dew and Rockstar. I know that there is no way I can get him to give those up 100% (unless he suddenly has an awakening), but I'm working on getting these nasties out of my diet completely. The children already consume almost no soda.

In order to fully accomplish this, I'll be starting water kefir. This way, we can enjoy a fizzy beverage while improving our health. I will also limit fruit juice to kefir juice.

Nutrition Goal #3- 100% local, grassfed, hormone free, antibiotic free meat

This one isn't hard to do, but it can get pricey! We already opt for organic foods in all other areas of our diet. The only thing holding us back in the meat department has been the cost. I opt for all natural, whole meats all the time, with organic as frequently as possible. In order to reach our 100% goal, we are using a portion of our tax return to buy 1/2 cow from a local farm. This will run us about $3.00/lb (approx output annually= $1000).

We are also working with local farms to purchase fryer chickens. Ideally, I'd like to have about 24 chickens. This will allow us to have fryer chicken 2x a month followed by soup made from the stock another 2x a month. The problem right now is that the local chickens I'm finding are about $20.00 each! I can purchase organic chicken at Costco for $10.00 each, but they aren't local and I don't know the farmers. (Annual output, $240-$480)

We are also planning to purchase 100lbs of tuna in August ($300-400). I will then can the tuna and we will enjoy it over the following year.

Hubs would like to purchase some local buffalo as well. Since it's a bit pricier, at around $4.00/lb, we will buy 100 lbs. Most of which we will make into sausage.

All of the meat purchases are staggered throughout the year, so that they will need replenished at different times (and adhering to slaughter/catch schedules). This will allow us to have a variety of healthy meats throughout the year. The farthest farm from us where we will purchase these meats is 60 miles. I'm fairly certain that this amount of meat will last us much longer than a year, as I try to limit our main meal to 1 lb and we don't generally consume meat during breakfast or lunch, except on occasional weekends. Obviously, our annual cost goes down if we don't consume all this in a 12 month period.

Annual cost = $2040-$2280 (or $170-$190/monthly) (approx 625 lbs at $3.26-$3.65lb)

$1000/beef, Feb/March (300-350lbs)
$240-480/chickens, May (24 fryers, approx 3 lbs each)
$400/tuna, August (100 lbs)
$400/buffalo, October (100 lbs)

Nutrition Goal #4- Grinding my own wheat

We already use whole wheat flour, a combination of hard red and white wheat. I soak a lot of our grains, but not 100% yet. This year, I intend to purchase a Blendtec Kitchen Mill ($179.00). Currently, I spend about $3.50 (.70/lb) - $5.49 ($1.10/lb) per 5 lb bag of organic flour. I can buy Organic hard white wheat berries from Azure Standard in a 50 lb bag for $23.90 (or .49 cents per lb). This is a cost savings of at least .21 cents per pound. According to these prices, it will take about 18 bags of hard white wheat berries to make up the cost of the grain mill. That will take our family about 15-18 months. After that, we will be saving about $10 per 50 lbs of wheat. The motivation is more of a health benefit versus cost savings, but we will reap rewards in both areas!

Longer term goals include growing the majority of our own fruits and vegetables. This year, I'd like to grow 100% for the 3-4 outdoor growing season. We will still have to do u pick from local spray free farms for much of our canning and freezing fruit needs for the winter. I'd also like to raise chickens, however since we are living in town temporarily, we can't. Our city has regulations that doesn't allow agriculture animals, including chickens. Eventually we also want to keep bees, goats, and cows.

Valentine's on a Budget

We don't do a whole lot for VDay... it's been too commercialized. That said, we do try to make it fun for the kids and at least a bit special for the adults.

I usually give each of the children a small gift... this year, it's 12" stuffed bears that are holding the words, "I LOVE YOU". I got them on sale for $2.99 each.

For Hubs, I found a package of chocolate dipped potato chips... sounds gross, I know. Evidently he had some at a work party a while back and said they were surprisingly delicious.

The kids made their own valentine cards. This year we made recycled heart shaped crayons... you can read my article over at Eco Child's Play. Total cost... $8.00 (for 5 children's classroom cards).

We will stay at home on VDay... I am planning a love themed meal. We will set the table with the lace tablecloth, add some candles, and heart shaped place mats (cut from construction paper). We will be serving sparkling pink lemonade in wine glasses, heart shaped biscuits with mini turkey burgers tucked inside and heart shaped home cut baked fries.

My total cost for this VDay celebration (including classroom trading cards) for a family of 7...

$14.95 gifts
$4.99 Hubs Treat
$2.99 Sparkling pink lemonade
$8.00 heart shaped baking/crayon mold

We already have the nice table ware, linens, candles and plenty of art paper around for making decorations/place mats. $0

We eat dinner every day... so that's not an additional cost. I'll be making soaked whole wheat biscuits cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter we already own. Then I'll patty up 2 lbs of ground turkey that I purchased for $.99/lb. I'll add some heart shaped slices of cheese (don't worry, I'll save the scraps for Monday's daycare lunch). 3 lbs of potatoes will run about $.60. This definitely still fits into our normal dinner budget.

The kids will spend today writing love notes to each of their siblings, and if we are lucky, they will also write them to Mama and Daddy. I give them the guidelines of finding at least two things about each sibling to appreciate in the letters.

Since we are Oregonians tried and true, we also celebrate Oregon's Birthday, this year we celebrate 151 years of statehood. My family has been here since before Oregon was part of the United States, so we feel a special sense of connection and pride! So, our VDay dessert will be a Happy Birthday Oregon cake. This Birthday celebration opens up lots of learning opportunities which we use as a topic for discussion at dinner.

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Birthday, Oregon!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shopping Steals

When I went to the grocery this week... I did quite well. I don't do a lot of "couponing" because we don't buy a lot of packaged foods. Packaged = processed which we try to avoid as much as possible.

Here's some of the deals we found:
Ground Turkey (85/15) Real Meat, not mechanically separated, $0.99/lb
Frozen Tilapia 8 fillets (2 lbs) for $6.99
Thin sliced steak, 10 steaks (3 lbs) for $6.38

Organic Fuji Apples, .98/lb
Organic Navel Oranges, .98/lb
Organic baby carrots, .99/lb

Rice Chex Cereal 8 boxes, $1.00/box (Sale $1.50each if you buy 4, + .50/1 coupons)
Orange juice, $1.99/gallon

Milk, $1.99-$2.49/gallon (Organic milk on markdown, 5 days prior to sell by date).

2lbs local cheddar cheese, $3.99

Ragu Pasta Sauce 4 jars, .75 jar (sale, $1.25 each + $1.00/2 coupon)

Packaged pasta .75/box (we usually make ours, but some days its nice to have a box on hand for the daycare)

Once all was said and done, I did all our grocery and household shopping for the week (Family of 7 plus 4 daycare kids) for $142.00.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gluten Free Communion

We have First Communion coming up... it's a very exciting time. Read how we are dealing with Celiac and Communion over at Looks Good In Polka Dots.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Best Ever Sourdough Pancakes

I've spent the last 9 days making a sourdough starter. It's been an interesting experience. Here's how I made this batch... this is the first recipe, so we have yet to see how it works with bread and other risen goods.

Day 1- combine 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup room temp water in a large glass jar. Cover loosely with lid (I also poked a hole in the lid).
Days 2 & 3- stir in hooch (clear brownish liquid that smells like beer), add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup water. (Most directions say to discard a portion of your starter prior to adding more... I didn't. I just kept the whole thing in a large enough container to accommodate, so I didn't have to waste any.
Day 4- Pour started into a large, clean bowl. Add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour & 1/2 cup room temp water. Wash and sanitize (boiling water) the jar and lid. Pour back into clean jar, cover loosely and place back on counter.
Day 5- Stir in hooch. Feed 1/2 cup whole wheat flour & 1/2 cup room temp water.
Days 6, 7, 8- Allow to sit on the counter. I stopped feeding to see what would happen. This is when I really started getting frothy bubbles and a nice soury-beer like smell.
Day 9- proof starter. Pour it into a large, clean bowl. Add 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup room temp water. Mix well. Allow to sit on the counter overnight. This morning it was all frothy, bubbly, fabulous.
Day 10- Recipe time.

I intend to make bread and pizza crusts today, then restart my starter with more whole wheat flour.

Sourdough pancakes, DELICIOUS. (Modified from CowboyShowcase)

1 cup whole wheat sourdough starter
2 Tbs coconut oil in liquid form (place jar in a bowl of warm water to liquefy)
2 Tbs Sucanat or Rapadura
1 large free range egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
3/4-1 cup whole wheat flour
Whole milk

Place started in a bowl. Add liquid coconut oil, mix well. Add lightly beaten egg. Mix well. Add rapadura, baking soda, and sea salt. Add 3/4 cup flour, mix well. Add whole milk, a little at a time until you've reached the desired consistency. My experience was that a thin batter worked great because these puffed up a lot! You can add a little more flour as needed.

Heat your griddle over medium, melt a pat of real butter on griddle. Pour by 1/4 cup onto griddle. Flip once. Enjoy with real maple syrup!

Later today, I will get going on some sourdough bread loaves. I can't wait!

*UPDATE* 2/13/10
I killed my starter... things were going well, but I continued to leave it sit on the counter once it was nice and active and deliciously sour... I didn't look at it, stir it, etc... over a 3 day weekend and on Monday I found MOLD. GAG. So I had to dump the whole lot and start fresh.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eggs In A Hole

Finding fun foods for the kiddos that's also healthy and meets our portion sizes, can be a difficult challenge.

Recently we tried out eggs in a hole... the kids thought it was FUN and tasty. Pick out a fun shaped cookie cutter and get ready!

1 slice whole wheat bread per person (12, $1.50 HM Loaf)
1 egg per person (12, $1.25 at recent sale prices)
1/2 cube real butter (.25)

Cut the middle out of the toast using your choice of cookie cutters. The kids like to pick one out. Butter both sides of bread, including your cut out piece. Place one piece on a hot, buttered griddle (I heat over medium for a few minutes before cooking), crack one egg and drop the egg into the center of the bread, where the cut out is. Place the cut out bread piece on the griddle next to it so it's gets nice and toasty as well! Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the egg begins to firm and set. Flip both the egg slice and the cut out piece. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Move to plate. Repeat until all slices are done. Depending on the size of your griddle, you may be able to cook several at once. Serve both the egg in a hole and the cut out along with your choice of fruits and veggies.

Serve with:
6 bananas, sliced (about 1 1/2 lbs @ .49/lb= .75)
6 large carrots, cut into sticks (about 1 lb at .79/lb)

Add milk to drink for the kids and water for the adults (8 cups @ $3.00/gallon = $1.50)

Total cost of lunch for 10-12= $6.04

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Finding The Time

The question I hear a lot is, "How do you find the time?".

I get a little giggle every time I hear that, because really, how do we NOT find the time?

Here's how to squeeze out a few minutes.

After dinner, during clean up is the time to grab a kid and mix up tomorrows dough. This does mean you need to have an idea about what you'll be making. Pasta? Pizza dough? Biscuits? Bread?

It takes about 5 minutes in the evening to mix up the dough, then I simply let it rest at room temperature overnight. With minimal directions, my 9 yo's or 17 yo can mix the dough up.

In the late afternoon, we roll the dough out. I ask one of the kids to play with the little ones (remember, I do daycare and have a house full of under 5 yo's). Then either myself and a child, or the 17yo get to rolling and cutting the dough. Then we let it sit until time to cook/bake.

We don't do a lot of crock pot cooking because Hubs isn't a fan... so, most of my meals are put together in the hour before dinner. On days like today, I have had a chicken working on stock most of the day... other days, I forget to pull anything out of the freezer until its time to start cooking.

On bread baking days (usually 2x a week), I spend about 20 minutes mixing the dough and setting it to rise... then I pop it in the oven after a couple hours of rising and bake for an hour. Not a huge active time investment.

Making goodies can take longer, mostly because I'm always on the search for new recipes or I'm modifying a recipe to make it a bit healthier.

We will be starting kefir soda by end of the month... I'm not anticipating this to be a time consuming process either. We are trying to wean off the soda addiction around here... it's my one remaining naughty naughty. I don't know that I'll ever get Hubs to give up his Mt. Dew and Rockstar obsession (although I will be trying!). I do want my kids to feel like they are getting a treat and not feel deprived by lack of soda (they don't get soda because I don't want to help them form bad habits!). I'm really excited to try sugar water kefir with pomegranate blueberry juice... yum!

Pizza Night

Last night, we made pizza. Yummy! The optional crust add-ins are essential to improve flavor if you have a "ew, not whole wheat again!" in your family. They add interest and take the focus away from the flour grain.

4 cups whole white wheat flour
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs honey or agave
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs active dry yeast + 1/2 cup warm water + drizzle of honey/agave

Optional Add-ins: 1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese + 1 Tbs dried basil + 2 tsp kosher salt.

Combine flour, vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 Tbs honey and olive oil in a large bowl. I prefer the wooden spoon to incorporate then hands to combine method. Work into a nice dough ball, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 25 turns. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rest on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours (preferred).

Before baking, activate yeast by combining it with the 1/2 cup warm water (95-105F) and a drizzle of honey or agave. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast becomes frothy and bubbly. Make an indention in your dough and pour yeast in... combine thoroughly (I prefer to use my hands). Then add in your cheese, salt and seasonings. Mix well. Allow dough to rest for 20 minutes or so then separate into two portions.

We use hand stretching vs. rolling for each crust. I pick up one portion of dough and start stretching into a circular shape. Then we turn, pull, turn, pull... also allow gravity to to help with the shaping.

Place dough onto stone, top and bake at 500F for about 15 minutes. I bake both pizzas at once since I have two stones. I switch the pizza's half way through bake time so one doesn't overcook on the bottom.

These pizza's were topped with yummy red sauce, grated cheese, ground beef and sliced mushrooms.

Soaked Pasta Noodles

We've been making everything from scratch... Hubs doesn't appreciate the taste of the traditional (red) whole wheat flour, so I've switched to white whole wheat. The first bag of King Arthurs White Whole Wheat I purchased was pricey! Recently, I was able to locate a better price, $3.45 for a 5lb bag ($0.19/cup vs. $0.13/cup). It still tastes like whole wheat... but Hubs says it's better than red whole wheat. The kids are loving taking turns helping mom mix up and roll out dough.

I've modified slightly a rustic noodle recipe found over at The Nourishing Gourmet... yes, I like that site A LOT.

3 cups whole white wheat flour ($0.57)
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar ($0.10)
2 Tbs olive oil ($0.25)

(Total $0.92) Sure I can buy pasta for $0.98/lb, but it won't be whole wheat, it won't be soaked and it would likely have unnecessary ingredients. Store bought pasta also won't bring the joy of pasta making with my kids.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl... I start with a wooden spoon and switch to hands in order to incorporate all the flour. The kids LOVE getting their hands in the dough.

Knead the dough a few times, until you have a smooth ball of dough. Allow it to rest on the counter for 24 hours (if possible).

Divide into 4 sections, roll out to desired thickness and cut into strips or squares (or get crazy and use small cookie cutters for shapes). You can allow pasta to air dry or boil right away. Add a teaspoon or two of kosher salt to your water prior to boiling, I also like to add another dash of olive oil to prevent sticking.

*As always, you may need more flour or liquid... add small amounts at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Low Down on Probiotics

Come over to Polka Dots to read my take (and some great suggestions) on probiotics!

Delicious... French Toast and Peaches $5.18

Yum... that's all I've got!

The ingredients:
1 loaf bread (HM $1.50, store bought $1.79)
9 eggs $1.15
1 cup whole milk $0.13
2 tsp cinnamon $0.10
dash orange extract ($1.00 for 2 ounce bottle) $0.05
1 lb frozen peach slices $1.00
1/2 cup honey, agave or rapadura (or water with 1 Tbs stevia) $1.00
Butter (if desired) .25


Combine frozen peaches and sweetener in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until hot, sweet and juicy. Set aside.

Whisk your eggs, milk, orange extract and cinnamon in a 9x9 inch baking dish (easy for dipping) or a bowl if you prefer the pour over/bake method.

I prefer to dip the bread and cook on a hot, buttered griddle. Then top with butter and sweet peach sauce.

Another option is to place a layer of bread in a baking dish, pour the sweet fruit mixture over, add another layer of bread and cover with egg/milk mixture. Then bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.

We added sliced bananas to the meal since it was a lunch to round out our nutrition guidelines. 1 egg is a protein serving... so we have protein, grain, 2 fruits and served with a glass of milk finishes things off!

To ensure one protein serving per child, you can do the dip and pour method. Mix each egg with about a TBS of whole milk, dash of cinnamon and drizzle of orange extract. Dip one side of the bread into the batter, put on buttered griddle... then pour remaining egg mixture over the bread slice.

Chicken and Biscuits, $7.10

Dinner last night consisted of roasted chicken, whole wheat biscuits, potatoes and fruit. It was quite tasty!

Served 2 adults, 1 teen (17), 2 - 9 yos, 1- 7 yo and 1- 5 yo plus leftover chicken for stock.

1 whole fryer chicken, $3.00 (purchased on a buy one, get one)
Roasted in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and seasonings.

7 potatoes, pricked and baked. $0.30

Peaches- $2.00

Butter & Cheese for potatoes & biscuits- $0.75

Whole Wheat Biscuits- (made with whole wheat flour, 13.3 cents per cup) $1.05

Biscuit recipe (adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet)
Cut 6 TBS real unsalted butter ($0.36) into 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour ($0.40). Butter should be small pea sized. Add 1 cup milk ($0.13) + 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar ($0.06). Mix well. Allow to sit covered on the counter overnight (you can skip the soaking step if needed, but its a great idea!). Prior to cooking, sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda (leavening = $0.10) over the the dough, fold in half, turn, fold in half again, repeat for a dozen folds or so to make sure all the rising agents are well incorporated.

Roll out to about 3/4 inch thickness, cut, place on baking sheet and bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.

Frugal or Not?

Here's my grocery haul from last night. Good deal or no?

Obviously... there are some items (ahem... Rockstar) that are not necessary and could be skipped... however, hubs doesn't think he can live without them. He drinks 2 per day, usually we buy in a 24 count pack at Costco... however, we spend a FORTUNE at Costco and I'm currently in the mindset that we may actually spend less on food if we stop shopping at Costco and hit the loss leaders at our local grocers. So, even if the Rockstar is a quarter more each, it may not be a bad trade. I still can't give up my morning coffee with creamer... although I know I need to. However, buying a 32 oz creamer at our local market is $4.59. Last night, I was able to get a 16 oz for $1.24 ($2.48 per 32 oz).

4 boxes cereal ($1.49 each)
2 gallons milk ($1.99 each)
4 cans peaches ($1.00 each)
2 cans clam chowder ($1.00 each)
1- 5 lb bag King Arthur Whole White Wheat Flour ($5.15... not a good deal!)
2 Diet Rockstars (Daddy must have...)
1- 18 count eggs ($2.29)
2- 1/2 gallon orange juice (2 for $3.00)
1- 3 lbs organic Fuji apples ($2.99)
1- 3 lbs organic Granny Smith apples ($2.99)
4- 16 oz chocolate caramel coffee creamer ($1.24 each)
2- 1 lb organic baby carrots ($1.00/lb)
1- 8 pk organic kids yogurt ($2.99 not cheap compared to large carton, however easier for school lunch)
1 loaf of bread ($1.79)
1- family pack 5.63 lbs ground beef ($1.59/lb in family pack)
1- 10 lb organic potatoes ($1.39)
1- 2 lbs cheddar cheese ($4.99)

Item count= 31 Price total= $62.51 (One store, no coupons)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Handmade Ravioli


I decided to try my hand at ravioli making last night. First I dug out the hand crank pasta maker. Then I opted to not use it... there appeared to be too much work involved. Plus, I can't use the same machine for gluten free and regular pasta.

So, the pasta press went back into its box and I opted to hand roll the pasta... that may have been a mistake, but two hours later I had a plate full of delicious ravioli waiting to boil.

I will post my first go at the gluten free ravioli over at Looks Good In Polka Dots later... it was far from a perfect attempt, and will need several revisions, but was quite tasty if not beautiful.

Ravioli filling:

I combined 1 cup sour cream (homemade cream cheese would work great as well) with about 4 ounces grated cheese. I then sprinkled in garlic, kosher salt and pepper.

Other options include: squash or pine nut puree, pesto, goat cheese crumbles and herbs, diced tomatoes, or meat.


I made a tomato pasta sauce with ground turkey... depending on your filling you could use a cheese sauce, a wine sauce, grated asiago or Parmesan cheese, etc...

Ravioli shells:

3 extra large free range chicken eggs
2 Tbs olive oil (or palm or coconut oil)
1/4-1/2 cup water
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups whole wheat flour

Whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup water and oil. Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center. Pour the egg/water/oil mixture in the well. Combine with a wooden spoon (or just use your hands). Once well incorporated, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until you have a smooth ball of dough (add more water or flour as needed to reach a dough consistency). Divide into 8 parts. Then roll each part out one at a time to desired thickness (I opted for about 1/8 inch thick). Then use a round cookie cutter or a glass dusted with flour to cut circles. Stretch each circle out so that it's thin and large enough to fill and fold. Then drop a small glob of the filling into the center and fold in half, press the edges together. Set aside to dry until time to boil. Repeat until all dough is used.

Place a few ravioli at a time into boiling water, cook until pasta rises to the top, remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with choice of sauce/toppings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

HM Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

Healthy Snacking... Homemade Graham Crackers. Yum! I make one batch a week, depending on the sweetener I use, it costs about half of a store bought box. For a balanced snack, we enjoy a couple crackers with peanut butter, banana slices, or a glass of milk.

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup Rapadura (you can use cane sugar, but we like Rapadura)
4 Tbs honey or agave
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
about 1/4 cup cold water

Combine dry ingredients (with a whisk or a through a sifter).
Mix in butter cubes using a pastry cutter or two forks, you should get a coarse mixture.
Add wet ingredients.
Mix well, your dough should form a ball. Add a bit more water if needed, if to wet, add a bit more flour.

Refrigerate your dough (I like to mix it at night and let it sit in the fridge until the morning).

Separate into two portions.

Take one portion of dough and roll out (works best if you use a pastry mat or two layers of parchment paper). Form a rectangle about 1/8in thickness. Cut into 2 inch squares using a pizza cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet (I pull the top layer of parchment paper off and flip the crackers over onto a baking sheet using the bottom layer/pastry mat). Poke several holes using a fork in the top of each cracker. I like to sprinkle the crackers with a cinnamon/sugar mix prior to baking.

Bake at 350F for 13-16 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan, transfer to a cooling rack until cooled completely. Break apart and store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen crackers.