Thanks for visiting our blog! My mom taught me that a good meal, made from scratch, can solve just about everything.The recipes on this blog are gentle on tummies, tasty, weight-loss promoting, and can be made without a fuss. Most of them are free of gluten, dairy, corn, and sweeteners. Best of all, they help those that eat them become more patient, more loving, and more kind. Please, keep in touch! Thanks again for visiting.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fabulous Dairy-Free Pesto

This recipe is simple, easy and delicious. It makes enough to cover a LOT of pasta (I started with 1.5lbs dry quinoa/rice pasta); this truly feeds a crowd well. Sunflower seeds make this recipe very economical. I added some sautéed chicken breast to my pasta and pesto to round out the meal. This recipe freezes well. 

Note: Make sure to follow directions precisely to avoid blender problems. :) I do not have a Vitamix or other fancy blender, however this recipe is successful every time.

1c sunflower seeds
1c nutritional yeast flakes
1c olive oil
1c lemon juice
1t salt (I use pink salt)
Leaves of 2 basil plants

Wash basil leaves and spin dry. Set aside.

Put sunflower seeds in the blender and grind until the consistency is that of a coarse meal. It will look a bit like wet sand. 

Add nutritional yeast and pulse a few times.

Add the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Begin blending, turning off blender to stir periodically. Once a uniform consistency begins to appear, add basil leaves. Continue blending and  turning off blender to stir until all basil leaves are completely incorporated. Bon appetit! :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Eating Well Economically

At our house, we have really been thriving. It is SUCH a gift! I credit our careful eating with how happy and healthy we are, and how kind we are to each other. We have lived both the grouchy, tired "before" and the cheerful, energetic "after," as both of us have experienced how we feel with gluten and sugar in our systems. We are also ethically committed to buying local, fair trade and organic whenever possible. So, how to reconcile this with being on a budget? 

First, let me mention that my family is privileged to live in a region with a rich local food economy. Our small town contains three grocery stores that carry extensive organic foods. Since we have spent time in places where decent fresh vegetables cannot be found, organic or not, we count our blessings. Your path may be different. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, we DO spend real money on food. We believe it is worth it. If you want to compete with me for the lesser monthly food bill, I forfeit, you win! What our family does have in a greater degree than many is happiness. We spend no money on prescriptions or therapy to make this happen.

So, in no particular order, here is how I strategize on my food purchases:

-Purchase good-quality Cod Liver Oil. This is presently the only supplement I take. We prefer Garden of Life Olde World Icelandic CLO. We are nearly always able to get it on sale for $12.99, and a bottle lasts a couple months at least. This ensures we meet our basic needs for vitamins A&D, which are so very important for immunity and prevention of countless maladies. Cod Liver Oil is also very good for mental health. The flavor, Lemon-Mint, is pretty good. 

-Buy good-quality meat on sale and freeze immediately. I prefer to buy organic chicken drumsticks, grassfed full-fat ground beef, grassfed stew beef, ground dark meat chicken and pork sirloin chops as these are economical and convenient for me to prepare in the crock pot. While only the chicken is organic, the other meats are GMO free and exposed to pasture. I choose to freeze ground meat in meatball shapes so that I may easily remove only what I need from the freezer. I accomplish the same thing by individually freezing other cuts of meat on cookie sheets before placing them in tupperware for long term freezer storage. Not only is this convenient, it virtually eliminates food spoilage and wasted meat.

-Also to prevent food waste, only buy fish if you are going to use it all that day. 

-Except in the case of delicate foods like berries, wash produce and store it cheerfully in the fridge as soon as you get home with it. This helps prevent it from languishing in the fridge on the many nights when you will have time to prep or cook veggies, but not both. 

-Buy extra large and medium organic eggs, never large. These sizes are substantially less expensive.

-Grow herbs outside if you can. We have fresh lavendar, rosemary, oregano, thyme, lemon balm and fennel year-round. In the summer, we grow basil. We use the lemon balm and fennel for tea.  Wowser, herbs are pricey in the store, and the small amount you get is usually embalmed in plastic, actually too much for any recipe, and soon lost in the back of the fridge. 

-Add value to your foods at home whenever you are able. Sprouting your own seed & flours, souring and baking your own bread products and pickling your own vegetables takes nothing but time...and not very much of that is active time. In exchange for efforts, you will have incredibly delicious, health-promoting, gourmet foods to eat. The quality will exceed that of of what you can buy, and the price will be much lower. For example, in my coop, coconut yogurt is about $4-12 a pint, depending on how many additives are included. The yogurt I make costs about $3 a pint, and is more delicious than the options commercially available. Likewise, at my coop, fermented veggies are $8 a pint. At home, probably a quarter of that. Same story for kefir and kombucha. The truth is, if I had to buy these foods premade, I would go without, as they are too expensive for us. 

-Roast a chicken every week. Make a rich meal of the legs, freeze sliced chicken breast for lunches, save the drippings as a healthy cooking fat, and make chicken broth. A meal that includes broth is immensely affordable and satisfying, and it is respectful of the chickens we eat to use the carcas in this way. Broth is great for your skin, mood and joints. 

-Make your own body care products. Just as in food, it seems you need to pay more the less manufacturers put in! All natural deodorants, toothpaste, shampoos, and lotions add up really fast. I have found most of the recipes we use in the book Natural Beauty At Home, by Janice Cox. Many are also available online. They don't take much time and are fun to make as a family. The one thing we do not make ourselves is soap; instead we buy very economical Kiss My Face Olive Oil Bars (they aren't fancy, however they last forever if you allow them to dry between uses). 

-Buy spices, tea, olive oil, cider vinegar and anything else you can in bulk. Try to aim for a store with fast turnover for the best quality. Refrigerated nuts and seed sections are a plus. 

-Make dehydrated, flavored sprouted sunflower seeds! These are a great snack for in lunch boxes and are delicious on top of salads. Sunflower seeds are $2.61 per pound at our coop. Sunflower seeds may also be ground into a meal to use in pesto and baked goods instead of pine nuts and almond meal, respectively.

-Skip the premade foods. Dairy-free cheese and butter spreads, chips, crackers, cereals and cookies tend to have inferior ingredients to what you would make at home. Damaged fats, unpronounceables, preservatives and genetically modified ingredients are hard to avoid even in expensive processed foods. Plus, they are not as fresh as what you make yourself. Yay for not having to eat stale crackers. :)

-Eat so well at home, you don't want to go out. Make a sweet ritual of mealtime. Set the table nicely, write a menu (and have a family member read it at the start of the meal), and elevate meals by choosing just the right serving dish for each item. Establish a workable routine and list of favorite meals, however try to extend yourself to include some variety. At our house, I recently implemented a weekly International Foods night. No matter how amazing your usual recipes are, mixing it up is important.

-Be willing to spend money where it really makes a difference. We spend $10 on cheese and $15 on 2lbs of washed, organic, local lettuce mix every week. This has freed up our lunch-making time a little to create the amazing barcode free lifestyle we have come to adore, while providing important nourishment.

-If you are in a major pinch and need a meal replacement or something to bring to a potluck on a dime, smoked fish is often the same price as fresh. We love the Fish Brothers brand of smoked, no-sugar added salmon and albacore. Other great, off-the-shelf protein-rich munchies are GMO-free rotiserie chicken if available, and carrageenan-free deli-style sliced turkey meat. We only buy these under duress, such as during a move, or in the case of the smoked salmon as a very special treat for anniversaries or birthdays.

-Speaking of potlucks, if you have a little more time to spare, a pot of sprouted rice, sprouted beans and diced tomatoes will feed a crowd well at a small investment of time and money.

-Crock pots are our friends! They make speedy dinners possible, for those nights when I get home at six and have rehearsal at seven (these could be expensive nights, if we ate out). They are also energy-sparing for both the cook and the utilities. 

-Enjoy your food. Make merry. Eat like a peasant. Every night, we enjoy a four course meal: salad, simple soup, a small loaf of sourdough bread or a crockpot of whole grains, and a little meat. By a "little meat," I really mean a small portion! One chicken drumstick per person is enough if it follows such amazing previous courses.

Wow, that was a long post! Many ideas might seem obvious, and others need to be spelled out a bit more in future posts. I hope this will be a good collection of thoughts to get you started. What are your favorite ways to create frugal feasts? 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mason Jar Sink Caddy

Do you long for a tidy kitchen sink? In this brief video I will show you how to create an easy, clean, fair trade organizer for your sponges, scrubbies and brushes.

Moving Story in Hunter's Own Words

This family lives in my region, where they run an organic farm. I am very moved by their story.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sundress and Diaper Cover

I made this set for my delightful six month-old niece. 

The dress was fun and fuss-free to make. It is fully lined so I simply sewed right sides together and turned it inside out. It was fun to use a contrasting fabric for the lining. 

I needed to size it down a bit, but took the pattern from a darling dress my Aunt Nita made for my older sister when she was two:

The diaper cover Nita made is lost, so I used the free pattern Sweet and Simple Diaper Cover available on Craftsy. I modified the pattern a little because I thought a sleek bubble shape would better match the style of the dress than a ruffly one. The pattern was very well done; I would use it again! 

Ruthie the cat looks on, a bit forlorn as someone is packing. In this picture, she'd just finally moved to her nest after sitting for over an hour on a carry-on bag, in an effort to prevent the departure of one of her favorite people. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

This recipe has been a lifesaver! I created it after researching online hand sanitizer recipes. I had found a lot that I liked, but most of them called for several essential oils, which would have been steep to purchase. Instead, this hand sanitizer allows real plants and spices to steep indefinitely in a blend of vodka, aloe and witch hazel. It is very affordable to make, smells amazing, and is gentle on your hands. :)

2/3c vodka
2/3c witch hazel
2/3c aloe juice
1/4t tea tree oil

16 capsules or 40 drop vitamin E
16 lavender blossoms
16 small lavender sprigs
8 cinnamon sticks, broken in half (we use a hammer)
8 small sprigs rosemary
24 cloves

Combine the four liquid ingredients and mix well. Using a funnel, pour into individual containers. Make sure to leave some headroom. We like these little plastic squirt bottles, which hold 1/4c, but we only have a few, so we store the rest in glass jars. 

We put contents of 2 vitamin E capsules (easy to crush with a clean garlic press!),  lavender flowers, 2 lavender sprigs, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 1 sprig rosemary, and 4 cloves in each 1/4c squirt bottle. 

If you prefer, you could simply combine all ingredients in a quart jar and allow to to steep one week before pouring some off to use. Hand sanitizer will be stronger the longer it steeps. :)

Enjoy your picnics and on-the-go meals! 

Gelatin Pudding 3.0

It has been a long time since I have done a gelatin pudding post here. Lately, there has been so much amazing food passing over our dining room table, I haven't needed as many snacks! However, this is still a great dessert and a nice way to add a little protein to a meal. I have refined how I make it these days, so thought I should share the latest and greatest with my readers. This makes a bit less than my previous versions, but I like it much better, as it is more flavorful and has a better texture.

1/2c warm water
1/8-1/4t salt
1/8t vanilla
1t coconut butter
1T gelatin
1 handful frozen berries

Measure first four ingredients into blender. Add gelatin and blend immediately. When smooth, turn off blender and add berries. Blend until slightly thickened. Pour into a pretty bowl; pudding will set in just a minute or two. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Splendid Salad

No recipe in this post, but I wanted to share a photo of my beautiful first course tonight. I admit to being a pickle-holic. This salad features pickled beets, pickled carrots, pickled cucumber and pickled red cabbage, as well as cheesy sprouted sunflower seed croutons and vinaigrette. YUM! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Quilts-in-Progress Sacks

My wonderful Aunt Sarah is a fabulous quilter. She currently keeps her works-in-progress in grocery bags. I just put these in the mail to her, so her quilts-to-be may soon enjoy more upscale homes. Thank you for sharing your gift of creativity with me, Sarah! 

Incidentally, I found this iron-on-transfer at Goodwill for 59 cents. It was in its original packaging and still worked, though it had been printed in 1993! The instructions and illustrations were amusing (they recommended adding Puff Paint embellishments!). There was one flaw in the transfer, which is why I added the fabric frame. In this case, neccessity is the mother of cuteness! :)

It is such a life lesson that if you do what you can with what you have, things will turn out brilliantly. I spent a couple days being irked at the flaw, but it was all part of God's plan to make the bag even better! Note to self. Do not sit around waiting for perfect circumstances. Be patient in reflecting on how to use what you have, be open to a better way, and get busy when it is revealed to you. God will make it all turn out just right! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kitchen Vlog: How to Maintain Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

Exciting news, folks! :) Last night I recorded my first kitchen vlog! I'm so excited to share this with you, because sourdough has become such a delightful part of our meals, and it makes us feel just great. Without further ado (*deep breath*), here is my video for you! :)

p.s. For written directions on creating and maintaining a starter, look here:

Monday, July 20, 2015

Upcycled Silk Sweater Scarf

I put a couple other projects on "pause" because our amazing friend Dana had a decade birthday today, and I wanted to make her a special present. An image of this scarf popped into my head in Meeting for Worship yesterday, and so I came home and made it directly. Like the blanket I am making, it is made of upcycled silk sweaters. The Valentines colors are appropriate, because Dana is one of the most loving people we know! She works as a physical therapy assistant, charming hospitalized people into getting out of bed and moving even if it hurts. We are lucky to know Dana! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gluten Free Sprouted Sourdough Bread

Dear Readers, I am SO happy to present you with this recipe today! It is such a winner and delicious every time. 

This recipe makes a miniloaf. I'm pretty sure you could double it to make a full-size loaf, but haven't tried it yet. Hopefully I will be able to do that tasty research tomorrow. :) 

1c sourdough starter (dipped out after any liquid has been poured off)
1c sprouted brown rice flour
1/2c filtered water
1t good-quality salt
Coconut oil for greasing the pan

Generously grease pan. Combine ingredents in a bowl and pour into pan. Allow to rise at least two hours, up to about four (longer than that it will still be yummy, but might have a flat appearance). For a crispy crust, place a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of a 400-degree oven, and place bread on top rack. For a softer crust, simply bake at 350 degrees. Bread is done when the top is uniformly golden. :)

Bread will be easiest to remove from pan after it has cooled completely. 

This bread rose a little too long, so it fell a liitle while baking, however it was still incredibly delicious:

Happy baking!! :) Feel free to comment with questions. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Gluten-free Sprouted Sourdough Pancakes

Welcome back to my sourdough recipe! This is my number one recipe. I make it every day!! I do the smallest size batch and have two little pancakes as a side dish with my breakfast. Yum!

This recipe serves one but is amenable to being doubled or quadrupled. The smallest batch is listed first; medium and large batches are in parentheses. 

1/4 c (1/3c, 1/2c) bubbly sourdough starter, any water poured off

1 medium (large, jumbo) egg

Scant 1/4t salt (1/4t salt, 1/4t salt) or to taste

First, preheat a cast iron skillet. Thoroughly combine ingredients. Line skillet with a small sheet of parchment paper. Pour half the batter on top. Cover until bubbles have popped throughout, then flip. Pancake is unlikely to stick on second side, so parchment is not needed. After a minute, remove from pan, peel away parchment, and repeat with second pancake.

Please know that it's also a-okay to cook these in coconut oil! They are very tasty that way, too. Nutrition facts are based on parchment. 

Nutrition information:
Small: 14g net carbs, 4g fat 
Medium: 18g net carbs, 4.5g fat
Large: 28g net carbs, 5g fat

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sprouted Rice Sourdough Roll

As promised, I am back with a sourdough bread recipe! Since my readers probably haven't amassed much starter yet, and to keep it simple, we will start with a single serving of sourdough bread. You will love the recipe because it is super easy to memorize. 

1/4c bubbly sourdough starter (any water poured off)
1/4c sprouted brown rice flour 
1/4c filtered water
1/4t salt 

Combine all ingredients. Pour into a well-greased ramekin (I use coconut oil) and allow to culture around 6 hours. Don't worry if it doesn't appear to rise; much of the rise will happen during baking. Place a metal pan or measuring cup of water in the oven (during baking, refill with boiling water if necessary). Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425 degrees. Place bread in the oven and bake until completely golden brown with no pale spots (about 45 minutes). 

I'm fortunate to be able to buy sprouted brown rice flour in bulk at my local coop. Their source is Hummingbird Distribution, which serves the Pacific Northwest. Sprouted brown rice flour is also for sale on this website:

Net carbohydrate is 41 grams, but this doesn't account for the starch eaten by the wee yeasties (nom nom nom), so this is a generous estimate. 

Bon appetit! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

Flapjacks and crepes and biscuits and bread, oh my! Sourdough is back in season in our household, and it is adding a lot of yumminess to our lives! I have refined my approach a little bit, and am experiencing great results every day. It is high time I shared this joy with my readers. 

What do I love about sourdough? Well, let's see. The flavor is incredible. It is very cooperative in recipes, MUCH more so than uncultured gluten-free flours. It takes only a few minutes a day to maintain. It does not require the addition of gums, starches (such as tapioca flour), eggs or lots of ingredients to create delicious bread. It is life-giving; I have found that sprouted, soured gluten free grains help my digestion stay healthy. It keeps me slim; those cultures consume much of the starch found in grain. It is inexpensive, especially compared to store-bought gluten-free bread, which often contains unhealthy unpronounceables. And lastly, it is fun! I love to hop out of bed in the morning to run and see if my starter bubbled well the night before.

I had a day-by-day sourdough series on this blog awhile back. Today I'm going to walk you through the basics again, but I'll be much more pithy. There might not be any pictures. Then, in future posts, I will share my sourdough recipes. Hint: gluten free sourdough needs a little extra TLC; following conventional sourdough recipes will not do. 

You can maintain your gluten-free starter on the sorghum, rice or teff flour. I use sprouted brown rice flour. Probably it's best to choose one flour and stick with it to keep the cultures happy. Other gluten-free flours (such as millet, quinoa and buckwheat) are invited to the party, but not until the recipe stage.

I use all organic ingredients and filtered water, and always keep my starter at room temperature. 

To begin a new culture, combine 1-2 whole dried dates (best if they are a little speckled with white spots), 1/2c flour and 1/2c water in a pint-sized mason jar. Cover with a clean cloth. Stir twice a day until the mixture foams up dramatically. Then, start feeding it 1T flour and 1T water morning and night. When you see that it generates bubbles reliably between feedings, you can remove the dates and move into maintenance mode. 

To maintain your starter, feed morning and night according to this procedure:
1. If any water has risen to the top of your starter, pour it off into a 1/4c* measuring cup. Fill measuring cup the rest of the way to the top with filtered water, and pour into a fresh mason jar. 
2. If you wish to use any starter in a recipe, remove it now. Make sure to always leave about a cup behind. 
3. Add 1/4c* flour to the water in the fresh mason jar. Stir well to combine.
4. Add remaining bubbly starter, stir well, and cover with a fresh cloth.
*If your starter accumulates, you will need to increase the amount of flour and water at feedings. Always remember to pour off the water in the first step and count it toward the liquid added.
If you have under 2 cups of starter, follow the recipe exactly as above. 
If you have 2-4 cups starter, feed 1/2c flour and 1/2c water. 
If you have 4-6 cups  starter, feed 3/4c flour and 3/4c water. 
If you have 6-8 cups starter, feed 1c flour and 1c water.

That's it! You will find that your starter smells more delicious and bread-like every day. The flavor of your starter will develop over the course of weeks. The very first recipes you make will taste great, and they will just keep getting better and better! This careful and hygienic method should help your culture grow beautifully for years. Many French bakeries use cultures that are hundreds of years old. 

Enjoy, my friends, and let me know how it goes! I will endeavor to reply to comments left here, so feel free to post questions, as well. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lemon Shortbread Candy

I LOVE this recipe. It has become a go-to daily snack! Observant readers will notice that this bears great resemblance to my skinny chocolate recipe, but it is an entirely different experience. It has a great mouthfeel and is so rich and creamy! I hope you'll enjoy it. 

Lemon Shortbread Candy

2T coconut oil
2T coconut butter
2T brazil nut protein powder 
1t Maca powder (this is a supplement that supports hormones)
1/4t lemon flavor (I use Simply Organic brand)

Place a small plate in the freezer (for fastest freezing, leave one there all the time). Combine all ingredients in a small jar or measuring cup. Bring some water to a boil, pour it into a mug; float your container of ingredients on top (I like to do this over the sink to avoid puddles on the counter). When melted, stir. Pour on frozen plate or into a silicon mold (I use 1t per heart). Freeze. Keep cold in the refrigerator or with an ice pack if you're out on the town. Enjoy!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Super Easy Dairy-Free Cheesecake

Even if a gal is a Trim, Healthy Mama with mulitple food sensitivities...even if she can't do sugar or sweeteners...once a year, she needs a birthday cake!

Well, I am blessed, to say the least. In the (long!) time since I've last posted here, I had a birthday, and my loving partner made me an amazing on-plan, allergen and sweetener-free dessert! This recipe is her creation, and it has now become a weekly staple. I'm excited to share it with you here.

FINALLY, I have a suitable on-plan, dairy, egg, nut and sweetener free replacement for all the indulgent dairy-based THM desserts. It is definitely a decadent, calorie-rich S. I freeze the filling in half-cup Ball jars and bring it in my lunch on super long days. That way, I am not at risk of eating it to excess, as I would be if an entire cake were calling me from the fridge. It is perfect for those leading a very active lifestyle, and would also be great for pregnant and nursing moms. Others may want to limit consumption to once or twice a week. It has enough protein to count as a complete snack. 

I hope this simple, adaptable recipe will bless you and help you succeed on your journey to health! 

Dairy-Free Cheesecake Filling
1c seed or nut butter (unsweetened sunflower seed butter works great, and has the advantage of not tasting as tempting straight out of the jar as almond butter or peanut butter.)
1c coconut cream (store a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge until ready to make recipe. Skim off solids, which will amoung to about a cup.)
2T coconut milk liquid (from the same can)
2c frozen berries (I like raspberries, or mixed berries)
1 t vanilla (or contents of 1/2 vanilla bean, for special occasions)
1/4t salt

Blend all ingredients on High until well-combined. You will need to stop and stir often, and you may need to add more coconut milk liquid to blend, however, add as little as possible. No Vitamix required! My little beehive blender needs patience and encouragement to complete this task, but it does the job just fine. 

Dairy-Free Cheesecake Crust
2c nuts or seeds, ground in a pint jar attached to the blender
2T coconut oil
1/2c coconut butter
Dash salt
1t cinnamon
1/2t vanilla
Gently melt the coconut oil and butter, then stir in other ingredients. Press into a pie plate, reserving a small amount to sprinkle on top. Add filling, decorate with remaining crust and fresh berries if desired, and refrigerate overnight. This cheesecake has a lovely texture, just a bit softer than conventional cheesecake. 

Bon appetit!