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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tomato Skin Spice Blend

A Mrs Dash container filled with my own
Tomato Basil Garlic spice blend.
Once upon a time I had a really good friend who lived next door to me. We hung out all the time, but then she informed me that she was moving back to the US. Bummer.
Before she moved, she was emptying out her apartment and selling whatever she could, because she was only taking what she could fit in her suitcases. As her next door neighbor and close friend, I had the good fortune to inherit a vast majority of her things. Among those stuff were some spice mixes, imported from the US. 2 different types of Mrs Dash seasoning. One of those was their Tomato, Basil, and Garlic spice blend.

According to their site, this seasoning is terrific to use on steaks, chicken, pasta, pizza, and garlic bread, among other things.

But, as with all good things, my supply of Mrs Dash came to an end.

Fortunately, I figured out a way to make an absolutely delicious spice blend reminiscent of Mrs Dash- out of an ingredient that you most likely would throw out anyhow- tomato skins!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade Larabars Recipe

I was looking for ideas of healthy cookies to make to keep in the freezer for a snack for after birth. And then I was thinking to myself... if I'm already spending more on healthy sweeteners and gluten free flours... maybe its better to just find an alternative sweet treat to satisfy those cravings and give me something to nibble on.
Larabars it was!
Larabars are energy bars made from nuts and dried fruit. They're sold in health food stores for 2 dollars a bar. Even making them at home they can be expensive as nuts are anything but cheap, either here or anywhere else... So I figured out an alternative way to make these using something cheaper than nuts- sunflower seeds!

These bars are high in sugars and protein and fat, but contain only healthy ingredients, making them the ideal food for when you need instant energy, like during labor or after hard physical labor.

I used my bulk bought sunflower seeds and coconut for this, and bought date paste from my local grocery store. Date paste is just dates with the seeds removed, and it worked out to be cheaper than dates per pound, but if regular dates are all that is available or are cheaper, just remove the seeds from the dates and use as is.

Homemade Larabars Recipe

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Top 15 Uses for Baking Soda

Baking soda is truly the frugalista's best friend. Its used for so many different things that all are cost efficient and very green to boot. If you buy it in bulk, as I do, it ends up being even more thrifty!
What are my top 15 uses for baking soda? (My sister thought I should do a series of top 10 posts on the blog, and this was originally going to be one of them... but there's no way I can limit baking soda to only 10 different uses, so it'll have to be 15.)

Top 15 Uses for Baking Soda

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grocery Shopping Trip- 10/25/11

I haven't really been grocery shopping for a good 3 weeks, aside for a quick run to the local Mom and Pop's when I got an invitation to relatives and needed to prepare some salads to bring along and had nothing with which to cook them... So today, we did our first grocery shop in 3 weeks, and boy did I come home with a ton of food. Mostly produce. 115 pounds of fresh produce to be precise.
Yea, thats crazy.
You're probably thinking I'm cuckoo. After all, how can any small family possibly eat 115 pounds of produce before it'll spoil?

Well, remember how I mentioned in my previous post about stocking my freezer for after birth? A good chunk of this stuff I purchased is actually going to be chopped up and frozen to be used both after birth and in general. I bought the largest quantities of the things that currently are in season and cheap so that I could be able to use them when they're not in season and not need to pay full price for them then.

So, what did I buy?
All this! (Notice I had a hard time fitting everything on the table at once!)


No, I'm not mentioning exactly how much I spent on my grocery shop because it matters less how much exactly I spent, but what matters more is sharing the reasoning behind why I bought the things that I did. (Ok, and because I did spend a lot of money, and sharing the exact number is a wee bit embarassing, but a- being gluten free and not being able to rely on cheap fillers like I used to makes things automatically more expensive and b- at least I did get a TON of food for my money, which should last us quite a while.)

So, what exactly did I buy and why?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife,
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,
and
Melyinda of Mom's Sunday Cafe.

My favorite posts from last week are:
Swedish Meatballs- I plan on changing up this recipe to make it dairy free, but I can't wait to try it out since I'm always looking for new ways to make meatballs, especially if they're tomato free, since I think Ike does better without too many tomatoes.
Chickpea Pot Pie- This recipe is so totally awesome and original and I never would have thought to veganize chicken pot pie this way. I made this last Friday with homemade rice milk, gluten free pie crust, and the vegetables I had on hand, but this terrific recipe was certainly my inspiration. (Awesome blog in general- I suggest everyone check it out, as since her recipes are vegan, most of them are very frugal and yummy!)
Grain Free Crepes- I love crepes, in all ways. This recipe calls for coconut flour, which I can easily make with the bulk bought coconut I have at home. I'm really excited to try it. There is also a suggestion there for a really cool alternative thing to do with these crepes- but you'll have to check it out yourself to see what it is.
Chickpea Cookie Dough Dip- I think this is a really hilarious recipe- whoever heard of cookie dough dip made from chickpeas of all things??? I plan on trying this out with a few variations to make it a bit healthier.


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ode to the Sunflower

Image: anat_tikker / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I think sunflowers are such beautiful flowers. Their bright, cheery coloring makes any room automatically much more cheerful. Something about those yellow blossoms simply exudes happiness.
But as much as I love the flower, what I truly love about sunflowers are their seeds. They're yummy, nutritious, and healthy.

Yes, no matter whether you follow a standard run of the mill, "by the books" healthy diet, or follow a traditional foods diet, everyone agrees that sunflower seeds are healthy for you.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of protein, in addition to vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and magnesium.

The American Heart Association mentions how sunflower seeds and sunflower oil are great for you as they lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.
If you eschew the AHA's findings but are more pro a traditional foods diet, a la Weston Price and Nourishing Traditions, you'd note how difficult it is to find an oil that is liquid at room temperature, but is fine for cooking, and is frugal, or at least relatively so. Canola and soy and corn oil are all out of the picture because of being GMO's and prepared in a process that is very unhealthy, leaving you with olive oil, peanut oil, nut oils, and sunflower oil. Of those, I can only find sunflower oil cheaply, so that ends up being the oil of choice in our home. (Canola and soybean oils never enter our home.)

But forget the health aspect- I love sunflower seeds for a bajjilion other reasons. But the two main ones are- they're versatile. Incredibly so. And in comparison to other "nuts", they're very frugal.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Post Birth Meals- Freezer and Pantry Stocking

One of the most important rules of frugality is "Be prepared!" There are always unexpected things that come up, but even those, for the most part, can be dealt with (at least financially) by having a fully stocked emergency fund.
Its easy to say "Well, I just wasn't ready", but fortunately, with most things in life, we do have a bit of forewarning before they happen, and the frugal solution is to start preparing for things even before they are imminent, so you can get what is needed at the lowest available prices and not be forced to pay too much money in a difficult situation.

I'm rambling. (Nothing like not getting enough sleep to do that to you!)

My close friend and neighbor just had her baby last week. Yes, the one I made laborade for. Yes, she went overdue. Very overdue. No, she didn't get induced. Yes she had a lovely homebirth, and now I'm all psyched up for mine.
But thats not what I'm getting at.
In my community, we have a lovely tradition of people making meals for the post partum mother, so that mom can recover more easily without needing to worry about preparing supper for her family. Its a great service, and I had the pleasure of arranging it for my friend.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicken Shnitzel Recipe- Breaded Chicken Cutlets

I'd have to say that one of my most popular types of chicken dishes is chicken shnitzel- breaded and fried chicken cutlets. Its inhaled both by picky eaters and lovers of exotic food alike- something about it just says "homey" and "loving".
Not only do people love chicken shnitzel, my pocketbook does as well, because, my friends, it is an oh so frugal dish. For meat anyhow. Know why?

Well, lets start with the fact that according to my calculations, chicken breast is definitely one of the cheaper types of meat, even if you buy the seemingly more expensive chicken breast, as it doesn't have any bones in it.
However, I tend to buy whole chickens most often, as they're even cheaper in my area (even once you factor in the bones).
The problem with buying whole chickens is that chicken breast cooks a lot quicker than the other parts of the chicken, so when you cook a whole chicken (or at least when I do, maybe I'm doing something wrong), by the time the chicken thighs and legs are cooked, the chicken breast has pretty much overcooked and turned into that white meat I always hated growing up- bland and pretty dry, making you want to drink a whole cup of water with your chicken, as it feels like you're eating sawdust. Or smother it in ketchup.
If there's something I hate when cooking, its when more expensive foods come out tasting icky. If the more expensive food doesn't taste much nicer, might as well just eat the cheaper food that tastes fine, even if not extra special.
In our house, meat is a "special food", meant to be enjoyed sporadically, not daily, and I need my meat to taste good.
So I don't cook whole chickens anymore. Aside from when I'm being really lazy and then I give the overcooked chicken breasts to my husband, who'll happily eat any type of meat, he just is that way... but I feel bad, because that chicken breast has such potential, why waste it by making it taste mediocre (or dry and sawdusty if you ask me), when with the proper cooking method it can be juicy, succulent, and absolutely divine.

Which brings me back to chicken shnitzel, because chicken shnitzel is the food of the gods. Frugal gods, that is.

I take my whole chicken and cut it into parts and freeze them in the correct sized portions for our family. (Thighs, legs, and wings go in one bag, chicken carcass and neck in another bag.) I then take the chicken breasts from that chicken, take it off the bone and cartilage, and set to work to make it into this frugal dish. No, I don't give a whole side of chicken breast and give it to each person. Most people don't need that much protein in one go- the average person is definitely not lacking in protein...
What I do instead is cut each side of the chicken breast into at least 5 or 6 pieces in the method I described in my chicken wrapped fennel cakes recipe. You want the pieces to be as thin as possible- because when people eat, they largely eat with their eyes, and thinner wider/longer pieces will feel more satisfying than stubby thicker pieces. I'll sometimes cut as many as 10 pieces from one side of the chicken breast, having many thin, smallish pieces of shnitzel, and will serve my kids one or two and adults 2 or 3 with their meal, depending on how hungry they are. This stretches the already cheap chicken breast really, really far.

Ok, so now once you have these cut pieces of chicken, how do you actually make the shnitzel? Easy as pie.
I have to give a warning that the biggest thing that can go wrong with making chicken shnitzel, turning this delicious food into the pit of blah-ness is lack of flavoring. And overcooking. So trust me on this one- even if the ingredients and exact instructions sound superfluous, they're not. They make this divine food be the way it is.

Chicken Shnitzel Recipe

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Polenta Fries Recipe

Polenta is a dish made from corn meal, water, and spices, cooked into a porridge. Until recently, I thought the only way to eat polenta was in porridge form, but recently I've discovered that polenta is a very versatile food, able to be prepared in many different ways, and oh so very cheap.
I'd read about making polenta fries on various recipe sites, but the instructions there were so deficient that I was constantly messing it up until I figured out these precise instructions, but once you get the method down pat, oh boy are they delicious!!!
Polenta fries have a texture that is unlike most other foods. They're crunchy on the outside, but have a silky smooth texture on the inside. Biting into one is such a terrific sensory experience.
I like to eat my polenta fries by dipping them into other foods, like salsa, curries, cheese sauce, etc. My kids just scarf them down plain.
My one biggest issue with making polenta fries is that I have to do it in batches, and by the time I finish making the last of the polenta fries, there's nothing left for me to eat as my kids gobbled it all down already!!!

Polenta Fries Recipe

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife,
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,
and
Melyinda of Mom's Sunday Cafe.

My favorite posts from last week are:
Squash Apple Curry- a yummy looking recipe, this post inspired me to make a similar curry whose recipe I'll be sharing shortly. 
Gluten Free Apple Pie- I'm really excited about this recipe- it uses millet and other gluten free flours available where I live, so I'll be sure to try this one out, with some changes...
Homemade Zaatar Spice Blend- This spice blend is one I find really delicious, so I'm glad to have a recipe to make my own!
Vegan GF Cornbread- I've been looking for a cornbread recipe that called for ingredients I have on hand, and this actually fits the bill!


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Special Bike To Save Money On Transportation

This is a guest post by my friend Cara. She was a blog reader and emailed my pennilessparenting@yahoo.com address and asked me for some ideas on how to make weddings and set up a home cheaply, as she had just recently gotten engaged. In our back and forth emails, we discovered that we lived in the same general area, and we met up in person for the first time at her wedding, which she made very frugally and beautifully.
About a week after the wedding, while running errands in the city, I bumped into Cara and her husband riding this ultra cool bicycle. Yes, both of them riding the same bicycle! Similar to a double bicycle, only the bicycle originally started out as a regular single bicycle, but with a little fixing up and adding a few extra parts, this bicycle now is much more useful, making it more akin to a car than a standard bicycle.
I think I stood there and questioned the newlyweds for a good half hour, because I was so enamored by the idea. At my request, Cara and her husband wrote a post for you readers about how they use this Xtracycle bicycle to save money on transportation.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cost Per Serving or Cost Per Meal... Or Not.

One of the things often found on the typical frugal blog that contain recipes is something that either tells you the total cost per serving or total cost per meal.
My blog never lists that. For various reasons. Number one because prices vary all over the world, and even within the same city and state, and sales make it even more erratic. But even more than that, its not just that I don't post the total cost per serving or per meal, its that I never calculate it. Ever. (I think.) I think doing such a thing is both silly and counterproductive.

Why is that?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moroccan Carrot Salad

When my big boy, Lee, likes a food that I make, the best compliment he gives is "Mommy, can you make this again?" With this salad, not only did Lee request when I served it for me to make it again, but even afterward, he kept on requesting on other days "Mommy, when will you be making that yummy carrot salad again?" This recipe is definitely a winner; it always gets polished off quickly.
This salad is great for winter months when most of the "typical salad vegetables" are out of season and root veggies are what is in season and cheap. No need to eat heavy foods during the autumn and winter when you can make delicious light salads like this using what is available and cheap.
This recipe is a variation of a salad my mom used to make when I was growing up, with some variations based on a few different recipes I've seen around the web and to suit our family's taste.

Moroccan Carrot Salad


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Frugal Hair Removal Method

If I were really gung ho frugal and that was all I cared about, I probably would go au naturale, and wouldn't remove any body hair. However, my life isn't just about saving money wherever possible, no matter the "cost", I do what is important to me, even if it may cost slightly more, I just try to do those things in the most frugal way possible. I care about aesthetics and want to feel good about how I look, which is why I am willing to spend money on hair removal.
And hey- underarm hair removal saves money in a way, because you end up stinking less and needing to use less deodorant and to shower less often, as underarm hair traps sweat and makes you stink more.

When talking about hair removal, I have to mention that I have never been to a salon to have a professional waxing, nor do I ever plan on it. That seems like a colossal waste of money; I try to do everything myself if at all possible.
You might think that if I didn't want to spend money on getting a waxing, I'd get the cheapest hair removal stuff- cheapo Bic disposable razors, or something of the sort.
While this may not be a terribly costly option in the US, these cheapo razors usually are bad quality and either don't do a good job, or can leave you with very bloody cuts. On top of that, I have an issue with disposable things in general, as they are a recurring expense, and I'd rather pay more for something upfront and not contribute to landfills, and not need to keep on buying things over and over again.
Which is why I don't buy cheapie razors for hair removal.

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife,
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,
and
Melyinda of Mom's Sunday Cafe.

My favorite posts from last week are:
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe- I love all things bean because they're nearly always frugal, but what makes this a real winner is it uses broccoli rabe, aka wild mustard which I am able to pick locally because it grows wild in my area, and will be coming into season very soon. (I saw one or two plants in the public park, but then the lawn got mowed...)

Asian Chicken and Rice Soup- I love how she repurposed her leftovers to make something yummy!
Easy Eggplant Dip- Looks delicious and so easy! I've got 5 eggplants in my fridge right now; I think I'll be making this today!



Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)


Monday, October 10, 2011

Happenings in My Life

Barring emergencies, I do like to try to have a post for you readers every day, even if I can't write a whole thorough post. Anyhow, I feel less bad doing that when I really have a good reason for not being able to give my full devotion to writing a good post (and I don't want to waste any of my good topics for when my brain isn't functioning at full capacity), and I feel less bad when I just wrote a more in depth good post the day before.
Anyhow, why this whole preamble?
Because this post isn't really to teach anything or to share any frugal ideas; its just some random things happening in my life, whats going on today, etc...

Decluttering? Getting Rid of Expensive Things? Frugal?

Our very full little room. Before decluttering.
We've been co-sleeping with our kids pretty much since they were born. Ok, there was a few month hiatus when Lee slept in his own room after we regretfully and unsuccessfully tried to sleep train him. Mike took pity on him, when he saw how lonely Lee was sleeping in his own room, and Lee rejoined us in our bed just a few months before Ike was born, who we co-slept with since birth.

Until last night, we were regularly co-sleeping with our 4 year old and 2 year old sons.
And no, we aren't ideological co-sleepers.
I hadn't planned on still co-sleeping when my eldest was 4 years old... It's just that my husband and I have a problem with letting toddlers cry themselves to sleep or feel lonely or neglected during the night, and we felt that if Lee was in his own room, that would be the case.
And then we moved to our current teeny tiny (484 square foot) apartment from our old small (900 square foot) apartment. In our old apartment, there was the option of putting our kids in the second bedroom. In our new apartment, there is only one big bedroom, and then another teeny tiny "half room", roughly 9 feet by 6 feet if I'm remembering the dimensions correctly. We'd been using that room to store our things as the apartment is really small and comes with no built in storage space; by default, our kids were in our bedroom for lack of better options in terms of sleeping arrangements.
But I didn't love it, and neither did my husband.
We kept in mind that when we need it, there is that option of moving our kids to the little room to sleep, but weren't prepared to do it right away. We didn't think Lee was emotionally ready to be in a room by himself, especially upstairs as our little room is. We said that when Ike was old enough to move out of our room, when he was sleeping through the night, we'd move both boys together into the little room, so that it wouldn't  be lonely there.

Right.
As if.
It took a while for Ike to sleep through the night. He gave me sleeping trouble for quite a while. Only once I weaned him when I became pregnant, and he stopped nursing every 40 minutes, did he actually start sleeping much better. But still not all the way through the night.
Now fortunately, Ike is potty trained, and he wakes up once in the middle of the night to use the potty, and then goes right back to sleep until morning.
Now Ike is finally ready to be moved out of our room, and he and Lee can both move into their own room.

Only we majorly procrastinated.
Because the room was in use! It was our storage room! Where would we actually put the kids with all our things there? If we moved the kids there, where would we put all our stuff?
And so, we dragged our feet, not moving the kids out of the master bedroom even though we could have... because of the issue of the "little room", our storage room.

I think there's this tendency in every frugal person to be somewhat pack-rat-ish.
You spot and purchase something at a terrific price, you're given something as a hand me down or as a present, you find something terrific in the dumpster, and you immediately think "I can use that! That's going to save me lots of money!"
And then all that stuff accumulates.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Laborade Recipe- Homemade Healthy Sports Drink

Laborade in a repurposed Coke bottle
My good friend and next door neighbor is overdue and ready to go into labor any second. In my reading posts throughout the bloggosphere, I came across this recipe for something called "Laborade", a drink like Gatorade or Powerade, only its healthier and cheaper to make, and is especially good for keeping hydrated while in labor, as it contains energy giving carbohydrates and electrolytes. Basically, its a sports drink without all the chemicals and without the expense. (This recipe was from The Cardamom's Pod, and the author there got the recipe from her midwife.)
I whipped up a batch to bring to my friend in case she went into labor, and I mixed up a batch for myself as well. All day yesterday I was drinking this Laborade; I drank an entire gallon and a half (that's 24 cups, if you want to know the count) and it was so easy to drink and yummy; not too strongly flavored, and it didn't make me nauseous like I would have been if I drank that much water. The best part about it is that yesterday, I felt the most terrific I have this pregnancy. I think I must just be in a constant state of dehydration, and only by drinking a gallon and a half of liquid in one day was I actually feeling fine with no dehydration signs, no dizziness, etc... Or maybe its just something really special about this recipe. I dunno, but I'm really, really tempted to mix up a batch of this to drink every day, it worked that well for me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Healthy Chocolate Tahini Spread Recipe

For all that I promote healthy eating on my blog, I'll admit, I do like having indulgences... even if sometimes I'll regret them afterward. That's why recipes like this are so terrific- I get to have "junk" that is actually nutritious and healthy- all the pleasure, none of the guilt. This is a recipe I got from my friend, Deborah, and it is really awesome and delicious. I use it as a spread for sandwiches, as a topping for rice cakes, to dip fruit in, or just even eat it by the spoonful when no one is looking...

The biggest reason, aside for taste, that this chocolate spread recipe is a favorite of mine is because it has carbs, fat, and protein, which make it a terrific energy booster when I'm feeling I need a perk me up. And that is exactly why it's become part of my go-to breakfasts.
It's also got all that calcium in it because of the sesame, which is something terrific for someone like myself who is currently off dairy.

Healthy Chocolate Spread Recipe


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kids and Teens Keeping Up with the Joneses?

Image: Rosen Georgiev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This post will get a bit more personal than some of my usual posts, I'm warning you in advance. And I wanted to say that I spoke to all parties involved who are aware that I plan on writing a post on this topic, what I plan on saying, and they're totally cool with it, as they see my issue with what they're doing as a philosophical and parenting difference, and not criticism. So its not slandering or trash talking or speaking ill of others, just bringing in different viewpoints.

In many ways, I am a non conformist. I buck the trend and do things very differently than others do, because I don't believe in keeping up with the Joneses. I believe in living within your means and living according to your values, even when you might be the odd one out for doing certain things.
This aspect of my personality certainly didn't come from no where.
In fact, I come from a family of non conformists. A family of people who march to the beat of their own drummer, even if others may think they're cuckoo for doing so.

When I was a kid, my mother tried to make sure we followed the values she held dear. Among those were being creative and being unique... even if we didn't want to be creative or unique. She wanted us to do what we wanted to do, to do what was the right thing, and not give in to peer pressure, to not decide to do something just because everyone else is doing it.

I'll be honest- I hated it. I wanted to fit in. I hated being different. I just wanted to blend in with the crowd, be one of the bunch. I didn't need people to look at me because I came to school wearing special clothing to commemorate a special day that out of all the families in my school, pretty much only mine celebrated. I didn't want to get stares and mockery because I was wearing hopelessly out of date and fashion faux pas clothing and glasses.

I knew that what I wore and being like everyone else wasn't the most important thing in the world, but gosh darnit, I wanted to be like everyone else!


Flashback. I was in the 6th grade. A holiday was approaching. Our teacher sent home a note asking all parents to please send in x amount of money (don't remember exactly how much, but it certainly wasn't pennies) to cover material for a project that we were going to do with the class in honor of the holiday.
My mother, when she heard the cost of the project, was taken aback. That much money for a grade school project? That, from experience with my older sister who was in the same class the year before, meant that all students would get the same exact material, and they'd be instructed step by step as to how to make the projects. Which would all turn out the same.
My mom didn't want to send in the money for what she felt was a waste. Lots of money spent so that each girl could follow instructions down to the letter and do the same as everyone else. Where's the creativity? Where's the originality? What was the point of such a project?
My mother, after speaking to the teachers, consented to send in the money for the project.
On one condition.
I was to take the materials given, and while my classmates were doing their identical projects, I was to think of another project entirely to do with the same materials and do it.
I was mortified. As it is, I was the oddball in my class because of how I was dressed (my mother refused to buy us clothing that was remotely fashionable or glasses that weren't hopelessly out of date), because of what I did in my spare time, because my family's religious views were different than the norm in my school, etc... and then I was forced to do something that set me even more apart in a very obvious way. That out of the 20 girls doing a project, I was the one who had to do it differently than everyone else.
It was embarrassing. Dreadfully so. I hated every second of it. My mother kept that project for years, and every time I saw it, I was reminded of what I went through and it caused me to cringe in humiliation.
It's 12 years later, and I still remember that incident very clearly.
And I would never do something like that to my kids.
(I have to give my mother credit; she understands now how much this forced non conformity affected me socially and emotionally, and she apologized for not being in tune enough with my emotional need to be accepted when I was growing up.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
April of The 21st Century Housewife,
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen,
and
Melyinda of Mom's Sunday Cafe.

My favorite posts from last week are:
Cooking with Compost: Strawberry Limeade and Cooking with Compost: Gazpacho- this blogger very creatively used things that people would generally throw away to make two delicious foods. Atta girl! I like!!!!
Healthy Caramel Apples- Can you believe that this blogger made this standard autumn treat HEALTHY??? This blows my mind, and I'm half convinced to try it, seeing as she made it with all real food ingredients, even if those ingredients aren't so cheap round these parts.
Lentil Sausage Soup- This looks delicious, and I'm always looking for new ways to use yummy, frugal lentils.
Bombay Sloppy Joes- My sloppy Joes usually are pretty standard and boring- ketchup, mustard, tomato sauce, etc... I like this Indian twist on the traditional favorite. I'll probably be trying something inspired by this, but I'll be making it more frugal by mixing the ground meat (I'll probably use ground gizzards) with cooked green or brown lentils.


Hearth and Soul Mission

It’s about food from your hearth, made for your soul. Food that follows your intuition. Preparing food from scratch to nourish your family…body, mind AND soul! Food made with your own hands…infused with energy and passion and intent. Real food made by real people to feed real families (big and small, in blood or spirit). Ingredients from scratch, be it something grown in your garden or raised on your land…food foraged in the field or woods…food from local farms, farmers, or farmers markets…or even ingredients chosen by you from your local market that will be turned into something that feeds your soul. Tapping the food memory that each of us has stored inside; letting it guide and influence our own time in the kitchen.

We hope to embrace not only the “expected” areas of real food, but also those who want to incorporate healthier choices without sacrificing their love of food…how it tastes, the memories it conjures up, the comfort it brings. Yes, we’re trying to steer clear of packaged, processed, and boxed foods in favor of real foods….without absolutely excluding the sometimes frowned upon white sugar or flour (because the body craves what it craves…and sometimes things just don’t taste the same when you replace these). Making conscious choices and being present in the now with what your body needs…and taking steps towards exploring and enjoying healthier choices. If you take the time to listen, your body will tell you what it needs.

The warm comfort of the home hearth…stories, anecdotes, lessons, adventures, journeys, recipes, meals, beverages…we want to share the “why” of how food feeds more than just our bodies…how it also feeds our souls. After all, aren’t these the essential ingredients in defining real food? Please share links from your Hearth ‘n Soul with us each week.

Rules for linking:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.

If you are new to a blog carnival, or blog hop, it is very easy to learn how to join in the fun! Simply go to the blog post for that carnival and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a small box that will say, You’re Next or Your link here. When you click on that link, you will be asked to enter the URL of your recipe or article.

Please link to your article only and not directly to your blog front page.

Place a link back to one of the blog hosts, which means adding in the URL of the blog hop post which you can copy from your browser address bar and insert at the bottom of your post. You could also choose to place a blog badge into your post.

Please link a post that closely fits into the mission. You don’t have to link up every week…link up when you can. We welcome posts that are shared in other events. If you have an older, archived post that you want to add, we welcome that…as long as you go in and add a link back to Hearth and Soul.

Please feel free to use and share the Hearth and Soul Hop badge listed below to promote the Blog Hop.

Hearth & Soul Hop
Lets see your best recipes! Join up below! (If you've never participated in a blog hop before, click here to see why you should.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Teff Pancakes- Easy Gluten Free Pancakes

I love pancakes. They used to be my go-to breakfast, because they could be made to fill your tummies even when the cupboard is nearly bare because you desperately need to go grocery shopping. They're filling, they have carbs and protein which give you energy to start your day. Not only that, they can be whipped up in very little time, so when you're dizzy because its late and you still haven't eaten anything since you woke up, and you know you need to get some food into you ASAP and don't have all the time in the world, nor energy to make something complicated, pancakes are the easy solution...
...only, my standard pancake recipe is made with gluten, and hence is a non option these days.

Gluten free pancakes often don't taste so nice, or contain about a million and five ingredients in them, making them a huge pain in the neck to make, and not an easy quick meal. Or they contain really really expensive ingredients, or premade gluten free flour mixtures that I can't buy for less than a small fortune here, making them not exactly a low cost option.

Here's a recipe that I put together that only calls for 7 ingredients, not a million and a half, and for the most part its things you'll already have in your gluten free home (like xanthan gum).
These pancakes are made with teff flour, a nutrient rich whole grain flour that is native to Ethiopia, and is gluten free. Its not the cheapest flour in the world, but then again, no gluten free flours are... Teff is also pretty decent tasting- I honestly can't say that these pancakes taste all that different from whole wheat pancakes- teff has a pretty neutral whole grain flavor.
To cut the costs of buying teff, I purchase it at a local Ethiopian ethnic foods store. I've also been contemplating buying it in bulk, because then it is significantly cheaper.

Teff Pancake Recipe

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sugar Free Cold Drink Ideas

Homemade sesame milk
I dehydrate pretty easily. Its constantly an effort to make myself drink... and drink... and drink, to prevent myself from becoming dehydrated, dizzy, and potentially passing out. When I'm pregnant, this is doubly hard. In the summer, its also really hard. Pregnant in the summer? Yup, pretty much dehydration central for me.

The thing that makes it harder for me to drink enough is I don't enjoy drinking straight water. I mean I'll drink one or two cups here and there, but when dehydration is a concern for me and I need to drink many cups of liquid in a row, I get pretty sick of water. Not to mention that too much plain water being consumed at one time can actually cause health problems if you don't have enough electrolytes in your system.

Until I started going sugar free, my go-to drinks to have around the house were lemonade, mock "Lipton's" iced tea, and chilled sweetened herbal teas so that we'd always have tasty, cheap, chemical free beverages available to drink that were enticing enough to stop me from dehydrating.
Of course, now that we're on the quest to eliminate white sugar frugally and naturally (and doing a pretty good job if I may say so myself!!!), having tasty, flavorful drinks has gotten somewhat tougher.

Here's a list of cold drink ideas that are:
Chemical free
White sugar free
Easy to make at home
Frugal
and still taste good!!!

In the spirit of keeping it frugal and as healthy as possible, I'm not including anything that contains any alternative sweeteners like honey, fig honey, sucanat, or stevia. This pretty much also makes all these drinks good for people following a Paleo or Primal diet.
Since I'm currently dairy free (aside for fermented dairy) and gluten free, most of these drink ideas are gluten free and dairy free as well. (There are two containing fermented dairy.)
Lastly, no juicer required for any of them either!

Healthy Sugar Free, Chemical Free, Gluten Free, Un-fermented Dairy Free, Frugal Tasty Cold Drinks

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