t2

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Large Grocery Shopping Trip- 11/29/11

Usually I go grocery shopping every 2 weeks, lay out all my purchases on my dining room table, snap a picture, and the describe (either in short or in long) why I purchased the foods I did, why they were a frugal purchase, or a healthy purchase or whatnot.
Today's post won't be like that. First off, I bought a ton of stuff, too much to fit in the table for one picture, so there are a few different pictures for today, with the foods divided into different categories.
Secondly, there are some things that I bought that aren't necessarily the most frugal, and things that I bought that aren't the most healthy. There are a million considerations why to buy things- the point isn't to spend as little money as possible no matter what, all the time, no matter the circumstances, and only buy 100% healthy things. At different points in our lives we have different priorities, and because I'm going to be giving birth soon, I bought certain "convenience" foods for after birth to make my recovery easy, some of which were more expensive (lots!) than what I would typically buy. Because I do have some absolutes when it comes to health, I did buy the more expensive variety with some of these convenience foods, but I see nothing wrong with that.
Also, because I was spending so much money on this after birth healthy convenience foods, I did allow myself to buy some less than 100% healthy, but not anything we absolutely avoid either, because they're cheaper and I was trying to keep costs down. That means, everything we bought was chemical free and soy free, but I did buy some things with sugar and refined flour for my husband and kids... because we need to stick to our budget.

As it is, this shop ended up costing me around 170 dollars. Which isn't so cheap.
Then again, I haven't gone shopping in 3 weeks, and I'm not just going shopping for the next two weeks either, and much of what I bought won't be used for another little while, it'll only be used after giving birth. I plan on stocking my freezer/pantry as much as possible now so I don't have to go grocery shopping, or even cook food at all, for at least 2 weeks, hopefully 3 or 4 after giving birth, and since this food will be going towards that, I view this large grocery bill as partially eliminating my need to go shopping after my birth.

So, what did I buy and why?


A whole bunch of produce!

Is Homebirth Safe? What Can Go Wrong in a Hospital Birth?

This is post 2 in my series entitled "Why Homebirth?"

  • Midwives aren't able to handle complications during labor.
  • Being in a hospital will be less dangerous for the mother and the baby; too many things can go wrong quickly during childbirth for it to be safe to have a homebirth.
  • The reason fewer women and babies die during childbirth today is because its became standard practice to give birth in a hospital and midwife usage and homebirth rates have gone down.
  • Hospitals save lives.
  • Hospital births are totally safe.

Have you ever said or thought any of the above, or something along those lines? Have you ever heard anyone say any of the above, or something along those lines?

If you haven't either said these, thought these, or heard these, then I'm shocked. Because these are the most common arguments used against homebirth. In fact, even in the post I wrote about how I came to decide to homebirth, I got some of these in the comments, or comments echoing those thoughts.

But, for the sake of intellectual honesty here, are these statements true? That is what this post will address, but in a nutshell:

  • Midwives aren't able to handle complications during labor. Yes they are, for the most part. Some complications they're even able to handle better than hospitals.
  • Being in a hospital will be less dangerous for the mother and the baby; too many things can go wrong quickly during childbirth for it to be safe to have a homebirth. Statistics and studies show otherwise and prove this statement false.
  • The reason fewer women and babies die during childbirth today is because its became standard practice to give birth in a hospital and midwife usage and homebirth rates have gone down. Again, statistics and studies prove this statement wrong. In fact, the US has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the civilized world, even though 99% of births occur in hospitals.
  • Hospitals save lives. In many cases yes. In many cases, they're the reason lives are lost.
  • Hospital births are totally safe. No they're not. Then again, neither are homebirths.

Ok, those were really in a nutshell. But my point is to show that no, these statements aren't veritable truths. In fact, some are falsehoods either purposely disseminated or passed around because of lack of knowledge of how homebirth works or lack of knowledge about the possible problems involved in hospital births.

Before I get into it further, I need to clarify something.

Homebirths are not 100% safe. Things can go wrong in a homebirth. There are mothers who die in childbirth in a homebirth, and there are babies who die because of a homebirth suddenly turned problematic.
However-
Hospital births are not 100% safe. Things can go wrong in hospital births. There are mothers who die in childbirth or from ensuing complications in hospitals, even with the "best of care". There are babies who die in hospitals during or immediately after childbirth because of complications of childbirth.

No birth is 100% safe. In fact, birth, no matter whether at home, unmedicated, in the hospital unmedicated, in the hospital medicated, in the hospital via cesearian, is fraught with potential risks, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is pulling the wool over your eyes.
Either choice you make, whether to have a home birth or a hospital birth, is not going to guarantee a healthy outcome for mother and baby. At most, you can weigh the risks and benefits, and choose from there which is less risky, not which is risk free.

So, which is less risky? Home birth or hospital birth?

Tuesday, November 29, 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:
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free Raisin Cookies. These look wonderful; I'll be trying them with ground sunflower seeds.
Fried Potato Peels. I am anti food waste. To an extreme, you can say. That's why I love this recipe for fried potato peels. If I actually peeled my potatoes, I'd make them, but I usually just leave my peels on my potatoes, yes, even in my mashed potatoes. This reminds me of when I went to someone for supper and she served us a delicious soup. Afterward the hostess confessed that it was potato PEEL soup. Awesome idea!
Indian Green Beans and Potatoes- I love green beans. I love potatoes. I love Indian food. And I don't always have access to certain exotic ingredients. This recipe sounds perfect, as its Indian food without any exotic expensive ingredients. Can't wait to try this one out!


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, November 28, 2011

A Real Challenge- 30 Days of Cleaning

I've either alluded to or said straight out on this blog previously that I am really not a neat person by nature. In fact, while I am totally non lazy when it comes to things I enjoy doing, when it comes to things I don't enjoy, I am the biggest procrastinator and will find any excuse to not get things done. Cleaning and tidying are things I don't really enjoy; they seem very unrewarding to me because your efforts don't last long generally and you have to start all over from scratch an hour or day later...

Suffice it to say, cleaning is NOT my strong point. In fact, keeping even a relatively tidy house is one of my biggest challenges, and I'll give every excuse under the sun why my house isn't clean.

One thing though- my husband literally can't function in a mess and starts shutting down when the house is a disaster zone. Many times he does take care of cleaning up after the messes I make, but it doesn't make for a very happy husband when I was perfectly capable of doing that myself, but left all the work for my husband to do instead, on top of his working outside the home and helping with the kids.
On top of that, I know that I and the kids also function much better in a clean home, and its something I've wanted to improve for a while... only, motivation is hard. I decide that I'm going to be neater/cleaner/tidier, and that resolution, or at least its effects, last no more than 24 hours, if even.

Something needed to change.
Now, before I have a new baby, because changes with a new baby are much harder to make, and its much more important that the house runs smoothly when there are 5 people living in a very small place instead of only 4, I decided to make a change now, to undertake a challenge, to push myself in a way that I haven't done before, with stakes much higher than I've done before, and with a tangible reward in a way that I haven't done before.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Skipping Grades- Yes or No?

I'm on this mom's message board and a woman asked us what we thought about skipping grades. You may wonder why I would be putting my response here on my blog, but as my name implies, this blog is about parenting in addition to frugality, and academics is a big part of parenting children. In addition, this ties in very much to the fact that I'm homeschooling my kids, and why, something I have spoken before at length on this blog.
In fact, people have asked me why I don't just send my kids to school, but the reason I don't plan on sending them is precisely because of this reason.
This post, pretty much, is what I answered the mom who asked, and I enjoyed writing the answer so much that I decided to share it with you as well. Hopefully it can help you out
So what did I answer? Is skipping a grade a good thing or not?

I skipped, and I have to say that based on my experience, I am pretty anti skipping kids.

Why is that?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Buckwheat Crepes Recipe

Buckwheat crepe rolled up with some spreads
I like bread. I like crepes. I like starchy foods. I like things that I can use to wipe up some shmear, whether hummus, eggplant salad, tuna salad, or whatever, and I find that since going gluten free, its hard for me to find good, easy recipes that don't use a million expensive ingredients.
I got this recipe from my friend, Butter, over at Hunger and Thirst for Life, and it's a terrific one (only she didn't provide exact amounts). Its a crepe recipe and you can use them as you would tortillas, you can use them to make stuffed crepes (either sweet or savory), you can toast them in the oven after frying to make chips, and you can use them as I do, just to spread with yummy dips and other sandwich fixings.
The best thing about this recipe is that it doesn't call for any gluten free flours, which generally are very expensive to buy, hard to find, or requiring a grain grinder (or lots of patience) to grind at home, and this one is made with the whole grain. The worst thing about this recipe is that you need to prepare it in advance; its not something you can throw together last minute.

Buckwheat Crepes Recipe

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. The name conjures up lots of memories of time spent together with family, eating turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and lots more. (Brussel sprouts were typically on our Thanksgiving menu, for some reason.) Thanksgiving was always an enjoyable day at our house with good company, with the attitude of gratitude in the air, giving thanks for all the wonderful blessings we have in our
 life, and being thankful for being Americans.
Yea.
I'm not living in the US right now.
My husband isn't an American.
He's never really participated in any sort of "Thanksgiving events" and the concept of a Thanksgiving dinner is just foreign to him.
They don't sell whole turkeys locally. (The turkeys here are so huge that they'd never fit into ovens here in one piece.) Cranberries are a fortune, as is cranberry sauce.
Looks like a Thanksgiving dinner isn't happening. (Though I am going to a wedding tonight for an American couple. Maybe they'll be serving turkey and other thanksgiving style dishes there?)
Kind of makes me sad a little, and a bit nostalgic for the US and my childhood.
Everyone's posting on the blogosphere all their Thanksgiving recipes, Thanksgiving money saving tips, Thanksgiving healthy eating tips, and I feel a little left out that I can't join in the festivities.
And so, this post will be my contribution to Thanksgiving 2011 on the blogosphere. What exactly am I thankful for?
Fortunately, I do have lots to be thankful for, and I try not to be thankful of them only on Thanksgiving, but try to focus on them all the time, so that I realize what a blessing my life truly is and don't feel deprived.

I'm Thankful For...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Foraging Mallow

A giant mallow leaf, large enough
 to cover 4 year old Lee's entire face
So, I've heard it's been snowy and cold in the US and Europe, or at least in the northern areas. Locally, however, though it is much cooler than it is during the summer, our winters are mostly just rainy, wet, and chilly, but not freezing. Even though you guys might be covered in a layer of snow right now, its prime greens foraging season where I live, and I'll be sharing my foraging finds with y'all.
If you get a little envious of the green here and the ability to forage when everything there is white, white, white... don't you worry, when it's prime foraging season in the US, almost everything locally has shriveled up and dried and died in the heat and drought here. We all have our heavy foraging seasons, and this is mine. I'll probably be posting quite a few foraging posts in the next little while (while I stock up my freezer with foraged greens to use after birth), so bear with me please. When its foraging season where you live, you can go back and reference the posts I wrote so that you too can hunt for those wild edibles.

Today, I'll be talking about one of my favorite wild edibles- mallow. It actually seems fitting to start off the foraging season with a post on mallow, because mallow was my "gateway drug", the wild green that started my love affair with foraging.
Ironically enough, one year and one day ago, my friend, Butter, posted a post on her blog about Candied Sweet Potato with Mallow Topping. Well, back then, I actually didn't know who Butter was, I just had stumbled across her blog and started reading through the archives. This post about foraging for mallow struck me, because I knew that plant!!! I had seen mallow growing locally. Until that point, I didn't realize that I, too, could be a forager, but once I identified, picked, and prepared my first wild edible, I had a craving to find more and more wild edibles, and so my foraging habit was forged.

Mallow is actually a great plant with which to start foraging, as it grows everywhere. Yes, all over the world, including America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia, so it doesn't matter where you live, you, too, can forage mallow. The other two reasons why its a great starter is because there are no poisonous look-alikes, and it tastes good, without the mild bitterness typically found in many of the available wild greens.

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:
Parchment Paper Cooking (Aka Root Vegetable Tian)- This is a really awesome idea about how to make a whole entire meal in parchment paper, making clean up time non existent. I really think I'll be trying these out post birth so I don't have any dishes to clean up afterwards!
Grain Free, Pasta Free, Low Carb Stuffed "Cannolini"- I love this idea! I think it is very creative and original, a terrific way to make stuffed "cannolini" if you're grain free, gluten free, or low carb. How does she do it? Well, guess you'll have to go check out the post yourself!
Red Bean Bolognaise- Vegan, frugal, gluten free, delicious looking, healthy. Come on, this recipe surely is a winner! Can't wait to try it out!



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, November 21, 2011

Why Homebirth, Part 1

Ike in the hospital, 1 day old
I've mentioned a few times (or many) on my blog that I plan on having a homebirth this pregnancy.
Why? you may ask. Why would you risk your life and your baby's life and have your baby at home? Why do something dangerous like that? Are you in some sort of cult that eschews medical care and the medical establishment?


I thought that I'd write three posts on the topic, one about my "homebirth background", one from a medical and safety standpoint, why I am choosing to have a homebirth, and one from a frugal standpoint, why I feel that a homebirth is a worthwhile expense. Today's post will be all about how my thoughts on birth evolved to the  the safety aspect, and why I would choose to do something as risky as having a baby outside a hospital.

Before I continue, I want to say that this series not meant to criticize women's birthing choices; childbirth is very personal, dramatic and life altering, and every woman deserves to have the type of birth that she wants, whether that is a cesarean section, a completely medicalized and anesthetized hospital birth, an unmedicated hospital birth, an assisted homebirth, or an unassisted homebirth. I will not criticize someone for the birth choices she makes, even if they're radically different than my own. I am only sharing this series of posts to explain why I choose to have a homebirth for myself.
I also want to say already from the start that there are some women that from a safety standpoint should never, ever, ever homebirth, that doing so would be putting their life and the life of their baby in danger, so don't think that these posts mean I'm giving carte blanche for homebirths for everyone.

Why Homebirth? 

The Background

How to Beat Fuel Poverty

This is a guest post. 


Increasing demand for oil has pushed fuel prices up to previously unthinkable levels. This will leave many households across the UK in a state of fuel poverty.
This article will give you some tips on how you can beat fuel poverty this winter and stay warm and safe.


SO, WHAT IS FUEL POVERTY?


You are deemed to be in fuel poverty if you need to spend 10% or more of your income on gas or electricity. Many households are finding this year that they fall into that bracket whereas they might not have done last year. Things like wage freezes, redundancies and cuts to vital services have meant that many people are poorer now than they were 12 months ago.
With this in mind, rises in fuel prices can make a desperate situation even more desperate – a despicable and completely unnecessary state of affairs in a supposedly civilised 21st Century UK.

HOW CAN I MAKE SURE I STAY WARM THIS WINTER?


Here are some things that might help:

SAVE

If you haven’t started yet, start now. Winter lasts until March, and since it’s November, you have more than a couple of months where you can save a little money each week?
Are you on a fixed income such as disability benefits or DLA? Even saving as little as £2 a week in a jar means you have a little emergency fund to tap into should you need it.

If you can save more, consider setting up an online saver where you can just transfer your savings into when you get paid. Alternatively, use an account you hardly ever use and keep the card in a safe but not too accessible place.

INVEST IN SOLAR PV

Yes the feed-in tariffs have been cut by more than 50% with effect from the 12th December 2011 but you will still really benefit financially by investing in solar.

Here’s why:
  • The feed-in tariff entitles you to payments for every kWh of energy you generate using your solar panels and also for the energy you sell to the National Grid.
  • You’ll of course save money on your energy bills since you’ll be happily generating your own.

CUT DOWN ON YOUR ENERGY USAGE

  • Are you making a cup of tea? Only fill up your kettle with the amount of water you are using right there and then. Too many people make the mistake of filling up the kettle when making a cup of tea because they might use the water later. For a start, stagnant water is horrible. Also, you use more energy boiling a whole kettle than you do when you boil a cup’s worth. If you are like most people and really like your tea, you could see your energy usage drop by following this advice.
  • Do you like a hot bath? Of course you do. Well a lot of people take hot water on demand for granted and assume this is the norm. What if we told you that you could save up to £25 a week by only turning your hot water on when you need it? Is that the sound of a switch flicking we hear?

Follow these tips and hopefully you will have warmer winters.

Find out more about PV solar by heading across to http://www.tecg.co.uk.

This is a sponsored post.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shakshouka- Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Tunisian Style


Eggs and tomatoes. Likely combination? Honestly, it isn't one I necessarily would think of, but apparently it is common throughout the world, with so many different countries and cultures having dishes based on tomatoes and eggs, such as Mexican huevos rancheros, Indian anda masala (egg curry), Hungarian letcho, etc...
But I have to say that this Middle Eastern dish, eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce, has got to be one of my all time favorites. Its cheap, it's easy to make, and it tastes absolutely scrumptious!

Shakshouka Recipe- Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Tunisian Style

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tuna Vegetable Sauce

This is a recipe that I threw together one day when I didn't have so much food in my house and wanted to make something yummy to serve my family. It was really quick and easy to make and was such a hit with my family that I started making it pretty frequently. I hope your family loves it as much as mine does! I typically serve this over a bed of rice, but it also tastes good with mashed potatoes or noodles.

Tuna Vegetable Sauce Recipe

This is a guest post.
In the wake of the financial crisis, finding ways of saving money has become something of a national obsession. At the same time, banks are less and less willing to offer credit, in the form of personal loans, mortgages, and loans to companies, despite the relatively low interest rates that are on offer.

Nonetheless, in recent months there have been signs that things are looking up a little and banks are becoming more willing to offer credit. Increased competition in the UK marketplace through the arrival of Santander to challenge the traditional big four with competitive Santander personal loans and the like has helped, as well as government efforts to force banks to offer better deals.

It is, however, understandable that getting credit isn't easy, after all, many experts argue that it was mortgages being offered to inappropriate people in the United States that kicked the entire financial crisis off.

The advice then, as it is now, is to build a relationship with one financial institution. Banks are more likely to offer you a deal on a loan or a mortgage if they know you, because that way they will have seen how responsible (or otherwise) you are with your money and know that you can make your income match your outgoings.

For that reason, a lot of banks are offering deals to customers who consolidate their various service. For example, certain banks offer high rate accounts, or special offers, only to customers who have a mortgage already, or a credit card. By bringing all the various services together under one house, you can often save costs, or get better deals, so it's worth taking a bit of a look round.

Also, you're much more likely to get some form of credit if you have something to secure it against, and that makes holding a mortgage with the same financial institution a good idea. On the flip side, if there's any doubt that you won't be able to pay off the loan, then you shouldn't get it secured because you stand to lose your house, but then, if there's any doubt that you'll be able to pay off your loan, you should think seriously about whether it's a good idea to have it or not.

At the end of the day, there are good deals around on financial products for people who are willing to hunt for them, and the best place to start isn't the internet, it's actually by going in and talking to your bank. Every bank in the country has trained financial advisors who can help, and if you bank with several different institutions, go and talk to them all and see what are the best deals around for you. A little legwork now can save a lot of money in the long run.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stretched Guacamole


I love guacamole, and all things avocado. My pocketbook, unfortunately, does not. Locally, avocados are usually quite expensive, and even when they're in season, their prices don't get as low as other produce, so I feel guilty about spending money on them too frequently.

Sometimes though, I get a craving for guacamole, the Mexican avocado dip, usually made just by mashing an avocado and mixing it with seasonings.

To make larger quantities of this yummy dip, you need a lot of avocados, and, as I mentioned, avocados aren't so cheap here.
As for me? I'm never satisfied with just a little bit of guacamole- I want as much guac as I can for as little money as I can. And so, I make this version of guacamole, which allows me to stretch the avocado as far as possible and get as much yummy dip as possible for the least amount possible, without sacrificing its yummy flavor.

Stretched Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients:
1.5 medium avocado
1 medium egg
1 tsp mayo (ideally homemade)
1/2-1 1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
1 medium tomato

Instructions:
1. Hard boil and peel your egg. Either mash it or chop it in a food processor until completely smooth.

2. Mash your avocados. Mix it with the egg and a teaspoon of mayonnaise.

3. Add the lemon, salt, garlic, and cumin, starting with smaller amounts and only adding more to taste.

4. Dice up your tomatoes really small, and mix them with the avocado.

Serve with tortilla chips, or with any Mexican style meal, like in stuffed tacos.

Do you make guacamole ever? What's in your guacamole? Do you also stretch yours with anything, or is yours pure avocado, lemon, and seasonings? Would you dare stretching your guacamole?
How do you generally eat your guacamole?
Are avocados cheap or expensive where you live?

Linking up to Allergy Friendly Lunchbox LoveFresh Bites Friday, Gluten Free WednesdaysFrugal Days Sustainable WaysReal Food WednesdayMonday ManiaHomestead Barn HopMonday MangiaFat Tuesday


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog Updates

I think a trap that many bloggers might fall into is that they create their blog, tweak their design, and then they just go and forget about all the design elements in the day to day running of their blog. They just post and post and post and post... and forget that as their blog grows, gets older, and evolves, tweaking needs to be done to the design and all the "behind the scenes" stuff to be able to make visits to the blog as pleasant for the readers as possible by trying to make the blog as user friendly as possible.

Ok, I don't know if that happens to other bloggers, but it certainly happens to me. I get so caught up with the writing of my blog that the technical details get neglected.

For that, I apologize to you readers. I mean, I noticed that the tabs and the static pages were sorely outdated and for the most part, irrelevant, as I hadn't touched them for at least a couple of months, and some not since I first started this blog!!!

Because of that, and because I want a visit to PennilessParenting.com to be as enjoyable for you as it possibly can, and because I want my site to be easier to navigate, I've decided to give the blog an overhaul. Not a complete one- the basic layout will still be the same (so you'll still have the familiar elements), but just improved to make it easier to find things.
Yesterday and today, for example, I've worked on compiling a complete list of all the recipes and am dividing them up into different categories to make it easier for you to find certain things. So far I've included a break down of recipes by region (see tab above), and soon to come is a break down of recipes by type of food, and then another one by the special dietary needs it serves (like gluten free posts, vegan posts, low carb posts, sugar free posts, etc...).
I'm also updating the "About" page, and revamping a whole bunch of other things, so as you check back in over the next few days, you'll probably be able to see these changes taking place.
I also want to create/work on pages to help you navigate my site and help you find specific posts in specific categories that aren't necessarily recipes.

While I'm already working on this, I'm open to suggestions if there are any elements you think I should add or adjust in the page layout, to improve the quality of my site.
I can't promise I'll do whatever it is you suggest. I may not know how to- I'm learning html and things like that on the go, so some things are beyond my capabilities at this point. Or I may not want to for whatever reason. But I'm sure there are many suggestions of yours that I can put into effect, so please, here's your platform.

What things would you like me to add or change with the layout of the blog while I'm currently doing it? And if anyone knows html enough to help me make a drop down menu at the top of my blog, I'd greatly appreciate it. I've tried, with very little success...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homemade Sushi Recipe and Tutorial (Maki Rolls)

Homemade sushi maki rolls
I'm a sushi gal all the way, and have been ever since I was a little girl; even before it became “in vogue” enough for them to be selling sushi in the grocery store, at pizza places, and steak houses, sushi was one of my favorite foods.

 I love all Asian food, pretty much, (Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, you name it!) but sushi is one of my all time favorite foods, evoking pleasant memories of loving time spent with my family.

 Because sushi is one of my favorite foods, I do pamper myself and allow myself to splurge and go out to a sushi bar on occasion, but that enjoyability is often marred by a bit of guilty feelings by how much I'm spending on something so fleeting, so I try not to go out for sushi too often.

Instead, I try to bring the sushi bar to my own home, and make this treat for a fration of the cost of what it costs in the restaurant or store.

Honestly? I enjoy homemade sushi even more than restaurant sushi, because at home I'm able to fill my sushi with all the things I enjoy, and don't need to confine myself to the choices on their menu.

This post is very picture heavy, and even includes a video at the bottom to make it even clearer. Would you like to learn how to make sushi and be able to treat yourself to this delicacy without needing to pay a fortune? Come on in and join in on the fun.

How to Make Sushi Maki at Home Frugally

Tuesday, November 15, 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:
Sugar Free, Gluten Free Ginger Cake Gluten free sugar free ginger cake.
Chia Seed, Green Apple, and Veggies Salad- This looks so refreshing and yummy and healthy to boot!
Egyptian Broad Beans- Ful Medames- This is a recipe for a really yummy, healthy, gluten free, cheap, and vegan breakfast food. I love it (and have posted my version of the recipe here before.)



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, November 14, 2011

Sometimes Being a Hormonal, Emotional Mess Pays Off

Alternatively titled "Don't Give Up Too Quickly".


My kids' new shoes
Today, I had an experience that, in all honesty, I wouldn't care to repeat. It left me an emotional, blubbering mess, in which I seemingly reacted out of proportion to what actually happened, but at the end, everything worked out for the best, and I wanted to share the story in the hopes that if something similar happened to you, you'd be encouraged to not give up, but instead, stand up for yourself, the truth, and justice.

I have a really hard time finding shoes that fit me. I have freakishly large feet that are hard to find shoes for even in places like the US where there is a large number of women with feet my size, and even more so in a place like my current location where women generally have smaller feet on average than the women in the US. Nearly every store I enter that advertises "We have large sizes!" carries up until size 10... I need a size 11.5. In the 5 years I've lived in this country, I bought one pair of shoes for $110 dollars (!!!) because that was the cheapest I saw shoes that actually would fit me.
(That reminds me; I tend to not be emotionally involved in my wardrobe choices as well, but somehow shoe shopping almost always leaves me exasperated enough that I end up in tears... Like that time I went shoe shopping and found only one pair of shoes my size in the 10 stores I entered, and those shoes were not only dead ugly, they were 140 dollars, and I really didn't want to lay out 140 dollars for shoes I hated... and started crying at the frustration of it all, of having the choice to either buy and have no shoes, or pay top dollar for shoes I loathe. But I digress.)

A new branch of an American shoe company opened up in my area and I was really excited about checking it out, as they promised low prices and even carried large sizes! I couldn't wait to check it out. However, I do have one pair of shoes that do fit me and are in decent condition (those $110 dollar shoes), so I couldn't justify spending the money on a pair of new shoes at the moment, especially because we're a little tighter on money at the moment, even if I would have liked a pair of dressy shoes, so I pushed off a trip to the shoe store.

On Thursday, my mom took my little sister to that shoe store and called me up excitedly. "Penny! They have one last pair of shoes your size here and it's really cute and its not too expensive- only $38! Do you want me to buy it for you?"

My mind started working furiously. $38 for a pair of shoes? Ok, not the most terrific price for shoes, especially since I can find $10 shoes here in most sizes... but compared to the $110 or more dollars that the shoes my size here generally cost (when I can even find any!), it certainly was decent and my best bet.
But I don't need another pair of shoes now, even if I would like more.
"Mom, are you sure its the last pair of shoes my size? They really don't have anything else my size there?"

She double checked and found out that yes, it was indeed the last pair of shoes my size in the whole store, and they didn't expect to get more shoes in my size until March or later.
"Penny, why don't I just get you that last pair so you don't miss this rare opportunity to actually buy shoes your size for less than 50 dollars?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Living Without a Refrigerator

Last Monday afternoon, I had quite the scare.
My fridge was mostly empty, as I had intended to do a grocery shopping trip on Tuesday; I hadn't gone shopping in two weeks. Before I went shopping, though, I decided it imperative to organize my pantry, as I had absolutely no clue what was flying there, and consequently, kept on buying doubles and triples of certain items but had depleted my stock of other things without replenishing it. That was causing my shopping trips to be more expensive, I decided, because I just kept on building my stockpile without eating from it at all.
I took everything (aside from my home canned foods and bulk foods) out of the pantry, and put it on my dining room table.

Wow. Lots and lots of food!!!! Some of the stuff really old even, from before I started to go healthier with the foods we were eating.
I sorted out the foods to our "We're eating this now" cupboard, and put the rest in the stockpile pantry. In our "We're eating this now" cupboard, I put all the open packages into glass jars as much as possible, to make less of a mess when using, and to keep out bugs.


With the rest of the pantry, I just organized and put like with like.



Organizing my pantry was so important, because it helped me see that we were overflowing with legumes, mostly things I wasn't even touching, and had enough oil to last us pretty much until next year. (Ok, slight exaggeration, but I found 12 bottles of oil there.)

After a successful pantry reorganization, I decided to organize my freezer, because there was no room there anymore, and I had no clue what was flying there, so I kept buying more and more foods, like cheap chicken, because I was sure we had none.

And that's when I realized we had a problem.

Many of the things in the freezer were partially, if not completely melted. (Mostly my frozen veggies and soups- the meats, fortunately, were still frozen solid as a rock.)
Uh oh. The freezer had gone kaput.
The refrigerator as well. Nothing in the fridge was actually cold.
And I couldn't hear the motor at all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Mexican Feast

Image: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sometimes someone wants to make some fancy meal, a feast, you might say, but doesn't want to have to spend so much money on buying the most expensive, upscale, or exotic ingredients just to impress someone or to make it special.
In my opinion, you can often turn an ordinary meal into a "feast" by choosing a theme, and making all the foods fit the theme. To complete the touch, try playing music and laying out any knickknacks or other things that suit the theme.

I wanted to make a nice meal the other day. The way I did this was making it into a Mexican feast. Pick a theme from a country that generally has low cost meals (relying on lots of cheap cuts of meat or vegetarian/vegan options) to make these extra low cost, like having an Indian theme (all different types of curries and chutneys), harvest festival (with seasonal autumn veggies, similar to what we serve on Thanksgiving), Ethiopian or Eretrian meal, etc... The meal will automatically be more "fun" and "fancy" than if you'd served the same ingredients, just not packaged into a pretty theme this way.

Making the Best of Your Money

This is a guest post. 

A quick glance at the news headlines most days will reveal that the global financial crisis is still very much with us. All over the world unemployment is high and money is tight, and this is as true in the UK as it is anywhere else. Making ends meet is probably more challenging now than it has been for the best part of fifty years.

So, every penny has to go as far as it possibly can, and it's not easy. Banks are working hard to attract new customers, though, so good deals aren't too difficult to find, and the addition of Santander to the UK marketplace has added extra competition to the traditional big four, offering more choice on everything from mortgages to travel insurance.

Aside from making sure that your monthly outgoings don't exceed your income, the current climate is particularly challenging for savers. The low central interest rate from the Bank of England means that current accounts and savings accounts aren't offering great rates, and in fact, there are hardly any accounts that can beat the rate of inflation. This means, that for savers, money that you're putting away is actually becoming less valuable with every passing day.

The universally agreed best solution, then, is to put money into a mortgage, if you have one. It seems unlikely that interest rates are going to rise for at least another year, which means that mortgages will stay cheap for a fair while yet. Every penny that you put in now, with the internet rate so low, goes that much further to paying off your mortgage than it would have done five years from now. Additionally, if house prices rise, you'll have more equity in your house, meaning if you need to release cash in the future, you can always do so.

Another tip for making sure that your pennies go a little further is to make the most of some of the offers around at the moment. Santander, for example, are one of several banks who offer special rates and unique accounts to people who have other banking services with them. If you have a mortgage with one bank and a bank account with another, it's worth going in and talking to someone to see if you can get some extra benefits from switching your account (or your mortgage).

Despite the financial gloom, there are always good deals to be found, although you may have to do a little bit of paperwork to make the most of them. Nonetheless, it's definitely worth the effort, and doing some research now could help you save a lot of money in the long run.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Gluten Free Cornbread Recipe (with DF Option)

I have to say, one thing I've missed since going gluten free is some nice cornbread. I mean, you'd think that cornbread would be relatively simple to make gluten free, since corn is gluten free... but cornbread is usually only half or less cornmeal, and is usually mixed with regular wheat flour as the main ingredient. This cornbread is the answer to my quest- it's totally delicious and doesn't crumble. I'm so happy to have found this recipe.

This is based on a recipe from Gluten Free Mommy, with my own adjustments to make it cheaper, healthier, and dairy free.

Gluten Free Cornbread Recipe

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Anticipated Expenses for my New Baby

Newborn Ike and big brother Lee in Sept 09.
My, how time flies! Ike is older than
Lee was in that pic!
I can't believe it. I'm midway through with my third trimester of pregnancy already. Our new family member will be here rather soon. My kids are already getting impatient, asking when the baby will come out already, but I've told them that its better for the baby to stay in there at least for the next little while. (Don't want a preemie after all!)

Having kids, even for the very frugal, is getting to be more expensive all the time. From sky rocketing healthcare costs to tuition that goes up every year (cross your fingers for improvements in online graduate degree programs!), a child can empty a bank account in the blink of an eye. However, and thanks to the internet, it is possible to share lots of little tips that can add up to a big difference in savings.

When it comes to living frugally, its always best to be aware of what expenses are bound to crop up. A new baby is definitely an expense. Even if you want to do the bare minimum and stick with the absolute bare basics when it comes to baby supplies, you can't kid yourself and think that babies are free. Having babies cost money, even if not what the "official books" say. When there are expenses coming up, its best to plan them in advance, budget them in, and set aside a little money each month before the fact, so that you don't go into debt to pay your new baby bills.

I have 2 kids already, so you'd think that I'd pretty much be set when it comes to baby products this time, especially since I cloth diaper and you can reuse those from kid to kid, but no... I do have baby expenses this time around. I thought I might share with you what our planned expenses are, and why we need those things.

Tuesday, November 8, 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:
Aloo Gobi- Indian cauliflower and potato curry. Cauliflowers and potatoes are winter foods where I live; I'll be making some of this probably sometime soon.
Noodles in Spicy Peanut Sauce- I'll probably be trying this one out, just with rice noodles instead of those Shirataki noodles. Peanuts are a nice vegan protein, and combined with rice noodles, they're a complete protein and make the basis for a filling meal, even for those of you who aren't so into legumes.
Beet, Grape Fruit, and Feta Salad. People in the winter often eat hearty warm foods with the available seasonal winter produce, but sometimes you want something light and refreshing without paying for something shipped from a summer clime far away. This is the perfect solution, based on beets and grape fruits, both winter seasonal foods, at least locally.



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, November 7, 2011

Veganism and Vegetarianism and Ideal Diets

A yummy vegan dish
I post about all different types of diets and eating habits on my blog. I've shared  my thoughts before on gluten free diets and Paleo/Primal diets, and have talked about how to prioritize your spending when it comes to purchasing healthy food (or at least how I do it). There's an abundance of recipes on my blog that pretty much can appeal to almost every single style of eating (other than maybe the Standard American Diet), but the types of recipes I post most frequently are those that are vegan and vegetarian.

I've recently gotten into Pinterest, an online "idea board" where you "pin" up different cool ideas, the same way you'd pin up ideas on an old fashioned bulletin board. Basically, when you see a web page with a really cool idea, you can pin it to various boards within your account and then come back at a later date to see what you've pinned up. You can also follow people on Pinterest who share your interests so you can see what ideas they've pinned up on their idea boards so you can get inspired. (For those interested in following me, here's the link to my Pinterest boards. )
Anyhow, so on Pinterest, what interests me for the most part are recipes, and the types of recipes I pin up most often are vegan and vegetarian recipes.

From the posts on my blog and the pins on my Pinterest boards, you'd get the impression that I'm a strong advocate of vegetarian and vegan diets. But am I? How do I really feel about vegetarian and vegan diets?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yemenite Fenugreek Dip- Hilbeh

Yemenite Fenugreek Dip
For the most part, I'd have to say that the foods I cooked, while from around the world and not your standard "typical American fare" are usually loved by all, so long as they're open to exploring new foods beyond mac and cheese, hot dogs, and spaghetti and meatballs. This dish, however, is still yummy, but is an acquired taste.
I have a friend whose mother is from Yemen. The first time I was at her house (as a teenager), her mother served this traditional Yemenite dip made out of fenugreek, and I was thoroughly weirded out by it. It's got a strange consistency and interesting flavor, with a bitter aftertaste. I don't think I had more than one spoonful of it.
Later, though, my tastes evolved, and I learned to enjoy foods that have mild bitter tastes, like coffee, beer, and certain greens, and with that, I learned not only to tolerate this food, but to thoroughly enjoy it and like to make it at least once every week or two. My kids have grown up with this and eat it by the spoonful out of the container, and we're constantly in competition over it- who gets to have more hilbeh? I started making really huge amounts of it, because we really can't get enough of it.
If you're willing to explore new foods, I say definitely give hilbeh a try. You know why I make it? Aside from the fact that I really do love it, fenugreek is just one of these awesome superfoods that is so beneficial in so many different ways.

Benefits of fenugreek:

  • Really high in vitamins and minerals, especially iron! (100 grams of fenugreek seeds yields 419% of your RDV of iron- a real boon if you eat lots of vegetarian or vegan food to save money.)
  • Is a galactagogue- helps increase milk production in nursing moms.
  • Lower your LDL cholesterol.
  • Lower your risk of colon cancer.
  • Assist digestion
  • Helps control blood sugar levels in a few different ways and are recommended for diabetics.
  • Traditionally used as a remedy for colds and bronchitis.
  • Helps increase libido and helps reduce the negative effects of menopause and PMS.
  • Used as a remedy for skin conditions.
  • Cure for heartburn and reflux...
  • ...among many others!

(See here and here for more details.)


One more thing I love about this fenugreek dip is I start out with just a small amount of seeds, and they absorb a lot of water, so that a small, frugal amount of seeds makes a ton of this dip, making it both extra frugal and extra healthy! I buy my fenugreek seeds at the bulk food store to make it even more frugal.

So now that I have you convinced that making this fenugreek dip is worth your while, how do you do it?

Yemenite Fenugreek Dip Recipe- Hilbeh

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gluten Free Pizza Recipe


I had this really insatiable craving for pizza lately. That yummy crust smothered with tomato sauce and a myriad of other delectable toppings. Yea, gluten free makes it kinda hard to order something like that from a pizza place, but man, I really wanted some pizza.

I found and tweaked a recipe from Premeditated Leftovers. It hit the spot so much, satiated that craving of mine, that I decided I just have to share it with y'all. (I think I'll be making some more and freezing them to eat post birth.)

Gluten Free Pizza Recipe

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healthy Homemade Ketchup Recipe

In our home, ketchup is practically its own food group. Mike likes to eat ketchup with nearly everything, and my kids have followed suit. (They usually only ask for ketchup on their food when they see Dad doing it first.)
We recently cut out processed sugar  from our diet for health reasons, but ketchup was a problem, as the store bought variety is pretty much sugar and chemicals with a bit of tomato thrown in...
Finally, I discovered a way to make homemade healthier ketchup that doesn't use so many expensive healthy sweeteners, and that has taken the place of our standard bottle of store bought ketchup in our home.
Pricewise, where I live, homemade healthy ketchup is cheaper to make than nearly all other ketchups (there is one brand that is about 25 cents less, but most people can't stand the taste of it), and is decidedly better for you.
Fortunately, it's quite easy to mix up this healthier alternative to store bought ketchup for very little money. .

Homemade Healthy Ketchup Recipe

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Traits of a Tightwad- Responsibility

You know what personality trait is pretty much essential to living as frugal a lifestyle as possible?
Responsibility. Being a responsible person who takes responsibility for his or her actions, and living a responsible lifestyle makes your attempts at frugality all that much more effective. Irresponsibility, on the other hand... now that can really come back to bite you and really hurt you financially.

How do responsibility and frugality coincide?
To demonstrate that, let me start off with a story that unfortunately is true that someone I know told me.

This person, lets call him A, got a cell phone when he was 18 years old. Now, A for whatever reason (probably because he was an irresponsible 18 year old) didn't pay his bill one month, and because of that, his cell phone service was suspended.
Ok, thought A, I guess the consequence of not paying that bill is no more phone line. I can deal with that.  A quickly forgot about that bill, and assumed that if his line was cut off, his bill was forgiven. Or something like that. But for whatever reason (by now lost in the annals of history), A decided not to pay that bill.
His phone had no service, but A was on a contract with his phone, so even though he had no phone line anymore, each month a new bill arrived in the mail, charging him for that month's service.
This infuriated A. Why should he have to pay for a service he never received, namely, a working phone? His phone line was cut off ! They had no right to charge him for that, he thought.
He paid up that one month's bill he owed from the beginning, but paid no more.
A moved from one home to another, and he stopped getting those bills in the mail for the cell phone service he didn't have. And stupidly assumed that that was the end of the story, and promptly forgot about it after that.

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:
Grain Free Banana Waffles- Remember how I said I plan on stocking my freezer for the post partum period with lots of easy breakfasts, such as waffles? I think I may just have found my recipe!
Arroz Con Garbanzo- Another great recipe from veggie converter! This is a vegan alternative to the standard Spanish dish Arroz Con Pollo made with chicken.
White Bean Millet Mini Casseroles- Millet is one of the cheaper gluten free grains where I live, but I'll admit, I'm usually at a little bit of a loss as to how to use it. I'm always happy to get a millet recipe, especially one that is frugal and a complete protein as its paired with beans.
Red Kidney Bean Curry- Awesome looking Indian bean dish. I certainly will be trying this one out!
Chocolate Sunflower Fudge- Who can say no to fudge, especially when its made with healthy ingredients like these? I've got a ton of bulk bought sunflower seeds, I'll probably be trying these out sometime.



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.)

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