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Monday, April 29, 2013

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe- Vegan, Gluten Free Option

It's been getting hot here, and I'll be honest, I really don't feel like doing much cooking, no standing forever in the kitchen, but I still have to feed my family meals that they will eat, and have to nourish myself as well...

When I'm feeling lack of inspiration in the kitchen, and wanting to save money, that's when I go to pasta salad. It's very versatile and can be used for a variety of diets, and is pretty cheap.

Kids love pasta salad, adults like pasta salad- who doesn't? Perfect for a hot summer day, and perfect for whoever doesn't feel like cooking.
This is more a recipe guideline than an exact recipe, because you can put whatever you want in it and it'll still be yummy.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe- Vegan, Gluten Free Option

Mashkichiri Recipe- Tajikistani Mung Bean Stew- Gluten Free, Vegan

Most people don't know what mung beans are, but have eaten them plenty of times. You know those bean sprouts commonly found in Chinese food? Yea, those are mung beans. Even though people generally use them sprouted, you can also use them as a bean.
I make Korean mung bean pancakes by blending up whole soaked mung beans; I make mung bean crepes with mung bean flour.
But the other day I wanted something different with my soaked (and partially sprouted) mung beans, and so I discovered this recipe for Mashkichiri- Tajikistani mung bean stew- thanks to my friend Andrea. I played around with the recipe and came up with this version that was really delicious.
I loved it. My husband loved it. My kids loved it. My mom thought it was good, but needed more spice, but she and I disagree a lot on matters of seasoning, so I'm not sure that counts. (She often thinks the food I make is either over spiced, over salted, or under spiced, and I often think her food is under salted and under spiced.) Especially since I had many many bowls of this mashkichiri because I couldn't stop eating it. And my kids who have said that they don't like beans and lentils asked me if I could make this again.
This is traditionally served with yogurt or sour cream and something crunchy, like radishes or cucumbers. I served mine with cashew sour cream. It is also fine without them.

Mashkichiri Recipe- Tajikistani Mung Bean Stew- Gluten Free, Vegan

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Amazing Brazilian Coconut Milk Chicken Recipe- Gluten Free, GAPS Legal, Paleo Friendly, Refined Sugar Free

 photo 100_7172_zps6687ddd4.jpgAfter having been out of chicken gizzards for my while, my cheap, healthy protein staple, I finally restocked a few days ago. I was looking for something to do with them when I chanced upon a recipe for Brazilian chicken with coconut milk, and decided that I wanted to change up that recipe so that it used chicken gizzards instead of chicken breast. I was prepared for it to be tasty because of all the wonderful reviews, but I wasn't prepared to be as mind blown as I was by how out of this world delicious this chicken would be.
I know, I know, from the pictures and ingredients it doesn't look soooo mouthwatering. I mean, I said the same thing when I first saw the recipe, and was sure all the people who raved about it were exaggerating.
But no.
It really is THAT good.
I lowered the amount of spice in the recipe so that it isn't burning hot, but feel free to up the spice or remove it completely, if you prefer it that way.
This recipe is suitable for gluten free diets, as well as Paleo/Primal diets and the GAPS diet, as well as any other low carb, health oriented diet or allergy oriented diets. The sauce is so delicious that if you're vegan, I recommend making the sauce anyhow and putting it on something, maybe tofu instead of the chicken (even though tofu's really unhealthy)- just make this sauce, no matter who you are- you won't regret it!
I served it over rice, but you can eat it plain, over pasta, over mashed potatoes, over cauliflower rice, over quinoa, etc...
I made the recipe at first without the parsley, and it was unbelievable, so I was afraid to put the parsley in. But I did it anyhow, and had no regrets, because it was even more amazing with the parsley in it. But just so you know, you can leave it out if you don't have any.

Amazing Brazilian Coconut Milk Chicken Recipe- Gluten Free, GAPS Legal, Paleo Friendly, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (or more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon dried ginger (or equivalent amount fresh)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves of garlic)
1 lb chicken- I used gizzards, but you can use boneless chicken thighs, or chicken breast, or turkey, etc...
1 teaspoon salt
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 cups coconut milk, ideally homemade coconut milk
1 bunch parsley (optional)

Instructions:
1. Cook the gizzards if you're using them. I boil mine in a pressure cooker for a long long time until soft (an hour in the pressure cooker, 4 hours not) and then use the broth as a base for soups, etc...

2. Chop the onions and fry up until golden.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients other than the parsley. Cook until the tomatoes are soft. If using something other than gizzards, cook until that chicken is thoroughly cooked.

5. Add chopped parsley.

6. Cook for 2 more minutes.

Serve over rice, quinoa, pasta, mashed potatoes, cauliflower "rice" or plain.

Enjoy!

Ever made Brazilian recipes before? Is it just me, or does this recipe remind you somewhat of Indian cooking?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why I Am Comfortable With My Meat Eating- The Morals of Meat Eating

Cow lips- yummy, delicious, and moral
I have a dream to one day own our own land and be able to raise our own animals, learning how to slaughter animals and preparing them to eat. From then on, I want to be the one to slaughter all the animals that end up on the family's table.


Some of you are probably aghast at this- why would I have a dream to slaughter animals? Do I have an insatiable blood lust or something? Am I a cruel person who likes blood, guts, and gore?

Not at all.

I was present twice in my life when animals were being slaughtered. It was not a pleasant sight, I'll admit.

I'm really not a blood,guts, and gore type of person. I couldn't make it through the first five minutes of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" and watching my kids getting their blood drawn makes me weak at the knees.

The reason I want to learn how to slaughter animals is not because I relish the idea of being the one to end an animal's life. In fact, the first few times I try to learn how to slaughter would probably make me weak at the knees and a little nauseated.

The reason I want to learn how to slaughter and then slaughter all the meat that ends up on my table is because I feel it is important and the moral thing to do. Animal slaughter is gruesome. It's bloody. It's upsetting.
Buying your meat prepackaged from the butcher store ready to eat instead of slaughtering it yourself is divorcing yourself from the reality that an animal's life was ended- an animal is now dead for the sole purpose of nourishing your body. It is no more morally superior to buy cellophane wrapped chicken breast than to slaughter the chicken yourself.

Is Grinding Flour Cheaper Once You Count Electricity? Calculations

I love having a grain grinder and being able to grind my own flours cheaply and not needing to pay exhorbitant prices for gluten free flours. The thing is though- grinding flour is really messy work! Grains somehow end up on the table and the floor, flour gets in the air and settles onto the stuff around the grain grinder, and flour, of course, ends up spilling all over when I transfer the flour from the grinder and into the storage containers.

Because of the mess that happens when grinding flour, I need to first clean up the dining room table entirely so that I have a large work surface that can clean easily. And since getting my dining room table clean is an astounding feat, once I actually have it ready to go, I try to grind as many pounds of flour as I can store easily, so I don't have to pull out my grinder for another little while.

Sunday was on of those grinding days. A grinding marathon, that is.

I ground 6.5 pounds of brown rice flour, 4.5 pounds of white rice flour, 4.5 pounds of sticky rice flour, 4 pounds of raw buckwheat flour, 3 pounds of chickpea flour, and 4.5 pounds of millet flour.
My grinder was running for nearly 2 hours, just with a few breaks in between different types of flours as I transferred the ground flour to their storage containers.

At the end of those two hours, I posted about my marathon grinding session on Facebook, saying, jokingly, "I do not want to know how much electricity I just used..."
A friend replied saying "Yea, its a lot of electricity, but you save even more by making your own flours than you spend on electricity."
Me- "Yea, I know, that's the reason I grind my own flour. Because even with the electricity it works out to be cheaper."
Another friend asked me if I was sure it really was cheaper, because the price of electricity has gone up and is set to go up even more.
I said "Of course it's cheaper."
And then I had to think about it.
Was it really?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Homemade Chewy Chocolate Candies Recipe- Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Healthy, Gluten Free

 photo 100_7052_zpsbe1c007a.jpgAs much as I try to keep my house free of processed foods, the one food I haven't managed to let go of has been chocolate chips. They're my one big unhealthy indulgence.
And its not for lack of trying though.

I've tried so many different homemade chocolate chip recipes made with healthy sweeteners and healthy fats, and to be honest, most are nasty tasting, bitter and gross and not chocolate chip like at all.

My most recent attempt to make chocolate chips started out with a recipe severely lacking sweetener, so I added more honey to it, and uch, they did not work out as chocolate chips. Instead of breaking evenly into chocolate chip type chunks...

They ended up being chewy chocolate candies!

So, I lost one but won another- so I didn't end up with a recipe for homemade chocolate chips, but now ended up with a yummy, delicious, healthy and easy to make chewy chocolate candy that satisfies that chocolate craving. And they're gluten free, grain free, GAPS legal, refined sugar free to boot. Biggest downside? They need to be kept in the freezer, otherwise they'll be a big gooey mess.

Homemade Chewy Chocolate Candies Recipe- Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Healthy, Gluten Free

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken Liver or Chicken Recipe- Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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I have a stash of chicken livers in my freezer from when my local grocery store had them on sale very cheap. Chicken liver and liver in general is very full of nutrients, and in fact is considered to be a superfood among traditional foodists and native cultures around the world.
Its a terrific source of vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. See here for a more thorough analysis of the nutrients in liver.
The problem with liver though is that it usually ends up dry after cooking it, kind of like egg yolks, with a slight bitter aftertaste. A common way, then, to make liver is as a pate/spread, ground up with fried onions, oil, hardboiled eggs, etc... but I'll be honest, I'm not the hugest fan, and neither are my kids.

I found this recipe for sweet and sour chicken livers, which is a terrific way to cook them very flavorfully so their strong taste and interesting texture are masked, and they're more enjoyable to eat. I changed up the recipe to make it healthier and all natural. If you're not a liver fan or can't get your hands on it, you can make this with chicken chunks instead.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Liver or Chicken Recipe- Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Little Financial Story and a Tip

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Prepaid and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Discover more at http://www.VisaPrepaid.com or view more Visa Prepaid videos at http://www.youtube.com/visaprepaid.

Once upon a time, as a young newly wed managing a household for the first time, I made a lot of mistakes, as young people are wont to, mistakes that I have paid dearly for, and am still paying for until this day. Financial mistakes. That are affecting our finances still now.

What was this mistake?

Thai Fish Curry Recipe- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo and GAPS Legal

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I don't often make fish dishes, because fish isn't so cheap here, especially not nice fish. Occasionally I buy some cheaper smaller "bone in" fish, but it's hard to know what to do with them. I mean there's only so many times you can make fish chowder before it gets boring. But I couldn't just cook them like I would regular fish because they're too small and bony to be able to make them into fillets or to bake them or fry them, etc...
So I had a package of fish in my freezer, asking me to do something with it. I wanted something new and interesting, so I polled the Facebook world, and got so many suggestions of things to do with it, more than I could do with my one little package of fish.
My friend Amanda recommended that I try out a Thai fish curry, and it really seemed interesting. I had never made one before, but the combination of ingredients that I found on various websites sounded intriguing. I based this recipe off this Thai fish curry recipe that I found, but made cheaper by using from scratch ingredients and what I had in the home, and by stretching the fish with more fillers.
It really hit the spot! I can see why it's Amanda's favorite fish recipe!

You can use any type of fish for this, whether fish fillets or bone-in fish, and you can play around with the veggies as well. By leaving out the potato starch you can make it Paleo and GAPS diet friendly. Amanda typically serves this with a ball of sticky rice, but I left that out.

Thai Fish Curry Recipe- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo and GAPS Legal

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Free Phone Calls- Forever- With Magic Jack App- A Review

Would you believe me if I told you that you could have unlimited free phone calls to US and Canada, forever?
I must be lying, right?

But nope, I'm not.

I got something else dirt cheap to share with you wonderful readers.

Magic Jack.

Now, I know, I know... if you're familiar with Magic Jack, you'll say "That's not free! Its cheap, but free it aint."

I'm telling you that it certainly can be free.

But first, before getting into the free aspect- what exactly is Magic Jack?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Homemade Buckwheat Granola Recipe- Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

 photo 100_7090_zpsd93eb4cb.jpgYou know what I find amusing? That people like myself are coined "granola moms", a synonym for hippy, crunchy, and natural, and yet this mama maybe bought 3 packages of granola in her whole life, and for the past 2 years hasn't eaten even the teeny tiniest little bit of granola. I mean, oats make me sick, yes, even gluten free oats....
But being the hippy, crunchy, natural mama that I am, I just had to rectify that and find some way to make granola, so that I could live up to my title...
So here it is, buckwheat granola. I've made it twice already, and its a terrific breakfast cereal alternative, that I served together with homemade sunflower milk and fresh fruit and my kids simply gobbled up. It would also go terrific with some homemade pudding, or homemade yogurt or kefir.

I got the idea originally when I saw the recipe for buckwheat crispies, and then expanded on it further to make buckwheat granola bars. And then I saw a recipe for raw sprouted buckwheat granola, which I didn't make, but inspired me to make this.
This recipe is basically a hodgepodge of a bunch of different recipes that I found for granola, with my own substitutions. And its a cheapo healthy breakfast, so that's just awesome.
And if you have no issue with oats, make your granola with rolled oats and make it even cheaper. :-D You won't regret it. It's pretty easy. And it's versatile so you can change it up to suit your tastes or your pocketbooks.
This is great because I can make a bunch at once and have breakfast ready to go for those mornings when I don't have the energy to cook a whole big meal, but still want something healthier (and cheaper) than boxed cereals.,

Homemade Buckwheat Granola Recipe- Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

Friday, April 12, 2013

Homemae Vegan Cashew Sour Cream or Yogurt Recipe- Soy Free

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Black bean soup with "sour cream" and wild garlic flowers
Are you a sour cream fan? I never really was, I'll be honest. But there are some recipes that just benefit from a nice dollop of sour cream. And plain yogurt too. The two add a cool, bland, slightly tangy creaminess to a variety of recipes.
And since going gluten free, I haven't really had that.
Here's a recipe for a cashew based sour cream/plain yogurt. It doesn't have the exact taste of regular sour cream or yogurt- anyone who'd try to tell you that is just wrong- very few replacements taste exactly like the real deal (except the occasional gluten free items)- but what this does is fulfill the job. Creaminess, tanginess, smooth, cool, etc.

It works well in soups that need that sour cream or together with hot, spicy Indian food, to sooth the mouth after a burning bit of curry. It works in dips as well.
I haven't tried cooking with it, so I can't promise how that'll work.

And its completely free of any processed foods, whether soy, nutritional yeast, etc...
Yes, cashews are expensive, which is why you can make as little or as much of this at a time, just to suit your needs- if all you need is a dollop, a little bit goes a long way.
I'd like to experiment with this recipe further, trying to make it with cheaper nuts, etc... but for now, this is what it is.
And it's yummy.

Homemae Vegan Cashew Sour Cream or Yogurt Recipe

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sunflower Seed Dip Recipe- Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free

I'm kinda doing a no shopping challenge now- we've had an expensive past few months and unfortunately not the biggest income to make up for it... so to counteract that, I'm attempting to spend as little money as possible now to balance the books. For groceries, therefore, I am trying to manage predominantly with the foods we already have in the house, supplementing them with things I forage and some free past prime produce I get here and there, and only going to the grocery store as a last resort.

People like Jeff Yeager, author of the Ultimate Cheapskate, calls such things "spending fasts" and encourage people to do similarly every once in a while- to cut back from the standard spending we revolve our life around, and take a break and just work with and enjoy what we have.

Fortunately we're well stocked in the dry goods department in our house, and I'm able to make a variety of flours with my grain grinder, so there's plenty to eat, but I'm getting a little more creative and trying to use some of the bulk foods we have at a faster rate than I would have otherwise. I have a 50 lb sack of sunflower seeds in my house, and while I use them to make sunflower milk, I don't do much with them by way of actual food, because unless they're soaked to make them more digestible, they bother my stomach. And I'm often too lazy to remember to soak them...

But since I've been better about soaking them lately, I've been coming up with food ideas with the sunflower seeds. This was one that I made that was such a hit that my kids were gobbling it up by the spoonful.

What does it taste like? I'd have to say a cross between hummus and sourcream dill dip. In short, good.

You can use it as a spread on sandwiches or wraps, or as a dip for veggies or chips.

Sunflower Seed Dip Recipe- Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How to Make a Cloth Tissue Box For Family Cloth- Reusable Toilet Paper


One of the things I am most famous for, or shall I say, infamous for, is my decision to eschew toilet paper and use- gasp- not newspaper- but something green and reusable- cloth toilet paper, also known as family cloth. I've written all about the hows and the whys, and the sanitary aspects and the benefits and alleviated concerns in this post.
When people hear about the concept, they usually either find it fascinating or shnasty, often a bit of both. But some people have decided to make the plunge to family cloth, and like myself, have never wanted to look back.
Instead of repeating everything I already did in my previous post on the subject, I'll just give a quick overview.

Family cloth does not mean one giant cloth that all our family wipes our bum on repeatedly until it gets filthy enough to need a washing.

Absolutely not.

Family cloth is just a name given to using cloth wipes to wipe your bottom after using the restroom. It costs me no money for the cloths- I just take any cotton or other similar soft and absorbant clothes, that get either stained or ripped beyond repair, chop them up into roughly a square or rectangle large enough to wipe with, and use them. (No hemming or sewing necessary, seriously.)

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To use them, most people use dry after peeing. After a bowel movement, you can use them dry, or you can wet them before use, or you can spray yourself with a bidet or a spray bottle, then dry with the cloth.

Once used, they go into a little garbage can meant for that purpose, and when filled, they get dumped into the laundry as is. (No need to spray and rinse the cloths like you might need to do with cloth diapers.)
I get it, the concept is gross, but in actuality, especially if you clean yourself with a bidet first, there isn't much of anything getting on to the cloths. And if you're too grossed out for that, just use it for pee and you're good.

P.S. Once a baby is eating solid food, their poop is no difference than an adults, so if you're willing to cloth diaper, this isn't far from that. And there is far less on family cloth than with cloth diapers, and you don't need to prewash cloths like with diapers, so I actually find it much less gross than cloth diapers- just use and dump into the wash. And no, it doesn't make a smell. And its so little in quantity that it doesn't cause any more laundry- each "load" of family cloth is roughly the size of one adult t-shirt.

But anyhow, the purpose of this post wasn't to tell you all about family cloth, because I don't need to recycle post topics... (Or should I? )
It was because we don't just put our family cloth in a basket near the toilet for that purpose. No... where's the fun in that?

We make a cute little "tissue box" to hold our family cloth, make it easier to use and pretties up the bathroom a little bit. People have asked me to share instructions for making our family cloth tissue box, so that's what this post is.
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As I've said numerous times in other places, I force no one to use family cloth. Whoever wants to, may. We keep toilet paper on hand in the bathroom for everyone else.

So, how to make your own family cloth tissue box. Takes a few minutes to make the box, and a few minutes to fold up a tissue box worth of cloths. Totally unnecessary, but I think it makes things more fun, so why not?

And if you're not into the idea of reusable cloths for the bathroom, how about making a tissue box with cloth tissues for wiping your nose? Much gentler on the nose when people have colds, not to mention greener and cheaper.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lentil Meatballs Recipe- Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free, GAPS Legal

We've been eating more meat and animal proteins lately than my pocketbook would like to ideally, the reason being that as my husband is avoiding grains, and my kids decided they don't like beans or lentils, and my not eating eggs or dairy, its hard to find foods that I can serve everyone.
This meal is gluten free, grain free, dairy and egg free, and isn't with meat, but since it looks like meat, my kids are happier to eat this meal than a regular bean or lentil meal.
And not only do they look like meat, after eating this meal, my husband looked at me and said "These have meat in them, right?" He wasn't sure... and I take that as a compliment, that my husband, even knowing these were made from lentils, thought there was some meat in there because they tasted meaty...
These are on the somewhat softer end, aren't hard like standard meatballs, which is why I recommend you use 1 1/2 cups of flax seeds instead of the 1 cup that I used.

I topped mine with tomato sauce and served it over mashed potatoes, but you can top them with any sauce you'd use for meatballs, from mushroom sauce to white sauce, etc... especially if you need your food to be nightshade free.

Lentil Meatballs Recipe- Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free, GAPS Legal

Quinoa Sushi Recipe- and How to Roll Sushi With No Sushi Mat

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When I was a kid, if you ate sushi, you were either weird, or very worldly. Today, though, it seems everyone eats sushi- sushi is popping up in the strangest of places- in the grocery store, in pizza stores, in Italian restaurants, in steakhouses...
And since people want their sushi, but want to be healthy too, there are all sorts of varieties of sushi out there, each attempting to make sushi healthier than the next person.
My standard sushi recipe is made with white rice, which, by the way, I am not against, for the most part, as white rice is the most easily digested grain of all grains, so much so that even Mark Sisson of Paleo diet fame says that a little bit of white rice here and there is fine, and that it's the best grain to have. (Its free of the antinutrient phytic acid, which is why its more easily digested.)
But as much as white rice is pretty OK as far as grains go, some people avoid that, and all grains. Pseudograins like quinoa are preferable in terms of nutrition and digestion- quinoa is high in protein, and is a complete protein at that.
And it also makes a pretty great sushi!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kohlrabi Coleslaw Recipe and Vegan Healthy Coleslaw Recipe

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In April, warmer weather starts, and I begin switching my foods and menus from hearty warming winter stews and soups to lighter and refreshing summery salads and chilled vegetables.
Coleslaw is one of the standard summery salads, popular at barbecues, picnics, etc...
But for people like myself, health oriented and with food sensitivities, the standard coleslaw is out of the picture, as cabbage causes stomach issues, mayo has eggs in it, and isn't healthy.
But for those that can't eat cabbage but miss coleslaw, there's this funny looking vegetable called kohlrabi, which can be used to make a very good coleslaw substitute, with a very similar taste. (Kohlrabi is a cultivar of cabbage, hence the flavor similarity, but it doesn't cause the same stomach issues.) I got the idea for making kohlrabi slaw from my friend, Lia.

I'm sharing my recipe for kohlrabi coleslaw, but this same exact recipe can be used to make coleslaw with cabbage as well. I use egg free mayo and sweeten it with honey or other unrefined sugars, making it healthier and more tolerable for people egg sensitive.

Kohlrabi Coleslaw Recipe and Vegan, Healthy Coleslaw Recipe

Friday, April 5, 2013

Homemade Flash Costume- Dirt Cheap!


Homemade Flash Costume for kidsHomemade Flash costume- frugal, easyWe used to joke that Ike was our little lion. His hair was like a lion's mane, and he was a wild, crazy lion. Fortunately, with a gluten free sugar free diet, Ike has calmed down tremendously, and he no longer is lion like. But he still is a ball of energy, which is why it doesn't surprise me that Ike loves the Flash- because both Flash and Ike zoom fast and speed from place to place.

Ike asked me to make him a Flash costume, and I did.
For a grant total of $1.

Ike loves his costume. And if you ask me, I have to say it looks purdy darn good for the very little work it took to make his costume.

If you have a kid who loves Flash, or even an adult who wants a Flash costume to wear either to a costume party or for Halloween or something, here's how I made mine so you can do the same yourself.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

7 Solid Strategies for Saving Money on Your Homeowner’s Insurance

As an apartment renter and not a home owner, I always appreciate contributions in the form of guest posts that share information on the frugal aspects of home ownership. I hope this post helps all you home owners and would be home owners save money on your insurance.

Owning a home is a big responsibility and, in today’s economy, taking on a homeowner’s insurance policy can really put stress on your finances. Fortunately, there’s ways to take some of the pressure off of your pocketbook with a little due diligence, savvy financing, education, and patience. You can visit the HBF Home Insurance Website to find out more about policies for you & your family.

Waldorf Salad Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Options

 photo IMG_20130403_151352_zpsa5ae0176.jpgYou know those days when you're just sooooo productive, but by the end of it, you realize you forgot to do some important things and you feel ready to collapse?
Well, today was one of those days. I did mountains of laundry, mountains of dishes, did a decent amount of homeschooling work with the boys, a lot of housework, a lot of cooking.... and by the end of it, I am zonked, and want to go to bed, even though I didn't finish the post I was in the middle of writing, that I REALLY wanted posted today.

So instead I'll leave you with this recipe for Waldorf salad, a vegan and healthy version.

What is Waldord salad, and whats with its funny name?
Well, it was invented by Oscar Tschirky of the Waldorf Astoria, to serve at the hotel, and that's where the name Waldorf comes from. Its made with apples, celery, walnuts, and mayo... and my kids can't get enough of it! The only salad my kids will gobble down faster than this is fruit salad, and my kids are salad lovers.

I get nostalgic when I think of Waldorf salad, because that was one of my dad's specialties- it was his favorite salad when I was growing up, and he'd make it on a regular basis. I hadn't had it in years and years, and then recently had it a few times and it brought back warm memories... Which is why its kinda funny that this picture of Waldorf salad I took with my phone (I need a new camera pronto!) is all hazy and dreamy... (Do I sound as tired as I feel? Lol. I read things I am writing and saying "Girl, you sound craaaaaaaaaaaaazy!")

Celery isn't so cheap round these parts, but in the right season, fennel is. I've experimented with this recipe, and it tastes as great with fennel as with celery, so feel free to use whatever is cheaper where you live. I make mine with vegan flax based mayonnaise, but you can use regular homemade mayonnaise or store bought mayo. And you can leave out the walnuts to make it nut free.

And yes, I know the combination sounds weird, but trust me, its terrific!

Waldorf Salad Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Options

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Homemade Allergy Friendly Chicken Nuggets Recipe- Quinoa Crusted- Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free

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I don't think I've ever bought chicken nuggets- even before I got into frugality and health, the price and terrible ingredients in store bought chicken nuggets scared me away.
But kids always love chicken nuggets; I think it must be wired into their genetic coding or something. I never really made chicken nuggets before, especially not once we started being on a strict diet...
But my friend Sara told me how she makes chicken nuggets for her family, and her kids have even more food sensitivities and allergies than I/my family do, and if she can make these, so can I! I actually misunderstood about how she said she makes these, and ended up coming up with a version that is different than hers, but I'll still credit her with the inspiration for the basic idea... (She makes hers with quinoa flour, not with cooked quinoa...) I mean- who knew you could make egg free chicken nuggets?

It's a really terrific recipe with lots of potential for playing around with it. They taste really yummy, especially with homemade healthy ketchup. They're very moist, even when reheated. And though I fried mine, I know they'd work terrifically being baked as well.

I purposely didn't over spice mine, because these are supposed to be a blank canvas upon which to smear ketchup ;) but feel free to spice it up however you want to make it more flavor packed. Ideally I'd up the garlic powder and salt, maybe add some smoked paprika, or put in dill or some other dried herbs. Or maybe even cumin or taco seasoning. Who cares- the potential is unlimited. Though I haven't tried it, I am pretty sure it would work just as well with ground fish to make fish sticks.
As it is, this is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, nut free, and corn free. To make this nightshade free, just leave out the paprika and you're good.
If you want this as cheap as possible, and care less about the allergens, you can use bread crumbs (gluten free or regular) or cornmeal or corn flake crumbs in place of the quinoa. And if you want it totally low carb and with no grains or pseudo-grains, just leave off the breading/quinoa, or coat with ground nuts or sesame seeds.

You can make this with other veggies instead of the ones listed, like red peppers in place of the zucchini or carrots, etc... just don't change the proportion of meat to veggies or it might not hold together.

(If you avoid quinoa because it bothers your stomach, see my tip here on how to deal with that.)

Homemade Allergy Friendly Chicken Nuggets Recipe- Quinoa Crusted- Gluten Free, Grain Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free

How to Make Quinoa More Digestible for Irritable/Fussy Stomachs

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Quinoa sushi- I can now eat it no problem!
For a long time after going gluten free, I stayed away from quinoa, because I found it bothered my stomach a lot! Cramping pain that made me want to double over, the works.
People recommended to me that I rinse my quinoa before cooking it. I did that, and it only helped to a degree- after eating rinsed quinoa, my stomach felt strangely empty and uncomfortable, so I felt I'd need to eat a whole other meal after a quinoa serving, because I needed to shove more food in my stomach to take away the discomfort.

I thought quinoa was a no-go for me...

I did some research and discovered that the reason quinoa should be rinsed before use is because it is coated with saponins, natural soaps, which cause stomach issues. With a sensitive stomach, even after rinsing the quinoa, I guess enough saponins remained behind that it still bothered my stomach.
Because of my trying to cook grain free lately, I really wanted to be able to get quinoa to work for me, so I tried seeing if I could tolerate them after washing them very well, and fortunately, I can! Now I can eat and enjoy this delicious, healthy, high protein, gluten free grain without any stomach issues.

How to Make Quinoa More Digestible

Menu Plan Monday- In Retrospect- Our Camping Menu, etc...

 photo 100_7012_zps2c33c209.jpgIt's been a while since I last shared a menu plan, and I'm sure some of you are just dying to know what we ate this past week, being as we were camping and all...  ;) This week was far from a typical week for us food-wise, as my husband is on his special seasonal allergy diet (pretty much grain free) in addition to me being egg free and dairy free, in addition to us going camping, and having been away at my mom's house on Tuesday...
Haha, I also don't always make meals this elaborate, this was a fancy food week for us.

So, what did we eat this week?

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