Friday, June 28, 2013

Homemade Gluten Free Buckwheat Chapatis and Tortillas Recipe- Vegan, Easy

I like tortillas. They make it easy to serve Mexican foods and have meals on the go, because they can be made into wraps. They can also be used in place of bread when eating dips like hummus, etc...

I used to make my tortillas out of whole wheat, because I didn't have the right ingredient (masa harina) to make corn tortillas, and because whole wheat ones were cheap and easy.
But then I went gluten free, and have been searching for the perfect replacement. I'd found an egg based one, but going egg free meant that that didn't work for me anymore. I had a bunch of crepe recipes, but they were a little too fragile to be used exactly as tortillas are- and if they weren't extremely fresh, they'd crack and break and loose all their fillings.

But then I found this recipe for buckwheat chapatis, which is basically tortillas, and they are totally amazing. Their texture and taste is exactly like that of whole wheat tortillas, they are flexible like wheat tortillas, etc... The only thing different (other than the ingredients) is that they are a little more fragile to make, but once cooked, they're just as good.

Here's how you make them:

Homemade Gluten Free Buckwheat Chapatis and Tortillas Recipe- Vegan, Easy

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Homemade Coconut Cookies Recipe- Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Egg Free

 photo IMG_0043_zps0fc8dc4f.jpgI'll be honest- ever since going gluten free, egg free, and refined sugar free, desserts haven't been so easy for me. I was even doing well while just gluten free and egg free, but the no white sugar makes things hard. Too many times I've spent time and money on desserts that just come out "blah", either with a weird texture or weird taste, or both, that I've almost been scared of experimenting with recipes anymore, because I don't want to taste food. (Yea- those bulk batches of muffins that I made and froze- my kids refuse to eat them, and I'm not sure I blame them...)
But at the same time, my kids are kids and I do want to give them nice foods, so they don't feel deprived growing up- because if they do, they won't want to choose to eat healthy when they're older if they associate it with never having any nice foods. But I also don't want to give them unhealthy junk.
Dilemma here- what to do about desserts then, other than larabars (which gets expensive)?

My friend Sarah posted her recipe today for sugar free coconut cookies- they looked so good and easy and I was positive I could easily make them gluten free, and probably just as easily make them egg free as well. I was hesitant while making them, because the dough seemed oily, but they're perfect and not oily after coming out of the fridge! Sweet, but not sickeningly sweet, soft and slightly chewy, and with a nice coconutty taste.
I am thrilled with this recipe, and sure that my kids will love it too!
I've left the gluten full and egg options in case you're not on any special diets- feel free to play around with these as desired.

Homemade Coconut Cookies Recipe- Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Egg Free

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homemade Healthy Tartar Sauce Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

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Some like their fish sticks with ketchup; I like my fish sticks with tartar sauce, because it tastes even better, in my opinion. Tartar sauce can be bought in the store, it can be made "from scratch" by mixing sweet pickle relish and mayonnaise, or it can be made entirely from scratch, as I did in this recipe.
You can use tartar sauce as a dressing for fish, like beer battered fish, on top of pasta, as a dip for vegetables, etc...
Either way, worth a try. And this tartar sauce not only is chemical free, it's also sugar free, vegan, soy free, gluten free, etc... And containing some terrific probiotics- what more can you ask for in a yummy condiment?

Keep in mind that the ingredients listed are approximations, and you should add everything to taste, because some mayonnaises have ingredients that others don't, some are more sour, some saltier, some more vinegary, etc... so they may not need the extra flavorings if the mayonnaise is strongly flavored enough.

Homemade Healthy Tartar Sauce Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dealing with Cradle Cap Frugally and Naturally

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Anneliese getting the cradle cap treatment
When I was a newlywed, I worked babysitting kids. There was this one baby, Sarah, with really thick cradle cap on her head. It was the first time I ever really noticed cradle cap, and I found it quite revolting, to be honest. I wondered why her mother didn't "just do something about it", why she just left it there... I felt the cradle cap really made this baby unattractive and I had a hard time bonding with Sarah because of it.

Well, I guess I got payback for my negative thoughts, because all three of my kids had cradle cap. And continued having it even when they were older, even though cradle cap usually goes away once they pass the infant stage.

So, what exactly is cradle cap?

Well, instead of getting into the scientific makeup of it, I'll just describe what it looks like. Imagine dead skin cells mixed with ear wax. Imagine that caked onto a baby's head, within the hair line, either in little patches or in large swatches.
Yea, quite nauseating, which is why I didn't include a pic, but if you insist on seeing one, here's a link to a pic.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Latest Frugal Escapades

I've been a little busy lately, but don't worry- just with frugal stuff!

I thought I'd let you know about some of my latest frugal escapades.

So I've returned to foraging. I had stopped for some time, but then recently, we went to the beach and I foraged a huge amount of purslane, which we've been eating daily since then. Also at the beach, instead of using coals for our BBQ, I made the fire entirely out of wood we collected, without even any paper to start it out- just some leaves and bark and kindling! I love frugal fun!

Then yesterday, my bulk order arrived. I had already had in stock (partially used up) 50 lb bags of raw buckwheat, millet, sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut, and baking soda, plus lots of bulk spices, bulk palm oil, and 2 smaller packages of bulk chocolate chips.
This latest order added 10 lbs of onion flakes- useful in cooking, and also I use it to make homemade onion powder- 50 lbs of instant mashed potatoes- just a single ingredient and dehydrated, which makes it a decently fine "fast food" meal base for when I'm too busy to cook a whole entire supper.
I also got 40 lbs of coconut oil, and 10 lbs of baking powder.

Today I went to the farmer's market right at closing time... and came home with a huge garbage bag full of mint, a bunch of celery, and a huge amount of fish. All free.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Homemade Herbed Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe- GAPS and Paleo Legal, Vegan

 photo IMG_0016_zps0328af98.jpgI had a bunch of purslane sitting around my kitchen, needing something to be done with it. I thought a vinaigrette would pair beautifully with those crunchy leaves, and wanted to make something mustard based. This is the result of my experimentation- a yummy mustard vinaigrette- which can be used on a variety of salads. In my salad, I put purslane, sliced raw beets, onion rings, and the vinaigrette and it was amazing! Feel free to use this on any salad, or as a marinade for meats, fish, etc...- it'll be terrific. Just a note- if your salad doesn't have anything sweet (like beets), you may want to add a touch of sweetener to the vinaigrette, like some honey or coconut sugar or regular sugar.
I used a combination of kombucha vinegar and apple cider vinegar in mine- if you don't have kombucha vinegar and/or apple cider vinegar, feel free to use other vinegars, just add a little bit at a time and adjust the recipe to taste.
Feel free to play around with the herbs in the recipe.

Homemade Herbed Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Keeping the Kids Entertained: How to Save Money on Toys

This is a guest post.

When it comes to keeping the kids entertained, a new toy is always a fail-safe winner. Although common sense says you don’t need ‘stuff’ to keep boredom at bay – "go outside" and "read a book" might be the advice your own parents would offer – but deep down, we all know there’s nothing like the thrill of something new to keep youngsters happy and occupied for a good few hours. Be it board games, video games, or outdoor play-sets, toys are yet another thing to add to the increasing list of costs you have to consider – however there are ways to pick up a few bargains now and again. Here’s a bit of handy advice on how to keep the kids toy cupboard stocked for less!

Buy second hand

One of the great things about toys is – unless your child is desperate to get their hands on the very latest releases – it doesn’t matter if they’re old! Mario Kart is fun regardless of whatever version you’re playing, and Monopoly is the Joan Rivers of board games: it just doesn’t age. So if you’re missing out on certain classics, visit boot sales or charity shops or use online marketplaces like eBay for forgotten and old-school gems.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chocolate Chip Bread Crumb Cookies Recipe and Mock Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

 photo IMG_0001_zps0f59b25d.jpgDo you ever have extra bread left over that is no longer appetizing to eat because it has gone stale? Don't even think of throwing it out- there are so many things to do with stale bread, from French toast to stuffing to bread pudding, but the most common use for stale bread is making homemade bread crumbs.
But once you have all those bread crumbs, what do you do with them? I mean, you can make shnitzel, and meatballs, homemade fish sticks and breaded noodles.

Did you know, though, that you can also make desserts with bread crumbs?

I first read about it in the Tightwad's Gazette- making chocolate bread crumb cookies- but those called for white sugar, eggs, and in my experience, were a little too oily for my taste.

So this is my version of bread crumb cookies, that are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, refines sugar free, and either chocolate chip cookies or mock oatmeal raisin cookies. Of course, if you don't mind sugar or gluten or eggs, I've included those options as well.

I made mine gluten free by using breadcrumbs made out of gluten free flat bread, but feel free to make them out of any bread you have, gluten free or regular.
Note- do not use seasoned bread crumbs for this, or make bread crumbs from bread that has flavors that wont work in cookies, such as garlic or onion, etc...

Chocolate Chip Bread Crumb Cookies Recipe and Mock Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Calas Recipe- Creole Donuts From Leftover Rice- Gluten Free, Vegan and Sugar Free Options

Are you the type of person who doesn't like to eat the same meal over and over again, because it bores you? Are you the type of person who hates throwing out food that doesn't get eaten? Both of those apply to me, and I'm sure I'm far from the only one in that boat.
What I like to do is take leftovers that are boring me, and transforming them into another delicious meal completely different from the first meal, so it doesn't seem boring, and has more of a chance of getting eaten.

Calas are right up my alley, because they're exactly that- revamped leftovers. Hailing from New Orleans, calas are donuts made from leftover rice. Note that you want to use plain white rice for this- no rice cooked in chicken broth, with mushrooms, Spanish rice, garlic rice, etc... or your donuts will taste mighty funny. Just plain ol' white rice.

You can make these gluten free and vegan, and they're naturally dairy free. I also make them refined sugar free. So in general- a good snack, a good dessert, healthy, and cheapo. What's not to like?

Calas Recipe- Creole Donuts From Leftover Rice- Gluten Free, Vegan and Sugar Free Options

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Curried Chickpeas and Tomatoes Recipe- Vegan, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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This curry recipe is a very easy and cheap dish to make, but the flavor is terrific, so you don't feel like you're missing out on the expensive ingredients. You can serve it hot or cold, plain or over rice or over pasta, with chutneys or by itself, etc... It's pretty versatile. The only part of it that is time consuming is cooking the chickpeas- but I like soaking and cooking a few pounds at a time and freezing them in smaller portions to defrost for use in specific recipes. You can use canned chickpeas for this as well, it's just more expensive and less healthy.

Curried Chickpeas and Tomatoes Recipe- Vegan, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thrifty Credit Card Tips

I am really not a big proponent of credit cards. I think they get people into more trouble than is worth it, and most people don't have the self control needed to not cause themselves big financial issues with their credit cards. Freelance writer, Nancy Evans, disagrees, and has shared this guest post on why credit cards can be beneficial for frugal people, and how to use them smartly so you don't get into trouble with them. 

Just about every adult has at least one credit card. And for many, credit cards are an absolute necessity. Even if these people don’t pull out plastic on a daily basis, credit can tie them over between paychecks and provide funds in an emergency

Although credit cards receive a lot of flack, they are crucial to establishing a credit history, and if you need to rebuild credit, they’re also beneficial in this capacity. But there is no denying the dangers of credit cards.

Using credit cards can get expensive, and if you’re all about thrifty living, it's best to minimize money spent on interest. There are, however, ways to keep costs to a minimum.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Living in Tiny Homes with Families

Img credit: Tumbleweed Houses
There's a story in my culture about a poor man who lived in a small house with his family, and went to his mentor to ask him what to do because his family was feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic in his small home. He was told gradually to bring in one animal at a time into his house, until he eventually had cows, a goat, and chickens in his home in addition to his family in their tiny home, and when he was finally advised to take them all out again, the house felt so spacious and comfortable for his family.

I was reminded of this story this past weekend.
My family of 5 lives in a pretty tiny home- only 484 square feet- and I sometimes wonder if we should move to a bigger place. Mostly its actually family and friends telling us that we need a bigger place, that we can't possibly be comfortable living in that size space with that many people.
We spent the weekend with my friend, Cara (yes, that same one who wrote this guest post on using bikes to save money on transportation) and it was really nice, because we've got similar outlooks on life, including a desire to live within our means and not always being out to keep up with the Jones.
I found it really amusing that Cara read my blog post on how to have guests on a budget before we came, and implemented the same tips I talked about. She did a superb job!

Cara and her husband live in an apartment that is 225 square feet. Over the weekend, it was my husband, myself, and our three kids, together with Cara and her husband in that tiny space. We were a little cramped, not much breathing room (and we slept at a neighbor's), but other than the small space, we had a really nice time.
When we got home, however, we realized just how spacious our apartment was! If we ever felt cramped here before, after the weekend, we feel blessed by how large our home is! Kind of like that man who felt how "large" his home was after removing all the animals from his shack.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Indian Spiced Cabbage Recipe- Vegan, Gluten Free, GAPS and Paleo Legal

Cabbage is one of the cheapest veggies out there, I find, making it the frugalista's best friend in the kitchen. On the other hand, cabbage bother's some people's digestive system, making it a less appealing option. But sometimes the price of cabbage wins out, and I decide to go ahead and make cabbage, and as long as we don't have too much of it, its fine.
This is a yummy recipe for Indian spiced cabbage, and it is spicy and delicious. Feel free to adjust the spiciness if you don't like heat- you can leave it out entirely, but personally I think the heat adds a lot. I serve this with red lentil dal and chutney and rice. Delish!

Its gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, vegan, GAPS legal, Paleo/Primal, nightshade free (if you skip the hot pepper), and just totally awesome. Perfect for practically everyone.

Indian Spiced Cabbage Recipe- Vegan, Gluten Free, GAPS and Paleo Legal

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Benefits of Bulk Food Prep, Assembly Line Style, To Save Money and Time

 photo 100_7345_zpsa6e57f8e.jpgWith my life having been crazy busy and hectic, I've been discovering just how many of the frugal measures I've been doing until now require time and energy that I don't have, at least not every day. But that doesn't mean we can afford to just ditch being frugal now- not at all.
The tough part is figuring out how to do the frugal stuff in as little time and with as little energy outlay as possible.
I wrote a post recently about quick and easy frugal suppers. But sometimes you need to do more than that. Sometimes you need to spend an effort to be frugal, but streamlining your efforts so that you aren't wasting time doing unnecessary things is very important.

Henry Ford revolutionized the automotive industry and the world in general by using the assembly line to manufacture cars en masse.
Using an assembly line to make large batches of whatever it is you're making is much more time efficient and allows you to be much more frugal than making smaller, individual batches as needed.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cold Beet Borscht Recipe- Chilled Beet Soup- Vegan and Refined Sugar Free Options

 photo 100_7341_zps54ff7c70.jpgI mentioned on Facebook the other day that I was serving borscht to my family for dinner. A friend of mine wanted photographic proof of my husband and kids eating it because she said that there is no way on earth they would actually be eating borscht.
That was a funny statement, because, it happens to be that cold beet borscht is one of my kids' favorite foods, and one of my husband's favorite chilled soups.
My family is of eastern European descent, and borscht is one of our traditional foods in my culture, but we never, ever had beet borscht growing up because my dad hates beets with a passion. (He used to call eating beets "getting beet poisoning".) Meanwhile, though my mom and all my siblings loved beets, borscht was one thing that mom didn't make- she didn't do "traditional foods" very much.
So I never had borscht until I was looking into traditional foods from various cultures around the world. An elderly Russian lady that I met in the grocery store gave me her basic recipe for borscht, which I then tweaked to suit my tastes and dietary needs.
Borscht can be either hot or cold, but this is a recipe for cold borscht. (Hot borscht is not just warming this up.)
Beet borscht is a delightful chilled soup for summer.
I make mine refined sugar free and vegan, but you can make yours not vegan or with white sugar if you don't care.

Cold Beet Borscht Recipe- Chilled Beet Soup- Vegan and Refined Sugar Free Options

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Homemade Fish Sticks Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free

 photo 100_7302_zps19bf86f9.jpgThe ultimate of kid junk food- fish sticks. Masquerading as a healthy food, of sorts, many feed them to their kids for supper, despite the numerous unhealthy ingredients. I mean, its understandable. Kids love fish sticks. Most kids, if you'd offer them a dinner of fish sticks with ketchup and fries, they'd be thrilled. But buying them is expensive and unhealthy, and not the way I want to go with my family. So I made my own fish sticks. No, not breaded and fried fish fillets- that's something else. These are more kid friendly, not to mention egg free and therefore more allergy friendly.

I like to serve them with homemade tartar sauce (recipe soon) or homemade healthy ketchup.

This can be more or less healthy depending on the breading you use.

Homemade Fish Sticks Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free

Monday, June 3, 2013

Clothes Shopping Cheaply at the Thrift Store

I needed to go clothing shopping pronto because I had some events coming up that I needed to be nicely dressed for, and couldn't wear the same nice outfit I have over and over. I could have gone to a cheap clothing store like I have before, and I would have done that if I couldn't find anything... But today I went to the thrift store and came home with an amazing bounty.

What I always had the hardest time getting cheaply had been skirts, because I was wearing a large size that was rarely carried in thrift stores, and if it was carried, was outdated or unflattering for my body. Which meant I usually paid a lot of money for skirts, full price in regular, not so cheap stores. But I needed new skirts.
I was very excited today to realize that I have gone down 2 skirt sizes! (No wonder my old skirts were falling off...) And that is despite not having lost pounds on the scale...
And now that I'm down two sizes, I'm into the range of "normal" and what is typically carried in stores, even second hand stores...

So today I scored my best deal of second hand clothing yet...

Shirts were a little harder- my upper arms are big and muscular, and my shoulders are broad, so even though I thought I'd have an easy time finding shirts, many shirts that were officially "my size" I couldn't get because my arms and shoulders didn't fit.

I love my local thrift store, because prices there range from 25-50 cents an item, and with small items like accessories, 4 for a quarter!

Here's what I got!

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

My IHerb Order

I just got my order from today! I was really excited to see two packages waiting for me, two packages of things I've really wanted for a long time, and finally arrived!
I like buying from IHerb because there's free shipping in the US and pretty cheap international shipping (though each package has a pretty low weight limit). There's a good reward system and you get $10 off your first order if you order over $40, or $5 off if you order under that amount if you use this code: LPL829. They have pretty good prices for many healthy foods, vitamins, supplements, etc... But of course, do your own price comparison before buying to make sure it's the cheapest item.

So, what did I order?

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mocha Buckwheat Crunch Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan

When you get super picky kids devouring something made with non commonplace healthy ingredients, you know you've scored big time. And that's what happened with this mocha buckwheat crunch.
My nieces and nephews are quite picky and were coming over for the weekend, and I had no snacks or desserts to serve and wanted to make something, but had very little time before they'd arrive.
Having known about the possibility of using toasted buckwheat in place of nuts in recipes, because of my buckwheat crispies recipe, I decided to try making something with toasted buckwheat and chocolate chips (which I'd bought in bulk). One batch I made with the addition of peanut butter, the other with some coffee. And they were both huge hits, the mocha one even more than the peanut butter one, surprisingly.

I have made it many times since, when I have a little time but want something yummy and easy to make. Decimated in seconds every single time.

As for health... well, it depends on how healthy your chocolate chips are. Use healthier ones to make this healthier, or cheaper ones to keep the cost down.

Mocha Buckwheat Crunch Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan