Friday, August 30, 2013

Beer Battered Zucchini Fries Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan

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The other day I got a whole bunch of zucchini from a friend, and was trying to think of something different to do with them.
I decided to make "beer battered" zucchini fries.
Of course, what I made wasn't really beer battered, because beer is gluten usually, and we're a gluten free home. But there are so many alternatives to beer when making beer battered anything, including fish, chicken, or veggies.

These beer battered zucchini fries were very easy to make, without needing a lot of ingredients, and were a hit.

Beer Battered Zucchini Fries Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sneaky Beef and Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe- Dairy Free- Vegan and Legume Free Options

 photo IMG_0591_zpsc18b5ecc.jpgI try to stick to publishing one blog post a day at most, because I have so many days when I don't get around to publishing a post, so it seems silly to have 2 posts one day, but... I'm breaking that rule now because I have so many recipes that people have asked me to share and I never get around to posting them, so maybe if I do two posts in a day here and there I'll manage to get all the backlog published some time in the near future...
This recipe is really exciting for me because it was such a hit with my family. I had some ground beef in my freezer, but didn't want to use it all up just for one meal, and had a bunch of lentils that I wanted to use. Only the thing is, my kids aren't too thrilled with lentils if they know they're eating them. I wanted to see if I could make something with both ground beef and lentils to stretch the ground beef, and be able to fool my kids into thinking it was straight meat.
It certainly was a success- my kids ate it, telling me "I really love meat, Mommy!" not realizing they were only eating half meat, half lentils...
If you don't eat legumes, feel free to make this entirely with ground beef, or a mix of ground beef and ground chicken or turkey. If you don't eat meat, feel free to make this entirely out of lentils, possibly a mix of red and brown lentils, or just brown or just red. It won't taste exactly the same but it'll still be good- just increase the spices as needed.

Sneaky Beef and Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe- Vegan and Legume Free Options

Home Remedy For Coughs and Colds- Recipe

 photo IMG_0559_zps9b2b7807.jpgI woke up the other day from a nap with a really sore throat, cough, and runny nose. Bad cold, in the middle of August!!! I had no time to be sick! I had plans!!! I was trying desperately to figure out something to do that would help me recuperate as fast as possible.
Scouring the internet, I discovered this home remedy made with all ingredients I had in my house already that is supposed to help coughs, runny noses, and sore throats. I took a double dose and then went to bed.
When I woke up in the morning, I felt 95% better. Slight throat irritation and slightly runny nose, but that's it! I took another dose and felt fine the whole day and able to function for my important date.
The next day I again took a dose, and felt better.
Its a few days later and I must say I'm feeling 99% better, and still religiously taking this home cough/cold remedy.
I highly recommend you mix up a batch next time you or your kids are feeling under the weather. Hopefully it'll work as well for you as it worked for me! And if not? Well, it doesn't hurt and doesn't cost much to make, so no harm done...

Here's the recipe:

Home Remedy For Coughs and Colds

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Frosting- No Margarine or Butter- Made With Mayonnaise!

 photo frosting_zps4ba1aec3.jpgOn sunday, my son had a birthday party, and as usual, I was at a loss trying to figure out how to make the frosting. We're a dairy free home, we'd never use margarine or shortening... and so our frosting options are more limited, since it seems frostings are all butter, margarine, or shortening based. I've tried making frosting with coconut oil in the past, but as coconut oil is liquid at the temperatures we've been having lately, it wasn't the best option for a frosting base...
I tried to think of something that I could use in place of the margarine or butter as a binder for the frosting, something that would make it smooth and creamy. I needed something thick, but not too heavy...
And then all of a sudden, it hit me- mayonnaise!
I know, I know, it sounds weird. Mayonnaise frosting?
But mayonnaise typically is just eggs and oil and flavorings- not such weird additions to baked goods. In fact, I've made mayonnaise cookies and mayonnaise cake before, and they are delicious...
And my mayonnaise isn't egg based- I make mine from ground flax seeds, so it's vegan...

I put together this recipe, and, I must say, it turned out better than I expected! I used regular white powdered sugar (that I made by putting sugar in a coffee grinder) for this, but I'm sure the recipe would work just as well with any other powdered sugar, made from coconut sugar, sucanat, or xylitol...

The guests at the party all loved the cake and loved the frosting best of all- everyone wanted to know what was in it, but I didn't reveal the secret ingredient until the very end. And people, once they heard there was mayo in the frosting, still thought it was very good! So that's terrific!

If you make your own homemade mayo, I suggest leaving out the mustard and garlic and minimizing the vinegar/lemon juice if you're going to use it for this recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting- No Margarine or Butter- Made With Mayonnaise!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vegan, Processed Food Free, Onion Dip Recipe

 photo oniondip_zpsdd11ad68.jpgI really loved onion dip growing up. My dad would make it by mixing either sour cream or mayonnaise (usually sour cream) with onion soup mix, etc. We'd dip corn chips into it, eating piles at a time...
I learned that onion dip was a popular dip for vegetables and since had it many times with crudites at parties.
But for a long time, I have not had any onion dip, despite loving it. Reason being that not only do I not use dairy or eggs, making sour cream and mayo off limits, I also don't use processed foods like onion soup mix.
But I decided to try out making onion dip for crudites served at a birthday party we had today for Ike (more on that tomorrow) with my homemade vegan mayonnaise, and no onion soup mix. I don't have an exact recipe to share, because I didn't measure, but I wanted to share the ingredients and the amounts used, so you, too, can play around with these ingredients and get a delightful and healthy, processed food free, onion dip.

Vegan, Processed Food Free, Onion Dip Recipe

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tomato Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe- Gluten Free, Easy, Healthy

 photo IMG_0526_zps70a3ecca.jpgI bought a hunk of cheap meat at the grocery store, and from experience, I boiled it in the pressure cooker until soft, and then cooled and sliced up the meat and used it in various recipes. When I do that, I end up with beef broth as a by-product- the liquid in which I boiled the beef.
Today, I decided to use that beef broth to make a tomato beef vegetable soup, styled after a Ramen noodle soup that I loved growing up. I left out the noodles and made it loads healthier, free from any chemicals or artificial ingredients, but it's very tasty nonetheless (or perhaps specifically because of that!). It's actually quite simple, no herbs, no weird ingredients, just a few easy ingredients... The beef flavor isn't overpowering at all- I am sure you can make this with chicken broth in place of the beef, and make it vegan by using vegetable broth.

Tomato Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe- Gluten Free, Easy, Healthy

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Red Lentil Tomato Dal Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, GAPS Legal

The other day I was seriously uninspired when it came to supper. No exageration. Usually I don't mind cooking, but my kitchen was pretty bare, and I didn't really have any vegetables in the house other than tomatoes, and those were on the sofer end and needed to be cooked to eat. I had no clue what to make to serve my family, and then I remembered a recipe my friend Rachel had shared with me, claiming it was delicious and easy. Well- that's exactly what I needed! And since it was tomato based, even better!
This recipe for tomato dal (Indian lentil sauce) is loosely based on this recipe. Meaning- I started off with that recipe, saw I didn't have a bunch of the ingredients that it called for, so played around with it and made it my own. I can't tell you how the original recipe tastes, but the version that I made was terrific! I served it with rice cooked with tomatoes and turmeric, and it hit the spot.
I hope you like this recipe as much as I do! This is vegan, allergy friendly (unless you have allergies to nightshades and/or mustard), gluten free, GAPS legal (leave out the rice), and just an all around cheap, good meal.

Tomato Dal Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, GAPS Legal

Monday, August 19, 2013

Big Changes in the Penniless Home

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Photo Courtesy of DigitalArt
There are two common mistakes that people make:
Some people decide they like a certain idea and way of life so much that they end up worshiping that very idea, instead of the reason behind liking that idea in the first place. So that when circumstances change and the reasons for choosing a way of life no longer apply, and it is time to reevaluate, they get too caught up in the idea they chose and refuse to consider other options, even when it may be prudent to do so.
Another mistake is when people plan out their life already years in advance, making resolute decisions about how things will be years down the line, and sticking to that, no matter what. The thing is- life changes, circumstances change, and a decision that was good a few years ago may not be the right one now. But again, people get caught up with ideas they chose "way back when" instead of being flexible and constantly evaluating what the best choice is next.

These are mistakes that we try not to make in our family.
We have certain ideals, yes, and those ideals will probably stay more or less the same as the years pass. But as the years pass, Mike and I try to constantly evaluate what the best way is to follow those ideals. We make certain life choices that we feel best suit our ideals, and we stick to them for the most part.
However, we've always said that we take life one year/one day at a time, and won't make final decisions now about what things will be like in x amount of years. At most, we look at what our options are and what our dreams are for x amount of years from now, and we toss ideas back and forth about what we think may be the best idea to do in years to come. But only with the awareness that everything we do is one year/one day at a time, and that we can't lose sight of our goals by getting sidetracked and stuck on the decisions we made to help us reach those goals. As the cliche goes- we can't lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Today was a big day in our home. A day that reflects that which I just spoke about.
Today, Lee and Ike started school.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gluten Free Ginger Snaps Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Options

I really wanted to make cookies. Gingersnaps in particular, but any would be good. But I just had coconut sugar to work with, and wanted to make sure that the cookie recipe I used would work well with coconut sugar. (Not every single cookie recipe works well with coconut sugar. The ones that rely on the sugar melting to hold them together don't usually work with coconut sugar in place of regular sugar.) So I did a little googling and came across this recipe for gingersnaps, made with coconut sugar. Awesome.
Well, mostly. The cookies were made with gluten, dairy, and eggs, all ingredients that are on the no-no list in my home. But its a great recipe to start with. And if you don't have any food restrictions, feel free to use that. I've included variations in the recipe below- pick and choose, whichever you want, either to make it healthier, cheaper, etc...

Gluten Free Ginger Snaps Recipe- Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Options

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Making Wine for Nearly Nothing

We're wine drinkers in our family. We love it, and have at least a few times a week. Last time I took some wine, I realized we were almost out of wine! Today when I was at the grocery store, I nearly bought some wine for our family to use this week, because it is unthinkable for our stock to be completely depleted.
But then I stopped myself.
We may like wine, but we also hate wasting money. And why buy wine when you can make your own?
For the past 2 years, my family has been making all the wine that we drink. A year ago, we made our last batch of wine, and stored them in two large jerrycans that we got from a restaurant (they used to contain oil). Those two jerrycans lasted all year long, and now are on to their last dregs.
Perfect timing, because grapes are in season, and now we can again make wine as a family.
Practically free wine, other than the cost of sugar and minuscule amount of yeast.
The fermenting vessels we used last year ended up being repurposed into planters, so again I bought 2 large garbage cans made from food grade plastic for 6 dollars a piece. They're the best option because they're a fraction of the price of cheap fermenting buckets, but just as large, and come with a cover. And made of the same materials.

We have a neighbor with many grape vines bursting with organic grapes and she lets anyone who wants help themselves to the abundance there. So our grapes for our wine are free!

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This is how many grapes we picked today, for our first batch of wine. We'll probably end up making 2 more batches.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homemade Green Tabasco Recipe- Fermented, GAPS Legal

Its interesting how some foods that you never touch growing up become amongst your favorites when you are older. Hot sauce is one of those for me- I remember that I always liked mild salsa with my chips as a kid, because anything hotter would make my mouth feel like it's on fire. But now? Give me heat- the more, the better! Ok, I'll be honest- I still don't enjoy smoke coming out of my ears, but I like adding spice to my food and won't turn down some volcanic salsa now.
Tabasco sauce is something I'd never even heard of until I was nearly an adult, since hot sauce never entered my house. But since I've tried it, I've loved it. Its ingredients are very simple, no crazy ingredients that would scare me off the real deal for health reasons, but maybe for cost reasons? Who knows. I don't go through hot sauce super fast, so I still have the red tabasco sauce I bought a while ago, in addition to my homemade sriracha sauce.
But I got my hands on a bunch of hot green peppers- no, I have no clue what type of peppers they are, all I know is they're really long, about 9-10 inches long, and about an inch and a half in diameter tapering to a point. The exact pepper matters less, since this recipe is a concept recipe more than an exact recipe, since, depending on how hot you like your food, you can change the type of hot pepper you use, and adjust the proportions of the other ingredients.
This recipe differs from standard hot sauce in that it is fermented and therefore full of good for you probiotics.

Homemade Green Tabasco Recipe- Fermented, GAPS Legal

Friday, August 9, 2013

Educating Yourself On Teen Behavioral Problems

This is a guest post by Nancy Evans, a freelance writer on frugality and parenting.

It can be hard being a parent to a teenager. However, to your child, their teenage years can be stressful and daunting. It can be a time of confusion as it’s the time of moral and physical growth of your child at a rapid speed.
Your teen can be depressed, engage in undesirable behavior or even start consuming drugs and alcohol. All this can easily overwhelm you and make you think that being a parent of a teen is one of the most difficult phases of your life. But, there are some ways to pass through this phase and prevent your child from getting into more serious problems.

Tips to keep your child out of trouble

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Homemade Vegan Cheddar Sauce Recipe- Tastes Like Boxed Macaroni and Cheese- Gluten Free

You know what's crazy? How much people really love boxed maraconi and cheese. See, the thing is, usually it's entirely a chemical concoction, and the cheese isn't even really cheese, just some orange powder that you mix with milk and pour onto the noodles... But it just tastes soooo good, that long after I switched to a healthier and less processed food lifestyle, I still went and occasionally bought boxed mac and cheese for that yumminess only found in that processed junk...
And I'm not the only one who, for some explicable reason, finds boxed mac and cheese to taste better than the homemade stuff, who just love that powdered cheese taste...

I was in the mood for some macaroni and cheese today, and decided to try making a coconut milk based "cheddar cheese" I'd seen on the internet way back when, only I didn't have all the ingredients at the time. I recently acquired some liquid smoke, and yes, I feel comfortable using it, don't considered it a bad, unhealthy, processed food, knowing how it is made...
So anyhow, back on topic.
I decided to play around with the cheddar cheese recipe, because I didn't want to use agar agar, an expensive ingredient, especially when I didn't need a lump of cheese- I just wanted a cheese sauce to use for mac and cheese...
And when I made the recipe for cheese sauce, and then turned it into mac and cheese... I was so surprised when I tasted it, because the thing it reminded me most of is boxed mac and cheese. You know, the chemically powdery yummy kind? I mean, I'm not promising a replica of that- but this is close enough that that is the first thing that comes to mind when taking a bite of this mac and cheese. And I think it is even cooler that I managed to accomplish that while making mac and cheese that is entirely gluten free and dairy free...

This is the recipe for the Cheddar sauce. Feel free to use it any way you'd use regular cheese, like in lasagna, on pizza, in quesidillas, on veggies like broccili, etc...
To use it to make mac and cheese, simply take half the cheese sauce, mix it with half a cup of coconut milk and 1 pound of cooked gluten free (or regular) pasta- I used Sam's Mill corn pasta- then salt to taste. It's out of this world!
Just a note- if you're trying to make a spreadable sauce, use less potato starch. If making mac and cheese and mixing with coconut milk, use the larger amount.

Homemade Vegan Cheddar Sauce Recipe- Tastes Like Boxed Macaroni and Cheese- Gluten Free

Tips for Disney Holidays on a Budget

For those of you dreaming of a trip to Disney World but wondering how to afford it, here's a guest post that will give you some money saving Disney suggestions.

Holidays to Disney World have become synonymous with the carefree joy of childhood. It’s incredible how memories of meeting Mickey Mouse and riding on Splash Mountain remain so vivid well into adulthood. It’s easy to see why, after becoming parents, so many of us hope to share this special childhood experience with our own kids - but, the inevitable question remains, is it really affordable?

Well, with some good old-fashioned saving and a bit of research, your dream Disney holiday can become reality. Here are a few tips on budgeting for Disney World:

Monday, August 5, 2013

Senegalese Chicken Yassa Recipe- Grain Free, GAPS Legal, Sugar Free

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I recently took a trip to Senegal. Not really, but I pretended I did by making a Senegalese dish with chicken, rice, and veggies. It's quite delicious and I highly recommend it!
I have to thank my friend Claire for recommending that I try out Senegalese cooking. I based my chicken recipe on this one.
It's naturally gluten free, egg free, sugar free, grain free, nightshade free, and good for most diets that I can think of, other than vegan/vegetarian diets. And of course, the fact that it's tasty too doesn't hurt!

Senegalese Chicken Yassa Recipe

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vacation Photos

This past week my family was on our yearly vacation to the sea side. We're back home now and recovering from our fun but exhausting trip.
I wanted to leave you with a few pics from our vacation.

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Ike and Lee playing in the waves, "swimming"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Fun, Cheap, and Easy Treasure Hunt

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Lots of "treasures" here to be found!
We're on vacation now, staying in an apartment by the seaside. It's great fun when we're at the beach (who doesn't enjoy water fun in the sun and building sand sculptures and digging holes in the sand), but to be honest, each day coming home from the beach is an ordeal. It means changing at the beach, showering when we get home to take off the residual sand, changing again because the clothes you wore back from the beach are now full of sand, doing the wash to clean your clothes from the sand, sweeping the place and cleaning the bathtub/shower from all the excess sand, rinse, lather, repeat. Yea- the beach is fun, but coming back is not. So I'll be honest, I'm not exactly in a rush to go to the beach with the kids yet again today- 3 days in a row has been enough for me...

But since we're away from home and away from their friends, and not exactly rolling in toys, my kids are getting bored. Antsy. And the thing about beach town is it's hot, sticky, and humid- not exactly so conducive to being in good moods with excess patience, especially when your kids are on your case.
So I decided that the way to make everyone less grumpy was by giving them something to do. First we played Uno with our homemade Uno game (more on that in a future post), but then I wanted something else...
What better than a treasure hunt? And I had the perfect idea for a treasure hunt that wouldn't take any work to prepare, but would take more than a few minutes to complete.