Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Raw, Fat Free, Dairy Free, Vegan Option

I wish there was a way to take a picture of something like this without it looking like poop. :-D

I have to say that I am really excited about a recipe- tonight we're having our annual family shebang, and I'm doing the cooking for the entire thing. My challenge was- keep the costs low, keep the work minimal, make it all healthy, and make it taste good so that everyone could see just how delicious healthy eating could be.
Dessert planned- paleo cheesecake bar with salted caramel topping- because it sounded so absolutely delicious and I wanted to wow everyone there with the perfection that is paleo cheesecake.
I found a recipe for it, which was my inspiration, but the problem is that it called for ingredients I didn't have or couldn't use or whatever, so I put different recipes together to make this masterpiece.
For the sake of being able to find all the components when you want them, I am writing the recipe in parts- first this caramel sauce which can be used however you generally serve any caramel sauce- whether on brownies, inside chocolates, on ice cream or baked apples, or in this case, on top of the delicious cheesecake.
When I asked my husband to taste it, because I like to get a second opinion on recipes before I post them on my blog, my husband said he could eat the entire thing of sauce right there and then, and my kids agreed- it is extremely delicious.
This recipe is good for anyone unless they're on a low carb diet, because this certainly has carbs. But it is paleo, raw vegan, fat free, GAPS legal, etc... I didn't use medjool dates for this (I was out) so I used less sweet dates, which is why I added a drop of honey to it. If your sauce isn't sweet enough because you also aren't using medjool dates, and you want it vegan, feel free to add whatever other sweetener you use, but if you're using medjool dates you really have no need for any other sweetener.

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Raw, Fat Free, Dairy Free, Vegan Option

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Defense of SWYPOs

Paleo toffee bars. Totally SWYPO, totally Penny approved.

I've been part of Paleo facebook groups for a long time, been reading a lot of Paleo recipes, simply because even if you aren't on a strict Paleo diet, Paleo diet recipes are made from scratch recipes, using healthy ingredients. So I just was in the group to read, absorb, and get recipe ideas.

Often when someone would post a cool Paleo approved recipe into these forums, others would invariably comment "I prefer real food, that is SWYPO". Real food? I mean, if it is Paleo approved, it is "real food" using only whole, unprocessed ingredients.
So I asked- what exactly is SWYPO?
Well, I learned that SWYPO is a concept invented/popularized by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, founders of the Whole 30 diet, and it stands for "Sex With Your Pants On".
Essentially, what it means is- something good, close to the original, but not quite, which leaves you wanting more of what is forbidden for you.
In other words, if you're coming from an unhealthy diet, full of all sorts of junk, and instead you replace your junk with Paleo versions of the junk, you won't be satisfied and it will just lead to you to wanting some of the forbidden junk. The Whole 30 diet is, in part, intended to break people from bad eating habits, and they believe that giving in to your unhealthy food habits with healthy versions of the same stuff is not a good idea, and rather, you should just learn better food habits.

I hear the point of that, somewhat, but disagree in many ways. But the more I heard about it, the more I actually got upset about this concept.

You see, I did something very similar to the Whole 30 diet plan- the 30 day Paleo Reset diet, according to the instructions in Chris Kresser's book, The Paleo Cure.
These diets are almost the same, other than that on Chris Kresser's diet, cocoa products aren't allowed for the 30 days, neither are white potatoes or fruit juices. And nuts and seeds are supposed to be more limited. And seed oils like soybean, canola, sunflower seed oils are strictly prohibited on Chris Kresser's diet. On Whole 30, cocoa is allowed as a seasoning (for things like chili), white potatoes are allowed, fruit juices are allowed as flavorings in recipes, nuts and seeds are encouraged actually- to even have some at every meal as one of the possible fat allowances. (Chris focuses a lot on the Omega 3/Omega 6 ratios, which is why he says to limit your nuts and seeds to a handful a day, but the Whole 30 diet requires you to have fats with every meal and includes nuts as one of those fats that you should add to your meal.) And Whole 30 allows you to eat canola oil when out, in restaurants, etc...

But you see, essentially, these diets are the same.

But the biggest difference seems to be about SWYPOs. No such concept in the Paleo Reset, but in Whole 30, it is such a strong concept, that if you eat even one bite of something they call SWYPO, you need to start over your 30 days entirely.

Ways to Recycle Old Eyeglasses

I've been a glasses wearer since I was 9 years old, and I've gone through many pairs of glasses since then. Whenever I get new glasses, I always wonder what I should do with my old glasses. This guest post, with some ideas of how to recycle your old glasses hit the spot and gave me some ideas I'd never even considered before.

Have you ever felt you are not likely to continue using your eyeglasses anymore? Have you ever wanted to replace your old spectacles with new Porsche Design eyewear but didn’t know what to do with the ones that are becoming boring? Not everyone can afford buying eyeglasses. There is a chance for you to get rid of your eyeglasses and help a person in need by donating your old pair to him/her. To recycle your eyeglasses in such a way is a good idea because a person will be wearing them and they will get a second life.
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Moreover, there are creative people who use old eyeglasses for an absolutely different aim and give them a completely new life! Thus, the main function of eyeglasses is transformed into an advanced one. We would like to share with you some of these fresh ideas that could be done even at home without any special technologies. You can use either the whole pair of eyeglasses or sometimes one or a few parts.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

So, if you've noticed, I haven't really been posting my "frugal accomplishments" these past few weeks- life got a bit overwhelming, and on top of everything else, I felt I wasn't really doing all sorts of things that were really frugal- nothing dramatic like making homemade pasta or upcycling really cool. So nothing to share, right?
I honestly didn't feel like doing anything this week but veg out, so anything frugal that we did do, I consider a great accomplishment.

Well, not really.
Sometimes just plain day to day life can be frugal, depending on how you look at it.
You see, lately, I haven't been making any vegan dishes. I haven't been making so many things "from scratch" (I mean, everything I'm eating isn't processed, but I'm not making many homemade versions of store bought things), I'm eating paleo and still cooking mostly paleo (other than breakfasts) for my family. And I've just been a super lazy cook and super lazy in general. And even so, our grocery bills have actually gone down.

My Teen’s a Football Fanatic: Affordable Ways to Keep Up with the Games

I have to admit, neither Mike nor I are sports fans. In fact, Mike wishes he could get into sports, so he could know what all "the guys" are talking about when they're endlessly discussing football, the superbowl, etc.... but he just doesn't get the hype. And me? I'd rather be playing than watching.
However, since I know we're probably the exception, not the rule, and many people really are into their sports, hopefully this guest post by Nancy Evans will help give you some tips on how to not let your sports habit get too expensive.

If you’re a parent of teenage boys, you’re probably starting to hear all the hype about the latest football games. Whether they prefer college games or the national league, it seems to be all they talk about from now until Christmas. My boys in particular like to keep up with their favorite team so they can go to school the next day and brag. It’s also necessary for them to sometimes watch games as they learn new skills to take back to their own team (they’re both football players).

As nice as it would be to be able to take my boys to each and every game (local and national home games), I know that’s unrealistic. Sure, we’ve found affordable ways to watch some of the games  in the area, but we certainly can’t do that every time or I’d have to find a second job. So I did a little research and found that there are actually some really affordable ways for them to keep up with the latest games, scores, and stats.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Balsamic Onion Flowers Recipe- Easy, Frugal, and Fancy- Healthy, Paleo, and Vegan too!

My absolute favorite types of recipes to make are those that look all fancy and taste great, but are actually very easy to make and quite frugal to boot.
This recipe is exactly that. Made out of whole onions, they look like lotus flowers and are a beautiful appetizer to serve at a fancy dinner. When I served these at a family get together, everyone oohed and ahhed over it and really enjoyed it, but it was the easiest thing I served at that meal.
I didn't make up this recipe myself- I saw it in a video a bit back on facebook, only made with a purple onion. If you make it with purple onions, it'll be prettier, but also pricier- they work just fine with the white onions but feel free to use purple if it floats your boat.
And of course, these are very versatile and good for most diets- they're Paleo, vegan, allergy friendly, GAPS legal, etc...

Balsamic Onion Flowers Recipe- Easy, Frugal, and Fancy- Healthy, Paleo, and Vegan too!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Our House Is Going To Look Like

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The developer's picture of what our home is supposed to be like (basically- this is a nearly identical building to ours). Ours will look like the apartment with the right-side fence- the first two floors. Only the indented part will not have a porch above it, it'll be open to the air.
I wanted to apologize for really slacking off on the posting rate this summer. Of course the heat played a huge part in it- this was the hottest summer in local recorded history, and so, even with our air conditioning running full time in the bedroom, it was still hard to do anything in the rest of the house (and no, even the bedroom wasn't cool), so being able to concentrate on writing good posts... was just kind of out of the picture.
But on top of that, when I actually did get around to doing stuff, it was house related things.
When we signed on our house in June, I had no clue just how much we'd be having to run around in circles, again and again, from meeting to meeting, from one city to the next, just to get some paperwork done that needs to be done. Just for the mortgage alone, our bank gave us a list of 17 documents to procure, each from different places, many documents needing multiple trips to the same place to finally get them...
So basically, we've been swamped.
And on top of that, we have had to make some very important decisions, about how exactly our house will be, and where we'll be allocating the money we have available for the house including all renovations.
I mentioned in my previous post how we're taking a two floor house and turning it into two 3 bedroom apartments, so we spent hours and hours coming up with first one floor plan, and then another, and another, then another, each time thinking it was the final plan, until we'd realize that we'd made some mistakes and it would be better to do it otherwise.
We have a set budget, and while, at first, it seemed quite big, once we calculated all the extra costs involved in this, we didn't have quite so much wiggle room, so we had to make decisions about what would be most cost effective, both in the short run, and in the long run. What would have a really low rate of return, and what would cost less now but greatly improve our quality of life the most.
So many hard decisions.

To be honest, as hard as it was to decide all these things, I actually had so much fun designing these, really making me think that maybe I'd have enjoyed being an architect. I think, actually, that architecture would be a good field for my artistic and mathematically inclined 8 year old, Lee, if he still maintains the same interests when he gets older.

Here's what we eventually decided to do with the apartment.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Exactly Is Unschooling?

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because learning and fun can be simultaneous
I love sharing about unschooling, the method in which we "school" or rather, precisely do not "school" our children, because I am so in love with this learning method because I see how well it works for us. 
Most of our "official" learning takes place via conversations that I and my husband have with my kids, covering such wide ranges of topics. We learn so much this way and cover so much ground that often I share what we've been learning on Facebook, and how much we love unschooling, and inevitably I get comments like "Don't all parents have these conversations with theie kids?" and "What you call unschooling, I call parenting" and "I guess I both send my kids to school and unschool them."
These frequent comments by people make me realize that there is a huge misunderstanding about what unschooling actually is, it's not simply parenting nor is it something that you really can do in conjunction with school because it is a radically different mindset from that of standard schooling (though Montessori is probably the most similar schooling method to unschooling).

What is Unschooling?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Salmon Cakes and Tuna Patties Recipe- Gluten Free, Paleo, Nightshade Free

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Tuna patties and salad

Ok, I don't officially have picky eaters in my family, but my kids do have some foods that they won't touch, specifically Ike. He won't touch any fish other than tuna, certainly not salmon. And he cannot stand zucchini in any way, shape, or form.
I had salmon heads in my freezer that I wanted to cook up, debone, and use their meat for something, and I decided on salmon cakes. Knowing that my kids would not appreciate the salmon cakes, I decided to make them tuna patties instead. I can't eat potatoes, my kids do. I don't do so well with eggs but egg yolks are definitely better for me than egg whites, so I made mine only with egg yolks. Next time I plan on trying these with flax eggs, not egg yolks, though. For the kids I made with whole eggs and carrots in place of zucchini, potato starch instead of tapioca starch (it's cheaper). These are relatively simple recipes, and what worked with one could probably work with the other, but I decided to share both recipes and feel free to use whichever one you want, or mix and match them to suit your family's tastes, dietary needs, or simply what you have available.

Salmon Cakes and Tuna Patties Recipe- Gluten Free, Paleo, Nightshade Free

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Making Homemade Potato Chips AKA Crisps- Easy Recipe, Super Cheap, Allergy Friendly

Not so long ago, my friend Ewa (the one who taught me how to make homemade fondant) posted about how excited she was to have made homemade potato chips, and how easy it was to do so, using her spiralizer (she has the same spiralizer that I have). I had asked her to write a guest post for me on how she did it, and just my luck, just after I posted yesterday that I wasn't able to keep up the posting rate because I've been sick, she sent me this guest post.

I hope you like it! 
As soon as I'm fully back on my feet again, I intend to try this. It should be fun! And since my husband really enjoys eating his chips and cottage cheese at work for lunch, maybe I can see

P.S. Already on the upward mend! Today I already feel so much better than yesterday!

Don't laugh.... I made my own potato chips.

If you would have asked me about home-made potato chips a few weeks ago, I would have laughed. If I hadn't made them myself, I would say that it sounds like a lot of effort. In a perfect world, all of our DIY food projects would be easy and fast and save money and be environmentally friendly and be healthier and taste better than the stuff you buy in stores.... but in real life, there are tradeoffs. Until I got my spiralizer, I would never have thought that making potato chips was easy... or that the chips would turn out so well.

Spiralizers are cool. That was my reason for buying one, so when mine arrived in the mail, I tried to spiralize every fruit and vegetable I had in my house... with mixed results. How you make tasty DIY potato chips is by using the 'slicer' blade and deep-frying the spirals... easy enough.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why I Haven't Been Posting

I wanted to apologize for my rather long hiatus between postings... I've really been under the weather lately. Probably just a virus, but its knocked me out so much since Thursday, that I barely even have been able to sit up in bed, let alone get out of it, let alone long enough to write a blog post. Slowly I seem to be recovering...
For those that are concerned if I've been to a doctor- already Friday I've been to the doc and I have another appointment tomorrow morning.
I just wanted to let you know what is going on. No, the blog isn't dying, nor have I run out of things to say. I just have been resting.

On the plus side... :-D I finally got down to 165 lbs for like the first time in forever and I look great, even if I feel far from it.

P.S. Since I know everyone will assume so from this post, no, not pregnant. Lol.

Hopefully I'll be fully better within the next few days, then back to my regular scheduled programming. I was already on the upward mend on Sunday, but needed to take my son to the urgent care center for an allergic reaction, and the day after that I got much worse again. Sign to me from my body that rest is what I need to get better. So no pushing myself anymore. And hopefully soon.