Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Paleo Vegan Almond Flour Biscotti Recipe

I'm not the easiest person to make desserts for, especially when I'm trying to stick to the paleo diet 100% (desserts are my downfall) instead of just gluten free, and even more so when I'm trying to minimize how many carbohydrates I'm eating. It doesn't make it any easier that most paleo desserts are either date based (high in carbs) or are made from almond flour with eggs, and I can't eat eggs. I had a theory that I probably would be able to figure out some sort of cookie based on almond meal, and was lucky to find this biscotti recipe which is pretty awesome because it uses no egg or egg replacement even, and all simple ingredients. 
I converted it to use ingredients I have on hand and cheaper, and I tell you- it's a keeper. It's flexible too. The first time I tried making it, I had just barely enough almond meal for the recipe- I had 1 1/4 cups not packed, and despite that, it worked. The next time I made my own almond meal, and it really wasn't as fine as almond flour ideally should be for baking, and again, worked great. I did try converting this to a chocolate mint biscotti recipe, but I burned the whole thing... I still have hope and more plans to experiment, but in the meantime, these are just freaking awesome.
And as for low carb? These aren't super low carb, but if you have self control, this recipe makes 12 cookies, and depending on which sweetener you use (maple syrup has less, honey has more), its anywhere from 6-12 grams of carbohydrates per cookie, so one or two can still be eaten and maintain a relatively low carb diet (just don't overdo it).
P.S. If you aren't on a paleo diet and just want cheaper/easier, this biscotti recipe works well with wheat flour and also (even though it isn't listed) with gluten free flour mix and also works well with ground flax seed egg replacement instead of the egg

Paleo Vegan Almond Flour Biscotti Recipe

Taking Time - 6 Tips For Effectively Managing Relationship Stress

Trust me, I've been quite stressed lately. I don't actually know many people that aren't stressed. Hopefully these tips by a reader will help you if your stress is affecting your relationship with your significant other.

Feel like you’ve had enough? Juggling work, kids and life can be hard enough without dealing with stress arising from your significant other. It feels like when it rains… it POURS!

On top of this, if your spouse just seems to care more about how your crankiness impacts him, rather than being understanding of the reasons you feel that way, and doing something practical to alleviate the situation, it can be very frustrating.

But, before you let this stress damage your relationship, have a read of these 6 tips for effectively managing relationship stress.

Monday, October 30, 2017

All You Need To Know about Organic Baby Formula

I'm a big proponent of breastfeeding- I nursed all my kids past their first birthday, and two of them nearing their third birthday. However, I know that for some people, breastfeeding just isn't an option. For example, a friend of mine tried very hard to nurse her baby with Downs' Syndrome, but because of his low tone and a host of other issues, despite working with lactation consultants and otherwise, nursing didn't work out, and her milk dried up, and she needed to figure out the best formula to give her baby. It is very important for babies' guts to get the right start, and it's good to know that organic formula has benefits that other formulas do not. This informative piece was contributed by a reader.

Organic foods are made from wholesome ingredients that were raised on farms that focus on sustainable agriculture. This means all products that have not been contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers, bio-engineering, or radiation. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for marketing foods that are labeled organic. When it comes to infant formula, 95% of the ingredients must come from farms that use sustainable agriculture. The regulations in the European Union are much more strict. According to their guidelines, this includes the use of grass fed, bio-dynamic milk as well as organic oils. There is also no addition sugars or sweeteners such as glucose, corn syrup, or rice syrup. What is in your baby's formula and what is kept out are very important to your child's nutrition. Out of all of the advantages for feeding your baby organic formula, here are 7 major benefits:

My Latest Super Frugal Grocery Shopping Trip

As I mentioned in my recent post on saving money without time or energy, because I've been very busy, I haven't had a chance to make it to the market to buy super frugal produce. However, produce prices have been a little crazy even at my cheaper local shops, so when I went to the city anyhow today for a meeting, I decided to maximize my time and hit up the farmer's market while there and bring home my frugal produce, even if it means making me very tired for the next day or two (less now than usually happens, since none of this produce needed immediate processing, it all went in my fridge).
Before I went to the market, I made a little detour to a shop that was only slightly out of my way, but sells the cheapest honey I know, and it's raw honey- $13.71 for 3.3 lbs of honey, or $4.15 a pound, when regular non raw honey locally costs $5.19 (and raw closer to $9 a pound). While I was there, since I don't get to that store often, I bought 4 jars of honey, for a total of $54.84 for my 13.2 lbs of honey, which should last us quite a while. This was especially important to me to get because the winter is starting and with colds and everything, I like to give my family tea with raw honey, as well as making some other natural medicines to deal with coughs (honey and lemon with peppermint extract) and elderberry infused honey, etc...

Friday, October 27, 2017

Marinated Eggplant Salad Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Easy

Eggplants are in season round these parts, making them one of the more frugal vegetables I can currently buy. This salad is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant. Unlike the locals who make this recipe by first deep frying the eggplant, I bake them in the oven and then marinate them until absolute deliciousness. This recipe is great for a variety of different diets, from paleo to vegan, gluten free, allergy friendly, etc...

Marinated Eggplant Salad Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Easy

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Frugality For Very Busy People with No Time or Energy

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For a long time, I've been getting comments from a sizable number of blog readers about how much they love my blog, but find most of the tips and things that I do not so relevant to them, as I'm someone with a lot of available time on my hands with which to do all these money saving activities, but they are either full time working moms, single moms, or otherwise have things in their life going on that don't allow them to do these time consuming money saving things. I have heard them and acknowledged that what works for me, with my greater free time, might not work for them, and I'd planned on writing a post on how to save money on household expenses when you are short on time and/or energy.

Since I got married 11 years ago, I was working part time, usually from home, other than a stint for about two years where I was working full time in childcare. My husband worked a standard work week, but was home in the evenings to help out. So I had a decent amount of free time and energy with which to do all sorts of frugal things.
However, in September, though, our entire life structure has been turned upside down, and I went from being one of those moms with more energy and time to one of those who is just struggling to keep up with the basics, let alone doing money saving things. My husband no longer has a standard work week; he is working a 90 hour work week on average, doing evening shift every day and night shift as well a few nights a week, plus every other weekend. When he's home, he's essentially sleeping; he definitely isn't available to help with the kids or housework or anything else, so it is all on my shoulders. And it is zapping me of energy like you wouldn't imagine, and I don't have nearly as much available time to do all my frugal things. I currently have to rework my frugality, to figure out what things I can still manage to do to save money on household expenses, while maintaining my sanity. I don't know how long we'll be dealing with this schedule, but it's my reality now, and I don't want to be spending all the extra money he's bringing in from his longer work week on non frugal things because I don't have the time or energy anymore, or it would all be a waste.

So, based on what I've been through recently, here's how to be frugal when you don't have time or energy to do all the "very frugal things".

Frugality For Very Busy People

How to Make Your Next Vacation Affordable, But Still Amazing

I have not had much experience going on vacation, but its something I wish I would be able to do. I hope you enjoy this post on how timeshares save money, by reader Jeremy.

People tend to think that you can’t have a vacation that’s affordable and fun at the same time. We may long to go overseas, to explore distant lands, to sip margaritas on the beaches of some of some exotic locale. This is not to say that those sorts of vacations are out of the realm of possibility for you, but they’re way beyond the way most Americans go on holiday.

Americans are going on vacation less and less as the years go by. This is due to many factors, but chief among them is money. People simply feel they can’t afford to leave work for that long, to pay for food and accommodations in some place, while still being able to pony up for activities. This problem is compounded when you introduce children into the picture. It’s hard enough to find a kid-friendly vacation without paying out the nose. How can these things be made affordable?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Raw Carrot and Beet Salad Recipe- AIP, Paleo, Vegan

My mom is not an easy person to feed. Since she has Hashimotos, an auto-immune thyroid disease, among other things, she is on a combination of diets that make it hard to find foods that are safe for her to eat. She is not only paleo, she's on the GAPS diet as well, which means no sweet potatoes or potatoes or starches, as well as the auto-immune paleo protocol- no seeds or nuts of any kinds, no nightshades, etc... and doesn't eat cruciferous vegetables or onions or garlic or most fruit or sweeteners. If you can imagine, finding foods that she can eat that are tasty is quite the challenge. Due to this extremely strict diet, my mother has been forced to become very creative in the kitchen, and this beet and carrot salad that she makes fits her diet but is delicious enough that it is a worthwhile addition to any kitchen, special diet or not. 
This recipe is made with root veggies, which are seasonal for the winter, making them low cost to serve them at this time of year, as well as readily available.
My kids and I all love this salad, and hopefully you will too.

Raw Carrot and Beet Salad Recipe- AIP, Paleo, Vegan

Free Food with a Little Bit of Hard Work

As someone who only recently started gardening, and really has been enjoying the fruits of her harvest, I enjoyed this post contributed by reader, Tim, himself an avid gardener.

In today’s society, saving money can be a task in itself. Due to rising prices met in a person’s daily routine on everything from gasoline to produce, creating a substantial savings account can fall by the wayside. There are many ways to save a little bit of pocket change or even to create visible savings in your accounts and one of those ways is to plant your own vegetable garden. Produce and groceries have skyrocketed in price in the recent months and this is partially due to rising costs in fuel used for delivering produce to grocery stores. There also environmental factors such as drought or floods plaguing various areas.

Whether you have a vast amount of space to work with or a small area, we will discuss what the benefits are of growing your own vegetables and herbs throughout this post.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wild Green Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe -- Paleo and Vegan

Recently I hosted guests and wanted to do something fancy for them. At the grocery store I saw some large mushrooms that looked perfect for stuffing so I decided to try that. I didn't want to go the standard stuffing method with meat, nor did I want to fill it with grains, cheese, bread crumbs or any of the other ingredients I found in all the recipes I found while searching.
Therefore this recipe is completely my own, made up from scratch start to finish, and they tasted so amazing. My guest was definitely impressed and I was too. The final recipe is not only vegan and gluten free, it is paleo and grain free and allergy friendly unless you're allergic to nuts (in which case you can probably replace the nuts with bread crumbs or ground sunflower seeds). I used wild amaranth greens that I foraged, but when cooked they taste nearly identical to greens like spinach or lambsquarters or any other non bitter cooked greens, so feel free to use any greens of your choice in this.
Fancy as stuffed veggies are, these were relatively simple and easy to make, pretty low fuss. I highly recommend them.
And their taste? Perfection.

Wild Green Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe -- Paleo and Vegan

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Frugal Fun Birthday Party for My Boys

I like making my children birthday parties, to show them that we celebrate their presence in our lives, and I always have fun coming up with ideas of how to do it frugally but not sacrifice on the fun. Often I have themes for birthday parties, but this time I didn't stick with a theme- my only "theme" was trying to keep down the cost as much as possible, and without too much of a headache for me to make it or run it.
I think I did a successful job- all the kids that came to the party really enjoyed themselves and my boys said that it ranked as one of their top days this summer. My boys have birthdays September 4 and 8, with my boys Lee turning 10 and Ike turning 8. I would make them separate parties, in theory, but I know myself and my limits, and if I tried doing it perfectly I knew it would end up not happening at all (I never ended up making birthday parties for any of my kids last year, because I was too overwhelmed with everything going on) so I made it together and the boys were fine with that, because they share friends anyhow. I crowd sourced for ideas for their birthday party and ran a lot of ideas by them, and settled on this in the end.

The entire party ended up costing me only $30, and that included a full supper for the 12 kids who were there (including my 4), and everyone had a blast.

When should you be opening a savings account for your child?

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This post was written by reader, Ben, and reminds me- maybe I should open a bank account for my children, because they're saving up quite a bit of money and they currently keep it all in cash...

There is no right or wrong time for you to open a savings account on your child’s behalf. For some families, it will be when the child is an infant. For others, it could mean waiting until they’re in school or earning small amounts of money of their own. It is essentially when the time is right for you but sooner is usually better, as you will accumulate more money over time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Creamy Zucchini Soup Recipe- Hot or Chilled, Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

If I had to pick my two all time favorite ingredients to use in cooking, they'd probably be zucchini and cashews. I find the two of them are so versatile and can be used in so many different types of recipes and in so many different ways; how not to fall in love with them?
This soup, not surprisingly, based on those two ingredients is one of my favorite soups of all times, if not the favorite- it is absolutely divine, even though it is relatively simple.
Vegan and paleo, gluten free and just all around healthy, not to mention relatively low carb, this soup is creamy, delicious, goes down smoothly, and my son, a self professed zucchini hater, absolutely loves this soup and devours it.
Oh, and did I mention that it is awesome both hot and chilled?
Cashews aren't the cheapest ingredient, but I've gotten them relatively cheaply by buying them already broken, and end up paying around $2 for the cashews in this recipe, but I've also made it with around half the amount of cashews, and it was also great, so if you're looking to cut costs, feel free to play around and adjust the other ingredients as needed.

Lastly, while the ingredients in here are simple, it is not super easy if you want to make it perfect. This soup really is best when pressed through a food mill, or if you're like me and don't have a food mill, a large holed mesh strainer. You can eat it without pushing it through, but doing so makes it creamier and smoother and lifts it up to a whole new level, so I'd highly recommend not skipping that step.

Creamy Zucchini Soup Recipe- Hot or Chilled, Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cantaloupe Salsa Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, and Frugal

The last time I was at the market, one of the vendors who sells past prime produce had a melon very similar to cantaloupe on sale for 13 cents a pound, and though I only wanted one or two, he gave them to me for much less than 13 cents a pound, and I ended up going home with about 10 melons. Now 10 melons is a lot for me on a regular day, but these melons weren't the yummiest in the world. 
They weren't bad, but they were rather bland and not very sweet, which meant that just eating them plain didn't appeal to me. (My kids, on the other hand, appreciated the melon, even not so sweet.)
But it got me wanting to be creative with the melon, finding different ways to use it- perhaps in savory dishes instead of sweet. I made a chilled cantaloupe based gazpacho (much like this recipe) and then decided to see how it would work in salsa.
Cantaloupe salsa was so delicious and enjoyed by the whole family that I've already made a second batch. You've got to try out this recipe!
I've tried it with cantaloupe mixed with cucumbers, and have seen cantaloupe mixed with tomatoes, but this recipe is without either. Feel free to add one or another or maybe even bell peppers to this recipe, adjusting seasonings to taste. This recipe works just as well with sweeter cantaloupes, and probably would work just as well with honeydew melon.

Cantaloupe Salsa Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, and Frugal