Friday, June 29, 2018

Chicken Waldorf Recipe -- Paleo, Easy, and Delicious

Growing up my dad liked to make what he called Waldorf salad. Only he didn't make his with chicken; his was totally vegetarian. I was recently looking for ideas of easy, healthy meals to make, and a friend recommended chicken Waldorf salad, only hers had the addition of pineapple and grapes, but my dad's version never had that, so I decided to make it his way.
I've made this a few times since then, especially using chicken scraps, especially deboned chicken left over from making chicken broth, and it tastes quite terrific, and my entire family loves it. Its the perfect summer chicken salad, and I highly recommend it. I make mine egg free using my homemade flax seed based vegan mayonnaise, and it is paleo, quick to make, frugal, and in general just a great dish that can easily be served as a side dish or as a meal in one.

Chicken Waldorf Recipe -- Paleo, Easy, and Delicious

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Why It's Worthwhile To Go To A Psychiatrist

I've talked recently a few times about going to therapy, and how it can change you life. I happen to really like my therapist and have found going to her to be very useful. Some people, therefore, might ask whether there is any point to go to a psychiatrist if they already have a therapist. What can a psychiatrist actually do that a therapist doesn't already do?

Here's my thoughts on the matter.

First of all, I want to start off by saying that this certainly differs from location to location, but where I live you can get free therapy covered by your health insurance, with one caveat. You first need to go to a psychiatrist who then refers you to go to therapy, which is then covered. If you don't first go to a psychiatrist, you will generally need to pay privately for therapy. So going to a psychiatrist can help save you money on therapy. That's one.

Foraged Purslane and Summer Fruit Salad Recipe -- Easy, Vegan, and Paleo

So many people have asked me how I possibly teach foraging classes in the summer; what is there even to forage when it is so hot and dry? (Locally, it doesn't rain at all in the summer season, other than the occasional fluke.) But there is definitely what to forage in the summer, and in fact, some of my favorite forage-ables are specifically summer forages, like purslane, cactus paddles, num nums, and black nightshade.
This salad is based specifically on summer's foraged bounty and of course you can make it even more "foraged" by using mustard made with wild mustard seeds, vinegar made from fermented wild fruit wine (like my redbud vinegar), and wild allium. Basically, this salad can showcase how delicious summer is, because it really is quite amazing. I have a special affinity to salads that contain both vegetables and fruit, because they easily fit my formula as to how to make the perfect salad.

This salad is less a specific recipe and more a guide, because you can play around with it and vary it up as you see fit. Of course if you don't have purslane you can use other greens as the base, but then it won't have the same texture, but will still be delicious.

In my recipe I used plums and black nightshade as the fruit, but other fruit you can use are figs, cherry plums, wild plums, num nums, blackberries, mulberries, cherries, apricots, mangos, blueberries, grapes,  raspberries, etc...

Foraged Purslane and Summer Fruit Salad Recipe -- Easy, Vegan, and Paleo

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

When Spending More is Frugal

My new, not quite so cheap,
but still frugal pocketbook
There are some people in the world that think frugality means spending as little as possible whenever possible. I mean, that can be one definition, but as I recently talked about, my definition of frugality is mindfully spending your money, so that you spend less on things that don't matter as much to you, so that you have more available to spend on things that are worthwhile to you. Some people might argue with me on that, that that is smart money practice but not necessarily frugality. Sometimes money mindfulness means spending money on something meaningful to you and not just trying to spend as little as possible. Because you're worthwhile and self care is important. But one thing that I am trying to get everyone to agree upon is that sometimes it is frugal to spend more money.

Frugal to spend money? How is that?

Well, let me give you an example.

I use a pocketbook whenever I leave my house. Sometimes I bring a backpack, but even then I use my pocketbook as well. (The only exception is when I travel abroad. Then I use a money belt.) My pocket book gets a lot of use. And I have really bad juju with pocketbooks. In the last year I literally bought 5 different pocketbooks. I have particular taste, and even finding each one to begin with was difficult. Each pocketbook was purchased from a different place, but all discount places. 
The first one's zipper broke.
The second one's strap broke.
The third one's lining ripped apart.
The fourth one, one that I really loved, and thought was beautiful, and hoped would last, literally fell apart in so many places, along the seams especially.

Simple Interior Design Tips to Spice Up the Home

A few years ago I decided that I was sick of how my home looked, that it wasn't at all my taste, and it really made me upset seeing how it looked. At the same time, I knew we'd be moving in the near future and didn't want to invest a lot in decorating a home that was only temporary. Fortunately, I figured out some low cost ways to turn my home into something that made me smile. I hope you like these suggestions from Stacy about how you can decorate your home on a budget. I especially like the last tip.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your home look great and be the type of relaxing and inspiring space that you want to come home to at night. With a few great products and a little ingenuity you can spice up the d├ęcor of your home on just about any budget. It’s always a good idea to start a refresh of your current space by looking over the elements that you do have.

Reusing and repurposing furniture and decorative items that you already have is the best way to make a big impact without spending much money. Maybe a table that you’re using the bedroom can be used in the dining room instead. Or that old dresser in your child’s room can be painted and used as an entry console table with storage for gloves, hats, and other small items. Think outside of the box.

Once you’ve exhausted all the possibilities for the furniture and items that you already have it’s time to start getting creative with ideas to get new decorative items and furniture that will transform your home without breaking your budget. Here are a few ways that you can achieve a great new look without spending a lot of money:

Get Some Quality Furniture

Monday, June 25, 2018

Successfully Decluttering And Keeping My Home Cleaner

It is no secret that keeping a neat and tidy house is a big stress of mine, and something I don't typically manage to successfully do. Thankfully getting a dishwasher has been a huge help, so the kitchen can be neater and cleaner far more often, and that has been life changing.

But the bane of my existence for so long has been my children's room and the guest room/office, the two rooms where my children spend the most time. (I've been "kicked out" of the office since that's where the kids usually watch movies and play on the computer, and I end up working on the dining room table or in my bedroom more often than not.)

My life has been increasingly stressful because it doesn't matter how much I'm on top of keeping the kids' room and the office clean, within less than a day the kids literally trash the place. And I'm not talking in exagerations. My children dump so much stuff on the floor that the floor is coated in layers and you can't see the floor or walk through without tripping on things. Seeing such bad messes makes my anxiety skyrocket. Each time I try to get the girls to clean up the mess they made (because honestly, it is them making the mess) it ends up being such a fight, they often refuse to do it, and I expend so much emotional energy just trying to get them to do it. Eventually I end up convincing my boys to do it, but then they get to be so resentful of having to clean the mess that their sisters mostly made.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

My Super Frugal Trip to Brussels, Belgium

It has been a good long while since December, and people keep on asking me when I'll post my next post about what else I did when I went on a super frugal trip to Belgium in December. I am really bad about follow up with these things, because while I'm on the trip, the first day or two, and on a high from all that I'm doing, I'm so excited to write about the post and share it with you, and then the trip gets more under way, I'm busier and have no time to write while on my trip... and then I get back home and it's back to real life.

But I have another trip coming up, more on that in another post, and I realized I can't not post about my previous trip before I post about my next one.
I will say that as much as I enjoyed Brussels, I enjoyed Bruges much more, so that really was the highlight of my trip to Belgium.

As I previously wrote, my first "official day" in Belgium was in the airport and waiting for my ride from BlaBlaCar to Brussels itself from Charleroi airport, and then taking public transportation to my AirBnB.
The second day I took the train to Bruges and spent the whole day there.
My third "day" in Belgium was my first day that I actually spent in Brussels, and my second day in Brussels was the day after that.

Because it's been so long and I got a new phone since then, I actually lost quite a few of my pictures from my old phone, so I don't have all the pictures from my time in Brussels.
Oh well.

While we were able to swing such a trip financially, to be able to stick to my budget I tried to spend as little possible on each aspect of the trip, and for that reason I looked to see which attractions in Brussels were free. (About my money mindfulness; I made the decision that my day trip to Bruges would be the most special part of my trip, so I was willing to spend more there on things that would be most meaningful, and then spend as little as possible in Brussels to keep down the cost of the trip as a whole. Money mindfulness: deciding to spend and not spend money in a calculated way that is meaningful to you and aligns with your values.)

How Do You Like Them Apples?

I will admit, I am not an Apple fan. I had an Apple computer when I was in high school for a year, and I never really enjoyed it, or got why there was such a hype about it. I'm a Windows and Android girl through and through. But for those that want to learn more about Apple, here's Nancy Evans to teach you all about it.

Apple is a unique company. It has grown from humble beginnings in a small garage in 1976, to sitting atop the corporate heap as the world’s most valuable company. Its path is strewn with plot twists, failures, comebacks and incredible successes.

 Apple made personal computing easy and accessible. It pioneered the graphical user interface (GUI) with Lisa and Macintosh. Mp3 players weren’t new, but the iPod made them a “thing.” Tablets weren’t new either, but nobody took them seriously until Apple gave the world the iPad. And then there’s the iPhone. Apple changed the world.

 What makes Apple products so popular?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Gluten Free Paleo Moo Goo Gai Pan Recipe and How to Velvet Chicken without Egg

Last week I was totally uninspired when it came to cooking, but I was having guests and I needed to come up with an idea. I thought about Chinese food (or American style Chinese food), but stuff that wasn't sweet or spicy, and eventually settled on moo goo gai pan. Moo goo gai pan, in this form, is an Americanized version of the traditional Cantonese dish, and literally means button mushrooms (moo goo) gai (chicken) pan (slices), so obviously it's a mushroom chicken stir fry. Americans like to add more vegetables to their moo goo gai pan besides for just the mushrooms, such as bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, and snow peas, as well as carrots and Chinese cabbage (such as bok choy), even though it is less traditional.

In my recipe, I used a mix of white button, baby bella, and enoki mushrooms, but you really can use any mushrooms you have available. Because bamboo shoots and water chestnuts are hard to get here, and snow peas a fortune, I left them out and added some swiss chard instead; the stem of the chard stayed slightly crunchy because I made sure to not overcook them, and that gave it a similar texture to water chestnuts, so I didn't feel anything was missing. You can use whatever veggies you have available for your moo goo gai pan, just make sure you use mushrooms, otherwise you've just got "gai pan". For example, other veggies you can use in this recipe are cabbage, regular, nappa, or bok choy, baby corn, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, etc. Feel free to play around with what you have available and/or is in season and/or cheap where you live.

Often when making moo goo gai pan and other stir fries using chicken breast, a technique called "velveting the chicken" is often used, where the chicken is coated and precooked so it maintains moist even after used in the stir fry. Typically this is done using egg whites, but since I don't eat eggs, I've figured out a technique of preparing the chicken so that it retains its moisture and stays delicious in stir fries, without using egg. The reason why I do this first before adding the chicken to the recipe is I personally find that chicken breast that is boiled or otherwise cooked in liquid gets a rubbery or dried out texture, and since I am adding sauce to the moo goo gai pan, I don't want the chicken boiling in the sauce, but to just be coated in it once its already cooked. Can I promise that this is velveting chicken exactly as restaurants do it? No, but it is pretty awesome and the texture is terrific this way.

This recipe makes quite a large amount; it was enough to completely fill my large dutch oven. So obviously feel free to use far less of everything and make a smaller amount, halving this recipe is totally fine.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it is completely gluten free and Paleo as written, and can even be made auto immune paleo. I served it to my family over rice, but I enjoyed it plain, as well as served on top of potato "rice" (potatoes that I grated and then baked). It would also be terrific on zoodles, spaghetti squash, cauliflower rice, etc...

My family really enjoyed this, and I did too. It felt like I was at a restaurant eating moo goo gai pan, only I knew it was definitely healthier than what I could get in a restaurant.

Paleo Moo Goo Gai Pan Recipe and How to Velvet Chicken without Egg

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Taking Some Fun and Different Personality Tests

My friends and I recently got together, and we were discussing different personality types and how they affect you and your life. So many different types came up in the discussion, and I find these personality types are a good way to get to know yourself, but also a good way to explain yourself and "why you work a certain way" to other people. Like one session I mentioned to my therapist about how I'm a "Hufflepuff that everyone assumes is a Ravenclaw", but I'll get to that in a bit.

Anyhow, I decided to do something fun together and share some different personality tests you can do online, as well as share my results. I'd love to hear your results of the personality tests.

So the first one I'll share is the Harry Potter sorting quiz test by percentages. Harry Potter is a series I grew up with and loved, about a boy who goes to a magical school, and the first thing there that happens is you get put in a house based on your personality. The four houses are Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. The "main" traits associated with them are as follows: Gryffindor is courageous, Ravenclaw values wisdom, Hufflepuff is loyal, and Slytherin is ambitious. (Here's some more about the house traits.)

Friday, June 15, 2018

My Husband Fixed Our Washing Machine!

As a mother of four kids, you can imagine our washing machine gets really heavy use. I'm also not so great at keeping up with the laundry, so often when I get down to it, I have a bunch of loads to do in one go. For example now we have about two large laundry baskets in desperate need of washing.
And yesterday I noticed that our washing machine wasn't working. I mean it would start, but it didn't matter how many times we reset it, it would always stop at a certain point in the cycle.

I asked Mike to take a look at it this morning, but no matter what he did, no matter what cycle he put in or what buttons he pressed same thing.

Organo Gold Takes The Legend Of Coffee To Supreme Sophistication And Health

Just this morning, I was talking to my dad about my perpetual exhaustion, and he asked me if I drink coffee. When I told him no, he said that in his opinion, life isn't worth living without coffee. That's a common sentiment. I used to hate coffee, then I learned to love it and drank it daily. Unfortunately last year my psychiatrist told me that I'm not allowed to have coffee or any other stimulants, because it would make my anxiety worse. Going off of it, I did see a big difference, but I do miss my coffee. For those of you who are coffee lovers, here's something interesting about the history and culture of coffee.

When you really think about it, coffee has some interesting and powerfully strong roots.

The popular beverage is consumed by millions of people on the daily, and most could not imagine their world without that first cup of morning joe. The News Version recently took a deeper look at the staple and how it has been able to maintain its delightful place in culture and history.

No one is exactly sure where coffee was born so many centuries ago, but there is evidence that the beverage seemed to evolve in the Middle East in countries like Turkey, Syria, Persia and Egypt. Those regions fell in love with the staple around the 16th century, and after that, the incredible tropical shrub never looked back. Coffee reached Europe by the 17th century and was enjoyed as a social activity and served in homes, at businesses and the coffee houses of days gone by.

As the years rolled along, the dark black beverage went through multiple, creative changes and developed into a wonderful variety of flavors, textures and aromas. Every region had its perfect blend, recipe and way to enjoy it.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reflections on the Evolution of this Blog and the Pursuit of Money Mindfulness

I'd planned on writing a whole long post in honor of my 8th bloggiversary... January 2 started my 9th year of blogging, which I have to say feels like quite the accomplishment.... But life got in the way and unfortunately this planned post is nearly six months late. Oh well.

In honor of my bloggiversary I wanted to reflect on all the changes that have happened in my life that have happened since I started my blog, and consequently the change in direction this blog has taken.

When I first started this blog my husband was working a minimum wage job and I was working a minimum wage part time job, and we were not making it through the month. We truly were Penniless, our expenses were minimal but even so they were more than we could afford, and we made the decision not long after starting my blog to downsize to an apartment half the size of our original small one, to a teeny tiny house with our two small kids, in order to save a few hundred dollars a month.

My blog reflected my life at the time. Extreme frugality. Cutting corners every single way we could. As someone put it 'pinching pennies so hard they scream'. Things like making every single thing from scratch, nearly only vegan meals, foraging most of my produce, using cloth toilet paper and cloth diapers and making presents from scratch. My clothes were all from clothing swaps and second hand stores and I literally tried to spend absolutely nothing extra that I didn't have to.

Quality of life? Well, I'm the type of person who is so good at pretending everything is all right that sometimes I even convince myself that everything is all right when it is not. I was all `mind over matter' and thought that if I just focused on all the good things I had in life, the areas in which I was a 'have not' wouldn't bother me. I blogged about that more or less, and while I wouldn't exactly say I was lying, because it wasn't intentional or 100% accurate, in retrospect all my posts about how amazing and rich my life was, even without money, might not have been a little misleading. Because in all honestly, I was misleading myself. But when you're going through such a situation, what other choice do you have? To just be miserable and mopey and think about how sucky your life is? The better alternative is to focus on the benefits of such a lifestyle and be on denial about how hard it is and how bone weary tired you are all the time from it. You might not realize, though, if you become good enough at faking it that you have yourself fooled as I did. Back then I might have written posts that seemed to glorify poverty or similar.

Fortunately with time, random occurrences, and some miracles and my mother's extreme generosity, our financial situation changed. My husband's income went up significantly, my income went up significantly, and we also get disability payments because of my son's autism. These things definitely made it easier for us to breathe financially, and I was able to stop doing some of the extreme frugality things I had been doing. I stopped making everything from scratch, especially gifts, and reconsidered my stance on gifting period, and instead started focusing on things that I felt were better from scratch, like most foods, which I am able to make just as good if not better quality when made from scratch, and for cheaper.

In short, my style of frugality changed tremendously. Instead of it being "do whatever I can as cheap as absolutely possible, and don't spend any money more than necessary" my motto and method in life when it came to frugality became something along the lines of "spend less on the things you don't care about so that you have the money available for the things that matter to you". This outlook, I'll admit, is one that I am actually privileged enough to be able to have. Because beforehand, when money is so extremely tight, you don't really have that wiggle room; its not like you can just "cut out those lattes" and be able to afford extra. You aren't spending money on lattes, you aren't spending any money on extras, and you still have nothing to spare. And it really sucks.

Insider Hacks To Buying A High-Quality, Yet Cheap, Mountain Bike

I grew up bike riding all the time. My sister and I bike rode to the nearest pool for our swimming lessons every day in the summer. We bike rode to parks. My boys currently have bikes that they're outgrowing, and I probably need to get them larger sizes. Currently, though, my husband and I don't have any bikes, and this post from Dave Henly gives some great ideas on how to get your money's worth when buying a mountain bike.

Like most twelve-year-olds, I saved up every penny of my allowance money all winter so I could buy a new bike.

At the first garage sale we stopped at the next spring, I struck gold: a 12-speed Huffy mountain bike. It was black and neon green, an ideal color for a child of the nineties like myself.

From that moment on, I discovered that bicycles were an engineering nightmare. Flat tires -- which I had learned how to fix on my small bike -- required navigating a jumble of gears and brakes.

And the gears and brakes created added problems. The cables would break or would refuse to shift.
It was frustrating, and, after a few weeks, my bike was relegated to its spot in the rain, leaned up against the storage shed.

Over the next four years, the system repeated itself. I would purchase a bicycle, only to have it break on me. After taking it apart and trying to fix it, my frustrated little self would lean it on the pile and go in search of my next ride.

When I turned 16, my experience began to improve. I purchased my first-ever Cannondale. It wasn't the right size for me, but it worked exceptionally well, was easy to repair, and held up well under all of the mileage. Plus, it could handle off-road riding without disintegrating into a bunch of broken pieces.

As a parent, you want to get the best price. At the same time, you need a bicycle that is not going to require maintenance every weeknight after work.

A bike that your kids will love.

There is a silver lining to my childhood bike struggles; I learned how to repair bicycles. This skillset landed me a college job, working at the local bike shop.

During my time in the industry, I've learned a few, solid, tips that you can use to get the best deal on your next bike.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Restaurant Style Pasta with Three Cheese Sauce Recipe -- Easy, Gluten Free, and Delicious

I debated whether or not to post this recipe here on my blog, because, quite frankly, it is not frugal. But... now that I came clean about having mental health issues, I can also explain some other stuff, and now it'll make sense. I've been trying to do a lot of self care for myself, to keep myself in a good place, and I try not to do it so spendily, but sometimes I do spend money on things and I'm ok with that. One of the self care type stuff I've done lately is buy a takeout cheesy pasta dish from a restaurant when going to the open air market and I hadn't had a chance to eat a good meal yet that day. It's not super expensive, something like $15, and it was delicious and really satisfying and all that. But if I could recreate it at home, even better.

Anyhow, today I had a really rough day and I didn't have an appetite for pretty much any food. It got to 6 pm without my eating even a single bite of food, because nothing appealed to me. My good friends, hearing what was going on, asked me if there was any food I was in the mood to eat, and the one thing that came to mind was pasta with cheesy mushroom sauce. Well, if that's what my mood called for, if that's the comfort food I needed, then I was going to get the ingredients for it, even if from my local mom and pop's store, and make it.

I will admit that this isn't a frugal recipe, especially not when using ingredients purchased from the corner store, but this recipe did make enough to feed my entire family, and have leftovers for another meal or two, for approximately what one serving cost at my favorite restaurant. So it's more frugal than going out, and just as much of a pick me up. And it's also super simple and easy to make. Plus gluten free. Oh, and I have written before that I have a sensitive stomach; the dairy in this recipe is more easy on the stomach, as it's made with only aged cheeses and cream, all easier to digest (for me anyhow) than standard cheese and regular milk.

I couldn't figure out what to call this recipe, because what I really wanted to call it was "Grown up mac and cheese", but restaurant style pasta with three cheese sauce will have to do.

Restaurant Style Pasta with Three Cheese Sauce Recipe -- Easy, Gluten Free, and Delicious

Monday, June 11, 2018

Breaking The Stigma on Mental Health Counseling

I had planned on writing this post already a few weeks, ago, and then with the recent high profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the topic seemed even more timely than before.

I read this piece that said that Kate Spade's death reminds us that we really need to destigmatize mental health issues, and everything the author said was 100% true. For that reason, when I hear about celebrities talking about their own mental health issues, and that they go to therapy, my view of them goes way up. I happen to really love Kristen Bell and how she acts (though I haven't seen the more inappropriate movies she was in) and when I saw that she wrote this love ballad to her therapist, I began to like her as a person and not just an actress, because she's doing a great job destigmatizing mental health counseling.

Here's the hilarious and heartwarming song. Warning; there is a curse word in it (for those who are sensitive to foul language), but she really manages to explain how many people with great therapists feel about their therapists.

And her talking about this, and the other high profile suicides plus a lot of introspection have given me the confidence to do something I haven't had the guts to do beforehand.

I'm coming out of the closet. I can't really write about breaking the stigma about mental health counseling and mental health issues in general when I myself am perpetuating the stigma by refusing to acknowledge my own issues.

So here it is. I go to therapy. Mental health counseling. Whatever you want to call it.

Save Money on Amazon with DealGoGoGo

Are you as much a fan of shopping online as I am? When you're a busy person, whether because you're a full time mom taking care of your children, or you work out of the house many hours, or even if its just that you're a home maker and you're spending lots of time taking care of your home, especially frugal pursuits that can be time consuming, we all know that sometimes short cuts are really worthwhile. When you're able to save time doing something, and you also save money at the same time, that's when you really hit the jackpot. That is one of the reasons I love shopping online so much. Amazon is one of those great places to shop online, because it is very centralized, and you can find anything in one place and compare prices all without needing to leave your home, and often even cheaper than you can buy in person.

To make online shopping at Amazon even cheaper, there are many coupon codes and coupon code websites out there. I was contacted by DealGoGoGo, a company that tries to revolutionize how you shop on Amazon, and I've tried it out, and I have to say it's pretty nifty how it works.

The way you use DealGoGoGo is you simply open this link, then add their extension to your Google Chrome browser. (Takes about 2 seconds to install, pretty quick.) Then you just shop like usual.

If you've come across the best deal for a certain item, you'll get this little thing on your screen telling you that it's the best deal.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Homemade Cashew Based Hummus Recipe --- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I'm a big fan of hummus, but as they like to say, it isn't a fan of me. My body can't tolerate any legumes, even if they're soaked, fermented, sprouted, you name it, and the standard hummus is based on chickpeas, one of those legumes that I can't eat.
I've mentioned before how much I adore cashews, their versatility making them be great for anything from dairy free milks to vegan cheese cake to cream sauces to tzatziki sauce; I even use them for panna cotta. With that type of versatility, I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that this legume free hummus, suitable for both the Paleo diet and vegan diets, and many others, is based on cashews. Does it taste exactly like a chickpea based hummus? No, but it's definitely close enough and delicious in its own right.
Highly recommended for everyone. Eat this spread on your favorite bread or crackers (such as these grain free crackers) or as a dip for veggies. Or just by the spoonful if you're like me.
And if you want just a chickpea based hummus, here's how I make that.

Homemade Cashew Based Hummus Recipe --- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Foraging Black Nightshade -- Solanum Nigrum and How to Identify It

This is a post that is a long time in coming and is one that I'm nervous about writing for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest things about writing this post is that it's about a plant that for some reason is very controversial. Black nightshade. It has a reputation for being poisonous but many experts have written about that so I'm not going to repeat their findings but will link to you about what they say.

Black nightshade is something I foraged with quite a lot of trepidation at first. Though there is quite a big culture of foraging in my country, there are some wild edible plants here that virtually no local foragers ever forage or talk about eating. Amaranth, cactus paddles, and black nightshade are three of the big ones and I still don't understand why local foragers never talk about foraging these.

Growing up I didn't know much about nightshades. But I did remember this one time our next door neighbors' kid ate these yellow red and orange nightshade berries growing wild in our yard and there was a whole hullabaloo when they discovered it was toxic. I've since learned that it's called bittersweet nightshade, solanum dulcamara, and it grows all over.

There's another famous nightshade that gives nightshades a bad name and that is deadly nightshade, also known as belladonna, Latin name atropa belladonna, and that's where the confusion regarding black nightshade comes into play. Because deadly nightshade has purple black berries as well. But there are ways to tell them apart, as I'll get to soon.

Just because there's a plant with the name deadly or poison doesn't mean that everything in that family is poisonous. (I get that with sumac all the time. People say "Isn't sumac poisonous?" because they've heard of poison sumac, which I reassure them is not even related to sumac but is in the poison ivy and poison oak family, and that sumac is edible unless they have an allergy to it.)

There are many nightshade plants that are staples in people's diets around the world including: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, tomatillos, goji berries, etc. Yes there are people who are allergic or sensitive to these plants (it is a common auto-immune trigger) but it's not any more poisonous than gluten or legumes, even if there are people sensitive to them. (I am aware that Wikipedia says that it is toxic. Wikipedia is not an accurate source on edibility or toxicity of plants.)

My first experience foraging black nightshade

Creating a Garden Paradise for Your Kids

Years ago we lived in a house with a yard, but we were really hesitant to invest in the yard at all, because we knew we could be moving at any time. We got some portable outside toys, like seesaws and small slides and built chicken coops and rabbit cages, but beyond that didn't invest in our yard. We then lived many years without a yard, and now that we finally have a yard again and own our place, we're trying to decide how to make our yards, small as they are, as friendly as possible for our kids. So far all we've done to make them nice for the kids is building pergolas and hanging hammocks, but we're still trying to figure out more things. Here's a post from a reader about how to make your backyard wonderful for your children.

Whether you have a tiny garden or a huge one, your kids will love it. For them being able to play outdoors all day is something that most kids love. Once they get the outdoor bug, you will struggle to get them to stay in, which is of course what you want. Being outdoors, instead of spending every waking moment inside in front of a screen, is good for their health and wellbeing. So, with this in mind, I thought that today, I would share a few tips to help you to make your garden, patio or balcony a more kid-friendly space.