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Health, Home, and Happiness: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Organizing the kids' clothes

Kind of off topic, but I'm rather tickled that I did something somewhat organized, and I've stuck with it for longer than 12 seconds. So we'll venture into my children's room...

By nature, I'm not a very organized person. But this is something that has worked for me lately, so I wanted to share.

I started folding my kids' clothes together in outfits (neither of them cares what they wear) because I got frustrated with the daily check the drawer/dryer/laundry basket/crib for clothing that matched. See, I told you I wasn't organized ~grin~

Pairing them up and folding them into a bundle made our mornings much nicer! Church/nice clothes.

Each of my kids has a drawer, and then the top drawer has hats and socks and undies.
A girlie clothing bundle. I love these Hanna Andersson dresses, they cost more, but they fit her for 2-3 years. I ask for them for holidays gifts.

She has three of these dress sets, then pants/shirts/sweaters. A lot of her pants are boy's that I found at thrift stores and I pair those with a girlie shirt because I like her to dress like a little girl. But the practical part of me would rather pass down as much to little brother as possible.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Deal on Coconut Oil

Tropical Traditions is having a Black Friday sale- with a coupon code (it's found in the sidebar of their site for $10 off)

edited to add: *** They're having the same deal for Cyber Monday***

I'm ordering their expeller pressed non-certified coconut oil, a gallon, which is already on sale for $39 right now.

If you are a first time customer and use my referral code, #5682145, a free book about coconut oil will be included with your order (they credit my account with coconut oil when you use that as well, just so you know, I like this deal ~grin~).

To use the code, in the checkout screen when it asks where you heard of Tropical Traditions, choose 'referred by a friend' and then put in the #5682145. If you don't see the place to put in the #, don't worry, you can just email Tropical Traditions through their customer service page after you place your order and they'll be sure to hook you up with the free book.

Their coupon code is only good for today, so if you were wanting to make the switch to coconut oil, now is a great time to do it.


Real Honey!

7.75 pounds of honey, from the farmer we visited. We loved learning about his bees, and he was happy to share. He told us about how the bees start making honey comb from the inside of the hive, so each section is actually from a different time period. He said that depending on where the bees had been at that particular time, you'll get alfalfa honey or asparagus honey or apple honey. And when he sends his hives down to California to help pollinate the almonds, it's almond honey.

He also said that the bees let the honey evaporate the moisture until it's exactly 30% water (? I think) and then they put the top layer of wax over it. So if you pull out a honeycomb before it's 'capped' it'll be really runny honey.

A part of Fight Back Friday

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New to Juicing- carrot apple spinach juice

GAPS recommends juicing. Before, I wasn't a fan of juicing because it's only using part of the food, and in general, whole food is best. But in this instance it makes sense to me.

GAPS is focusing on helping the body to be able to digest food as well as possible, and part of that involves giving the digestive tract a 'break' and only having easy-to-digest foods such as peeled cooked fruit and veggies. Since all the fruits on GAPS are both peeled and cooked (other than bananas), GAPS followers are missing the benefits of raw foods. Juicing takes care of the hard-to-digest part of raw fruits and veggies for you.

I am a fan of starting slow with anything, and not throwing a bunch of money at something that I'm not sure will work (see more about this in my post about finding more grocery money). So I waited til we were about a month into GAPS before considering buying a juicer. Then I saved my Amazon certificates (I had about $25 worth at this time) from Swagbucks and read a bunch of reviews on Amazon about juicers. I settled on this one, under $100, but was getting pretty consistent good reviews.
Juicing produce, all from Costco. A huge 10-pound bag of organic carrots for $5, 10 pounds of organic apples for $7, a pound of organic spinach for $3 I think.
The juice. Doesn't it look cool? I was so enthralled with pushing the veggies in that I overflowed the cup that was catching it and it spilled all down the counter and cupboard. Frugal, don't you think?
The pulp. I couldn't bear to throw it out. It's in a jar in the freezer, I'll add it to something some time, not sure what yet. I found that while I could fit half an apple down the chute, it didn't grind it up very well, so I chop up apples into 8ths or 16ths now so not as much is wasted.

This post will be a part of Real Food Wednesday

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Do You Know Your Farmer? (buying local)

Last weekend we went out to a farm outside of town, Johnson's Pumpkin Farm (off Hwy 212 outside of Laurel if you're in the Billings, Montana area). My friend Rachel got honey from there and posted about it, I totally was intrigued and wanted to get some too.

I love seeing the farm land (clean, well taken care of), meeting the farmer (kind, passionate), seeing the animals (healthy, cared for), and making it a fun weekend outing with the family.

I just now am starting to meet my farmers rather than relying on what's shipped in from afar and lands in my local grocery store. I used to buy local raw milk, but the pickup just didn't work for me (nap time, and you had to be right on time) so we haven't been doing that lately. We're mostly dairy free anyway, other than cheese for hubby. I buy about a gallon of milk a month. Anyway, I recently found a great source of local farm fresh eggs, and she's even bringing them to my door weekly now so I don't have to go out with the little ones (I don't live far away from her 'errand route'). Now I found this farmer who had winter squash, fresh eggs, and best of all, fresh honey!

All at big-box grocery store prices or less expensive, since it doesn't go through a bunch of middle-man markups. This will be my Pennywise Platter Thursday post because it is high-quality food for low cost.


We do things like visiting the farm, grocery shopping, cooking, and other life-related activities as our 'family time'. You can read more about this in my guest post at Keeper of the Home, Waldorf-Inspired Real Play

Just starting out with real foods? I would recommend starting slow, don't burn yourself out trying to find a local resource for everything you eat. That's something that I've just now started doing, and I'm doing it slowly! Switching to using real sea salt is an easy first step, and replacing any artificial cooking products (shortening, margarine, canola oil) with coconut oil and real butter.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tropical Traditions Review and Giveaway

Giveaway's over! Using the winner is #37, ProjectHope7! I'll be emailing you for your contact info in a minute.

Tropical Traditions sent me their Gold Standard Label Coconut Oil to try out, and as I expected, it was great! I used it in everything I normally use coconut oil for, including in my coffee in the morning, in baked goods, and to cook eggs in.

Along with being a healthy stable fat to cook with, this coconut oil made in the traditional way in small batches with fresh coconuts. (Read more about their process of making coconut oil)

Tropical Traditions is a company that cares about producing a high quality product ethically, essentially what we're looking for as we vote with our grocery dollars. And since I'm not going to find locally grown or made coconut oil (we live in Montana), I'm happy to support this company.

I'm pleased to host a giveaway of 32 ounces of Gold Standard Virgin Coconut oil, the same coconut oil that I tried. I know a lot of you have been wanting to try coconut oil, so here's your chance!

If you buy from their website as a first time customer and use my referral code, #5682145, a free book about coconut oil will be included with your order! To use the code, in the checkout screen when it asks where you heard of Tropical Traditions, choose 'referred by a friend' and then put in the #5682145. If you don't see the place to put in the #, don't worry, you can just email Tropical Traditions through their customer service page after you place your order and they'll be sure to hook you up with the free book.

They have other products other than coconut oil (like chocolate! and grassfed beef and butter, great for those who don't have a local source)

To Enter:

First, sign up for their newsletter here if you haven't already. You have to do this step to be entered.
And post a comment to let me know you did. Go ahead and tell me if you've used coconut oil before or if you would be trying it for the first time in your comment as well.

For extra entries (please post a separate comment for each one)

Follow me on twitter
Be my fan on Facebook
Follow Tropical Traditions on Twitter

Giveaway ends 12/15, you should receive your coconut oil in time for New Year's Resolutions ~grin~

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frugal Gifts This Holiday Season: Bookmarks and Marshmallow Fudge Brownies

Nourishing Gourmet asked for this week's Pennywise Platter Thursday post to be about frugal gifts, nourishing if possible. For "Nourishing" I wanted to direct you over to the post I made on my craft blog about bookmarks that I made for gifts this year. They're simple and fun to do, and the wool felt that they're made out of makes them feel more special. (trust me, the wool felt is worth it to use over craft store acrylic felt). For readers on your Christmas list, especially those who are intrigued by this whole real foods thing, a hand made bookmark and Nourishing Traditions or another book (see my Recommended Reading post) would be a perfect nourishing inspiring gift.

I love Kimi's idea of a Nature's Candy Box as a gift for fellow real food lovers.

But I also understand that not everyone really would appreciate whole foods, so I just try to give them what they would enjoy. Chocolate. Sugar. Marshmallows. Here's my Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge Brownie recipe, photocopied from one of my mom's recipe books. It's my favorite baked good to give to friends, bosses, teachers, etc.


4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose (white) flour

Oven at 350 degrees, grease a 9x13 pan
Melt chocolate and butter
In a large bowl, mix melted chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix. Add in flour and mix gently.
Bake for 25-30 minutes

While the brownies are cooling, make the frosting:

4 more ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pound powder sugar (3-3/4 cups)
4 cups mini marshmallows

Again melt butter/chocolate. Mix everything together except the marshmallows, stir them in gently after everything else is mixed.

Spread the mostly cooled brownies with the warm frosting. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Cut into small squares, this is really rich!

Keep refrigerated. Freezes really well too.

This is part of the holiday dessert carnival at Life as Mom

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Golabki, pigs in a blanket, Krautwickel, grumpkies...

Golabki, pigs in a blanket, Krautwickel, grumpkies... these were all names that people called this dish when I posted to facebook that I was going to be making this recipe for dinner. I had never heard of it before, but found it on Real Food Wednesday a couple weeks ago.

After seeing The Modern Milkmaid's detailed instructions for Golabki (stuffed cabbage), I thought these might take a while to make. Actually they didn't take long at all, assembly was easy. The only change I made was that I used lentils instead of white rice to make them GAPS friendly and used two pounds of ground beef instead of one to feed us for more than one meal. I should have soaked the lentils, they weren't quite done after two hours of simmering, but they were done after re-heating the next day. And I should have added more sea salt to the meat.

To re-heat the next day (we don't have a microwave) I just put them in a sauce pan with some chicken broth and let simmer for half an hour.

This will be added to our list of favorite winter meals, though. Really good, and a nice change of pace from the same 'ol same 'ol.

More winter meal ideas

Have you seen me on Twitter?
And Facebook?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

What do you use coconut oil for?

What do you use coconut oil for? I use it for everything. And now that I know that eating fat is okay, I love using it to cook with and adding it to my food so that I don't get hungry so quickly. This is a picture of my gallon bucket of coconut oil that I got from Azure Standard mid-October. It's now mid-November and half gone.

We're rarely using butter right now since my little one is dairy free, so I use this to cook eggs in, over squash instead of butter, to saute veggies in for stir fry, and in my baking a lot of the time. I've also switched from using olive oil in things that will be heated, so I'm using this in hubby's bread and pizza dough and stuff, where before I used olive oil.

I stir a teaspoon or two in my coffee in the morning, and I feel like it helps prevent the blood sugar dip that coffee had given me in the past. A couple tablespoons added to your smoothie will keep you satisfied for hours, like a meal.

As far as cost goes, this gallon was $55 for raw cold-pressed extra virgin. On Amazon it's more expensive, Wilderness Family Naturals Coconut Oil, Raw, Cold Press, Extra Virgin, but there are other options that aren't raw. I might buying a smaller container that's raw to use in things that aren't going to be heated, like smoothies, then a larger container of Expeller Pressed, 1 Gallon (not raw) for all the cooking that I use coconut oil in if I didn't just get the huge bucket from Azure. When looking to buy coconut oil, as with everything else, it's best to get it in the least processed form possible.

Update: I found a great deal on Coconut oil and switched brands due to cost savings- learn more here

Eat Fat Lose Fat- more about coconut oil
About Olive Oil
Think it's out of your budget? Check out my tips for finding more money for groceries.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Farm eggs!

I found a supplier of yummy fresh eggs, from chickens that are pastured and fed non-GMO feed. We're going to meet down the road weekly when she's in town doing errands and I'll pick up 3 dozen eggs. Easy and beneficial for both of us.

The eggs are so yummy! Nice and yellow, and they taste better. I grew up having fresh eggs, then we had them when we used to live in the country a while ago, and it's nice to have them again.

What is 'pastured'? It just means that the chickens are allowed to roam outside on 'pasture' and do the normal hunting-for-bugs things that chickens do. They're exposed to fresh air, healthy microorganisms in the soil, grass, and bugs in a more natural habitat than cages stacked indoors in a factory 'farm'.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Inspirations: Real Food Links

(photo from Stock Exchange)
Thursday inspirations: Because sometimes you need to be inspired to keep up the momentum for the last two days of the week :) These are a collection of posts that inspired me recently.

Cheeseslave's post that includes information on removing moles with iodine. I love reading about unexpected easy safe natural remedies. I'm going to try this, I'll keep you posted.

Keeper of the Home's post on herbs and the flu. As I wrote back here in the Eating to Stay Healthy This Winter post, I don't do a lot with herbs. Mostly because I'm still working on eating mostly real food and staying away from junk and that's my priority right now. But if you're ready to learn more about herbs, this post is a great starting point.

Briana has a post about making your own tinctures. She breaks it down into really easy steps. If you are going to use herbal medicine, I would really encourage you to do your own tinctures because it's much less expensive that way.

My post on making your own additive for the humidifier this winter will also save you quite a bit of money. Those little Vicks VapoSteam bottles go quickly!

Rachel was recently researching vaccines and wrote a great post about it. If you have time, check out the link she has in there, it's the best supported vaccination article I've ever seen. I love that it relies on statistics, not opinions.

Have a lovely Thursday!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Make Jello Blocks Made From Fruit Juice

Made only from fruit juice and gelatin, these are a dye free, corn syrup free, GMO free, much better alternative to jello from a box. Not amazingly healthy, but these are a fun treat.

Easy directions:
Boil 3 cups of fruit juice (I don't know if pulpy juice like orange would work- I used purple grape Welch's 100% Juice)
In a bowl, sprinkle 4 packets of unflavored gelatin over 1 cup of cold (or room temp) fruit juice.
When the gelatin has gotten jelloish, stir the boiled juice in with a fork.

A little honey (2 tablespoons or so) can be added if your kids are used to sweeter jello.

I put this in an 8x8 pyrex, leave out on the counter until it's cooled a bit, then stick it in the fridge over night.

More information: Commercial gelatin is said to have MSG in it from the processing and isn't preferable. Your health food store should have beef gelatin that's less processed and contains much less (if any) MSG. The MSG isn't added, it's created during the processing, so it's not going to show up on the label.

This is a part of Works for me Wednesday

I'm on twitter now, and Facebook. Come follow, tweet, and be a fan :o)

Alternatives to other unhealthy foods marketed to children:

Sweet Potato Fries

GFCF Chicken Nuggets (can be made with regular flour as well, either way they're a much better alternative to fast food)

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Easy lunch: Meatballs and cooked apples

Taking the grains out of our diet for the time being has simplified meals quite a bit. To make up meals I try to just make sure there is some of each: protein, fat, and carbohydrate. I figure that since we're eating a variety of all whole foods, our diet will have plenty of all the other nutrients as long as I'm not limiting to all fat, or all carbohydrate (box of wheat thins for lunch, anyone?), etc.

In this case, I melted some coconut oil (fat) in a big pan. Peeled and cut up apples (carb) and cooked until just soft so they're easier to digest. While the apples were cooking I mixed some salt and pepper into a pound of ground beef and a pound of venison that were thawed in the fridge (protein, fat). Rolled into little balls. While I was doing that, the apples were done, so I removed them with a slotted spoon and put the meatballs in. Cooked the meatballs on med-high, rolling a bit every minute or so until most of the pink was gone from the outside and then turned the burner down to med-low and covered, cooking another 10 minutes. All together, this didn't take any longer than making Mac-n-cheese from a box and only used one pan.

As a bonus, I have a bunch of leftover meatballs and apples for future meals and snacks. If hubby was eating with us, I'd just make him a roll and he'd have a meatball sandwich with red sauce (He's not doing GAPS).

See more real food posts at Real Food Wednesday and What do you eat that's gluten free?

What is GAPS?
Another simple to pull together meal

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Homemade Vaposteam Humidifier additive

I posted this on my other blog last year, but wanted to move it over here because it's more health related. I just remembered to refill the humidifier that I keep in my little one's bedroom last week when she had a stuffy nose.

We all had stuffy noses, including my little baby, this past winter. After spending something like $7 on a bottle of Vicks Vaposteam to add to the humidifier, I was getting ready to order prenatals online anyway, so I thought I'd look at what the active ingredients were in the Vicks stuff and then try to make my own.

I ordered Camphor and Eucalyptus essential oil (keep out of reach of children! I'm pretty sure the camphor is pretty toxic when ingested in large enough quantities) and add quite a bit, about 40 drops of each, to the water in our warm mist humidifier. The Vicks also has cedar leaf oil, and nutmeg oil, but I didn't want to buy all of those in case my trial was a dud. But it worked, and I'll stick with just the camphor and eucalyptus.

Each bottle of essential oil was about $4 and after being used at least a dozen times I still have 3/4 of each bottle left, making it a worthwhile purchase.

I'm big on prevention, and when stuffy noses are going around I try to remember to use the humidifier at nap time to keep those mucous membranes moist so everyone's less likely to catch the sickies.

More help for winter sickies:
Ginger Tea with Honey for Sore Throats
Eat to Stay Healthy This Winter

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

10 Ways to Find More Grocery Money

If you're new to real food and notice that your grocery spending is climbing climbing climbing each month, or you're wondering how you could ever afford to buy organic meat for your family, I've put together some tips that have worked for me over the past year or so.

1. Think of things in packages of organic beef: This could be anything, but for me I think of how much organic ground beef costs per pound ($4) and then use that to keep myself in check. When I first started this whole real foods cooking, I thought there was no way I could afford to switch to organic meat, since it's about double the cost. I've been able to do it, mostly by cutting out things that I don't really need to buy... I could buy a fancy pants coffee, or a dinner's worth of high-quality meat. Another little toy that the kids don't need and will get bored with after a few hours, or 3 lbs of organic meat to nourish their growing selves. Make my own whole wheat bread this week, and save enough for another couple pounds. A mommy-and-me toddler class that is really just an excuse to get out of the class can buy even more- and the same thing is accomplished by meeting a couple friends on a regular basis. Of course I don't need this all for meat, but by saving it added up to 'upgrade' our groceries.

2. Show interest in friends' gardens: We are in an apartment right now (to save money) but we were blessed with tons of beautiful organic tomatoes, heirloom potatoes, squash, cucumbers for pickles, onions, crabapples for jelly, and more. I simply was interested in gardens, and late this summer produce came pouring out from many people, some I didn't even know. People like it when you take interest in their hobbies, and when there's too much for them to use, they love to find a good home for the fruit of their labor.

3. Start slowly: Switching everything all at once will overwhelm anyone and most likely result in wasted food and burn out. And for me, burn out way too often equates Papa John's pizza delivery. Ahem. Start with easy things that aren't that much different. Depending on the ages of your kids (I think that it's easier to switch with little ones than older ones) one new real foods thing a month or week is about all that's needed. Switching to real sea salt, home cooked chicken lunch meat, or homemade refried beans are things that aren't too weird and good starting points.

4. Prepaid cell phones: How much is your cell phone bill? Nearing $100? Do you tell yourself that it's a necessity for emergency? We switched to prepaid cell phones about 4 years ago and spend $10/month each or less. We use Tracphone and fill it with minutes that we buy online, with a 'promo code' to double the minutes. I can usually get 3 months of service and 120 minutes for $19.99. It might be worth looking into. You'll have to re-train yourself to use landline phones at work and home for the majority of your calls, but this can save a lot of money. We actually rarely use all our minutes (they roll over when you add more), even when we're on a trip. We're just in a habit of not chatting on the cell phone now.

5. Thrift store shopping: I'm not able to find much for hubby at thrift stores, but I can find most of the kids' and my clothing there. I go in with a plan, knowing what we have a lot of (pants!) and not much of (long sleeve shirts) and keep an eye out for next years' size as well.

6. TJ Maxx and Ross: I have had good luck finding Stride Rite shoes at Ross, and nice pajamas for me at TJ Maxx. I recently found some great high quality olive oil at TJMaxx too. Having a plan and not buying what you don't need is the key here. If I can't find what I need at the thrift store (especially long sleeve shirts for kids), I check here next, then department store sale racks.

7. Swagbucks: I've been having good luck using this search engine a few times a day and putting the $ towards Amazon certificates. They add up pretty quick, and once I have $25, I can easily put an order in for good quality real maple syrup or another higher ticket real food item. In the grocery store $25 for one item makes me choke, but it's easier to swallow doing it this way.

8: Have a plan and follow through: Having a menu plan helps me save time and money, because I know what's for dinner. We also plan on $40/month for 'eating out', which at the moment means take-and-bake pizza. I save this for days when the baby's teething and doesn't want to be set down or sleep all day, when we have an abnormal amount of appointments and it's throwing off my schedule, or I'm feeling under the weather.

9. Only buy priorities organic: I've found that it's not even remotely feasible to buy all organic food. Food Renegade has a post about the priorities of organic produce vs meat that explains what I try to do too. I buy high quality animal products as a priority, and then organic produce when I find it reasonably priced, otherwise I stick with conventional produce.

10. Use up leftovers. A little of this and a little of that can be turned into a meal of leftovers rather than going bad in the fridge. Saves you from feeling guilty when you go to clean out the fridge too.

This post is a part of Pennywise Platter Thursdays at Nourishing Gourmet

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Good Quality Olive Oil and Antioxidants

In GAPS it's recommended to drizzle a little high quality cold pressed olive oil over your food daily. While I'm not following GAPS all the way, I do want to do this part. The Gut and Psychology Syndrome book explains that unsaturated fats like olive oil really shouldn't be used at high heat (there are thoughts that they may become trans fats, but this article on the Weston A Price website says otherwise) because they become unstable. But there are good antioxidants in virgin cold pressed olive oil, and it is a healthy addition to the diet when used in moderation. I try to think of how fats occur naturally, and which fats are most abundant to people who aren't industrialized. It's much easier to get fat out of a fatty coconut, or even more so tallow from meat, than it is to get fat out of olives without heavy equipment. In more primitive (and healthier) cultures, they are using the easier to get to fat more often than we are. Americans as a whole are using way too much of the highly processed high-markup plant oils in their cooking, and our health is suffering it for it (more fat info is on the Weston Price website I linked to above).

Anyway, I was going to get some high quality olive oil off of Amazon for around $20 when I saw this organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil at TJMaxx for half that. Lovely what you can find at a discount when you know what you're looking for!


Recommended reading, including information about the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which studies primitive cultures and health

Have you seen my post about making yogurt? It's really easy! We're mostly dairy free so I don't do this often, but I was just reminded by a friend about how much money you can save making your own yogurt. Doing it yourself makes it cost nearly the same as milk.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Easy Honey Almond Brittle

I lasted a whopping 3 days without candy. To make something using 'allowed' ingredients, I figured I could heat honey until it hardened, just like sugar. I heated it a little too long, but it was still good.

The almonds are soaked/roasted as described back here

Greased a cookie sheet with coconut oil and spread it all out to cool and harden.

Easy, no refined ingredients, and yummy!

Something I've noticed since starting this whole different way of eating is that now that I'm eating with digestion in mind, I chew my food much more thoroughly and don't rush through it. Maybe it's just me, but all so often I'd rush through eating, and would chew enough to swallow. Now that I'm thinking about my body being able to pull nutrients out of the food, I make sure things like nuts especially are finely ground before swallowing so that it's easier to work with 'down the line'. I also stopped giving my children things that they're not able to chew correctly, like whole almonds or raisins.

What do you think?

More posts about GAPS/Specific Carbohydrate Diet:
Modifying the intro to work for us
Starting GAPS

This post is going to be a part of Works for Me and Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday

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