Is It Healthy To Fry Food? Deep Fryers and Great Grocery Deals…

Several have asked how I fry my Pumpkin Donuts.  A skillet with about a 1/2 inch of hot oil works great, and that’s how I used to fry food.  But Matt and the boys got me this Oster Deep Fat Fryer a couple Christmases ago and I LOVE it.  This makes the process of frying donuts, chicken nuggets, French fries, etc. so much easier!

Is it Healthy to Eat Fried Food

The question everyone wants to know is:  Aren’t fried foods unhealthy?

My very happy response to that questions is this:  If you fry your food in Palm Shortening or Coconut Oil, your fried foods will be healthy!  The reason?  Palm Shortening and Coconut Oil are digestible, nourishing, and stable fats.  This means that they can be heated to extreme temperatures without becoming rancid or without turning into trans fats.  #happydance #bringonthehomemadefrenchfries

Other oils – in particular bottled vegetable oils and canola oil – aren’t beneficial to our health in the first place.  When they are heated to the high temperatures required for frying, they begin to go berserk because they aren’t stable enough to handle the heat.  When heated for frying, they become rancid or oxidized, then they create free radicals that attack our cells.  This can eventually lead to many health problems and diseases.  #nothanks  #blech  #stickwithcoconutoil

Olive oil is a healthy fat, but it becomes unstable at about 450° so it isn’t always a great choice for deep-frying food.  I do use olive oil to lightly stir fry veggies in a skillet.

I’m so grateful for healthy frying options, because fried food tastes crazy good!  Obviously, we need to balance the good fats and fried food with plenty of fruits and vegetables.  After all, God created our bodies to function best by eating a wide variety of nutrients.  But for the record, fried green beans, fried zucchini, fried mushrooms, and fried asparagus are fantastic.  #bestofbothworlds

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Donuts with Glaze

Now for some big fat healthy deals around the web:

I typically recommend my favorite Palm Shortening from Tropical Traditions because it is such fantastic quality.  In case you’d like to try a smaller container of this shortening (Tropical Traditions only carries gallon buckets or larger), you may want to try Spectrum brand, which comes in a 24 ounce tub.

Right now, iHerb is carrying Spectrum Palm Shortening for just $6.34 a tub.  Even better?  You get free shipping at iHerb when your order is over $20.  AND, if you’re a new customer and click through this iHerb referral link, you’ll get $10 off your order of $40 or more.  (Or use my referral number at checkout, BID487)  Sweet deal!

spectrum palm shortening
While you’re at iHerb getting your $10 off and free shipping, I suggest picking up other ingredients you might need for baking this fall and winter.  They carry my favorite brand of sucanat, Rapunzel Whole Cane Sugar.  I often also get Enjoy Life Soy Free Chocolate Chips and Now Foods Cocoa Powder at iHerb.  Yay for fun baking!  Have fun with your $10 of free grocery money!

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I recommend expeller pressed or refined coconut oil for frying as these varieties are flavorless and odorless.  Amazon is carrying BetterBody Foods Organic Refined Oil for just $10.60 for a 15 ounce jar.  There are only a few in stock, so hopefully you can grab one before they run out!

betterbody coconut oil

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Amazon is running a great deal on a Lodge 5-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set.  It’s only $63.99, down from $150.00.  This is a GREAT deal if you can swing it.  Cast iron is a fantastic, healthy alternative to Teflon.  You can use palm shortening or coconut oil to season your cast iron.

lodge five piece set

Universal Housewares is also offering a great deal on cast iron.  Get this 3-piece skillet set for just $24.99, down from $50.00.

cast iron 6

What are your favorite fried foods?  Have you switched to palm or coconut oil for frying?  It’s a delicious change for the better!

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Something Is Wrong With This Picture

I wash dishes like this so often, I forget how it must look to a guest hanging out in my kitchen.

crazy gloves

What? It’s the best way to do dishes.

Two left handed gloves, one on each hand, two different colors.  Sometimes, on a day I feel wild and crazy, I’ll switch the gloves around, putting the blue one on my right hand and the purple one on my left.  Y’all, doing dishes is never boring at my house – I’ll tell you that right now.

You know what’s great about this post, and the picture, and all that seems rather pointless?  I actually do have a point.  Two points actually:

1.  Never worry about what people think about you when you’re washing dishes.  Two lefthanded gloves of different colors worn at the same time?  Why, we can establish a new dishwashing trend.

2.  If you use rubber gloves to wash dishes and one of the gloves gets a hole in it, save the glove that doesn’t have a hole.  Eventually, you can use it with another glove that has lost its mate.  You’ll save a lot of money doing this.  And I believe we’ve already established how cool you will look…not that we care what other people think.

In practicing this, sometimes my mismatched gloves end up being the same color.  Sometimes I actually end up with a left-handed and a right-handed pair of misfits.  But more often than not, I end up with two left-handed gloves of different colors.  It matters not.  They still work just fine.

And that, my friends, is my very helpful, money-saving homemaking tip for you today.

P.S.  This money-saving method does not apply to shoes or contact lenses.

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A Great Deal on Rice, Recipes Using Rice, and How to Cook Brown Rice

You know why I love brown rice?

  • It is a real food
  • It is wholesome
  • It is affordable
  • It can help stretch a meal, saving lots of $$
  • It can be eaten plain as a side dish, or stirred into a casserole, or made into a pudding
  • It’s naturally gluten free – a perk for those who need to avoid gluten
  • It tastes good

So blah, blah, blah…rice.  An entire post about rice.  Life does not get much more exciting than this.

Unless there’s a sale on rice!!!  Now this is turning into an exciting post!  (Not really, Laura. We’re still talking about rice. Keep trying.)

texmati brown rice

Amazon is offering a $5.00 off coupon for a 4-pack of 32-ounce jars of RiceSelect Texmati Brown Rice.  Plus, if you have Amazon Prime/Mom and order at least 4 other subscribe and save items, you’ll save an additional 20% on this pack.

With the discounts mentioned above, I got this case of rice for just $12.77.  The rice ended up being $0.10 per ounce.  Sweet!

I told you this was exciting!

{snore}

Well, while I’ve got you, I would like to share that cooking brown rice is very easy.  Here’s a full tutorial if you’re new to brown rice.

How to Cook Brown Rice

Below you’ll find many of my family’s favorite recipes that include rice.  Admit it.  This post is making you giddy.  Talk of brown rice is as exciting as talking about vacation plans and chocolate cheesecake.  Yes, it is exactly like that.

Our Favorite Rice Recipes

What are your favorite rice dishes?  Chime in by leaving a comment.  This conversation is clearly shaping up to be the most fun we’ve all had in the past three minutes.

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Planning Next Week’s Menu? Here’s Some Guidance, Plus Fun Free Printables!

I always spend time over the weekend planning our meals for the upcoming week.  I write down most of the specifics from main dish, to fruits and veggies.  But I almost never stick with the menu plan completely.  In fact, just last week there was a day I fed my family grapes even though I had planned to feed them blueberries.  I bet you didn’t know I had that kind of crazy in me.  Oh honey, you have no idea.

Once, I forgot to thaw chicken, so we had tuna.  I was going to make Fruit Pizza on Monday, but in fact, I didn’t make it happen until…wait for it….

Tuesday.

So hi.  Let’s all learn to have some sort of plan so we save money and time.  But unless serving Wednesday’s Pasta Salad Bar on Saturday totally messes with you, ditch the idea that you have to follow your menu plan perfectly.  It really is okay to pull out leftovers on Thursday if you don’t feel like making the planned Taco Corn Fritters.  I have done this and lived to tell about it.

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Are you hitting the restart button with us this fall?  If so, you might want to try your hand at planning some simple, real food menus.  You’ll find that it will help you stay on track with putting nourishing food on the table more often.

Want some ideas?

I post my menu plan every single week.  Look through all my menu planning archives here.

Want menu planning resources in your hands?

Grab our 40 Real Food Menu Plans Downloadable Packet here.  You might also like the mix and match approach of our 1-2-3 Menu Planning eBook.  (That one is actually still free if you subscribe to our daily newsletter.  I wasn’t planning to offer it for free this many weeks, but I haven’t had time to take it down, so hurry, grab it up!)

Additional articles you may find helpful:

Have ingredients you’re not sure how to use?

Use our handy “Search By Ingredient” Tool on the sidebar.  You type in the ingredients you want to use, our search box will pull up recipes from our site that might work for you.  It’s fun to see what comes up!

Be inspired with our new, free, downloadable Fall Menu Planners:

A piece of scratch paper, a document on the computer, a dry erase board – those all work just fine for writing down your menu plan.  But if you want something a little more cheerful and fun, we’re excited to offer you three new printable menu planners that are perfect for this fall!

Take as many as you want, or if you want to just print once and reuse?  Print a planner onto cardstock and laminate it.  You can attach a magnet, place it on your fridge, then use a dry erase marker so you can clean it off at the end of the week and use it again next week!

Click on the links or images below to download.

Download Fall Butterflies Menu Planner

Fall Menu Planner 1

 Download Good Eatin’ Fall Menu Planner

Fall Menu Planner 2

 Download Fun Fall Menu Planner

Fall Menu Planner 3

Do you typically plan your menus? What works best for you as you make plans?

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Prepare Thyself. You Have Less Than 24 Hours…

The countdown is on.  Tomorrow morning, bright and early, you will finally have access to the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.  You are going to love it soooooo much.  That’s why I’m warning you:

Prepare tomorrow’s food, today. 

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once you get the bundle, you may find yourself just a tiny bit distracted.  The books?  They are really, really good.  The freebies?  You will not even believe it.  You’ll find yourself wanting to dig in to all of it right away.  You’ll find yourself wanting to redeem your free bonuses.  You’ll find yourself jumping right in to learn more about all kinds of great ways to make your home and family healthier.

You’ll find yourself without any dinner on the table if you’re not careful. 

I might be speaking from experience.  Heed my advice.  You’ve been given fair warning:  Figure out what you’re going to feed your family tomorrow, and get the preparations underway.  They still need to eat, even if you’re like, “Look at all these amazing books to read!  I’m going to start with this one.  No wait, that one looks awesome – maybe I’ll start with that one.  Oooh, look at this one…that’s just what I’ve been wanting to learn about.  Wait.  Seriously, I get free money to spend in that shop?  And that one too?  Eeehheeee!”  That.  That will be you tomorrow.

Are you hearing me?  The people will still need to eat.  The books and bonuses will cause you to forget your need for food – because they really are that amazing and exciting.  (But you actually should still eat, because hi, this bundle is about healthy living, is it not? Okay then.)

Prep Your Veggies for Easy Cooking

Some ideas to make your life easier (and to give you a little more freedom to enjoy your bundle right away without all the “uh, mom? are you going to feed us today?” interruptions):

Also – in your “I love everything in this bundle and can’t wait to read ALL of it right this minute!” excitement – don’t forget that the bundle will be yours forever to work through as you have time, you’ll have several weeks to redeem all your bonus items, and your family really does come first.  Have fun – the bundle is super full of goodness.  You’re going to love it!

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Easy, Healthy, Delicious ~ Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini Recipes - Easy, Healthy, Delicious

We never plant zucchini in our garden any more.  Why?  Because about this time of year, friends, family, and people we’ve never met are begging us to please take 3 or 4 or 19 extra zucchini off their hands.  Everyone who has zucchini growing in their garden seems to have more than they need.  We save our garden space for other great produce, and are happy to “help” others by taking some of their excess fresh zucchini.  Servant-hearted, that’s what we are.  ;)

If you are someone who has lots of zucchini in your garden, or someone who lovingly takes zucchini from other people’s gardens – here are some of our favorite zucchini recipes:

1.  Easy Fried Zucchini

Simply slice zucchini, and lightly stir-fry it in a little olive oil, coconut oil, or palm shortening.  Cook until lightly brown, salt, and serve.  Unbelievably delicious!

2.  Zucchini Brownies

Yes, brownies with zucchini.  Does life get any better?

3.  Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats

These are easy to make and fun to eat.  Perfection.

4.  Zucchini Cake

With cream cheese frosting.  You’re welcome.

5.  Whole Wheat and Honey Zucchini Bread and Muffins

This is what we always think of when we have extra zucchini, right?  Made with whole wheat and honey, this is super moist and wholesome at the same time.

6.  Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies and Bars

No one even knows these have zucchini in them.  :)

7.  Easy Noodle Stir-Fry

This is one of our favorite “throw-together” meals.  You can add any veggie you want, so why not zucchini?  You won’t believe how delicious this is.

8.  Teriyaki Chicken and Veggies

This is tangy and full of flavor, perfect for fresh zucchini.

What are your favorite ways to eat zucchini?  Do you grow zucchini in your garden, or cheerfully take extra zucchini from friends?

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How To Cold Brew Coffee

Why?  Why would we want to cold brew coffee instead of sticking with regular hot brewing methods?

Well, so that you can make iced coffee.  Or iced coffee cubes for your iced coffee.  Or so you can make this awesome and healthy Chocolate Frappe.

In the past, I’ve simply hot brewed coffee as normal, then chilled it for about 24 hours until it’s cold enough to make cold coffee drinks.  That has worked just fine, and I assumed I needed some sort of special equipment to make cold coffee brew.  Thanks to those of you who shared your easy cold brew coffee methods, I now know it’s as easy as can be – without any special equipment!

Cold brew coffee is less acidic, and has a wonderful, smooth taste.  I’m loving this variety of coffee on a hot afternoon.  My favorite way to drink cold coffee?  Coffee ice cubes, cold coffee, and a shot of real cream.  It is heaven.  (And not at all sweet.  I love it that way, but my family thinks I’m crazy.  Yup.)

How to Cold Brew Coffee

How to Cold Brew Coffee

  1. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup ground coffee (or more if you like your coffee really strong) in a French Press or quart-sized jar.
  2. Add 4 cups cold water.
  3. Allow this to sit on your countertop for 8-24 hours.  I usually start mine at night so it’s ready in the morning.
  4. If using a French Press, simply press filter down to separate liquid from coffee grounds.
  5. If using a quart jar, carefully pour your cold brew coffee through a coffee filter to separate liquid from coffee grounds.
  6. Refrigerate.  Or make Coffee Ice Cubes.  Or you can do what I do and make some coffee ice cubes then refrigerate the rest to use them together for cold coffee drinks.

Some instructions I’ve read suggest using quite a bit more coffee in this brew.  What has been your experience with this?

Are you a fan of cold coffee?

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It’s Not Too Late To Start Making Vanilla For Christmas Gifts

Just wanted to pop in real quick to mention:

  1. Homemade Vanilla Extract makes a wonderful Christmas gift.
  2. If you start making it within the next couple of weeks, it will be just right by Christmas.
  3. You need to get your supplies now and get ready to brew your vanilla!

Read all the details about How to Make Vanilla Extract.  Order your vanilla beans using the exclusive Heavenly Homemaker discount Olive Nation gives us all.  They have the best quality vanilla beans I’ve found anywhere, and they are very reasonably priced.  Use the code home for 10% off plus free shipping!

How To Make Vanilla Extract

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14 Oven-Free Breakfast Ideas for Summer

Have I ever mentioned that we don’t have central air conditioning in our home?  People think we’re crazy.  Well, yeah.  But there are a few important aspects to note about our variety of crazy - and about our lack of central air conditioning:

1.  Our house is over 100 years old and was built to stay cool back before air conditioning was invented.  We have high ceilings, which makes a significant difference.
2.  We have an attic fan that sucks hot air out and pulls cool air in.  (I believe I just told you that our attic fan sucks.)
3.  When a person is used to air conditioning, a person tends to think they need air conditioning.  When a person is not used to air conditioning, a person gets used to not having air conditioning.
4.  I freeze to death when I go to Wal-Mart and other places with air conditioning and freezer sections.  See #3 above.
5.  We have several window air conditioning units.  Remember this?  Ain’t she a beaut?  We haven’t even installed it this summer.  We haven’t been home long enough to care.  But we have that one, another for out guest room, and another for our boys room upstairs.  Window units work great for our needs.

All that to say:  I rarely turn our oven on during hot summer days.  We typically deal with lack of air conditioning just fine – but avoiding the oven makes this much more doable.  Baking muffins, quick breads, and egg casseroles is rarely an option.  Instead, we stick with stove-top meals, toaster oven choices, or smoothies.  Here are some of our favorite oven-free breakfasts, which of course can be made for lunch, snacks, or dinner too.  Breakfast for dinner always rocks.  Kind of like my attic fan sucks.  (Oh, stop it.)

14 Oven Free Breakfast Ideas For Summer

14 Oven-Free Breakfast Ideas for Summer

It’s always fun to throw in the occasional bacon or sausage too, if I have time.  Fresh fruit in the summer time is amazing.  All the delicious berries, nectarines, plums, peaches, melons available – incredible.  Yes indeed, summer time is my very favorite time of year – even without central air conditioning.  :)

What are your favorite oven-free breakfast ideas?

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A Few Simple Ingredients…

Mix and Match Real Food Ingredients

Have I told you how much I have loved the Meet and Greet events so far?  And how much it made me want to meet ALL of you!!?!

One of the topics we discussed at the Springfield Meet and Greet was how nice it is that once you have some key, real food ingredients in your kitchen – it suddenly becomes much easier to put healthy, whole food meals on the table.

It’s so true!  If you are just beginning to switch your kitchen to a real food kitchen, rest assured, your job is just about to become much easier!

I took a few minutes to make a list of the top two dozen ingredients I always try to have on hand in my kitchen.  With these ingredients, I can make hundreds of recipes.  Check it out:

  • Wheat or other grains (to grind into flour)
  • Oats
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter (or peanuts to make your own!)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Butter
  • Yeast
  • Sucanat and/or Honey
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Minced Onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Veggies (fresh or frozen)
  • Fruit (fresh and frozen)
  • Canned Salmon or Tuna
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate Chips (these are necessary – don’t you think?!)

Click here to see a detailed break-down of where I purchase these ingredients and how much I typically try to spend on them.

So what can I make with the above list of ingredients?  Well, off the top of my head, I can think of spaghetti, mac and cheese, tuna casserole, muffins, pancakes, a few casseroles, stir fry, and pizza.  And if I stood on my head for a while and got more blood flowing, the list could go on and on…

But I won’t.  I’d likely break something (like a wall or my neck) if I tried to stand on my head.

I’d love to hear from you on this!

Have you found that you’re finding your way around your real food kitchen?  Have you discovered your top 24 or so ingredients that help you stay organized in your real food kitchen?  What ingredients would you add to the list I came up with?  What meals have you found to create with your staple, real food ingredients?

This post was originally published April 11, 2013.

And are you with me?  Are chocolate chips a staple ingredient or are they not?! :)

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