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!

This post includes some affiliate links.

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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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You Can Freeze a Whole Peach

You Can Freeze a Whole Peach

Stick around here, and you might learn a thing or two from me every once in a while.  But I guarantee that if you stick around here, you’ll learn loads of great information from all my readers!  You all continue to amaze me with all of your cool, helpful, and time-saving knowledge.  Ahhh, I love walking this homemaking journey with all of you.  {wipes a tear with her stained apron}

Here’s the latest comment that had many of us saying, “Really?  You can do that?! I can’t wait to try it!”

On my 10 Healthy and Easy Peach Recipes post, Jenny from DIY Parenting said, “We learned something VERY exciting last year… you can freeze whole peaches! Wash them, let them dry, then put them on a tray whole WITH the skins in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, put them into freezer bags. Take out one as you need it. While still frozen, you can easily run your hands over the skin under water to remove it (if you want). Then let sit until thawed. This is how we now enjoy peaches, with no added sugar and without canning them, all year long.”

Well now that’s a tip that will save me loads of time and effort.  I decided to try it.  (How many of you did too?)

Into the freezer went some peaches…

freezing_peaches_1

Once frozen, I peeled one, just to see how easy it was.  Oh wow, look at how that skin came right off with no effort at all!

freezing_peaches_2
For the record, we will generally be eating our peaches with the skin on, but one or two of my kids prefer it skinless – and at this point, I figure, hey whatever gets them to eat a peach, right?

I then sliced the peach into some cottage cheese for a refreshing snack.  It was heaven in a bowl.  And it was practically effortless.

freezing_peaches_4

You know what I love best about this freezing peaches whole tip?  (Besides how easy it is – because truly, this process could not get any easier. Unless I send my kids to the freezer with the peaches. Which I will. But besides that.)  I love that the nutrients in the peach are preserved with this method.  Home canned peaches are great, but the cooking process does kill some of the nutrients.  Frozen peaches though?  Straight from tree to freezer, then into a bowl for a snack.  Nourishing, and so juicy and delicious.

Jenny – I’m so thankful you shared this tip.  You’ve changed the way I’ll preserve peaches from now on.

Whatever shall I do with all my extra time??

This post was originally published August 29, 2013.

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Hot Pepper in the Eye Remedy

Have hot pepper in your eye?  Grab milk (preferably whole milk) and splash it into your eye.  Aaahhh blessed relief.  Then come back and read my story.

———————————————————————

Hot Pepper in the Eye Remedy

First I would just like to say that the number one remedy for bringing relief to the pain of hot pepper in your eye is simply to wear gloves while cutting peppers and NEVER EVER TOUCH YOUR EYE after cutting them.

However, since I was not quite so smart last Friday, I had to come up with another remedy.

It all started so innocently.  We needed to leave for our homeschool PE class that morning, but I was trying to get some of the peppers from our garden cut up and frozen before we left.  Matt has been the pepper guy at our house most of this summer so I was not aware that some of them were of the very freakishly hot variety.  (They were shaped like tiny sweet bell peppers.)

I got all the peppers cut up and put away, cleaned up my mess and washed my hands.  I then proceeded to help get the boys ready to head out the door for PE.  My eye was itchy…and so I scratched it.

Bad idea.

As if someone had lit a match on my eyeball I shrieked and turned in a circle (because I didn’t know where to go or what to do).  I believe that little move is called the Eyeball Fire Ballet Step. I then ran out of the kitchen and upstairs to Matt, who was thankfully home that morning.  Neither of us really knew what to do, but I quickly put a cold, wet washrag on my eye.  This brought a small amount of relief, which is good because all four boys (who aren’t used to seeing their mom run screaming out of the kitchen) had made their way upstairs to see if I was still alive.  At least I was able to look up at them with one eye and a half smile to give them a little assurance that I was okay.

Matt went ahead and loaded up the boys to take them to PE.  I decided to stay home and be miserable.  The pain was not going away, and was in fact creeping all the way up to my forehead and all the way down to my chin (not kidding), making me feel as though I might pass out.  I have a pretty high pain threshold, but wow.

With the cold wash rag over my burning eye, I somehow did a swag search on “hot pepper in the eye” to see what I needed to do.  Did I need to go to the ER?  Could they maybe take off my face so that the intense pain would stop?

I finally found a suggestion to use a shot glass full of whole milk to wash the eye, which would neutralize the capsaicin in the peppers that was causing the burning.  Whole milk I had, a shot glass…not so much.  In the meantime, one of the homeschool moms (who had heard of my woes at PE class) called to say the exact same thing (although she didn’t mention the shot glass).

Using one of our little drinking glasses, I was somehow able to get milk into my eye.  (Don’t ask me to demonstrate.)  I also did a fairly good job of making the milk run all the way down my face and neck, but whatever.

Instant relief.  I stood there, blinking milkily in unbelief.  Could I really have just gone from that much pain to practically no pain with just a few swishes of milk?  Indeed I had.

I then decided that I should make cookies, both because I deserved and needed a cookie after my trauma…and because I thought that when the boys got home, they might like to see that their mama was normal (relatively speaking) and okay.

Kinda brings a new dimension to the idea of milk and cookies bringing comfort, doesn’t it?

So let’s review:

  1. Wear gloves when you cut hot peppers and don’t touch your eye.
  2. But if you don’t and then you do…swish your eye with milk.
  3. And then make cookies.

(P.S.  It wasn’t until after the flame in my eye was extinquished that I realized that my hands were also burning like mad.  Funny how the eye pain overshadowed the pain in my hands.  I’m still a little afraid to put my contacts in normally.  Good grief did I learn my lesson.)

This post was originally published September 19, 2010.

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10 Cold Treats That Are Good For You

10 Cold Treats That Are Good For You

I’ve shared several fun new summer treat recipes the past few weeks.  I thought it would be fun to post them all here to make them easier to find.  In addition, I wanted to remind you of a few other great cold treat ideas you can find here that you may have forgotten.

Do you have any other healthy, cold treat recipe ideas to share?

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How to Stretch a Chicken to Make Six Meals

How to Stretch a Chicken to Make 6 Meals

When I mentioned that I can stretch a chicken to last us six meals, many of you thought I was kidding.  I can’t believe you thought I was kidding.  I’m always so serious about everything I say around here.  Just kidding.  About being serious.  I’m not kidding about the chicken though.

(eh?)

There are six of us in our family and we all enjoy our food.  That’s my polite way of saying, “Good grief, my boys can put away a lot of groceries in a short amount of time and then come back in an hour asking for more.”  That said, if I roast a nice chicken for dinner and serve it as the main dish, there won’t be much left of said chicken at the end of the meal.  Just enough to pull a few scraps of meat together for a small casserole, then the bones are used to make broth.  So, worst case chicken scenario at my house:  One Chicken, Two and a Half Meals.

But if I cook a chicken to make broth, and then use the meat from the chicken to make several different meals…now that is the best way to get the most out of a chicken!  It’s cost effective, it saves loads of time and it’s easy.

The chickens I buy are from a farm nearby and they are big (between 4-6 pounds) and nice and meaty.  I pay good money for them (around $15), which sounds like a lot…but if I get SIX meals from one bird?  That’s only $2.50 worth of excellent protein per meal (42¢ per serving)…for my family of six!

Okay, so let’s say I cook a chicken all day to make broth and to have cooked chicken meat ready for meals.  This has got to be one of the easiest things to do ever when it comes to cooking nutrient rich and inexpensive meals for your family, by the way.  To stretch the chicken to last our family six meals, here is an example of what I might do over the course of a week or week and a half (freezing the broth and/or chicken after a few days to pull out as needed):

1.  Use one batch of broth and a little bit of chicken to make Chicken Tortilla Soup.  Because I’m using the rich broth, I don’t feel the need to use much chicken (if any) in this soup.

chickentortillasoupsm.JPG

2.  Use the other batch of broth to make Chicken Noodle Soup.  Again, I would use very little chicken to make this as there is so much goodness in the broth.  And if you recall, sometimes I forget the chicken altogether, much like I forget to put the bananas in my banana bread.  You’ve got to love my “duh” moments.

3.  Next, I’d throw some chicken in Homemade Alfredo Sauce with pasta.  I just use about 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken for this as the sauce and noodles make up the bulk of the meal.  (Add steamed veggies and a salad and you’re good to go!)

4.  For a tasty lunch later in the week I’d make Black Bean Taco Salad.  Because there are black beans and cheese in this salad, it doesn’t require a lot of chicken to complete the meal.  Yum – this salad is so good!!

5.  Not out of chicken yet, I can now make Three Cheese Garlic Chicken Pasta.  Again, the pasta and cheese and milk are so filling, not a lot of chicken is needed.  Plus, the cheese helps add protein to this meal.

garlicchickenpastasm

6.  Last, I’d use whatever chicken is left to make Chicken Veggie Quesadillas.  With all the veggies to fill these quesadillas, the small bits of chicken add just a little bit of protein to complete the meal!

veggiequesadilla1sm.JPG

Now, I feel very strongly that our family needs good, healthy protein at each meal, so I’m not usually parked in the “skimp on meat” camp.  We eat lots of eggs and nuts and beef and other meat.  But getting a lot of goodness out of one chicken is a great way to cut down on time in the kitchen and save money too!

The moral of the chicken stretching story is:  If you don’t use the chicken as the main part of the meal, but just as a supplementary part…you too can stretch a chicken for all it’s worth.

What is your favorite way to stretch a chicken?  As in…what are your favorite meals to eat with leftover, cooked chicken?

Disclaimer:  No chickens were actually stretched during the writing of this post. 

This post was originally published on January 23, 2011.

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