Don’t Forget the Tuna

This is probably the most exciting blog post you will ever read. Never mind all the insightful, scripture-filled, life-changing inspiration you might find online. I’m here to talk to you about tuna.

Don't Forget the Tuna and other deep thoughts

It’s an important topic and that’s all there is to it.

See, here’s the thing. You and I have busy schedules. Some of us love to spend time in the kitchen making nice meals for our families. Some of us don’t. Either way – we all want to be healthy and there are many days each week we need something quick to throw out on the table. For me, this need is most prevalent at lunchtime during our homeschool days. Shoot, right now it’s also very important at dinnertime when we’re running out the door to soccer games. You know what? I need simple meals three times a day, seven days a week. I just do. I’m sure you can relate.

So…tuna.

I think this little convenience food can be overlooked as an easy meal option. So don’t forget the tuna. Remember the tuna. Long live the tuna.

And now, the most frequently asked questions about tuna. Seriously, they are asked frequently. Like all the time. My email inbox is flooded with tuna talk. You have no idea.

How do you make your tuna salad?

I add Hain Safflower mayonnaise and homemade pickle relish. Usually I shake in a little salt. How much of each, you ask? Probably 2 Tablespoons of mayo and 2 teaspoons of relish per can of tuna.

How many cans do you go through in one meal?

Do you really want to know? This is the Coppinger family we’re talking about here. Our boys eat at least one can each. It’s alottatuna. (When I wrote that just now, I said it in an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice. Try it: It’s alottatuna. See? Is it just me, or can you just totally hear him say that? I am so weird.)

Where do you get your tuna?

There has been some tuna controversy through the years. Doesn’t tuna have too much mercury? Is it hurting the dolphins? Salted or unsalted? In oil or in water?

I’ve researched it. We don’t eat it every day, but I do feel okay eating and serving it every couple of weeks. I order cases of Natural Value Yellow Fin Tuna. My understanding is that this variety has the lowest amount of mercury.

How do you serve your tuna salad?

I usually have my boys mix up a big bowl (yay for kids who can do this kind of work so that I can sit around talking like Arnold Schwarzenegger). Then we have it with crackers and whatever fruits and veggies we have in the fridge. It’s also great served on a bed of lettuce and a tomato slice. I like scooping tuna into a big bowl of mixed greens, chopped cucumbers, and diced tomatoes.

Or, if we’re really feeling creative (brace yourself for this one), we’ll spread some tuna salad on a slice of bread. Tuna sandwiches. Incredible invention.

Don’t forget this wonderful idea: Tuna Melts on Spinach

Tuna Melts on Spinach

And also the ever wonderful real-food Tuna Casserole that makes for a very easy and fast meal:

Are you a tuna lover? What’s your favorite way to eat tuna? Join in the tuna talk!

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Did I Really Spend THAT Much On Groceries Last Week?? (Plus Final Day For Bundle Offer! Get it now, get it now, get it…)

In my house, I usually have to say everything at least twice. In my house, I have to say everything at least twice.  (I couldn’t help it.)

Even when I repeat myself, I still hear, “Mom, you never told me that.” Oh my goodness yes I did do not even tell me you didn’t hear me now just go find your shoes we are late.

What I mean to say is: my boys are darlings who will never drive their future wives crazy.

You all, though. You’re much better listeners. I appreciate this (so much, like, you have no idea).

Still, you’re busy. You have a lot on your minds. You have a long to-do list and you likely have mud to clean up. (Just a hunch, since there’s been a lot of rain lately.)

If you’ve heard me talk about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (collection of 99 eBooks and eCourses and bonus items worth $1200, yours forever, discounted to just $29.97!!), and you just haven’t found the time to go get it, I understand. I haven’t minded mentioning it over and over because I feel that it is important enough to share with you as many times as necessary.

BUT. Today is the last day it is being offered. Today is the last day it is being offered. Today is (okay, you get it. you heard me.)

Tomorrow it will be gone. So stop whatever you’re doing right now (as in – stop reading this post mid sentence) and go get the bundle before you do anything else. I realize you want to read about how much I spent on groceries last week, but that information will still be here when you get back. Go! Get the bundle. I’ll be waiting for you. You won’t miss anything while you’re gone. Then come on back and read about how broke I am because of all the mangoes and chicken.

Bundle, Bundle, Bundle, Bundle, Bundle. Laura loves the Bundle.
Today is the last day it is being offered.
Today is the last day it is being offered.
Tomorrow it will be gone.
Go get your bundle.
Today is the last…

(The sale is over now. If you want to be sure to be informed of other sales and great deals in the future, sign up to receive our free daily newsletter~)

So about my grocery spending this week…

The good news is, I got great deals. The other good news is, I got great food. The other other good news is, I won’t have to spend as much money next week. But chokety choke - I spent a lot of money on food this week.

A mom can do all she can to keep her grocery spending down. But when it comes down to feeding a houseful of teenage boys (who are very active), it’s just going to cost more than it cost back when the boys were little.

I got two co-op orders this week, an online order, plus I went to the grocery store twice. My total expenses? Somewhere around $550. Praise the Lord, I do not have to spend that much each week. In fact, if I can get away with it, I may not spend any at all next week. Maybe? (I giggle inside at the very thought.)

Here are a few pictures of all our food. I ordered cocoa, salt, and whole wheat spaghetti noodles from iHerb. Random? Yes. It’s what I needed. ;) Then in my Azure Standard co-op order I got a case of mayo (cha-ching)…

groceries april 221

…50 pounds of potatoes,

groceries apr 231

many pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (three times more than what you see in the picture – I refuse to show you my entire, messy freezer right now), 5 pounds of peanuts, and a couple other small items I already put away and can’t remember right now.

groceries apr 232

Then I went to the store for fresh produce and some dairy. I came home with a few treats which we took on a much needed (and couldn’t be avoided because we had an out-of-town appointment and soccer game) day-trip. We also got our fresh milk and eggs from our local farm friends – I just didn’t take pictures of those.

groceries apr 233

Last but not least, I got a big Bountiful Baskets order this week. Along with fruits and veggies, I ordered tortillas and bread. ANYTHING to make the next few weeks leading up to graduation easier. I can’t believe how much there is to do right now. (Not complaining. Just loving and living and trying to breathe.)

groceries april 25
Regarding that crazy to-do list, I have not even had a moment to make a menu plan. Fruits and vegetables, plus meals involving chicken and tortillas – that’s what we’ll be eating this week. I’ll probably make burritos sometime. Scrambled eggs. Creamy Mac and Cheese. Recipes involving Whole Wheat Quick Mix. See, I can’t even write a complete sentence right now. We’ll eat. Somehow. The boys are a great help. (When they hear me. See beginning of post.)

Enough about my cheese, veggies, bags of chips, and enormous grocery expenses this week. Did you seriously not go get your bundle yet? Did I not make it clear that this is the final day it is available? The countdown is on.

Let me make this a no-brainer:

Laura’s Top 10 11 Reasons to Buy the 2015 Ultimate Homemaking Bundle #hashtagsincluded

11. The contents of this bundle are brand new. The bonuses are different than all other bundles you’ve seen before. The ebooks and ecourses are a brand new collection. You get to keep them forever. #alwaysimproving  #somuchgoodness
10. The (regularly $99) A Parents Guide to Natural Remedies course alone make the $30 purchase price worth it.  #parentempowerment  #myfavoritepartofthebundle
9. The From Blah to Blazing audio download will be a huge blessing to you and your husband. #oohlala
8.   The Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters book will give you loads of really fun and really easy ideas to make your kitchen life easier.  #whydidntithinkofthat
7.  You get a really pretty free scarf! #girlystuff  #didimentionitsfree  #morewherethatcamefrom
6. You get a completely free (with free shipping) book sent to you (of your choice) from Tyndale.  #lovereading  #putyourfeetup
5. The package and all that is offered is gone after today  #prettysureisaidthatalready  #notgoingtotellyouagain
4. The bundle includes something for every kind of homemaker. Whatever your needs. Whatever your strengths. Whatever your weaknesses.  #gotchacovered
3. Your purchase helps support the work it takes to keep my blog running.  #truestory
2. I wouldn’t talk about it so much if I didn’t love it.  #whohastimeforthat
1.  You, your family, and your home will be blessed.  #bestreasonofall  #withoutadoubt

This post contains affiliate links.  #thanksforyoursupport

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Build a Simple Veggie Flower (Great for Showers and Holidays!)

I just came across a picture on Pinterest showing me how to carve a swan out of a melon. I highly considered giving it a try for about negative .8 seconds – mostly because I knew for sure mine would turn out looking like a melon that fell out of my cart at the store and got ran over by a minivan.

Art and food? It’s not my thing. I think life’s too short to design owls out of kiwi, grapes, peaches, and blueberries when there are so many other important ways to spend time - like looking for lost shoes and sweeping up glass after a ball has been kicked through the kitchen (details not included). Also – I stink at art. Like, I draw a picture of a bunny and my kids say, “why did you draw a picture of our mailbox?”

But. Two weeks ago I saw a picture of veggies displayed in the shape of a flower and thought to myself: I can totally do that and I should do it for Easter. And so I did. It took less than 10 minutes (no joke) and people were like, “oh look it’s a flower.”  Score one for me.

Build a Simple Veggie Flower

I think this is a great idea for a springtime wedding or baby shower, and it was definitely perfect for our Easter buffet. On a regular day, however? I will be throwing down the veggies and dip like my normal non-artist self.

What You Need to Build a Veggie Flower

  • Broccoli
  • Baby Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Grape Tomatoes

Putting it all together is self explanatory – if you can do it I can do it. Just look at the picture above for the “how to.” Serve with these great dips:

Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix

Easy Veggie Dip 1

Have you done much mixing of art and food? I draw the line at this veggie flower. :)

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How To Clean Your Liver and Your Drinking Glasses At the Same Time

It’s all about lemon juice.

Hey, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. I simply learned this trick accidentally, so I decided to tell you to do it on purpose. After all, you might be like me and have water spots on your glasses and toxins in your liver. Not to worry – there’s a lemon for that.

Not sure if you have toxins in your liver? (And everybody looked down as if to examine their liver and check for toxins.)  I can just about guarantee we can all use a good liver cleanse.  We all breathe in toxins when we’re outside or when we’re around chemicals of any kind, and surely we’re ingesting them – even if we are very careful about what we eat.

Oh no!!  Our livers are toxic!  Relax. Our livers are made to process out toxins.  Our world simply gives them a little more than they can handle sometimes. A lemon-liver boost is just what the doctor ordered.

Lemon Water Detox - Simple!

For me, this happened literally.  One of my natural doctors suggested that my liver and immune system would benefit from drinking lemon juice in a glass of water each day.  It sounded easy enough – plus, I love that this is such a super inexpensive de-tox option.  So I started adding lemon juice to a glass of water once or twice each day.

How’s the taste? Well, pucker up. I don’t add sugar (because wouldn’t that just defeat the purpose?) so my lemon juice water is quite tart.  Now that I’m used to the taste though, I find it to be rather refreshing and I’ve started to crave it each day.

And then. Then!!!!!! I noticed that when I rinse my glass afterward, all the spots that had been hanging out were wiped away. Just like that. So it would appear that lemon juice cleanses my liver and my drinking glasses at the same time because it’s just so efficient and awesome like that.

Here. I took a picture of two drinking glasses to show you the difference. I considered also putting two livers side by side so we could all see the effectiveness of drinking lemon water but wouldn’t you know it. My camera battery died. Seriously. That’s the only reason I didn’t stage that picture. The only reason.

spots on glass

What have we learned here today?

  • Laura has hard water.
  • Our livers love lemons.
  • Lemon juice beats hard water stains.

So here is my advice to you today (and tomorrow): Add about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to a 12 ounce glass of water. Drink it down. Do this once or twice or three times each day. Feel confident about this lovely boost you are giving your liver – helping it to do its job for you more effectively.  And then watch as your drinking glasses become more sparkly each time you drink your lemon water.

After all, as they always say, if life gives you lemons – go cleanse your liver.  Or your drinking glasses.  Or both. At the same time.  Rock on.

Ever tried drinking straight lemon water? How do you like it?!

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Take a look at April’s Flexi-of-the-Month. Gorgeous!

April 2015 flexi Tulip
Available through April or until supplies last.

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Make Extra Baked Potatoes on Purpose Because…

What’s better than a baked potato?  A baked potato with butter.  Obviously.

But also, I have found that leftover baked potatoes can be a great meal-brain-time saver.  This is why I typically bake twice (at least) as many baked potatoes as we will need for one meal.

First, let us be reminded of my favorite way to bake potatoes – particularly in the summertime – but also pretty much all the time because it’s just so easy:

How to Bake Potatoes in the Crock Pot (Without Foil)

I typically have my boys scrub enough potatoes to completely fill the crock pot since I know having the leftovers will give me another easy meal later in the week.

What do I make with leftover baked potatoes?

1.  Homemade Frozen Hashbrowns or Hashbrown Patties

We shred baked potatoes into hashbrowns for the freezer.  Oh how I love pulling these out for a fast side dish.  If I take the time to freeze them into hashbrown patties, they are an extra special treat.

Homemade Hashbrown Patties

2.  Fried Potatoes

Leftover baked potatoes make the best fried potatoes.  We love to chop them up into a skillet with butter and sea salt.  They cook up quickly since they have already been baked, and they have incredible flavor!

3.  Potato and Egg Scramble

A favorite breakfast around here includes leftover baked potatoes fried in butter, then scrambled up with eggs.

4.  Potato Veggie Skillet

Leftover baked potatoes, cut up and fried in butter with veggies like onions and sweet peppers (and mushrooms and broccoli and spinach and asparagus) is incredible.

 5.  Baked Potato Soup

If I have leftover baked potatoes, I can make my Potato Soup recipe super quickly.  The baked potatoes give the soup a great flavor!

6.  Taco Potato Skillet

This makes a super fast meal!  Simply brown meat, add taco seasoning, then add chopped leftover baked potatoes – cooking until it is heated through.  Top with shredded cheese.  Serve with veggies.  My family loves this meal.  I love it because I can make it in about 15 minutes with little effort.

taco potato skillet 3

What do you do with leftover baked potatoes?

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How to Thaw Meat Quickly Without a Microwave

I will probably be scolded by the public health and safety people for giving you this tip – so just in case, I will say this:  No matter what, do not follow this advice.  This is a terrible suggestion.  Do not do this.  This is crazy talk.

There, now I’m covered.

I’m not going to tell you what to do.  I’m just telling you what I do.  Sometimes.  Hardly ever, really.  Pretty much never, actually.  (Or just about every day, but you did not just hear me say that.)

I try to avoid using a microwave.  In fact, I find that warming leftovers on the stove is faster anyway.  True story.  So what do I do when the meat is frozen and I need it for lunch in an hour?  I simply put the frozen meat into a pot of hot water.  It thaws within minutes.  I cook it right away.  We eat.

thaw meat quickly

I feel much better about this method than I do about using a microwave.  Plus it works great.

Now walk away.  This conversation never happened.

(unless you’d like to share how you thaw meat in a pinch)

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Build a Fruit Salad Bar

Create Your Own Fruit Salad

Sometimes fruits and veggies just need to be served in an exciting way to make them more appealing.  That – and some people in my house just won’t eat bananas.  If there are bananas in the fruit salad, one of my kids will refuse the apples, strawberries, and pineapple too.  ”I’ll just put the bananas on the side,” thought I, as I prepared to make a fruit salad for dinner.  But then I got the better idea to put everything “on the side” so each person could fill their bowl as they like.  Fun!

As it turns out, I got all the boys involved in prepping a fruit.  The result was a beautiful spread of choices that everyone was excited to dig into.

Build a Fruit Salad Bar

Justus (our 15 year old) built his salad and took this picture.  Beautiful!

There’s nothing complicated about this:  Simply slice or chop whatever fruit you have on hand and set it out for people to pick from as they fill their bowl.  Lay out shredded coconut, dried fruit, and nuts if you like.  Real whipped cream or cottage cheese added to the spread wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

This was a perfect side dish with our pasta and mixed greens tonight.  I’m thinking it would be fun to serve for breakfast some time soon, too!

What are your favorite fruits to add to a salad?

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Quick Note!

I made a mistake on yesterday’s Visit Omaha giveaway post.  Durham Museum IS NOT free.  my bad  It’s the Joslyn Museum that’s free.  I made the correction on the giveaway post, but wanted to make sure you got the update!

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Soup or Smoothies? I Can’t Decide

pineapple_mango_smoothie_2

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  I learned that in Kansas in first grade when my teacher Mrs. Howell explained the concept, then gave us paper plates to make lion and lamb faces.  We hung them on the wall in the back of the room above the coat rack.  (I remember pointless things.)

I’ve since learned that typically in Nebraska, March comes in like a lion and acts like a lion all month and goes out like a lion and greets April like a lion and once in a while a little lamb pokes it soft little head out just long enough to tease the lion.  But this year the lamb appears to be a bit more feisty than the lion because the sun is shining and we’re having some unusually warm weather.  The boys have been going outside in shorts because they can.  We’ve been shooting hoops in the driveway with the sun in our eyes.  Awesomeness.

For the first time in months, a smoothie sounds good, especially after playing or working outside.  But then we come back into my house and guess what?  Brrrrr!  The house hasn’t caught up yet with the outside weather.  What should we expect?  It is still getting pretty cold at night.

So sweaters or shorts?  Flip flops or boots?  Iced coffee or hot?  Soup or smoothies?

I’m thinking both.  Lions and lambs can be friends, can’t they?  Here’s what I’m celebrating during this fun collision of lion and lamb during the month of March:

1.  THE SUN IS SHINING, even during the cold parts of the day.  I heart sunshine.  I’ve probably mentioned that here before.
2. I can enjoy baking and grilling at the same time.  This doesn’t happen in the winter or the summer.
3.  There are no bugs yet because they haven’t yet realized that it’s warm enough to come out and crawl on us.
4.  Soup and smoothies taste good together.

Cheeseburger Soup

Today I present to you, in honor of The Month of Crazy Weather, our favorite soup and smoothie recipes.  You just never know when you’ll need one or the other or both at the same time.

Soup

Smoothies (and other fun, cold drinks)

While looking through my archives, I realize that I actually have very few smoothie recipes here.  That’s because I just throw in whatever fruit we have, which makes smoothies at our house “non-recipe” items.

What are you experiencing at your house?  Lion or lamb?  Soup or smoothie?  Boot or flip-flop?

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The Day I Got Carried Away With the Beans

It’s not what you think.  {and all the readers breathed a collective sigh of relief}

It’s just that last night I put beans in a bowl to soak, and then I woke up to beans that were threatening to overtake my kitchen.  {Wow, Laura.  Fascinating.}

beans 1

See, when you add water to beans – they grow.  They grow and they grow and they grow.  So if you aren’t thinking about what you’re doing, and you scoop 13 cups of beans into a bowl, then cover the beans with water before you go to bed – beware of the growing bean monster which will greet you when you walk into your kitchen to make breakfast.

I strained the beans and added fresh water, but of course, none other than my largest stock pot would hold the monster.

beans 2

Why, you ask?  Why so many beans?

I told you already.  I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing.  I needed a large amount of beans for a big batch of chili, so I just kept scooping.  I also forgot that beans in a bowl will soak up the water until they become bloated and ready to burst.  Whoa, good morning, beans.  That.  That is what I said when I walked into my kitchen this morning to find the bloated beans trying to crawl over the top of the bowl onto my counter top and floor.

I didn’t really tell the beans good morning.  I don’t talk to my chili beans.  Coffee beans, though – for sure.  Don’t even doubt that one.

After cooking the chili beans (which of course bubbled up and overflowed onto my stove-top because I forgot that they were cooking and because there were so many of them), I realized that I had way, way too many cooked beans for the big batch of chili I was planning to make.  All I’m doing is trying to do is to be prepared to feed our high school youth group on Sunday night, see?  But we’re going out of town Thursday afternoon and won’t get home until late Saturday night.  And I don’t know if you knew this or not, but we have to change our clocks this Saturday night, so we lose an hour of sleep.  No one asked my permission to do that this weekend.  This is not okay with me.

So in my effort to get ahead, I got very, very ahead.  I have beans for chili on Sunday night to feed an army.  Plus I now have three other big containers of beans in my freezer to be used another time.  Yay me.  I am so efficient.

chili beans 3

It seems that I just spent 404 words telling you about my beans – as if I have nothing better to talk about.  Blah, blah, blah, beans.  Wow everyone.  Look at my beans.

So now I shall leave you with this important reminder and advice:

Do not become distracted when you are scooping beans.  Stop scooping beans if you know what’s good for you.  But if you forget and over-scoop, simply go ahead and freeze your cooked beans for future use.

526 words to tell you that you can freeze beans.  Sometimes I amaze myself.

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Why Are There So Many People Now Who Can’t Tolerate Wheat?

After reading my Do We Need to Be Eating So Much Bread post, a friend of mine sent me a link to this article called The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic.  I found it to be a great read, especially because this is a question I’ve asked many times the past few years as more and more people are having to cut wheat out of their diets.  Why?  Why is wheat, which has been consumed forever, suddenly giving so many people digestive trouble?

Read this and come back here to share your thoughts.

Wheat

If you can eat wheat and reading that article made you want to avoid conventionally grown grain forever and always, here are links to my favorite sources for chemical-free grain:

  • Azure Standard (If you have access to this co-op, you will love the savings and quality products.)
  • Amazon – I was glad to find this 37 pound box of chemical free hard white wheat (my fav) for $56.85 with free shipping.
  • If you live in a city, check stores specialty stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.
  • If you live in a rural community, check with farmers around you to see if they grow chemical free wheat for you to purchase.

Grinding chemical-free wheat is easier than you think and incredibly tasty!  Ever since we got a Nutrimill and began grinding our own wheat (and corn) – our whole grain breads and other baked goods are more delicious than ever.  Here are all my posts on wheat and grain mills for your reading pleasure.  :)

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I also wanted to be sure you saw that it’s a free shipping weekend at Tropical Traditions!  Use the code 15223 at check-out.  You might check out their Einkorn Grain as it is fantastic quality.  Also worth noting is their Natural Soaps and their Coconut Creams are buy-one-get-one-free, which is great since you can also get free shipping.  (These links are my referral links.)

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