Funky Fresh Kitchen – The Make it Yourself Challenge

What helped me most during our healthy eating journey was realizing that while we were changing the way we purchased and made food, we were not trading Cheesy Velvetta Dip or Jello Pudding for a boring diet of tasteless rice cakes and bland green things that I’d never heard of. I simply found new ways to create our favorite foods. We didn’t have to stop eating peanut butter, pasta, pizza, tacos, cookies, pancakes, mac and cheese and burgers – I just needed to learn to make them in a healthier way.

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Homemade Creamy Pudding

Look through all of our recipes (scroll through the drop down Recipe Menu at the top of our site) to find long lists of Bread and Breakfast recipes, Main Dishes, Side Dishes and Snacks, Desserts, Condiments, Dairy Products – so many recipes that are easy to make, kid friendly, and healthy – all at the same time! Life does not end once you’ve decided to throw away your boxes of Partially Hydrogenated High Fructose Corn Syrup Red Food Dye #40 (otherwise known as the cereal that claims to be a part of “this complete breakfast”).

I know that not everyone enjoys cooking and creating in the kitchen as much as I love it. I mean…I love it. That has made this transition easier for me. But even if you don’t love cooking, there are some very simple foods you can make that aren’t difficult at all – and they just might replace (in a very delicious way) some of those “foods” you threw out the other day.

Your Funky Fresh Kitchen Challenge for today includes choosing one food item that you can make from scratch that will replace a less healthy option from the store. For instance:

Those are just a few fun ideas to get you started. Look through all of our recipes, or look elsewhere on the web (or in your favorite cookbooks) for a recipe you can make that replaces an unhealthy variety of one of your favorite foods. I promise you that all of the above listed ideas are super easy to make. You can make peanut butter in five minutes with only a food processor and some peanuts. Making your own salad dressings is one of the easiest changes I made in my healthy kitchen. Take a look at this post called Five Minutes to Cultured Dairy for inspiration on making your own yogurt and other dairy products. Making Homemade Mac and Cheese takes the same amount of time as using the boxed stuff. Let go of the unfounded fears that cooking from scratch means that you’ll rub blisters, break nails and faint from exhaustion.

Pick one (or five!) and make it a project. Leave a comment on this post telling us what new recipe(s) you plan to make yourself. (No, it doesn’t have to be a recipe from our Heavenly Homemakers site – you can pick anything that will be best for your Funky Fresh Kitchen!)  Your comment will serve as your entry in the giveaway for one of five $10 gift certificates to our Shop. Then, after you’ve completed your Make it Yourself project, come back and leave another comment sharing the results. (This will be a second entry!)  Share with us – Did you like the new recipe? Did it work well for you? Was it easy to make? I can’t wait to hear about all your Funky Fresh Kitchen projects!

Let the Make it Yourself Challenge begin!

(As for me, for a long time I have wanted to try to make Homemade Beef Pepperoni – a recipe I found at Tammy’s Recipes. I challenged myself to make that this week and YUM! I’ll share more about it next week. I’m so excited – I made homemade pepperoni!!)

Funky Fresh Kitchen – The Toss it Out Challenge

I’m not generally a proponent of wasting food. But I’m here today to challenge you to do a little bit of selective pantry cleansing. This may be a little bit painful – but I’m here to hold your hand (and walk with you to the trash can). You can do this. We’re all in this together.

One of the most difficult things for me to do when we began our Healthy Eating Journey was to throw out and stop purchasing foods that I was able to get for little to nothing with coupons.  Skippy Peanut Butter, Hamburger Helper, Poptarts, Rice-a-Roni – these and many more were all frequently in my pantry until six years ago when we began to learn the importance of eating real, whole foods. I shed tears, I got heeby-jeebies in my gut, I grieved my old way of life and way of thinking about “food”.

It was a roller-coaster time for me because at the same time I was struggling to clean out my food stash, I was also excited about eating better. I was thrilled to be learning ways to feed my family healthier foods. I was hopeful about the improvements in our health that came with eating nutrient rich foods, instead of pre-packaged foods that were hurting our bodies.


Why did I think I’d miss boxed mac and cheese when
for the same amount of time and effort, we can have this???
Creamy Mac and Cheese

During that transition, many boxes and bags made their way to our trash can. (It helped when ants got into some open boxes of cereal – praise the Lord for blessings that come in the form of little black pests.)  Some of our unopened packages of processed foods were given to our local food pantry. Little by little, I transformed our kitchen.

Some of the main ingredients I was focused on getting rid of right away were:  High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Oils. I began reading labels, and if those ingredients were in the foods in my home, out they went. Later, I transitioned our noodles and rice to be of the whole grain variety, then I made changes with our dairy products and meat. Slowly but surely, my kitchen became funky, fresh and healthy.

If you’re on a healthy eating journey, I’d like to encourage you to make just one more change today. Throw out something in your kitchen that shouldn’t be there. (Um, don’t toss your husband’s favorite goodies without asking first – this post is supposed to be inspirational to your health, not detrimental to your marriage.)  ;)

Let’s walk together to your food stash. What’s in there that isn’t helping you and your family to be healthy? I’m not asking you to throw out everything that isn’t a real, wholesome food unless you’re absolutely ready to take that plunge. Today I’m just asking you to throw out one thing (or set it aside to give away).

In an upcoming post I’ll share all kinds of exciting information about how to replace those bad-for-you foods with delicious good-for-you foods!!!  But today we’re just taking a step toward a Funky Fresh Kitchen by throwing out one thing that isn’t good for us. Picture me (and all the rest of the gang who hangs out here) cheering you on while you do it.

Leave a comment on this post letting us all know what you’ve tossed out!!!   Use that awesome basketball ability you’ve been hiding all these years and skillfully shoot those boxes of unreadables across the room into the trash so that you can replace it with something delicious and better for you. Share with us what you’re tossing!!! We want to be inspired by you. (Plus, your comment here will be entered in the drawing for our five $10 Heavenly Homemakers Shop gift certificates giveaway!!)

Hey, while we’re on the subject of cleaning out the pantry (and fridge), I’d love to hear how you’re coming on creating your Funky Kitchen. There are still some $2.00 Funky Kitchen coupon codes to be had…get ’em while they last!

Homemade Butterscotch Baking Chips


Check one more item off the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge List! We have Butterscotch Chips!

These are more than just a little bit sweet – wowza, these chips are quite sugary. Therefore, I must advise that you don’t eat the entire pan of butterscotch chips all in one sitting. I’m pretty sure you knew that already. I’m also pretty sure you are planning to eat plenty of vegetables before (and after) you make these. Right?

Here are the reasons I attempted Homemade Butterscotch Chips:

  1. Many of you wanted me to do this. I aim to please.
  2. Every single package of butterscotch chips I’ve seen on the market has hydrogenated oil in them. Bleh. It is very important to avoid hydrogenated oils.
  3. I need some Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies.

You will notice that I used organic brown sugar in this recipe instead of sucanat. I did this because I was afraid that the molasses flavor of the sucanat would effect the flavor of these chips, making them not taste like butterscotch. I had some organic brown sugar on hand, so I used it and was pleased with the results.

Homemade Butterscotch ChipsYum

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut oil (I used expeller pressed so as not to have a coconut flavor)
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt together butter, coconut oil and brown sugar. Stir continually until all ingredients are mixed well, bringing the mixture ALMOST to a boil, then turning down the heat. Cook and stir some more on low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a liquid.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour the contents onto a parchment paper lined container. I used a 9×13 inch dish.

Place the dish into the fridge for 3-4 hours to allow the mixture to solidify. Cut or break the butterscotch into small “chips”.

Store them in an air tight container in the fridge.

And would you look at that? These homemade butterscotch chips make fantastic Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies! (I’ll share my recipe next week.)

Are you a fan of butterscotch chips? What’s your favorite way to use them?

Read about making Homemade Chocolate Chips here!

 

Should I Eat Organic Food? (Part Two)

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If you recall, I am writing a series within a series to explain my thoughts on eating organic food, while encouraging you to take simple steps toward healthy eating. In addition, I need to discuss an issue within an issue, which is very important to cover in this series within the series. ;)

What I need to emphasize is this:  Whether or not you ever decide to eat organic foods, whether or not you ever feel like organic food is a priority, whether or not you feel like you can afford organic food, no matter where you land on the organic food issue…

None of that is as important as focusing on eating REAL FOOD.

I do feel like it is important to look for healthy food sources. I do feel like organic food is best in many instances. I do feel like we should be wise stewards with the bodies God gave us and work to treat our bodies with great care. I’m writing about eating organic foods because it is obviously important to me.

But if  you come away with after reading any of my posts feeling like the definition of “eating healthy” means that “you must eat organic food”, then I haven’t done a very good job of explaining myself.

My reasons for writing these posts about organic foods is simply to answer questions you’ve had about whether or not organic food is important. I think it IS important…but not as important as all of us learning to skip processed, dead, nutrient void food and learning to eat real food.

What am I really trying to say here? If all you change about your diet is to eat out less and eat fewer of the processed foods that are slowly destroying your insides, then you are very much on the right track. If at the very least, you stop eating so many nutrient void “foods”, and start eating more real, whole foods – organic or not – you are going to be so much healthier.

Yes, in my big priority list of Simple Steps Toward Healthy Eating, “buy and eat organic food” doesn’t rank nearly as high as my advice to “just eat real, whole foods”.

If my family was in a situation where there was no organic food available or accessible at all, if there were no grass fed or free range animals, if I couldn’t order food off the internet, if my options were completely limited…I’d simply focus on feeding my family basic, real foods. I’d probably go easier on the meat and dairy (because I really only feel good about eating/drinking animal products from healthy sources), but otherwise, we’d just focus on eating real foods:  fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, grains, meat, dairy and pasta. (And coconut oil. I’d really break my back to get some coconut oil.)

I wouldn’t love it and I wouldn’t feel great about it, but if truly that’s all I could do, that’s what I would do.

More important to me than eating organic foods is to avoid high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG, food coloring and artificial flavors.

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Homemade Chewy Granola Bars – easy to make, made with real foods, super delicious!

So there you go. Those are my thoughts.

Now, if you do have organic, free range, grass fed, locally grown, yada yada food available to you (and I would venture to say that most of us do) then I encourage you to look further into these options. That’s what this series within the series is about after all. :)  But overall and above all and absolutely positively, focus first on eating Real Food.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Coming up next week in this series:  What does “organic” mean – Why I feel like organic food is important – Is it worth it to pay more for organic food?