Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Happiest News

Dinner was eaten and the supper table was (mostly) cleaned up.  It was a beautiful, cool, summer evening.   We stepped outside to sip some fresh, breezy air before starting the children's bedtime routine.  I nonchalantly whipped out my camera and began to record.  The kids immediately knew something was up.  Mom's trying to capture something again.  What's going on?  My head nodded at Jeremy.  

Well, kids.  We have some news.
Life-changing news?
We're gonna have a baby?
You're right!  Mommy's pregnant!
YES!!!!!! Screamed our oldest.
Shrieks of glee.
Queue a million excited questions all at once.
Our son really feels this baby is a boy.
Little miss touchy-feely immediately placed her hands on my tummy and started talking to the baby.
Our littlest smiled, sat quietly, and went deep into thought.  Then she decided it was a girl, was troubled because she didn't know what to name her, then resolved that the baby would love all of her favorite places and things and she would show them to the new baby once it was born.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, here is a freeze frame from the video of all their reactions to the happy news.

Needless to say, we are all thrilled!
Overwhelmed with happiness.
Humbled by such a blessing.
There is not a bigger blessing I can think of than partnering with our Father in bringing in a new life.
Blessings hardly ever equal an easy road, and we embrace this.

Now, I shall answer the questions that have been (since we were pregnant with our third) and will be asked en masse.  Probably not by my amazing readers, but it feels good to get it out there, nonetheless:
  1. Yes, we know (and enjoy!) how this works.
  2. No, you don't need to buy us a TV.
  3. Yes, we were "trying."
  4. Yes, we have our hands full and we wouldn't have it any other way.
  5. Yes, we realize we live in a small house and are at peace with that.  We plan on expanding it as soon as enough funds can be saved.  (Probably in a year or two).
Little Riddle #5 is due to make this world a better place early March!

Thank you for celebrating with us!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are children of one’s youth.

Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in
the gate."

Psalm 127:3-5

I"m sharing this at Gratituesday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grain-Free Maple Pecan Cupcakes ~ A Recipe

Ah, late June.  Never-ending sun, smoothie-pops galore, lake days, and a season with no oven.  Wait.  What?  It's pouring down rain and it's only 65º at the hottest part of the day?!  Oh blessed reprieve from the heat!  Oven, my friend, let's turn up the heat and make some sweet cupcakes.  Grain-free, of course.  This recipe was inspired from Elana's Gluten-Free Strawberry Cupcake recipe.  You see, I had no fresh strawberries and I use a few different ingredients than she does.  So the Maple Pecan Cupcake was born.  My family all gave it two thumbs up.  Each.  So... 12 thumbs, actually.  And those thumbs say a lot, I tell you.  This group ain't easy to please all at once; especially with coconut flour.

Grain-Free Maple Pecan Cupcakes
Makes 8 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 pastured eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream (preferably raw, never ultra-pasteurized)
1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or insides scraped out of 1/2 vanilla bean (a much prettier effect)
1/3 cup pecan pieces (or 1 whole pecan placed on the center of each cupcake)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Stuff eight muffin cups with liners.
  2. Combine coconut flour, arrowroot powder, salt, & soda.  Add eggs, maple syrup, & vanilla extract.  Beat the batter for at least one minute (preferably 2).  The key to successfully baking grain-free dishes is beating the egg with the flour really thoroughly.
  3. Spoon batter in cupcake liners and bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean.  Cool in pan for about an hour.
  4. Whip all frosting ingredients together except pecans until peaks form.  Spoon frosting onto cooled cupcakes.  Sprinkle pecans on top and serve.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Chicken ~ A Recipe

This is the simplest dish ever.  It almost shouldn't be listed as a recipe.  It was so delicious, though, that it didn't seem right to keep such a dish to myself, so here it is.  This is perfect for any season, really, but I love to save it for the summertime when the oven and I take a break from each other *sniff*.  If you'd like to make it GAPS-legal, use your favorite squash instead of potatoes.  This is the incredible five minute meal.  That's all it takes to assemble, then you let it slow cook for about 7 hours.  It fills the home with a fragrance that puts those chemically air fresheners to shame.  This is all it takes:

Slow Cooker Herbed Lemon Chicken
Serves 6-8

1 pastured chicken
2 organic lemons, halved (be sure they're organic as the peel will be in contact with the bird.
about 4 red or Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
olive oil
Your favorite seasoning (Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning worked wonderfully)
4-6 cloves garlic, seeded & halved
  • Wash chicken.  Stuff chicken with lemons, slightly squeezing them in the cavity to release the juice.
  • Place chicken in the crock pot and surround it with potatoes (or squash).  Brush chicken with olive oil & drizzle just a little bit over potatoes.
  • Sprinkle seasoning over chicken and potatoes.  Don't be afraid to use a lot.  Sprinkle garlic halves around chicken.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours if your crock pot tends to be on the hotter side of things (like mine), or 8-10 if it's, well, slow like a slow cooker should be.
*TIP: Don't allow chicken to get super brown on top or it will take on that "crock pot taste."  Just check that the thickest part of the meat isn't at all pink and it reaches 165º.  This is a wonderfully moist chicken dish, and the potatoes get nicely light brown and crispy along the edges.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan, Week 7 & a Mostly Raw Wrap

This picture cracks me up.  "Out from the clouds comes... the mostly raw wrap."

This week, I'd like to share more of a concept than a recipe.  Jer and I have been inhaling these for lunches quite a lot; especially at the end of the month when things get... creative in the kitchen.  If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I go raw as much as I can.  You also know that I love cheese, especially when it's melted.  It's paradoxical, I tell you.  So I decided something.  And that thing is... a dish doesn't have to be all raw or all cooked.  Enter: the mostly raw wrap.  Here's the concept: Warm all ingredients that have already been cooked and keep what's raw, raw.  Here's what this week's wrap had (talk about scrounging for leftover scraps and making it taste good);

  • Melt butter/ghee/coconut oil/your favorite fat in a large cast iron pan.  Spread hummus over tortilla.  Add leftover chicken from previous dinner and bacon leftover from breakfast.  Sprinkle whatever cheese is in the fridge on top.  Place in heated skillet until warmed and cheese is starting to melt.  The tortilla should be nice and crispy, but still roll-able.  Remove from heat, add whatever raw ingredients sounds good (I used lettuce, grated carrot, avocado, sliced cucumber, micro greens, and olives).  Drizzle salad dressing (I used cultured thousand island), roll, and eat.
On to the menu:

To do: Soak beans & nuts
Breakfast: Carrot juice & Raw Banana Pancakes with sunflower seeds
Snack: Raw milk kefir blueberry smoothies
Lunch: Beef & Cheese Quesadillas
Snack: Raw milk kefir smoothie popsicles
Dinner: Mexican food salad bar

To do: Make refried beans & dehydrate almonds & pecans
Breakfast: Ginger zinger juice & pastured eggs
Snack: Raw milk kefir banana strawberry smoothies
Lunch: Quesorritos
Snack: Cantaloupe slices
Dinner: Potato (leftover) brisket melt

To do: Soak porridge & sourdough English muffins
Breakfast: Avocado slices & pastured, scrambled eggs
Snack: Raw milk kefir mango smoothies
Lunch: Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn, raw cheese & carrot slices
Snack: Watermelon slices
Dinner: Salad bar with wild salmon & hard boiled eggs

To do: Make Sourdough English Muffins
Breakfast: Porridge & pastured eggs
Snack: Raw milk kefir mixed berry smoothies
Lunch: Sourdough English Muffin Sandwiches
Snack: Fried Mush & blueberries
Dinner: Lemon Herb Slow Cooker Chicken & potato wedges

Breakfast: Sourdough English Muffin Egg Sandwiches
Snack: Raw milk kefir veggie smoothies
Lunch: Mostly Raw Wraps (see top of post)
Snack: Raw milk kefir smoothie popsicles
Dinner: Rice Noodles with Veggies over Marinara Sauce

To do: Soak buttermilk biscuits
Breakfast: Egg burritos
Snack: Raw milk kefir smoothies
Lunch: Chicken Enchilada Salad (using last night's leftover chicken)
Snack: Fresh Strawberries
Dinner: Slow Cooker Chuck Roast & Bean Burritos/bowls

To do: Menu Plan
Breakfast: Soaked Buttermilk Biscuits & Pastured Eggs
Snack: Fresh Dates
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off.)

Have a happy week!

I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

VIDEO: Shearing Shamrock the Jacob Ram

We are reaching the hundreds this week.  Today is forecasted to hit the high of 108º F.  Although it is a dry heat, I'm not a fan.  I can only imagine what our poor lambs have endured.  Remember this little guy from way back in... January?

Well, he's massive now (for the small breed that he is, at least) and had gorgeous, soft wool about two inches thick.  It was time to try our hand at shearing.  Jeremy started on it before I was able to take a "before" picture, but you can kind of get a feel for the amount of wool Shamrock carried by watching this video.  Here are some snippets of our first attempt at harvesting wool!  My heart quite melts listening to our three-year-old comfort that burly ram.  Also, any input from veteran shearers is much appreciated.

A lil' still shot:

That new fleece underneath is so... clean!

And... here is the "after" tehe!:
Receiving comfort from Jeremy.

Yes, I did capture the tender moment, gentlemen.
Next... It's Blossom's turn.  She was once so little, but now she and "Shammy Rammy" are the same size!

Mama, I don't wanna die!
I'm sharing this at Farmgirl Friday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Piña Colada Water Kefir ~ A Recipe

It's been almost two months since the first taste of water kefir went down the hatch with surprised delight.  I'm happy to report that my water kefir grains are thriving and multiplying.  Our family's favorite  flavor has honestly been the plain kind (or original?), though I do enjoy some shavings of fresh ginger in mine.  The other day, I wanted to play around with some new water kefir flavor sensations.  Why?  Because I was a little stressed and experimenting is a way I find peace.  I can see everyone's heads tilting and giving me that quirky stare right at this very minute.  But hey!  I discovered a winning combo!  Not only is this beverage divine (this might weird some of you out even more), but the pineapple and coconut were a delicious snack after I downed the water kefir.  I'm serious!  It's like a happy to-go drink and snack all in one.  Movingrightalong...

Next time, I'd love to try this with coconut milk and pineapple juice for a creamier drink (I just used what was already in the fridge and pantry), but at the same time, I can't lie.  The fruity chunks and I agree with each other.  It kinda feels like rolling open a can of fruit, drinking the syrup, then eating the contents.  You know, like a secretly naughty treat that you don't really tell anyone about because you might think it will gross them out, but in reality they do the very same thing because it's so dang good.  No?  Just kidding, then.  I mean, who would ever do something like that, right?  Gulp.

Piña Colada Water Kefir
1 quart water kefir
2/3 cup fresh pineapple chunks

Some tips:
  • I kind of squeezed the pineapple chunks into the water kefir a bit to release the juices more.
  • Although you can totally leave it out at room temperature for a day or two, I preferred it chilled.
*Disclaimer:  It's been years and years and years since I last bought a can of fruit (and sipped of it's sweet nectar), so can I please maintain the "healthy girl" status?  Pretty please?

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    GAPS Intro eBook WINNER!

    Wow, there was quite a lot of interest in this giveaway.  Y'all know a good thang when ya see it!  Well done, everyone.

    If you happen to not be the winner, I highly recommend investing in What Can I Eat Now?  Even if you don't plan on doing the GAPS diet, but would like to slow down on foods that can irritate your digestive system.  This book has so many tasty, easy recipes to help with that.  Cara also coaches you with emotional support for when you choose a healthier path for your family and are faced with explaining things to family, friends and even doctors in her "What do I tell..." section of the book.  My favorite things about this book:

    • Personal care recipes (like deodorant and all-purpose salve).
    • Easy, delicious menu plans to get you through each stage of GAPS.
    • Encouraging strategies for keeping focused on other things besides food and how to handle social gatherings when on a restrictive diet.
    Also, for a brief time, What Can I Eat Now? is $10 off!  What a deal!

    And now, the winner! selected comment number 63, which was:

    I am a HHH subscriber.
    Congrats, Melissa!  Please email me your email address so I can send it over to Cara and she'll email you your free copy!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan, Week 6

    This past week has been full of happy company, buying and dividing a whole cow's worth of beef, VBS, two dance recitals, and, you know, homesteading.  My lovely land got the short end of the stick this week.  That can't happen again.  If we're not careful, this hot summer sun is going to scorch our sweet, tender plantlettes.  It was a bit of a throw-together week for food, but there was definite effort put in to not let the busyness compromise our nutrition.  Here's what happened:

    Breakfast:  Carrot juice & Grain-Free Banana Blueberry Bars
    Snack: Raw milk kefir blueberry smoothies
    Lunch: Veggie burritos
    Snack: Raw milk kefir smoothie pops
    Dinner: Guests took us out to dinner

    Breakfast: Ginger zinger juice & luscious lemon pudding
    Snack: Raw milk kefir strawberry banana smoothies
    Lunch: Quesorritos
    Snack: Cantaloupe slices
    Dinner: (Gluten-free version of) Sour Cream Noodle Bake, Garden Salad, Homemade Ice Cream

    To do: Soak Porridge
    Breakfast: Avocado slices and pastured eggs
    Snack: Raw milk kefir mango smoothies
    Lunch: Nut Butter Popcorn, raw cheese & carrot slices
    Snack: Watermelon slices
    Dinner: (Gluten-free version of) Beef with Peppers & Mediterranean salad

    To do: Make Sunday's snack & soak sourdough english muffins
    Breakfast: Porridge & eggs
    Snack: Raw milk kefir mixed berry smoothies
    Lunch: Beef & bean burritos
    Snack: Fried mush & blueberries
    Dinner: Gluten-Free Turkey Pesto Pasta & watermelon slices

    To do: make sourdough English muffins
    Breakfast: Sourdough English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches
    Snack: Raw milk kefir Apple Pie Smoothies (Recipe found in Cultures For Health Free eBook)
    Lunch: Herbed lemon chicken & potato wedges
    Snack: Raw milk kefir smoothie pops
    Dinner: Crock Pot Brisket, Garden Salad, Grilled Squash, & Raw Chocolate Macaroons

    To do: Soak buttermilk biscuits
    Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
    Snack:  Raw milk kefir Tropical Smoothie (Recipe found in Cultures For Health Free eBook)
    Lunch: Leftover Crock Pot Brisket
    Snack: Fruit leathers
    Dinner: Leftover Sour Cream Noodle Bake

    To do: Menu plan
    Breakfast: Soaked Buttermilk Biscuits & sausage gravy
    Snack: Nut Butter Spoons
    Lunch: Out to lunch with family
    Snack: Fruit salad
    Dinner: Brisket salad & Homemade Ice Cream

    Have a happy week!

    I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011


    Welcome to the new and improved Riddlelove!  I'm so very pleased with all the hard work my new friend Nichole has put into this blog that holds a special place in my heart.  I didn't realize how much Riddlelove feels like something I've nurtured and loved on until we began tweaking with it.  Thankfully, my blog baby was in good hands and she came out beautiful in the end, don't you think?  I even have my own button and favicon now.  Eee!  I know you fellow bloggers can understand my excitement about all this (and what on earth those things are).

    Speaking of fellow blog friends, if you're thinking about giving your own lil slice of the inter web a dusting off, I highly recommend working with Nichole over at Blog Not Perfect and check out the many different styles she's created to fit each individual's flavor (some of the blogs she's designed are found on the sidebar of her own gorgeous blog).

    Take a gander!

    blog button

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    GIVEAWAY! Intro to GAPS E-Book: "What Can I Eat Now?"

    So.  GAPS.  The more I read about it, the more I believe in it.  From eczema to schizophrenia.  From acid reflux to diabetes.  It can help it all.  Also, it's a temporary diet, not necessarily a lifestyle change forever.  I like that too.  But here's the deal.  If you have heard anything about the GAPS diet, it is hard core.  Not for the faint of heart.  Especially if you have kids.  I'll admit, I've been intimidated for sure.  

    But look!  It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's Cara from Health, Home, and Happiness to the rescue!  Cara knows GAPS like no one else I've seen (well, her and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, of course).  Cara has partnered with Dr. Campbell-McBride, applied her experience using GAPS with herself and two young children, and has written this incredibly encouraging, 57-page ebook, What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days of Recipes and Tips for the GAPS Intro Diet.  This book is extremely holistic.  Not only does it provide simple instructions to prepare before you launch into the 30 day diet (laid out day-by-day), Cara shares simple recipes for personal care products.  I made her deodorant recipe and it was as easy as pie!  Not only was it super simple, it was actually effective. Way more effective than the store-bought kind I've been using.  Win!

    Besides all the simple, satisfying meal and snack recipes she provides in her day-to-day to do lists, Cara helps you learn to read your body, what it might be going through, and how to navigate any discomforts.  I have found this ebook to be extremely helpful and I feel very inspired to got for GAPS!

    I am happy to announce a giveaway for What Can I Eat Now? 30 Days of Recipes and Tips for the GAPS Intro Diet!  One of my happy readers can win a copy ($30 value!) by entering.  Here are the rules:
    Mandatory Entry: Sign up for Health, Home, & Happiness's newsletter (and receive a sample of the ebook!). Come back and tell me that you did so.

    Extra Entries: Leave a separate comment for each extra action you take for more entries.
    • "Like" Health, Home, & Happiness on Facebook (1 entry) and leave a comment telling me you did so.
    • "Like" Riddlelove on Facebook (1 entry) and leave a separate comment saying do.
    • Follow Riddlelove on Twitter (1 entry) and leave another comment here for that.
    • Subscribe to Riddlelove's feed (1 entry): add another comment.
    • Share a link to this giveaway on your Facebook page (1 entry) and leave another comment.
    • Tweet this: "#GAPS Intro ebook #giveaway by @HealthHomeHappy from @riddlelove " (1 entry) leave a comment.
    The giveaway begins Monday, June 13, 2011 at 10:00 am PST and ends Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm, PST.  One winner will be chosen through and announced in a new post on this blog Monday morning, June 20, 2011.

    Have fun!

    I'm sharing this at Fight Back FridayTraditional TuesdaysGratituesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, & Real Food Wednesday.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan, Week 5

    Sharing weekly menu plans can feel a bit vulnerable.  Anyone can look at my plan and find nutrition gaps.  Including me.  There has definitely been some slacking off when it comes to juicing.  Honestly, it's because I didn't want to clean another appliance on a daily basis.  Lameness times 100.  Ugh.  Okay, I'll juice again.

    Way more importantly, I've been very much enjoying Health, Home, & Happiness's new ebook, What Can I Eat Now?  30 Days on the GAPS Intro Diet.  It is an extremely holistic introduction to GAPS and for the first time, GAPS didn't seem as scary as it has.  This week, I incorporated Cara's simple and tasty recipes into our planner.  They are amazing as they taste good and are satisfying, but I'm not in the kitchen all the live-long day to make them happen.  More on this ebook tomorrow, when I have the privilege of giving away a copy!  Yahoo!

    To do: Trader Joe's run
    Breakfast: Carrot juice with Water Kefir & Grain-Free Zucchini Bread
    Snack: Strawberry Banana Raw Milk Kefir Smoothies
    Lunch: (A variation of) Chicken Salad with Blueberries (using chicken from making stock last week)
    Snack: Baked Apples (using coconut sugar instead of brown sugar)

    To do: Thaw Chicken Stock for Thursday's dinner
    Breakfast: Grain-free Summer Squash Pancakes with raw honey & eggs over-easy
    Snack: Blueberry Raw Milk Kefir Smoothies
    Snack: Cantaloupe slices

    To do: Soak porridge & Sourdough English Muffins, pick up raw milk
    Breakfast: Ginger Zinger Juice with Water Kefir, Avocado slices with scrambled eggs
    Snack: Mixed Berry Raw Kefir Milk Smoothies
    Lunch: Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn, raw cheese & carrot slices
    Snack: Watermelon slices
    Dinner: (A version of) Beef with Peppers, garden salad with Poblano Dressing, & Raw Samoa Cookies

    To do: Make Sunday's snack & Sourdough English Muffins, thaw ground beef for Saturday's dinner
    Breakfast: Carrot juice with Water KefirPorridge & eggs
    Snack: Apple Pie Raw Kefir Smoothies
    Snack: Fried Mush (made with leftover porridge from breakfast)
    Dinner: Onion Soup, English Muffins, & Steamed Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

    To do: Soak Sourdough Pancakes
    Breakfast: Carrot Apple Juice with Water Kefir & Grain-free Banana Blueberry Bars
    Snack: Raw Veggie Milk Kefir Smoothies
    Lunch: Quesorritos with Creme Fraiche & Cortido
    Snack: Popsicles made with leftover juice and/or milk kefir smoothies

    To do: Farmer's Market Run
    Breakfast: Pancake Bar
    Snack: Raw Milk Kefir Smoothies
    Snack: Raspberries from Farmer's Market with Creme Fraiche
    Dinner: (A grain-free version of) Meatloaf, Farmer's Market Salad, & Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

    To do: Menu plan
    Breakfast: Smoothies and eggs
    Snack: Cherry Vanilla Power Bars (made Thursday)
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Dinner: Leftovers
    (Sunday is my day off)

    I'm Sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Soap Nuts WINNERS!

    Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway.  If you aren't one of the winners, I encourage you to buy a sample bag from Nuts4Soap and try them out.  I think you'll like them as much as we do!  As we transition sssslllloooowwwwlllyyy into GAPS, it's not just our diet that needs to change, but everything we use on our bodies, including laundry detergent.  Discovering soap nuts has been so huge because it's not only GAPS-legal, but it doesn't take any extra effort to use them instead of the detergent I had been using before.  I love it when a healthy change isn't a time commitment, don't you?

    On to the winners! selected the following six entries as winners:
    1. Comment # 35: Laurie said... I like Nutz4Soap on FB.
    2. Comment # 67: Daphne said...I posted link on my facebook! Oh happy day!
    3. Comment # 78: Rachel said... I'm following riddlelove on twitter.
    4. Comment # 17: alszambrano said... I tweeted the suggested tweet @alszambrano
    5. Comment # 61: Lili said... I just subscribe to your feedburner! Love your site!
    6. Comment # 2: charis said... i visited the site and it is cool to see they can be made into a liquid to use as an all purpose cleaner. i would love to try them out and see how they work.
    Congrats, winners!  Please email me your addresses and I'll forward them to Nutz4Soap so you can receive your sample bag!  Enjoy!

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    GIVEAWAY! Natural Laundry Soap ~ Soap Nuts

    Soap what?!
    You heard me.
    From a tree.
    They will clean your clothes in the... cleanest way.
    I should be a salesman, I tell you.

    I received a bag of these last month and have absolutely loved them.  It's green.  It's crunchy.  It's effective.  And talk about no packaging!  Think about the bulky containers laundry soap comes in.  Now look at the picture above.  Once you've washed about six loads with four of these nuts in the cute bag provided (you get about 20 nuts in a sample bag), the nuts are ready to be composted.  No waste, folks!  I can't tell you how happy this makes me.  Also, these nuts are...

     BABY & H.E. SAFE!

    Soap nuts produce very little suds, so they are perfect for your High-Efficiency washing machine.  They are also fragrance, dye, and additive-free, and they are 100% hypo-allergenic; perfect for baby's soft skin.

    Want to see for yourself?  Nutz4Soap has graciously offered to give away SIX sample bags of soap nuts to my beautiful readers!  There are oh so many ways to enter:


    Leave a separate comment at the end of this post for each entry.  You must leave a comment answering the question for the mandatory entry before being eligible for extra entries.  After that, you have 6 possible extra entries to better your odds of winning.

    Mandatory Entry: Visit Nutz4Soap and come back and tell me what other uses soap nuts are good for besides cleaning laundry.

    Extra Entries: Leave a separate comment for each extra action you take for more entries.
    The giveaway begins Monday, June 6, 2011 at 10:00 am PST and ends Friday, June 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm, PST.  Winners will be chosen through and announced in a new post on this blog Saturday morning, June 11, 2011.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan, Week 4

    The past seven days have been one of those weeks.  The flop kind.  You know, where I invested some serious time making a batch of kale chips, and then almost gagged after the first bight.  I really wanted to like them.  I know several people who adore them.  But I didn't.  Darn it.  If I couldn't stomach them, there was no way the family would tolerate them.  Then, there was the ketchup.  I tried two new recipes, both were cultured.  After trying both, my kids (serious ketchup connoisseurs) stuck their noses up.  I'll still use the ketchup in recipes, but no one will receive it on their eggs in the morning.  Lastly, the peanut butter.  Somehow, the peanuts weren't roasted long enough.  The family detected it and rejected it.  Balderdash.  There were rumblings of mutiny in the house.  I could feel it in my bones.  The fam can only handle so many food flops in one week.  It was time to pull out some old favorites to appease the restless natives.  It worked.  The rumblings subsided.  Peace was restored.  So.  Here is the modified menu that we ended up following last week, sans kale chips, cultured ketchup, and whitish peanut butter.

    To do: Soak pinto beans & english muffins, thaw beef stock for Wednesday's dinner
    Snack: Blueberry kefir smoothies
    Snack: Fruit & Berry Salad
    Dinner: Tri-tip, bunless, organic, nitrate-free hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato wedges, & vanilla ice cream

    To do: Make refried beans & sourdough english muffins, thaw chicken for stock
    Breakfast: Grain-free Banana Pancakes & eggs
    Snack: Mixed berry kefir smoothies
    Lunch: BLT Wraps
    Snack: Sourdough English Muffins with Raw Honey Butter

    To do: Soak porridge & rice, make chicken stock
    Breakfast: Veggie Frittatas
    Snack: Strawberry Banana Kefir Smoothies
    Lunch: Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn, raw cheese, & carrot slices
    Snack: Sourdough English Muffins with raw honey butter
    Dinner: Meatballs with Peppers & Pineapple (using almond flour for breadcrumbs & flour) over Soaked Rice

    To-do: Make Sunday's snack & Kimchi
    Breakfast: Porridge & Eggs
    Snack: Veggie Kefir Smoothies
    Snack: Fried Mush (with leftover porridge & Blueberries
    Dinner: Garden Chowder & Spring Salad

    To do: Make garlic rosemary crackers, soak sourdough pancakes
    Snack: Mango Kefir Smoothies
    Lunch: Grain-Free Pigs in a Blanket & Carrot Slices
    Snack: Grain-Free Garlic Rosemary Crackers
    Dinner: Cubed steak, potato wedges, veggies & dip, & (Mostly) Raw Nut Butter Cacao Cookies

    To do: Farmer's Market run
    Breakfast: Pancake Bar
    Snack: Kefir Smoothies
    Snack: Strawberries from farmer's market
    Dinner: Steak quesadillas (with leftover cubed steak)

    To do: Menu Plan
    Breakfast: Smoothies and Eggs
    Snack: Raw Nut Butter Cacao Cookies (made Thursday)
    Lunch: Leftovers
    Diner: Leftovers
    (Sunday is my day off)

    I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Budget Strategies for Real Food {or Community Counts}

    For those of you who have been following this year's health journey, you've seen us go from gluten-free and mostly raw, to staying gluten-free and moving towards a GAPS diet, but also needing to eat up all our non-GAPS staples (we buy in bulk, so this is taking a while).

    As we introduced more GAPS-friendly ingredients into the kitchen, my grocery bill jumped right out of our budget and into the red, something we cannot afford to do.  Debt is not an option anymore.  Needless to say, some serious number-crunching has been going on around here.  Bottom line: meat and nuts are way more expensive than grains, but grains are way less healthy than meat and nuts.  How can I get the cost down?  Here's what I've been up to to answer that question:  Ask any friend of mine and they will tell you that I've become a crazed bulk buyer/organizer. 
    • I've organized a raw milk run rotation to a local dairy.  It's grown into three separate groups.  I'm now spending way less money on gas for raw milk from grass-fed cows.  Milk is covered.  
    • I signed up to be a group buyer with Tropical Traditions and Green Pasture.  Coconut oil and fermented cod liver oil are covered.  
    • Our pastured pullets should start laying a dozen eggs a day beginning late July, allowing us to sell just enough eggs to cover the cost of their supplemental feed, making our eggs free.  
    • I've been a drop coordinator with Azure Standard, letting our budget afford quality, organic bulk staples, and splitting what we can with friends.
    • After learning phrases like "hanging weight price" compared to the packaged price (and bringing our newly-formed real food buyer's community for a ride along the way - sorry, friends), we have managed to buy a whole organic, grass-fed, local cow for half the price we've been paying for beef.  Beef is covered.
    • Eventually (hopefully next year), we will dig an irrigation pond, allowing us to water a garden, orchard, and livestock, providing (practically) free food.  In the meantime, we buy locally-grown produce at the farmer's market, and in the fall, our beloved Abundant Harvest Organic boxes will be delivered to our area again, which also saves us a pretty penny.  Produce covered.
    Does this take time?  Yes.  Is it really worth it?  It has been for me.  I might not be making a single penny's profit for all the extra work, but I'm gaining in other ways.  Not only are we able to afford way more real food than before my group buying craze... 

    We are growing as a community (nothing brings a community together like good food). 

    We are supporting local, organic farming.

    We are helping the local economy.

    U-Picking it up at a local farm.
    We are making our grocery budget take a stand for what we believe in, not compromising with cheap food where people and the earth are being mistreated.

    Stewarding the earth was our first job in the garden of  Eden.
    This makes me happy.  If you are interested in group buying as well, here are some resources (again, not gaining a penny by promoting these folks, I just believe in them):
    • Find real milk locations near you here.
    • Look into becoming a Healthy Buyer's Club member with Tropical Traditions here (and please do learn about their company.  They are Christian-owned and hire locals to harvest and make coconut oil the way their forefathers have been doing it for centuries, preserving their heritage.  I'm happy to support this company.)
    • Apply to be a group buyer with Green Pasture here (there are perks for the group buyer coordinator).
    • Look into Azure Standard for organic bulk items here.
    • Find a source for local, grass-fed meat here.
    • Locate a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group for local, organic produce here. (And if you're in California, definitely give Abundant Harvest Organics a look).
    We can do so much for this world, our health, our community, and our budget, just by putting in a little extra time to find good folks to buy good food from.  Let's be a movement with our grocery money.

    I'm sharing this at Traditional TuesdaysSimple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, & Save the Farm Friday.


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