Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are one of my FAVORITE homeopathic resources for their immunity building, cold & flu busting power.

IMG_3465

It is flu season again and this year I made the mistake of running my family out of fermented goodness.  Most of the time we are able to avoid the worst of the cold/flu bugs by keeping our immune systems strong via the wonderful world of fermented veggies, bone broth, essential oils and magnesium.  This year, however, we have some big things going on and I slipped up on our normal regimen… and we caught the bug.  Thankfully, I had my stock of elderberries on hand and it didn’t take long to whip up a batch of Elderberry Syrup and Elderberry gummies.

As we all know,  there really isn’t much that can be done from a conventional strand-point for treating the common cold or a mild case of the flu.  It can be miserable to sit by and watch your kiddos go through it and not be able to do anything to fix it.  Thankfully, there ARE some homeopathic things that we can do to help them through it and Elderberry Syrup is one of those things.

Elderberries contain vitamins A, B & C, and are a potent resource of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and immune boosting compounds.  They have been used medicinally since the fifteenth century and can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of illnesses.

Even according to WebMD “Elderberry is used for “the flu” (influenza), H1N1 “swine” flu, HIV/AIDS, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative, for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating…”

Also, as stated on https://wellnessmama.com/5913/elderberries-herb-profile/

Studies have shown that Elderberries  prevent and fight at least 8 different strains of influenza.  While helping to stop production of hormone-like cytokines that cause inflammation, they also increase the production on non-inflammatory, infection fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold… Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Isreal found that elderberry disarms the enyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat.  Taken before infection, it prevents infection.  Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract.”

Since Elderberries are a berry and therefore a “food,” they can be used in countless preparations including, tinctures, tonics, syrups, gummies, popsicles and baked into muffins and breads.  My favorite go-to recipe is for this Elderberry Syrup that I am going to share with you today.

IMG_3480

Elderberries on there own can be pretty sour, but when paired with the right ingredients they can be quite magical.  This syrup recipe tastes great and even my kiddos come running when I announce it’s time for some Elderberry Syrup.  In this recipe, Elderberries are paired with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and honey (all of which not only make this syrup taste great, but also have their own medicinal benefits) making this a truly wonderful treat.

IMG_3426

And if you are wanting to bump up the infection fighting/immunity-boosting power, you can add some Echinacea and will lose none of the fantastic flavor.

(An added benefit to this recipe is that you can find all the ingredients HERE from my favorite herbal supply resource.)

IMG_3417

Here is the recipe.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup Dried Elderberries
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root (or 2 tsp powder)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon powder (or 1 cinnamon stick)
1/2 tsp cloves (whole or ground)
1 cup raw honey
1/4 cup dried Echinacea (optional but highly recommended)

  • Add elderberries, spices/herbs and water to a saucepan and simmer gently on the stove for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid is reduced by half.
  • Remove from heat and either mash/strain in a wire mesh strainer or add to a French press and press out the juice.
  • Cool the juice until warm but not hot then add the honey, stirring well until combined.
  • Store syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  • Preventative Dosage for children is 1/2-1 tsp per day for children and 1 Tbl per day for adults.
  • If you are fighting off illness, take the normal dose every 3-4 hours until symptoms have passed.

Elderberry Collage

Discovering Essential Oils

Essential Oils with Mama Natural
Have you ever noticed that when you smell a rose you instantly felt more serene? How about noticing that getting a whiff of peppermint helps you feel more alert?  Or add a squeeze of lemon to your water and feel more refreshed?

If so, you’re already practicing aromatherapy. Therapeutic scents can literally help us feel better inside and out.  (Contrary to what my dear hubby says– he likes to call it voodoo.  But that doesn’t stop him from going straight to my oils stash when he feels a cold coming on.)

Why choose Young Living essential oils

When I first started using essential oils, I started with the stuff that you can buy from the health food store.  (I have since learned that those oils are not therapeutic grade and not as effective, not to mention they are frankly not safe for continuous use and NEVER safe for use internally.) I used them for homemade cleaners, and tried to use them for home remedies, but I noticed that I had to use a LOT of oils to get any effect at all.

As I got more serious about essential oils, a friend started to talk to me about Young Living but the idea that I needed to buy a starter kit that cost more than $100 seemed crazy.  NO WAY, I thought, no way am I going to spend that kind of money when I don’t even know if they even work.  Little did I know, the gold mine that Starter Kit really is.YL_Starter kit breakdown

 

I finally went to a class was REALLY impressed by their quality.  The first whiff of peppermint oil was completely different than those low grade oils I’d been wasting money on at the health food store.  Not only was I impressed by the quality  (above organic) and their seed to seal process, but also the fact that they own most of the farms themselves.  They weed by hand; they use their own oils for pest control; and they gently distill their oils without chemicals.

They also rigorously test their final product both in-house and by a third party to meet therapeutic standards. Plants and their oils are powerful yet delicate in nature. By using Young Living, the plant’s “living energy” is preserved in every bottle. Their essential oils are 100% therapeutic grade, effective and safe.

Plus, Young Living has the best and most affordable starter kits out there. They make it easy for a newbie to get started!

“What do I actually do with Essential Oils?”

That’s most people’s question when they get started, but oils quickly get incorporated into daily life. People diffuse oils daily to uplift spirits or help cranky toddlers sleep. They use Thieves oil at the first sign of cold or cough. They use them for sinus pressure, aches and pains, fevers, blotchy skin, headaches, hair loss, eczema, sun spots, sore throats, athlete’s foot, and we could go on.

Are you curious about Essential Oils?

If so, give Young Living a close look. One of the most popular ways to get started is sign up as a distributor and get their Premium Starter Kit with the diffuser.

 

This kit retails for over $300, but as a Wholesale Member, you get a 50% discount

Here’s what’s inside the Premium Starter Kit.  It’s not the only way to get started, but in my opinion it is by far the best way to start.

Premium Essential Oils Collection (5-ml each)

  • Lavender (skin irritations and relaxation)
  • Copaiba Vitality™ (pain/inflammation, anxiety, magnifier-for other oils)
  • Peppermint Vitality™ (muscle soreness and digestive issues)
  • Lemon Vitality™ (detoxification and cleaning)
  • Frankincense (youthful skin, spiritual connection, and MANY other amazing things)
  • Thieves® Vitality™ (immunity, colds/flus)
  • Purification® (fold/fungus/infections)
  • RC™ (Respiratory aid)
  • DiGize™ Vitality™ (All stomach issues)
  • PanAway® (pain and inflammation)

PLUS

  • A home diffuser (a $96 value. I use mine daily.)
  • A bonus oil! 5 mL bottle of Stress Away (I LOVE this oil. My favorite scent by far 🙂 )
  • Aroma Glide roller fitment (to turn any oil into a roll on)
  • 10 sample packets total of Lavender, Peppermint, Peace & Calming, Lemon, and Thieves for travel or sharing with family and friends
  • 2 NingXia Red 2-oz. samples (a yummy antioxidant supplement)

Want to try Young Living essential oils?

You can get Young Living Essential Oils in two ways.

  1. as a Wholesale Member (highly encouraged… it sounds like a serious commitment but it’s really not)
  2. or as a Retail Customer via the Young Living website (don’t recommend it because you don’t get the discount!)

I highly recommend joining as a Wholesale Member, even if you’re a beginner. As a wholesale member you get access to the Premium Starter Kit which is a savings in itself, and you also get an amazing 24% discount off every product you order. There are no tricks or gimmicks, no automatic charges to your credit card, and no required monthly orders (unless you want to get even BIGGER savings with our Essential Rewards program, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing we can talk about later.)

You don’t need to “sell” oils to be part of this

For Wholesale Members there is no requirement to sell or meet monthly quotas or anything like that.

But if you’d like to earn some extra income…

Wholesale Members do have the option of sharing oils with their friends and family in order to earn commissions and participate in promotions for free oils.  If this is something you’re interested in, sign up with me and I’ll help you get started!

Here’s how to begin

You start by purchasing an enrollment kit. There are three options to choose from. However, I REALLY REALLY recommend the Premium Starter Kit with the diffuser (pictured above). It is by far the best value and will help you actually start using essential oils. It’s the only kit that gives you the 10 Everyday Essential Oils (plus a bonus oil, StressAway, which is one of my absolute favorites). These 11 oils are some of the most commonly used and will give you endless options in treating your family and yourself.

Sign me up!

To get started, just follow these steps.

  1. Click over to the sign-up page.
  2. Select “Sign Up As: Young Living Wholesale Member” (The links I have provided here already have my enroller/sponsor ID included so that I can be a helpful resource to you as you start your own oil journey)
  3. Fill out your name, billing address, shipping address, and contact info. (The reason you are asked for your SSN is for tax purposes; if you make over $600/year selling Young Living products, you will receive a 1099 form in the mail, as is required by law. Young Living never shares this info with anyone.)
  4. Create your password and pin which you will use to log in to your account and order your oils.
  5. Select your enrollment order. This is where you can specify which starter kit you would like. You must sign up with one of these kits to become a Wholesale Member.
  6. Set up your optional Essential Rewards Program.  Buying one of the ER kits is not a requirement to sign up as a Wholesale Member!  This is arewards program you can opt into to start earning money back to help pay for your oils. At this point, you can skip this step by selecting “No, thank you. I plan on enrolling in the Essential Rewards Program later.” If one of the ER kits looks valuable to you, then go for it in addition to your starter kit.
  7. Agree to Terms & Conditions.
  8. CONFIRM YOUR ORDER. Many folks miss this step and end up not fully checking out. To confirm, the tool will log you in and it will show you your order again and it will make you enter in your payment information again.

 

Congratulations! Welcome to the amazing world of essential oils!

You’re going to love this next phase of your natural living journey!

WAIT!!  There is one more bonus that I, personally can offer you.  This is not something that all YL customers get, it’s a special perk just for hangin’ with me!  Since we all have that “okay, now what?” moment after ordering a kit, I can sign you up for an 8 email series on how to use and fall in love with your kit!

lavender field

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is the time of year that everyone loses their minds over pumpkin everything, particularly pumpkin spice everything.  But I think often underrated is the humble pumpkin seed.  Whether you are carving your pumpkins with your kiddos, canning pumpkin from your garden or baking a from scratch pumpkin pie, don’t throw out all those yummy seeds!

A favorite treat around here; they are packed with nutrients and oh so yummy.  Don’t waste a single seed!

IMG_2658

Here’s how it works:

As you are scraping out the guts/seeds from your pumpkin, drop the seeds into a bowl of water to soak (floating them in some water seems to help the process of cleaning them up.)  Rinse in a colander to make sure you’ve gotten all the bits and pieces off of them.

*Note: I recently heard that if you are not carving your pumpkin, that you can bake the pumpkin before cleaning it which makes the seeds even easier to separate but I have not yet tried this method.

Spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet (you can line it with a tea towel for quicker drying if you like.)  Leave the seeds to dry completely before attempting to roast.  (I just leave mind for a day or so.)

When the seeds are dry, transfer them to a bowl and coat with 1-2 Tbl of oil then add seasonings of your choice.  (I’ll share my favorite blend in a minute.)

IMG_2605

I love to use the silicone baking mats but parchment paper or tin foil will work as well.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-20 minutes until they reach the right color.  You will have to keep a close eye on them, they burn easily.

And that’s all folks, it’s that simple.

//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=1&p=8&l=ez&f=ifr&linkID=6eaedcb20276c5dc3281a1256461ccff&t=homesteadstat-20&tracking_id=homesteadstat-20

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Ingredients:

Seeds from 1 pumpkin

1-2 Tbl Olive oil

1 1/2 tsp of sea salt of mineral salt

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili

Instructions:

1. Scrape seeds from pumpkin
2. Soak/Rinse seeds and remove pumpkin “guts”
3. Dry seeds thoroughly
4. Toss seeds in olive oil & seasonings
5. Roast in 325 degree oven for 10-20 minutes (watching carefully)


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Fall Everyone!!!

He was a bad, bad hound dog… and we loved him so.

Once upon a time, on a cold, winter’s night in Oklahoma, there was a tiny hound dog pup who had been abandoned on the side of the road.  Whoever had left him there didn’t care whether he lived or died, but God knew there was a home for him in Colorado.

Beau (Bo- we never could agree on how to spell his name) the hound dog was the cutest pup you ever did see, he made his way from Oklahoma to our home through some friends of ours who found him there.  We were newlyweds starting our life together and he made the perfect addition to our little family.  Not knowing his exact breed, my dear mountain man was super excited to have a hunting dog.  Visions of coon hunts and treed mountain lions were dancing in his head and in the beginning he really seemed to have what it would take.  We brought home his first coon in a live trap and the dog lost his mind.  Baying like a pro, he definitely proved that he was ready for the chase.  He even showed a lot of potential in tracking a scent but over time it became clear that he would never make a hunting dog.  His legs were just too darn short.  This hound was obviously part basset and was never going to measure up.  But there was no love lost on that account, we was our buddy and our first child.

matt jodi beau

We started to research hound breeds to see what we were in for and learned these three basic things.

  1. Hound dogs are stubborn.
  2. Hound dogs’ noses rule them completely.
  3. Hound dogs smell bad.

We found all three of these things to be entirely true.

Beau was exceedingly stubborn and hard to train.  When learning basic commands, we got as far as “sit,” (resulting in him laying down) and for a short time he cooperated with “play dead” (but tired of that game quickly and gave up.)  There was no hope of teaching him to be quiet; his baying and barking were constant unless he was asleep.

Beau_Baying

His nose, did, in fact, take over his ability to reason at all.  If we were on a walk, or camping and he caught wind of something interesting… he was gone.  And no amount of calling him or threatening him would bring him back.  He would come back in his own time, when he was done with the chase.

He also couldn’t resist the smell of “people food.”  Every night during supper, our meal was accompanied by the sound of incessant whining.  This whining would continue until we were done when he was given our plates to lick.  (Did you know dogs can count?  There are four of us, and if someone put their plate in the sink instead of giving it to him, he would harass me for the rest of the night because he knew that he only had 3 plates to lick instead of four.)

During the winter, when we had somewhere to go and it was too cold to leave him outside, we had to be sure that we “dog proofed” the kitchen because although he would never dream of dumping the trash or jumping on counters when we were home… once that car pulled out of the driveway, all bets were off.  He would dump trash cans, jump up on the counters (quite the feat for a 50 lb dog that was more than 2 feet long with 8 inch legs) and eat anything within reach, I mean ANYTHING.  At different times over the course of our almost 11 years together, he once ate an entire bunt sized pound cake, another time it was a 2 lb meat loaf, and his most recent transgression was about a 2-3 lb ham.  (It was my own, home raised pork, home cured ham… I really wanted to throttle him after this one but he was so sick from all the salt, I figured that was punishment enough.  The poor dog drank gallons of water over the next few days.)  Oh yes, and another time, he ate a gallon sized bag of homemade deer jerky that probably accounted for an entire shoulder of venison (again ending, with the homicidal temptation for us and gallons of water consumption by Beau.)  What he couldn’t consume while we were away, he would take and bury around the house. I would find, bags of hot dog buns behind the couch, bags of marshmallows under my pillow, and loaves of bread in the laundry basket.

And yes, hound dogs do in fact stink.  No need to go into great detail there, lets just say that long road trips with Beau in the car or truck were sometimes we’re very… very long.  But he loved to “go” so much that we couldn’t bare to leave him behind.  He also loved clean laundry.  If there was a pile of clean laundry, or especially a neat stack of folded, clean laundry, he would be found laying on it; leaving our clothes with just a hint of that lovely ode de’ hound dog scent behind.

All of these things add up to a very “bad” dog, and that is what we teasingly called him.  But he was our Beau dog, and we loved him so much.  He went on many adventures with us, backpacking, hiking, camping and picnicking.  His joy in life was getting to GO somewhere.  He knew, the moment I started to pack a bag or haul things out to the camper that it was time to go; and we would all be deaf by the time we left from all of the baying and barking he did while impatiently lunging at the door.  If we ever went anywhere without him, even for a few hours, he would bay and scold us for at least 10 minutes when we returned, for leaving him behind.

beau backpacking

But he loved “to go” a little too much and recently started “going” on adventures without us.  Whether it was sheer orneriness or his nose leading him away, he decided that staying in the yard was no longer a requirement for him and he would let himself out one way or another.  He would unlatch yard gates or push past the flexible siding on the house and adventuring he would go.  One week ago today, he left on an adventure and never made it home alive.  He may have been a bad dog on paper, but he was part of our family and our homestead and now we are one less.  There is no one to lick our plates after supper, no one for the garbage man to throw treats too, and no one to scold us when we come home.

Our homestead is a very quiet place now, but I will always hear his baying in my mind.

We love you, bad hound dog.  We always will.

22548977_10214870131853818_4375040935098366155_o

5 Embarrassing Things Homeschooled Kids Say

I love homeschooling my kids.  It is one of the key components to our “homestead” lifestyle.  Teaching kids that they don’t need a specialized teacher in order to learn is vital to raising self-sufficient kids.  Homeschooling teaches our children HOW to think, not what to think.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world but let’s be honest, there are a few problems with homeschool life.  One of these things is the constant battle with what homeschooled, tiny humans say to embarrass their parents.

//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=1&p=7&l=ez&f=ifr&linkID=52ef997afa8e36ed63d34bb513223b11&t=homesteadstat-20&tracking_id=homesteadstat-20

Here are just a few of my favorites:

  1. “We only do school one day a week.”  This is the one that they love to tell their friends (and the friends in turn tell their parents, and then you get the stink eye from the parents.)  The truth is that we have our CC community day (others often have homeschool COOP) and for some reason homeschooled kids seem to think this is the only “school day” that they have.  We do school at LEAST 4 days a week… most of the time… I SWEAR.   
  2. “No we haven’t done any school yet today.”  This is one they love to tell their dad when it’s 11:30 AM and he calls home from work to say “Hi”.  It goes something like this…”What are you doing right now?” kids inevitable response is “Oh, just laying here” (Translation: “I WAS just doing my copy work, but I laid down on my bed to talk to you.”)  Dad’s tone grows concerned “Have you done your schoolwork yet today?” “No, we haven’t done any school yet today.” (Translation: We haven’t done our math and phonics workbooks yet and apparently don’t REALIZE that all this other stuff we’ve been doing (ie. Bible story, memory work, copy work, read aloud time, science journaling) is “school work” leaving Daddy with the impression that we just rolled out of bed. (SIGH)
  3. “I don’t know what grade I’m in.”  This is their #1 favorite thing to say to strangers who are interrogating them in the grocery store.  And to be fair to the kids, we as mom’s don’t know how to answer that question either.  We know what grade they should be in by age category but the truth is that homeschooling offers us the freedom to work with our children according to their own ability in each area.  My 5 year old, should technically be a kindergartener… but she started Classical Conversations at four and insisted on starting to read the minute she turned 5 years old, so she’s closer to a 1st grade level in many ways but we are still doing kindergarten math.  In language arts my 7 year old is doing the second semester of a kinder language arts program because I felt the curriculum we used previously was lacking in some areas.  So although she’s reading at a 2nd grade level, we’re catching up on some fundamental phonics right now.  AND THAT’S OKAY!  So no, random lady in the grocery store check out, none of us really know how to answer that question.
  4. “We just watch TV and color.” Yet another thing they LOVE to tell strangers.  Yes, we use Wild Kratts to supplement our science and trace black line maps with dry erase markers to learn geography, but it sure would sound a lot better if they learned to tell people, “we’re studying biology and European geography right now.”  But no, we watch TV and color. 
  5. “No, I haven’t learned about ______ yet.”  (This one also comes in the form of a non-verbal blank stare.)  This comes as a response to someone asking, if they have learned something yet and as luck would have it, will always be something very basic that you have gone over many times.  The truth is we have no idea where this response comes from, maybe it’s because they don’t recognize the word “addition” or maybe because their little brain decided to go on recess break at that moment, who knows.

IMG_2567[1]

The truth is that homeschooling is a unique journey and it rarely looks like a public school setting around here.  (THANK GOODNESS)  But that, especially if you are new to homeschooling, can lead to anxiety over social judgment. Learn to laugh at your kids when they say these things and relax into the arms of grace.  That lady in the grocery store checkout has no business interrogating your kids but maybe rather than elbowing your kiddo into silence and running away as quickly as possible, take a moment to explain to her the hidden translations to your kids’ answers.  Most who are opposed to homeschooling don’t understand it or are working off of a narrow stereotype.  It would do a lot for our cause if we took the time to joyfully share how penmanship and art are connected to science in nature journaling and how that fuels their desire for more knowledge.  Who knows, she might just walk away with some new light shined on an old stereotype.

Pinto Bean Spice

Pinto Bean Spice

1/2 cup granulated garlic

1/4 cup onion powder

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 cup Cumin

2 Tbl Salt

1 Tbl Paprika

1 Tbl Pepper

*Note: This recipe makes a bulk batch to season Pinto Beans with at any time.  You will have to experiment on your own to reach the desired flavor you want but I would say that I use approximately 1/3 cup to a large pot of beans.

Homemade, Traditional Refried Beans

Who doesn’t love refried beans?  Especially true, homemade, traditional refried beans.

I grew up in the Southwest so I was surrounded good, traditional Mexican food and my favorites are those that are simple and classic with no frills or fusion flair added.

Traditional refried beans definitely fall into that category.  They are simple, stick to your ribs, comfort food that can be dressed up or down as needed.  So although this recipe is beyond simple, it is a great tool to have in your toolbox to whip out any time you need it.  It is the perfect filling for burritos, the base for a fantastic bean dip or a simple side for fajitas, tacos, or even steak!

IMG_0661

So lets talk beans.

You will want to start with cooked pinto beans.  This can mean that you start your beans from scratch earlier in the day, use leftover pinto beans (which is what I do) or you can also use canned pinto beans, but I’ll be honest, unless they are home canned beans,  they just won’t be as flavorful as home cooked or canned beans.

Now, before we start, let me make this disclaimer: not everyone agrees on the issue of rinsing and draining beans.  Some will tell you, you MUST… others that it isn’t necessary but the truth of the matter is that it depends on your own family.  If someone in your family has… ehem… digestive issues… (my Grandma Hilda would smack me for even referring to such things) due to eating beans, then soaking and rinsing your beans is the best thing you can do.  I never bothered with this step for a long time and my husband would be miserable for 24 hours afterward.  When I finally gave in and started rinsing the beans, it made a big difference!  So for us, we soak & rinse.

If you are not used to cooking your own pinto beans from scratch, here are two easy methods that you can use.

  1. Slow Cooking – Start by pre-soaking your beans overnight.  In the morning, drain off the soaking liquid, rinse the beans and replace the liquid with fresh water.  Add your spices to the pot and cook on low for about 5 hours.
  2. Pressure Cooking (my personal favorite) – Put your beans in the pressure cooker  and fill the pot 2/3 full of water.  Bring up to pressure, then vent your cooker until all the steam is released.  Drain off the cooking liquid, rinse the beans and replace the liquid with fresh water.  Add your spices to the pot and bring back up to pressure.  Pressure the beans for 18 minutes.  *IF you are using the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and if you do not intend to rinse your beans then you can just do a quick soak for 15 minutes or so and then use the Beans/Chili button which will pressure for approximately 30 minutes.

Moving on to the good stuff.

The frying part.  (insert dreamy SIGH here.)

Isn’t everything just tastier when it is fried?  Now before you go judging me with your low fat, low calorie gavel, that trial was thrown out long ago.  Now I’m not talking about deep fried twinkies here people, but incorporating some good ole’ butter or bacon grease in your cooking is, in fact, healthy.  Recent studies have also shown that a high sugar diet is the real culprit for cholesterol and triglyceride issues.

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20100420/high-sugar-diet-linked-lower-good-cholesterol#1

As a matter of fact it has also been proven that our bodies cannot properly absorb the vitamins in our foods unless there is at least some animal fat in our diet.

Okay, I’ll step down from my soap box now.

Start by adding your lard or bacon grease to a non-stick type pan.  (I use well seasoned cast iron.)  Add finely diced onion, garlic and jalapeno or green chiles (all optional but will add great flavor; I suggest at least adding the onion.)  Saute veggies until translucent and very tender.  In the mean time, strain most of the liquid off of the beans and reserve the liquid for later.

Turn heat up to a moderately high heat and add your beans.  Mash well with a potato masher and then let the beans cook down and “fry” on the bottom.  After 5 minutes or so, stir the beans, scraping the bottom of the pan and allow to cook down and fry again.  Repeat this process until your beans have reached the desired consistency.  You can add the reserved bean liquid (or plain water if you don’t have enough) to moisten the beans, you can also do this with red enchilada sauce which will take the flavor over the top.    Keep the beans just a little more wet than you want your final texture to be.  As the beans cool, they will dry up a bit.  Add salt if needed.

IMG_0644

Traditional Refried Beans

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 cups cooked pinto beans

2-4 Tbl lard or bacon grease (you can use olive oil for vegan option)

1 small onion, diced

Garlic & jalapeno or green chiles (optional)

Grated cheese (optional)

  1. Add lard or bacon grease to a non-stick type pan.  (I use well seasoned cast iron.)  Add finely diced onion, garlic and jalapeno (all optional but will add great flavor; I suggest at least adding the onion.)  Saute veggies until translucent and very tender.  In the mean time, strain most of the liquid off of the beans and reserve the liquid for later.
  2. Turn heat up to a moderately high heat and add your beans.  Mash well with a potato masher and then let the beans cook down and “fry” on the bottom.  After 5 minutes or so, stir the beans, scraping the bottom of the pan and allow to cook down and fry again.  Repeat this process until your beans have reached the desired consistency.  You can add the reserved bean liquid (or plain water if you don’t have enough.)
  3. Add salt if needed.

*If you really want great flavor, you can season/moisten the beans with red enchilada sauce.

If you would like the recipe for my Pinto Bean Spice you can click HERE.

Refried Beans_1

Pork Fried Rice

Sometimes, the best things come from collaboration.  This recipe is one of those things.

My best friend and I rarely get to hang out and neither of us are “phone” people either so we end up going way too long without talking.  She only lives 45 minutes away but trying to overcome that distance and our schedules sometimes becomes nearly impossible.  So when we do have a day that we can make it work, we banish the kids to play in the other room, grab a cup of hot tea and debrief.

We never even make it to the couch, we just end up hovering over her kitchen island where spend the next 4 hours downloading all of our parenting struggles, crazy stories and random questions like “what have you been making for supper lately?’

This recipe came from one such conversation where we had both been making a fried rice style stir fry and I ended up combining the best of both versions to make something that my family LOVES.  It is an easy “go to” meal that really doesn’t even require a recipe or much thought at all but is a home run every time.

Pork Fried Rice4.jpg

First, begin by browning your choice of meat.  We typically use diced pork (because pork is something we tend to have a LOT of) but chicken works equally well.  This time were running a little low on pork chops to dice so I grabbed some pork sausage and it was fantastic.  Seriously people, use what you have on hand.  Don’t make an extra trip to the store.  This recipe has so many potential variations from the meat you can use to the vegetables that you choose.  Even your choice of garnishes are optional.  (Although the pistachios are pretty fantastic.)

Season your meat with a little salt and pepper and some granulated garlic, (but go easy on the salt, as you will be adding soy sauce or liquid aminos later.)

While your meat is browning, chop your vegetables, nuts and herbs.

Pork Fried Rice1

When the meat is done, remove from the pan and cook your veggies in that same pan (leave out the nuts and herbs.)  When the veggies are finished, add your meat back into the pan with rice and stir well.

*Note: I like to keep some extra, cooked brown rice in the freezer so that this recipe will come together easily. 

Add soy sauce or liquid aminos to taste and garnish each bowl with chopped pistachios and cilantro (or chives.)

Pork Fried Rice3

Pork Fried Rice

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 lbs Pork (diced or ground)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped small
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Brown your meat and season your meat with salt and pepper and granulated garlic, (but go easy on the salt, as you will be adding soy sauce or liquid aminos later.)

While your meat is browning, chop your vegetables, nuts and herbs.

When the meat is done, remove from the pan and cook your veggies in that same pan (leave out the nuts and herbs.)  When the veggies are finished, add your meat back into the pan with rice and Stir well.  Add soy sauce or liquid aminos to taste and garnish each bowl with chopped pistachios and cilantro (or chives.)

*Potential variations:

You can use pork, chicken, I’m sure that even shrimp would be fantastic.

In place of the peppers, mushrooms and zucchini you can use a combination of peas and carrots (or really any other combination of vegetables you like.)

Another fun addition to this dish is 1 egg, scrambled, to be added at the end.

Trust me, this is simple meal that won’t disappoint.  I would love to hear about your variations and how it turned out!

Zucchini and Eggs Breakfast (THM S/Whole 30/Grain Free/Paleo friendly)

I decided this morning that I just HAVE to take a few minutes and share this breakfast with you.

It just wouldn’t be fair to keep this one to myself.

As I have said before, one of the most important keys to developing a “homestead state of mind” is be reclaiming your health by the means of homeopathic remedies and nutrition.  I have also shared with you that in my own health journey with Hypothyroidism, a breakfast made up of Protein/Fat/Fiber is super beneficial.  On that note, one day I was trying to come up with a breakfast that contained those three things and this is what I came up with.

It’s totally cheating for me to even call this a “recipe.”  It is so crazy simple but SOOOO very good.  The tiny humans and even my mountain man LOVE this breakfast.  I mean really, when you tell your kids they are having vegetables at breakfast and they literally cheer… you have struck gold my friend.

So let’s break it down.

Melt butter, (ghee or bacon grease for Paleo/GAPS) in a cast iron skillet.  Saute diced onions until the edges start to brown (if your kiddos just can’t do the onions, you can omit but the flavor is really awesome so try it.  Seriously.  Keep trying.  My kiddos have come to LOVE cooked onions in their food.)  When the onions are starting to brown, add in your sliced zucchini and more fat if needed.  Season well with mineral or sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a good amount of garlic powder.  Continue to saute the zucchini and onions until the onions are soft and brown and the zucchini are beginning to brown as well.

(When it comes to flavor, just remember, “brown food is good food.”)

You can complete this dish with either poached or fried eggs but you really want those yolks to be nice and runny.  

That’s all folks.  Super simplicity, super deliciousness.

IMG_1893

 

Chopped Challenge 2017 – All wrapped up?

Okay folks, I know that I owe you all an apology.  I haven’t ever finished this mini-series of blog posts that I began back in January here.

But things have been busy around here to say the least.

SO, after spending the month of January on a grocery shopping fast, I suppose that I ought to be here and tell you I now have it all figured out, that my cupboards minimalistic and I will never return to my cluttered, grocery hording ways…

Not exactly.

But I did learn a lot about myself, really branched out some days to use up ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste, and tried some new recipes that my family LOVED.

The truth is, that my one month grocery shopping fast barely made a dent in my over stuffed cupboards.  However, this experiment gave me the motivation to declutter and throw out a lot of stuff that I just wouldn’t use, or combine things that I shamefully had MULTIPLES of.  (Like 3 open jars of molasses, 4 open jars of homemade strawberry jelly and 2 jars of sorghum– all because by cupboards were so cluttered I had no idea what was really in there.)  My cupboards are now cleaner and more organized which is such a huge relief and lets be honest, the savings from not shopping for a month was totally worth it.

IMG_4621
Full, but not crowded or cluttered

 

And after a few months of going back to a normal routine, my husband and I have actually agreed that we should do it again…and again… and again..

You may be thinking to yourself, “You can’t clear your cupboards out!  Shouldn’t you be prepared for disaster?  Aren’t you “preppers”?  All of those groceries could feed your family in case of an emergency!”  (Well, you might not be asking yourself that, but it’s what I was asking myself throughout this journey.)  And  the truth is yes, we are “preppers” to an extent yet here is a fine but dangerous line between being prepared with long term storage foods that could sustain us and hording/cluttering our lives with a surplus of random ingredients that will #1 go to waste if unused and #2 rob you of your sanity if you don’t even know what you have. (because it is so cluttered you cant see it all!)

So yes, I will continue to keep our root cellars stocked with long term storage food.  If properly organized and rotated this is one of the smartest things that you can do to protect your family in case of emergency.  But as far as the jumble of random ingredients cluttering my cupboards?  I am going to work very hard to keep that clutter down by continuing to focus on using up what we have on hand and only buying the minimum of extra ingredients that will act as the glue that binds everything else together.

So now that I’ve shared my take-a-way from it all with you, here is a little more about what the rest of our month looked like and what we were eating.  If you are interested in any of the meals mentioned, let me know and I will TRY to write something up to share with you.  (I use the word “try” here because the truth is that I rarely ever use recipes and it is a challenge sometimes to put on paper the madness under my chef hat.  😉

Here are some of the more fun/adventurous suppers that we made while cleaning out the cupboards.  If you didn’t get to see my previous posts in this series for some of our other meals you can see them here 2017 “Chopped Challenge” and here Chopped Challenge – Week 1.

(Remember, I only allowed myself to purchase fresh fruit and veggies- no meat or packaged ingredients for the entire month of January.)

  • Barley Soup
  • Salmon Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (we turned the leftover sauce into salad dressing a few nights later)
  • Minestera Soup
  • Grilled Steak Kabobs
  • Bangers & Mash
  • Pancit & Egg Drop Soup (The Pancit was something completely different from our norm and the whole family went CRAZY for.)

Of course on nights that were super busy and I didn’t have time to stretch my brain, there were a lot of our regulars, but always only using ingredients on hand.

  • Posole
  • Hamburgers
  • Spaghetti
  • Jalepeno Popper Soup
  • Tacos
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Pizza
  • Fajitas
  • Elk Roast

I highly recommend trying a grocery fast.  We saved  money, decluttered our cupboards and freezers, stretched our culinary tastes and really shined a light on some bad grocery buying habits.