Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 29 - Meal Plans & Coconuts

I painted a giant rectangle of chalkboard paint in my kitchen last night for this purpose:

Meal planning!

This is mostly to organize what I'm going to feed my son and to help with shopping lists so I know, specifically, what I need from the market.  It also helps me better organize what needs to be soaked and when to soak it (I'm getting pretty good at this soaking grains stuff).  I've never been very good at following meal plans exactly to a T, I'm known to switch meals/days, so I'm not too formal about it.  As long as I know what I can make, I'm good.

Saturday night, I had set out flour to soak for pancakes on Sunday morning.  I made a big batch, so Monday's breakfast was reheated pancakes that I had froze the day before. Sunday night, I set out the flour for the tortillas to soak overnight.  This afternoon I kneaded the dough, seperated into 16 balls (I doubled the batch on purpose), rolled them all out, and cooked two at a time on the griddle.  I made a pan of beef enchiladas and froze the rest of the tortillas (to be used for tacos and burritos later in the week).

Mari came back from the store with a coconut, and I had one that I had bought from another day, so I decided to finally figure out what to do with it. 

First, I pierced the eyes by hammering a screw driver into them, and drained the coconut water into a jar.

Then we put the coconuts in zip locks bags and Mari slammed them down on the patio to break them open.  This resulted in several small pieces.  Next time, I hope to try the hammer method to hopefully get a cleaner break into two pieces.

We were munching on it raw, until I googled various things to do with coconuts and I discovered how easy it is to make coconut milk!  I followed these instructions and it turned out perfectly sweet, creamy and delicious.  And so nutritious!  I think I will make this often and slip it into the kid's food frequently for the helth benefits.

"Coconut is rich in trace minerals including manganese which is essential in metabolism, healing and collagen formation, copper which plays a role in immunity and bone health as well as selenium, a nutrient which is critical to thyroid function as well as developing healthy skin, nails and hair. Beyond these trace minerals, coconut is a potent source of lauric acid – a wholesome and nourishing saturated fat with strong antimicrobial properties which may help to bolster immunity."

~ * ~

I'm happy to report that my son is getting less picky and more open to trying new food!  He has been regularly eating bananas, which is new for him.  And when I offer a new food, he at least tastes it before he decides if he likes it or not. This past week he's been eating lots of apples and watermelon and even ate a few bowls of grapes.  The other day he ate two full bowls of jasmine brown rice and didn't even seem to notice or care that it wasn't white rice.  At dinner tonight, he ate all of his enchilada (didn't even complain about the whole wheat tortilla) and ate a whole side of corn with it!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 26 - Pumpkin Banana Muffins

Needed to use some bananas before they went bad so I came up with these.

They are especially good warm and smothered with butter.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup butter
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup palm sugar or sucanat
2 eggs, beaten
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease muffin tin.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt.

Separately combine butter, oil, and palm sugar. Stir in eggs, bananas and pumpkin.

Combine mixture with flour mixture and stir just to moisten.

Pour batter into muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 25 - Salsa and Pizza and Brownies

I've been devouring my lacto-fermented salsa the last few days.  It is so good!  I went to Costco a few days ago and got a big box of ripe mangos that I need to eat before they go bad,  so everyday I cut up a mango and add it to a bowl of salsa.

What is "lacto-fermenting" and why is it good for you?  Lacto-fermentation is when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria.  When you lacto-ferment vegetables, it increases the vitamins, is more digestible, and you get a plethora of good bacteria. 

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.” - Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

This is very new terroritory for me and I still know very little about it, but I do know this salsa tastes amazing.  I hope to venture more into lacto-fermenting in the future.

~ * ~

Last night I finally made some food my whole family was able to enjoy.  First, I made "granola bars" - I melted honey and peanut butter together over a low heat, then added rolled oats, poured in a pan, sprinkled with shredded coconut, and let chill in the fridge for a few hours.  They tasted like pure peanut buttery goodness.  My husband and son loved them - the whole pan is already gone!

For dinner I made whole-wheat pizza with organic tomato sauce and organic raw mozzarella cheese.  I've had the privledge of growing up eating the world's best pizza: my mom's home made recipe!  So of course I was comparing mine to hers.  And you know what?  They actually tasted pretty similiar, except that my crust was "wheatier" and I had less cheese on mine (organic raw cheese is expensive, so I was stretching it as far as I could!)

The one on the left is black olives and the one on the right is spicy venison sausage.  A friend of mine gave us some meat from a deer her husband killed -- thanks, Steph! -- and it was PERFECT on this pizza.  My husband's favorite food is pizza, so when I saw him gobble it down and he gave me endless compliments, I knew I had done something right.

For dessert, we had whole wheat brownies sweetened with coconut palm sugar.  They were dark, rich and enjoyed with a glass of raw milk.  They didn't last long either, so no photos. :)

~ * ~

I had some grass-fed beef and soaked pinto beans that I needed to use STAT, so I threw them in the crock pot with some things I had on hand: celery, carrots, and tomato sauce.  I let them simmer all day and the end result looks and smells exactly like spaghetti sauce.  I haven't tasted it yet, but I have some whole wheat spaghetti noodles in the pantry.... looks like I know what to make for dinner tomorrow. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 20 - Pumpkin Spice Latte

Although it really doesn't feel like Fall here in southern Texas, it is the middle of September and I am ready for pumpkins and soups despite the lingering high temps.

It rained briefly this morning (for the first time in many months!), which put me in the mood for coffee, and I decided to try making this pumpkin spice latte I read about.

First, I brewed some coffee in my french press:

Next I readied my ingredients: pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  I couldn't use a fresh pumpkin because I haven't seen the baking pumpkins out at the stores yet, just the carving ones.

These were all blended with 1 cup of raw milk, 2 tablespoons of raw honey, and 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup, then added to the coffee.

Delicious!  And no high fructose corn syrup like the artificial flavoring syrups at the coffee house. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 18 - Fish Taco's

My yogurt yesterday was kind of a fail, but I got a lot of whey out of it by pure accident.  So then I had to come up with some ideas to use the whey - I couldn't let it go to waste!  I love, love, love lemonade, so I started lacto-fermenting some hindu lemonade, and sinceI have an excess of tomatoes that need to be used, I also made some home made salsa and am lacto-fermenting that as well.  I'm pretty excited about both... I saved a little salsa & added a mango to eat tonight and it was so incredible and flavorful.  I can only imagine how good it will be in a more few days!

For lunch today, I started with tilapia.

I coated them on both sides with a mixture of cumin, red pepper and salt.

I baked for 12 minutes at 400 degrees, then broke them into pieces and squeezed lime juice over them.

Chopped up green onion, tomato, and lettuce:

Put them on my whole wheat tortillas from yesterday, wrapped 'em up, and had really excellent fish taco's.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 17 - Chicken Nuggets & Whole Wheat Tortillas

I was trying to decide what to do with my chicken all day yesterday, and I finally decided to use some of it for chicken nuggets.  My son was asking for dinner and I had a vegetable soup in the crock pot that I knew he wouldn't touch, so I had to make something he would eat.  I was up for the challenge.

I cut the chicken into nugget-ish sized pieces and ran them under water, then rolled them in brown rice bread crumb, and finally I fried them lightly in coconut oil.

Umm, not to toot my own horn or anything, but these were kind of amazing.  I was surprised considering the simplicity of them, but the coconut oil added a seriously sweet taste.  In case you've ever wondered, here is the ingredient list for McDonald's Chicken Nuggets:

McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets:
Chicken, water, salt, modified corn starch, sodium phosphates, chicken broth powder (chicken broth, salt, and natural flavoring (chicken source)), seasoning (vegetable oil, extracts of rosemary, mono, di- and triglycerides, lecithin). Battered and breaded with water, enriched bleached wheat flour (niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, modified corn starch, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, dried whey, corn starch. Batter set in vegetable shortening. Cooked in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, (may contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated corn oil and/or partially hydrogenated canola oil and/or cottonseed oil and/or sunflower oil and/or corn oil). TBHQ and citric acid added to help preserve freshness. Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an anti-foaming agent. Source: Fast Food Facts: McDonald’s Ingredients List"
And the ingredients in my chicken nuggets?
Organic free-range chicken, medium grain brown rice,  and organic expeller pressed unrefined virgin coconut oil.  The end.  No novel neccessary.

When I first presented them to my son, I was really non-chalant about it.  "Oh, here you go, here's some chicken nuggets."  And he was totally not impressed.  I could read his mind: THESE ARE NOT SHAPED LIKE DINOSAURS.  He actually started crying.  "Are these HOME MADE?  I don't want home made chicken nuggets, I want chicken nuggets out of a bag from the freezer!"  Waaah.  Oh my gosh, my mom made wholesome, nutritious chicken nuggets, the world is ENDING!

I just walked away.  I didn't want to deal with it.  And about 15 minutes later, he came running into my bedroom, "Mom! Mom! Those chicken nuggets were SO yummy, I want more!"

Of course I made him more!  Ah-hah!  Success!  My child ate dinner!

And my daughter, for lunch yesterday, ate two bowls of THIS (steamed & pureed with Sunday's chicken broth):

Nutritionally speaking, it was a day full of win.

This morning, I made some whole wheat waffles.  My son was pretty excited about this for some reason.  He was laughing, "It's neat you can make those like that instead of the one's in the freezer." - ugh, have I really been relying on boxed foods so much, my kid is completely out of touch with cooking from scratch?  He gobbled down 2 waffles and said he liked them.

Last night before I went to bed, I had set some pinto beans in a bowl to soak overnight.  I cooked them late this morning and whipped up some whole wheat tortillas to make bean burritos for lunch.

The tortillas really are a breeze.  I follow this recipe, but I used coconut oil in the dough and coated the pan lightly with sesame oil.

Although my son isn't a fan of these & my husband is still adjusting to the taste of whole wheat rather than white, I personally find these extremely delicious.  I even like to snack on them plain.

While I was cooking the tortillas, I was simutaniously making another attempt at yogurt.  I had half a gallon of 2-week old raw milk in the fridge and I needed something to do with it.  Raw milk doesn't go bad the way pasteurized milk from the store goes bad.  Real milk just sours.  It's called clabbering and it means the good bacteria in the milk ate the lactose (milk sugar).  It's still perfectly fine and healthy to consume.  The pasteurized milk that you get at the grocery store goes bad and has to be dumped down the drain, it's putrid and can make you sick because it's full of pathogenic bacteria (insert sad face).  But real milk fresh from a happy, healthy, pastured cow that has soured isn't bad.  There are still plenty of uses for clabbered milk.  I personally can't stomach sour milk (or buttermilk, or plain yogurt) without some flavor, so I started soaking some flour for pancakes tomorrow and used the rest for another attempt at making yogurt.  I'm not too confident, but we'll find out tomorrow if it worked this time or not!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 15

Been pretty busy the last couple of days.  I'm trying to do a complete overhaul of our lives, changing not only what we eat, but drastically reducing the amount of chemicals in our home while simutaniously saving money by making my own natural products (like cleaning supplies, toothpaste, shampoo, deoderant, etc).  Of course, this isn't something you can change overnight, and the initial cost of ingredients can be expensive (but cheaper in the long run).

Yesterday I sold a camera lens for a pretty good amount of money and I promptly invested the money in my kitchen.  First, I went to the Farmer's Market and Whole Foods to get our groceries for the week.

This was my haul from the Farmer's Market.  I went to a larger one this time, it was pretty enjoyable.  The chicken and beef are organic, the vendor was really nice... he also sells raw milk for $7 a gallon, he gets it from a local Amish community!  (50 cents off if you bring your own gallon jug).

After I had food, I started hunting for kitchen supplies.  When you're preparing food in tradition ways, you suddenly find yourself in need of various kitchen appliances that you previously never gave a second thought to.  Like a tortilla press, for example.

I'm pretty frugal - we live on a tight budget and I was raised to live within my means.   I am all about thrift stores and craigslist, not only to save green, but to be green, too.  Buying used reduces waste and saves money.

The first thing I found was a popcorn maker.  My whole family was excited about this.  To celebrate, my son and I popped a big bowl and read a library book together, The Popcorn Book.

I learned that popcorn kernels should be kept cold to retain their moisture, so we transferred our bag into a glass jar and stored it in the fridge.  The popcorn itself reminded me of when I was a kid and my dad would always pop our own popcorn (never microwaved bags!) and smother it in salt and melted butter.  Mmm, it was so good.  I'm more than happy to pass this tradition on to my own kids.

The next thing I purchased was a cast iron skillet.  I was really excited about this, I've always wanted one but never splurged on it because I already have pans and they're fine.  But teflon is not fine!  I tossed our teflon into the trash (thankfully we have a few pieces of stainless steel already, and now this awesome skillet).  I did buy this brand new because it was actually cheaper than the used one's I found on craigslist.

I also found this ice cream maker, and I got it for 50% off it's original price.   The family was excited about this as well.  I also have happy memories of my mom's homemade ice cream (SO GOOD), and I am pretty anxious to make some.  Of course, you won't find those colorful sprinkles or artifically-colored cherries in my kitchen.  You know that shiny coating on sprinkles?  Well, they get that glaze from the secretions of the female lac beetle. The substance is also known as shellac and commonly used as a wood varnish.  Yum, right?

Last but not least, I bought a 3-crock slow cooker.  I thought this seemed like a fantastic idea, given that I could cook dinner and 2 side-dishes with minimal effort, or tomorrow's breakfast, lunch and dinner all at the same time in seperate crocks.  When I'm pressed for time, this will come in handy.

Speaking of crock pots, I stuck my organic, free-range, happy, bug-eating chicken in the crock pot today with some water.  I slow cooked it all day until it was falling off the bone.  So delicious.  I saved and froze the broth to use later, probably to cook beans (beans are more flavorful & nutritious when cooked in broth rather than water!)

I still have some cash left and I'm buying a food processor off craigslist with it tomorrow.  It will come in handy for so many things.  I'm getting my kitchen "up to speed" for traditional cooking.  In the meantime, next weekend my friends and I are setting up a booth at a flea market.  I'm hoping a make a good chunk of cash to start gathering ingredients and supplies to make all my own homemade cleaning solutions.

Still need to find a tortilla press...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 12

Yesterday I came across a "healthy" version of pig in a blanket.  I don't know if hot dogs wrapped in bread are ever really "healthy" but they are certaintly a meal my husband and son are familiar with, and a recipe will all-natural ingredients is better than one without!  We used Applegate Farm's Organic Beef Hot Dogs and they weren't too shabby.  My husband ate his with organic pasta (white flour, so I didn't eat them) and a loaf of this rosemary bread he picked up.  I couldn't identify any of the ingredients as unnatural, so I ate some too.  I also cooked up some green beans.  Out of all of this food, my son picked the hot dogs out of the bread and ate only the meat.  Pretty typical. :P

I tried making yogurt with the last 3/4 cup of yogurt I had.  I found a recipe that didn't require the use of a crockpot, so I tried it but it was an utter failure.  The yogurt completely failed to set.  I will try again, and probably use the crockpot method.  Hopefully it works out better.  My daughter really loves yogurt, so if I could make my own, I know it would save us some money.

My son has been kind of funny lately.  I guess he is picking up on the "organic" talk.  I tried giving him a box of raisens and he said, "Are these organic?  I only eat organic raisens."  And they were organic, but he still only ate, like, 2 of them.  This morning when I poured him water he said, "Is this organic water? I only like organic!" ha.  It worked in my favor tonight when he really wanted to eat a spider-man popsicle from the ice cream man.  I explained the red dye used to color the ice cream is like poison and can cause cancer and offered some organic ice cream instead (it still had some processed ingredients, but no food coloring at least!) and he jumped all over that.  He didn't want the spider-man ice cream anymore. ;)

I was reading about all the health benefits of lemon and decided I could easily incorporate more lemon into my diet by squeezing it into my drinking water.  I drank six huge glasses of lemon water today.  I've had nothing but water and milk to drink for the last 12 days and it was extremely refreshing to have some flavor to it.  Over the course of the day, I had eventually consumed the juice of an entire large lemon.  Definitely need to buy more lemons.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 10

I went to Sprout's first thing this morning to buy some dry black beans.  I soaked them in a bowl of filtered water in a cooler in the back of my car while I took my son to his playgroup & swung by the Farmer's Market for some tomatoes (I also scored a huge bag of green beans for $2.00!)  When I got home, I simmered the beans in boiling water for 45 minutes.  Added some organic frozen corn (cooked, then cooled), diced tomatoes and cilantro.  Black bean & corn salsa.

It was good!  I ate it with organic blue corn chips.  Next time, I'll squeeze some lime juice over it.

My next project for the day was "poptarts."  I was really skeptical about these because the dough is nothing but whole wheat flour, salt, butter and plain yogurt.  I was really curious what it would taste like.  I mixed the ingredients, rolled the dough out, cut them into squares, and added an organic 100% raspberry jelly.  (I looked at the back of a seriously ridiculous amount of organic jelly brands to find the most natural one I could).

I layered another rectangle of dough on top, pressed the edges together with a fork, and baked.

The very most outer edges were really crispy and didn't have much flavor, which made my first couple bites disappointing.  But by the time I got into a little bit, it was soft, flakey, sweet and overall really good.  It definitely satisfied my "sweet" craving, even though it didn't even have sugar in it (other than the natural sugar of the raspberries).  Next time, I think I will make them a little thinner, a little smaller, and try out some other flavors (how oh how will I mimic brown sugar cinnamon?  maybe coconut palm sugar and cinnamon? hmm)

I realized today I've been feeding my daughter a lot of fruit, so I made an extra special effort to get veggies in her:

I steamed carrots, cherry tomatoes, green beans and broccoli, then we pureed them with that marinara sauce I made the other day.  She ate the whole bowl!

I watched a documentary on Netflix today called Forks Over Knives.  It was promoting full-on veganism, but other than the "all animal products are evil" aspect, it was still informative and interesting.  It reaffirmed for me why I'm doing this.  I've been having a hard time with my son, but thinking about his health in the now AND in the long-term really motives me to keep trying.  Tonight he ate scrambled eggs and a slice of sprouted-grain whole wheat toast with peanut butter!  It was nice to see him eat (and enjoy) something that is good for him.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 9

I soaked whole oats and walnuts overnight last night, then added raw milk, free-range eggs, pure maple syrup and coconut oil this morning.  I mixed well and baked in a small pan for 45 minutes.  It was pretty tasty!  I was expecting it to be more "crunchy" -- like apple crisp, I guess? -- but it was pretty much the same consistency as a regular bowl of oatmeal.

My son woke up with the sniffles and a cough, so I really wanted to get some healthy, fresh fruit in his body.  I blended together fresh-squeezed orange juice, raw milk, blueberries, fresh watermelon and a splash of maple syrup to sweeten.  I called it "Super juice!" but he wouldn't even try it. :(  I've been making "flavored milk" drinks like this the last few mornings and I really like them.  They're not thick like smoothies, but they're creamy, sweet, yummy and healthy.

I was frustrated most of today.  My son just isn't coping well without processed foods.  Nothing about this has been easy for him and every day is a battle.  It's exhausting and disappointing.  He ate a bowl of brown rice today, but I had to lie and say it was white rice and it only looked brown because of the soy sauce.  I thought this worked well when he asked for a second bowl, but then he said, "This isn't my regular white rice, mom..." and wouldn't eat anymore.  Bah!  Other than the rice, he ate peanuts, cheese and an apple today.  For dinner, he actually ate mashed potatoes (surprising).  I just feel like he isn't eating enough and I worry about his growing body.  On one hand, I want to see him eat to supply his body with nutrients, but on the other hand, I don't want those nutrients to be artifical and processed.  I'm trying to be patient, but it's hard.  I just keep praying he comes around and this gets easier!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 7

I made pancakes this morning.  I had intended to soak the flour in buttermilk overnight, but all the information I was reading said "cultured buttermilk."  And I'm wondering, is the buttermilk I buy at the store ok?  Or does it have to be buttermilk made from raw milk? I have no idea, and I have no "authority" to go to and ask (I'm totally winging this, remember?)  This morning, when I was mixing the whole wheat flour with the organic buttermilk I bought, I did notice it said "cultured buttermilk" on the bottle.  So that's probably okay, right?  I probably could have soaked the flour in that, I think.  Lame!  Oh well, when I saw my family actually eating the whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, I was happy.

Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, pure maple syrup, fresh blueberries, grapes and canteloupe, free-range scrambled eggs, and a mixture of fresh squeezed orange juice & buttermilk with pure maple syrup and vanilla to drink.  This was a really delicious way to start my day.

 My processed-food-addict son was having a not-so-natural kind of day and was begging for goldfish crackers.  I had remembered seeing a recipe online for homemade goldfish, and I found another blog where a lady had modified it.  I followed the modified recipe.  It was simple: whole wheat flour, butter, and cheese.  I had to add a splash of raw milk to get it into a dough, it was too dry otherwise.  I rolled it out and used some tiny alphabet cookie cutters I have to make Alphabet Cheese Crackers.

But it was difficult and time consuming to get the dough out of the tiny letters, so I switched to a tiny heart cookie cutter instead -- much easier and faster.  I call them "I Heart Cheese Crackers."

My son wasn't thrilled about them and wouldn't even try them because they aren't shaped like fish.  I tried them though, and they taste like goldfish!  Except they taste superior to goldfish because the cheese flavor is way better.  Hopefully my son will come around soon.  He's missing out.

For dinner, we had quite a feast.  My father-in-law treated us to Alaskan King Crab & my husband cooked grass-fed steaks & hamburgers.  Some friends brought over a dish of organic aspargus with bleu cheese and dried cranberries, as well as a large platter of organic mozzerella cheese with slices of organic red and green tomatoes.  We had many full and happy bellies by the end of the night. :)  Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this beautiful meal because I didn't want our friends to think I was a total weirdo for photographing food. >_<

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 6

I found a woman near my home who houses raw milk, raw cheese and eggs for a farmer outside of town.  I can just order it and pick it up from her instead of driving all the way out to the farm.  It felt a little weird at first: I pulled up in her drive way, took what I wanted out of an ice chest, and left some cash in a box.  I kept looking around wondering if the neighbors were watching me.

Okay, so I got my gallon of raw milk:

I also went to Whole Foods today because they were having a sweet sale on their grass-fed beef.  I got three pounds for dinner tonight for my husband's amazing stuffed meatball recipe.  Previously, we've made this using articifical crap-food, but tonight he made it with all natural ingredients instead.

Grass-fed ground beef, minced garlic cloves, a free-range egg, whole wheat bread crumbs, organic parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, pesto, raw milk, sea salt, pepper, organic provolone cheese, unrefined extra virgin olive oil, and home-made marinara sauce.

So delicious!  I made the marinara sauce myself because the all-natural organic one was $10 a jar -- my wallet was weeping at the sight.  Instead, I bought 2 cans of all-natural tomato sauce (in the future, I'd like to learn how to make tomato sauce myself!) and I totally winged it.  I added garlic, olive oil, basil, thyme, salt and pepper.  It was yummy. :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 5

I am trying to cram so much information into my brain, it hurts a little bit.

As if it isn't overwhelming enough to switch from boxed foods to made-from-scratch foods, trying to get my kid to stop eating fruit snacks and eat real fruit instead, and to wrap my brain around the fact that almost every food I'm used to eating has a negative (or 10) ingredient(s) in it.  Now I have to start soaking grains?  Crap.

But truthfully, I eat a lot of whole grains and I'm used to baking from scratch already, so why not take this nutrition thing up a notch.  Eating whole grains is so much better for you than processed grains, but eating soaked grains is even better.  It's just one more thing I can rub in your face.  And I think I could definitley win an argument with it.  "Oh yeah?  Well, I soak my grains!" Boom. Final word is mine.

Okay, but this requires me to take a different step, one that I've been sheepishly avoiding.  Grains have to be soaked in whey, cultured yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk, or in lemon juice or vinegar.  If I want to use any of the dairy methods, I need raw milk.  Thankfully I found a farm to buy it from, and hopefully I can get some tomorrow (I'm impatient and impulsive, it's a great combo, let me tell you).  But I'm terrified of buying it and having it go bad on me, so I want to have a set plan in mind to make sure I use it and it doesn't go to waste.  I want to know what I'm doing with it, what it will become, how I will use it, etc., otherwise I'll never "get around to it" and I'll kick myself in the pants for wasting $6 on a gallon of milk.

So, I suppose this should be my next step in this journey.  Taking the "cultured dairy product" dive.

~ * ~

I made whole-wheat pumpkin bread and it was a hit!  The recipe contained honey as the sweetener, but I added a splash of maple syrup.  Maple + pumpkin just sounded right to me.  Unfortunatley I didn't have real vanilla, only imitation (something else I need to pick up tomorrow!), but other than that, all of the ingredients were real & healthy.  And my son ate THREE SLICES.  He wouldn't stop asking for more!

For oil, I had my husband pick up Sesame oil at Sprouts (after having to put vegetable oil in my tortillas yesterday, boo)... and it definitely added a sort of nutty flavor to the pumpkin bread, but that wasn't a bad thing. Next time I think I'll use coconut oil.

I also baked sweet potatoes.  I was craving them for some reason.

My 2-year-old daughter has some swallowing issues and cannot eat anything that isn't pureed.  For her dinner this evening, I mixed the left over pumpkin puree with one of the baked sweet potatoes and added a generous slap of butter.   Both the pumpkin and the sweet potato are rich in betacarotene, which protects against cancer, colds and infection...  but our bodies can only convert carotene to Vitamin A when bile salts are also present, hence the butter being an important addition!  The fat stimulates the secretion of bile and helps the body convert carotene to vitamin A. :)