Reflections on 2008, Resolutions for 2009: "All Things Needful"

"But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."--Luke 10:42

Every year, it seems like the mad rush that takes place from November 26 to December 31 makes me overlook the fact that a year is ending. This year, thankfully, has been different. Our two weeks of snow coupled with a change in my assenting to the "mad rush syndrome" has offered me some real time to think back and reflect on God's goodness to us in 2008. This post takes a look back at the changes we've made in our lives this year (some voluntarily, some not!) and my goals to continually hone in all "All Things Needful" as a mother, a wife, and a Thrifty Oreganic!

This morning I awoke peacefully (I'm still away visiting my sister, thus the leisurely wake-up opportunity!) and realized that we are coming to the end of a big year. A lot has happened in the life of my family as well as our nation! At first I sort of cynically asked myself "Did you even accomplish anything this year?"

As I openly waited for the answer to come from within, I realized that yes, there were some significant accomplishments this year. Major challenges have been, if not overcome, at least met with grace and courage.

Major Challenge #1 of 2008: Husband's Job: Earlier this year, God faithfully lead my husband out of a very challenging job situation. He provided my husband with a job with higher pay and better benefits, and that job just happened to be walking distance from our home! The list of pluses was very long, including the fact that we have been able to do fine with one car (we downsized back in 2007 and I don't think we've looked back since!) but there was just one big negative: this job had a huge learning curve. While many blessings have come from this job, the major obstacle has not yet been removed.

Goal #1 for 2009: To be a better support for my husband through his hard, stressful days, and to continue to cut back on our overall household expenses in hope that some day, he will feel free to take a job that is less demanding and he won't feel enslaved to the corporate rat race.

Action Steps: Ways I can accomplish this goal:

1. Listen, without judgement when he talks about his day. Be empathetic instead of always so solutions-oriented. (i.e. "Well, why don't you just.......?")

2. Spend less money. I'm not a lavish spender. I never buy myself or the kids new clothes (and by "new", I mean, "new to me") or toys. We have been blessed by more gifts and hand-me-downs than I could ever use! I don't even spend much on unnecessary food, we rarely go out to eat..... but nevertheless, the food (and herbal medicines) I feel that we need to nourish our family is sometimes expensive, even without all the boxed, processed junk.

How will I do this?

A) I've been inspired by Shannon's blog to have "No Spend Months" throughout the year.

B) My goal is to continue to be ever more austere in meal planning. For example, I have a freezer FULL of meat that I purchased last summer and am thankful to say that my freezer is still FULL because I've been able to use that meat sparingly and make the meat I do use stretch for 3 or 4 meals.

C) In an effort to save money on fresh, organic produce, I am going to have a garden again this year. My 2008 garden wasn't a huge smash of a success, but it was my start at gardening and there was definitely a harvest. I learned a lot from the experience and now I'm armed with more knowledge than before, and will begin planning NOW (whereas last year it was sort of an afterthought that I put in too late!)

I plan to create a Square Foot Garden in our community plot and am excited to chronicle its success (I'm being positive, aren't I?) on this blog. I've learned that with a minimum expense initially, I can grow enough food for my family and have some extra to preserve.

D) In that vein, I'm also striving to be more creative about reusing old things and making them functional and useful. This is called "upcycling" and I've been VERY inspired by my dear friend Michele at Frugal Granola who creatively reuses old items in very functional and beautiful ways. Therefore, I'm going to be doing more knitting, crocheting, and sewing (and will not be buying ANY new fabric, only using what I have stashed over the years) to make gifts for my family and for others. I will share any of my success in that arena on the blog as well.

Major challenge #2 of 2008: Daughter's health: If you've been following this blog, you know a little about my dear daughter's health. Using the GAPS diet, God graciously provided much-needed healing for my daughter's constant tummy aches. Through Gaps, God lead us to a new insight about her health. She was recently diagnosed with an attachment disorder due to perinatal neurological damage and her traumatic birth. back in 2005. It's a long, complicated story, and I might at some point blog more about it, but for now, I'll leave it at that. An Attachment Disorder is highly ironic considering how much I do in the arena of attachment parenting, but neurological damage is neurological damage. Thankfully, God has lead us to a program of healing called Neurodevelopmental Retraining .

Goal#2 for 2009: To carve out specific one-on-one time with each child. For Kirsten, this means doing play therapy (she loves intricate stories we make up through playing dolls) and working on her neurodevelopmental program which includes creeping and belly crawling and other floor pattern exercises which work to reconnect neurons in her pons brain that were damaged during gestation and birth. Our amazing daughter is a miracle, and a blessing. I want to keep a positive attitude and remember that her behavior, when it's out of control, has a neurological component that isn't always "her fault". Although I know that brings up some complicated child-rearing philosophies that I don't want to go into right now, but suffice to say, my goal is to continue to show my children unconditional love and joy in all that I do for them and with them.

For Jonathan, this means patiently allowing him to "help" in the kitchen (even when it seems inconvenient) as well as reading more with him (he's so NOT demanding that sometimes it's easy to take advantage of him mellowness!) and trying to integrate my two children's interests together so we can all play (i.e. dolls and cars!) My boy is such a gift from God, so peaceful, so loving, so helpful. He's so much like his patron saint, John the Apostle! He loves nothing more than to be at my side in the kitchen helping. A future thrifty oreganic? I hope so!

Wow, that's a long post with a lot of info. I guess my last goal is a personal one. I have taken the resolution to read Scripture every day. I am going to try to read through the Bible in One Year with a daily reading each day. My goal is to do this before I get on the computer to blog each night!

May God continue to fill us with His goodness and inspire us toward a life of simplicity so that we may bless all those around us, and bring peace to the world!

For more inspiring resolutions, please visit one of my favorite blogs, The Nourishing Gourmet!

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Merry Christmas!

This past two weeks, the Oreganics have been snowed in! Kelly laughs at the fact that Portland essentially becomes a state of emergency when we get 6 inches, while she lives life among 2 feet of snow regularly!

The snow has really been a blessing, though. It's allowed us to stay creative at home and we've just marvelled at the beauty and serenity of creation when there is snow. It's been great for my husband as well, because he unexpectedly got a few extra vacation days because his company closed down for the week (and thankfully, these are "free" holidays!)
I just wanted to take moment to thank all of you who take the time to visit, read, comment, subscribe, "follow", and/or e-mail privately. It is really humbling and I thank you for all your love and kindness.
By the way, If you' d like to subcribe, you can enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of the page. Then, whenever I post something it will be delivered to your e-mail address. No spam, ever. I promise. It may be thrifty, but it's not Oreganic!
Meanwhile, here's a sneak peak of some topics coming up at the turn of the year:
The Cod Liver Debates
Gluten Free Raviolis
Nourishing Comfort Food: Mac & Cheese
Bone Broth: The BEST way to Stretch your Meat Dollar

and much more!
Until then, if you're itching for some Thrifty Oreganic Reading Material:

Thanks again for visiting and inspiring me to blog!

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Top 10 Essential Baby Needs for a Thrifty Oreganic Baby

The joy of welcoming a new life into the world can sometimes be overshadowed by the deluge of material goods that seem to be "required" in order to bring the baby home from the hospital. An expectant friend of mine recently e-mailed several mothers to ask this very question: "Um...what do I really need for a baby?"

I began writing an e-mail and soon realized with all the links I was including that it would make for a good blog post as well. Read on to find out what my most essential baby items are (and you might be surprised at how little they cost!!!)

Here's my list, it's really simple since I don't believe babies need much:

1) Love and security. Therefore, a sling or carrier of some sort so that baby can be on you during a majority of your time together. Bonding is very important! I like Dr. Sears' Attachment Parenting book, it's a great resource. Here are his Top 7 Reasons to do AP. I personally love the New Native Carrier (shown below with Kirsten, just a few days old!) and the Maya Wrap.

I personally love the Portland boutique Milagro's, an awesome mom-run business and an amazing resource for all things AP.

2) Good food. Breast milk is the best. A pump is helpful is you have a low supply, but generally the baby is the best stimulator. You need to have good, nourishing food at your disposal for your postpartum time. I would start stashing leftovers of meals in the freezer for a nice arsenal of easy-to-reheat, nourishing food. Here's a guide that I follow when nursing and preggo, based on what traditional societies have always considered an optimal diet for nursing moms .

You may also want to purchase some good nursing mother tea , such as blessed thistle, goat's rue , fennel.....I order through Mountian Rose Herbs.

If, for some reason you have supply problems and through all reasonable measures you decide you need to supplement, (as I needed to!) there is a nourishing, homemade formula that closely resembles breastmilk that you can make. It takes some time, but it's so much better than commercial. Here's Cheeseslave's very easy to follow guide to making this formula. Cheeseslave and I had a very similar breastfeeding journey!

Later on, when you start solids, finding good glass storage containers (ebay even had a whole set of empty baby food jars for $0.99!) for homemade baby food is a must. I also like to use these types of stainless steel sippy cups .

3) A well-informed decision about vaccinations. It's really a hot issue and traditional docs can differ widely on how they approach the issue. I personally have chosen to delay vaccinations for my children and have a doctor who is supportive of this . Not all are, and you have to really do your research. There are obvious reasons why you should vaccinate, but the "cons" are not always so widely publicized by the madia. This link offers a comprehensive article on the entire issue and really solidified my personal view.

4) A safe place to sleep . Some people choose to co-sleep, some choose to use a crib, some do both.

I have done different things with each of my two children based on what they needed the most. My oldest (who has neurological damage due to birth and gestational trauma) was and is a VERY high needs attachment baby. She could only sleep in bed next to me (and still needs to at almost 4!) My 18 month old son is also very well attached, but he had a completely different gestation and birth. He sleeps through the night in his crib and LOVES being in it.

Either way, make sure the bedding is safe and use precautions if you do decide to co-sleep. I loved the experience, personally, but I also love that my son happily falls asleep on his own in his crib!

There is some evidence to suggest that toxins from crib mattresses cause SIDS. There is no evidence, of course, to confirm, just strong correllations. I would highly reccommend an organic crib mattress or organic futon for the floor for baby to sleep on. I do not, by the way, reccommend the sleeping arrangement shown below!

5) An easy-to-maneuver stroller with storage underneath. Although newborns can be walked in slings for many months, there does come a time when it's good for them to learn how to sit in a stroller. It's also a great way for you to get excercise that's free!

I LOVE my jogging stroller and use it to walk to the store and do grocery shopping. It saves gas, gets the kids out of the house, gives me exercise, all in one!! Note: Again, the stroller shown below is NOT easy to maneuver or load into the car, but it was free and it works for me!

6) A good car seat is an obvious one and a non-negotiable, unless of course you plan to take public transportation all the time. Make sure the car seat, if second hand, has not "expired". I still haven't figured out exactly what that means, but since it's a safety device, I don' t question it.

The car seat that my daughter is sitting in is a "convertable" carseat, which means that we've had it since she was born. It's hard to believe that my little 5 lb. baby sat in that same seat. It's a great option, though, because it saves you having to buy 2 or 3 carseats!

7) Cloth diapers are the most thrifty way to go (other than "infant potty training", I suppose!). However, your situation may prevent you from realistically cloth diapering. Apartment dwellers who must use a laudromat or shared laundry might not as easily be able to do this. If you absolutely can't cloth diaper, consider flushable G-Diapers.

For cloth diapers, there are thousands of options now for every situation. A good source to consult (another local business!) is Babyworks.

8) Clothing. Yes, the baby must wear clothes. However, I've never known of an American baby who had a shortage of these. I try to encourage new moms to keep it simple (amounts are for each size) : 7 under-onesies (at the most!), 3-4 sleepers (with feet), 4-5 pairs of pants, 5-7 "outfits" , 5 hats (I love the Hanna Andersson "pilot cap") 5 pairs of socks ( Nike, Gap, and Gymboree have good ones). 2 good sweaters/coats and that's about all you need.

Yes, they blow out, yes, they spit up, but if you're washing diapers every day anyway, you might as well do all your other laundry and keep it simple! If you are blessed with a community of mothers, you will most likely never have to purchase any item of clothing unless you want to!

9) A swaddle blanket. Swaddling is very soothing to a young baby's neurological system, but it can be tricky to get the swaddle to "hold" properly. Fortunately, there are some nifty swaddle innovations to be found.

10) Good info. Parenting is about 50% intuition and 50% informed decision-making. Either way, it's experimental at best! We learn through trial and error. Unfortunatly, we live in a society that lacks strong community and for the most part we are removed from the generational influence of our elders and sometimes have to do a crash course on all things parenting-related as we go! Here are some additional books and resources that I learned a few things from. No doubt others will have many more to share:

Did I miss anything? Surely I did, but I really enjoyed the chance to write this post, dear preggie mama! I hope and pray you a peaceful gestation and birth, and look forward to welcoming your sweet baby into our community!!!

Readers, please add to my list in your comments!

By the way , this post is part of Works for Me Wednesday by Rocks in my Dryer!

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Whole Foods Vs. New Seasons Market

If you're an urban dweller, you are blessed with a myriad of grocery shopping options. Portland is no exception. We have all the typical "big names" (Safeway, Kroger/Fred Meyer, Albertson's) and a fair amount of small, locally-owned neighborhood co-ops. We are also blessed with a growing chain of Health Food stores called New Seasons Market. Read on to find out some surprising news about how natural food giant Whole Foods is reacting to the presence of New Seasons Market.

It was recently brought to my attention that Whole Foods is being sued for an FTC violation. They are being accused of creating a monopoly in the Health Food Store industry when they acquired Wild Oats last year. Read more about New Seasons' response here.

What do I think? I totally think that Whole Foods has cornered the market nationally. I think they are way over-priced and I refuse to shop there. On the other hand, I find it very encouraging (but not surprising!) that my fellow Oreganics in Portland have chosen to support New Seasons over Whole Foods.

There are only 3 Whole Foods in the metro area and 7 New Seasons Markets, with plans in the works for more to come! New Seasons Market has done a fabulous job in the business with stellar customer service, an innovative online delivery service with personal shoppers, and working directly with local farmers to feature seasonal produce. Portland Oreganics apparently have a keen eye for authenticity when it comes to Health Food Stores.

I love New Seasons, but I must say it's not the thriftiest place to shop. I try to order as much as I can through Azure Standard (an equally innovative and successful business) and purchase my produce at a more affordable wholesaler, Uncle Paul's Produce, which I wrote about here. All that said, I love New Seasons in that they are committed to doing the right thing (they sponsor the local farmer's markets! They actually encourage you to support the Farmer's Market's Directly instead of purchasing through New Seasons!)

Let's join the Portland Oreganics in the spirit of supporting local, sustainable health food stores . If you don't have a "New Seasons" type of market near you, consider finding a Cooperative Grocery to support rather than Whole Foods. Remember that every dollar spent locally is a dollar (usually) given right back to the community. To find a Cooperative Grocery near you, look here.

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Holiday Junkfood Makeover: Sugar Free Peppermint Bark!

Update: For more nourishing holiday treats, visit The Nourishing Gourmet !

The holiday season is full of culinary temptations, for sure. I've been pretty good about avoiding the cookies, fudge, and candy canes, but there are some treats that I really do miss, such as peppermint bark. Fortunately, I came up with a very satisfying sugar free alternative packed with good calories!

Sugar Free Peppermint Bark

(This recipe is approximate, adjust the flavorings to taste!)

1 cup Raw Cacao Nibs
1/2 cup Crispy Almonds
1.5 cups coconut oil
12 drops Vanilla Creme Stevia liquid (or use regular stevia with 1/2 tsp vanilla)
1/4 tsp Peppermint Extract
dash sea salt

1. Melt coconut oil in medium saucepan over low heat.

2. Add Stevia, Vanilla,(if using unflavored stevia), Peppermint Extract, and sea salt. Mix well.

3. Meanwhile, coarsely chop almonds and cacao nibs in food processor. Fold into melted coconut oil mixture.

4. Pour mixture onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Put in freezer (or, as I did, outside on my back porch!) long enough for it to solidify.

5. Break apart and enjoy, but store bark in the freezer for best results!

Notes: Remember to adjust the flavors to suit your taste. Always start with less stevia and then add a drop at a time until the desired taste is achieved. This is delicious is completely guilt free!

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Menu Plan Monday: Clean Out Your Fridge Week

Since we here in the Northwest are currently experiencing what news anchors are calling the "Arctic Blast", I've been lead to believe that there's no way I'm getting out of my house to go to the store anytime in the near future. No worries for me, since I am a food pack-rat and I have plenty of frozen and dry goods....not to mention unidentifiable items in mason jars in my fridge! Oh well, since I always operate on the principle of "use what you have" (more on my menu planning philosophy can be found here), this challenge was one I am always up for!


B: gluten-free blender waffles (w/amaranth-teff-millet)

L: miso soup made w/ bonito

D: tostados made with homemade corn tortillas

To do: Dry peanuts in oven, rinse spelt sprouts


B: kefir smoothies & coconut-banana muffins

L: smoked salmon fritatta

D: spicy pinto beans & tortillas (Crock-Pot)

To do: Bake squash for morning.


B: delicata squash pudding

L: herb-roasted Brussels sprouts and spaghetti squash cakes

D: thai coconut curry soup


B: scrambled eggs w/ cortido

L: leftover pintos w/ all the fixings

D: Indian Lentil Pancakes

To do: Sprout buckwheat


B: sprouted buckwheat pancakes

L: veggie stir-fry

D: baked salmon w/ veggies (if housebound, otherwise, out for family birthday celebration)


B: smoothies

L: tuna fish on leftover Lentil Pancakes

D: gluten-free vegetable pizza


D: lentil soup

For more menu-planning inspiration, please visit The Organizing Junkie!

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Thrifty, Green & Simple Christmas Gifts

Jonathan Gregory, my sweetest Christmas gift (along with his sister!)

News of the economic crisis is getting worse every day. Unemployment numbers are skyrocketing. No doubt this is going to be a tight (if not totally difficult) Christmas for many folks around the country. Even those who are blessed with stable employment would be wise to scale back and simplify this Christmas.

No matter what the motivation, simplicity is always a welcome notion for me. Malls overwhelm me. I can't even go into the neighborhood Big Box store this time of year without totally feeling panicked and emotionally drained. The subtle glorification of plastic and kitch wears on me even more than normal this time of year.

In case anyone else out there is feeling overwhelmed by commercialism and haste, I thought I would share some tips for a more simplified Christmas; one which will allow room to celebrate the true meaning of the season and enjoy priceless time with the gifts we have already in our lives!

1) Consider Handmaking Gifts: For those of you who are crafty, this is a no-brainer. But there are many ways to share homemade gifts.

One of our favorite gifts from year to year is an amazing homemade salsa made by dear couple friends of ours. There's nothing like it! Last year I made a homemade, gourmet
hot cocoa mix with real fair-trade chocolate, Rapadura, and organic milk powder.

What about some simple handmade toy blocks for the children out of scrap lumber? Other ideas include the obvious (scarves, hats, legwarmers, quilts, afghans, cross-stitch, purses, earrings). If you're a writer, what about a framed poem? My brother is good at editing videos and has made some hilarious DVDs. A family slide show set to music is a great gift to send out-of-town relatives and friends!

When it comes to unique handmade items, Google is your friend as well as You Tube. If you want to make it, You Tube has probably got someone showing you how! Another neat site I stumbled upon is Instructables which shows pictures and step-by-step instructions on how to do just about anything!

One of my favorite web resources for Gifts in a Jar is
this website. I enjoy the challenge of tweaking the recipes and making them more nourishing! More on that in a future post.

2) Recycled Gifts
No, I don't [necessarily] mean re-gifting. Recycled gifts include those purchased cheaply at garage sales, vintage/antique shops, or other second-hand stores. The neat thing about most second hand stores is that the businesses are non-profit organizations that support a worthy cause. For those of you locals, Second Edition is the resale shop for the Cedar Mill Community Library. This store is hands down the cleanest, and more high-quality resale for the lowest price around.

Plato's Closet is a for-profit company that encourages recycling by purchasing your old clothes and selling them. These clothes are all high quality name brands at a fraction of the cost. This is a great option for anyone who has a teenager or young adult on their list to shop for!

Even though this is more common for white elephant gift exchanges, sometimes simply looking through your own garage can turn up treasures that you didn't remember you had.

Another neat store in Portland, called SCRAP is a non-profit that sells mostly excess office and school supplies and other very unique and highly recyclable items including fabric scraps. This place is cheap, too. Most items are sold by the pound!!! Full of artistic inspiration, this place is awesome! If you aren't in Portland, try to locate a similar type of program in your area.

3) Support Sustainable Businesses

If handmade or recycled isn't your schtick, please consider purchasing your gifts from green & sustainable businesses. The EcoMetro guide (which services East Bay, CA, Seattle area, Portland, and Eugene/Springfield) is a priceless resource for all things green and sustainable in the cities they service. Search for local, sustainable businesses on their site. If your city is not represented by EcoMetro, consider contacting them putting your city on the EcoMetro map!

Some of my other favorite ways support small and sustainable businesses are by shopping at:

  • Ten Thousand Villages supports sustainable business in third world countries by selling the beautiful artisan crafts from around the world.

  • Those random Holiday Bizarres you see advertised everywhere this time of year.

  • Searching websites like the Sustainable Business Network.

  • Shop Etsy and directly support many small-scale artisans.

4) Consider Unique Gifts with a Small Carbon Footprint:

Some of our favorite gifts are paperless, but at the same time support local organizations. If you are shopping for children who already have every toy they'd ever need, why not buy them a membership to your nearest zoo, science, or children's museum?

Tickets to a play, movie, sporting event, or concert are also welcome, but unique gifts. Gift certificates for massage, pedicures, facials will excite any woman on your Christmas list.

Perhaps a membership to a CSA would be a great family gift for you or a family on your list.


Ideas abound for making a more simple/green/thrifty Christmas celebration, yet the bigger question remains: how do we change our expectations for giving and receiving? This is a huge philosophical and spiritual question with which to ponder. Further, how do we raise children that don't have the expectation that they're always going to get tons of new things each year?

Currently, being "green" and simple is a choice many of us make on principle. Someday, it may not be an option.

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Thinking Outside the [Cereal] Box

Another myth often believed by traditional foodies is that good food can't possibly be quick and easy to prepare.

Doesn't everything have to soak for like 2 weeks before it can be consumed?

Thankfully no! Now granted, many of my breakfasts in my menu plans require lots of advanced preparation, but recently I concocted a deliciously satisfying breakfast "cereal" of sorts that had all the trappings of cereal: milk, crunch, and sweetness-- but without all the yucky extruded, processed grains involved.

I call it "Apple-Cinnamon Crunch" and its 100% RAW!!

Here's what I did:

Apple Cinnamon Crunch: The non-Cereal

Serves 4

1 Granny Smith Apple
1 Stick Cinnamon, ground (or approx. 1/2 tsp)
1 Cup Crispy Walnuts
1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)
1/2 Cup Buckwheat Sprouts (optional)
Raw milk or cream, or real almond milk

1. Shred the apple into large bowl.

2. Toss with cinnamon.

3. Add walnuts, buckwheat sprouts, and raisins, if using.

4. Top with desired amount of milk or cream.

This alkalizing breakfast is light, yet filling, fresh, and alive!

Photo courtesy www.localhs.com

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Traditional Food Myth #1

In order to eat "traditional foods" you need to eat all cooked foods.

Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, says basically that we should strive to eat a diet that is 50% RAW.
Raw doesn't just need to be veggies, either. Here's my top 10 list of nutrient-dense raw foods that can easily be added to any meal (they are in no particular order):
1. Sprouted and dehydrated nuts
2. Raw butter
3. Raw milk
4. Sauerkraut/kim chee/pickles (lacto-fermented, non-pasteurized)
5. Raw cheese
6. Raw fish (sashimi), make sure it's from a reputable source and frozen for at least 14 days
7. Raw egg yolks (from pastured hens only, add to smoothies)
8. Sprouted legumes or seeds, added to salads
9. Kombucha
10. Good old fruits and vegetables
The book shown above, The Raw Truth by Jeremy Safron is an amazingly inspirational raw vegan cookbook with some incredibly good recipes that my family has enjoyed for years. I highly recommend this easy-to-follow book.
The following recipe is for raw, vegan, gluten-free, fat-free Buckwheat Granola that my daughter just loves to snack on. It's inspired by Safron's "Buckies":
Raw Vegan Buckwheat Granola
2 cups dates (Costco or Azure Standard have good prices on these)
2 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups buckwheat sprouts
coconut, raisins, chopped nuts
Place the dates in a bowl, cover with the water , and soak for about 1 hour, or until soft. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. In a blender, combine the dates, reserved liquid, and vanilla. Pour the date mixture into a large bowl and add the sprouts.
Mix well. Spread the mixture on a dehydrator tray or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the oven. If using oven, set a lowest setting and leave the door open. Dehydrate until crisp.
When finished drying, break up into bite-sized pieces and mix with your favorite granola accompaniments, such as chopped crispy nuts, raisins, and coconut.
Coming soon, more tips for adding more raw foods to the traditional plate!

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Real Food Makeover: Vegan Nachos

Aaah, nachos. Besides reminding me of the movie Napoleon Dynamite (for some reason) , the taste of that "cheeze" and bland corn chip crunch hearkens back to cold nights wearing my Letterman's jacket watching high school football games. Bowling alleys and skating rinks come to mind as well.
As nasty as commercial nachos always end up being, there has always been some appeal to me that always ends with regret. Not anymore.
I went ahead and replaced the generic yellow corn chips with Trader Joe's or (Garden of Eatin' )Blue Corn Chips. For some reason, Blue Corn Chips are actually allowed on the Body Ecology Diet. If I were going completely grain-free on these, I would probably try substituting Trader Joe's Roasted Plantain Chips (all the salty, crunchy goodness without the grains!) . Trader Joe's has a myriad of healthy tortilla chip options, including Veggie Flaxseed Tortilla Chips and Hempseed Tortilla Chips! But I really like the blue corn chips.
Instead of the part-plastic cheeze ooze, there are many options. You could, of course, just choose your favorite real cheese (I love raw cheddar) and just shred it on top. I also think raw creme fraiche alone can do the job, accompanied with perhaps a little bit of fresh (or canned) salsa.
But for my fellow Nativity-fasters, I offer you a Traditional food-inspired recipe for Vegan Nachos that are delicious and will have you never looking back to those days of football games and skating rinks (as if you needed another reason!)
Vegan Nachos

You'll need to procure the following products that may or may not be homemade staples in your kitchen:

*Corn tortilla chips ( you can thriftily make these by frying regular corn tortillas--think Winco, they sell like a million for $1.29-- until crisp in coconut oil)

*Refried black beans (I happen to cook like a gallon of dried black beans in my slow cooker and freeze them. I then re-fry them in coconut oil and season with taco seasonings later)

*Tomato salsa of choice (again can be easily made like so: whirl a couple tomatoes, an onion, a jalapeno, and salt in the food processor for an ultra simple salsa)

*Guacamole (quite simply: 1 mashed avocado, juice of 1 lemon, sea salt to taste. done.)

*2 chopped scallions

*Cortido (Latin American Sauerkraut. Optional but incredibly worth every minute it takes you to make this)

Layer the above ingredients in the order listed. Purposefully omit forks from your table setting. Purposefully include an extra napkin.

Delicious. Filling. Satisfying. pH balanced. No, really.

Disclaimer: By the way, if you're wondering what's up with that orange stuff adjacent the blue chips in the photo above, it's a butternut squash "cheese sauce" I threw together a while ago. I used the photo for purposes of highlighting the blue chips. Unfortunately for the above recipe, my memory card was full and I was unable to patiently clear my card before consuming my supper, thus no picture of the nachos of which I write.

I'm working on refining the exact recipe for the squash nachos and will keep you posted.

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Crispy Nuts

This snack is a staple in our household. Here's how I make Crispy Nuts:

1.Soak almonds or walnuts (this activates their enzymes) in water with 1 TBS salt for 12 hours.

2. Drain and dehydrate (this preserves their enzymes) on a baking sheet in a warm oven*
until crispy (about 12 hours).

You can do this with virtually any nut; cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, and pine nuts are all particularly good!

*To dehydrate in the oven, set oven at lowest setting and keep the door slightly ajar if over 110 degrees.

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Holiday Haitus and a My New Favorite Produce Market

I'm sorta pondering cutting way down on blogging during this holiday season. I may not completely shut down, but I just feel like right now there are more important things for me to be doing with my free time (mainly just being quiet and, well, just "being") than blogging about what I eat.

The point of fasting is to not obsess about what we eat, so I'm trying not to fall into temptation by writing about food right now!

The fast is going well, so far. I've been able to keep things pretty simple around here with lots of blended veggie or lentil soups, seafood, and roasted and/or stir-fried veggies. We have been doing more grains/starches lately just because that's what we have left when we don't have meat. We're still definitely sticking with the alkalizing grains (millet, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat). About once a week I'm serving beans. I am still just trying to maximize the veggies.

Speaking of Veggies

For ye local Portlanders, I am happy to say I've discovered the best produce market in town. It's SO amazingly wonderful. The prices are incredible, and the quality is as good or better than New Season's or Whole Foods. It's a little unassuming outdoor covered tent produce place on SE Hawthorne Blvd called Uncle Paul's Produce. The prices are so good that I now make a trip across town once a week just to go there.

I come home with two bags full of veggies (I mean brimming full, and we eat lots of veggies) for about $20. This is high quality, organic, locally-grown produce. And when you purchase from Uncle Paul, you support a local mom and pop organization without a lot of overhead. No, you don't get to experience wine and cheese sampling nor can you buy organic dental floss here (it's JUST produce and some assorted local jams and nuts) but it's totally worth it.

If you own a Chinook Book, you'll find 2 coupons for $5 off a $25 purchase. The first time I went, I didn't even have enough in my very full cart to equal $25!!! I had to add extra apples. That amount of produce at Whole Foods would have cost me close to $50. No joke. I made the mistake of shopping at WF a few weeks ago and realized the error of my ways at the cash register.

In tight economic times like this, we can vote with our dollar to support big chains, or we can give our money to local businesses that pass their savings on to you. If you're not in Portland, do you have a favorite little "mom and pop" produce market you like to support? If so, do tell!

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Menu Plan Monday: Vegetarian Week!


B: Blended Vegetable Soup (Zukes, Broccoli, Chard, Parsley, Garlic)

L: Smoked Salmon & Nori Roll-ups, Crispy Walnuts, Grapes

D: blue corn chips topped with refried black beans, shredded carrots, sauerkraut, peppers, and avocados

To do: Soak sunflower seeds, millet, and lentils


B: mango lassi and sprouted buckwheat-banana pancakes

L: scallops and sauteed veggies

D: high enzyme salad (from NT)

To do: Blend millet and lentils in vitamix, roast butternut squash


B: butternut squash pudding
L: seaweed veggie saute
D: lentil-millet Indian pancakes topped with sauerkraut and avocado


B: sprouted buckwheat granola
L: leftover dosa sandwiches
D: spaghetti squash casserole (from Nourishing Traditions)

To do: Defrost fish roe


B: amaranth-millet pancakes
L: fish roe cakes & veggies
D: miso noodle soup w/ chard & seaweed (and kelp noodles)


B: kids out w/ dad
L: leftovers
D: hot dogs (kids) and left overs (dad & mom)


D: quinoa-butternut squash rissotto (I'm posting this recipe soon! It's amazing!)

For more menu inspiration, visit The Organizing Junkie!

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Viva Los Veggies! The Do's and Don'ts of Fasting

My college roommate and I once had a dream of opening a cafe and calling it "Viva Los Veggies". We thought we were very clever. I'm sure someone else has already thought of this catchy title, but I can't bear to "google it" to find out!

I am writing this post primarily for my Orthodox audience because today marks the beginning of another season of fasting. Today is 40 days before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas) and we Orthodox prepare for the feast by fasting for 40 days. Traditionally, the Orthodox fast from meat, dairy, oil, and wine. This is the strictest sense of the fast. Women who are nursing or pregnant are exempt from these rules, as well as invalids or those with restricted diets. The spirit of the fast, however, is to eat less, obesess about food less, and focus more on the season.

Before I became a big fan of Nourishing Traditions and Weston Price, I, like most American Orthodox who fast, relied heavily on pastas and soy products. This left me very sick. Fortunately, I had a respite for several consecutive years because I was either pregnant or nursing. For the record, I'm still nursing, so I am going to do more of a vegetarian fast (including limited amounts of goat milk kefir and eggs).

The whole Weston Price movement is pretty much anti-veganism, and I've had to reconcile the fact that no traditional societies are strictly vegan while one significant component of my faith involves fasting. To be fair, fasting is an ancient practice that is seen in nearly every ancient world religion. The ancient Hebrews fasted for periods of time and also fasted two days per week. The Orthodox have practiced fasting since the beginning (Orthodox Christianity is the most ancient form of Christianity).

Fasting has always made sense to me from a spiritual standpoint. We need a break from complicated food processing (usually the most complicated processes, traditionally, involve processing meat and dairy). We need a break from eating too much meat, dairy, and fat; all of which are acid-forming (but healthy!) We need to practice mindfulnessof being filled by something greater than food....we need to remember our weakness as humans and rely upon our Creator.

From a cosmic perspective, there is wisdom in fasting. From a village/agrarian perspective (one that most of us have lost in the factory-farm/supermarket era), there's a realization that the animals need a break from producing milk--- the hens don't lay as many eggs in the wintertime--- the body needs a chance to cleanse from digesting meat and oils....

Nutritionally speaking, I believe it's possible to fast and be healthy, but in America, it can be difficult to instinctively know what to do. Here are my top 5 Do's and top 5 Don'ts for fasting. The point is to cleanse, both spiritually and physically. I don't believe the point of fasting is to get to the point of complete exhaustion, sickness, and ultimatly deficiency. That's not a good thing.

Don't: Rely on soy, especially not processed soy. If it looks like meat, tastes like meat, but isn't meat; you probably shouldn't eat it!

Do: Try fermented soy such as miso. Soy was never meant to be eaten without fermenting. Traditional tofu is also a fermented product, and if you can find it, by all means, try it!

Don't: Make pasta (or grains, for that matter) your mainstay. If you must do pasta, limit yourself to a few days per week and use whole-grain sprouted pastas or gluten-free options (Trader Joe's has great ones!)

Do: Try incorporating more of the alkalizing seed-grains such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat. Quinoa in particular is very nourishing as it is a complete protein. Make sure that before you cook these grains you let them soak in a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar for 12 hours to break down phytic acid.

Don't: Give in to the temptation to gorge on "vegan" cookies or treats. In fact, if I highly reccommend fasting from sugar (particularly during this winter season). Yes, Oreos are vegan, but nutritionally, they're just a big black hole.

Do: Try to eat 50% (or more) raw during a fasting time. This is particularly cleansing and will help fill you up and provide vital nutrients. Some suggestions:

*Sprouted sunflower seeds added to salads

* Make and eat sauerkraut or pickles with every meal, especially if you're eating beans and grains. this will add a "cheese-like" flavor and will help your body digest the extra starches.

* Add fat-rich olives and avocados, as well as dehydrated sprouted nuts to a salad to give a huge nutritional boost.

*Kombucha, juice kefir, and beet kvass are inexpensive, vitamin-rich tonics that provide B vitamins and help alkalize the blood.

Don't: Obsess about beans. Many people try to just replace meat protein with soy or bean protein. Protein is important for sure, but since beans are so high in starch they should be limited to 1-2 meals per week so that you're not taxing your digestive system so much.

Do: Eat from the sea. The Orthodox have always permitted shellfish during fasting periods. Although these should always be eaten sparingly due to mercury content, having scallops or shrimp once or twice per week is a great way to get protien and vitamin D. Don't forget to try seaweed in a veggie saute.

Don't: Be a pharisee. Don't become a glutton, or judgemental, or too hard on yourself. This defeats the purpose of fasting!

Do: Most importantly, take advantage of the myriad of delicious vegetables available to us today. It's amazing how filling and revitalizing a plateful of steamed veggies can be! Not to mention rich in vitamins and minerals. Fresh juicing, if you have a juicer, is a highly beneficial component to fasting.

I hope these tips are helpful to those of you who are embarking on the journey to Nativity. May all of your advent seasons be blessed as we journey to welcome the Light of the World!

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Cinnabun "Lara" Bars

There's nothing like a guilt-free, nutrient dense treat. And best of all, these are simple to make and pretty much impossible to ruin. In the photo above, the bar is in the center of the plate. Surrounding the bar are the ingredients:

crispy nuts (I use almonds)
raisins (any dried fruit will do)
coconut oil


1) Place about 2 cups of crispy almonds into the food processor. Add 1.5 - 2 cups of raisins and process until you have a paste. It should be sticky.

2) Add about 2 TBS (or more) of coconut oil and process until smooth.

3) Add salt (to taste) and about 2 tsp of cinnamon (add more if you need to). Ginger and cloves add a nice flavor too.

4) Add about 1-1.5 cups of shredded coconut until you have more of a thick, dry paste. You are looking for a rounded, "doughnut-shape" in your food processor.

5) Remove dough, press into parchment-lined jelly roll pan. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.


Coconut oil note: Mountain Rose Herbs in Eugene, Oregon, has the best bulk price I've found on coconut oil that's unrefined and organic. We are very pleased!

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Menu Plan Monday

Menu Tip of the Week: Keep a notebook of all of your previous menu plans so that if you need inspiration, you can look back and recall some meal ideas that work!


B: Scrambed eggs w/ cortido, beet kvass, and leftover waffles
L: pan-fried scallops and Roasted Brussels Sprouts
D: chicken chunks, apples, cheese


B: kefir smoothies and coconut muffins
L: Chicken caesar salad w/ homemade salad dressing
D: Shephard's Pie with leftover meat, veggies, and topped with whipped cauliflower

To do: Start Millet in the slow cooker to cook overnight.


B: Breakfast Millet Pudding (a slow-cooked variation on this recipe)
L: Veggie Saute
D: Peruvian Quinoa Soup (from Body Ecology Diet)


B: Veggie-egg scramble
L: smoked salmon, goat cheese, and veggie sticks
D: taco salad

To do: Soak white beans


B: millet/rice waffles
L: seaweed & veggie saute
D: white bean vegetarian chili


B: kids out w/ dad
L: leftovers
D: hot dogs, sauerkraut, zucchini soup


D: quinoa-butternut squash risotto with roasted veggies

Be sure to visit The Organizing Junkie for more menu plans!

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Lunchbox Makeover: Ideas for School Lunches

This post is modified from an article I wrote for our church's school, of which I am a board member. I thought I would share these tips for healthy lunches for school, work, or simply being on the go with little ones!

One of the biggest challenges we as parents face is feeding our children. Good, nourishing food is essential for their growth and development, as well as for their brains and learning. Packing a healthy, nutrient-dense lunch that will appeal to young children can be tricky, but it will pay off dividends in your child’s energy levels, immunity, and overall well-being.

Sugar,white-flour, and unhealthy fats form the backbone of a typical school lunch. White bread, jelly, peanut butter filled with sugar and hydrogenated oil coupled with fruit juice and chips may be appealing for children, but the high carbohydrate intake can cause a major “crash” in blood sugar after lunch. This “crash” (for lack of a better word) can lead to brain fogginess and lack of focus, and ultimately hunger, later in the afternoon.

For a healthy lunch, it’s important to focus on healthy fats, proteins, veggies, and whole-grains. These foods provide not only essential nutrients, but also provide fiber that slows down digestion so that you avoid that dreaded “crash” after lunch.
Luckily, there are some simply things you can do to transform the “typical school lunch” into a wholesome, healthy lunch that your kids will eat.

Instead of:
White bread

Sprouted Ezekiel Bread or Brown Rice Tortillas for sandwiches If you are grain-free, use sheets of nori for nutrient-dense roll-ups and make "sushi". Leftover grain-free pancakes made from almond flour can be spread with nut butter and a touch of honey for sandwhiches as well.

Instead of:

Whole grain crackers or veggie sticks, raw cheddar or Swiss cheese slices (not processed!), and nitrate-free ham or turkey, smoked salmon, or left over roast beef.

Instead of:
Ramen cup-o-noodles

Purchase a soup thermos and fill your child’s lunch with homemade soups or leftovers. Simply heat up a small portion in the morning before school and put in thermos and it will stay warm until eaten!

Instead of:
Potato chips

Dehydrated veggies (carrots, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes). Trader Joe’s has some yummy "plantain chips" that are high in potassium and additive-free. Seaweed chips are also a delicous, mineral-rick potato chip replacement.

Instead of:
Fruit juice boxes

Iced herbal tea sweetened with honey or stevia. There are so many sweet, fruity herbal teas that when lightly sweetened taste great with next to no sugar! We like Stash's mango-passionfruit herbal tea as well as Teavana's herbal teas (but they are a Thrifty Oreganic indulgence and not an everyday staple!)

Instead of:
Shelf-stable, ultrapastuerized fat free chocolate milk

Raw milk blended with real, unsweetened cocoa with stevia or maple syrup to taste.

Instead of:
Jell-O chocolate pudding cups

Chocolate banana- avocado pudding (puree 1-2 avocados with 1 banana in food processor. Add 1-2 tsp cocoa powder and 1 TBS honey or to taste)

As you can see, it takes only some small changes on your shopping list to yield big benefits to your child's health, your budget, as well as the environment. Packaged "convenience" lunch foods (like juice boxes, lunchables, "uncrustables" and pudding cups) are both expensive and not eco-friendly. While I realize that these can be tempting (primarily because big box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco can sell these at a pretty appealing price), DON'T be fooled. A little more money spent on quality ingredients (like nitrate-free ham, avocados, and Ezekial bread) will save you money on co-pays and prescription drugs or supplements because your child is less likely to fall prey to illnesses when consuming real food! This may sound like bogus claim, but I encourage you to take the Real Food Challenge and see what happens!

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Fighting the Winter Bugs: 5 Tips

Finally the winter chill is on here in Oregon, and it seems like these are the days that people seem to get afflicted with head colds, sore throats, fevers, and the like.

I wanted to share a few tips for avoiding the bugs in hopes that my readers can enjoy a healthy season.

Through my reading and research, my eyes have been opened to the fact that there is actually an alternative to the "germ theory" put forth by Louis Pastuer. I have much more to write about that in another post, but suffice to say there is also a "host theory" of disease, which says that when the "host's" (or person's) internal "balance" is off, disease takes over.

The fact is that pathogens are always present in our guts; really icky ones, in fact, including e coli and all kinds of other less-than-helpful critters that make their homes inside of us. Usually, the bad bugs are outnumbered by the beneficial ones, and as long as we feed our body food that nourishes, we will grow the good guys who can then keep the bad guys in check.

In this theory, disease hits when we get off balance. Sugar is a major disrupter to the body chemistry. Stress also depleats the body of vitamin and mineral stores which nourish our glands. When the "ammo" (i.e. vitamins and minerals) is gone, the bad guys start to multiply and take over.

The result is the body's immune response. They send in the "big guns", like mucus to trap and excrete excess toxins. Sneezing and coughing are other mechanisms the body uses to detox from these nasty bugs. The resulting symptoms indicate a "cold".

The body has amazing ways of cleansing toxins. Fevers are another way the body heals, as well as diarrhea and vomiting. All of these things appear to be "the flu", but as we know "the flu" and "a cold" cannot be cured by antibiotics or any sort of medicine. Over-the-counter cold remedies only suppress the very symptoms the body uses to clease and heal!!! Why else do we always hear that there are "always new strains of flu and colds each year"?

Here are 5 ways our family has been able to avoid major bugs:

1) Fortify your "immune ammo" with supporting vitamins and minerals through food . Here's my short list of necessities: Cod liver oil is a must, with ample amounts of natural A and D. Vitamin C from Acerola Cherry Powder works wonders when runny noses present themselves. Broth made from real chicken bones chock full of onions and garlic is very nourishing and inexpensive to make. Coconut water is a miracle-working hydrater for when fevers, diarrhea, or vomiting are present. It's also very high in minerals. Sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse, arame, and wakame are extremely nutrient-dense and easy to digest when properly prepared. Fermented Beet Kvass (a tonic of cubed beets, water, whey, and sea salt, fermented 48 hours) is essential for alkalizing the blood and supplying vital minerals to the body's stores. We also find Virgin Coconut Oil, with its antifungal and antimicrobial properties as a strong weapon of defense , as well as the superfood Spirulina. Garlic, onion, and chili peppers are also very antifungal.

2. Avoid sugar like the plague: I've come to believe that most all of the common colds/flu bugs that children acquire can be easily avoided by a low-sugar or sugar-free diet. White sugar, without question, should be avoided. But it's also important to limit fruit juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, Rapadura, and all "natural sugars" as well. Even though the latter have more nutritional value, they are still sugar, and sugar feeds the bad bugs. You don't want it around when your body's trying to heal. My theory is that those who avoid sugar and white flour have stronger immune systems simply because these things really tax and acidify the system. And by the way, sugar-free does not mean using artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Nutra-Sweet. The only thing I really allow is Stevia, which is simply an herb. I like to use the Stevia Concentrate.

3. Hydrate: It goes without saying that juice, soda pop, gatoraid and virtually all "commercial" drinks are full of sugar and should not be used. Fortunately, there are many other delicious drinks. Water actually helps the lymphatic system (the system repsonsible for flushing toxins out of our body) carry away toxins, so that they don't have to get "stuck" in our sinuses or anywhere else and make us sick. We love kombucha (which is a fermented tea that is full of beneficial probiotics, minerals, and B vitamins) as well as kefir. For a healthy alternative to "sports drinks":

Thrifty Oreganicaid:
2 cups filtered water
40 drops Concentrace Liquid Minerals OR pinch RealSalt
8 drops Stevia
Juice of 1-2 lemons OR Raw Apple Cidar Vinegar

4. Keep moving. I believe that one of the reasons people tend to get sicker in the wintertime is that we are naturally more sedentary and we remain indoors for long periods of time. Exercise helps "pump" the lymphatic system and oxygenates our blood, and bad buggers don't like oxygen one bit! Don't forget to get outside e very day for at least 20 minutes, even if it's cold and rainy. The fresh air does a body good!

5. Don't fight the healing process: Obviously there are times when symptoms mentioned in this article indicate a serious condition which can only be treated by antibiotics. But those cases are few and far between. For most of us, all we can do is make the best of the situation and get rest, and nourishing food to help the body heal itself. Mentally, it helps to view colds and other discomforts with thankfulness at the body's amazing way of communicating that something's "not right". Tune in and listen. Your body is an amazing, intricate machine. Let it do what it needs to and don't interfere with loads of "medicines" that only impede the process.

What to do about the annoying factor:

Runny noses: Wet cotton socks with wool socks on top have been known to help clear a stuffed head (it works for my son!)

Ear aches: Garlic olive oil or hydrogen peroxide in the ear have both been very helpful to me.

Sore throat: Gargle with a combo of apple cidar vinegar, raw honey, minced fresh garlic and a dash of cayenne. It works fast. Kefir also has an amazing way of instantly working to soothe and cure a sore throat.

Fever: A fever is the body's attempt to kill the pathogens/virus by raising the body temperature. You can help the body do that by wrapping yourself or your loved one in a warm blanket and allowing them to "sweat it out". Beware, of course, of spiky high fevers.

These are just some home remedies from a mama whose kids (thankfully) don't get sick very often. This is no substitute for medical advise or treatment.

What are your tried and true tips for beating the winter bugs?

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Grain-free "oatmeal" cookies

Make these delicious, healthy, cookies as a snack or even as a breakfast on the go:

2 cups almond flour (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
4 T butter, melted (Coconut oil also works and makes them vegan)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

Optional add-ins: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup chopped nuts
350 degrees

1. Cream together first three ingredients. Add the spices and baking soda.
2. Fold in optional ingredients, if using.
3. Drop by spoonfuls on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

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This Week's Menu

Menu planning tip of the week: For simple and nourishing lunches, have on hand the ingredients for a "chef"s salad". Over a bed of greens, chop fresh veggies that you have on hand. Top with lacto-fermented sauerkraut (that' s the pink stuff in the picture above), shredded cheese of choice, and leftover meat (shredded roast beef, chicken, ham, or fish). This way, you can count on using up leftover meat and veggies in a creative, nourishing way!

Here's what's cooking this week, albeit a little late. I've been having a hard time getting "blogging time" as of late, but here's what's up and coming this week!
B: scrambled eggs w/cortido
L: dosas w/taramatosalata & kraut
To do: Defrost chicken. Make pumpkin pie.
B: kefir-berry smoothies & pumpkin muffins
L: stir-fry broccoli
D: roast chicken (in crock-pot)
To do: Roast butternut squash.
L: seaweed-veggie saute
D: cream of zucchini soup, baked red potatoes w/ sauerkraut on top
To do: Make corn tortillas
B: turkey bacon & eggs
L: tuna nori roll-ups (tuna & homemade mayo, rolled in a nori sheet with avocado)
D: chicken enchiladas (using leftover roast chicken)
To do: Soak quinoa and millet, soak lentils, make enchilada sauce
L: vegetable stir-fry medley
To do: soak white beans
B: kids out w/ dad
L: huevos rancheros
D: baked white beans, hot dogs, sauerkraut
D: curried pumpkin soup w/ leftover waffles

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Eggceptional Value?

One of these things is not like the other,

one of these things just doesn't belong.

Can you guess which egg was laid by a caged factory-farm hen?

Guess before my rhyme is done....
The two eggs above are from a local organic farmer whose hens graze on grass in the lovely outdoors. The yolks measure roughly around 1 TBS. The bottom egg, whose yolk is approximately 1.5 tsp, is from one of the generic store-brand eggs which one can only assume are raised in less-than-humane conditions (at worst). At best, they are raised in an unnatural environment and given rancid feed that forces them to produce an abnormally large amount of eggs.

The above image is courtesy of the folks down under at this website. These conditions make me shudder! Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with factory farms if your conscience is not yet pricked.

Cost is by far the main reason why people buy these eggs. We Americans have grown accustomed to getting eggs cheaply, and the thought of paying $4.00 for a dozen eggs sends most people over the edge.

This blog is about eating organic, nutritionally-dense food on a budget. So how do I justify buying organic, free-range eggs?

De-mystifying free-range eggs:

1. Cut out the middle man. If you're shopping at Whole Foods , Trader Joe's, or Safeway and expecting to find organic, free-range eggs for a good price you probably won't. Instead, find a local farmer who raises hens on pasture and has extra eggs for sale. I've found free-range, hormone-free eggs sold on Craigslist for as little as $2.50 per dozen! Other helpful sites are Pick Your Own and Eat Wild. I found my current egg farmer at the local farmer's market (many farmers raise eggs, but don't necessarily bring them to market!) For $3.75 a dozen, I get certified organic, free-range pastured Large eggs (as seen above!).

2. It's not just about being "cruelty free".... although that's certainly worth paying for in my book. An egg's not just an egg.....eggs laid by hens who are free to forage and eat worms and small insects have a whole different nutritional profile than eggs dropped by confined hens. The former contain much higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E for starters. Mother Earth News did a comparison study of the nutritional content of store bought vs. free range eggs:

3. Are they really more expesive? Let's see, my farmer eggs are twice as large as Safeway's, which sold for $1.29. I would need twice as many of the Safeway eggs to equal the amount of eggs from my organic eggs, but that still only puts the Safeway eggs at $2.58 .

But if you look at nutritional content (as displayed in the graph above), you're getting at least 4x more grams of Omega 3 and 4x more mcgs of Beta Carotene. There's 50% more Vitamin E in a Free Range egg, and 50% less cholesterol! (Remember that Total ceral commercial from the 80s? Or maybe you're more familiar the Phil Hartman's SNL parody "Colon Blow"...youtube it)

You'd have to buy 4 times the factory-farmed eggs to equal the nutrition found in 1 dozen free-range eggs! Don't forget, that would also mean you'd have to consume 4x as many calories and twice as much cholesterol..that puts the cost of Safeway eggs at $5.20 vs. $3.75 for my nutritionally superior, humanely-raised, local eggs!

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This Week's Menu

Menu planning tip of the week: Make delicious, healhty whole-grain (even gluten-free!) waffles from scratch with a penny's worth of grains in your blender! Make up a double or triple batch Saturday morning (or whenever) and freeze the extras for busy weekday morning breakfasts! Who says convenience food can't be healthy and cheap? (For the blender waffle recipe, go here )
This weekend was VERY busy.....women's retreat at church all day Saturday, followed by a busy day on Sunday. My dear sister from out of town is visiting (and she's 30 weeks pregnant!) and so we were celebrating with a baby shower and lots of other social activities. So, basically "my dog ate my homework"....er, that's why it's Monday night and I'm just now figuring out my menu!
Without even having time to go to the Farmer' s market, I'm working off of what's left in my produce drawer and pulling out meat from the freezer and pantry staples. This is actually a fun challenge: what can I pull together based on what I have?!?!
So here's what I've got:
B: Fried eggs w/ cortido and leftover zucchini/apple/coconut pancakes
L: leftovers from my sister's shower
D: shepherd's pie (leftover morocan lamb, carrots, onions, green beans, topped with purreed cauliflower)
B: strawberry kefir smoothies, bacon, and millet pudding
L: out at the Panederia in Newberg (where you can get authenitc, hand-made corn tortillas and tongue!!)
D: Crock pot chicken w/ sauteed veggies (warning: link contains audio "pop-up".sigh)
B: squash pudding
L: fish roe and veggies
D: Savory Lentil Pancakes (Dosas), Sauerkraut, Curried Carrots& Onions
B: coconut pancakes w/ zucchini & apples
L: tuna sushi wraps
D: mexican chicken soup
B: quinoa-millet waffles
L: Miso soup, seaweed veggie saute
D: Baked red skin potatoes topped with avocado, sauerkraut, and steamed veggies
L: left overs
D: hot dogs, kraut, veggie saute

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Menu tip of the week: Consider eating 2 vegetarian meals per week to give your body a chance to "rest" from meat digestion and to save a litte money! We regularly have Wednesdays and Fridays meat-free (in following our Orthodox Christian tradition). Challenge yourself by making a tasty "rice and bean" meal each week....these are very thrifty and nourishing when properly prepared!

It's that time of the week again. I'm going to miss my weekly CSA bag....our last bundle of goodness was delivered last Thursday, so I'll savor all of its bounty while I have it. Fortunately, the weather here in Oregon has been so lovely that the farmer's market Saturday was still boasting locally-grown produce in all shapes and sizes. I'm hoping the harvest will hold out for another couple of weeks!

Kirsten, by the way, is doing well. While I don't want to overdo them, I am allowing some more fruit to her diet (Wednesday morning) as well as millet (which Donna Gates of Body Ecology says is okay for a candida diet, as long as it comprises only 20% of the meal and is only combined with non-starchy vegetables)

B: turkey-sausage omlette
L: veggie saute (zucchini, carrots, onions, etc.) w/ millet
D: sicilian salsa (crockpot) over spaghetti squash

B: strawberry-kefir smoothies w/ coconut muffins
L: leftover baked potatoes with "the works" (kraut, butter, avocado, cheese)
D: taco meat w/ hidden veggies (crockpot) topped with salsa and guacamole
Make fish broth using bonito flakes and kelp, defrost lamb

B: apples sauteed in butter w/ cinnamon
L: miso soup w/ seaweed & veggies
D: pad thai w/ kelp noodles
Marinate lamb, bake butternut squash

B: veggie egg scramble
L: tuna nori roll-ups
D: morrocan lamb (crock-pot)
steam cauliflower, defrost roe

B: pumpkin pudding
L: sauteed fish roe topped with cauliflower sauce
D: tabouli-millet patties (from Betty Crocker!) w/ fresh veggies

B: kids out with dad, me @ women's retreat
L: leftover morrocan lamb
D: hot dogs, veggie saute, sauerkraut

D: millet topped w/ curried squash sauce

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