Menu Plan Monday

Due to a late evening of fellowship with my wonderful parents, I was unable to post my menu plan until now! Thankfully, I had hastily drafted it out on some paper earlier yesterday, so I wasn't "without a plan" for tonight's dinner!

This week's menu was created around the principle of "use what you have" which is still a significant amount of purslane, lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflauer, chicken, and eggs! I have been striving to eat fresh, local, and seasonally so "using what I have" is the only way I can be thrifty and resourceful!

I'm also excited for "Indian feast" on Tuesday night because we got several potatoes from our CSA (even though I suspect potatoes might not agree with me) and I need to use them. I love indian food!

To do: Debone roasted chicken, make stock

Scrambled Eggs w/ Basil Pesto & Cantaloupe
Veggie Salad topped with l/o roasted chicken
Green beans w/ shallots and mint
Zucchini, Sweet Corn, & Bacon Saute

To do: Defrost rice, breakfast sausages, bake muffins, soak almonds

Power smoothies & Breakfast Sausages, Cantaloupe
Blueberry Coconut muffins , Cucumber/Purslane/Mint salad
Dill-Cream cheese and Salmon
"Indian Feast"
Aloo Muttar (Potatos and peas)
Chicken Curry
Dessert: Something w/ Rhubarb!

To do: Defrost fish stock, go to farmer's market, dehydrate almonds

Soaked Granola w/ berries
Chicken & Creme Fraiche for Jonathan
Veggie Quesadillas
Kale & Seaweed Saute, Miso Soup, Ginger Carrots

To do: Start Sunflower sprouts

Eggs w/ Fresh Dill (& Feta ?)

"Peasant Lunch" (crispy nuts, raw cheese, lacto-fermented pickles)

Zucchini Quiche w/ Teff flour crust

To do: Soak Lentils in morning

Soaked Granola w/ fresh berries
Turkey Sausages for Jonathan

Leftover curry

High Enzyme Salad, Lentil Soup

To do: Thaw chili

Eggs, Fruit


Healthy Chili Cheese Nachos (post forthcoming)


Leftovers, hot dogs

Rice/Amaranth Waffles

For more menus to inspire you, visit The Organizing Junkie!

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Bieler Broth: A simple detox remedy

One of the reasons my family eats the way we do is because early in our marriage, my husband started to suffer extreme, unexplained pain in his abdominal area. After exhausting all of our conventional medical options and being tired of hearing "just try taking this pill and see how you feel" and feeling like no one was looking at root causes, we began to take my husband's healing into our own hands.

His journey is a long story, and I will share more in future posts, but he dealt with chronic fatigue, low energy, depression, symptoms of candida, frequent colds/flulike symptoms, gas, bloating, extreme discomfort after eating, acne, weight gain,.....the list goes on and on.

My longing to see my husband be healed and out of pain drove me to research nutrition, which lead me to a deeper study of immunology, microbiology, and anatomy. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about yeast, candida, blood type and its relation to all of this....you name it, I seemed to come across it.

One book, however, opened the door to more nutritional truth than any other, and that one is Sally Fallon's book _Nourishing Traditions_. In addition to being full of tons of delicious recipes, each page's sidebar contains excerpts from other books and journals. Some of the journal excerpts talk about the results of studies that will make your jaw drop, like what happened to rats who ate Kellogg's Cornflakes every day compared to a group of rats who ate cardboard. Guess which group fared better?

Sally Fallon's book also introduced me to a "maverick physician" named Dr.Henry Bieler. He is somewhat of a pioneer in the area of chronic disease and its link to nutrition.

"Dr. Henry Bieler, the author of Food Is Your Best Medicine, in over 50 years of
practice proved that high levels of toxicity in the body was very often the root
cause of most common diseases and ailments. This includes conditions such as the
common cold, flus, hayfever allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome,
fibromyalgia, food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disorders,
skin conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches and others.
fibromyalgia diet, constipation diet, diarrhea diet, adrenal
fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, diet, irritable bowel syndrome..."


The quote above pretty much affirms all my husband has dealt with, and time after time I continue to meet or read about others for whom toxicity was the root cause of all of their health problems.
"Detoxing" is becoming quite en vogue, and many people are cashing in on the "detox market". Herbs and kits promising to provide detox are all well and good, but I happen to believe (in Thrifty Oreganic fashion) that Henry Bieler's right: Food is our best medicine.
There are lots of foods that God gave us that detox. One of them, in particular, is a weed that grows everywhere: dandelion leaves! Beets are also highly priced for their ability to detoxify. The nuts and bolts of detoxing are actually beyond the scope of this post, but one easy and inexpensive way to get started is with Henry Bieler's famous broth:
Dr. Bieler recommends the following broth for detoxifying and restoring balance to the adrenal glands. He uses whole foods that happen to be at the peak of ripeness right now (in Oregon, at least!) So if you feel the need for a light and refreshing, detoxifying broth to drink, why not pick up some squash, string beans, parsley, and celery from the farmer's market this weekend and brew up some of this broth!
I recommend this broth to friends anytime they aren't feeling well and need something healthy in a pinch. Bone broth is wonderful too, but if you don't have any on hand, this is a decent alternative, especially when you're feeling under the weather becauase it's quick to make.
Bieler Broth for Detox and Adrenal Healing

4 med. squash (zukes, yellow or summer)
1 lb. string beans, ends removed
2 sticks celery
2 bunches parsley, stems removed
fresh herbs, such as thyme or tarragon, tied together with a string. (optional)
1 quart filtered water
fresh whey, not powdered!! (optional)

"Henry Bieler recommended this broth for fasting, for energy, and overall health. He felt that this combination of vegetables was ideal for restoring acid-alkaline and sodium-potassium balance to organs and glands, especially the adrenal glands. Bieler brother is highly recommended for those under stress or suffering from stress-related conditions.

Place water, vegetables, and optional herbs in pot. Bring to a boil, skim, lower heat and simmer, covered for about 1/2 hour. Remove herbs. Eat as is or blend.
You may add 1 T whey to each cup of soup. If you're a garlic lover, be sure to add some garlic and add sea salt to taste."
I know it's been out of print for a while, but I'm going to try to get my hands on _Food is your Best Medicine_.
If any of you have read it, please feel free to comment!

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Thrifty Oreganic Thursday: Homemade cleaning part I

Everywhere we turn, it seems like we hear about going "green" or being sustainable. I very much agree with these notions, however I roll my eyes a little bit when businesses boast all of their "greenness" just to make a few extra dollars. And extra dollars you will pay, because if it's "all natural" and free of all the "bad stuff", it's sure to cost you more!

Recently I had the epiphany that "less" shouldn't always cost more; especially where cleaning products are concerned. Even though I love products such as 7th Generation and the like, I'm learning that it's not too difficult to make one's own cleaning products.

I will save all the details for a future post (as I'm learning more, I'll share!) but I will offer a few useful ways to use items you probably have around the house in ways that you may not have thought of:


As the box says, there are lots of ways to use baking soda to clean. I like to mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a cup or two of baking soda to scauer the sink or bathtub.

Hydrogen Peroxide is an excellent disinfectant for countertops, shower curtains, cutting boards and toilet seats. Hydrogen Peroxide does not contain harmful toxins that other disinfectants have, which makes it safer to have around kids (although don't drink it!) Do a 50/50 mix in a spray bottle and have it handy under your bathroom and kitchen sinks.

Corn Starch, according the the _Encyclopedia of Country Living_ can be used as an "extra-fine polish that imparts a sheen to glass and other surfaces".

Vinegar (white) can be mixed with warm water to remove mildew in the shower or tub (2T vinegar to 1 quart of warm water).

Old Tee-Shirts and/or flannel receiving blankets ( www.freecycle.org) can be cut into cloths perfect for cleaning. (This one's rather obvious)

Lemons smell wonderful and contain citric acid, which is known to oxidize. It can be rubbed on a wood cutting board to clean and disinfect.

To clean a toilet, lower the water level in the bowl. Sprinkle baking soda around the inside of the bowl. Pour in enough vinegar to dampen the baking soda and scrub with your toilet brush to remove stains. If you wish, you can always add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

For more ideas, visit Metro's sustainability webpage!

What are your thrifty household cleaning tips?

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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Sneaky Liver Tips & Tricks

Growing up, I used to hear adults sometimes say:

"What am I? Chopped Liver?"

I never understood the reference, but when someone says that, they usually mean "what am I? Nothing special? Not a standout? A wallflower?"

As I was planning for tonight's meal, I noticed that I needed to defrost some liver to chop and blend into the ground beef for tonight's sloppy joes. The whole point of doing this is to add more nutrition and all the benefits of liver without compromising the taste for picky eaters!

Then, it hit me! I get it now! Chopped liver! It's not supposed to be a standout! It's supposed to be a "wallflower" of sorts! Now the reference totally makes sense!

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Easy Sneaking Liver Tips

I buy whole beef livers farm direct, and they come frozen and they're just large. I never use a whole liver in one meal, so I thaw the liver partially and cut into ice-cube sized chunks, so they are roughly 2 oz each. I refreeze these chunks on a tray, and then transfer them to a freezer bag so that they are always accessible. That way, if I need to thaw 1/4 cup of liver, I'll just take out two cubes and thaw them so that they can become chopped liver!

Here are some other ways to use your frozen liver chunks:

  • Blend 1 cube into your morning smoothie (make sure your beef liver is from a clean, reputable farmer, and that it's been frozen for 14 days or more). I promise you won't taste it, and you'll get the benefits of raw liver!
  • Cut the raw liver into pea sized chunks and swallow them whole, like pills. Chase down with your favorite juice or kombucha.
  • Grate frozen liver onto scrambled or fried eggs (this is especially good for toddlers!)
  • Conveniently pop 1 in the blender for every cup of chicken broth you use to enhance the nutritional value of blended soups.
  • Make liver rice.

So, why in the world would you want to eat raw liver?

Mainly because raw liver contains all of the nutrients that are lost during exposure to high heat, particularly heat-sensitive B12. B12 is so important for overall health, both physical and mental. It's known as the anti-depressant vitamin. It's only available in raw animal foods, such as dairy and meat.

Other benefits liver:

  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.


I highly recommend trying some of these sneaky liver tips, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. Liver is great, but because it's so nutrient dense, you need only eat it about once a week.

For other Kitchen Tips, visit Tammy's Recipes!

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It's Menu-Time Again! Week of July 20

This weeks post could have been cleverly titled "Weed: It's what's for dinner", but I thought that might turn some people away! But the reason that slightly edgy title spewed forth out of my creative mind was because a weed, purslane to be exact, is the theme for the week.

Purslane is a common weed that happens to be edible. I am very interested in edible weeds. They make me very excited because what could be more thrifty, organic, local, and sustainable than weeds??!!!

Unfortunately, I was not the forager, unless you consider my finding the second to last bunch of this curious weed at Gathering Together Farm's market stand a forage....but for $2.50 a bunch (and let me tell you, it was a BIG bunch!) I think this was a Thrifty Oreganic find!!!!

So when I arrived home, I endeavored to research and create a menu that incorporated purslane. What is purslane? A whole post could be written about this weed, but I'll direct you here to learn more. And I must add thanks to Cheeseslave for inspiring me to try this weed!

Ok, so on to this week's menu, in the spirit of "use what you have":

To do: Defrost skirt steak, marinate in morning, start lentil sprouts, make coconut candy

Monday: B: fried eggs with cortido
L: chicken & veggie quesadillas with purple cauliflower & purslane
D: oriental red meat salad and dessert: rhubarb crisp

To do: Defrost ground beef, defrost beef liver

Tuesday: B: blackberry smoothies w/ hidden "surprises" and quinoa porridge
L: chicken sausages, carrot sticks, and purslane cucumber salad
D: Kerry Ann's sloppy joes with brown rice (make a double batch for Friday)

To do: Start sunflower sprouts, roast chicken in crock pot, soak navy beans

Wednesday: B: meusli & berries, chicken for Jonathan
L: l/o sloppy joes, veggies
D: High Enzyme Salad and Minestrone Purslane Soup

To do: Soak oats for another batch of granola, go to Wednesday Farmer's Market

Thursday: B: Scrambled eggs w/purslane and cortido and fresh tomato
L: Chicken purslane pasta toss (inspired by link)
D: KerryAnn's BBQ meatballs w/ pattypan squash

Friday: B: soaked granola & berries, salmon & creme fraiche for Jonathan
L: leftovers, salad
D: Spinach-Lentils-Rice w/ Purslane instead of Spinach

Saturday: B: millet-rice waffles (this is a new link to an easier version of the recipe)
L: leftovers
D: US Wellness Hot Dogs, veggies, raw sauerkraut, salad

Go to the farmer's market, begin planning next week's meals!

Sunday: L: leftovers
D: green popcorn, chicken fingers, cheese, and fruit

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Thrifty Oreganic Thursday

Well, technically it's still Thursday! I am going to start a weekly feature with the aforementioned title, and it's simply a snippit in keeping with the priciples of this blog. I will share something Thrifty that I think might be helpful to others striving to live in this ever-more-expensive world.

I try to eliminate the "middle-man" as much as possible; I find that is saves the most money. Whether that's buying farm-direct, or through buying clubs (watch for more on these on future Thursdays), I find it's not as complicated as one might think, and it saves bundles.

Another way I've saved money on the summer's bounty of produce is to find "U-Pick" farms. Even though I love to go the the farmer's market, there is often a bit of a mark-up there to cover the cost of transport, set-up, and operation. For instance, I used to work at a farmer's market and we had to be there at 6 am, and the farmers were there even earlier! All that is to say that going directly to the farm often affords much savings. Many farms have "farm stores" or stands at which they sell their bounty, and those are almost always cheaper than farmer's market prices.

I have found that the BEST deal, however, is U-Pick farms. Most U-pick farms that I know of feature berries and tree fruit, but there are those out there that offer the full spectrum of summer produce available for picking. And if your favorite farmer's market farm doesn't advertise U-Pick, you might try asking about it anyway. If you are the picker, that's one less person they need to pay for labor! If it's fresh milk or eggs you're after, why not offer to barter work for food? It's worth a try, anyway! I know some farmers pay their workers partially in food to ensure that they are getting healhty nutrition.

Anyway, in this spirit, I found a very helpful website called Pick Your Own. It's a very helpful resource (and a dot org) that lists U-Pick farms by state. I was surprised to find many farms right in my backyard that I was not familiar with! I found a place right around the corner practically that sells pastured eggs (and delivers them!) for cheaper than I was paying! It even lists the farms by county, so you can really hone in on the local farm scene near you.

Read about The Foodbank Farm that's doing great things for the hungry, and that offers a U-Pick CSA. I don't doubt that there are others around the country with similar programs.

Not only is U-pick more affordable, it's totally a fun family activity. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and I "drag" them out about once a week for picking and they love it! It's amazing how much you can get in just an hour's time. I have done mostly different types of berries in hopes that I'll have a nice freezer stash for smoothies. It's an incredible savings, considering what a flat of berries will cost you at the store or farmer's market.

Have fun visiting the Pick Your Own website. It's packed with info. But don't delay! Fruit/veggies don't last forever (like they do at the grocery store) so you need to get those blueberries while they're here!

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Beef Tallow: How To, Uses, and Where to Buy

Rendered Beef Tallow

In a recent post of mine, Kimi, the Nourishing Gourmet and a fellow gluten free blogger (if I'm not mistaken!) asked how I used beef tallow. I decided that the answer was worthy of a new post:

I must give credit to Ann Marie and my dear friend K.L. for getting me excited about beef tallow. Ann Marie has a great post on cooking french fries in beef tallow (and they were delish, despite the fact that I think I'm intolerant to potatoes. Sigh). My friend K.L. and her husband always cook the most delicious dishes and when I ask what she did the answer always involved beef tallow, butter, and olive oil together. This combo makes up an amazing "base" for sauteeing vegetables (especially onions) and for browning cubed meat that has been brined for several hours. Can we say HEAVENLY?!!

Beef tallow has to be rendered before it can be used. To render beef tallow, you cut it into small pieces and stick in a shallow pan in the oven at 200. Leave for several hours as it "melts". You will have solid "cracklings" left in the bowl which can be eaten plain or on top of salads. The melted tallow can now be transferred to a glass storage container and left in the fridge. I know these directions call for some photographs, and so next time I render I will go back and add them to this post!

What to do with rendered beef tallow?

Rendered tallow, like any saturated fat, is solid but soft at room temp and can be used just as you would use coconut oil or butter. The great thing about tallow is that it actually has a higher smoke point, so it's ideal for deep frying. I used it to make french fries last night (they tasted like real, old fashioned french fries!) and used it today to fry up some vegetable fritters and saute some veggies!

It's a healthy fat and it adds a nice flavor to whatever you are cooking. I would also use it to deep fry anything.

I suppose it could also be used in pie pastry if you were making a savory pie.

Beef tallow comes already rendered for purchase and can also be ordered from US Wellness Meats and Grassfed Traditions. Lonely Lane farms is a local grass-fed farm here in Oregon and they sell their delicious meats weekly at the Beaverton Farmer's Market. By the way, I love Lonely Lane; they are a family operation and they do things very well. Lonely Lane also has opportunities from time to time to purchase beef quarters, and often times you can ask about tallow when you purchase a cow in this way.

Wherever you are, you can find a good grass-feeding farmer at Eat Wild, a very comprehensive website connecting people with local farmers!

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This one's for my mama: Peanut Sauce

Recently, my dear mother and I had the priviledge of attending one of the open-air concerts at our local zoo. We brought the kiddos and I had to pack a quick dinner that was tasty and transportable. The result? Thai lettuce wraps with a peanut sauce dip.

I basically made indian liver rice but cooked it in 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup water with a TBS of Thai Red Curry paste and threw in some sauteed frozen scallops at the end. I wrapped this in fresh romaine and served it with this peanut sauce from _Nourishing Traditions_ and garnished with cilantro and chopped scallions.

My dear mother loved this and has been asking me to post the peanut sauce. Here's hoping you'll like it too!

Peanut Sauce (adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon)

6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup natural peanut butter OR freshly ground roasted peanuts (I used the former)
1/2 cup minus 2 T of soy sauce or tamari
3 T rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup whole coconut milk or warm chicken stock (I think I used coconut milk!)

Place ginger, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add all remaining ingredients except stock/coconut milk, and pulse until well blended and transfer to a saucepan. Gradually mix in stock or coconut milk, whisking thoroughly.

This could also be thinned by more water or stock and made into a peanut soup!


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Green Popcorn

This is fast becoming our Sunday night "supper of choice". My critical taste testing panel included one picky 3 year old and a somewhat finicky 18 year old. Both were licking the bowl when finished and asking for more! This is sure to please!

Sally Fallon writes "Popcorn is a nutritious snack enjoyed by young and old; but remember that it is prepared without the all important soaking or fermenting process, so don't overdo!"

Here's my "updated" version. Combined with the good fats in coconut oil and grass-fed butter, popcorn (rich in fiber) is enhanced by parmesan cheese, spirulina, and vegetable broth powder (such as Herbamare).

Green Popcorn
Makes 8 cups

1/4 cup popcorn
2 T coconut oil
sea salt to taste
1 Tbs Herbamare or Gaylord Hauser Vegetable Broth*
1 tsp spirulina
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (or other favorite cheese)
2-4 Tbs melted kerrygold butter to taste!

1) Melt coconut oil in large, heavy saucepan with tightly-fitting lid (or popcorn maker).

2) Add corn and cover tightly, cooking over medium heat, and shake constantly until popping starts.

3) Lower heat slightly and cook, shaking, until popping dies away.

4) Pour popcorn in large bowl. Add sea salt, herbamare, spirulina, nutritional yeast, cheese, and melted butter.

5) Mix well and enjoy!

We usually serve this for Sunday dinner with slices of cheddar and apples or other seasonal fruit! This also makes a great homemade snack; perfect for taking to the zoo or other places where overpriced junk food abounds!

*Note: Hauser's vegetable broth contains soy flour, which should be used sparingly due to concerns over soybean over consumption.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE the book _Nourishing Traditions_?

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Petrolium, Agribusiness and Health Care Costs

In a fascinating post by Ann Marie, one of her readers, "Craig" makes a very astute and somewhat disturbing comment that really brought it home for me:

"Our politicians fake their sympathy for the cost of health care, “food” and
the price of gas, yet over 70% of all the costs of health care are related to
industrial food sources, regulations and restrictions have forced local farmers
out of business and dried up support for them in favor of industrial
agricultural companies (same ones mentioned above, who now have the power and
money to lobby for anything that they want), and 50% of the gasoline
used in this country is used for fertilizing, growing and transporting
industrial food
(what’s wrong with locally grown food?).

Wow! That last point is particulary disturbing for me. It makes me realize that striving to purchase local, organic food isn't some elitist, food snobby thing to do. It seems like the most socially responsible way to vote with our dollars and begin a grass-roots revolution that will truly begin to solve our nation's health care crisis and our world's energy crisis. Just think! I could go on and on, but I will save that for another rant!!!

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Menu Plan Moday: 7/14-7/20

Wow! It's hard to believe that we are heading toward the ides of July already. From the perspective of the calendar, it seems that summer's halfway over. In terms of the growing season, it seems we've only just begun!

My fridge is busting at the seams with local produce from our CSA and farmer's market, and my freezer is full of meat recently purchased through our local Weston Price co-op. On Friday I took home a box of beef tallow for costing $0.50 per pound! This is top-notch organic, grass-fed beef with the second-highest levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which means that this tallow is really good for us! And at $0.50 per pound, it's a real bargain!

Along with the beef, I just picked up my order for half of a lamb to store in the freezer. I estimated that we (my family of four) would get about 30 meals out of the lamb,and so it comes out to roughly $4 per meal for the lamb. That's a great deal for such high quality, healthy lamb! By the way, if you are reading this and are local to Portland, OR, and you would like to know more about the co-op through which I am able to purchase these foods, please feel free to contact me.

All that to say, my goal this week is to use what I have on hand; especially my fridge full of produce including cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, kohlrabi, beets, cabbage, and zucchini. I also have several eggs to use, so here's hoping I won't need to go to the grocery store at all this week!

B: Pesto scrambled eggs
L: Refried baked beans topped with cheese, sauteed veggies (make extra for Tuesday's lunch)
D: Cheeseburger wraps with french fries and salad

To do: Defrost and marinate lamb for Tuesday, make sauerkraut, soak pecans

B: Hidden veggie smoothies with quinoa porridge
L: Veggie fritters (leftover sauteed veggies with leftover pancake batter)
D: Lamb kabobs with veggies and salad

To do: Go blueberry picking! Soak quinoa, make crispy pecans

B: granola with milk and fresh berries, turkey sausage for Jonathan
L: qunioa tabouleh, cheese/veggie quesadillas
D: Lentil-pecan patties and a side of salad

To do: Defrost fish stock & whole chicken

B: breakfast sandwiches (sausages and cheddar sandwiched between leftover pancakes)
L: miso soup (fish broth, carrots, cabbage, scallions, kelp, miso)
D: Quinoa-stuffed roast chicken

To do: Pack snacks for beach day trip, start crock-stock with chicken carcass

B: eggs fried in butter w/ cortido on the side
L: TBD--we'll be at the beach (maybe we'll bring leftovers?)
D: TBD-- we'll probably eat out; perhaps seafood?

B: waffles with hidden zucchini and fried eggs
L: leftovers
D: garlic hot dogs, steamed broccoli, salad

L: leftovers
D: green popcorn, cheese, apples, and chicken "fingers" (leftover chicken from Thursday)

For more inspiring menu ideas, visit The Organizing Junkie!

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Frugal Nourishing Foods: Dinner Time!

It's carnival time! The focus here is nourishing food on a budget. That's the focus of this blog, so I couldn't help but jump in for a ride! (Don't worry, there's no yucky food at this carnival!)

Today I'm going to share my favorite nourishing "penny pinching" dish. It's meatless, but meat can be added. This dish comes from The New Vegetarian Gourmet, which is a cookbook given to me for my wedding shower! One of the recipes has been a delicous staple on our menu (as Orthodox, we practice the tradition of fasting from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, so we need a fair arsenal of vegetarian recipes!)

The recipe is called, simply "Spinach, Lentils, Rice". I will modify the recipe to actually not be strictly vegan, but leave the modifications there. I have served this to many guests and always get rave reviews!


This is a very quick dish if you have leftover cooked rice. The lentils cook up rather quickly after having been soaked.

Serves 4

1-2 cups cooked brown rice (to make this extra nourishing, cook the brown rice in liver broth as mentioned here)

1 cup lentils, soaked in water for 7 hours and then cooked
4 TBS olive oil, coconut oil, beef tallow, ghee, or lard
1 onion, chopped
1-4 garlic cloves, dep. on your preference!
1 bunch spinach (or any leafy green), chopped
2 tomatoes, diced or 1 can, drained, or 1 cup sun dried tomatoes (whatever's on hand!)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper

1) Heat oil in large saute pan over medium high heat. Stir-fry salt and pepper for 30 seconds.

2) Add onions and saute until soft, but not caramelized. Add smashed garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes more.

3) Add tomatoes and spinach and saute until spinach is limp.

4) Throw in your cooked rice and lentils. Mix and cover pan. Reduce heat and allow rice and lentils to warm.

5) Remove from heat. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan and mix. Leave lemon wedges on the mixture, cover, and allow flavors to blend for about 10 minutes.

Optional add ons:

  • This dish pairs very nicely with feta cheese, kefir cheese, or farmer cheese.
  • Italian turkey sausage goes nicely with this dish.
  • Serve with a side of lacto-fermented sauerkraut and you have a completely nourishing meal!

For more inspiration on frugal, nourishing main dish meals, please visit The Nourishing Gourmet.

Don't forget to visit The Thrifty Oreganic's other Nourishing Frugal Meal ideas:

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Better than Lara Bars!

[note: these bars don't last long enough to be photographed]

Have you ever wondered how to make your own Lara Bar? Here's my recipe!

Since becoming serious about cooking traditionally, I have had to give up an awesome convenience food / "on the go snack": the "bar". My favorite for a while was the Odwalla Bar; $.88 at Winco, I could load up on these babies and my kiddo loved them for her snack. Ironically, it was the Odwalla Bar that lead me to believe that my daughter was sensitive to wheat/gluten. I'll spare you the delicious details, but suffice to say that it was the Odwalla Bar, in a way, that lead me on this journey!

Fast forward two years into the future. Lara bars come on the scene. What could be better? A whole food, gluten free snack bar! These have like 3 ingredients! But they are also expensive. And rightly so; I mean, the ingredients are good quality and good quality comes with a price.

I don't know if the recipe below really comes out that much cheaper than a box of Lara Bars at Costco (~$18 for 18 bars). This recipe made about 18 bars and I'm pretty sure the ingredients, altogether would total a lot less than $18. It also takes very little time. Here's the basic idea of the recipe. It's not an exact science, so forgive the "Italian" style of recipe writing:

Better than Lara Bars

10-12 pitted dates
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (more may be necessary)
handful of raisins
1 cup of shredded coconut (plus more for coating)
1 TBS Raw Honey (or other liquid sweetener)]
Liquid Stevia to taste
handful of chopped crispy nuts (macadamia nuts or almonds are great)
1/3 cup of coconut oil or butter
2 scoops of Rainbow Light's Chocolate Rice Protein Powder (optional, but really good!)

1) Place dates into food processor and process until you have a paste.

2) Add raisins, peanut butter, honey, and coconut and process until mixture forms a big mass.

3) Add your coconut oil now, as well as the protein powder, if using. Mixture may seem a bit "wet" from the coconut oil. This is okay,but if it seems too runny, add more shredded coconut. Taste for sweetness, and add a few drops of stevia (or more honey) to acheive desired sweetness.

4) At this point, add the chopped nuts.

5) Form pastey mass into balls or bars and roll in shredded coconut (or rapadura or cocoa).

6) Place bars on parchment-lined baking sheet and chill in freezer for about 10 minutes.

Notes: This is a pretty forgiving and versatile recipe. Try subbing raisins for any dried fruit (apricots or cherries would be great!) The coconut oil is not absolutely essential to the texture, either. You can get by without it, but it adds some good nutritional properties! You also don't need nuts, the peanut butter is enough!

These are amazing! They are full of healthy fats, complex carbs, and protein! Enjoy for breakfast on the run or for dessert with a glass of milk!

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Menu Plan Monday!

It's menu time again! This week, I'll be capitalizing on using what I have on hand in the veggie department. We have been blessed with a steady supply of fresh veggies from our CSA and our local farmer's market (my kids and I boarded the local lite rail last Wednesday and loaded up on fresh food!)

We also have some various cuts of meat in our freezer that were from the 1/4 cow we purchased back in December, and it's high time those got eaten!


B: Pesto scrambled eggs
L: Quinoa tabouleh, sauteed zucchini, leftover carnitas
D: Rib steak with salad and a side of pesto buckwheat risotto (leftover from last week)

To do: Defrost rib steak, soak quinoa, start lentil sprouts


B: Green smoothies and quinoa porridge
L: Sprouted lentil salad and beef vegetable soup (beef broth, leftover rib steak, veggies)
D: Roast (heart) with carrots, celery and mashed potatoes with salad

To do: Defrost heart, defrost beef broth, soak pinto and kidney beans for chili)


B: Meusli and Sardines for Jonathan
L: Leftover roundup (whatever's on hand!)
D: Vegetarian chili (pinto & kidney beans with zucchini and other available veggies)

To do: Go to farmer's market for veggies


B: Eggs and Breakfast Sausage from US Wellness Meats
L: Quesdadillas with leftover heart and sauteed veggies
D: Out to dinner! Friends are babysitting so we can go out!!!

To do: Prep waffles


B: smoothies and "re fried meusli mush"
L: Quinoa tabouleh, sauteed veggies, leftovers
D: Swiss chard lasagna with a side of salad


B: millet/rice waffles
L: leftovers
D: US Wellness Garlic Hot Dogs with High Enzyme Salad


L: Fish fry @ a friend's house (with Alaskan salmon she caught!)
D: Green popcorn, cheese, apples (with some additional leftovers for Jonathan!)

For more inspiration, visit The Organizing Junkie! Please let me know via comments if there are any recipes you might like links to! Happy Monday!

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And the Winner Is.....

Congratulations Erica Gott! You hit the nail on the head.

Everyone else who commented did a great job and came very close; but Erica gets 100%!!.

#1. Even though I don't often buy tropical fruits, I will be tempted with a pineapple from time to time, and pineapple vinegar is a great way to utilize the leftover skin and core!

#2.What better way to use pineapple vinegar than cortido!?!

#3. This was a tricky one. It's coconut kefir. The purple "blob" is my kefir grain, which was dyed purple after living in my grape juice for a while!

#4. Everyone came really close on this one. These were fermented sweet potatoes. I attempted these for my baby Jonathan, but he didn't particularly like them. Oh well.

#5. This last one was clabbered raw milk , which can be used to make whey and cream cheese.

Great job, and thank you to all who participated! I plan to do more fun things like this in the future, so please stay tuned!!!!

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