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

Read more!



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

Read more!

Kefir for Kids

Kefir has always been a mainstay in my family; but up until now, the kids usually only had it in smoothies once or twice a week. Since I always have plenty of kefir on hand, I figured I needed to step it up and serve it more often. Again, reading _The Body Ecology Diet_ reminded me of the immense benefits of kefir for healing and restoring the microflora of the gut.

For the past two weeks or so, our bedtime routine has included a glass of kefir. Rich in protein, minerals, and probiotics (not to mention many other things: go here for more info), kefir is the perfect bedtime snack. Its high calcium and magnesium content calms the nervous system and the profuse amount of probiotics helps to digest dinner!

I've noticed that both of my sweet kiddos (Jonathan dodged the camera in the picture above, but you can see his orange straw representing for him!) LOVE their nighttime kefir. It couldn't be simpler to make. Here's what I do:

I use 3 simple ingredients: stevia, alcohol-free vanialla, and raw goat's milk kefir (for info on how to make it and get starters, visit this web site). Cinnamon is also a good addition. Basically, any sugar free "spice" you like can be added, but my kids are into vanilla and/or cinnamon right now. Trader Joe's sells an alcohol-free glycerine-based vanilla extract for a little over $3.00.
Night-night Kefir

1 cup of goat kefir
8 drops stevia
1/8 tsp alcohol-free vanilla flavor
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Serve it with a straw (doesn't every kid love a straw?!?!) and know that your kids will have incredible nourishment throughout the night.

Since giving her the kefir nightly, my daughter has slept soundly through the night (whereas before she was waking up once or twice screaming for something to eat or drink).

Incidentally, this is an awesome "good morning" drink as well! I sometimes just have a glass of kefir in the morning and find that often it's all I need for several hours.

If you haven't already, I highly recommend investing in a milk-kefir grain. Read the links I posted above; this drink is amazing.

I will post a recipe soon on how I make delicious kefir soda pop!

Stay tuned....

Read more!


3 Ways my Kids Love Seaweed: Nutrient-Dense Snack Solutions

Thanks to Donna Gates' Body Ecology Diet I have been inspired to use more seaweed in our family's diet. Without totally repeating Donna's Chapter on sea vegetables, I will share some quick snacks that have been a huge hit with my picky 3 year old.

From Body Ecology:

"Ocean vegetables are important to restoring your body ecology because they naturally control the growth of pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and viruses. A body ecology imbalance or immune system disorder causes a severe mineral deficiency, plus we have been eating foods grown in mineral-deficient soil for most of our lives. Ocean vegetables are rich in minerals and trace elements lacking in our diets today, and are organized in such a way that the body can assimilate them easily."

My daughter had a severely imbalaced Body Ecology resulting from a whole year of prophylactic antibiotic use due to a kidney reflux disorder. Add to that my own ignorance about proper nutrition at the time. I was giving her a diet rich in grains that her body couldn't digest; which only fed the yeast! This resulted in an inability of her to absorb minerals. Rebuilding her body ecology was essential. Beneficial microflora in our intestines are the key to mineral absorbtion.

Now that her gut has had time to heal and rebuild its microflora, her little body is starving for mineral-rich foods. Seaweed has been an amazing solution. These crunchy, salty snacks are low in carbs (if any) and high in a broad spectrum of trace minerals such as iodine, potassium, magnesium, iron and many others.

One delicous favorite has been Dulse Chips.

Dulse is salty and very tasty. It's high in all the minerals mentioned above, along with vitamin B6. Sea Vegetables purchased from Eden Foods or Maine Coast Sea Vegetables are additive-free and carefully processed to retain enzymes and to be free of any pollutants. These nutrient-dense foods keep well for long periods of time, and would be ideal "rations" to have on hand in the event that times get tough with food.

If your local food store does not carry Maine Coast, you can order through the link below (this is for a bulk order, not just one package!):

Eden brand is also very highly recommended. You can purchase in bulk through Amazon. The cost looks hefty, but a little goes a long way when reconstituted (you can't tell from the picture, but that's for a pack of six, and it only takes about 2 T for a serving:

For a more economical seaweed (that is extremely high in trace minerals and nutrients also) is kelp:

1st way my kids love seaweed: Dulse Chips

How to make dulse (or kelp) chips:

1. Put about 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil (or bacon grease) in a skillet (when melted, oil should cover the entire skillet at least 1/8 of an inch or so). Melt over medium-high heat. Place dulse (or kelp strips) inside skillet.

2) When dulse turns a light green, which will happen quickly, turn over. When both sides are light green, remove and drain on paper towel. Kelp will also turn lighter. Be careful not to burn!

2nd way my kids love seaweed: Nori strips (plain)

Nori strips are those which are commonly found in sushi restaurants. They are long and flat, and can be eaten plain or rolled up to make sushi. Nori isn't the most nutrient-dense, but it certainly isn't bad . It contains some iron and calcium. It's great toasted (simply put over a burner for a minute or two until crisp).

3rd way my kids love seaweed: Arame Saute

Arame is an extremely easy to use seaweed, and it's very kid-friendly. I like to saute chopped kale and scallions with the arame (it takes about 5 minutes for it to soak and reconstitute) and toss with toasted sesame oil and nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce). My kids devour this! You can use any veggies you like, but this one is a personal favorite.

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy seaweed? Please share!

Read more!


Menu Plan Time

Menu Planning Tip of the Week:

Once you've planned your menu, take inventory of what items need to be "chopped" (i.e., will you need 3 cups of onions to be chopped throughout the week?). Ergo, you chop all of the onions you'll need at once and place them in a storage device in your fridge until it comes time to use them. That will save you the time and the tears!

This week's menus are built around the incredible bounty of fall. Our fall here in Portland has been absolutely gorgeous! This week we're looking at sunny skies for the next several days. I'm hoping to get out to a farm or two and get some great deals on veggies (tomatoes, winter squash, etc.) so that I can freeze or can (read: ferment) them.
I'm feeling the need to get food while it's available, if you know what I mean. Supporting local farmers and making a personal "farm - to -table" connection is a really good thing. When tough times come (and I think they are), do you trust your impersonal, neighborhood Safeway or your trusty, hardworking, farmer friend?
Okay, *step down from soapbox*.
In other news, if you are a regular reader of my meal plans (thanks, by the way, if you do actually read to the end. That's very sweet!) you'll see I'm trying to incorporate more sea vegetables into our diet. These provide lots of nutritious trace minerals that are sadly lacking in our soil.
Let's move on to the meal plan :
Defrost shredded chicken, prep crock pot chicken stock, defrost lamb, brine overnight
B: scrambled eggs w/ dill, feta, and tomatoes
D: Caesar salad w/ avocado, chicken, and dulse (made with Nourishing Traditions Caesar Dressing)
Make coconut muffins, make mayo
Soak almonds for crispy nuts
B: strawberry kefir smoothies, coconut muffins
L: "drunken" broccoli stir-fry (Kirsten: broccoli salad w/ bacon,raisins and kelp chips)
D: braised lamb w/ green beans & sauerkraut
B: squash pudding
L: leftovers (Kirsten: nori krinkles, smoked salmon-avocado-dulse roll-ups)
D: KerryAnn's honey -baked lentils (crock pot)
Prep breakfast sausages
B: Turkey-apple breakfast sausages (from NT), sauerkraut
L: seaweed stir fry w/ kim chee (Kirsten: hot dog, cucumbers, kombucha)
D: tuna curry w/ aloo muttar (potato and pea curry) and pickles
B: Curried winter squash soup
L: baked red potato topped with cultured veggies & arame
D: vegetarian white bean chili
B: kefir, coconut muffins w/ almond butter (kids out w/ dad)
L: veggie fritata or chile releno topped with salsa & avocado
D: hot dogs, pickled beets, goat cheese chunks
B: peanut butter squash pudding (for kids)
L: @ church
D: zucchini-beef bake
For more inspiration, please visit The Organizing Junkie!

Read more!


Kelp Noodles: Wahoo!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, call me a food nerd, but I totally freaked out at New Season's when I beheld this product: Sea Tangle Noodle Company's Kelp Noodles.
In short, these noodles are basically carb-free, wheat free, gluten-free, grain-free; they are made entirely of seaweed (I can hear the mockings....go ahead, I deserve it).
Skeptics may be saying "why bother?" Well, I can tell you; these noodles are filling! Full of trace minerals, such as calcium, iron, and iodine, these noodles are not only nutritious, but alkalizing as well.
These noodles work really well in noodle soups (think ramen-style), in a stir fry, or pad thai. Here's what I did tonight; quick and easy pad thai:
Quick and Easy Pad Thai w/ Kelp Noodles
2 TBS coconut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 red pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 package Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles (or spaghetti squash, or any noodle that works for you)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/2 cup cilantro, cut (for garnish)
2 scallions, sliced (for garnish)
Unpasturized soy sauce, to taste
Thai Fish Sauce (optional) to taste
1. Melt coconut oil on medium-high heat in skillet.
2) Add red pepper, saute for a few minutes until soft.
3) Add eggs and stir-fry until coagulated.
4) Add noodles and stir fry for 2 minutes until mixed.
5) Mix in peanut sauce, cover, and let steam-cook for 5-7 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Toss with garlic just before serving.
6) Serve in bowls, garnish with cilantro, scallions, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Enjoy!!!!

I'm thinking of ordering a case of these directly from the company. They have a 12 month shelf life in the fridge. The company sells 12 packages for $35--, which breaks down to a little less than $3 per package. I know that's a little high compared to typical noodles (rice noodles at Trader Joe's are $1.99 per package, and wheat noodles are $0.99 per package).
I think the price is worthwhile because these noodles were very filling and nutrient-dense. Definitely a "convenience food", though. It's SUCH a blessing to find products like this every so often.
Speaking of seaweed, please stay tuned as I am working on an upcoming post on the many wonders of seaweed!

Read more!


Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu has been influenced by Donna Gates' _The Body Ecology Diet_, which finally arrived through the inter-library loan after several weeks of waiting. Even though we're following GAPS, I'm interested in incorporating more of the food-combining principles set forth in this book. More on this to come, but suffice to say this is a VERY informative book that ties together all of the principles of diet and healing that I had previously studied! I hope to post more this week from the book. Stay tuned...


B: kefir smoothies w/ strawberries

L: taco meat with hidden veggies topped with fresh avocado, tomato, salsa, & raw cheese

D: sauteed broccoli, red peppers, and goat/feta cheese and leftover chicken in reduction sauce


B: cauliflower-dill soup w/ chicken apple sausages

L: sardines and arame-veggie saute, leftover taco meat for Kirsten w/ raw veggies

D: Kerry Ann's sloppy joes (adapted for slow cooker) w/ pink sauerkraut


B: acorn squash pudding

L: zucchini-onion saute w/steamed green beans

D: Quinoa-cilantro salad w/ cucumbers, lemon juice, & garlic


B: coconut muffins

L: hot dogs, cheese, lacto-fermented pickes

D: Italian Baked Beans w/ pink sauerkraut


B : miso soup

L: lentil-vegetable soup

D: spaghetti squash pad thai w/ peanut sauce


B: cranberry kefir smoothies

L: Veggie-Feta omlette

D: hot dogs, "drunken broccoli", sauerkraut


L: leftover buffet

D: soup (TBA)

For more inspiration, visit The Organizing Junkie!

Read more!

My Favorite Slow Cooker Recipe: Taco Meat w/ Hidden Veggies

This recipe is adapted from my favorite Slow-Cooker book; Healthy Crockery Cookery by Mabel Hoffman. I discussed this book and outlined some of my favorite recipes back in this post.

Taco Meat w/ Hidden Veggies
serves 6-8

My family eats this like it's going out of style! It's great for a nourishing lunch or dinner. I use it to make tacos, burritos, taco salad, or just top with avocado and fresh tomatoes and leave it alone!

1 pound ground beef or turkey ( preferably from organic/free range/grass fed animals)
3 scallions, including tops, sliced
1 large bunch spinach , wash, stemmed, and cut into 1/4 " slices
2 carrots, peeled and shredd
1 packet dry taco seasonings (I make my own to avoid MSG found in most all packaged taco seasonings using garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, coriander, oregano , and sea salt. I just let the spirit lead when it comes to amounts, but it's never been bad! )

To make your own taco seasoning mix, check out this website.

Directions: Mix crumbled meat with taco seasoning s and place in slow cooker. Layer with the vegetables. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours or until onions are tender.

Note: Despite the inclusion of spinach, it does not detract at all from the overall flavor and texture. Rather, it absorbs the flavors very impressively and melds quite well with the meat. So much so that my children never bat an eye when eating it!

Read more!


Steps to Menu Planning

This post is a follow-up to the overwhelming response I received for my Menu Planning Tool. I realized that it wouldn't hurt to outline my simple steps at Menu Planning for those of you who are interested in getting started.

For those of you who received my documents, you'll notice that there are four main components:

1) Inventory of what you have
2) Menu Plan based on what you have*
3) Shopping List based on your meal plan*
4) Archive of your favorite recipes as you go, and keep a record of the meal plans

*If possible, try to print these front to back!

Here are the steps I use when meal-planning:

1) Carve out time on Saturday or Sunday. I try to have my meal plan completed by Sunday. Give yourself time and space to quietly and peacefully pour over your cookbooks, surf the internet, and go through your fridge and freezer. Pour yourself a cup of tea, play your favorite "relaxing" CD, and begin the process.

2) Take inventory of what you have. Knowing what is in your fridge is crucial. What leftovers can be "made over"? What produce needs to be used? What other perishables can be utilized? Remember: The key to being a Thrifty Oreganic is to "Use what you have, and buy what you'll use".

Use the menu planning worksheet to list out all that you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. It might be helpful to keep an ongoing inventory on an eraseable white board on your fridge/freezer, as well as on the inside door to your pantry. That way you can see what items you really are using, and what's just festering!

3) Plan meals based on what you have. This involves some research, perhaps, if you want or need to be creative. Consult your favorite cookbooks, or do internet searches for recipes that utilize the foods that you have. For example, if you have a surplus of green beans and tomatoes, you might google "Green Bean and Tomato recipes" to find some new and innovative ways to serve these.

Tip: For breakfasts, I have a "standing menu" that basically doesn't change much from week to week (except for now that we're on Gaps, things are a little bit different). For example, make every Monday scrambled egg day, Tuesday can be a smoothie day, etc.

Tip: Lunches can be simple: Leftovers are the most obvious thing to do, but you can also do simple "finger food lunches" like sliced veggies, cheese cubes, salami and crispy nuts. These are especially easy to pack and eat at school or work.

Tip: I usually plan my dinners based on which type of meat or poultry I'm going to roast. If it's a "Chicken Week", I'll roast a chicken on Monday and use the leftovers in a curry or in enchiladas or soup. I always have plenty of leftovers to make a couple more meals. If it's a beef week, I'll roast a beef cut and use the leftovers in shepherd's pie or sandwhiches. The possibilities are endless! Too often, money is wasted when leftovers rot in our fridges!

4) Make your shopping list based on what you are cooking this week: Don't get sidetracked by the fancy displays in the supermarket: Buy what's on your list because you know you're going to utilize it! Notice that the shopping list tool I offer is separated by category. It's helpful and efficient (not to mention healthier!) to "shop the perimeter" of the grocery store. My shopping list is grouped according to the perimeter of the typical grocery store, emphasizing fresh produce, meat, seafood, and dairy. Packaged/boxed food should be kept to a minimum as it is more expensive and less healthy.

5) Archive! I suggest you keep a binder of all of your weekly menus. As you go through several months/seasons of meal planning, you can look back and more easily plan your menus based on what worked in the past for your family. Also, keep a running list (on the worksheet provided) of your favorite recipes, along with page references and notes. Keep this at the front of your menu-planning binder so that when you're having "menu-planner's block" you can look at what you've enjoyed as a family.

6) One last thing: Keep it simple! If cooking isn't your favorite thing to do, look for simple recipes t hat focus on quality meats or seafood, whole grain pilafs, and a side vegetable. Slow-cookers are also a life-saver. Soups are deliciously satisfying in the winter time. Start simple, and work your way into more "gourmet" faire.

For an archive of my past menu-plans, you can go here. To receive my menu-planning tools, or to give feedback on the effectiveness of these tools, please feel free to contact me.

Read more!