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!

Read more!


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!

Read more!


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!

Read more!

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.

Read more!


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!

Read more!

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!

Read more!


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.

Read more!


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

Read more!


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!

Read more!


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.

Read more!