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
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.
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!
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!
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 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
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!
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.