Introducing Organic and Thrifty DOT COM!

[Insert trumpet fanfare here] Introducing Organic and Thrifty DOT COM! Yes, we've packed up everything and moved over to the new site!

I hope all of you dear readers will find your way over to the new site and re-set your "bookmarks" to: www.OrganicThrifty.com.

In a few weeks, I'll go ahead and point this site directly to the new URL, but for now I'll just hope every one just follows the links over!

For your reading pleasure, you can check out my No-Grain Cereal Recipe, perfect for camping or on-the-go summer breakfasts!

Can't wait to see you over there!

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Weekly Menu Plan: Low Carb, Grain-Free

This week my goal for menu planning was to use what I have on hand and make things as simple as possible. We have a lot going on this week in the way of evening activities, and I don't have time for complex prep. The weather promises to warm up this week as well, so I want to avoid using the oven as much as possible. We are still observing the Apostle's Fast, so we'll be frequenting the wild salmon (which I purchased frozen for $2.99 at Grocery Outlet!) cooked simply with fresh herbs and garlic.

leftover paleo porridge (berries, ground nuts, coconut milk, basically)
L: smoked salmon & herb fritatta
D: roasted veggie pizza with sunflower seed crust , salad, watermelon

*defrost salmon

B: eggs and cortido, watermelon slices
L: me: roasted rhubarb salad kids: apples & almond butter
D: wild salmon w/ basil and garlic, mashed kolrabi, and beet greens

*Defrost Scallops

B: green smoothies and coconut flour biscuits
L: miso soup and smoked sardines w/ avocado and salsa, deviled eggs
D: scallop saute and roasted veggies

B: eggs & bacon (for the kids)
L: crispy nuts, cheese, celery sticks
D: Asian tuna salad w/ shredded carrots, broccoli, snap peas, crispy nuts, etc.

B: grain-free coconut pancakes topped with strawberry sauce
L: hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, roasted carrots
D: BBQ salmon and veggies, salad

B: smoothies
L: leftovers, hot dogs (for the kids)
D: low-carb sprouted lentil-sunflower burgers, grilled onions, oven carrot "fries", salad

For more inspiring menus, please head over to see what's cooking at The Organizing Junkie!

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Grain-Free Hazelnut Shortcake or Cobbler

Summer is finally here, and the bounty of fresh berries has only just begun. Every week there's a new delicious fruit to savor, and what better way to enjoy the harvest than with a grain-free, honey-sweetened dessert?

Like many of my recipes, this started with a google search. When nothing showed up, I set out to create my own. Our family's dietary restrictions call for using honey and no grains. It's challenging to find good dessert recipes that include honey! It just so happens that this month, at The Nourished Kitchen, their recipe contest is highlighting the use of honey! So I'm taking the opportunity to offer this recipe!

I basically took two main recipes concepts and tweaked and merged them; one on from a website called PaleoFood.com and Sally Fallon's recipe for Hazelnut Shortcake in Nourishing Traditions.

I was set on using hazelnut flour simply because I found a great deal on it from Azure Standard. If you haven't checked out Azure, it's great! They often have "bargain bin" specials, closeouts, etc. and sometimes you can get really great deals. I'm sure that almond meal would have worked just fine as well, but the hazelnut gives a rich flavor, and a very nice crumb. I cooked this in a pie plate and it worked really well. The texture of the dough is workable enough to roll out and cut into biscuits for individual shortcakes.

Here's the recipe, with notes to follow:

Hazelnut Shortcake

Preheat the oven to 325. Lightly grease a pie plate or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, whip together:

3/4 c. butter at room temp
1/3 c. honey
1/2 tsp. liquid stevia

Add in:

3 cups hazelnut (or almond) flour
1 cup arrowroot flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

The dough should have the texture of sugar cookie dough (if it seems to "wet", add a bit more arrowroot powder). If you wish to roll out the biscuits and cut them into circles (or any fun shape, for that matter!) I'd advise chilling it briefly to make it a little more workable. Otherwise, pour it into pie plate and smooth to even so it can be served in wedges.

Alternatively, this would be a great topping for a fruit cobbler. Simply use as you would in a cobbler; spreading over the fruit of choice!

Bake for about 45 minutes or until browned on top.

Notes: This is a calorie-dense dessert, and even though it's full of nutrient-dense ingredients, if weight loss is your goal I'd suggest capitalizing on the fruit aspect of the dessert and enjoy just a sliver of the shortcake. Savor it; it goes a long way and is very filling without giving you that icky feeling!

Variations: By adding 1 tsp each of ginger and nutmeg and augmenting the honey with about half as much molasses, you get a warming grain-free gingerbread.

If you like this recipe, please go over and vote for me TODAY at The Nourished Kitchen, and check out the other honey-inspired recipes! I'm so excited to add more to my repertoire!

This recipe is also a part of Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade. I'm fighting back for nourishing summertime desserts, free of nasty refined ingredients!!!

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Postpartum Weight Loss with Real Food

A reader recently wrote me to ask for tips on Postpartum weight loss. As I was replying to her, I realized the response had promise as a blog post, knowing that there are probably others out there with the same question!

After the birth of my first child more than four years ago, I really struggled to lose the weight. I gained an enormous amount of weight (nearly 70 pounds, and my daughter was only 5 pounds, 6 oz!). Since these days the midwives don't worry about how much weight you gain (and rightly so, in most cases!), no one waved a red flag.

As it turned out, I had a defective placenta and an umbilical chord abnormality known as "single umbilical artery". Due to the nature of my pregnancy (a hands-off, home birth midwifery that ended with a crash, 2-weeks-overdue C-section in the hospital) I had no idea of this abnormality beforehand. The theory is that there was a lack of nutrients going to my baby throughout the pregnancy resulting in my weight gain and Kirsten's lack thereof. So while my body kept telling me to eat for my baby's sake, my baby got only a portion of what was meant for her. This has lead to lots of *interesting* "complications" with my daughter's health. I know I haven't blogged a whole lot about my daughter's health issues (other than the food sensitivities) and it's simply because it's a novel. I can't even intro a postpartum weight loss topic without having to devote several paragraphs to set the stage.....there's a lot there. I promise to write more about my daughter's healing journey soon.

So my normally 126 lb frame had an extra 40 pounds for months and months after the birth of my daughter, and since I had never been that size, I literally didn't know what to do. I was an emotional wreck given the traumatic, near-death nature of my daughter's birth. I was struggling to supply her breastmilk and working very hard to build my supply. I couldn't fit into any of my "normal clothes" and had to buy a whole new set of everything for my new frame. My marriage was suffering because of all the transition and trauma.

On top of all of this, my body was malnourished from a poor pregnancy and pre-pregnancy diet. Oftentimes, when trauma to the body occurs (as in an unexpected, emergency C-section) the body undergoes so much stress that many other chronic issues begin to unfold. Food intolerance, hair loss, fatigue, depression, etc. were all affects I experienced.

I also had a horrible case of candida and the carb cravings were out of this world. I would beg my husband to run to the store to pick up an apple pie and eat half of it in one sitting. I remember craving and eating store-bought cake several times a week, and looking forward to any event that might have cake (and unfortunately, there were lots).

After several months, a very blunt acquaintance of mine asked if I was struggling to lose weight. Uh, yeah. Sort of. Had I ever heard of coconut oil for weight loss? No, coconut oil? How could eating fat make you lose weight?

Well, the journey was on, and I began to research everything I could about coconut, which lead me to nourishing traditions, seasonal/local eating, whole food nutrition, juicing, and raw milk. The rest is history, but suffice to say I got back into a size 4 and back to my 126 pounds....just in time for pregancy #2!!! Isn't that how it works?

But thankfully, after encorporating the following principes, the weight fell off much quicker the second time around!

DISCLAIMER: This weight loss regimen started well after my daughter was eating solid foods (after 12+ months). While I was still lactating, her primary nourishment came from whole foods. Thus this weight loss regimen did not affect the nutrition of my breastmilk. If you are nursing and trying to lose weight, please make sure that you are not short-changing the nutrition of your breastmilk. Most of these tips are totally compatable with nursing, but if you have any concerns see a certified lactation specialist!

*Take Coconut oil (1-2 TBS 20 min. before each meal. Antiviral, antifungal, and very healing. Also helps boost a sluggish metabolism, which is the key to loosing weight).

*Watch the Carbs. Eat no more than 1 serving of grains per day, and make sure they are whole grains, preferably gluten-free. If you are sedentary, you might consider foregoing the grains as they are high in carbs. Instead, get your carbs from fresh fruit and veggies. Eat about 1/2 a plate worth of veggies at each meal and 1/4 plate of grassfed or pasture-raised meat . The other 1/4 could be a grain or a starch (like potato). Go easy on starches for weight loss. I personally eat no grains and find that I have much more energy and the clothes fit much looser!

*NOTE: If you are nursing, you can increase your grain consumption if you find that eating grains helps your milk supply. Quinoa and oatmeal, when properly prepared (i.e. soaked in 1 TBS of lemon juice or whey for 12 hours before cooking), are known to stimulate milk supply. Just keep portion control in mind, as it's easy to fill up on grains, and with their high carbohydate count, anything that is not burned off within about 24 hours gets stored as fat.

*Exercise regularly. I loved to "run/walk" and felt that I really slimmed down when I started this. Walk for 5 mins., sprint for 1 min, repeat (vary the times as needed). Short, intense bursts of energy burn calories without wiping you out. I did this while pushing a stroller, so no need for a gym or day-care! I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the T-Tapp program, which I discovered after the birth of my #2. It's intense, and a little tricky to learn at first, but SOOO worth it. I slimmed down really quick doing these simple exercises post-partum, in time to fit into a bridesmaid's dress 3 months later!

*Chill: Try to de-stress whenever possible. Pregancy is really tough on the adrenals and many other parts of the body, and stress does NOT help, in fact your body goes into fat-storing mode when your cortisol levels are elevated. I found that adrenal support really helped me (I suggest finding a practitioner who does muscle-testing, which pinpoints exactly which supplement will help support your adrenals; the same things don't work for everyone).

*Portion Control: Eat a nourishing diet but control your portions! Don't short change your milk supply, of course, but don't eat empty foods (like the cakes and pies I was eating!!!) because they just stick to your hips. Lactation is not the time to restrict calories, but focus on maximizing the nutrition for each calorie you consume!

*Drink kombucha. It's mineral-rich, full of B-vitamins, and is very satiating as a snack. If I'm getting hungry in the afternoon, I always go for kombucha to see if that satisfies me first. If not, then I know my body needs a snack.

*Stock Up: Keep your house stocked with nutrient-dense snacks such as crispy nuts, coconut bark, my homemade "Lara" bars, green popcorn, raw cheese, and plenty of fresh veggies (I love to eat celery and almond butter or celery with a delicious herb-cheese dip). Hard-boiled eggs, nitrate-free lunchmeats, and smoothies are all great for meals on the go, as well. Forget the box of wheat thins!

*Menu Plan: I suggest figuring out a weekly menu plan and doing some big "once a week" cooking, perhaps on Saturday and/or Sunday if time is a premium (as it always is with a new baby!). Enlist well-meaning friends who want to bring meals to instead help you out one Saturday and help you prepare a week's worth of snacks and simple meals. We've found that writing and sticking to a meal plan has helped us resist the urge to go out to eat (which is always less healthy and more calorie-dense!)

*Take notes: I also suggest keeping a food journal. Write down EVERYTHING that crosses your lips and how much. Jot down any notes each day about how you feel. Studies show that folks who keep food journals tend to control their portions better and lose weight!

The picture to the right was taken when my daughter was 19 months old; the time when I finally lost my weight and got my health back under control. Even though I became pregnant within weeks of the picture being taken, I gained a lot less and lost most of the weight within 3 months, and nearly all of it by 6 months. Of course the "C-section belly flab" is probably something to deal with forever, I am continuing to shape and tone my "problem areas" with regular T-Tapp exercises!

What are your postpartum weight loss tips/success stories?

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday and Works for me Wednesday!

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Baby Steps Part Two: Make Peace with Your Kitchen

In my first "baby steps" post, I talked about the importance of finding and establishing a support system for transitioning to a traditional foods diet. This was a very important step for me. After establishing support, the next step is to make peace with the fact that you will need to be in your kitchen more than ever before. Don't worry, this baby step doesn't plunge you into the kitchen and make you change everything overnight. Today we just begin to make peace with the concept that you will be doing more cooking than ever before.

Two important maxims to ponder when making the transition to real foods:

1) "If I want to eat it, then I better figure out how to make it!"

2) "The only processed food we're going to eat is that which is processed by me in my kitchen!"

I also offer the following from Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind, who says the following in her "Top 10 Nutritional Mistakes":

[from #8 Believing that Junk food in Moderation is OK]
" ......the only genuinely safe amount of trans-fats in anyone’s diet is
ZERO. A single serving of trans-fat in French fries or chips may take up to two
years for one’s body to fully eliminate, and its biological effects on your
system in the meantime are chaotic and anyone’s guess as to how deleterious they
are likely to be. Is “occasional” Russian roulette an “OK” thing? MSG is an
excitotoxin and always does some degree of neurological damage. Is neurological
damage “in moderation” OK? Furthermore, sugar consumption in any quantity is
damaging and dysregulating to the system. Some of the effects are reversible and
some not. Ultimately, it is the cumulative effect associated with glycation and
insulin production that determine our health and life span. We live in a world
where we can ill-afford any compromise to our health or well-being. Every meal
matters. Is “a little hormonal chaos” or “just a tad” of systemic damage

Let's face it: good, real food can be expensive. It's so much cheaper to buy the Hellman's Mayo, for example, then the fancy French stuff that costs $6.00. Most people, before transitioning to traditional foods, wouldn't even consider making their own mayo, yet it's so quick and easy and infinitely more nutritious! (By the way, Cheeseslave tells you how and why you should make your own mayo here.)

Mayo is just one example of a simple food you can make at home for much cheaper than the price of an equal-quality item at the Health Food Store. Yogurt is another delicious traditional food and can be made simply and cheaply at home, and the result will be a much more nutritious yogurt for the money!

The amount of transition will ultimately depend upon your dependence upon processed foods. Remember, most processed foods either didn't exist or were made from scratch by our great-grandmothers and grandmothers.

We've allowed big business to rob us women of the joys of baking homemade breads, and other healthy baked goods! The store-bought alternatives are some of the most unhealthy foods that exist (white-flour, hydrogenated oil-laded crackers, pastries and breads: these are the nutrient-robbing foods!)

Nutrient-robbing foods are foods that actually take nutrients out of your body in order to help digest the foods. Improperly prepared grains are a great example. Since they contain high amounts of phytic acid, which inhibits mineral absorption, your body is actually loosing nutrients in order to balance the acid load processed grain foods leave on your system. For more info on the damaging affect of processed grains, check out this awesome post by Cheeseslave: "Do Bread and Cereal Cause Cavities?"

The kitchen is a place of healing and a place of power. When we as cooks reclaim that authority from the profit-seeking businesses that seek to rob us of our health and our children's health, we begin to feel the grace of empowerment to nourish our families.

The motivation to do all the "work" of traditional food preparation must always be rooted in love. For our families, for our Creator, for the generations to come. The love becomes most important ingredient in all of our cooking, and the true medicine of healing!

This love must begin in us as we recognize and accept our roles to be nourishers and healers for our families. So before we pantry purge, meal plan, or start shopping for all the new "stuff" we need for traditional foods, we need to stop.

We need to understand why we are making the transition and let the health of our families be the motivation to go against the (unprocessed) grain, and to think outside the (mac and cheese) box.

Homework for Baby Step #2:

1) Declutter your kitchen. Find those items which you don't use anymore and put them away in a box. If you find yourself needing the item, then it can make its way back into your kitchen. One big item you may not need anymore is your microwave. I got rid of mine for health reasons and to make more space for cooking nourishing foods! Here's how I get by without it.

2) Consider purchasing some child-sized cooking utensils, aprons, and stools so that you can involve your children in cooking. The time you invest in teaching these habits to your children will pay off in the long run!

3) Make a list of the processed foods you have at home. Don't be judgemental about it; just notice what you have. We'll use this list in a future baby step!

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Menu Plan Monday: Low Carb, Grain-Free

This evening I had the pleasure of harvesting a bowlful of fat, sweet sugar snap peas along with a delicious bowl of hand-gathered lettuce, nasturtium leaves, arugula, parsley, and beet leaves. It's so nice to finally enjoy the early fruits of months of labor in the garden!

Last night we enjoyed four delicious heads of home-grown, organic broccoli mixed into a frittata (wish I could claim that the eggs were from our own chickens, but maybe next year!

At any rate, this week the plan is to continue to enjoy the bounty of late spring/early summer. I plan on doing some strawberry picking with the kids and am looking forward to our first CSA basket coming on Thursday!

In honor of the Apostles Fast, we are observing a mitigated fast (we include eggs and dairy due to grain sensitivities) and am looking forward to taking a break from meats for a few weeks and focus on more raw foods.

eggs, salsa, cortido
L: pea salad, nitrate-free ham (for the kids), cheddar cheese
D: stir-fried snap peas, peppers, broccoli and kelp noodles

*make crock pot chicken stock, defrost salmon

B: green smoothies and almond flour blueberry muffins
L: leftovers made into a soup
D: wild salmon and braised green beans
*Defrost Scallops

B: coconut flour biscuits and jam
L: miso soup and smoked sardines w/ avocado and salsa
D: broccoli-red pepper saute with scallops

B: herbed scrambled eggs with chevre
L: caesar salad w/ salmon
D: veggie pizza w/ sunflower seed crust

B: grain-free coconut pancakes topped with strawberry sauce
L: hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, carrots
D: tuna salad, veggies

B: smoothies
L: leftovers, hot dogs (for the kids)
D: low-carb sprouted lentil-sunflower burgers, grilled onions, oven fries, salad

For more amazing, inspirational menu plans, check out The Organizing Junkie!

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Organic and Thrifty Link Love

The alternate title to this post would be "what s/he said". There are several times when I just get "blogger block" because I think there's nothing left to write about; there's just too much better info out there to link to! So here are some awesome links that I really enjoyed reading today.

The first includes "99 ways to Save Money on Food" from Mark's Daily Apple (an awesome blog, check it out). His blog is written from a Traditional/Primal food perspective. While not all 99 tips may be helpful in your situation, you're certain to find something useful!

The second is from Team Bettendorf, a blog devoted to the daily farm life of a family of 14! And, get this, mom Katie feeds them all (gluten free, to boot!) for $150 bucks a week! Here she breaks down how, with her weekly meal plan. So inspirational!

That's really all for now, enjoy!

Oh, and by the way, there is a lot to write about. Stay tuned, in the coming days I'll be expounding on some fun topics including:

*Baby steps, (part 2 of this series).
*Saving money on medical bills
*Almond cereal (using soaked almonds)
*Nourishing picnic foods
*Menu Plan Monday (as usual)
*Postpartum weight loss tips

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Junkfood Makeovers: Thrifty, Nutritious Slurpees and Frappucinos

Admittedly, in my not-so-organic-and-thrifty days past, there were times when I could be found sucking down an ice-cold Slurpee or Starbuck's Frappucino on a hot, summer day. The Slurpee is more of a relic of the 90's; it was a favorite after-basketball snack in high school (no wonder I had acne so bad) and it was a frequent refreshment during all-nighters in college. YUCK!

As I grew older, (and gainfully employed), I apparently felt that I could upgrade from the seventy-nine cent Slurpee to a more "foofy" frozen beverage, and at $3.50 a pop, the Frappucino became a sweet indulgence.

I've longed weaned myself of any desire for these beverages, but recently I discovered that with a few basic, nourishing ingredients on hand, you can whip yourself up a low-carb, nourishing, delightful summer treat!

The following I offer is not so much a recipe, but a "road map" with which you may use your own creativity. I offer a basic idea with many variations. By the way, these are an absolute hit with my kiddos, but then again, they beg for Cod Liver Oil. We're weird.

The slurpee recipe uses fruity iced tea or lemonade as a base (see details below).

12 ounces of the liquid are used; 8 are frozen in ice cube trays and the remaining liquid is blended in with the "tea ice cubes" to make a slushy, carb-free, low-calorie delight!

Sweeten with liquid stevia to taste (5-10 drops).

The Frappucino recipe abides by the same principles, only you would brow 8 ounces of your favorite coffee or herbal coffee alternative (see details below).

Freeze the coffee in ice cube trays for at least 6 hours.

Place 1/2 cup of raw milk, raw cream, homemade nut milk, or coconut milk in the blender. Coconut milk leaves awesome results, don't worry! Add the ice cubes, 3 at a time or so, until the desired consistency is reached. Add 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and sweeten with about 5-10 drops of stevia. You can, of course, use maple syrup or honey as well, but I prefer the lack of calories in stevia!!

To make Fruity Iced Tea, simply purchase your favorite brand of organic herbal tea. I love Rooibios-Fruit blends, like Cranberry, Raspberry,or Orange. The Stash Tea company offers a delicious Green Tea Pomegranate, a Wild Blueberry, and a Mango Passionfruit. Mountain Rose Herbs has an amazing collection of nourishing teas, including the Hibiscus High Tea. Celestial Seasonings "Red Zinger" is delicious and makes a great, fruity treat.

Any of these work; just steep 2 bags (or two teaspoons) in 12 oz of boiling water to make a strong infusion. After about 5-10 minutes (depending upon the blend, or when it looks fully infused) carefully pour into ice cube trays and freeze for at least 6 hours. Reserve at least 1/2 cup of liquid to blend with the cubes. Proceed with the recipe above.

For a low-carb lemonade flavor, simply blend 12 ounces filtered water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add stevia to taste and you have a delicious, low-carb lemonade. Proceed with recipe above. Add a handful of frozen raspberries or strawberries to the blender if desired (this will add carbs and calories, but they're all good ones!)

Now for the Frappucinos, you can obviously use your favorite coffee if you are so inclined, but since I'm not, I prefer herbal coffee made from a blend of chicory and dandelion root. You can make this from scratch if you happen to have the herbs on hand, or you can purchase an Herbal Coffee from the health food store. Mountain Rose Herbs has a delicious Herbal Coffee blend which contains chicory, maca, dandelion root, and roasted carob.

Yum! Caffeine-free, and full of nourishing, mineral-rich herbs! Brew the coffee or herbal coffee according to package directions.

I hope this "non-recipe" format is clear and understandable. It's delicious, I promise! So enjoy the double-bonus of these drinks being both nourishing to your body and cheap on the pocketbook, and instead of blowing your hard-earned money on high-calorie, low-nutrition drinks, why not whip up these delicious, guilt-free delights?

This post has been submitted as a part of Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays! So Fight Back against the over-priced, under-nourishing junk food summer drinks and make your own! Enjoy!!!

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Square Foot Gardening

Ok, I don't know how the formatting of this post is going to work but I wanted to post the beginnings of my Square Food Garden for this Real Food Wednesday. This year I started about 90% of my plants from seed, which I now realize is a big part of the work of gardening.

I started at the end of February and through much trial and error, managed to cultivate some successful starts! I have much to improve upon for next year, but now I have some confidence under my belt. Another big project was working the soil to amend that hard clay. That involved lots of tilling, applying lots of compost (including mature goat manure), and adding a nice, loamy soil amendment. I think next year I'll know of some even better options for amending the clay soil, but I must say that it seems as though the soil is very healthy and the plants are growing well so far. But there is always room for improvment.

Below you'll see my beets, radishes, broccoli, strawberries, mint, and sweet peas. Not pictured are the bush beans, pumpkins, zucchini squash, tomatoes, corn, chard, spinach, lettuce, stevia, peppermint, parsley, rosemary, sage, marjoram, rose geranium and one turnip (only one came up, blessed turnip!) I'll keep updating!

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Menu Plan Monday: Low-Carb, Grain-Free

Now that we are experiencing true "summer" weather here in Portland, I've transitioned my recipes to being as summer-friendly as possible; meaning minimizing oven usage whenever possible and "picnicable" lunches. The past several days we've been eating our lunches outside and it's been so nice to enjoy lots of low-carb, nourishing "finger foods" that require very little energy to prepare and are a snap to clean up. Who thought nourishing food could be this "convenient". I call it "peasant food", as inspired by Sally Fallon's explanations about how the peasants typcially ate lunch while at work in the fields: raw cheese, pickled veggies, salted meats, fermented beverages.

This week we're also celebrating a very special birthday for dear Jonathan, (hence the goofy pic)2 years!!! May God grant you many years, dear sweet, gentle Jonathan!

And lastly, as we celebrate dear Jonathan we will feel the empty space of our beloved Grandjo, my 93-year-old grandmother who passed from death to life eternal yesterday. She and Jonathan had a special connection,and I know she'll be celebrating with us in spirit. While we miss her terribly, we are relieved that her suffering is over and now she is able to rest in the hands of her Creator! This post is dedicated to my thrifty (but not so organic) Grandjo. May her memory be eternal!

eggs, salsa, cortido
L: nitrate-free roast beef, raw cheese, walnuts, strawberries & kombucha (our basic picnic menu)
D: chicken parmesan (using leftover homemade chicken nuggets!), mushroom and chard saute

*make hazelnut shortcakes, defrost beef for crockpot, prep ice cream for tomorrow

Tuesday: Happy Birthday Jonathan!!!!
B: green smoothies and homemade breakfast sausages (Jonny's request!)
L: Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato-Avocado roll-ups ( picnic)
D: crock pot beef, salad, roasted carrots (Jonny's favorite non-meat item), and for Dessert: homemade raw vanilla ice cream, strawberries and hazelnut shortcakes

B: almond flour blueberry muffins, fruit
L: miso soup and smoked sardines w/ avocado and salsa
D: broccoli-red pepper saute

B: bacon and herbed scrambled eggs
L: leftover birthday meat OR hot dogs, carrots, raw cheese
D: honey-dijon chicken drumsticks, green beans, salad

B: grain-free coconut pancakes topped with strawberry sauce
L: hard-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, carrots
D: parboiled veggies (including radishes from the garden!) and herb (from the garden!) dip, garlic-scallop saute

B: smoothies
L: leftovers, hot dogs
D: low-carb burgers, grilled onions, oven fries, salad

For over 200 other menu plan ideas, go visit The Organizing Junkie!

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10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Meals More Nutrient-Dense

Sometimes the prospect of making our diets healthier can be so overwhelming at the beginning. Sometimes we have the luxury of taking our time in the transition. But when there are dire health concerns in your family, you sometimes have to transition faster than you'd like. Here are ten easy, sneaky ways to make your meals more nourishing and nutrient-dense that your family most likely won't notice!

1)Replace white flour pasta with brown rice flour noodles. Trader Joe's has a very inexpensive line of brown rice pastas including spaghetti, macaroni, and fusili noodles. These taste great and work very well in any Italian dish! (Here are my favorite things at Trader Joe's).

Even better, if you need to go grain-free, low-carb, try delicious, low-calorie spaghetti squash. Bake the squash at 350 for about an hour, then when finished slice in half and spoon out the pulp in the center. Then fluff the rest of the flesh with a fork and spoon out the "noodles".

2) Buy pasture-raised, free-range eggs. No one will notice the difference and they will add tons of nutrition to your diet. Think it'll break your bank? Here are my thoughts on the real value of cheap eggs.

3) Replace juices with a refreshing iced herbal tea. Blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry are some of our favorites. Add a bit of stevia to sweeten and for very few calories you have a refreshing, tasty beverage to enjoy!

4) Make blender waffles or pancakes! These simple, frugal, whole-grain, versatile treats take minutes to prepare, and your family won't notice the difference! If you want a no-grain option, these fluffy, low-carb pancakes are made with coconut flour and are amazing!

5) Replace white rice with brown, and cook the rice in mineral-rich chicken broth (check out my easy crock-pot chicken stock recipe here). For even more minerals and nutrient-density, consider sneaking in a little bit of liver as seen in this versatile recipe! Make a basic, everyday dish like rice into a nourishing, one-pot meal!

6) Replace your boxed cereal with homemade, soaked oatmeal or a grain-free cold cereal that we like called Almond Raisin Bran (recipe to come!).

7) Replace pasteurized milk with real, fresh raw milk. Find a safe source from Real Milk's website.

8) Add coconut oil to your diet by using it in place of shortening. Coconut oil is naturally rich in monolaurin, which is a strong anti-viral and anti-fungal. It's a great source of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids which are converted to energy in the small intestine to provide quick energy. Here's where you'll find the best price on coconut oil!

9) Replace organic ground beef with grass-fed, pasture-raised ground beef. Even better, grind in a small amount of liver (no more than 1/4cup) or heart for added nutrition.

10) Think outside the bun. Even though you may not be sensitive to gluten, it's not a bad idea (for health reasons involving insulin and mineral absorption) to limit your intake of grains. Typically, it's easier to feed our families grain-rich meals because they tend to be more convenient. Challenge yourself to have at least two grain-free days per week and focus on good quality meat with fresh veggies! Soup is a great, frugal way to get nourishing, good quality meats and veggies into unsuspecting children!!! Here are some my favorite, simple soup recipes.

For more great Real Food Tips, visit Kelly the Kitchen Kop! and Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays!

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Baby Steps for Transitioning to a Real Foods Diet: Part 1

A few weeks ago I was blessed to share some thoughts on "Nourishing our Families the Traditional Way" at a homeschooling conference in Seattle. My main talk involved 10 baby steps for making the transition. I thought I would, over the course of the next several weeks, share and expound a little on these baby steps.

The first baby step is to Arm Yourself with Support. Before you go dumping out all of your boxes of Mac N Cheese and making sweeping changes over your family's diet, take some time to really "count the cost" of what is involved. Make a commitment to begin the journey, but give yourself ample time to transition!

Partner up with a friend or mentor, if possible, who desires to make this transition as well, or who already has done so. Support can come in the form of a physical "accountability partner" or an online accountability partner. The web is full of resources for recipes, tips, and community discussion.

Purchase Nourishing Traditions, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, The Garden of Eating,or Meals that Heal. Join an online forum such as DiscussingNT.yahoogroups.com, Traditional Foods Forum . Check out the Real Food Media Network.

Find your local chapter leader of the Weston A. Price foundation and get hooked up with a community of other like-minded folks. I was amazed at the wealth of information that was uncovered when I found my local group. They offer classes, resources, and a place to purchase some of those hard-to-find items that go with a traditional diet.

If all else fails, you can feel free to e-mail me: carriethienes [at] hotmail [dot]com for a personal cheerleader and coach!

So, if you are beginning this journey and you'd like to start to the "baby steps", your homework for this week is to seek out at least one of the above resources and spend 20 minutes this week just reading! Check back next week for Baby Step #2!

Photo Credit

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Contest Winner!

It is time to announce the winner of the giveaway with Chef Rachel! One lucky winner was chosen by the random number generator here. Read on to find out the lucky winner!

The random number generator chose the number 9. The 9th commenter left the following:

I really want to get her [Chef Rachel's] books (our library doesn't have them), so I will have to save my money. My son just started a GFCF diet a month and a half ago, and I am still having an extremely difficult time planning... I used to like menu
planning- now I DREAD it. I need fresh ideas!!!!! Thanks for this awesome
Congratulations, Keirlee!!!! You sound like a well-deserving recipient of this awesome prize! I'm jealous. Please report back and let us know how your 1 hour phone consultation with Chef Rachel goes!

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Goat Milk Formula Recipe: UPDATED!

Update, May 2011:

Since posting my son's story and this recipe several years ago, the response has been overwhelming. I have been able to connect personally to so many of you amazing moms who are taking this step towards providing the 2nd-best nutrition for your baby (obviously, we all wish we could breastfeed).

I get tons of questions every week about the goat milk, and if you don't hear back from me on the comments, please e-mail me: carrie (at) organicthrifty (dot) com and I would be happy to help you personally on this matter!

Also, I am now a trained and certified Nutritional Therapist and I use Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis to assess and evaluate my clients and to set up an entire, comprehensive nutritional protocol for them. I highly encourage you, if you are a recently post-partum mama to consider a consultation to help you repair and rebuild, especially if you have a low milk supply. This can be due to a low thyroid condition or heavy metal toxicities or many other mechanisms, and we can get to the bottom of it in a nutritional consultation with Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. To learn more, please visit my Practice Website, Northwest Holistic Nutrition.

I am offering a special right now for my postpartum mamas and their babies on this formula: 2 for the price of one. Get yourself and your baby on a protocol to heal any and all imbalances and get you the right start! Please contact me and mention "2 for 1 for goatie babies" !

And as an update, my son Jonathan (below) will turn 4 next month, and he is doing fabulously. We have him on a Nutritional Balancing protocol and that additional nutritional support, specifically tailored to his unique physiology, is growing him into a strong, smart, energetic, and good-natured little boy! He is taller than nearly all of the kids in his little Bible Club class and he hasn't had a need to see the doctor for being sick in his whole life!

I am so thankful to Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation for her inspiration for this recipe, and so grateful that it has provided so many others with a healthy alternative to commercial formula.

To our children; our future!
May 2011


Several weeks ago, I shared the amazing story of my son, Jonathan, in his recovery from "failure to thrive" through the use of raw goat milk formula. In that post, I did not include my recipe, but have since gotten inquiries for it. Google searches for goat milk formula uncover various results, but here's what worked for Jonathan!

Disclaimer: It must be said that you should consult your health care practitioner for any and all infant feeding questions, and be certain that you have taken all measures in order to increase your breast milk supply if in fact you are supplementing for lack of milk as I was. Since I had thoroughly exhausted my efforts at increasing supply, I sought the most high-quality alternative under the supervision of two naturopathic doctors. Also, make sure to get a supply of goat milk from a farmer you can trust. If you must use pasteurized goat milk, you can do so as well.

This recipe is adapted from Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallon's Milk-Based Formula recipe in Nourishing Traditions:

Raw Goat Milk Formula

36 ounces:

2 cups raw goat milk (Why raw? Raw milk provides numerous enzymes, and allows the proteins to stay in tact while pastuerization renders them denatured. While raw milk will give optimal nutrition, it is my opinion that pastuerized and even powdered goats milk may be perferable, in some cases, to cow's milk for children with extreme sensitivities.)

2 cups filtered water (As the child grow, you should adjust this water-to-goat milk ratio by increasing the amount of goat milk and decreasing the amount of water. This can begin gradually at about 9 months. If stools become more difficult for the child to pass, then increase the amount of water and try again in another month).

1/4 cup liquid whey from goat yogurt or kefir (contains lots of good probiotics and is very nourishing; making it more like breast milk. To get whey simply strain goat milk yogurt or fil mjolk from Cultures for Health. (I get a lot of questions about the whey. You can also make it by straining plain cow milk yogurt, as long as there is no severe intolerance. Some people omit the whey, but I think it's very important)

1 -2 tsp organic blackstrap molassas (start with less, add more if needed. This provides B-vitamins, iron, trace minerals, and helped relieve constipation.) (If stools are too loose, decrease amount!)

2 tsp raw agave nectar (adds carbs, necessary for brain growth. Alternatively, you could use lactose, but I wanted to avoid this as I could not find a source that was made from goat milk since Jonathan was reacting to anything made from cow milk. Organic Brown Rice Syrup is also an option, but I didn't like the processing involved here. Obviously honey is out.) Update: Grade B, organic maple syrup is looking like the most ideal option out there in terms of sweeteners, so consider this if you are concerned about agave nectar. My son did fine with the agave, and he is not addicted to fruit or carbs (I have him on a sugar-free, low-starch and low-fruit diet).

1/4 tsp of bifodobacterium infantis (I used Metagenics "Bifidus" which is a dairy-free culture and of high quality. Also, Bio-Kult is a strong probiotic that has been used with infants as well. Consult your ND! Available through naturopaths, chiropractors, and other practitioners)

1/2 teaspoon high-vitamin cod liver oil (I used the Quantum brand from Radient Life) but any will do.

1 tsp unrefined sunflower oil (Rapunzel brand) for Vitamin E

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil for monosaturated fats

2 tsp virgin coconut oil (this is very important, as it contains lauric acid which is a medium-chain fatty acid. It's an important antiviral, antifungal that's found in breast milk)

2 tsp nutritional yeast (this is also very important as it contains the B vitamins. I like Lewis Labs Nutritional Yeast because it's gluten-free and full of a wide spectrum of minerals ) If your child is gassy or has reflux on this formula, remove the yeast first and see if it improves. Yeasts vary from brand to brand, and I can only recommend Lewis Labs.

1/4 teaspoon amla or NOW acerola powder (I prefer amla, as it does not contain any extra additives, and I found this for cheap in an Indian store)

Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Pour into individual glass bottles or one large. To warm, place in a pan of simmering water. Never use a microwave. This formula is best made daily to preserve freshness and to optimize nutrition.

Notes: Many recipes say to add frozen, raw goat liver for the purposes of replacing B vitamins. I never did this, but did begin feeding my son pureed chicken liver at 6 months.

Updates: Yes, you can add liquid B-vitamins such as Folic Acid and B12 rather than the Yeast. B-vitamins should be given at 1/4 of the adult dosage listed on the label.

Coconut oil can be difficult as it is solid when cold. You will notice it forming clumps on the surface of the formula. It can help to liquify the coconut oil by melting it slightly before blending. Then, when you warm up the formula in a hot water bath, the coconut oil will liquify and you can shake it up. The oils are the biggest bugaboo, honestly, of this formula, and if they don't work well for you, you can omit them and it won't be the end of the world nutritionally :)

Any questions or comments are much appreciated, although I will NOT be debating the issue of feeding raw goat milk to a baby, for it is a real, nourishing alternative to the limited, nasty canned formula options on the market, which are laden which ultra-high temperature processed, denatured milk with a myriad of refined corn and soy oils, with corn syrup added. This stuff is not food. Wet nurses were not an option for me, and neither was starvation. This is what worked, and worked amazingly well!

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Low-carb, Grain-Free Menu

Well, even though it's a little late in coming, here's the menu plan for the week. Just for the record, I *did* have it written up Saturday night! Unfortunately my two-year-old attacked my computer keyboard so some key letters are missing, making it a bit difficult to type. I'm hoping this won't affect my posting this week!

eggs, salsa verde, avocado
L: zucchini-onion-shittake mushroom saute
D: herbed meatloaf, sauteesd broccoli
*make crispy walnuts, make macaroons

B: green smoothies and scrambled eggs
L: BBQ Turkey, baby carrots
D: grilled chicken breasts, avocado, roasted cauliflower

B: squash pudding
L: miso soup and smoked sardines w/ avocado and salsa
D: veggie and kelp noodle stir-fry

*Begin sprouting lentils

B: goat milk yogurt parfait with bluberries and crispy walnuts
L: hot dogs, carrots, raw cheese
D: bacon-ground beef-cabbage-onion saute
*Make GF bread

B: grain-free coconut pancakes topped with strawberry sauce
L: almond butter and peach jam in GF bread, carrots
D: sprouted lentil soup, GF garlic toast, salad

B: waffles, smoothies
L: leftovers, hot dogs
D: low-carb burgers, grilled onions, oven fries, salad

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Tips for Saving Money at the Farmer's Market

May is an exciting time for the Organic & Thrifty Oregonian, because so begins the season of Farmer's Markets!!! I know I'm not alone in this joy, for hundreds of like-minded folks come out every week for the most healthy, grassroots "carnival" there ever was! But with prices so high at the market (comparably) how can we support local farmers without breaking the bank?

First of all, I believe that it's sort of a myth that farmer's markets are inherently more expensive. I think for the quality and freshness, markets are actually much cheaper than their organic health food store counterparts.

Secondly, I am very choosy about what I purchase at the farmer's market. There are lots of items that make lots of money for the farmers at the market, and these I tend to avoid.

Here are my tips for saving your green while being green at your local farmer's market (by the way, if you're a local-yocal and haven't familiarized yourself with Portland Metro Farmer's Market Culture, go here. EcoMetro has a fabulous map and directory of all the local markets!!

1) Avoid fruits. As tempting and delicious as they can be at the market, I see fruit as the "candy" of the Farmer's Market and you wouldn't spend your week's allotment of funds on candy any other time, would you? As great as they look, avoid the urge to buy those juicy apricots and blueberries. Instead, plan an outing to a local berry farm or orchard and get a crew of otherwise unoccupied elementary school children and stock up on all of these amazing fruits by picking them yourself! Not only do you pay a fraction of the cost, but you get exercise and an outing in the sun!

2) Stick with the items you'll use in your weekly meals that will stretch, such as eggs, cheese, cabbage, chard, zucchini, radishes, spinach, lettuce, sweet onions, cauliflower, broccoli. I find that I get my fill of these fibrous, low-carb veggies and less is more.

3) In general, get your "pickling" and "storage" veggies farm-direct. Green beans, tomatoes, and pickling cukes are items you want to buy in bulk for canning, and thus you will want to buy farm-direct. This isn't that complicated, as most of the market vendors have a farm on which they directly sell their items for cheaper. They might even offer a U-Pick. And don't forget, there are plenty of great farms out there that are such small operations that they can't afford the staffing for market sales. Watch craigslist for these. My favorite is a mom and pop farm stand set up outside the farmer's house in Cornelius, Oregon, called "Mike and Debbie's Produce". They keep their overhead low and pass the savings on to you!.

4) Eat breakfast before you go! Although the food there is delicious and tantalizing, it will drain the cash you should be spending on next week's food! And besides, Saturday should be your "clean out the fridge day" where you consume the odds and ends you have leftover from the previous week.

5)Soaps, oils, honey, and treats are fun, but only purchase them if they are needs. It's great to support small, handmade operations but buy only what you need!

6) To add some thrifty fun into your experience, be sure to take advantage of all the free samples and savor them in place of purchasing things you don't need. Strike up a conversation; make a connection. Give feedback! Don't feel bad if you aren't going to purchase anything today; maybe next week you'll need that herbed chevre!

I hope these 6 tips will take the fear out of farmer's market shopping. It's fun to just take out $10 and see how much you can purchase (or whatever your budget allows!)

Happy farmer's marketing!

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UPDATE!!! Giveaway: One hour phone consulation with Chef Rachel!

It's time for the awesome giveaway I've been so excited to tell you about! How would you like to talk with one of the smartest health gals around about how to transition to a healthy, real food diet? The Healthy Cooking Coach, Rachel Albert-Matesz, author of The Garden of Eating Diet and The Ice Dream Cookbook will help you with transition tips, recipe makeovers, and menu planning/shopping suggestions for greater health!

This is awesome folks; Chef Rachel is a genius, if her book is any indication! Please take advantage of this awesome opportunity. To participate, here are the simple rules:

1) Followers and subsribers who leave a comment are eligible for the prize. (To become a follower, see the side bar below at the right). Leaving a comment earns you one "chance" at the random drawing. In your comment, tell why you would like to win this contest!

2) For an extra vote, write a post on your blog about this giveaway and link back!

NEW EXTENDED DEADLINE: The Winner Will Be announced Thursday, May 14th!

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Natural Sunscreen Protection with Real Food

As we head into the summer months, the question on every good mother's mind is how to naturally protect our loved ones from sunburn and skin cancer. As a mother to two very fair children and a husband who burns in the shade, this is a big concern of mine.

Now we've all been told for as long as we can remember to "protect yourself from the sun". After decades of slathering on the sunscreen, are we any better off? According to the World Health Organization:

In the U.S., one in two cancers is skin-related(estimated skin cancers in the
U.S. annually, 1.1 million). These figures are on the rise, and the WHO expects
the skin-cancer epidemic to accelerate: The annual incidence rate for melanoma
is estimated to have more than tripled in the last 45 years in Norway and Sweden
and to have
doubled in the last 30 years in the U.S."

So, all the hype about sunscreen and sun protection has done seemingly little good. The stats above lead me to wonder: Is there another factor that contributes to sun burn and skin cancer?

After some research into the topic, I keep finding this connection between Omega 3 essential fatty acids and healthy skin. Specifically, studies are finding that an optimal balance of omega-3s to omega-6s (3:1, or better) is critical for many, many health factors, including heart health and skin health:

According to a study published in the American Health Foundation Journal:

"Epidemiological, experimental, and mechanistic data implicate
omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as stimulator's and long-chain
omega-3 PUFAs as inhibitors of development and progression of a range of human
cancers, including melanoma."

[Read the entire study here]

Omega-3 fatty acids are found and best assimilated from animal products such as fish, pastured chickens/eggs, and grass-fed beef. Americans are eating far too many omega-6 oils:

"In 1900 the average American only consumed about a pound of vegetable oil (high
in omega-6) per year. Now we are consuming over 75 pounds each every year.
Vegetable oil is a totally new product that our body has no idea how to digest."

Therefore, it's probably safe to include that the average American's ratio of omega 3's to omega 6's is pretty far off of the ideal. With all the warnings about mercury from fish (not to mention the expense), fish consumption among Americans is not increasing to meet the amount of omega-6s consumed.

So what can we do?

Here are 3 simple tips for upping your omega-3s and optimizing that 3-to-6 ratio in your diet, and thus reducing your risk of sun damage:

*Switch to "rapidly growing grass" fed (pastured) beef. Even if you can't afford to buy as much, you can get more nutrition with less meat than with conventional feedlot beef. We love US Wellness Meats. They have weekly promotions and offer bulk discounts. Since their meet has "60% more omega-3s than beef from cows that have been raised on a low-omega-3 grain diet" you can get the most bang for your nutritional buck! US Wellness meats is a one-stop online shopping mart for all kinds of meat, all raised on grass, including chicken, rabbit, goat, pork, and bison.

*Take your Cod Liver Oil. I strongly recommend Green Pasture's Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Read more about why
CLO is good for you in this post.

*Eliminate polysaturated vegetable oils in favor of butter, ghee, lard, tallow, and coconut oil. According to
WikiPedia, some of the oils highest in omega-6s (with virtually no omega-3s) are soybean, cottonseed, peanut, and corn oil. To best avoid these, eliminate packaged food, fast food, and prepare fresh, whole food from scratch.

So, can food really protect you from skin cancer? It's a big risk to go out into the sun without sunscreen. But I think sunscreen poses a bigger health risk. The chemicals in sunscreen are very harsh and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream:

"The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a new study showing that nearly
all Americans are contaminated with oxybenzone, a widely-used sunscreen
ingredient. This chemical so far has been linked to allergies, hormone
disruption, and cell damage, as well as low birth weight in baby girls whose
mothers are exposed during pregnancy. Oxybenzone is also a penetration enhancer,
a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin. So where has the FDA
been on this?"


Personally, I can attest to the effectiveness of using real food for skin protection. For the past 3 summers, since implementing the above changes, I haven't used sunscreen on myself or the kids. We've had only healthy, rosy summer complexions and NO sunburns!

Recently, we went on a trip for 7 days to Sunny California. We spent hours on end outdoors, sans sunscreen, in 75 to 80 degrees every day. We took our cod liver oil, coconut oil and ate our omega-3 rich veggies and meats. In all of our sun exposure, the most we had was a blush of pink that quickly faded into a nice base tan.

Thrifty and nourishing, without the harsh chemicals of sunblock, you can feel confident that by increasing your omega-3's, you will not only enjoy the myriad of other heath benefits associated with these EFAS, you'll also be exposing your body to optimal amounts of vitamin D, which is essential for optimal immune and endocrine function.

This is what
Works for Me on this Real Food Wednesday!

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Menu Plan: Week of May 4

It's hard to believe that the first of May is already here. My "baby" niece turns one today, and that's unbelievable because I can vividly remember going to see her at the hospital just a few months ago it feels. Happy Birthday, dear Susannah! What a blessed, happy, chunky baby she is! Nourished by her mama with real food and real milk, it's so amazing to see that radiant health is possible, by God's grace, in this fallen, broken world. Nutrition for families and children. This was the topic of conversation at the Northwest Family Homeschool Conference that I was blessed to speak at this past weekend. I am so honored and was overjoyed to meet so many amazing, inspiring families whose faith is foremost in their lives! I had so many wonderful conversations with folks who are on their own difficult, challenging health journeys like our own.

Meal planning is something I often speak about, so if you're just tuning in to Organic and Thrifty, here are my thoughts on meal planning.

Here's what's cooking this week:

eggs, salsa verde, avocado
L: leftover sloppy joes
D: birthday dinner for niece
*make gluten-free bread in bread machine, make lacto-fermented ketchup

B: green smoothies and gluten/grain-free bread toast
L: leftover roast beef stew
D: turkey meat (from freezer) and spinach enchiladas, avocado, cortido, salsa, chips

B: squash pudding
L: miso soup and smoked sardines
D: veggie-lentil pancakes (use leftover Greek potatoes, salad, green beans

B: grain-free coconut pancakes topped with strawberry sauce
L: leftover enchiladas
D: grain-free lasagna (using sliced zucchini in place of noodles...we didn't end up doing this last week)

B: cinnamon toast (GF), green smoothies
L: kelp noodle pad thai
D: grain-free "mac n cheese" (steamed cauliflower topped with butternut squash cheese sauce)

B: waffles, smoothies
L: leftovers, hot dogs
D: kima curry, alloo muttar (curried potatoes and peas)

Be sure to check out more inspiring menu plans over at The Organizing Junkie! Have a great week!

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Menu Plan: Week of April 27

After a few weeks off of posting my menus (mostly due to an incredibly busy couple of weeks with Holy Week and Bright Week) it's finally time to plan some meat-laden menus!! My challenge for the next few weeks is to use the meet I have in my freezer (and there's a bunch of it) so we'll be slowly working our way through it for the next year and a half I'm sure!

Here's the plan:
eggs, fruit (strawberries and bananas), hash brown potatoes in beef tallow
L: leftover chicken and salad
D: hidden veggie taco meat with rice tortillas, guacamole, & raw cheese
*make gluten-free bread in bread machine

B: green smoothies and gluten/grain-free bread toast
L: broccoli & leftover roast beef saute
D: steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce and chicken sausages
*begin sprouting sunflower seeds, make chicken stock in Crock Pot

B: squash pudding
L: miso soup
D: high enzyme salad w/ avocado, roasted carrots

B: grain-free coconut pancakes topped with strawberry sauce
L: hot dogs, pickled beets, roasted carrots
D: grain-free lasagna (using sliced zucchini in place of noodles)

B: cinnamon toast (GF), green smoothies
D: navy bean chili (crockpot)

B: out to eat
L: leftovers

Be sure to check out more inspiring menu plans over at The Organizing Junkie! Have a great week!

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Frugal Extremism: Dumpster Diving and Other Thrifty Food Tips

Saving money is all the rage these days. This was very apparent to me today as I took my kids to a newly-built park in an upscale new development. The development included a Whole Foods, FIVE (count them) Starbucks (???), several trendy eateries, including Chipotle, an Aveda Day Spa, a resort-like retirement "community", and a Jewelry Store. Not to mention a whole mall just a block away. And the most interesting thing is that I think there were more people at the park than at all of those stores combined.

People everywhere (myself included!) are cutting down to the essentials; food, the mortgage, water, electricity....and discussions everywhere are centered on how to make even the essentials more affordable. Cutting down on food costs is a challenge that many bloggers, myself included, have endeavored to accomplish. Upon reading an excellent "open reader forum" on Rod Dreher's blog, I found this incredibly interesting video:

Here's how a growing number of folks are saving money (or spending next to no money) on good quality food!

I find it really interesting (and smart) that people are dumpster diving at Trader Joe's for a couple of reasons.

1) TJ's food is all packaged (even the produce), so even a discarded item could be protected from other trash.

2) TJ's doesn't have their own deli or eatery within, as many mainstream grocery stores have. A deli is a great way for stores to funnel their "almost past due" produce and meat, but since TJ's doesn't have a way to do this it makes sense that they may have more "salvageable" goods in their dumpsters.

This all sounds great, but....REALLY? Dumpster dive? That's probably too much for some of you, but something in the thrifty depths of my soul is intrigued by this. I may never have the courage to do this, but I commend those that are able to. I find it pretty reprehensible actually that stores throw perfectly good stuff away like this. I thought I had heard that these places often donate lots of the "almost past due" items to food shelters, Loaves and Fishes, etc.

I'd be curious of any input my intelligent and insightful readers have. I know I'll be trying to find out more about this myself!

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Nourishing, Grain-Free Pancakes

I wasn't going to post this week, but after admiring the amazingly perfect grain-free pancakes I had adapted, I felt that I had to share. My quest: To make a thick, fluffy, comfort-foodie pancake without using grain.

My inspiration? Perhaps it was the Lenten Pancake breakfast I had to, with Lenten self-sacrifice, abstain from last Saturday. I sign up to help with this breakfast every year, in secret hope of being able to covertly add a bit of health to these deliciously sinful pancakes. Unfortunately, these pancakes contain nearly everything that I can't eat! White flour, cane sugar, soy milk, soy oil, and margarine. It's almost laughable how every ingredient, though delicious-smelling, reacts horribly with my body.

Even though I enjoyed the massive spread of fruit dishes, I kept yearning for those fluffy, thick pancakes that filled the air with their griddley goodness Saturday morning.

For the record, I've experimented endlessly with gluten-free pancake and waffle recipes. When grains were more kosher for my daughter, we loved the blender batter waffles/pancake recipe. It's truly thrifty and delicious. But as we've moved transitioned to a grain-free diet, it's been a little more tricky. I've tried almond flour pancakes but they were just too dense and heavy. I had tried Bruce Fife's coconut pancake recipe, but it seemed to flop on me. I was ready to resign myself to a pancake-free life, but then I came across a blog I'm finding more and more affinity towards every day.

Everything Free Eating is written by a women after my own heart, and I LOVE her recipes, her writing style, and her perspective on life. She's amazing. She gave me a starting point for a grain-free pancake. I've tweaked it a bit to fit my taste and have come up with what I think is the perfect "I-can't-believe-it's-not-bad-for-me" pancake!

After two days of preparing these perfect little chubs, and having my kids gobble them up like hotcakes, (even DH pulled the cold leftovers out of the fridge for dessert last night and devoured them) I thought I'd just have to share them. Coincidence? I think not, given Kimi's Nourishing Breakfast Carnival today!

Grain Free Pancakes
adapted from EverythingFreeEating

Blend together in the Vitamix:

3 eggs plus enough whites to equal 1 cup (or just 1 cup, total. I'm always looking for ways to use up my egg whites,and I think the extra whites contribute to the fluffiness)
1/2 cup milk (goat, cow, or coconut; we use goat)
2 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave Nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp stevia liquid

Mix together separately:

1/2 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut flour

Add dry ingredients to vitamix and blend until smooth. Pour onto prepared griddle and top with your favorite pancake toppers!

Enjoy! And be sure to visit Everything Free Eating for more creative, grain-free recipes and well as The Nourishing Gourmet!

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The Garden of Eating: The Last Diet Book You'll Ever Need

Are you looking for a no-nonsense, simple way of eating that will make you lose weight and feel amazing? Do you want to eat the way pre-agricultural people, free of modern degenerative diseases ate? Look no further! This is the last cookbook/diet book that you'll ever need.

When I first heard about this cookbook, I was sure that nothing would knock my beloved Nourishing Traditions off of its seat of honor in my kitchen. Now, to be fair, I still LOVE Nourishing Traditions, but this cookbook goes one step beyond Nourishing Traditions and fleshes out a way of eating that is very helpful to one transitioning to a Paleo, Grain-Free diet.

At first glance, The Garden of Eating may seem very antithetical to the Nourishing Traditions way of eating. I have to say that I was a little skeptical about the book since I immediately noticed that it was a "dairy free" cookbook. Nourishing Traditions is huge on dairy (raw, pasture-fed), but when you read carefully in Rachel Albert-Matesz' book, you do find that she says the same thing. It's just that not everyone can a) tolerate dairy (in any form) nor do they b) have access to high quality raw dairy. I am fortunate to tolerate raw dairy products just fine, and thus it's very easy for me to adapt dairy to her recipes.

Whenever I see a cookbook that seeks to eliminate entire food groups, my first question in, inevitably, "what do they replace them with?". In this case, thankfully, it's nourishing coconut milk or almond milk (the homemade sort, of course!). No soy, no rice/oat/hemp milks. She also recommends ghee (clarified butter) as an option for a good quality fat.

The other food group that is conspicuously absent from these recipes is the bread/cereal/grain food group. Not only is this a gluten-free cookbook, but every delicious recipe is grain-free! Not technically a GAPS-certified cookbook, but practically every recipe (other than a few of the starchy veggies) can be used for your GAPS-healing regimen.

The best thing about this 581 page cookbook is that I've never found a recipe that was a "flop". Especially wonderful is that every recipe is delicious and simple to make!

But The Garden of Eating is more than simply a cookbook. The first 13 chapters are incredibly informative articles on Native Nutrition, which includes an in-depth analysis of Dr. Weston A. Price's work, as well as a primer on Fats, discussions of why "organic" really matters, and how to return to a more "paleo" way of eating.

Then, she takes you step-by-step through how to organize your kitchen, what tools you need, and how to effectively meal plan. Included is a sample month of menus and prep lists which makes transitioning to this type of diet even easier!

I've read lots of diet books, and almost all of them are "gimmicky" to me. But this book is simple, clear, and no frills. All of the ingredients are simply "real food" and nothing so fancy that you'll have to go to a specialty store to find. Sure, there are a few things you may need to buy once every six months (like a unique spice) but since all of the recipes are SO versatile, you can usually substitute an ingredient you don't have on hand.

This cookbook was recommended to me by my naturopath, Dr. Daniel Chong who is big into Native Nutrition/Paleo way of eating. In his professional opinion, this cookbook is all anyone should abide by for optimum health. I've got to say, even though I was skeptical at first, I totally feel amazing eating by these principles :

For a diet most similar to that of native people known to be practically
immune to degenerative diseases:

1) Make fresh, locally grown fruits and
vegetables 65-75% of the weight and volume of your meals/diet.

2) Make clean, lean, grass-fed animal products 20-35% of the weight and volume of your meals/diet.

3) Eliminate refined grain products, conventional dairy
products, mass-market meats, refined sugars, unfriendly vegetable oils

Source: The Garden of Eating

Like Nourishing Traditions, The Garden of Eating encourages you to make homemade bone broth and use it in soups and stir-fry. Some differences are that G of E does not include many recipes for cultured foods. As for nuts, she suggests toasting them, rather than soaking them, to neutralize phytic acids. Personally, I still defer to Sally Fallon's method when cooking nuts just because it feels a little more nutritious.

There are extensive chapters containing various tantalizing recipes for pork, chicken, buffalo, turkey, and seafood. All are simple and so nourishing but flavorful as well! The many different chapters on vegetables make is such a nice companion volume to Nourishing Traditions, as I think it tends to be a little weaker on the vegetable recipes. Her chapters on salad dressings, sauces, and condiments is amazing; as well as her chapter on delicious, healthy whole-food "treats" and snacks. G of E even features a delicious recipe that's exactly like Jennie's Macaroons!

Included in the book is a primer I found very helpful on the preparation of jerky and pemmican. For some reason, her explanations seem to demystify this process more for me than other books. I also love the chapter on healthy, nourishing beverages including homemade herbal coffee alternatives!

The only weak aspect of the book, in my opinion, is the recommended use of egg white protein powder. I'm just not that into "protein powders" of any kind, and fortunately she only uses it in some of her smoothie and dessert treat recipes.

Overall, I give this book two thumbs up. In fact, I can't imagine eating grain-free without it. This cookbook gives so many exciting, realistic recipes that fit right in to a Thrifty, Organic, grain-free lifestyle! And I must say, Rachel's book is guaranteed to make a veggie fan out of you!

For access to many of the recipes featured in The Garden of Eating, visit Rachel's website!

In addition, I'm really excited to let you in on a little surprise. Look for details soon on a giveaway I'm doing! Rachel Albert-Matesz is offering a FREE 1 hour personal phone consultation to one lucky Organic and Thrifty subscriber!!!! Details to follow, but keep checking back for more information!

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