Simple, Natural, Home Remedies for Cold and Flu

Despite what you may think, sickness is good for the immune system. The occasional cold or flu must run its course fully so that the body can properly fight and become immune to it, whether viral or bacterial. Did you know that most, if not all, over-the-counter "medicines" for cold and flu are merely symptom suppressors and actually work against your immune system?

The solution? Nourish your body nutritionally so that the immune system can do it's job. Here are some of my favorite, simple home remedies that have worked for my family to shorten the duration of colds, coughs, sore throats, and flu:

* Herbal chest rub (in place of decongestant): olive oil mixed with a few drops of euchalyptus oil and peppermint oil, just like Vicks, only without the toxic petroleum base.

*Wet cotton socks on the feet covered with wool socks. This is supposed to help draw moisture from the head downward, and it always works for my kids if their noses are stuffy.

*Amla powder (can be purchased cheaply in Indian food stores) mixed with juiced carrots and a little raw cream. A good vitamin tonic.

*NO WHITE SUGAR OR GRAINS and minimized dairy when congested (as dairy is mucus-forming)

*Licorice root tea for sore throats/cough

*Broncofoot herbal elixer works wonder for coughs (I got this from my naturopath)

*Kombucha is what I swear by to help me through a bug. Full of antioxidents, probiotics, and vitamins, this is hydrating, nourishing, and energizing.

*Plenty of water (I drink Kangan restructured water which is alkalizing and has a high ORP, so that helps keep bugs at bay because most cannot thrive in an alkaline environment)

*Coconut oil "candy" (raw honey, raw nut butter, coconut oil) for the kids to eat. Coconut oil is high in antibacterial and antifungal medium-chain fatty acids, the same fatty acids found in breast milk! The raw honey also has many benefits and has been used for centuries to cure sore throats and coughs.

*Salt water gargle for sore throats.

*My failproof "so you can rest medicine" is to consume one clove of raw garlic. Yes, it's kind of intense, but you can almost feel head congestion begin to flee when you eat it.

*A delicious, nourishing meal that's also medicinal is ginger-coconut chicken soup. Start with 2 quarts of chicken broth (homemade is best). Add 1 can of coconut milk, 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes or cayenne, and 1 TBS chopped ginger.

What remedies have worked for you?

Related posts:

Read Kelly the Kitchen Kop's guide to natural remedies.

Go here for 5 Tips for Fighting the Winter Bugs

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Updates and Downtime

Wow; I feel so strange coming back after over a week of not posting! Our computer has been infected by spyware and it's not letting me log on so I've been unable to post, and currently my computer is in the hands of a faithful relative who's a computer whiz, but there's no telling when or if the issue will be resolved!

Although I enjoy blogging immensely, I have to say the forced vacation has been nice. It's allowed me to create some much-needed space in my life to reflect, pray, listen, and to just "be". I have been getting to sleep at a decent, healthy hour, I've given my adrenals a break (it's amazing how being in front of the computer puts me in super-charge mode!), and I've recognized how much I need to listen and engage with the present, real moment, not just thinking about everything in terms of how to make it into a blog post!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to give up blogging; I'm just giving up the self-imposed rat race of blogging every night, worrying about my Alexa rank, # of pageviews, and all of those other things that *ultimately* don't matter. What I've missed most this week is the inspiration I receive from all of my fellow bloggers and all you who e-mail or comment...so if you e-mail me and I don't respond, it's because I have no computer! (I'm currently using my mom's!)

So, this week, instead of the regular features, I may post some "syndicated" material and/or quick updates, and hopefully I'll be up and running again in a few weeks.

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Thursday's Thrifty Meals on Friday: 5- Layer Dip

This week's thrifty menu from New Seasons is packed with such flavor that you'll never believe it's vegan! Full of veggies and GAPS-friendly ingredients but light on the budget, you can enjoy this simple meal on a Friday or Saturday night!

For this recipe, you'll save lots of money by making your beans from "scratch", meaning that you purchase them dry (at $0.10 per ounce, it's a true bargain!) and effortlessly cook them in your slow cooker. Keep reading for the recipe.

This recipe for refried beans makes 15 servings, which for my family is about 4 meal's worth. These can be made into burritos and frozen for a quick, convenient meal-on-the-go. I tweaked the recipe slightly, but the link below will lead you to the instructions on how to make this!

The Ingredients:

Refried Beans:

1 onion, peeled and halved ($0.25 when purchased in bulk from Costco)
3 cups Western Family navy beans, rinsed ($0.50 for 3 cups)
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped ($0.25)
2 tablespoons minced garlic ($0.35)
5 teaspoons salt ($0.03)
1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper ($0.02)
3 teaspoons ground cumin ($0.36)
3 teaspoons chili powder ($0.33)
1 teaspoons oregano ($0.26)
9 cups water

Total Cost for Refried Beans (15 servings, mind you!) $2.10

5-Layer Dip

3 cups refried navy beans ($0.70)
1/2 lb roma tomatoes (diced) ($1.00)
1 avocado*($2.50) mashed, seasoned with salt, pepper, and juice of 1 lemon ($0.60)
1/4 bunch of cilantro ($0.30)
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped ($0.25)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped ($0.13 when purchased at Costco)


Spread the warmed refried beans in the bottom of an 8 x 12 casserole. Next, cover with diced tomatoes, then onions, then cilantro and jalapeno. Cover with mashed avocado. Serve with sliced carrots, for dipping ($0.25) or if you can tolerate them, Blue Corn Chips ($1.00 for 1 meal's worth).

Total Cost for Meal (carrots only): $5.72 (with chips): $6.72

*Why that expensive avocado? Is it really worth it?

Yeah, that avocado really pops out to me as uber-expensive, making the meal a little more costly than without. Nutritionally,however, the avocado is an important component when fasting because it supplies lots and lots of good fats, taking the place of dairy in a traditional dip. If you really want to save money, you can get the avocado elsewhere (Grocery Outlet has them for $0.80!) which would make the meal legitimately under $5.00!

For more bargain meals at a local store near you, visit $5 Dinners!

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Lacto-Fermented Foods for Kids: 15 Tips

Perhaps you've heard how beneficial lacto-fermented foods are for you and your kids. Lacto-fermentation is a practical, low-cost, whole-foods way to provide high amounts of vitamins, enzymes, and beneficial probiotics to your diet. However, the challenge that remains is getting these wonderful foods into your kids!

Obviously a lot could be said here about lacto-fermentation. The how's and the why's are all beyond the scope of this post, but there are some amazing resources here on the web to help you get started.

Food Renegade posts a perfect primer on Lacto-Fermentation, a must read if you need a 101 on the "whys". Also, check out Lost Arts Kitchen for an awesome read on Lacto-Fermentation. There's your 110 course!

Alyss at Real Food My Way is the resident expert (in my opinion) on lacto-fermented vegetables, and she is excellent in terms of the "hows".

As far as recipes go, most all of them are found in Nourishing Traditions, so if you haven't yet tried your hand at lacto-fermentation, don't be scared! It's easy, fun, and oh so thrifty.

Sandor Katz "wrote the book" on Fermentation; literally. He goes way beyond Sally's recipes in Nourishing Traditions and it's a great handbook for anyone who wants to really dive into traditional methods of fermentation.

Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning is a great resource on ancient food preservation methods, including lacto-fermentation. There are many great recipes in here for sure, but I love it because it really teaches you how to do it "the old-fashioned" way.

Now, take a moment to consider how much your family spends on good probiotics, digestive enzymes, and vitamins. Never mind that most of the aforementioned products on the market aren't very bioavailable and are largely full of additives and synthetic ingredients. Those that aren't are through the roof expensive.

Lacto-fermented foods are real, they're nourishing, full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria that you need to maintain a healthy gut, immune system support, and optimal nutrition. They are essential if your gut is compromised, because they assist your body in the breakdown of food. They increase the efficiency of digestion by providing enzymes that help do the work for you. This allows for optimal mineral absorption, which in turn may help with satiation and weight control.

If you're still intimidated, or don't have time to make anything lacto-fermented, there's now a company that sells high-quality, delicious lacto-fermented foods to order! Zukay offers delicious lacto-fermented salsas and relishes that lavish billions of beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your food.

Okay, so how do you make this appealing to your kids? Here are my 15 tips that work for me:

1) Start young! My 21 month old has been given lacto-fermented veggies since he was old enough to eat solids. Just a few bites, mind you, but it has introduced him to the "sour" taste. His favorite is lacto-fermented beets.

2) Kombucha is a delicious, mineral-rich, fermented beverage that can be sweetened with a small amount of fruit juice or stevia. Adding even a tablespoon to your child's juice will provide good probiotics and enzymes. Gradually even out the ratios to introduce your child to the taste.

3) Kefir sweetened with cinnamon, nutmeg, and stevia is a delicious snack that my kids enjoy.

4) When you serve ground beef or sausage, discreetly pour a small amount of juice from lacto-fermented pickles, or sauerkraut onto the meat. You can also mix tiny, chopped dill pickles or kraut into your meal. I find ground beef seems to hide these types of things well. Especially in sloppy joes.

5) If your child already likes pickles, by all means, make your own. It can take a few trials to get that perfect texture. I find it works best when you follow the Nourishing Traditions recipe but add 3-4 cleaned oak leaves to the jar to help preserve crispness. When you get it down, you'll find that any pickle lover will be naturally drawn to the "alive" version!

6) Make your own lacto-fermented ketchup. Yes, ketchup (and mustard, mayo, relish) and pretty much everything that goes on a hamburger or hot dog has its roots in a traditionally lacto-fermented condiment. These are easy to make at home. A basic home-made ketchup is composed of tomato paste, raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey or maple syrup, and garlic. Play around with the spices to suit your taste and match your kids' tastes. Even mixing the lacto-fermented version half and half with the store bought will add benefits in a sneaky way. This will work for any condiment,although mustard and mayo should be easy to replace and sneak in!

7)Use kefir, fil mjolk, or buttermilk to make a smoothie.

8)Gingered carrots (shredded carrots, chopped ginger, and salt basically) is delicious and very kid-friendly. Again, if you can chop it very finely and mix it with cooked sausage it can be much easier to present to kids. This is also great topped on lentils or soup (once they've cooled).

9) Chips and dip are often a favorite among kids. Here are a few ideas; adapt based on what your kids like. For a bean-type dip, try pureeing sprouted, cooked beans (navy beans and Lima beans are allowed on the GAPS and SCD diets)with a lacto-fermented salsa, gingered carrots, or kraut. Kefir cheese (or strained kefir/yogurt) tastes great mixed with fresh chives, garlic, and chopped onions to make a sort of ranch dip. Serve with celery and carrots. Guacamole is easily enhanced by adding lacto-fermented salsa or cortido.

10)A spoonful of raw honey helps the sauerkraut go down... This may be a last resort for those of us with children on the GAPS/SCD diets who really need lacto-fermented foods in order to heal. I actually gave my daughter a crushed clove of raw garlic mixed in with raw honey when she was sick and she took it with relatively little wincing!

11) The medicine dropper is a novel and intriguing thing for my kids (maybe they're strange, but they'll try a medicine dropper's worth of anything!). I often give my son a "dropperful" of sauerkraut or pickle juice, or coconut kefir. A little does go a long way, so don't worry if they only take a little.

12) Not for the faint-hearted, you can brew your own healthy, lacto-fermented soft drinks. This article explains, in depth and in detail, how to do it.

13) Unpasteurized soy sauce is a great condiment to sprinkle on something as simple as veggies and brown rice. This soy sauce is usually only available by special order, but try your local Asian market for Nama Shoyu. It's also available, ironically, at Amazon:

14) Traditional miso is a fermented food product that, when added to cooled broth, provides an excellent avenue for getting fermented foods into your kids. It's my 4-year old's favorite! Miso Master is absolutely the best brand I've found, and they offer a soy-free chickpea miso that we love!

15) My friend had a genius idea of dehydrating some sauerkraut she had made into "sauerkraut crackers". They had a tangy, crispy crunch to them that her kids (and mine too) absolutely loved! You could experiment with adding flax seeds or soaked sunflower seeds and herbs as well.

Some closing thoughts:

There's a reason why lacto-fermented foods, throughout the ages, have been served as condiments and not main dishes. A small amount goes a long way, and too much can create an internal environment that is much too acidic. When it comes to young children, they usually know when they've had enough. Especially if they are introduced young. So don't force it down, or you will effectively ruin your child's chances of ever having a healthy association with the food. Offer some at every meal and require that they eat one bit of everything. "Just one bite" is a famous saying at our dinner table. If their body needs more, it will tell them!

What say you? What are your experiences with lacto-fermented foods? What are your tricks for helping your children enjoy them?

For more tips and kid-friendly recipes, visit Real Food Wednesdays at Cheeseslave and Works-for-me-Wednesday at "We're that Family".

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Grain-Free, Lenten Menu Plan

Another Lenten menu this week, with some ambitious creations, like "lentil sloppy joes". You can imagine my elation when I realized last week that lentils are allowed on the GAPS diet!

In the spirit of "eating to live and not living to eat", I'm keeping my Lenten meal plans simple. For myself, I find that a simple breakfast of coconut kefir with lime and a little fresh fruit has been sufficient for me. Lunches are usually salad and leftovers with fresh veggies. For the children, I try to throw in eggs, cheese slices, and meat that I have stashed in the freezer. There have been lots of soups, which thankfully all of us enjoy. Even DH said recently "I could just eat veggies and broth for the rest of my life!" I told him: "Awesome! You're starting GAPS too!".

For this week's menu, I was able to use all that I had from my recent trip to Grocery Outlet (under $40!!!) along with a lots of leftovers and recycled leftovers in the fridge!

kids: bacon, all: fruit
L: leftover bean soup, salad
D: red lentil sloppy joes (adapted from this recipe concept, by using the seasonings from this recipe) along with cauliflower "rice"

B: carrot/fruit smoothies and; coconut honey muffins
L: cream of asparagus/broccoli soup (w/ coconut milk), carrots, salad w/ avocado
D: Thai red curry w/ shrimp over coconut-cauliflower "fried" rice (using leftovers from Monday night)

B: peanut butter squash brownies, apples, milk
L: sardines, cheese, celery sticks, miso soup
D: spinach-lentils-rice (to bring to a family), dinner @ church

B: turkey breakfast sausages (kids); green berry fil mjolk smoothies
L: smoked salmon & cheese (kids) leftovers (me)
D: sunburgers and roasted beet salad

B: nut butter pancakes, apples
L: salad (me) hot dogs (kids)
D: 7-layer Mexican dip (using pureed,sprouted navy beans--bring to potluck @ church)

B: fil mjolk smoothies
L: leftovers
D: cioppino

D: bean & spinach soup, supplemented with leftovers.

Check out what these other fabulous ladies have done to creatively recycle leftovers and use up what's in the fridge:

Country Lady created a menu that requires no additional shopping for the week!
Ranee also posted a great menu for her large family that utilizes what she has on hand!
You're next!

If you have a menu plan for the week that utilizes what's in your fridge & pantry, I would love for you to include it here! Since I'm not ready for Mr. Linky yet, I still need you to e-mail me your URL post (carriethienes [at] hotmail[dot]com), which follows these guidelines, or simply place the link in a comment below!

Have a wonderful week!

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Whole Foods for under $40 at Grocery Outlet

I have a confession to make: I was scared of Grocery Outlet. In my mind, Grocery Outlet was full of non-foods laden with GMOs, HFCS, MSG, and lots of other naughty acronyms. Recently, however, I was proved wrong in my prejudice. I couldn' t believe how much food (all wholesome!) I purchased for $38!!

Here's what I purchased:

3 packages of smoked wild-caught Pacific Northwest Salmon (additive free!)
2 packages of Hormel 100% natural, uncured, nitrate-free pepperoni (for the kids during Lent)
4 kiwis
1 red bell pepper
1 package parmesan cheese
2 bunches of asparagus (@ $1.99/lb!!! and it was very fresh and tender!)
1 bunch bananas
1 head of broccoli (probably the most fragrant "flowery" broccoli I'd seen in my life!)
2 avocados
2 cucumbers (huge!)
2 bunches scallions
1 bunch cilantro
1 jicama
1 bag of onions (same price per onion as Costco!)
1 cantaloupe (will provide 3-4 meal's worth of carrot-cantaloupe juice)
6 organic tomato pastes

All of this rang up to a little over $38.00, and this will provide many, many meals for my family. Along with some of my pantry staples and freezer stash, I'll be able to create this week's meal with no additional shopping, save for my farm-purchased milk and eggs.

So, in preparation for this week's menu, I'll post the additional freezer/fridge/and pantry items I can use up:

Additional Fridge Items:
shrimp stock, sauerkraut, leftover coconut shrimp, ketchup, lacto-fermented salsa, stir-fried veggies and shrimp, peanut butter, beets, romaine, broccoli stalks, carrots, fil mjolk yogurt

kalamari-scallion-shrimp blend from TJ's, peppers, spinach, mangoes, berries, bacon

crispy almonds, dates, red lentils, navy beans, coconut, cashew butter, tomato paste, coconut milk, roasted plantain chips, coconut oil, olive oil, spices

What's in your fridge, freezer, and pantry? I challenge you to use as much as you have on hand this week to plan your menu! On Monday, I'll be posting my menu and hosting the Fridge and Pantry Cleanout once. I invite you to include a comment or send me a link to your post on how you used what you have on hand to form a nourishing, thrifty menu for your family!

Check out how other frugal folks did with their shopping this week over at Grocery Cart Challenge's Shopping Roundup!

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Friday's Frugal $5 Meals at Trader Joe's : Tuna Curry

The notion of "Frugal Meals" often conjures up images of Top Ramen and cheap hot dogs. Granted, it's easy to to default to rice and beans or pasta for a low-cost meal. What about those of us, who for health reasons, can't tolerate such foods? Is it possible to create a delicious, nourishing, grain-free and low carb frugal meal?

Kimi over at The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting Frugal Nourishing Meals Carnival. Since my regular Thursday post is thrifty meals for under $5, I thought I'd delay it a day to join the carnival. This week, I'm putting together a $5 meal from Trader Joe's. Erin, over at $5 Dinners, has agreed to me splitting my time (every other week) doing bargain meals for both New Seasons and Trader Joe's. Hopefully TJ's has more relevance to readers outside the Portland Metro Area! As I said in my first post about Trader Joe's, TJ's is a favorite organic, specialty grocery store, and there are definitely good deals to be found there for some amazing $5 dinners.

A few months ago, I happened upon a box of books labeled "Free". They belonged to our Weston A Price Foundation Chapter Leader, so I figured there were some good books worth checking out. I happened upon a nondescript Indian Cookbook entitled "Great Curries". I grabbed it because Indian Food is my favorite, and in all my years as a cook I'd never found an Indian Cookbook that was straightforward and easy to follow. This one was, and I still can't believe it was in the discard pile!

One of the first recipes I found in the book was a simple tuna curry, calling for 1 can of tuna, an onion, and some sliced bell peppers, among other things. The notion of transforming an ordinary can of tuna into an amazing curry was too good to be true, so I had to try it. It has now become one of our family's favorite suppers for it's ease of preparation, nutrition, and for its superb taste. My kids even devour it, thinking it's chicken!

The ingredients are simple, but using high-quality canned tuna is important. Most commercial tuna (such as Chicken of the Sea brand) contains soy (just read the label!) and a bunch of other stuff that's not tuna. The reason I love to shop at Trader Joe's for this meal is that Trader Joe's sells all the components for this meal (with the exception of the spices, which I'll mention later) at a great price. Their tongol tuna is very reasonably priced, and it contains only one thing: tongol tuna! Although bell peppers can be expensive, Trader Joe's sells a colorful assortment of red, yellow and green sliced bell peppers that can be found in the frozen section for $1.69, and I usually only use about 1/3 of the bag for this meal.

If you're not an Indian Food lover, don't be shy here. This curry has a unique taste all of its own; almost more like fajitas than a curry. If you are still skeptical, the spices can be easily modified to make more of a Mexican dish without adding much cost.

Now, about the spices. As you'll see below, it's ridiculous how cheap spices are, especially when purchased at Mt. Rose Herbs (a local, Eugene-based company that is awesome!). Now, I really did the math on these spices below, based on the prices at Mt. Rose Herbs. I always have this assortment of herbs on hand, no matter what, so I hardly factor spices into the cost of this dish! If you opt for a Mexican-only theme, just use a basic blend of cumin, oregano, and chili powder to make this into fajitas, and swap the lemon juice for lime juice.

It goes without saying that quarter's worth of spices can turn a very ordinary, thrifty meal into a feast! Think of all of the cuisine that comes from third-world countries; it's spicy and full of flavor where it may lack meat and fat. Herbs and spices not only add flavor, but can introduce many medicinal benefits as well!

Tuna fish Curry (from Great Curries by Manisha Kanani)
Serves 4

1 onion,thinly sliced ($0.25, I get these in bulk from Costco)

1/3 bag (or more, if desired) "Melange A Trois" frozen pepper blend ($0.56)

3 T coconut oil (from Mt. Rose Herbs, it's $0.39)

1/4 tsp cumin seeds ($0.03 from Mt. Rose Herbs)

1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.05 from Mt. Rose Herbs)

1/2 tsp coriander ($0.01 from Mt. Rose Herbs)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.004 from Mt. Rose Herbs)

1/4 tsp salt ($0.001 from Mt. Rose Herbs)

2 garlic cloves, crushed ($0.10)

12 oz can TJ's tongol tuna, drained ($1.39)

1 green chili, finely chopped ($0.10)

1-inch piece ginger root, grated ($0.15)

1/4 tsp garam masala (est. cost $0.25 using bulk herbs)

1 tsp lemon juice ($0.20)

2 T chopped cilantro ($0.15)


1)Heat coconut oil in the frying pan and fry the cumin seeds for two minutes, until they begin to sputter.

2)Add the powdered cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, and peppers.

3)Fry the vegetables, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes or until the onions have browned.

4)Stir in the tuna, chili, and ginger and cook for 5 minutes.

5) Add the garam masala, lemon juice, and cilantro and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve atop brown rice or, for a grain-free accompaniment, try my Grain-Free Indian flatbread.

For more nourishing, frugal meals, check out The Nourishing Gourmet. And for more Bargain Meals from Trader Joe's and New Seasons, check back every Thursday for our regularly-scheduled "Thrifty Thursdays"!

Update: This recipe is also being "swapped" on the awesome blog "Grocery Cart Challenge"! Go check out the other frugal recipes here!

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Frugal Foodie Resources

If you love good, nourishing food but don't have lots of excess money to spend, you've come to the right place here at Organic and Thrifty (formerly The Thrifty Oreganic). Where do you go for more frugal foodie inspiration?. Look no further than the Top 100 Frugal Food Blog list! I am honored to have been chosen to be a part of this amazing list, and am proud of my fellow amazing bloggers, Frugal Granola and The Nourishing Gourmet who made the list as well! Please take a moment to visit one of these amazing frugal foodie blogs today!

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Tips for Reheating Food without a Microwave

Soon after my full conversion to traditional food, I decided to get rid of my microwave for health reasons. There are conclusive studies showing the microwaves effect on food, but if nothing else I was eager to make some more space in my tiny kitchen for all of the real food cooking I was about to begin doing!.

Living without a microwave is not as complicated as one might imagine. Our grandmothers certainly did it just fine! In my opinion, the main reason to use a microwave is to reheat leftovers. After the novelty of "cooking everything in the microwave" wore off in the late 80's, we all realized that the texture of most things, when cooked in the micro, was far less superior. Then the microwave was relegated to the job of heating up leftovers, which can be done effectively in some other ways:

The toaster oven.

Not only cheaper and more space-efficient, the toaster oven is dual-purpose in that it can toast bagels and bread, and it can reheat small, lunch-sized containers of leftovers. I also cook bacon in my toaster oven and make dulse chips for quick, nourishing snacks for my kids. The other great thing about the toaster oven is that it saves on energy (compared to the stove or conventional oven). And while it can't have your food done in 30 seconds, if you can wait 5-10 minutes, you'll usually have your meal reheated sufficiently and with a far superior texture. Case in point: have you ever eaten pizza reheated in the microwave?

Tips for reheating in a toaster oven:

1) Store your leftovers in pyrex glass containers to make heating up leftovers quick, as these containers fit nicely into the toaster oven.

2) Cover your dish loosely with foil to avoid burning the top of the meal. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes. Check thereafter every 5 minutes until heated to your liking.

3) When cooking bacon, place uncooked bacon on the wire rack on top of the baking sheet that comes with your toaster oven. Cook the bacon according to package directions and you will have drained bacon and all of the drippings that can be saved!

Tips for Leftover Makeovers:

1) In addition to toaster ovens, one great way to reheat leftovers is to incorporate them somehow into another meal. My favorite way is to combine leftover meats in with homemade bone broth and veggies (leftover or not) to make a soup. Season to taste as you like.

2) Here are some of my favorite, quick and easy soup ideas that lend themselves to leftover "makeovers".

3) Leftover grains or porridge can be mixed with eggs and choice of seasonings, then fried in butter or lard for "fried mush".

4) Leftover rice tastes great "refried" with egg, leftover meat chunks, onions, and peas for a simple Asian-inspired fried rice. Try my leftover sneaky liver rice for a nutrient-dense, thrifty one-pot meal!

5) If you have leftover baked potatoes, chop them up and saute briefly in butter, bacon drippings, or coconut oil and season with your favorite blend of salt and spices for "home fries". Baked potatoes also blend well with chicken stock and fresh herbs to make a creamy soup.

6) Rachel, the Healthy Cooking Coach, enlightened me as to how delicious roasted veggies are cold on a bed of salad greens! No reheating required!

Reheating liquids without a microwave:

A hot water bath works very well for reheating liquids without a microwave. Fill a 2-quart saucepan about half full with water. Add your liquid, in its own glass container, to the saucepan and gradually heat the water to almost a rolling boil. Your liquid should be warm enough before it begins boiling, so check for your preferred temperature. This works great for softening peanut butter that might have gotten too hard in the fridge as well!

This is what works for me, and hopefully this post has been helpful in demystifying the microwave-free kitchen! Please visit Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more inspiring traditional kitchen tips in this week's Real Food Wednesday Carnival!

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Low Carb and Lenten: Shrimp & Avocado Salad

Since we are in Lent, for the next 6 weeks I'm going to devote Tuesday's 5 Dollar Dinners posts to thrifty, low-carb meals that are also Lenten. This exotic, yet simple salad was so delicious that it was hard to believe it was really fast-friendly!

Last week's specials at Fred Meyer were the inspiration for this meal:

Shrimp & Avocado Salad:

4 cups organic salad greens ($.75, I buy Earth Bound from Costco and this lasts us for weeks!)
1/2 large avocado, cubed ($0.75 last week at Fred's)
1/2 lb Oregon Shrimp Meat ($2.00 special at Fred's last week)
4 scallions, chopped ($0.25)

Total Cost for Salad: $3.75 for 4 main-dish salads.


1/8 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($0.25)
1/4 cup rice vinegar ($0.27)
2 T raw honey (I buy it in bulk from Azure Standard, $0.18)
2 T unpasteurized soy sauce or tamari ($0.26), or more to taste
1/2 tsp grated ginger ($0.10)
1 clove garlic, minced ($0.07)

Dressing Total: $1.03 for 1 cup of dressing


For salad, layer the ingredients on a platter, in order listed above.

For dressing, whirl all ingredients in the blender and pour over salad. Adjust soy sauce to taste.

Total cost of meal: $4.78!

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for more Low Carb, Lenten meals under $5! If you have any recipe ideas to share, or have a recipe you'd like to see "Lentenized" or "Low-Carbized" please leave a comment! I need some ideas too!

Photo credit.

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Menu Plan Monday: Fridge & Pantry Cleanout

This week is considered "clean week" for Orthodox Christians. Strictly speaking, the Orthodox abstain from meat, dairy, eggs, and fish for the next 40 days in observance of Lent. Seafood with no backbone is allowed throughout, such as mussels, shrimp, oysters, calamari. Since these are very nutrient dense, this is good news for fasting. Unfortunately, for those of us who don't live in the Mediterranean, these can be a bit pricey. The challenge this week is to not only use what I have and clean out my fridge & pantry, but to also keep things nutrient-dense and low-cost.

Fasting while also being grain-free is a big challenge, since most vegans/vegetarians rely heavily on grains for protein and calories. I'm going to rely heavily on vegetables, seafood, and good fats to nourish us during this period while still keeping the spirit of the fast. Because of our family's dietary conditions (my weak adrenals and thyroid issues, Kirsten's need for GAPS, etc.) I am allowing some animal fats, dairy, and eggs for their good fats. I tend to get very weak and stress my thyroid adrenals when I go strict vegan, and since I'm still nursing, I'm allowing myself this dispensation. Not to sound all legalistic, but I feel I should explain myself in case any of my fellow Orthodox readers find my vegetarian menus a "stumbling block. St. Paul says it best when he says:

"But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we
eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed
lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are
-1 Corinthians 8:8-13, 9:1-2

Click here for my nutritional tips on fasting with traditional nutrition principles.

Now, for the fridge and pantry cleanout I'm going to list some notable items I have on hand and use them:

leftover tunafish curry, cortido, carrots, 1.5#, parsley, cauliflower (2 heads),
salad greens, peanut butter and almond butter, grapes, 1 zucchini, beets, eggs, leftover vegetable soup, yogurt (goat & cow fil mjolk)

spinach, corn, walnuts, bacon, peppers, chicken makhani, beef broth, walnuts, salmon , cod, shrimp

coconut, dates, almonds, lentils (red & brown), navy beans, sea veggies such as kelp, arame, wakame, dulse

eggs, fruit, leftover muffins
L: leftover tuna curry,
D: Asian shrimp & veggie stir-fry w/ sea veggies

B: carrot/fruit smoothies & coconut honey muffins
L: steamed broccoli w/butter, chicken makhani (for the kids)
D: creamy veggie soup, high-enzyme salad(w/avocado), salmon

B: peanut butter squash brownies, apples, milk
L: sardines, cheese, celery sticks, miso soup
D: navy bean & spinach soup (for Church potluck)

B: turkey breakfast sausages (kids); green berry fil mjolk smoothies
L: creamy coconut-carrot-ginger soup
D: salmon steaks, salad greens, roasted beet salad

B: apple-cinnamon latkes
L: salad (me) hot dogs (kids)
D: honey-baked lentils, green salad

B: fil mjolk smoothies
L: leftovers
D: spinach dal, carrot-ginger curry, chicken makhani (kids)

D: salmon cakes (from leftover salmon) with roasted cauliflower, salad greens

For more menu-planning inspiration, visit The Organizing Junkie.

Fridge & Pantry Cleanout Participants:

Hartke is Online!
Ranee @ Arabian Knits (Lenten)
Country Lady @ Bountiful Storage

You're Next!

If you would like to participate in the
Fridge & Pantry Cleanout, please send me a link to your post listing how you used what you had on hand to create a nourishing meal plan or leave a comment! I'm always looking for inspiration!

Come back Tuesday for my Bargain Meal of the week, which is a thrifty, low-carb, nutrient-dense, meal!

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