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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Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu is going to be a bit of a crap shoot since we just got back into town late last night (read: early this Morning) from Santa Rosa, CA. Thankfully we managed to eat well while on the road (thanks to a cooler full of homemade stuff and a local Trader Joe's) but it means that we're back home to an empty (clean!) fridge (thanks, honey!!!!) So here's what I'm thinking:

One of the great things about menu planning is that when you're feeling a little less than motivated, you can look back to old menu plans and get some inspiration. The following menu plan is rather "recycled" from early this past Lent. (Please note we do a modified fast due to family allergies, allowing some eggs, fish, and dairy) It will work for this week as well:

eggs, fruit (strawberries and bananas)
L: me: salad, kids: chicken makhani (from freezer)
D: salmon steaks w/ tahini tarter sauce and roasted asparagus

B: green smoothies and coconut flour blueberry muffins
L: broccoli/carrot/onion saute
D: creamy, veggie soup, high-enzyme salad(w/avocado)

B: squash pudding
L: sardines, cheese, celery sticks
D: tuna curry w/ cauliflower "rice" pilaf

B: eggs & veggies
L: leftover tuna curry
D: Coconut fish chowder (using leftover salmon), salad

B: nut butter pancakes, green smoothies
L: salad (me) hot dogs (kids)
D: navy bean chili

B: smoothies
L: leftover soup
D: cheese & veggie pizza w/ sunflower seed crust

For more menu planning inspiration, visit The Organizing Junkie!

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Fighting the Food Giants?

Sometimes buying organic isn't all that it's cracked up to be. There are some really great organic products out there....but do you know who owns them? Are they really locally-owned and produced? Or are they basically the same as every other product out there?

The image above shows who owns some of the popular organic products you'll find in your local health food store. For a larger image, click here. Any surprises? I sure was shocked when I saw this chart; but it just goes to show that it's still best to support local farms and agriculture and to try to do as much as you can on your own!

P.S. I'll be back to my "regularly-scheduled" posts in a few weeks, as I'm currently away on a family vacation! Our computer (at home) is fixed now, so I should be up and running soon!

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