1.31.2009

Grain-Free Indian Flatbread

You know how sometimes you google a recipe you want to find and it's a bust? Well, that happened tonight; I wanted grain-free Indian Naan (a tall order, I know...but surely someone in the great blogosphere had done it?) Alas, no luck. So, in the absence of a recipe, I modified a grain-free "skillet bread" recipe and came up with a delicous, grain-free, savory Indian flatbread to accompany a delicious, frugal, and nourishing curry I'd made.

These were seriously so delicous that they were gone before the camera could capture them. The ingredients were simple and they came together rather quickly:

Non-Naan (with variations)

1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup coconut milk
1.5 tsp olive oil
1 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
ghee or coconut oil for frying

In small bowl, whisk together the egg, baking soda, coconut milk, and olive oil until frothy.

Meanwhile, melt about 1 Tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil in a skillet. When ready to fry the bread, mix the almond flour and salt into the wet mixture and pour onto hot skillet, like pancakes.

For Garlic-Onion Flatbread:

Saute the following in ghee or coconut oil until soft:

1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds (optional)

Remove from pan. Proceed with recipe above. After batter is mixed, add in:

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Enjoy with a grain-free meal of chicken curry with a curried vegetable, such as cauliflower!

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1.26.2009

GAPS Birthday Party Rundown



A blur of activity and fun, that was my daughter's 4th birthday party. It came together surprisingly simply; and for that I am very thankful, in spite of my lofty aspirations for it being totally GAPS-friendly and healthy (we are following a modified GAPS diet; my daughter tolerates raw dairy and starchy veggies fine, so some are included here). I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on how to successfully pull off a simple, nourishing birthday party!

The biggest thing is keep it simple. Simple can be nourishing and fun! The challenge was to keep it GAPS-friendly and yet appealing to 3-5 year olds. The verdict? Yep! I think we did it!

The menu?

Fruit Tray (Store-bought by my parents.)

Veggie Tray (Store-bought by Karl's parents.)

Kettle Chips (as good as the potato chip gets, yet still not GAPS-friendly. Kirsten had her fair share...oh well, it's her birthday!)

Honey Mustard Chicken Drumsticks:

2 Thumbs Up

Delicious, easy to prepare, inexpensive to purchase. Marinated overnight so there was little to do in the morning. Kids love "Chicken on the Bone" almost as much as they love Chicken Nuggets!

Bonus: Collected everyone's chicken bones and boiled them up to make some rich stock!

Crock-Pot Green Beans:

2 Thumbs Up

Easy, Easy, Easy. Should have started them a little earlier. Grabbed a bag of Bybee's Organic Green Beans from Costco, threw half a bag in the Crock Pot along with 2 cans of Amy's Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup (this is NOT Gaps Legal, next time I'll use homemade) with garlic powder, salt, pepper...cooked for a few hours.

Salad: Simply Romaine w/ a deliciously rich, nourishing Caesar Dressing (thanks to my mother-in-law for lovingly preparing and bringing this!)

2 Thumbs Up

Went really well with the chicken! Soooo flavorful!

Dessert:

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream & Homemade Vegan Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

2 Thumbs Up

Easy to make ahead of time, just mix ingredients and refrigerate several hours.

Bonus: The kids LOVED helping churn the ice cream! Grandpa John was so nice to "man" the ice cream station and finish the churning while we opened presents. By the time we were done, so was the ice cream! It was absolutely delicious!

Coconut Flour Honey "Cupcakes" (they were really just the muffin recipe)

2 Thumbs Up

Frosted simply with Whipped Cream. Very easy to make ahead of time.

Beverages:

Iced Mango-Passionfruit (Stash Brand) Herbal Tea w/ Stevia.
Two Thumbs Up

This tasted really good, and it was so easy! I just boiled water, added 8 tea bags, iced it, added stevia and some frozen mangoes from Trader Joe's.

Activities:

Simple. The party took place in our Condo's Rec Room; a wide open 70's era room with couches, a large table, and plenty of seating and open space.

I set up areas for kids to just play and do what they wanted. There was a play-doh table with several containers of play-doh (from the Dollar Tree) and tools for cutting and shaping the play-doh. There was an area set up with nail polish for manicures and pedicures (thanks, Aunt Teresa for taking that station!). I also brought up the bin of dress-up clothes for the kids to play with, along with Kirsten's doll house, some dolls, and clothes. There was also a puzzle table. There were also plenty of balloons and space to run around and have "balloon fights".

All in all, there were 5 little girls and 2 boys (my son and another brother of one of Kirsten's friends). Everyone had a pretty good time it seemed, especially the birthday girl.

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GAPS Menus Plan: Grain-free

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are going back to the GAPS diet for my daughter. Since GAPS is a healthy way of eating anyway, we're all going to eat GAPS. Thankfully, I've had no difficulty finding delicious meals to cook. I've been using Rachel Albert-Matesz's The Garden of Eating recipe book as a guide this past few weeks and every single dish I've made is absolutely delicious and satiating! And, to boot, I've lost 2 pounds!

So last week we spent close $45 on produce at Uncle Paul's...but I got a TON. So much, in fact, that this week my only grocery list item is "eggs". So my plan is to use what I have in the veggie bin: collards, carrots, cabbage, avocados, acorn squash, sweet potatoes (I know, not technically GAPS legal), broccoli, cauliflower, beets, brussels sprounts, turnips, etc.

Monday:

Breakfast: leftover coconut honey muffins, goat yogurt w/ stevia and cinnamon, leftover fruit from birthday party.

Lunch: leftover fish & leftover green beans, nitrate-free hot dogs for kids

Dinner: mashed sweet potatoes w/ lime, turkey (freezer) reheated in homemade BBQ sauce, mustard-glazed broccoli

Tuesday:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs w/ herbs, bacon, apples w/ cinnamon

Lunch: leftover BBQ turkey, mashed potatoes, broccoli, salad

Dinner: Brisket, salad (birthday dinner for my brother!)

Wednesday:

Breakfast:tropical fruit "ambrosia" in coconut milk, fish roe cakes

Lunch: Miso soup w/ sea veggies, sauteed collards

Dinner: tuna curry, curried cauliflower, mangoes

Thursday:

Breakfast: egg scramble w/ leftover collards, fruit

Lunch: liverwurst, veggies, salad, squash brownies

Dinner: Turkey & Vegetable Soup, roasted root veggies

Friday:

Breakfast: Almond Flour Pancakes

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: Brazillian Shrimp Stew

Saturday:

Breakfast: Smoothies (goat kefir)

Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: Leftovers

Sunday:

Dinner: sloppy joes

For more intriguing and inspiring menu plans, visit The Organizing Junkie!

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1.24.2009

A GAPS Birthday Party Plan:


This past week, I've been busy planning and cooking for my daughter's fourth birthday party. I'm so excited about this delicious, simple, nourishing plan! I'll share the plan, and give the "follow-up report" (with recipes!) later this week. The party is Sunday...wish me luck as I check off my list all the items to do! Read on to see the menu and what I've got left to do.

This year, I'm doing more of a meal since her birthday is on a Sunday. After church, we'll gather at our condo's community rec room and feast on the following:

*Honey-Mustard Drumsticks
*Green Beans w/ Lemon and Shallots
*Green Salad (courtesy of my in-laws)
*Veggie Tray with Dip (courtesy of my other in-laws)
*Herbal Tea "Punch"
*Wine
*Coconut Flour Cupcakes
*Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
*Homemade Vegan Chocolate-Peppermint "Ice Dream" (made w/ coconut milk!)
Simple, but good. So far I've got the ice cream prepped, and Saturday night I'll marinate the drumsticks and bake the cupcakes. To keep it simple, I'm just going to "frost" them with whipped cream. Yum! I sure hope my daughter likes it! I'll keep you posted.

As for the party, we've got princess on the mind. We'll have a doll house area set up, a pedicure station, a play-doh table, and a dress-up area. For party favors, my daughter is handing out custom-designed fruit leathers (i.e. she decorates them with stickers for each guest uniquely!).Here's hoping that by the end of the day we'll have well-nourished, happy (rather than hyper) children who've enjoyed a creative day of play and good food!





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Quick Update: Back to Gaps

This is a very long story, which I will explain in an upcoming post, but suffice to say, we are going back to the GAPS diet. Why? Well, I recently switched naturopaths. I found one who is awesome; he is totally on the same page as far as native nutrition/Weston Price and has a very comprehensive approach to healing.

Anyway, it was a really great experience to see him and to have him work with my son and daughter . I received confirmation on what I knew all along: wheat wreaks havoc on my daughter's (as well as my) system. My son, after all of the same tests done on dd and I, came out spotless with no need for anything but what we're already doing nutritionally! That felt really good, knowing that he's nice and hardy and I can just keep doing what I'm doing.

Is it any coincidence that during his pregnancy and pre-conception, I had made major changes to my diet, including a greatly reduced sugar intake, reduced gluten intake, and increased fermented, grass-fed, raw "whole foods"? I had also started including coconut oil in my due to the advice of this great book, Eat Fat Lose Fat. I greatly credit real food (as God intended it) in my swift recovery from a c-section (unfortunately the food couldn't correct my pelvic deformity that rendered my children unable to properly descend and be born normally!)

My doctor says that 75-90% of illness if diet-based. The bulk of his protocal is nutritional (adopting a WAP diet) and any of the supplements prescribed are food-based/herbal. He found mercury and wheat to be two things that were affecting my daughter's neurological system. It makes total sense, based on her health history (you can read the backstory here) and see what lead us to GAPS, which is exactly what the good Dr. prescribed for her!

So, beginning this week (I didn't post my menu this week, but it was total GAPS) we were back on GAPS and it was good! We were basically GAPS before, but we did include some millet/quinoa a few times a week. Now we're just scaling back to the meat, veggies, and goat milk dairy products. Luckily I have several GAPS meal plans and some delicous recipes, such as these grain-free cookies to look back on!



In upcoming posts, I'll be sharing more about our family's nutritional healing journey, and give more specifics on my daughter's "health puzzle". More grain-free, GAPS-friendly recipes are coming, along with GAPS menu plans that even the pickiest toddlers will eat!

For further GAPS menus, check out my archives:

GAPS menu week#1 : fall
GAPS menu week #2: early fall


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1.21.2009

Nourishing Fast, Frugal & Freezer-Friendly Soups!



It's wintertime, which means soup is a mainstay at our house. I find soups to be the gold star winner for fast, frugal, and freezer-friendly. Sceptics may doubt that a soup can truly be a filling meal, but as my friend Jude said recently after eating a bowl of my homemade, from-scratch soup: "I feel like my insides are alive!" I often serve soup alone or with basically sauerkraut and creme fraiche. Read on for some tips and recipes on fast, easy, and frugal soups:


Soups are easy. They are forgiving. That's what I want you to take away from this post. You can make a soup that's worth your while; i.e., it will fill you up at dinner.

What makes these fast is that they can be whipped together in a very short time (provided you have done a minimal amount of prep and have the ingredients on hand). I try to be frugal with my soups and plan them into my weekly meal plan following some leftover-intensive meals. So, if I know I'm making a roast, steak, chicken, rice, etc. I anticipate leftovers and build them into the soup recipe. Even leftover veggies from a previous meal can be thrown in as is or pureed to form a thick, vegetable-based soup broth!

Here's my basic formula for a 4-step main-dish soup:

1) 2 Quarts Homemade chicken, beef, or fish stock, or water (more flavorful soups come from using homemade stock, which is very easy. I will devote a whole post to this in the future, but suffice to say, if all you can do is boil some leftover bones for 6 hours in a pan of water with a splash of vinegar and an onion, you'll have a workable soup base. We'll move on to more "advance stock options" in a future post!

2) 1-2 cups of something "meaty": Leftover red meat or chicken make delicious soups. Lentils or white beans also add a lot of "meat" to a soup. Do make sure, if using beans, to soak them overnight in a little lemon juice to help deactivate enzyme blockers. (Beans/legumes: 1 cup, Meat: 2+ cups)

3) Add 3-4 cups of veggies: As I mentioned above, choose one or more veggies based on what you have on hand (be frugal, use what you have!). Be creative! Broccoli and chicken can be great together! Using red meat? Match it with some red-skinned potatoes, carrots, and celery for a beef stew! Use leftovers or fresh; both will tenderize in no time!

Hint: The blend of celery, carrots, and onions is magical in soups. These three seem to give that classic, rich "soup base" that we all love and will stand in if you aren't using homemade meat/chicken broth.

4) Season to your heart's content: Decide what "taste" you're going for. For me, it's usually a choice between Indian (turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon,ginger), Mexican (cumin, oregano, coriander, chili pepper, garlic powder) or Asian (soy sauce, miso, or Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste, Coconut Milk). Sea salt for all of the above.


So, here's my basic process:

1) Boil Stock.

2) Add meat (if uncooked, allow to boil for 10 min. if already cooked, add with veggies) or beans/legumes.

3) Add veggies.

4) When veggies are tender, add seasonings to taste.

Here are some basic outlines I love:

1) Mexican Soup:

Stock Type: Chicken
Meat: Chicken (leftover from a roasted chicken, preferably)
Veggies: black beans, corn, cilantro, red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions
Seasonings: cumin, oregano, coriander, chili pepper, garlic powder
Bonus: tomato paste

2) Thai Coconut Soup

Stock Type: Beef
Meat: Leftover steak or roast beef
Veggies: red pepper, onion, corn, broccoli
Seasonings: Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (about 1-2 tsp, depending upon taste)
Bonus: 1 can of coconut milk

3) Easy Lentil Soup

Stock Type: Vegetable (for fasting days) or just water
Meat: Lentils, red or green
Veggies: onions, carrots, garlic (lots of cloves!), celery, spinach
Seasonings: Just salt, but sometimes curry powder
Bonus: 1 can tomato paste.

Yield: All of these recipes seem to unfailingly yeild plenty of soup for 2 or 3 more meals. I always put any leftovers in old yogurt containers in the freezer. Soup has an amazing way of actually improving its flavor over time, so you'll be in for a treat when you pull these out of the freezer to enjoy!

Also, these soups have the added nutritional advantages of being rich in easily aborbably minerals and vitamins, protein, and healthy vegetables! The variety of spices you use can also be somewhat medicinal; and the fact that they are warm is balancing for our bodies in the winter.

Frugal menu planning tip: Try to plan 2-3 soups into your weekly meal plan (choice from the variety offered above, or create your own!) Once you have a good freezer stash, you can quickly access a healthy soup for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast! These are truly nourishing, but also very light on the budget.


In Conclusion: Obviously this post is not the end-all be-all of soup recipes; it's just my offering for fast, freezer-friendly , tried-and true simple to make soups. Of course there are much more gourmet soups, but I'll save those for another post!

This post has been part of two carnivals this week; one featuring Freezer-Friendly Nourishing Food and one featuring Real Fast Food. Please visit Passionate Homemaking and Kelly the Kitchen Kop, respectively, to see more Fast and Freezer-Friendly meal ideas!

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1.20.2009

If I Were Secretary of Agriculture.....

"The 1985 Farm Bill paid farmers not to farm 61 million acres, which is an area equal to Ohio, Indiana, and half of Illinois. The amount we've spent on farm subsidies from 1980-1990 is enough to buy all the farms in 33 states" --paraphrase by P.J. O'Rourke of Dick Armey's Moscow on the Mississippi: America's Soviet-Style Farm Policy

Disturbing? How about this one:

P.J. O'Rourke also quotes, back in 1990:

"While the USDA is spending 10 billion dollars per year to increase farm income, the same government agency is spending 20 billion dollars per year to make food affordable to poor people through the food stamp program."

He goes on to point out the obvious: something's terribly wrong with this picture. Now, maybe I'm simplistic, maybe I'm not a policy-making bureaucrat, but um, let's see: Hungry People; Farmers who are being paid not to farm their land. Wow. Does it take a degree from Harvard Law to put two and two together?

Why in the world do we pay farmers not to grow corn and soybeans (two crops that are largely genetically modified and contribute to the junk-food industry (not to mention disease-causing "industry") even more than any other? Why can't the government subsidize farmers who grow organic food and who use sustainable practices, and provide "farm vouchers" in addition to food stamps (or instead?) for purchasing pasture-raised milk, meat and eggs, and organic veggies?

[curtsy, step off soap box, exit stage left]

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1.13.2009

Real Food on a Budget: Gluten-Free Waffles



One of the initial frustrations some people experience when they give up gluten is the seemingly complicated amount of work and ingredients required to make simple favorites, such as bread, muffins, waffles, or pancakes. Thankfully, there are ways to almost effortlessly create gluten-free alternatives with just about a dollar's worth of ingredients.

Time and money are the two things we usually don't have enough of. In order to be a Thrifty Oreganic, one must need to have a decent amount of time in order to save money by not resorting to convenience foods. In this case, however, you can make these delicious waffles without a lot of either!


I want to thank Lindsay over at Passionate Homemaking for initially introducing me to this recipe. The original recipe was developed by Sue Gregg but Lindsay sort of "demystified" it for me.

Making this recipe gluten free was easy enough. Rice and millet worked really well in this recipe. Unfortunately, I don't think my daughter tolerates rice very well these days so I've had to find an alternative. Quinoa was a flop, buckwheat was okay, but better (in my opinion) as a pancake, and oats are so controversial in terms of gluten that I avoided them altogether.

Recently, however, I think I came up with the best recipe ever! I used a blend of sorghum grain (shown below; you can order it through The Thrifty Oreganic Store if you can't find it locally)


and millet and these made the most fluffy, tasty waffles I've ever made (and I'd been tweeking with this recipe for a long time now!)

This recipe couldn't be easier or healthier. It contains simply whole, uncooked grains blended with yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, or some acid medium with a few other household ingredients! No sugar, refined flour, or hydrogenated oils or any additives.

Blender Waffles or Pancakes

The night before you want to eat the waffles, assemble the following ingredients and place them in your blender:

1) 1.5 cups buttermilk, kefir, or coconut milk (if using coconut milk, add 1 TBS apple cidar vinegar. You won't taste it, don' t worry)

2) 2 TBS Certified Organic, Coconut Oil, Expeller Pressed, 1 Gallon
3) 1 tsp vanilla extract
4) 3/4 cup sorghum grain (berries) and 3/4 cup millet (or grains of choice; any whole, uncooked grains will do!)

Blend on high for several minutes until the batter is no longer "grainy". It may take up to 3 minutes depending upon your machine. Look for a "vortex" in the middle of the blender while the batter is swirling. This is important. If you don't see one, just add a little more liquid.

Cover your blender and let the mixture sit overnight, or for 12-24 hours. This allows for the enzyme inhibitors to break down so that the grains are more easily digested.

In the morning, preheat your waffle iron.Add 1 egg to the batter and blend for 1 minute. If it looks like you need to add more liquid to achieve a vortex, do so.

Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl:
1) 2 tsp baking powder
2) 1/2 tsp baking soda
3) 1 tsp sea salt

All at once, add the following mixture to your blender while it is running to ensure quick, efficient assimilation.

Pour batter into waffle iron as per your waffle iron's instructions. Enjoy!

This usually makes 12 waffles for our family, which is more than enough for about 3 breakfasts. These reheat superbly, and because they are filled with whole, unprocessed grains, healthy kefir, and coconut oil, they are rather filling!

Serve with grass-fed butter and real maple syrup for a delicous breakfast. Berries and whipped raw cream are delicious too!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays: Real Food on a Budget, hosted by Cheeseslave. For more articles on being Thrifty and Oreganic, please feel free to visit archives or subscribe because that's what this blog is all about!!!!

Related articles:


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1.11.2009

Menu Plan Monday : Under $15 Challenge


This week I'm further challenging myself (down over 50% from last week's spending!). It turns out that my $40 last week got me more than enough to spread through this week. This week I also thought I'd do something kind of fun with my menu. I'm going to show you exactly what I have in the fridge (excluding milk and condiments), and then you can see exactly how I use it!



  • T-Bone Steak, defrosted

  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 1/2 butternut squash, cooked

  • 1 cabbage

  • 2 bags carrots

  • 3 head broccoli

  • leftover red lentil stew

  • raw cheddar

  • turkey broth

  • miso

  • zucchini (3)

  • eggs

  • smoked salmon

  • coconut flour zucchini bread

  • liverwurst

  • chicken-apple sausage

Read on to see how these will be used in my Under $15 menu!

Monday:
B: squash pudding "pie", smoked salmon scramble
L: leftover red lentil soup, carrot sticks, raw cheese
D: T-bone steak with sauteed red peppers, onions, and broccoli

Tuesday:
B: coconut flour zucchini bread
L: liverwurst slices, raw cheese, pickles, carrot sticks
D: Sausage & Veggie Stir-Fry

Wednesday:
B: Coconut Tapioca Pudding (w/ stevia and agave)
L: Miso Seaweed Soup in broth
D: Peruvian Quinoa Soup ( uses basically all the veggies and then some!)

Thursday:
B: kefir smoothies and coconut bread w/ peanut butter
L : sauteed green beans, onions, and bacon
D: zucchini-beef bake

Friday:
B: gluten-free waffles (come back on Wednesday if you'd like to see this recipe!)
L: leftover Quinoa Soup
D: vegetarian white bean chili

Saturday:
B: smoothies
L: leftovers
D: spaghetti squash casserole

Sunday:
D: leftover vegetarian soup and tortilla chips

I only have 4 ingredients on my shopping list for this menu since I'm using everything that I have. The ingredients all together total probably $3.50 at the most! I'm fortunate to have a well-stocked pantry and freezer , otherwise I wouldn't expect anyone to be able to spend $3.50 a week on food!

For more diverse menu plans, please visit The Organizing Junkie!

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Community-Supported Agriculture


Back in April, and throughout last summer, I talked all about my lovely CSA through Sun Gold Farm. A CSA is Community-Supported Agriculture and it is an ultra-local way of getting quality food directly from the farm. This is just a friendly reminder to begin thinking about possibly joining a CSA, because chances are, sign-ups are already beginning and when spring comes around chances are it will be too late!



According to LocalHarvest.org, a non-profit organization committed for furthering the local food movement and to connecting people with the farmers who grow their food, a CSA is:

"... a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season"

On the Local Harvest web page, you can type in your zip code and find a list of the nearest CSAs! All I can say is have fun, because you will be amazed at what exists right in your back yard that you don't even know about!



For example, Pumpkin Ridge Gardens, just a few miles west of my home, (and heretofore unknown to me!) offers a 52 week subscription to their CSA which includes home deliveries!! The list of harvest offerings is huge, and it includes eggs!


Wouldn't you know, their subscription is full!



I say, good for them, and good for every one of their members.


Not to be too doomsday, but with the economy "hemorrhaging" (to borrow the phrase on the front page of our paper today) now is as good a time as any to wean from your reliance upon food shipped in from afar and make a connection with a local, committed farmer.



You won't be disappointed!


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1.10.2009

My Next Vehicle: A Bakfiet


I really want one of these bikes! A Bakfiet is a Dutch bike that is designed so that you can carry cargo (or children, in my case!) Why do I want one so badly?

I have very crunchy dreams of owning a goat or two, some chickens, and growing a pretty-much self-sufficient garden on my little plot of urban land. Basically, I want continually transition to a more ultralocal existence. By gradually reducing our dependence on our car, we can certainly save money, reduce environmental emissions, get more outside time, exercise, and take life just a little bit slower. Besides, I live within biking distance to 90% of the places I need to go. The other 9% are accessible by our local transit, and for the other 1%, well, there's flexcar.

I have the luxery of living in Portland, a very bike-friendly town. Although it's a tad on the hilly side, I figure that between the bus, the train, and a bike, I can get almost anywhere I would need to go. And the places I couldn't get to, well, maybe I'd just have to simplify!

A bakfiet would be an ideal way to get around town with little kids. I am one who spends every day (once the weather gets warmer) outside walking to the store, the library, the park, to church, etc. I really enjoy walking but my kids are at that in-between age where they get pretty tired of the stroller after a while, but they slow me down too much to walk with me. There are also many places I could go on a bike that are just a tad bit too far to walk to. The library and the farmer's market are two great examples. On a bike, it would be a breeze. On foot, it's just a little too much. Ergo, my desire for a bakfiet.

Everything I'd heard about other forms of bringing children on a bike sounded dangerous. Those bike trailers just scare me. The seats mounted on the back (forget that they only hold one kid) seem like they would be harder to balance. I've seen those seats you can mount in front of the handlebars and those are really cool. I wonder if you could have one in the front and a rear seat as well???!?!?!

Obviously the bakfiet (and biking in general) have some major drawbacks. First, the price tag. Not a Thrifty Oreganic deal, at just under $3000 a piece. Yikes!!!! The other reason it's *probably* not worth the money given the noticable lack of good weather we have in Oregon. It's usefulness (I know, I'm a wimp!) would be limited to late spring, summer, and early fall.

The thing is, with that kind of a price tag we would have to sell our car and be carless to justify it. I haven't really thought through this enough, but in the coming weeks I'm going to start taking a good, hard look at my driving and try to discern what is truly necessary and what is pure recreation. Those gas prices are slowly creeping back up.......sigh.

So, how can I "use what I have" and get the same benefits as a Bakfiet? I do have a bike (it has a nifty basket on it!) and I could probably find some creative ways to safely tow a couple of kids with the one that I have. I have these crazy thoughts of trying to somehow rig my double jogger

up to a bike. (Aunt Helen, if you're reading this, can you ask Michael to work on something like this for me?!??! He he he). I'm sure there's got to be a way.....

If any of you readers are bike-riders-with-children, how do you do it? What's the safest? Any tips would be much appreciated!



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Two Cookbooks I Wish I'd Written

I have great aspirations of someday compiling enough original thoughts to be published into book form. Perhaps I'll call it "The Thrifty Oreganic: How to Live Cheaply While Eating Rich" or some such thing.

Two of my previous ideas for cookbooks have already been written, and I've got to say I wish I had thought of the idea first! Thankfully, I can benefit from the hard work that others have put in and save my creative energy for the above-mentioned book. *wink*

The first book I've enjoyed (and wish I'd written) is called Simply in Season.



This book comes from the trusted Mennonite World Community cookbook series (including More with Less, another great book) and is written totally by season. The recipe chapters are, simply, Spring, Summer, etc. The book is, above all else, inspirational. Because it's not completely gluten-free (although most recipes are) I can't rely upon it for baking or dessert ideas, but that's OK. I know how to modify. The really great thing about this book is that relies upon simple, whole food ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. Emphasizing local, organic dairy and produce, this book is, as its title suggests, simple!!!

Along with its simplicity, Simply In Season offers a variety of internationally-inspired meals that are indeed very thrifty. Many of the meals can be compiled for pennies per serving. Slight modifications need to be made in order to make the book more in line with Weston A Price principles, (such as soaking flour).

Another great thing about this cookbook is that it offers many tips and resources for converting to a more local, sustainable way of eating. Interspersed throughout the recipes are beautiful lines of poetry penned by various folks who have worked with or contributed to the Mennonite Cookbook effort. I love the appreciation the Mennonites have for the spiritual aspect of food. The Mennonites, in my book, are the original "Real Foodies" (they've been green and sustainable all along; before it was hip!) For more information on Simply In Season you can go the the blog.

Another book I recently discovered was The Ice Dream Cookbook , by Rachel Albert-Matesz. Rachel is also known as The Healthy Cooking Coach. A trained chef, Rachel is passionate about teaching others how to incorporate the principles of healthy eating into their lives.




All of Rachel's recipes are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free. (She supports the use of raw dairy, but since that's not accessible to everyone she generally supports a dairy-free diet). Anyway, this cookbook is full of delicious, nourishing recipes for "Ice Dream" which is Rachel's version of ice cream using coconut milk. She has pages and pages of delicious, unique recipes for her frozen dessert, along with a whole chapter on healthy sauces as well as gluten-free treats to round out any delicious dinner party.

This cookbook was given to me by a friend who happened to acquire two copies, and I am so thankful for it! It couldn't have come at a better time; my daughter's 4th birthday is a few weeks away and now I have a HUGE resource of healthy, nourishing recipes I can choose from to have for her!

Her cookbook contains all the elements that I use when I make treats: stevia, agave, honey, gluten-free flours, coconut, dark, unsweetened chocolate, fruit, etc. She also has tons of helpful information on the ins and outs of all of these ingredients that may be unfamiliar (agave, agar agar, arrowroot, just to name a few).

For more information on Rachel's other cookbooks (I'm going to be doing a review on her second book as soon as I receive it in the mail!), check out her blog.

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1.06.2009

Gluten-Free Ravioli


It was hasty. It was messy. It all happened so fast. Precipitated by an inspirational phone call from my full-blooded, Italian father: "Carrie, this year, we're going to make a batch of raviolis gluten-free for you.....can you see what you can come up with?" That was 4:30pm. By 6:00,I'm proud to say that the family was chowing down my beta batch of pumpkin-sage gluten-free raviolis. It was easier than I thought. Read more to find out how it all transpired....



Perhaps a little background is in order: Every year of my life, my family hand-makes copious amounts of delicous raviolis to consume for Christmas dinner. Since this is my first Christmas going gluten-free (and Kirsten too) I was really dreading my options: 1) eat ravilois anyway (I don't have celiac, but I'm very sensitive nontheless and pay for all wheat consumption eventually) or 2) watch everyone else eat these morsels of deliciousity and comment on how this is the best batch EVER. Being the foodie that I am, this was a dreadful option for me.

Fast forward to 4:15 on Dec. 23rd. Dad, my parter in ravioli-making-crime (if sinfully delicious = crime, this is indeed one) calls and poses the aforementioned proposition. Gluten-free raviolis? Sure, the thought had crossed my mind, but seriously, you don't mess with the Russo raviolis. You just don't. And yeah, I've done my fair share of modifying everything I love to eat into a gluten-free or even grain-free version, but the thought of wrapping the ravioli filling in a cabbage leaf was utter blasphemy, and forget trying to put some kind of coconut-teff-millet flour concoction through my pasta maker.

Despite my doubts, I realized I had not tested them against faithful google who seems to have a solution for everything. Enter Bette Hageman, stage left, the *original* "gluten-free gourmet" who has an incredible, tried-and-true Gluten-Free Egg Pasta recipe which I used in my pasta machine (the fun hand-crank kind!) to create a very serviceable alternative to our traditional ravioli.


Using corn starch, tapioca flour, and arrowroot, this dough was firm enough to easily pass through my machine. The best part about it was that, even with the "help" of two tots, this process came together relatively fast! And the kids devourerd them, pumpkin-sage filling and all!




So, without further ado, here's the recipe I modified, courtesy of Bette Hageman:

1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons potato starch (arrowroot starch is what I used)
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 large eggs (or 4 or 5 egg whites)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Basically, I put all ingredients in my food processor until blended. I then let the dough rest for at least 20 min. This helps the ingredients to "meld" and be more workable. I then kneeded in a little bit of rice flour to obtain a "silky" texture.

I then passed it through my pasta machine to do a sheet of pasta. I used the sheet of pasta to make my raviolis by placing about 1 tsp of the filling (you can do anything, I did a vegan pumpin-sage-carmelized onion filling) in the center of the dough and then folding it into a ravioli. I sealed the edges using egg whites.

It's a very forgiving, artisenal process, because in the end, it's not about how they look. It's about how delicious they are!

When finished, place in boiling, salted water and cook until the ravioli float up to the top of the water. Serve w ith melted butter and parmesan cheese, or traditional marina sauce.

Filling:

1 can of pumkin puree
1 onion, chopped
4 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh chopped sage
Salt & Pepper, to taste

1. Carmelize the onions by cooking them on med-low heat for about 30-45 min until brown and soft.

2. Combine onions with the rest of the ingredients.

Enjoy!



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1.04.2009

Menu Plan Monday: Under $40 Challenge


As I alluded to in my New Year's Resolutions Post , I am striving more than ever to pinch pennies and be as thrifty as possible, while staying true to the dietary principles to which I adhere. My main motto has always been "Use what you have, have what you'll use" when it comes to menu planning. This week I gave myself an "Under $40 challenge". Basically, I get to use what I have plus $40 to purchase any additional fresh produce or other essentials. Here's what I came up with:

As you can see, we have a few family dinners out this week, so I'll actually have a lot of extra veggies that will carryover to next week. So $40 was more than enough!

Monday:

B: Scrambled Eggs w/ frommage blanc
L: roast beef (leftover), cheese, apples
D: potluck @ church: zucchini "spaghetti" and meatballs

To do: Make coconut muffins , defrost liverwurst

Tuesday:

B: coconut muffins & kefir smoothies
L: liverwurst, cheese slices, carrot sticks
D: dinner @ Nanna's (for Theophany)

To do: Cook butternut squash, defrost turkey broth

Wedesday:

B: butternut squash pudding
L: miso soup w/ shredded carrots, scallions, and sea veggies
D: dinner @ Grandma's (for late Christmas celebration!)

To do: Defrost ground beef and make breakfast sausages, soak white beans

Thursday:

B: breakfast sausages and apple slices
L: veggie saute (broccoli, red pepper, carrots, onions)
D: kielbasa white bean & sauerkraut soup

To do: soak red lentils, prep waffles

Friday:

B: sorghum/millet blender waffles (recipe coming!)
L: leftovers
D: curried red lentils

Saturday:

B: eggs
L: leftovers
D: homemade gluten-free egg noodles w/ butter, peas, spinach, and parm cheese

For more inspirational , thrifty, gluten-free menus, check out the Organizing Junkie! As always, I encourage you to begin planning your menu and saving money! Take the Under $40 Challenge and leave a comment on how it went!




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