Minggu, 31 Januari 2010

Menu Plan 2/1/10


Menu Plan, again GAPS/SCD friendly with {traditional food grain options for hubby in brackets}  I'm just doing a list of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners without writing out the whole week, because we end up switching them around anyway.  For us, the key to staying on our budget and consistently eat real foods is to have a plan when we grocery shop, buying only what we need, but making sure we have plenty so we're not tempted to run out to the store for junk food.  See more of this in my Grocery Tips post.
  • Scrambled eggs. I love lots of veggies in my eggs, so do my kids.  My hubby likes lots of garlic, but not a whole lot of veggies. Pictured: Onions cooked in coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and pastured eggs.
  • Squash with beef sausage {soaked wheat toast with butter}
  • Squash pancakes with 24-hour SCD goat milk yogurt (squash pancake directions coming Thurs)
  • Cooked apples and eggs poached in chicken stock
  • Scrambled egg with avocado
  • Macaroons (being honest... ~grin~)
I keep lunches simple, and we have the same thing for a couple days in a row usually.

  • Casserole with ground beef, green beans, mashed squash
  • Soup {rolls}
  • Meatballs, cooked broccoli with coconut oil and sea salt, 
  • Chicken nuggets (dip cut up chicken in egg, then in coconut flour, let sit a few hours, fry), easy homemade ketchup, cubed squash
  • Scrambled eggs, squash pancakes, yogurt {toast}
  • Hamburgers on mushrooms for us, {whole wheat buns for hubby}, Squash fries
Snacks and extras
  • Soups for snacks
  • Making yogurt
  • Dried fruit is my favorite on-the-run snack, we have apples and pears and pineapple this week. I'm borrowing a friend's dehydrator and it's been running constantly.
  • I got my coconut flakes so I'm making a big batch of macaroons that are SCD/GAPS friendly.
  • I tried The Nourishing Gourmet's Rich Dark Hot Cocoa this weekend (not GAPS friendly, I'm not on GAPS on the weekends right now), really good!  I used the canned coconut milk, and then keep it in a jar in the fridge, adding hot water as needed.
  • I'm making more sauerkraut this week.   
  • I mailed out some Infant Teething Dolls to Down to Earth Toys this past week; go check out her great natural toy selection! I'm going to be starting my Etsy shop back up for Easter time as well.  And I've got a two-part post on being a TV Free Family at Natural Family Crafts this week (Tues and Thurs)
  • This flurry of activity- blogging, crafting, Etsy store... We're aggressively paying off debt with Dave Ramsey. Because we want to own a home with a yard and have a milk goat. It's fun to watch the progress!
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More Real Food menus at Mindful Menus
And part of Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie

Jumat, 29 Januari 2010

"Employee Morale in Tough Economic Times"

Recently, my Assistant wrote a paper about employee morale in the City of Fontana. The paper talks about a number of non-salary strategies to improve morale during a time the City finds it necessary to continue to do more with less. I have attached the paper here for this week’s blog posting.

Employee Morale in Tough Economic Times

Improving employee morale is an ongoing challenge in any workplace, even during good economic times. Now with the current economic crisis, maintaining high employee morale is much more important when asking people to do more with less. Creativity is required when the budget is tight and increasing salaries is not an option. Surveys indicate that salaries are not the end all of an employee's well being; in a well run organization, job satisfaction is derived from more than compensation.

My employer, the City of Fontana, last year eliminated 50 positions through layoffs, eliminating vacancies and early retirements. This year, all employee groups have been asked to forgo the cost of living increase. Employees are being asked to do more with less and, under such difficult circumstances, it is challenging for some to keep an optimistic outlook. The City of Fontana strives to meet employee needs and the management staff has developed several programs to help boost employee confidence and create positive attitudes.

One such program is the "Step Up to Wellness" employee wellness plan. Poor eating habits, lack of exercise and mounting stress play a large role in an employee's morale. To help counter the affects of ill health, we have kicked off the “Step Up To Wellness” program. This includes educational lectures, recreational demonstrations, a walking program, cooking demonstrations, corporate discounts to fitness centers and departmental challenges.

The purpose of the program is to improve employees' well-being with information about the benefits of nutritious eating, exercise in a fun interactive environment, and tips for stress relief. Nutritional lectures and cooking demonstrations teach employees which foods are actually nutritionally beneficial. For example, one lecture talks about the affects of sugar on the body and how eating too much of it can foster a negative attitude. Another lecture is about the benefits of sleep and gives employees tips for restful sleep, which directly affects a person’s outlook on life.

Another part of the program focuses on exercise and how it fosters a positive attitude. The program also features weekly competitions (e.g., a torch run, checkers, basketball, bowling, volleyball, racquetball, tug-a-war, relay obstacle course, floor hockey, golf and potato sack races) between teams of employees to build camaraderie. The entire "Step Up to Wellness" program lets employees know that management cares about them and their health, happiness and well being and stresses the fun and support that comes from being part of a team.

Another benefit the city offers to employees is a flexible work schedule. Typically, organizations have unwavering work hours; however, in Fontana we understand the need for flexibility due to childcare and educational needs. Employees, with the exception of those who work the public counter or phones, can work a four day-ten hour schedule, a five day-eight hour schedule, or a nine day-eighty hour schedule. This gives employees the chance to choose the best schedule for their lifestyle.

The City Manager understands that a happy employee is a productive worker. We have many working mothers who enjoy the ability to take their children to school in the morning and then work later in the day. Some employees attend school in the evening and a flexible schedule allows them to arrive early and leave early. This flexibility is a huge morale booster and employees are grateful for the consideration given to their needs. Fontana also encourages open communication between employees and management and recognizes employee accomplishments. The City Manager has several philosophies that encourage employees with ideas to be a part of the future of Fontana. Open and honest communication is his #1 rule. The City Manager schedules several meetings a year to discuss budget issues, capital projects and community issues with employees in all departments. He asks the employees for ideas to improve the working environment.

He recognizes years of service with an employee breakfast at which he thanks the employees for their dedication to the residents of our community. Twice yearly, he gathers Department Heads to make and serve a breakfast and lunch to employees to express appreciation for their work efforts. Halloween features a fun competition between departments with an annual costume and skit contest. His motto of “Do your job, but have fun along the way” is a phrase of his that resonates through the organization.

Valuing employee’s health, allowing flexible schedules, open communication, and employee appreciation are just a few of the ways the City of Fontana strives to meet employees' needs and increase morale in the workplace. The City also offers education reimbursement, counseling services, retirement preparation, benefit fairs and many other programs for employees. These services and programs are available to all employees from account clerks to public works technicians to police officers.

As a result, Fontana has little employee turnover, and I attribute this to their job satisfaction. Management understands the amount of hours dedicated to a career and strives to create a family atmosphere and genuine team spirit. Many times I look around this city with quiet joy, knowing that my small part in making the community a better place to live, work, and play is appreciated. Even in these tough economic times with fewer staff people and no raises, employees feel respected and valued and continue to work hard because of that morale.

Amy Colbrunn
Assistant to the City Manager

Community Outreach - City Website

Community Member Question:

I must say the city does a great job on trying to inform the residents, but I have noticed that some residents take videos of special events at council meetings and others that I have spoke to have tried to see their child’s event when the cable program KFONTV comes on at the end of that week. I have found it interesting that some do not know that the meetings are on line at http://video.fontana.org/ClientWebApp/Fontana/Default.aspx and that one can click on date and then topic to forward to the point of interest. Having the forward bar is a great time saving tool also. I have found it useful to download the segment or meeting of my choice to save time to review past comments. I have read that their will be improvements on the city site. What kind of new features will be added?

City Manager Response:

Thank you for your comments and interest in the City’s website. The video streaming features that you are referring to are indeed unique to our website. We added this feature to provide community members with the ability to watch the videos in the comfort of their own home.

The City is in the process of a major overhaul of the City’s website. This is not just a project to improve the cosmetics of the way our website looks, but to make a fundamental change in the way we use the Internet to provide information and services to our citizens and business community.

Some of the visible changes to the current website you will begin seeing in late spring, early summer are:

· A new look
· User friendly navigational approach
· How do I find... and “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)”
· A list of the most popular pages/areas on the site
· Department and consolidated calendars
· Improved search engine
· Process Centers detailing all the steps for citizen services

Behind the scenes, we are automating some of the web page design and development and the approval process for getting it published to the City website. This sophisticated “Content Management System” will make it easier and faster for departments to get information onto their web pages regarding city activities and services. It also sets the stage for us to be able to offer some services directly through the website so community members can access these services from home or work.

Review: Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck


Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First FoodsI ordered a bunch of books right before Christmas this year and with it's cute cover, Real Food for Mother and Baby is the first one I picked up to read.  It was a great book that would be suitable to give a 'beginner' real foodist who was thinking about starting a family, yet had enough detail that just about anyone would find it an inspiring read. By the end Nina had me convinced that it was imperative to find a good source of fish roe, and reassured me that the lack of Goldfish or Cherrios in my children's diet is a good thing.

She covers all the basic topics that I'd like to talk about with everyone, especially new moms, but generally don't for fear of plowing them over.  I'm more outspoken on my blog (see my monster Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Babies post), but I look forward to being able to give this book at baby showers as a way to say, 'this is all the important stuff that they won't cover in the hospital-sponsored birth class!'

Real Food for Mother and Baby covers everything nutrition-related for babies, including:
  • What Real Food is, for the uninitiated
  • The importance of nutrition, even prior to conception
  • Different needs for different parts of pregnancy (not too technical, don't worry!)
  • Breastfeeding
  • First foods for the new eater
I like reading things in 'story' format, so I loved the personal stories she shared about growing up on the farm, and how she's done things with her own son (I see on her website she now has twins as well!)

Rabu, 27 Januari 2010

Clearing Pink Eye, Naturally

A few weeks ago I woke up with blurry vision, not being able to make out the numbers on the alarm clock.  Looking in the mirror confirmed what I had expected, conjunctivitis (pink eye).  It's been 'going around', or so I heard when I called to cancel holiday get-togethers and appointments.  I remembered that in How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, Dr. Mendelsohn had suggested that just washing outside the eye area with pure water would be plenty to recover from conjunctivitis for most people. On page 158 he says, "In most cases your child's conjunctivitis will respond to gentle cleansing of the eyes with boiled (but not hot) water and a clean cloth."  He states that a trip to the doctor isn't necessarily immediately upon catching pink eye, though if the discharge persists for several days despite your efforts, a doctor visit and antibiotic drops may be warranted.

I tried his method of just using plain water, though I do have a supply of breast milk (also sterile) that I could have used if needed.  Honestly, I didn't boil the water, but used warm water from the tap, twice or three times a day, and rinsed my face well in the shower.  It seemed to work well, my right eye was affected first, and it was the worst on Tuesday and got progressively better until Friday when it was gone.  It did move to the left eye on Friday, but again with the same treatment was gone by Sunday morning.

My baby (13 months, who sleeps with me and is generally around me at all times) got a little crusty one day. I took him in the shower with me and cleaned the outside of his eyes well with a wet wash cloth and he seemed fine after that.  I was surprised that my 3-year-old (who isn't nursing any more) and husband didn't get so much as a hint of pink eye.

I didn't have pain associated with it, but if I did I would have treated with plain aspirin.

Conjunctivitis precautions that I took:
  • Pink eye is super contagious, so you do want to limit contact with people. You look awful and they aren't going to be around you anyway ~wink~
  • I normally re-use a wash cloth and towel for a week, hanging to dry between uses. I made sure to not use mine for the kids and I washed everyone's in hot water (we normally wash everything but diapers on cold) after each use while I had symptoms.
  • Eating well doesn't hurt, we ate a lot of homemade soup and squash, using coconut oil liberally.  I tend to focus on nutrition more than supplements or megadoses of vitamins to prevent illness.  Read about that in Eating to Stay Healthy This Winter
  • I upped the amount of fresh juice that we consumed.
What do you think? I remember being surprised when I read that pinkeye doesn't automatically warrant a trip to the doctor.  If I remember correctly from when I was a child, even with the antibiotic drops, it still took a couple days to clear, so my home remedy was just as effective and doesn't have side effects as antibiotic drops do.

Part of Finer Things Friday since home remedies that work, skipping trips to the doctor, and avoiding unnecessary medications really are finer things!
(part of Fight Back Friday) I am a Food RENEGADE!

Selasa, 26 Januari 2010

Homemade Onion Soup


The first time I made this soup I was surprised at how rich it tasted.  Hubby, not normally a soup person, enjoyed it as well.  Onion soup, not from a mix, is made simply with few ingredients.  It is well liked by everyone and because it's made with inexpensive ingredients, it's easy on the budget as well. I hadn't thought to make onion soup until I had a Costco-sized bag of onions, a bunch of chicken stock, and a snowy day at home, but now we make it regularly.

It's easy, all I do is chop up two or three onions, caramelize in coconut oil, add about a quart of chicken stock, the same amount of water, and sea salt to taste.

Chopped onions. I keep a few in the fridge because then they don't make me cry as I cut them.  And I'm using a bread knife here. No cooking secret there- I was running low on clean knives.

Melted about a tablespoon of coconut oil in the bottom of the pan (I love this little pan, a 1 quart calphalon that I got for our wedding) and added the onions, covering and stirring every once in a while.  Medium heat.

After about 45 minutes I added broth and sea salt, cooked til boiling. 

Added some green beans too, since I had some in my freezer.  Blended with my immersion blender (just a cheap one from Target) for the kids- they drink theirs out of sippy cups (they love soup).

Butternut Squash soup
Making chicken stock
Lentil Soup
About Real Sea Salt

A part of Tasty Tuesday

Senin, 25 Januari 2010

Compensation and Health Benefits

Community Member Question:

With the shortfalls in many cities budgets, some have blamed the employees income and pension plans to be part of the problem. Many articles have been put out on pension plans about government employees pensions, well beyond what the majority receives. It has been my experience that most employees have a hard time affording to live in the community they serve. I have attached a link to the employee salary. Can you comment on what the average employee makes after 30 years of service earning between the 45,000 to 60,000 income and what medical contribution they receive as well at point of retirement? http://www.fontana.org/main/hr_risk/salary_tables/yard_toc.pdf

City Manager Response:

Thank you for the question. The response regarding average compensation and health benefits varies depending on whether the individual is a member of a public safety unit, when they started working for the City of Fontana and their age upon retirement.

At the risk of oversimplifying, an employee with a salary of $50,000 per year would retire after 30 years with $45,000/year if they were a member of Public Safety and $37,500/year if they were non-public safety.

If the employee started with the City after July, 1990, they would receive no retiree health benefits from the city. If they started working prior to July, 1990, they would receive a retiree health benefit amount to reimburse the actual costs of health insurance premiums, not to exceed basic Kaiser HMO rates.

Tropical Traditions Order


I'm putting in an order from Tropical Traditions since they have free ground shipping today (Monday, Jan 25th).  If you're a 1st time customer use my code 5682145 at checkout to receive a free book on coconut oil, plus they credit my account for referring you (which keeps me blogging ~grin~).

I was going to try the Green Label coconut oil, but settled on the Expeller Pressed - one gallon for $39 (I'm comfortable with non-certified organic).  I use their less refined Gold Label when I eat it raw, like in smoothies.  I use about one quart of Gold Label to one gallon of Expeller pressed.

Getting another bucket of organic coconut, this time flakes, for macaroons.  $10.99
And after seeing Nourishing Gourmet's recipe for Dairy and Refined Sweetener Free Hot Cocoa and Naturally Knocked Up's grain free brownies, I am getting TT's Organic Cocoa.  $5.79 for 7 ounces. I'm honestly not sure if this is a good price or not but it's chocolate.  (Neither the cocoa or brownies are GAPS friendly, but I cheat on the weekends and they're closer-to-GAPS alternatives)

Just wanted to let you know about the free shipping. I love free shipping!
(Picture of my coffee with coconut cream concentrate in it.  The coconut cream is GAPS friendly, not officially so, but it's essentially dehydrated handmade coconut milk)

Minggu, 24 Januari 2010

Menu 1/24 (Maker's Diet options, Grain Free Options)


{Grains or otherwise non-GAPS food for hubby in brackets}
When we're not grain free, we generally follow The Maker's Diet/Nourishing Traditions with exceptions for refined sugar/flour (Haagen Daz or homemade cookies) about once a week. 

Snacks: Soup, which contains lots of veggies, nourishing chicken stock, and real sea salt
I've got the dehydrator going with pears in it right now, those will hopefully last as snacks for the week.  I love dehydrated fruit because it's not sticky for the kiddos.

  • Scrambled eggs, cooked apples {whole wheat toast with butter and honey}
  • Meatballs in tomato juice in the crockpot {whole wheat rolls for meatball sandwiches} 
  • Light dinner; Cheese or peanutbutter on grain free crackers {wheat crackers}
  • Fresh juice (save the pulp for tomorrow)
  • Thaw frozen chicken in a bowl overnight 

  • Coconut flour muffins with apple pulp
  • Chicken salad {on a wheat roll for hubby}, wrapped in cooked cabbage for us (yes, my children love cooked cabbage! It's kind of sweet and soft - easy for them to eat)
  • {Hubby gets organic corn chips, a banana, cookies in his lunch too}
  • Squash fries 
  • Soup, meatballs from Sunday, {wheat roll with butter}

  • General house cleaning day
  • Put thawed chicken in crockpot or pot to cook (8 hours in the crockpot, 2 on the stove)
  • That evening, pull all chicken off of the bones, set bones back in pot for stock, cook overnight and chicken goes in the fridge for lunches
  • Laundry


  • Poached eggs, squash cubes with coconut oil and sea salt
  • Yogurt
  • Same lunch every day all week, see Monday
  • Squash pancakes with yogurt {Pizza. Pizza crust is something else I still do with white flour, it's the unbleached GMO/chemical free from Wheat Montana}

  • Sewing day
  • Make up grocery list
  • Stock into mason jars, cool on counter then into the fridge
  • Soak beans
  • Laundry
  • Leftover squash pancakes from last night
  • Poached eggs
  • Meatballs and cooked apples (stored in mason jars to take with us)
  • {Hubby takes leftover pizza for lunch}
  • Taco salad (cook beans in crockpot all day while we're out; lettuce, yogurt 'sour cream', ground beef, chopped onions) {corn chips}
  • Errand day
  • Put groceries away ~ I took pictures of my pantry, which has stayed organized for a while. It sounds crazy, but I think I'm becoming more organized as I stay on GAPS, I usually have good intentions with organization but it goes out the window in about a week. It could also be that I have two little active children so I may just be more organized as a necessity to keep up with them, who knows!
  • {Dump some flour in a bowl, add yogurt and water, let sit overnight for soaked wheat bread}

  • Vacuum, sweep, mop
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Laundry
  • Squash cubes with coconut oil and sea salt
  • Chicken salad/cabbage for lunch
  • Breakfast-for-dinner; Scrambled eggs with cheese, beef sausage, cooked apples, {wheat toast}

  • Steam cabbage for wraps
  • Finish wheat bread
  • Yogurt, I'm doing goat for my little girl and cow for the rest of us. I get the organic, nonhomogenized cow milk from the health food store now, since I stopped our milk share a while backSometimes I add an extra quart of cream to make yummy rich yogurt.  SCD/GAPS yogurt is incubated for 24 hours, which I still do in the cooler (see link) I just switch out the hot water containers every 4-8 hours to keep it warm.

  • Laundry catch up day
  • Sewing or visiting or organizing, depending on the weather, our moods, etc
  • Eggs, {soaked wheat waffles- make extras to freeze for hubby to toast}, cooked apples
  • Homemade chicken nuggets for both lunch and dinner. We usually eat the same thing for lunch and dinner on the weekends
  • Cooked veggies with butter or coconut oil and sea salt
Some more: 
  • Did you see my post, Kitchen Cleanup over on Kitchen Stewardship? I love waking up to a clean kitchen and these are some things that I do to keep the mess under control while still cooking from scratch. You see by my menu that we eat pretty simply.  I don't try to re-create processed foods using real ingredients, we usually just enjoy the simplicity of whole foods as I believe they were intended to be consumed.
  • I have a giveaway going on this week for coconut flour from Tropical Traditions!
  • I'm reading Real Food this week and really enjoying it.  I have Good Calories Bad Calories going too, which I think is fascinating but that book takes more thinking to read, and that isn't happening very often with the little ones. Real Food is lighter reading that's easier for me to pick up and put down.
  • There's a print friendly button down at the end of the post now, right above the 'share by email' icon.  Thanks to MommyBits for showing me how to do this! I print my menus and put them up on the fridge, now I don't have to cut and paste and mess with formatting in Word. 

A part of Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie and more real food menu plans at Mindful Menus

Sabtu, 23 Januari 2010

New Site Layout

About a week ago Sarah at Reflecting the Designer took the jumbled mess that I had managed to create with my blog and simplified it all, giving me drop down menus up top to organize everything.  I like how my blog looks a lot more now ~grin~

About the new design:

The About section explains my focus with the blog; primarily to show you how and why we eat real whole foods.  Included in here is our journey to real foods from the standard American diet, about the Maker's diet, and then to keep it real, Confessions is what I label the refined non-whole foods that somehow find themselves in our kitchen from time to time.

On The Menu has my food posts sorted into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, Soups, and Menu Plans.  I'm still going back through and re-labeling older posts to fit in these, but I've got some of my favorites up there now.

Traditional Foods is everything non-refined, wholesome, and Nourishing Traditions inspired.  Down below there are some links to easy things to start with like Real Salt, Soaked Wheat Bread, and Coconut Oil.

Grain Free has my adventures in GAPS, along with some related subsections and recipes.

Natural Health is where all the alternative medicines, bath and body, holistic dentistry, and supplement posts live.

Stewardship addresses the issue of fitting real food into a real budget and doing the best with the resources available to us. In that subsection are 'Do It Yourself and Save' posts; things that we found are especially useful and simple to do yourself.

Pregnancy and Babies is everything baby/child/mother related, including breastfeeding, diapers, and natural remedies for common childhood issues.

Under Learn More I have my book reviews, as well as the list of health/food related movies that I've seen and think are worth watching.  I feel that good books are vitally important in making informed decisions for our families, and they do a great job of point out flaws in what shows up in mainstream news and medicine.  My blog is mostly about how we incorporate what we've learned into our family life, I'd encourage you to check out recommended books for more of the technical 'why' we do what we do. I don't recommend books because I agree with them 100%, but more because I think they are worth reading and are at least mostly accurate.  It's important to not blindly follow anything and always use discernment.  (Do you like my disclaimer? ~grin~)

I added a poll to the right side of the site too, so you can give me opinions on what you'd like to see more of. You can select as many or few as you'd like.  

I also wanted to link to Reflecting the Designer's main web design page, and point out that she has free blogger themes if you want to re-do your site design yourself, as well as a blogger scrapbook to show how to do site modifications too, if you're more tech savvy than I am.  I know that for me it was very much worth it to have her do my site design, I tried doing things myself and kept making things more of a mess.  She was friendly and quick and put up with my 157 emails about various things, and the whole thing only took her a couple days!  She does Wordpress blogs too, but I just kept mine on Blogger.


Jumat, 22 Januari 2010

Tropical Traditions Coconut Flour Review


Since starting GAPS I've been curious about alternative flours, and coconut flour was the first non-grain flour that I've tried. It was pretty good! I've got a huge order of organic almonds coming from our co-op this Sunday and I'm curious to see how almonds, soaked, dried, and then made into flour compare to the coconut.

I had heard great things about Cheeseslave's Coconut Flour Bread, so that was the first thing I tried. 

The bread turned out well, it held together well to be sliced and tasted good.  I tried it without honey once, don't do that. It needs the honey ;) 

When I opened the box with the coconut flour in it, at first I was surprised at how little the package was (it's 2.2 pounds).  Our family used to go through 30 pounds of flour a month! But it turns out that the non-grain flour is much more dense, so the recipes are thinned out with other ingredients.  In the coconut flour bread recipe there are 6 eggs to 3/4 cup flour for one loaf, much different than the approx 10 cups of flour I used to make soaked wheat bread.  So the package has lasted quite a while, I still have some in my fridge.

Next I used the coconut bread recipe but added in cubed apples and some mashed butternut squash for moisture.   I did them in muffin tins, which the kids loved.  Yes, they're the bad nonstick tins, I haven't replaced them with something better yet.  And I forgot to grease them, so the muffins stuck.

On the next batch I started saving the fruit pulp from my juicing and added that to the muffin batter.  That worked really well and it used something that I had otherwise been throwing away.  I greased the tin on the next batch too.

We like the flour a lot, it's been great to have on hand.  It's not the same as wheat flour at all, but it's great for those who are gluten or grain free or could be added to a wheat flour recipe for the great health benefits of coconut.

You know that Tropical Traditions has tons of healthy coconut products. I'm getting low on coconut oil, so I'm going to try their Green Label coconut oil this month along with ordering another gallon pail of shredded coconut for macaroons.  If you're a first time customer, I'd love it if you would use my referral code #5682145 and you get a free book on the benefits of coconut and I get coconut oil credited to my account.

On to the giveaway!   
Giveaway has closed!
The giveaway winner was Katie, #50, enjoy!

To Enter:

First, sign up for their newsletter here if you haven't already. You have to do this step to be entered.
And post a comment to let me know you did.
  • Go ahead and tell me if you're grain free or gluten free or just curious about coconut flour.  Leave your email address if it's not hooked up to the profile you're commenting from!

For extra entries:
~please post a separate comment for each one, and if you're already doing them you can count them too (make sense?)

RT @healthhomehappy Coconut flour Giveaway from @Troptraditions   http://bit.ly/7CoSvx  #Gfree 

Giveaway ends 1/29/10 and I'll pick a winner from random.org

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Part of Real Food Wednesday! 

Kamis, 21 Januari 2010

Making Nourishing Traditions Style Chicken Stock


After I cook a whole chicken and pull off the meat as our homemade organic lunchmeat, I put everything else back in the pot that I cooked the chicken in.  In goes the skin, bones, gristle, doesn't it look nice? Then I add a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar and fill the pot to within a couple inches of the top with filtered water.  I used to do all this in the crockpot, but I bought a nice big 8 quart stockpot a while ago and have been boiling the chicken/cooking the stock in there since.  I usually leave the water that I boiled the chicken in to use for the stock.

Chicken vertebrae (I think).   I think it would be easier for children to learn lessons such as anatomy and physiology if they were exposed to such on a weekly basis, don't you?

I bring the chicken parts/water/apple cider vinegar (I've been using Bragg's brand from the health food store) to the pot, I bring up to a boil, then lower down to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 12+ hours, usually overnight.

Chicken stock is said to have many health benefits, including being full of calcium (I tried explaining this to the pediatrician a few months back... didn't go well. I sometimes forget that not everyone is as excited about real foods as I am) and other good things that are pulled out of the bones.  Above is a post-broth chicken bone.

See how easy it crumbles when I pinch it? Calcium was taken out of the bone and put into the broth for us to drink and use in soups.

See, this is easy.

If you're a pro at this and looking for something more, check out Nourished Kitchen's Chicken Feet Stock. I haven't gotten there yet, there's plenty of real food areas that I'm still working my way up to.

And follow In Word Adorning's directions for adding herbs for immune boosting properties.

What do you use chicken stock for?

A part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade

Rabu, 20 Januari 2010

Combatting Grafitti is a Community Effort

Community Member Question:

Last New Years a Council Member suggested to make a resolution to call in Graffiti. Graffiti is one of the most negative images in every community, that is why I have 350-Gone (4663) or 911 for graffiti in progress in my cell phone. It is my belief that the intimidation of Taggers/Gangs devaluate homes, make the community feel unsafe, deface much of the public and private property and at times escalate to harmful situations. This should not be taken lightly and should be a joint effort on all of us in the community to take part to combat this crime by calling it in every where it is seen. It is not my position to have anyone approach such persons. With such harmful and costly actions as graffiti, how does the city deal with reducing these actions?

City Manager Response:

The City of Fontana recognizes the effect that graffiti has on the community as a whole. Graffiti vandalism is not only a quality of life issue for our residents, it also impacts our local business community, and can create a negative impression for people visiting and traveling through Fontana.

We have dedicated many resources towards the removal of graffiti. Citizens that see graffiti are encouraged to call the City’s Graffiti Hotline at 909-350-GONE (4663) or send an e-mail to graffiti@fontana.org. English and Spanish employees are available to assist community members with the filing of their reports.

The City Council established a graffiti response process that requires our graffiti removal crew to remove 80% of all reported graffiti within 24 hours, with no reported graffiti remaining longer than 72 hours. The City’s graffiti removal crew consists of six full time employees operating seven days a week. We have found that quickly removing the graffiti is one of the best deterrents.

Two other notable resources the City uses to combat graffiti are the Graffiti Removal Waiver and the Graffiti Tracker Database. Through the use of a Graffiti Removal Waiver, residents and business owners can give City crews permission to enter privately owned property for the purposes of painting over graffiti. While the responsibility for the appearance and upkeep of private property ultimately belongs to the property owner, this waiver helps to provide another avenue of quick response in fighting the graffiti problem as a whole. For more information on signing a waiver for your residence or business, contact the Public Works Department at (909) 350-6760.

The City also recently enlisted the services of Graffiti Tracker Inc. This company creates a searchable database of graffiti incidents recorded by our graffiti removal crews. Each crew member takes pictures of the graffiti they remove daily using a GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled digital camera. The pictures and the location of the graffiti are uploaded to the Graffiti Tracker database at the end of the day. Police Department personnel can use this database to track prolific taggers working throughout the City. The documented graffiti incidences in the database also aid in the prosecution of taggers once they are apprehended.

It is my belief that the members of this community are one of the best resources to help us continue reducing graffiti in our City.

Guest Posting at Cheeseslave.com on GAPS

Gut and Psychology Syndrome and GAPS Guide (2 Books)I'm guest posting over at Cheeslave's blog today, on how GAPS can work in your family, encouraging you to give it a try if you think it's something your family could use. 

If you're coming from there, thanks for visiting! You can subscribe to Health, Home, and Happiness by Email for free (it's the whole post) or subscribe via RSS Feed.  I'm also on Twitter and Facebook.

If you're looking for more information on GAPS, look up top under the Grain Free section.  Here are some posts of interest:
All Gut and Psychology Syndrome posts
What can you eat on GAPS?
GAPS-friendly cookies
GAPS candy!
A recent GAPS menu plan
My post about Juicing
I've posted a few soups, which we've all enjoyed this winter

A big part of GAPS is reducing the toxin load in the home, here is what I use for soap and hair/body/tooth care.  Kitchen Stewardship has a great discussion going on about natural cleaners as well (and I've got a guest post going up there Friday too)

I've loved Tropical Traditions for their GAPS friendly food: Coconut oil, coconut cream concentrate, shredded coconut, and I'll have a review/giveaway of their coconut flour coming soon. If you place an order with them, we both get a bonus if you use my referral code: #5682145; you get a book on the awesome benefits of coconut and I get a jar of coconut oil, I really appreciate all my readers who use my code!

And just to clear up an issue that seems to come up pretty often: 
I think that eating grain-free and starch-free (as in GAPS) is a good thing to do if you need to 'reset' your body's gut flora, but I don't think that it's necessarily for optimal health for everyone at all times. I'm looking forward to regularly including soaked grains in our diet again.  Different people have different opinions on this, but it's my opinion that there's no reason to stay grain free forever. I'm using it more as a temporary diet change than one I plan to stick with forever. Real foods, on the other hand, I do plan on sticking with forever. ~smile~

And for those of you who are not interested in GAPS, I present my new goofy looking salt and pepper grinders!

I've been looking for matching salt and pepper grinders at a reasonable price for at least 6 months. When searching for 'fancy' shoes for my little one, I ran through the housewares isle at Ross and found some. The grinder is even ceramic, which in my Real Salt post, was recommended in the comment section.  So, they're a little silly looking... I'd seen nice looking ones in Bozeman when we were there, but they were over ten times as much.  For $4 a piece, I can do silly for a while.  

They said they're 'mouse' grinders, I can see why :) And made in France, not China, which is always a plus.

I'm not the only one who will compromise on looks in order to get affordable and functional, am I?

A part of WFMW


Senin, 18 Januari 2010

Essential Oils for Beginners (What we use and why)


I don't know very much about essential oils, but I've used a few basic ones around my house for the past few years. We're running low (only have tea tree oil and a little camphor left, not my favorite smells) so I'm getting ready to put an order in through Mountain Rose Herbs and I thought I'd share what we use, when, and why.

I'll be honest, a lot of my 'why' has to do with because it smells good.  I know a lot of these have some powerful antibacterial/microbial qualities too.  Of course, if using essential oils on skin you'll always want to dilute them.  I usually buy 1 oz size, for me that lasts plenty long and is affordable.

  • Lavender- I like adding this to my laundry.  I put a couple drops in the rinse if I catch the washer in the rinse cycle, or I'll add about 5 drops to a damp washcloth and put it in the dryer with the laundry.
  • Tea Tree- Treatment topically for mastitis, when we lived in the country I'd put a drop on the head of a tick that was embedded in the dog, and it would pull out really easily a minute later.  Note: Our Walmart has tea tree oil too, which I've bought and thought it worked fine.  Of course it's ideal to not support huge questionably-ethical companies, but sometimes you want to try something without paying for shipping.
  • Eucalyptus- In the humidifier, clears sinuses.  I'll add a couple drops to the kids' bath if they're stuffed up too, or in the bottom of the shower before showering.
  • Camphor - In the humidifier, cough suppressant. It's also found in Vicks Vaporub.  It's toxic when ingested, so be sure to use caution when using this and all essential oils (I feel silly writing that, but really, it's important to be careful when dealing with them because they're super concentrated).
  • Orange/Lemon/Tangerine- I like the way these smell for my cleaning. I put a couple drops on the mop pad when mopping, put a couple drops in the canister of our bagless vacuum (that's the one we have, I think it's great, and I've tried more expensive vacuums too.  I got this one at Target) before vacuuming, and on the dust rag.  Like lemon-Pledge, but without the chemicals.  I generally just go with what's cheapest since they all smell similar to me, and I'm buying more than an ounce this time since I use the most of this.
  • Peppermint- a nice wake-up scent.  Sometimes I'll use this for cleaning. Kind of reminds me of the Tilex my-bathroom's-clean smell.
  • Rosemary- Used in my homemade deodorant.  I like this scent the best for deodorant.  I usually get just 1/2 oz of this because I don't use it a whole lot.  I'll add a couple drops of this to the diaper pail (cloth) too to keep stinkies at bay til I wash.
  • Clove Oil- Can be used for dental pain, it has a numbing effect. I don't like the way it tastes, but it's worth it for an on-hand fix for emergency dental pain. I know some people dilute it and rub on their teething baby's gums, but I haven't ever done this personally.

What do you use essential oils for? Are there any other basics that belong in my medicine cabinet?

Note: I do get a referral fee if you place your Mountain Rose Herbs order by clicking from my site. Even if I didn't, I'd still send you over there. They have the best quality for a reasonable price that I've found, and I have ordered through them multiple times before I was their affiliate.

Now you've seen what I do with essential oils, how about What Do You Do With Coconut Oil?

Minggu, 17 Januari 2010

Sugar and Grain Free Menu Plan Jan 17th (GFCF, GAPS, SCD)


I really do better when I menu plan. So here goes next week:

Eggs, homemade sausage patties, cooked apples

Meatballs in crockpot with tomato juice (SCD/GAPS legal, pasta sauce would be good too)
Over brown rice for non-grain-free people

Dinner is more of lunch, with cooked squash

*take chicken out to thaw
*batch of cookies for hubby
* Dehydrate Apples and Pears- pears bought last week should be ripe by now
*Thaw remainder of wheat rolls for hubby's lunches next week
* Church in the morning


Coconut flour bread made into muffins with chopped apple in the batter

Lunches: Same all week days:
Hubby: Sandwich, apple, corn chips, cookies
Us: Chicken salad wrapped in cooked cabbage leaves, cooked apples or squash with coconut oil.  Organic chicken 'lunchmeat', homemade mayo, cabbage
Soup as snacks/with lunch. (pictured: onion and green bean soup)
Leftovers if there are any.  It's hit and miss how hungry we are, sometimes even if I plan for leftovers there are none.

Casserole with ground beef, reduction sauce, green beans, mashed squash (make double and freeze)

*General house cleaning day, vacuum, sweep, mop, catch up laundry
*Make bread for hubby's lunches
*Put thawed chicken in crockpot, cook all day, after kids are in bed take off meat and return bones to pot and simmer stock overnight

Eggs poached in tomato juice as in Food Renegade's Eggs Poached in Marinara
can you believe that I didn't know what a poached egg really was until I read this post? I've got a lot to learn still! Now I poach eggs in chicken stock too, yummy and easier cleanup than scrambled or fried

Lunch is the same as above

Pizza for hubby, soup with coconut bread for us grain free people

* Sewing Day
* Stock gets put into mason jars, cools on the counter, then transferred to fridge
*Soak white beans for tomorrow's dinner (do beans in the crockpot)

Squash and coconut oil with cinnamon and honey

Meatballs and SCD-legal fruit leathers while we're out

Mexican:  Beans cooked that we soaked yesterday, cheddar cheese, guacamole, grain free crackers for us, organic corn chips from costco for hubby.  Note: I have made a grain free cracker with coconut flour, but it's not great... so I'm not sharing the recipe yet. We like it fine, but it's just not that great, know what I mean?

* Egg day, our egg lady delivers in the morning.  I need to be ready with the cartons + $ ready to go
* Errand day
* Put groceries away
* Vaccuum, mop, sweep
* Clean bathrooms
* As always, move a load a of laundry through the washer/dryer/dresser


Eggs poached in chicken stock
Squash pancakes

Breakfast-for-dinner: Scrambled eggs, coconut flour muffins, cooked apples, homemade sausage if there's still some left

*Pick an area to clean out (cupboard, pantry, laundry area, green hutch, yarn, etc)
* Sewing if time
*Pull out 2 pounds of hamburger to thaw

By Friday, we eat whatever's handy for breakfast ~smile~

 Burgers on mushrooms, whole wheat bun for hubby
Squash fries (butternut, cooked in coconut oil with sea salt)
Homemade ketchup

*Catch up on laundry, match up kids' clothes, go through their room and our room (the upstairs), wash sheets, towels
* Wash hubby's work clothes (dirty, and the black Carhartt dye bleeds, so they get their own load)
* Yet again, sweep and vacuum.  I have little kids, what can I say? ~grin~


Eggs, muffins if I'm up. Just eggs if hubby lets me sleep and he's making breakfast.
Something more fun, maybe homemade chicken nuggets with coconut flour as the breading.  Cooked green beans with coconut oil, fresh juice.  On the weekends I usually make enough 'lunch' for dinner too so it can all be cleaned up at once.  Or we patch together a lunch to take with us if we go out and have an early dinner right after the kids wake up from their nap.

Exercise and other things: We try to get fresh air every day, unless it's too cold. On snow days we shovel the sidewalk and play in the snow, on days when it's not too bad we walk. The jogging stroller surprisingly goes well over ice. Not so great on the snow though.  We like to visit friends at least twice a week; on those days I don't do much blogging (I plan my blog posts out ahead, so I can still publish consistently) and I try to get my dinner at least started and the house picked up before I leave. We're all early risers, so it's not too much of a push to do this, we're more productive in the mornings anyway.

Jumat, 15 Januari 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

We've been loving soups this winter.  I honestly hadn't made real soup starting with real stock until I started GAPS this past fall.  The difference is amazing, changing my mindset from don't have much in the fridge, guess I'll make soup to let's make sure we make enough stock to have soup every day this winter!

The... eclectic... attitude that I have about cooking lends itself well to soup also.  An immersion blender is great because the 3-year-old can drink hers with a straw, and the baby likes his in a sippy cup.  And I don't have to worry about chopping things evenly.

Roughly for butternut squash soup:

1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed or baked with the flesh scooped out
Sea Salt to taste (1 tablespoon +)
Any other cooked veggies that may be lingering in your fridge

Cook over medium heat, covered, until heated through and the squash is soft (maybe an hour)
I like to blend mine with an immersion blender and drink it from a cup
I topped mine with coconut cream concentrate.  You could use plain cow-milk cream if you wanted.

Soup is always a budget stretcher, this one is rich and filling as well.  Part of Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet.