Kamis, 29 April 2010

Date Macadamia Balls- Fill Your Real Foods Candy Bowl!

Date-macadamia nut balls couldn't be easier! I didn't use soaked nuts, but just the dry roasted ones from Costco.  Some I rolled in shredded coconut- I thought they looked pretty, but the kids like them better without the coconut.  The dates make them nice and sweet, the nuts make them a filling snack.  

Makes 25 olive-sized balls
2 cups California dates, pitted (you can see the pits behind, they're not hard to pit by hand)
1 cup roasted macadamia nuts

Pulse to desired consistency in the food processor (see below).  Roll into balls, if desired roll in dried coconut.  I keep them in the fridge- they're not as soft when they're cold.  No baking, super easy! 

This is similar to last year's homemade clif bar, but easier and no-bake.
And another bar- Strawberry Almond Bars (grain free)

Basil Egg Salad

Leftover hardboiled eggs from when I boiled them for 'angeled eggs', same ingredients, but pulsed in a food processor to chop the eggs.  This was what I used as a sandwich filling, the sandwich being two soaked wheat waffles back in that post.  Still inspired by Jenny's Pesto Egg Salad- hers is fancier though :)

Other egg salad additions:
Finely chopped celery
Finely chopped onion
Sauerkraut or other lactofermented vegetables

What do you like in egg salad?

Selasa, 27 April 2010

Basil 'Angeled' Eggs

Not deviled, 'angeled' ~grin~   Nourished Kitchen's Pesto Egg Salad inspired me to try adding basil to the egg yolk in this recipe.  I'd always done it my mom's way- using celery salt and a little finely diced celery, paprika on top for flavor and garnish.  We love basil in this house, these eggs were eaten quickly!

This recipe is for 6 eggs; 12 halves.

Hard boil the eggs: Seems that everyone boils eggs differently.  I bring a pot of water to a roaring boil, add a dash of salt and couple drops of oil (I just used olive here). The salt keeps the whites from leaking out of the eggs (most of the time) if they happen to crack.  The oil makes them easier to peel.  Boil for 10 minutes, then carefully pour out the hot water, and fill the pot with the eggs still in it with cold water, replacing the water as needed until the eggs are cool.  My sister-in-law told me that by immediately cooling the hard boiled egg you'll keep the yolk from turning greenish grey on the outside.  It seems to work for me, plus you don't have to wait very long for your eggs to be cool.

Peel and slice in half.  See, no green.

Pop out the yolks into a bowl. Any whites that tear are saved for egg salad.  To 6 yolks I added

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (store bought is fine, I used homemade)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (1 tablespoon of fresh if you have fresh)
  • A few grinds of sea salt

Mixed up with a fork and used a small spoon to push the yolk mixture back into the egg whites.  Cover and keep cool until serving.

The first batch I did I used garlic and more basil.  Hubby liked them, but I thought they were a little strong.  I used the food processor to process the yolk mixture til smooth here too.

I'm not the only one who doesn't want to call them deviled eggs. Go check out Heavenly Homemaker's Angeled Eggs and see how pretty hers turned out when she decoratively piped in the yolk filling.

More eggs:
How we do scrambled eggs
We love having fresh eggs!
Use-it-up Quiche

Part of Real Food Wednesday and WFMW!

Senin, 26 April 2010

Review: No Impact Man

Christiane had posted on No Impact Man a while back.  When our Bourne Identity DVD arrived broken from Netflix, we thought it would be worth trying since it was available in 'Watch Instant' format.

At the start, I'll admit I was feeling a bit 'accidentally green' in my second hand jeans and shirt, watching with hubby on our 3rd or 4th hand couch and viewing with our used laptop.  While alternating crocheting a dish cloth and breastfeeding as the little one woke up and then went back to sleep ~grin~  

I loved how nonjudgemental Colin is.  He doesn't claim that he has all the answers- "this is more philosophical than scientific"- and doesn't think that everyone should be just like him. He doesn't condemn, but inspires to think outside the box and... reduce impact.  

"Can I live on this planet doing more good than harm?" He asks.  Put that way he makes it easier to think about doing baby steps to be more environmentally aware.  I liked the movie, it wasn't guilt-inducing, boring, or overwhelming, just right to motivate me to continue to try and reduce impact.  

*It has some strong language in it, just to warn families. 

Looking for something else to watch? Here are some other interesting documentaries, which also happen to be on Netflix's Watch Instantly.
We watch movies on the laptop, but in general we're Happily a TV Free Family

Unrelated but awesome: Monica from Rose of Sharon Acres wanted to give my readers a discount on her Tooth Chips- Soap For Teeth.  The code HealthHomeHappy gives you a 12% one-time discount on her tooth care products, excluding sample sizes.  She has liquid 'tooth spritz' now, which I can't wait to try!  Right now I'm using Peppermint Tooth Chips- love them!  Look for a post soon (or eventually might be more accurate...) on why we choose to avoid fluoride both in our tooth paste and in our water.

Jumat, 23 April 2010

Nap Substitute: Homemade Iced Coffee

Some afternoons I want a nap, but it's not often in the plans. So caffeine, although I'd love to get rid of the habit, will work wonderfully.

Leftover coffee frozen in cubes (1 tray), honey (3 tablespoons), whole milk (to desired consistency- 1-1/2 cups or so), and cocoa powder (to taste- 2 tablespoons or so) and all blended up.

The leftovers of the 'milkshake' got frozen into cubes again, then those were added to another day's cool coffee. In my favorite cup ever from Cabela's.

Smoothies- uncaffeinated blended goodness :)

Selasa, 20 April 2010

Salmon Patties with Green Peas

This meal is fast- a whole foods equivalent of boxed macaroni and cheese.  One bowl to mix, a pan to fry, and you're ready to eat!  I found wild canned salmon at Costco (Kirkland brand) for 9.99 for 3 cans. We used two here, so this is a little more expensive than mac n' cheese, but also much richer in the good fats, calcium, and protein.  I served with (heated) frozen peas- my children, who generally like everything, don't eat peas. I blame it on myself for not serving them often enough, and their father who refuses to eat them (which is the reason why I don't serve them often).  But I like peas, so we had them with this fast meal.

  • Two cans of wild caught salmon 
  • Two eggs
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut to hold together (and make GAPS friendly) breadcrumbs could also be used.

Use a fork to mix, form into patties with your hands, and fry in palm kernel oil or coconut oil on medium-high heat. Flip once browned, about 5 minutes on each side.

Cost breakdown: About $8 to feed our family of 4. Not too bad!
Part of Pennywise Platter Thursdays

More fishy posts:
Real Food for Mother and Baby - the book that inspired me to start eating more fish
Fish patties from wild Montana-caught trout
More books that I love

Elected Officials Evaluated Through Public Scrutiny

Community Member Question:
In many jobs a requirement of a background check is necessary. Criminal and financial records are reviewed by employers to determine if the character and responsibility of an employee is a risk factor. Are background checks done on incumbents as they are done on city employees?

City Manager Response:
Thank you for the question. No the City does not conduct background checks on the elected officials for the City. Candidates are vetted through the public election process.

Senin, 19 April 2010

How to Dye Silk With Cake Dye

This is a fun easy project- it's easy to make beautiful colors of silk to decorate for spring.  It takes a bit of time, but if you are willing to spend a couple hours you can easily get a batch of hand dyed silks made. I was going to post it on my craft blog, but it's so easy that even non-crafty people would enjoy dying silk scarves.  The silks are ordered online, and then the dye is just Wilton's cake dye. Not a fan of using food coloring in food, but it's a relatively nontoxic dye for decorations and play things.

What do we use dyed silk for?

I started doing these primarily for the kids.  Play silks, called silkies too, are perfect for imaginative play.  Any child who loves emptying the hall closet of blankets to build forts would know just what to do with big silk squares -play clips are the the perfect tool to secure to chairs, but beanbags can be used as well.  Fixing the 'collapses' is most of the fun in home-tent building anyway ~grin~.

For the aspiring fashion designer, they are perfect for dress up. We tie ours (loosely!) around our neck and run around, letting our capes flow behind us as we dash off to save the world.

With decorating, they add a really pretty handmade look to any place that needs a little color.  A larger one can be a tablecloth, a scarf can be a table runner, and they can be folded and placed across a shelf to add color under a collection.

I suppose they could be worn as scarves too, though I've never actually done that!

How To Dye The Silk- Directions:

You need dye, vinegar (just to disrupt the pH so that the dye uptakes), and silk scarves.

One tub of Wilton's Cake Dye does quite a bit.  I did twelve 36x36" silkies and twelve 11x11" ones with one tub.  I'm using leaf green here (Walmart has these, as well as craft stores that stock cake decorating supplies).  Moss green is really pretty too- more of a sage.  The colors don't always turn out exactly as pictured on the label, but they're still pretty. I've used Cornflower Blue before, and it separated into a deep purple and light blue during the dying.  Reds have washed out for me to a mauve or pink.  Yellow seems to be pretty predictable, as does green.  I did better getting purple from cornflower blue than I have from something that's actually supposed to be purple.

You can use Kool Aid too- I use one package per 36" silk, and you don't need the vinegar if you use Kool Aid since the citric acid in it does the same thing. Just use the unsweetened packets that are 0.19 or somewhere around there at your grocery store.

It's not an exact science but it's good for those of us who like pretty surprises and don't stress about exact color matches.

I buy my silks at Thai Silks- the 'China Silk Scarves' is what I use for these.  The 44" x44" ones make really pretty table cloths and forts.  That size is a little big for my toddlers- they get caught up in it and it overwhelms them.  The 36"x36"  is a really nice size for everything. 22x22 is a little more manageable for little ones, and the 11x11 are fun to play peek-a-boo with.  They come with finished edges that are sewn with silk thread, so it takes up the dye too.  Cotton or polyester won't take up the dye.  (Wool will because it's a 'protein fiber' as well).

Once you have everything, start a big pot of water boiling.  Unpackage your silkies and shake them out so they're not folded any more. Get them wet with warm or cold water- this helps the dye to be absorbed more evenly.

Once the water is hot, turn the burner down to medium-low, add in the dye, and mix throughly with a whisk or fork to break up clumps.  Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar.  Any clumps of dye will leave splotches on your silk, which can also be a cool effect but isn't what I'm going for here.

I use metal utensils- If you use wood or possibly plastic, the color will not come out until you're using it to cook with again. ;) (betcha can't guess how I know that?)

Add your silks in. For more evenly-dyed silks don't pack the pot full.  This is pretty full, and it makes it have more color variations as different parts of different silks will take up more dye than others.

Allow to stay in the water 10-30 minutes- the longer they stay in the water, the more saturated the color will be.  I like to have a few smaller silkies in there (the 11x11 ones) so that I can test for color easily.  To see how the color looks, remove, and then rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.  I like how this looks, so I rinse them all.

You can line dry them, but they're really soft and pretty if you iron them when they're still damp.  I iron with a hot iron, no steam, moving quickly to avoid leaving lines as the water evaporates.  Cover your ironing board with a towel- some of the dye will come out even if you rinsed really well.

See the difference? These were in the same pot, just one was on the bottom getting more dye than another.  With something like green, the blue and yellow will uptake differently- so the silks that are absorbing more of the color first will be more bluish (since the blue is quicker to absorb) and the silks added later are more yellow.

I know, I didn't cover my ironing board with a towel. I don't iron clothing, just craft projects, so it's not really an issue.

That's it! I like to roll them up to give as gifts, or use as gift wrap for a special present.  We keep ours in a basket, but they look really pretty hanging from pegs if you have wall space.

Jumat, 16 April 2010

Soaked Wheat Sourdough Waffles- No Starter Needed

We love sourdough- I made the Sourdough Pancake recipe from Joy of Cooking before finding the whole Nourishing Traditions way of eating.   I adapted the recipe to include yogurt to properly soak the flour, and whole wheat flour rather than white.   It's pleasingly sour, and so easy since you mix most of it up the night before.  Hubby likes waffles more than pancakes, so that's what we made.  To develop the sour taste, you do have to mix it the night before and let it rest over night.

Ingredients and Directions:

  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 c warm water
  • ~ put yeast in water, allow to bubble- use a large bowl for this or cut the recipe in half- it grows!
  • ~Stir in:
  • 1-1/2 cups yogurt
  • 1-1/2 cups apple sauce (when I don't add apple sauce these turn out really dense)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (one stick)
  • 4  cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons honey (optional)

Cover with plastic wrap (or a dish towel) and allow to rise.
Stir down after an hour (this helps prevent it from overflowing overnight) and re-cover

I place mine on a plate and away from the edge of the counter, so if it does overflow it is relatively contained and doesn't go down between the stove and the counter, or fridge and the counter... (pictured is after the overnight rise)

In the morning heat your waffle iron or griddle and stir in:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt

It takes a little bit of work to get the eggs mixed in, but not too bad. I just use a fork.

Cook. If making pancakes, they're ready to flip when they easily can be removed from the skillet. Waffles take a little longer than white flour waffles and are done when they are a nice golden brown.

Serves 4-6 in our house

We served with boiled-down berries as a simple all-fruit jam/syrup. Light and fluffy, but with the benefits of whole grain!

Any leftovers we save in the fridge and heat up in the toaster.  They also make great egg salad sandwiches- the deep pockets held the egg mixture really well!

*Tip: To make them more sour, mix the batter a full 24 hours before. They get stronger the longer the mixture rests.

Are you making yogurt yet? It's a huge money saver!
Maple sweetened whipped cream from Donielle- wouldn't that make a great topping?
Soaked Wheat Bread Recipe
Other Breakfast ideas

Part of Fight Back Friday  and Real Food Wednesday

Kamis, 15 April 2010

Safe and Sane Fireworks - Community Decision

Community Member Question:
How will the Fireworks policy be enforced if it is voted out? Will the officers give citations to all they can or just addresses that are called in?

City Manager Response:
Thank you for the question.

Each year the Fontana Police Department puts together an action plan regarding enforcement of the laws regarding illegal fireworks. On the Fourth of July and days leading up to it, the Police Department increases enforcement and staffing within the community to deal with the use of illegal fireworks.

Should the use of Safe and Sane fireworks be prohibited by a vote of the community next November, the Police will continue its enforcement activity on the Fourth of July. I have not discussed this issue with the Chief, but I believe the Police would undertake a strong enforcement plan, specifically in the early years of the new measure.

There will be a period of time necessary to educate the community of the change.

The prohibition against the sale of Safe and Sane fireworks will help reduce the use of fireworks in Fontana, but I would anticipate that it will take a few years to fully change the behavior of the residents of Fontana.

In the event the community does not support the ban of Safe and Sane fireworks, we will continue to conduct enforcement activity that targets the use of illegal fireworks. In addition to enforcement, the City will also conduct an educational campaign within Fontana, similar to what they do in Rancho Cucamonga to encourage voluntary compliance with the laws regarding fireworks.

What Does The Future Hold For Property Tax Assessments?

Community Member Question:
Recently I received an adjustment on my property taxes of an adjustment reduction from the previous owner's tax obligation. Reading your blog comments, I'm aware that mine will have a 1.1% increase in the future on a yearly basis on my new purchase.

What can a resident that has bought their home at the high taxation level based on their purchase price and now has a re-adjustment (due to the market) expect to pay in the future as the market improves and with the state taking much of the tax revenues that what would help the city regain the much needed money?

City Manager Response:
It is the job of the County Assessor to evaluate the valuation of properties and to assess those properties for property tax purposes. In down markets, the assessor can decrease the assessed value of a property. Last year, across the entire County of San Bernardino, assessed values decreased by a net of 5%. Obviously, those homes that were newly purchased received a larger reassessment and older homes may have not have been adjusted at all. I have been told that next year, the County is expecting an additional net decrease of 6%.

In up markets, assessed valuations can only be increased by 2% per year, regardless of how high property values have increased. There is also a catch up provision that allows for properties that received a lowered assessment in prior years to have their assessed value increased by more than the basic 2% if it is determined to be appropriate by the Assessor.

How we do Vaccines and More Links

I've been having trouble with the internet this week- so I had some pre-written guest posts to share with you but not a whole lot on my blog!

At Kelly's blog today I talked about how we came to our vaccination decisions.  Kelly keeps up with the issues as they come up with vaccinations and inspired me to write a post on it.

I talked about grey sea salt at Sorta Crunchy this week as well - have you made the switch to natural grey sea salt with all the good minerals in it?

And my friend Rachel has a bunch of aprons stocked in her Etsy Shop (here).  Aren't they cute? She has some for boys too- both my son and daughter love to wear aprons in our kitchen :)

Selasa, 13 April 2010

Use-It-Up Quiche

Quiche is a good frugal meal that can be adapted to suit what's already in your fridge. Here we have spinach, mushrooms, goat cheese, and garlic. I used three eggs per person for us medium sized eaters. For my big-eater husband, I'd use 5-6 eggs for his 'portion'.

Grease a glass baking dish (9x13 here) with butter, mix eggs, veggies, and seasonings in a mixing bowl and pour in. Top with cheese.  Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until the eggs are set.

Other additions:

  • A pie-crust would dress this up. Just make a basic pie crust or biscuit recipe and line the bottom of the dish with it.
  • Crumbled sausage would make it more substantial, and potentially more guy-friendly
  • Sauteed or sun-dried tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Caramelized onions
  • Broccoli
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Different cheeses
  • Olives

Veggies can be sauteed ahead of time to get most of the water out. Here we just mixed them in with the eggs, added some freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, and topped with goat cheese.

Fast, frugal, and uses up odds and ends of veggies from the fridge before grocery shopping day!

A part of Pennywise Platter Thursdays

Jumat, 09 April 2010

Eating Real Food has made us Accidentally Green

While I don't have 'being green' as my main objective in life, I am starting to notice that we're becoming more green as time goes on.  When I read articles that are more focused on being environmentally friendly than I am, I realized that as I go more towards feeding my family whole foods, our family is having much less of an impact on the earth.

I do think it's a good thing to do, to reduce impact. As a Christian I am to be respectful of God's creation, not greedy, not wasteful.  There's no doubt that just as I've come along to being more green as a result of trying to keep my family healthy, some people have come about eating traditionally prepared and raised foods as a result of wanting to have less of an impact on the environment.  In The Omnivore's Dilemma sustainable farming is investigated, and how it has improved the land the farm is on in addition to providing food for many people.  Just as we looked at back in the Dehydrating Almonds post there's a lot of 'mutual beneficialness' going on in traditional whole foods.

Looking at what goes out in our trash is a good way to see what we could improve on:
  • Disposable diapers about 1/4 of the time. This by far is the worst. I was better at cloth diapering 100% of the time when I only had one child.
  • Plastic shopping bags.  Still haven't gotten my act together to ditch those.
  • Food wrappers- mostly limited to sacks that held 10 lbs of flour, 10 lbs of apples, frozen fruit/veggie bags.  Still occasionally get the applesauce cups.  And the fruit leathers are individually wrapped.
  • Ziplocks.  I'm a little Ziplock-happy and should cut down on these.
More not green that can be improved:
  • Shopping at Walmart and other mega stores who truck products in from far away and are known for not being concerned about much more than the almighty dollar
  • I love my dishwasher.

Some things I can think of off the top of my head where we're accidentally green:
  • Cloth diapers
  • Reusing the same deodorant container with homemade deodorant; ingredients purchased in bulk
  • Minimal use of shampoo.  I use shampoo every once in a while, so my last bottle lasted me over 6 months. Otherwise I'm using baking soda to wash. I always use vinegar as my rinse.
  • Soapnuts in my laundry- they work really well, no harmful chemicals, and have very little packaging (pictured).
  • Use coconut oil (purchased in bulk) as 'lotion' 
  • Rarely go out to eat (expense, and the food doesn't taste as good after we're used to homemade)
  • Don't use hair products.  I just bought a bottle of shampoo at walmart (better go add that to my not-green list) the other day, and walked past so many products and things that I not only didn't need, but I had no desire to own whatsoever.
  • Shop second hand (antiques make the most awesome furniture for discount prices, and clothing from thrift stores- why pay 39.99 when you can pay 1.99? I'm not that fashion aware, though, this might not fly as well in Newport Beach ~grin~)
  • Live in a small apartment- we're doing it for low rent while we pay off debt, but this also is green because it doesn't take much energy at all to heat or maintain.
  • Buy sustainably farmed meat and eggs (and partially produce and milk products)
  • Use less-than-average as far as pre-packaged foods go.  We don't get boxed mixes, TV dinners, or pre-made food.  Some of our ingredients are still in kind of small packages (tomato paste, frozen veggies)
It's interesting to see how things are all connected- what's good for health is also good for the earth.

How about you, what's the biggest 'green' change you've noticed since eating whole foods? Or have you come to learn more about cooking whole foods because you wanted to reduce your impact?

A part of Fight Back Friday

Rabu, 07 April 2010

Fontana Makes Strides to Support Job Growth

Community Member Question:
The City seems to be controlling much of its challenges, such as foreclosed homes, balancing the budget and moving forward on many infrastructure projects. The challenge of job growth is perhaps the most difficult. My question is, what incentives are being given or steps being taken to create job growth?

City Manager Response:
The loss of jobs has impacted Fontana and the Inland Empire tremendously over the past two years. San Bernardino County currently stands at 14.8% unemployment rate and the prediction is things aren’t going to turn around quickly. With that in mind, your question is a good one and one that has a multi-faceted answer.

This past week I had an opportunity to talk to Dr. John Husing, the Inland Empire’s leading economist, about job growth in the Inland Empire. Dr. Husing takes an interesting approach as it relates to jobs. He looks at job generation not from a local city perspective, but rather from an area perspective, since no one city alone can turn the tide on job availability.

The key for Fontana and our IE neighbors is to become more attractive for businesses and developers. We can influence this attractiveness by addressing the areas developers take into consideration when deciding where to expand or plant new roots, including streamlining the development process, having an available workforce with the qualities they desire, and providing a good quality of life that enhances what the business can offer their employees.

Streamlining Development Process
The two most important issues to developers are time and certainty. They want to work with communities that can work side by side with them through the entire development process, remove unnecessary red tape, and provide clear feedback on the rules to build in that community.

Fontana staff work very closely with developers to get things done in a timely manner. We bring all of the players to the table early in the process so that a business owner understands that we care about their success and through clear communication, work towards not having any surprises come up through the process.

The Mayor and City Council have continued to provide strong leadership and are dedicated to providing business owners and developers with the best foundation in order to start out on a positive path.

Availability of Workforce
The demographic makeup of the Inland Empire, specifically the average level of education of our workforce, makes this area most appealing to blue collar job based businesses. Unfortunately, the turndown in the economy has significantly impacted the blue collar industry, such as construction and logistics, and little to no new business is being generated. The City of Fontana has established zoning that allows for such job development, which is the first step in making us appealing to those businesses. In addition to the zoning, the city is working diligently to improve infrastructure (roads, etc.) and has looked at incentives such as economic zones with reduced development fees to encourage businesses to choose Fontana as the best location to open up shop.

In the longer term, the City of Fontana has partnered with local education institutions to expand educational services in the area with a goal of improving our workforce demographics. Through a partnership with the City, Chaffey College in Fontana will soon be four times its size and offer many more instructional opportunities. The City of Fontana has also partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to conduct job development training, job fairs, and job recruitments – again with a goal of enhancing our workforce and becoming more appealing to businesses.

Quality of Living
Businesses are no different than you or I when it comes to selecting places to locate. They are looking for affordable locations with the highest quality of living possible. Many of the amenities that have been created in the City of Fontana not only encourage new residents to move in, they also encourage businesses to locate here. When a new business prospect drives to my office to discuss relocation or expansion plans, they drive through the community and make their own internal assessment about whether or not this is a community they wish to become a part of.

With an eye for the future, the Mayor and City Council have both a strong commitment and vision for jobs in Fontana. This vision has led them to create a planned area for future office space that has been called the corporate corridor. This corridor is sufficient land to allow for the development of office buildings and white collar jobs for the area in the future. This approach is a 15 to 20 year look down the road that is intended to take advantage of the proximity of the airport, the high quality residential development being created in the area, and the community amenities that Fontana and the surrounding Inland Empire offers.

Final Thoughts
The short-term answer to the question of how to create jobs locally is to get construction moving forward again. Dealing with foreclosures, living within our means, and improving transportation and flood control systems are all part of the city’s efforts to keep the wheels under us during this downturn. The Inland Empire’s economy is based on the construction industry and much of the downturn locally has been created by the bottom falling out of the housing market. We are beginning to see some signs of recovery in this area. I am confident that we will continue to see improvement in this area during the next couple of years.

Making Mayonnaise is Easy!

After Jenni  told me that mayonnaise is easier to make if the eggs are room temperature, I've been making mayonnaise (and not eggy-oil) on the first attempt ever since.  Thanks!  Mayonnaise is surprisingly easy to make, and only requires eggs and oil. I add a little sea salt and lemon juice at the end.  I even took a video of the emulsification a while back- you can hear the sound deepen if you care to watch all the way through.  I didn't measure in the video, but I've decided that it's easier if I measure because then I am better able to gauge how fast I'm pouring.

What to do:
Use two raw eggs
2 cups of oil- I use a more refined olive oil, I don't mind the taste of it at all, though it's not as strong as extra virgin would taste
Put the eggs in the food processor (I seem to talk about using the food processor often, don't I?), turn on, and take a full minute to pour in each cup of oil. I have a clock with a second hand up above my counter, that helps.
By the time two minutes are up (or one minute for one egg/cup of oil) it should be thick! In my experience you have to pour it slowly- dumping it all in at once and then letting it run for a minute doesn't seem to work.
Then I add a small pinch of sea salt and let it mix in.
It does thicken a little more in the fridge.

According to Nourishing Traditions you can add a couple tablespoons of whey and then let it sit out on the counter for a couple days to lactoferment before putting in the fridge. With the lactofermentation, the mayonnaise will keep longer.  I've done this before and didn't notice a taste difference- this time I didn't have any whey so I just did plain.

Without the whey it lasts in the fridge a couple weeks.

Easy, isn't it? If you've ever taken the time to compare ingredients on different store bought mayonnaises I believe you'll agree that it's easier to just make your own.  And frugal! Costing essentially as much as you pay for oil.

My triumph last year when I finally got mayonnaise to work right (before I was using cold eggs)
About good quality olive oil
More raw eggs- in smoothies this time

Part of Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday

Selasa, 06 April 2010

Blender Hollandaise Sauce

Like the sauce we had on our trout the other day, a hollandaise sauce makes breakfast-for-dinner much more special. Here: Soaked wheat bread toast, poached eggs, and the blender hollandaise sauce from Joy of Cooking. So easy, it takes longer to melt the butter than it does to make.  

The Sauce: 
Two fresh egg yolks, juice of one lemon, a dash of salt and pepper, and a cube of butter - melted.  I put the egg yolk in the blender, turn it on medium, and slowly pour in the melted butter- taking maybe a minute to pour in the half cup.  Then I add the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It will thicken as it cools.

I love having leftovers (we usually don't) -I use it as a spread in sandwiches the next day. 

Senin, 05 April 2010

What Makes Kids Picky?

My kids love greens in their scrambled eggs, cod liver oil, sharp cheese, barbecued fish, onions in egg salad, loads of garlic, and plain unsweetened yogurt.  How did I get this to happen? Is it genetics? Eating a variety of spicy foods while pregnant? I'll tell you what I think has helped my children be less picky than the typical American child.  Your results may vary (especially if dealing with SPD or other special needs), but here's what has worked for us:

Cut Out Refined Carbs
This is the biggest thing for us - if my children know that there are crackers, goldfish, cookies, chips, pretzels, or other refined sugars/starches they will refuse nutrient dense foods and hold out for the refined stuff.  I think this is most likely the cycle most parents get stuck in- their children self limit (mine will too) to these foods and they're afraid that if they don't give them to them, they won't eat anything at all. For us, we had a few weeks with *none* of this in the house so they could get used to good nutritious food.  Yes, this is a big step, but I attribute all the variety of foods my children happily eat to breaking them of the nutritionally-void food habit.  After a few weeks of *none* we do have chips, pretzels, and even ice cream in the house again.  It's mostly for Dad, and sometimes for Mom when the kids are in bed.

I like the idea of moderation for things like this with little ones, but it just doesn't seem to work for us. If they know they can have it 'sometimes' and it's in the house, they'll hold out for it.  It's not too bad for hubby and I to wait til they're asleep before we break out the ice cream- it also keeps us eating nutritious foods all day long too :)

Eating in Front of the Kids
Our kids love to eat what we're eating. And hubby and I enjoy all the foods listed above (other than the cod liver oil!) so the kids know that's our every day food.  They're young and eager to try out all of what mom and dad do (including doing the dishes... 'helping' with laundry... 'organizing' the pantry).  Sometimes even if they have the same thing that I do on their plate, it's more appealing if it comes from my plate.  In that case, it doesn't bother me to feed them off of my plate, or sometimes I'll just get them started and then show that they really do have the same thing on their plate.  More often than not they're happy to finish their meal on their own.

Taking the Pressure Off
My children were both slow to start eating- they enjoyed playing with food, but didn't actually swallow much until a few months past their first birthdays (they were breastfed- my 16 month old still is).  I've never really put too much worry into how much they eat. My daughter goes in spurts, I'd guess this is normal.  For a week or so every once in a while she'll only eat a bite or two of her protein (eggs, meat) for a meal and half of her fruit/veggies.  I just note that she's eating less right now and make a note to serve her less at her next meal. She knows how to ask for more when she's hungry again.  She'll also compensate the opposite direction and eat more than I do for a week at a time, I think it all evens out and I don't try to change her.

That's what's seemed to work in this house so far. How about you? How have you had good results getting your children to eat a variety of food? 

Kamis, 01 April 2010

What's Wrong With Sugar?

Refined sugar, corn syrup, and yes, agave 'nectar' are all over refined, low nutrition, and high markup foods.  They do more harm than good for your body, so it is best to keep them out of your grocery cart, cupboards, and off your plate.  I believe that the consumption of nutrient-depleted refined foods are responsible for the high amount of overweight people in modern societies.   

What's wrong with sugar and other refined sweeteners?

Cause weight gain (I've admitted this here and here)
To be digested, they use up your body's stores of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals
Used as a substitute for foods with needed nutrients.  In Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr Weston Price talks about how a lack of nutrients is causing us to have dental cavities, narrow dental arches which cause teeth crowding, a more narrow pelvic opening

High in Refined Sweeteners:
  • Soda. BIG time! And 'diet' is bad too
  • "Fruit" drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes, cookies
  • Puddings, jello
  • Commercial jellies and jams
  • "Fruit" Snacks

Most brands have refined sweeteners but you might not expect them to:

  • Ketchup
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned fruit
  • Frozen fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Bread
  • Any processed/convenience food
  • Spaghetti sauce

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (Vintage)Recommended Reading:
Nourishing Traditions, The Maker's Diet, Eat Fat Lose Fat, and Good Calories Bad Calories
Good Calories Bad Calories is the book that recently motivated me to stop baking white flour bread for my husband- He talks about the link of heart disease, stroke, and cancer to refined carbohydrate.

What helps me keep refined sugar out of my diet:

  • Eat plenty of fat, particularly coconut oil.  I have no sugar cravings when I eat enough coconut fat, in the form of coconut milk or coconut oil.  I'll sometimes still eat sugar, but I don't have the drive-to-Walmart-right-now-and-buy-sweets cravings that I get without good fats. 
  • I haven't seen much difference, but I've heard people say that including fermented foods in the diet can help with sugar cravings. I include lots of fermented foods for other reasons, though.
  • Have nutritious filling snacks on hand (crispy almonds, cheese, soup)
  • Use honey to sweeten things. If anything, the cost prohibits me from eating too much honey.  But I use it in my coffee, and sweets so I don't feel completely deprived.  
  • Read labels and stick with 'safe' brands of bread, yogurt, etc that don't contain sugar
  • Even better, make your own and you have complete control over what goes in! 
  • Make the decision to not eat any refined sugar at all. Sometimes I'll think that I can eat a moderate amount of something sweet- but more often than not the addictive properties will get to me and I'll keep going until I've had way too much.  I do better not eating any at all- I even pass by the little sample tables at Costco

How about you? 
Are you joining our No Refined Sweetener Challenge?

Where have you found refined sweeteners that surprised you?