Real Food Grocery Haul – Week 1

grocery haul1

Back in the times of milk and honey, a few short months ago, I did all my grocery shopping at one place – our local co-op. It felt good to support a local business and I knew where everything was. It was also very convenient to do my shopping at one store. Turns out we were paying for that convenience – a lot!

We’re going to be sending P to a great preschool in the near future, and that also costs – a lot! We want to pay down our college bills which are – a lot! We would like to save up for a better house in a nicer location, which will inevitably cost – a lot!

Looking at our budget for the last 12 months, our food costs (groceries, coffee and eating out) ranked in 1st place for most money spent. We were spending ~$1200 per month for groceries. Thats a @#$% lot!

Yes, I’m commited to eating real food and as organically as possible and I belive in paying the farmer before paying to doctor, if you know what I mean. But seriously?! Too much for us to continue that way with the goals we have in mind.

So here’s what I’m doing to lower that bill

…but still eat real food and continue to feel good about the food I feed my family.

  • Let go of convenience and shop at 3 different locations for optimum choice and savings: Farmer’s Market, Winco and Whole Foods (they simply have a better selection than the co-op). I’ll reserve the co-op for hard to find spices in bulk.
  • Limit our organic produce to the dirty dozen and take care to wash the other produce thouroughly before comsumption.
  • Grow food in the garden – this has yet to be determined as a viable value. We’ll check back in the fall.
  • Start buying produce in bulk when it’s in season and canning what we use a lot of (read tomatoes).
  • Post weekly grocery haul and totals on this blog.

It’s about to get real folks!

I’m going to let you in on how much I spend for exactly what I get each week at the grocery store/market. This will hopefully give you a good idea about what a real food diet costs and help me figure out where I can save more $$$.

Here are my food priorities

  • Continue to get high quality pastured meat, fats, eggs and dairy (it’s worth the cost)
  • Shop the dirty dozen for organic and get commercial produce for everything else
  • Utilize the bulk section of each store
  • Limit coffee consumption to one serving per day, my usual is two.
  • Continue to work towards eating out less and eating in more.

This weeks haul looks like this

Farmer’s Market = $68
Winco = $49.26
Whole Foods = $88.01
Milk = $9

TOTAL FOR THE WEEK = $213.12

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Just for reference, this is what our refrigerator looks like at the end of the week right before I go shopping. My pantry looks fuller, but is really just disorganized.
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Farmer’s Market Haul = $68 I would love to say I buy all my produce locally, but the fact is it’s just too expensive. I do buy most of my meats, eggs and bread (home baking bread just took too much time) and a few summer veggies that are grown locally in a hot house and are therefore less expensive.
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Winco Haul = $49.26 Not included are the toothpaste, floss and Q-tips.
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Whole Foods Haul = $88.01 I think I’m going to start fermenting my own kefir.
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Everything = $212.13 except the milk not pictured, purchased after the fact. This will last us though the week and a couple items: nuts, dressing, some meat, cereal will carry over.

This post featured on the following blog carnivals: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Small Footprint Friday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Sunday School, Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday

Real Food Tomato Soup

tomato soup

My husband has a special place in his heart for tomato soup and grilled cheese. I think a lot of people probably agree with him. In his happy memories he always ate tomato soup from the red and white can with a name that rhymes with rambles.

For years I was happy to indulge him in his love for canned tomato soup. Then came information on BPA and how highly acidic tomatos can leach it out of cans, which in turn can cause a host of problems for mammals. For the full run down you should read the Mark’s Daily Apple article on canned food where he even goes as far as recommending no canned foods whatsoever.

I searched high and low for acceptable alternatives to the “rambles” tomato soup. We probably tried 10 different soups including my own homemade versions. Non of them stood up to the tangy tomato-y taste that my husband was so fond of. Plus, jarred tomatos are freakin’ expensive! At my local store canned tomatos cost less than $2. Spaghetti sauce in a jar costs about $3.75 and a jar of peeled and unseasoned tomatos a whopping $9! To be fair I tried a less expensive brand from Italy, but the tomato flavor was off. I guess we’re a household of tomato snobs and it’s time to start canning our own.

Then I took a gander in my old school Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, circa 1984. I should have known that if I made some tweaks here and there that I wouldn’t be led astray. I substituted the 14 ounces of canned tomatos for a combination of fresh tomatos and (the much less expensive) strained tomato juice in a jar. The surprise ingredient is some pre-made spaghetti sauce instead of the plain tomato sauce, which can also be found cheaply. I subbed chicken stock for water, butter for margarine, and changed the amount of herbs and…voila! The most flavorful and tasty tomato soup I’ve ever made. Even Luke agrees.

Ingredients

You’ll need a blender, either upright or immersion.

1 onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup strained tomato juice
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup spaghetti sauce, try to find one without extra additives and oils
1/2 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 tablespoon fresh
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme OR 1 teaspoon fresh
salt and pepper to taste

Make It

1. In a large saucepan cook onion in butter until tender (not brown).

2. Add fresh tomatos, strained tomatos, broth, spaghetti sauce, basil, thyme, salt/pepper.

3. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Use your blender of choice to smooth it out.

Serve with sourdough grilled cheese and enjoy!

tomato soup CollageThis post featured on the following blog carnivals: Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Sunday School, Fight Back Friday

 

The Family Meal, Worth It?

family mealHave you read my post about how to ease your way into eating Real Foods? You should. If you’ve read it already than you know my #3 way of getting into real food is to make your own food at home, thereby having total control over the ingredients in your meals. Now that you’ve made all this amazing food, hopefully you’ve saved a few minutes to sit with your family and enjoy it.

Norman-Rockwell-ThanksgivingWhen I try and remember growing up what my family did for breakfast, I can only remember my own breakfasts, and occasionally my brother chowing down on a bowl of Rice Crispies. My mom made us breakfast, but I can’t say that I ever remember her eating, and I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t eat breakfast for many years. Lunch was usually at school, except for my senior year when my mom and I had amazing lunches of pizza or bagels at the beach. Dinner, however, was usually spent at the dinner table with the whole family.

simpson thanksgiving-meal-greeting-card

 

My dad usually cooked the meal, my brother and I set the table and cleared, and my parents cleaned the kitchen at the end of the day. I’m certain the memories that my brother and I have about these dinners differ, a lot. Dinner was a time for me to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. My brother was quieter, but I know he got a couple words in. I loved sitting with my family at dinner, even then. As it turns out, not only was it a good stage for me with a captive audience, but there were other benefits.

Eating around the family table takes place in only 50% of homes.

dinner set table 1Considering the powerful and positive outcomes for families, especially adolescents,  we’d be smart to carve out more time for eating together. Children in families who eat together experience:

  • Better grades
  • Healthier eating habits, including more appreciation of vegetables
  • Lower levels of obesity
  • An expanded food palate
  • Less depression and fewer eating disorders
  • Increased feelings that their parents are proud of them
  • Increased ability to resist the use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
  • Lower stress levels

If you have the time, try and get your kids involved in the planning and preparation of a meal. It may make things more difficult, but kids who are involved in their own meals are more likely to eat the food. It’s also important that we teach our kids to listen to their bodies when eating.

 

Start 'em young!
Start ’em young!

Studies show that making your kid eat everything on their plate actually contributes to overeating and obesity. Take this time to teach them about portions. We can always go back for seconds and if we waste less food than there will be leftovers for tomorrow, therefore saving time and $$$.

A few things to consider when planning your family dinner:

dinner porter cooksIn order to achieve positive results you have to put down phones, tablets and other devices, and turn the TV off. Interaction with each other is the important part of eating together.

Now, not every family has someone who gets to stay home and prepare all the meals. This can make it that much harder to get a healthy meal on the table for everyone to share. The importance of meal planning is imperative.

  • Search the web for ideas on how to make a bunch of food at once and freeze it for week nights
  • Eat leftovers
  • Take turns in the kitchen
  • Maybe you have to let an after-school activity go
  • When you do eat out, get it to go and eat at home
  • Start with a couple nights a week and work up to 4-7

Will it take extra work?

Added bonus, if your child eats a the family table regularly, then eating out becomes a breeze.
Added bonus, if your child eats at the family table regularly, then eating out becomes a breeze.

Yes. Sometimes it’ll be a total pain in the butt and seem like more work than it’s worth. Some days you will order a pizza. These are the moments when you have to really consider the priorities you’ve set for your family. Your persistence WILL pay off. I promise (if you leave the serious discussions, devices, and expectations aside) you’ll create a stronger and healthier family.

Sources 1,2,3,4,5

dinner friends
Dinner with friends – everyone gets to feel the love at this family table!

 

This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Cultured Palate, Real Food Wednesday, Small Footprint Friday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Family Table Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday

Real Food Creamy Ranch Cauliflower Mash

cauliflower mashThis is a post that I did last summer, but have spruced up because I’ve recently learned how to make my own Ranch Dressing Herb Mix and that got me really excited about this recipe again.

Luke and I don’t eat a whole lot of processed carbohydrates these days, so I’ve had to get creative with my veggies. This is a cauliflower recipe that I’ve modified from my friend Chelsea‘s recipe. If you want to get crazy, then throw in a cooked potato to make it more like mashed potatoes.

I had never really like cauliflower. Then again, the only time it’s really ever served is on a veggie platter from the supermarket, raw. After perfecting this recipe, I’ve actually acquired a taste for raw cauliflower too. Who would have guessed?

INGREDIENTS

You’ll need a big pot, colander and masher. You can try using an immersion blender, but we’ve done many tests and prefer the crunchiness of the mash over the creaminess of the blender.
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons dry ranch dressing herb mix – make your own or buy an MSG free package
salt to taste
These measurements are estimates, use more or less of anything according to the size of cauliflower and your personal taste.

MAKE IT

1. Start a pot of water to boil.
2. Cut cauliflower into florets, removing the core. Keep them the same size so they’ll all cook in the same amount of time.
3. When water comes to a boil, add the cauliflower and boil for 5-10 minutes. When cooked, you should be able to easily pierce and remove a sharp knife from one of the florets. Drain cauliflower.

4. Add cauliflower and all the ingredients back into the warm pot, and cover for a few minutes to let everything melt.

5. Mash it, stir it, mash it some more. Taste it to see if you want to add more of anything. Mash and stir again.

cauliflower mash1

 

This recipe featured on: Family Table Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Cultured Palate, Real Food Wednesday, Sunday School, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday

Real Food Lactation Cookies (For the whole family)

lactation cookies 1

Were you lucky enough to have that one (maybe more) friend bring you weeks worth of meals right after your baby was born? I was. Thank goodness for my dear friend Chelsea and her overwhelming generosity in the days after my son was born.

lactation cookies doughShe brought over sushi, a bunch of prepared meals and these lactation cookies. As she handed them to me, her 2 year old daughter took a big bite of one too, and with gobs of enthusiasm. While they’re called lactation cookies, everyone will enjoy them. EVERYONE. Bring these cookies to your new mama friends, make them to increase your own milk supply, or just bake them because you want a chewy, oat-y, chocolate chip cookie.

These cookies are so good that my husband made batch after batch in the months after P was born (he’s never baked in his life) and there were days I’m pretty sure we lived on them. My friend Jillian, who is due in 2 weeks, is making them in preparation. I made them for P’s second birthday (make sure your baking soda is not expired). This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

There are a couple of ingredients that make these cookies especially good for making mama’s milk:

  • Oats* eaten on a regular basis have been known to increase milk supply. (source)
  • Flax* meal is high in Omega-3 fats and helps in the creation of linoleic acid which helps create DHA, which is crucial for infant develpement. Flax seeds are also rich in protein, and fiber. (source 1,2)
  • Brewer’s Yeast** which is high in B vitamins and is shown to to increase nutritional value of breast milk. (source 1,2)

lactation cookies milkCombine these ingredients with pastured butter, real salt, pastured eggs and a glass of pastured raw milk on the side and not only will your belly be filled, but so will your baby’s.

*For the preparation of these ingredients, before baking, see the bottom of the recipe.
**Brewer’s yeast can be purchased online or at your natural foods store.

Ingredients

350* for 12-14 minutes
You’ll need a BIG bowl, a smaller bowl, a mixer is nice but not necessary, and a mixing spoon.
Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning for best results.

2 Tbsp flax seed meal
4 Tbsp water

For best nutritional breakdown, mix these two ingredients 8-12 hours ahead of time and cover with plastic wrap or a small plate to keep from drying out.

1 cup butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup organic brown sugar – you can certainly experiment with alternative sweeteners here
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups already sprouted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp real salt
3 cups oats, sprouted or soaked and dried
1 cup cocolate chips (I use the whole package)
2-4 Tbsp Brewer’s Yeast

Make It

Mix flax meal and water 8-12 hours before starting.

In big bowl:

Cream together butter and sugars.

Add eggs and combine.

Add flax mixture and vanilla, combine.

In smaller bowl:

Sift (or whisk) flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda and salt.

Add dry ingredients to the wet and combine.

Mix in oats and chocolate chips by hand.

Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on size, until golden.

lactation cookie cookedAllow to cool on cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before transfering cookies to cooling rack. Don’t skip this step.

ENJOY!

Now, about the flour and oats. It’s important that we soak/sprout our flours, seeds, and oats to make the nutrients more accesible to us, therefore making the recipe that much healthier. Usually we can use the liquids from the recipe to do the soaking, but there’s not nearly enough liquid in this recipe to do that. You can buy already sprouted flour here, or at your natural food store. It can be used for all your baking needs.

About the oats, that’s a bit of a quandary. You can buy them here or at your natural food store. Or you can soak them in water with a tablespoon of lemon juice, vinegar or kefir, covered – over night. Then you can dry them in your dehydrator or, in my case, oven on very low heat < 200* for many hours. You can also try to mix them in wet, but I don’t know what the finished texture will be like. Let me know if you try it.

This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Fight Back Friday

Simple Asparagus – 2 Ways

asparagus 1

Eating seasonally makes a lot of foods that were once common place a lot more exciting, since they only show up once or twice a year. Two of the first spring foods that we get in the northwest (and other colder climates) are strawberries and asparagus.

When food is really fresh, the best way to eat it is in it’s most whole and simple form. This allows the natural flavors to shine and gets you in and out of the kitchen quickly. Something to remember about asparagus, don’t overcook it. It should have a little crunch when you bite into well cooked asparagus, and in no way should it resemble a noodle.

My Favorite 2 Ways To Prepare Asparagus

They both include the same 3 ingredients:

asparagus
real salt
organic pastured butter

Lucky for us, eating your veggies with fat, especially dairy fat, makes all those vitamins more accessible to our bodies, so load up your asparagus with plenty of pastured butter. (source)

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How To Prepare Asparagus (For Any Recipe)

Snap it, wash it, cook it!

Sometimes you’ll cut off a lot of the asparagus stalk, and that can feel wasteful. First, start composting it. Second, you don’t want to eat the stringy woody part that gets chopped, that’s not good eats.

asparagus 2

 

Steamed Asparagus

asparagus 3

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This is my 2 year olds favorite way to eat asparagus. He'll seriously eat it all.
This is my 2 year olds favorite way to eat asparagus. He’ll eat it all, seriously.

 

Grilled Asparagus

asparagus grilled

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The recipe featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Family, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Scratch Cooking Tuesday, Fight Back Friday

Real Food Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffinsUpon waking one day my son asked for muffins. Hmm, okay. We didn’t have muffins. It took me a moment, but then I realized that we had everything we need in our pantry to make blueberry muffins. They aren’t crazy ingredients, it’s not shocking that I had them, but in that moment I felt like the best home-maker ever. And I never have that feeling. It felt really good. Not only that, but it was easy enough to do with my 2-year-old son. And triple bonus, the hubs loves blueberry muffins above the rest. I became giddy about these muffins.

I followed the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook recipe with my real food ingredients and they were eh, and then realized I could make them better. So I did. These aren’t the overly sweet dessert muffins with giant tops that you find at bakeries. They’re slightly sweet delicious treats for breakfast or snack time. You can feel good about your kids eating them too, especially slathered with butter.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups sprouted or soaked wheat flour (If you find 100% whole wheat to be too “wheaty” for your taste, than you can cut in pre-ground Einkorn flour or white flour as the 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or vanilla in a pinch) or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen. Reserve 1/4 cup.

Make it

First things first, you should make this by hand. A mixer will over mix the batter and hand mixing will keep it light and fluffy. So get out a mixing bowl and whisk. Also, I like lining my muffin tin with cups, but if you have your own tried and true way, do that. You should get 10-12 muffins.

Preheat oven to 400*

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

Add all dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl and combine with your whisk. Make a well in the middle.

In a different bowl, beat the eggs and add the other wet ingredients. Make sure the melted butter isn’t so hot that it cooks the eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until ALMOST completely combined.

Add your berries and mix gently until just combined.

Now STOP mixing, don’t over mix, it’ll be better this way.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.

Using your reserved berries add a few to the tops of each muffin so they peek out.

Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Let cool.

If you take off the paper too soon, it’ll tear apart your muffin. So, let it cool awhile before eating. My son hated this part.

The part he loved was eating them covered with butter, duh.

Now go enjoy your muffins!

This post featured on: Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday, Fight Back Friday, Real Food Wednesday, Family Table Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Sunday School, Thank Goodness It’s Monday

Real Food Butter Crackers

butter crackrs

We like crackers in this house. Who doesn’t, really? We especially like them salty and with cheese. Porter’s Grandma T came to visit this weekend and since we didn’t have any crackers in the pantry, we took a trip to the store and picked up the kind my husband and his mom like. I won’t name the brand, but here’s a picture:

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And this is what the ingredient list looks like:

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Did you read that? I didn’t either. I didn’t need to because anything with that many ingredients that look like they belong on the periodic table can’t be Real Food.  And what is TBHQ anyways?

We Ate ‘Em

They were crispy and gave off a buttery appearance despite the lack of any actual butter whatsoever. Of course, my son LOVED them. So then it became my job to come up with a recipe that I feel good about feeding to him. I scoured the internet and tried my own recipes and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients

2 cups flour – I used Einkorn, but will be using Spelt in the future
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt, plus some for sprinkling on top
6 tbsp cold butter, plus 2 tbsp melted for topping
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup milk

Make It

Preheat oven to 400* F

Put the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. You can do this by hand too using knives or a pastry blender.

Add cold butter, small pieces at a time and pulse to combine.

Add honey and coconut oil and pulse to combine.

Add milk and pulse. It should start to form a ball of dough.

Divide the dough in two and roll each half out onto a separate Silpat mat or parchment paper. I used wax paper on top to prevent sticking.

Using a knife or pizza cutter score lines in the shapes you want your crackers to be. Poke holes in each cracker.

Cook in a 400* oven for 10 minutes.

When golden, take out and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Let cool and separate.

They still make plenty of crumbs, Porter proved that immediately. Enjoy!

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Store bought on the left, homemade on the right.

This post featured in Fight Back Friday, Party Wave Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Weekend Gourmet, Small Footprint Friday