Tag Archives: real food

Meal planning-with a twist

26 Sep

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Every one needs a cool glass of sunset once in a while, don’t you think?

But seriously, wouldn’t it be awesome to have dinner at that table every night?    My family only got to have that view for a few short days during Christmas break, but every night was just that beautiful.

When my extended family gets together for several days, we have devised a plan to make sure we are all fed and fed well for the duration of the visit.  Each family takes on a meal or two and brings a variety of snacks to share.  It makes the gatherings both enjoyable and affordable, as well as easier for which to plan and shop.  Interestingly, we also end up leaving with lots of leftovers!

Sadly, my life at home is not quite so easy.  I have done a variety of meal plans, and some have worked well for short periods of time.  The truth is though, just because you have a plan, doesn’t mean it will always work.  My biggest issue is just finding the time and energy at the end of a long and sometimes crazily busy day to make dinner.  I can’t tell you how many times I have come in to the kitchen at 4:30 or 5pm and realized that the meat that was supposed to be thawing in the fridge overnight never made it out of the freezer.

Sigh.  (That is not always my thought.)

So this year, we are trying something new. While our setup is unique to me and my particulars, I wanted to share some ideas to motivate meals and build community at the same time.  In the upcoming weeks, I hope to come up with some kind of cool name, like Menu Mondays or Sample Sunday, and share the ideas we have for that week.  There won’t always be a recipe, but that is what google is for, right?

Idea 1: Barter

Trading for Services

Do you know someone who cooks the way you want to eat?  Do they have kids?  Do they have time?  Do you have something of value to trade?

If you can trade services for meals this is a fantastic way to get some good food on the table.  I know some people who trade massage therapy, piano lessons, handyman work, gardening, sewing lessons, etc.  Any of those things make excellent currency when looking to trade for meals.

If you are looking for cost comparisons, real food meals *IN TRADE* should cost about $10 per person per meal.  This would include time to prepare.

Trading Meals

If you are the one with the meals to barter, try making a double portion when you are cooking for someone else.  Freeze or refrigerate the second portion for your own family.  This way, your time is being utilized very well, and not only are you getting a service for your hard work, but also feeding your family at the same time.

Idea 2: Prepping with a Friend (or 3 or 5)

Find three to five friends who have similar family structure and food choices.  For example, if you have 3 or 4 young kids, you could partner with people who have 3 or 4 or 5 young kids OR with someone who has 1 or 2 teenagers.  The idea is to need about the same amount of food in each family, with or without leftovers.

Plan one day a week to either cook independently or, for a really fun day, together.  Each person contributes one meal but makes it in bulk with portions for each family.  So you leave your fun cooking session with 3 meals ready to go for the week.

There are so many things that can go along with this!  You can have family meal ratings, anonymous, of course.  This way, everyone gets feedback on the meals without getting feelings hurt.  You can have weekly or monthly themes, kid prepped weeks, added dessert weeks…

And if you are getting together to make the meals, you can have wine.

I’m just sayin…wine.  Win, win.

Idea 3: Payment plan

Similar to barter except…well, with money.

Pay for it

If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford it, find a friend who is a great cook and pay her/him to make you three or four meals per week.  This works really well if you are the payer, because time is money and crazy schedules can work if you have ready made meals to throw together.  If you eat out a lot, this can also be a time AND money AND waist line saver.  Count the cost, see if this is an option for you.

Some advantages from the community perspective is that you are becoming intimately involved with whoever cooks for you.  It is a labor of love, even if there is money involved.

Get Paid For It

If you are the awesome cook, you can offer this as a solution for a friend who can afford it.  (Even as an option to help someone save money!)  Bonus for the chef is that while you are doing meals for someone else, you make double portions and have meals for your own family as well.  Again, time is used very efficiently and you make a little money to pay for art or music lessons (or wine) on the side.

The Point

The point is, we aren’t in this alone.  There are lots of other families who are struggling to get dinner on the table each night.  What a great opportunity to step into a real community spirit and share the burden and blessing of food with each other!

If you have more ideas or something that has worked for your community, please share in the comments!


Raw Mocha (with Dairy free option)

22 Sep

Once upon a time, I worked in a coffee shop.  This was not one of those big named, rigidly structured, seen on every corner shops.  This was a smallish mom and pop shop a little too far up the street from the university I was attending.  In this little shop, I was first introduced to something called Toddy, or cold pressed coffee.  Once I understood it, I was also given lots and lots of freedom to randomly create new and exciting drinks.

Ah, those were the days.

Today, I realize that coffee is not the best thing I could be doing for myself, but doggone it, sometimes I just want one.

There are some out there who have found ways of making their morning cup not only energizing (the right way), but also entertaining.  Check out bulletproof here.

Yeah, I’ve tried that.  Too much work.

And so we return to the cold pressed coffee.

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel so guess what!  That’s right!  I am sending you away again!  Just don’t forget to come back once you have figured out how to make it!  Learn more about all the benefits about it here.

Just for information, I use this to make mine.

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Some coffee shops carry them, or you can just buy it here.

I have to say, the quality of the coffee you use is actually pretty important.  Get the best, least toxic, single origin, shade grown stuff that you can find.  It is worth every drop.

Now once you have your cold coffee concentrate, you can make a great iced mocha, blended or on ice.  (I prefer mine over ice because the flavors are stronger.)

Raw Mocha (With or without Dairy)

1 cup coffee concentrate

1 tbsp good quality raw cacao powder (I get mine from Azure Standard.)

1 tsp. raw coconut nectar or more if needed for sweetness (available at health food stores or Azure.)

Throw those together into the blender and blend until foamy.

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If you are having it over ice, fill a 24 oz* cup about 2/3 full of ice.  If you want it blended, take the ice that you measured out and toss it into the blender with your frothy coffee.  Blend until nice and crunchy.  *If you only have smaller cups, just make it in a large bowl and serve yourself a couple cups with a ladle.

Pour into the cup and add:

*2-3 tbsp raw cream

Fill the cup the rest of the way with raw milk. (About 1/3 to 1/2 cup)

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I know, my cups are a mess.  But they are well used BPA free cups with lids.  Essential for this momma of four!

*Dairy free option:

Fill the cup the rest of the way up with coconut milk or cream.

Stir and enjoy!

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Apple Chicken Salad (Paleo)

10 Sep

Not too long ago, I posted a super quick mayo recipe.  This recipe changed my life!  It has made so many other recipes simple and easy to make with real ingredients.

For example, this chicken salad recipe I am about to share.  The mayo takes about 3 minutes, and once the chicken is cooked, the rest of this thing just takes about 10 minutes total.  Such an easy protein to have in the fridge for snacks or for a quick meal.

Now, I always buy pasture raised chicken, since I can’t bring myself to eat any of the girls we have in the backyard.  Here are some good reasons to consider that for yourself as well.  And here.  Oh, and a little about eggs here.

ANYway, enough preaching, (Can I get an AMEN?!).  Time for sharing.

Apple Chicken Salad

1 whole chicken

1 apple, any crisp variety

1 red onion

3 or 4 stalks of celery

1 mayo recipe

sea salt and pepper to taste

1.  Start off with a fairly bland cooked chicken.  You can roast or fry or whatever.  I usually boil a whole chicken til it starts to fall apart, take it out of the water, strip it of all the meat and throw the bones and skin back in the water to make broth.  This gives you a perfectly shredded chicken and gives you lots of yummy flavor for the bone broth.  Chop it up and throw it into a big bowl.

I always start with a bowl that is too small and end up having to clean two.  Sigh.

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2.  Next, make your mayo.  (Click here for the recipe.)

3.  Cut up the apple, onion and celery into a dice.

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Throw those into the bowl too.

4.  Add the entire mayo recipe, some sea salt and pepper, then mix it all up.  It should be fairly moist.  Taste.  Does it need more salt?  Probably.  Add some more.  Taste again.  Should be perfect by now!


Did I mention that this is great to have in the fridge for a hurried snack or lunches for the kids?  Yeah, cuz it is.

This week, we had it wrapped in lettuce cups.  Mmmm, my favorite!


My New Friend

29 Aug

Growing up in a family with 5 siblings, I didn’t get much alone time.  I guess it stuck, because I didn’t really like that much alone time, (until after I became a stay at home mom that is).

Before kids, I didn’t like going to the store alone.  Forget about the movies.

By myself?

Are you crazy?

Who will share the experience with me?!    Who will I laugh with?!  Or cry with?

I found that the same was true for exercise.  I liked running.  I especially liked running when someone would go with me.  In high school, I ran all the time, but that was mostly for basketball.  Then, I was always surrounded by my teammates who were just as miserable as I was.  In college, I found that my best friends were the ones who first were my running partners.  In fact, one of my college running buddies ran with me all the way up until I had my third and fourth kids.  (Twins)

About a year after they were born, I had a back injury, probably due to running.  It was a herniated disc which made running pretty impossible.  I forget sometimes, how bad it was.  But then I read the blog I wrote when I was making the decision for surgery and it reminds me.

I am better now.  Still have some numbness down my leg, even 4 years after surgery.  But it is really minor compared to what it was.  The main issue is that I am not supposed to be running.  Like, ever again.


Oh, and don’t forget, I homeschool and go to school (online).  Try that for making meeting up with friends to go exercise just about impossible!  And classes.  Bleck.  I mean…

I think you get now that I am what is called a buddy exerciser.  This makes it pretty challenging to be motivated to stay active without a buddy.  I mean, the kids are one thing, but they are not a buddy…

Enter my new friend.  (This is seriously not an advertisement.  I am not getting paid for this.  Though, that might not be a bad idea…)

I just got a fitbit a couple weeks ago.  Now, I don’t wear mine at night because I think we need to have at least one place in the house where we can escape the wireless electronics. (Read this link.  Worth further study, I think.) But it is set up so that you can track your sleeping habits as well.

(By the way, here is a really good article about artificial light and bad sleep.  I love Chris Kresser!)

I have to tell you, it has motivated me like a friend!  The goal is to get 10,000 steps per day.  That goal is adjustable, but that is the beginning level.  You can add people as friends on your fitbit profile page, though I have only added one so far.  Tonight, I went and did 50 minutes on my elliptical, which I normally hate.  When I was at about 30 minutes, and TIRED, I looked at my fitbit lights, (they light up based on how close you are to your goal) and realized I still had more than 20% left to go.

I swear, it was like hearing it say, “Come on!  You can keep going!  I’m not done yet!”

Um.  You are a sucky mean great friend.  So, okay.  Fine.  I’m going.

Of course, it is not a perfect friend.  It didn’t count half of my elliptical steps…um, thanks for nothing…?

But to its credit, it totally counted all my steps when I was making 6 meals on Sunday!  I did more than 3 miles in my kitchen!

So, I am taking the good with the bad.  And getting to know my friend better, as it makes me walk.  A lot.  All day.  Everyday.  With the kids.  And without the kids…

I think I need to name her.

Nutty pesto

28 Aug

Who doesn’t like a good pesto?

Well, okay, I didn’t.  I am not sure if it was the overpowering basil and garlic flavor that I didn’t like, or if it was just that I had never had FRESHLY made pesto.  Lemme tell you, freshness makes a world of difference!

Not too long ago, I was watching Lidia of Italy on the Create channel.  Yes, that is what I watch for fun.  Did I mention that I don’t have cable?  Makes for some interesting tv viewing choices, lemme tell you. But at least my kids only know the shows that are on PBS.  ANYWAY, she mentioned that pesto could be made with any nut.

Wait.  What?  Any?

Well, I have to tell you, that got me off the couch and into the kitchen almost immediately.  The possibilities are suddenly endless!  And did I mention easy?  Seriously.  This takes all of about 5 minutes to make.

So here we go:

Nutty Pesto

1-1 1/2 cups any nut (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pinenuts, cashews, etc)

3 or 4 cloves fresh garlic

2 cups basil

1 cup parsley or spinach

1/4 cup olive oil, or up to 1/2 cup (I use Chaffin Family Orchard brand)

1 tsp sea salt (or more or less to taste)

For this recipe I used raw organic pecans.  Start by grinding them up in the food processor until they are a course ground.

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Pull the skins off of the garlic.  Easy way to do this is to lay it on the chop board, lay the flat of a large knife on top and then slam it down with your hand.

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Then dump that into the food processor.

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Add the salt, basil and the parsley. (This is where the spinach should go in if it is in season.) I used these fresh from the garden.

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Start to grind and add the olive oil as it grinds up.

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When it is a nice texture, maybe 2 or 3 minutes later.  Take it out and taste it.

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Yum!  Serve over chicken, or mix into cooked rice noodles with some Parmesan cheese.  Super easy meal, in almost no time.  Kid tested.

Whole chicken to Dinner

27 Aug

 One of the ways we save money is to buy our pastured chickens whole.  That means that if we want to make a dish requiring cuts of chicken, I have to cut it myself.  Fortunately, I found a way, after watching multiple youtube videos, to cut it almost effortlessly.  Remember, this is the Lazy Chef way, which means there are not going to be gorgeous presentations at a gourmet dinner.  This is family cooking at it’s best. 

So, what better way to share my chicken cutting technique than on youtube!   This video was made a couple years ago for a friend.  I actually had her hunt it down for me from her archives so I could youtube it and share with all of you!  So thanks, Tracey! 

Just as a word of caution, this is a chicken.  And I am cutting it up.  So if you are squeamish about meat or the reality of food, you should not watch.  Seriously.  

Tomorrow, I will be sharing my pesto recipe.  This is a great way to cover the chicken we just cut…stay tuned!


Who is the lazy chef?

24 Aug

Let me be clear.  I consider myself a lazy chef because I just do not have time to spend three hours in the kitchen making these Cordon-Bleu-level-of-perfection masterpieces.  However, I love food, as long as it is REAL food, and I love to make things taste good.  I have a pretty good understanding of much of the science behind how foods work, both in the body and when combined in cooking.    I eat real, whole, straight from the farm foods, and that ain’t always easy!   All my recipes reflect that as a life philosophy, and I hope you can join in and enjoy the flavor life takes on when it is real.

I also have a story, just like each of you has a story.  Mine includes an amazing hubby, four kids under 12, homeschooling, multiple degrees in education and a degree in progress for Holistic Nutrition.  (Can you say over-achiever?)  It also includes growing up in the middle of the country with a great big garden and chickens, having chickens in our urban backyard on the west coast, and cooking for a kid with multiple allergies.  (Hubby wanted me to put urban “homesteading” backyard, just to make a point.  You’ll have to ask me about that for more info on the inside joke!)

Oh, and did I mention that I am very opinionated?  I don’t always share them, but I almost always have a strong opinion about any given topic.  My goal though, is to always be courteous when sharing mine, so that you can be courteous when sharing yours.

Intrigued yet?  No?  Then this blog is not for you.

My true purpose in starting this blog, (cuz I already have one that I rarely ever use), is to have a record of the recipes I make since I am always forgetting to write them down.  So, follow along, try my recipes, alter them and let me know how it worked for you!