I'm a Christian wife & homeschooling mama, saved by faith through grace. I changed my family's diet from SAD (Standard American Diet) to healthy, delicious & nutritious traditional foods. I've recently discovered there's a name for the way that I eat. It's called Primal or Paleo (I like the diet and think of the men and women who worked hard from sunup to sundown, constantly on the go, eating meat, berries they picked, cheese they made. I do not believe in evolution). No grains, legumes, refined sugars, and no/limited dairy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Roasted Chicken and Savory Broccoli

I put chicken thighs in oven, seasoned with salt and pepper, then lasted them in the oven, at 400, for about fifty minutes, until the thigh easily came apart.

I had some broccoli I'd cut up and frozen fresh. Took drippings from chicken, poured into my cast iron skillet and cooked broccoli in it with some fermented garlic, salt and pepper. Delicious!! Some of the best tasting meals are also the simplest! I'm reminding myself of that, as I return to meal planning and being careful to stay in my budget.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coconut creamer/whipped cream

Very simple, delicious and healthy cream that I've been putting in my dandelion/chicory root "coffee" & on my coconut cake.

Solid cream from a can of coconut milk
Maple syrup to taste

Blend in a blender and refrigerate!

ETA: I've been doing a whole can of full fat coconut milk with sweetener (honey or coconut sugar) and recently, I put in the seeds from an inch of vanilla bean. The whipping from the blender adds fluffiness. So yummy!

You can enjoy the leftover coconut water as a refreshing, electrolyte replacing beverage or add it to your smoothie.

Conventional Banana - Guest post

My best friend, Holly, is awesome. She is who got me started down the whole foods route and encourages me in so many more ways now. I am blessed to have her in my life. She has a lot of wisdom and insight, and she'll be quick to tell you, she also has a few foibles, but we love her anyway ;)
She mentioned "conventional banana" one day, and I asked her to do a guest blog post about it, because it's a great idea.

Without further ado, Holly:

I am an all-or-nothing kind of person.  My husband of nearly seventeen years is very aware of this.   My personality trait can come in handy sometimes, like when we started our whole foods journey.  I got rid of offending foods and didn't invite them back into the house.  We cut out processed food, cold turkey.

Unfortunately, life situations mean you can't always be all-or-nothing.  When I couldn't get food for myself and my family that was perfectly "right" in my mind, I had a mental block.  I felt like a failure.  I felt like all was lost and I was doomed to become morbidly obese once again.  In a moment, I would give up, mentally.

One day, my husband gave me an example that helps me maintain perspective.  He said if I couldn't find an organic banana, I'd eat a Snickers Bar.  While it wasn't exactly like that, it was uncomfortably close to the truth.  He put his hands on my shoulders and looked me very intensely in the eye and told me I could always choose a conventional banana.

For some reason, that thought had never occurred to me.  It applies to many areas of life, not just food choice.  To this day, if he sees my all-or-nothing attitude rear its ugly head, all he has to say is "Choose the conventional banana."  I know exactly what he means and I find the strength to carry on with better until best is available again.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Refrigerated Coconut Milk

This is also called Coconut Tonic, but it tastes similar to refrig coconut milk that comes in cartons. It's about the same price, but without potentially dangerous additives. That post made me want to unread it at first, because I really like my cartoned milks. I want us to have the healthiest foods we can, though and read the post on how to make my own milks, yay! So, I will be looking for the least expensive source for almonds to make my own almond milk for the kids. And until then, I'll use the new coconut milk recipe for milks in baking & occasional drinking.

Immunity Boosting Soup

My wonderful husband came home Monday with a sore throat, so I made this soup for us to boost our immune systems. In place of butter, potatoes & celery, I used coconut oil, Turnips & Bok Choy. I had a little bit of shredded summer squash that's been frozen, so I threw that in there, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Breakfast Banana Muffins & Strawberry-Kiwi-Banana Smoothies

We had some bananas, strawberries & kiwis leftover from our Bountiful Baskets baskets, and we're out of good fresh farm eggs, so what to make for breakfast?
These delicious Banana Muffins. Of course, I made them before realizing that E3 couldn't eat them, due to bananas. Sigh. So I gave her one of my chocolate muffins/cupcakes from a post or two ago.
I only had 2 Tbsp coconut flour left, I thought I'd had 4 Tbsp, oops. So I added 2 Tbsp Quinoa Flakes & 1/4 cup Sorghum Flour to make up for the lack of coconut flour. They turned out quit well! I even had enough to make a little "cake" in an oven safe bowl. I'm not sure the honey was necessary, the bananas might have sweetened them enough by itself.

The Smoothies were made with strawberries, kiwis, and bananas (none for E3), probiotic powder & hemp seeds for protein and Omegas, as well as many other nutrients that are found in hemp seeds.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coconut Butter

Azure Standard. I saw Coconut Butter
About 3 1/2 years ago, I started ordering from, so thought, that sounds yummy and ordered some. My taste buds were not quite ready for that, lol. I tried it once or twice, and then it got tossed or given away.

I've come a long way, and coconut is a big staple of my cooking/baking and I appreciate it much more.

Yesterday, I made coconut butter! It's delicious and was super easy to make. It's amazing that something dry can go to something liquidy in just a few minutes! I used the Let's Do Organic! Shredded Coconut I had left, and added a little coconut oil. I did it in my magic bullet, because I really had very little coconut and just wanted to try it out. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, however, so here's the blog post that I used. This would be a fun thing to do with the kids!

Muffins!! And Coffeecake!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Cinnamon Bun Muffins
I wanted to make some muffins to have in the freezer for snacks on the go. As I'm not eating lots of things currently, to try to heal my little breastfed baby's tummy, I am stocking up on eat on the go foods, and stuff that is easy to heat up quickly or just take out and eat, because otherwise I find I'm ravenous and cranky and it takes too long to make something to eat that has protein and fats, to help my blood sugar stay where it needs to be and be satisfying to me. I plan to do a Grab & Go Food type of post in the future.

Comfy Belly is one of my favorite blogs. She has AWESOME coconut flour muffin recipes! My favorites have been Pumpkin Muffins, Cinnamon Bun Muffins (pictured above), and Chocolate Cupcakes. I forgot to add the cacao nibs to the Chocolate Muffins, but will try to remember next time. I used Cacao powder, I'm really enjoying it! I'll use less honey next time, they were a bit too sweet. I'd like to try coconut sugar in them, but will have to add extra liquid, as coconut flour sucks up all available as it expands - making for a very moist muffin, but needs extra liquid if I use a dry sweetener instead of a liquid one, like honey. 

For the Cinnamon Bun muffins,
In place of the yogurt -  I used

1/3 cup refrigerated coconut milk (different from canned, but you could use canned, too) mixed with
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar

to make the soured milk taste in place of yogurt. I usually use almond milk, but since we're trialing no nuts for my little one, coconut milk it is! (Coconut is not usually a problem for most tree nut allergic people, from what I understand.)

In place of the honey in the muffin batter, I used:
coconut sugar with enough coconut milk to equal the honey,
so I put 1/2 cup coconut sugar in the measuring cup, and added coconut milk (stirring) to make 1/2 cup sweetened liquid. That way they won't be too dry.

For the topping, I used melted extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil and coconut sugar. Date sugar does NOT work well in this topping. This is a very moist muffin, one of my faves. I love to freeze them and eat frozen. MMM!

I've been asked a lot lately where to buy coconut flour. Check out my Products post for that info!

ETA: Last week, I made coffeecake using this recipe! Mix as above and put in 8x8 pan, top with topping. It took longer to bake, so keep an eye on it.


Mostly thawed frozen strawberries

Starting to melt

Almost done!

Finished product! About 13.5 pints!

I had a bag of frozen strawberries from Costco that had kind of frozen into a giant clump. So I decided to make jam. The 6# bag cost me $8.99, an 8 oz jar of Strawberry jam WITH additives like corn fiber, natural flavors, pear & grape juice concentrate, citric acid and pectin costs about $2.50 at the store. $33.75

I heated the strawberries, poking them with my Pam.pered Chef Mix n Chop (one of my best kitchen tools!), added about 1/4-1/2 cup coconut sugar & kept poking them until it all the big chunks were gone. I then dumped 5 packets of gelatin in, which was a rookie mistake, as I've used gelatin before. You're *supposed* to dissolve it in a separate bowl of warm water/something first, THEN add it to your dish. Oops. It got really clumpy and wasn't making the whole pot gelatinous. Immersion blender to the rescue! That was the best $4 I've ever spent at a thrift store! Then I poured it into jars and let cool on the counter for several hours and now they're in the fridge. If I'd been thinking ahead, I would have gotten freezer jars, so I could freeze them withoutu worry of the jar breaking. I might can them, but we'll see. If I can can them with a water bath canner, I probably will. 

This took me about 15 minutes total time and cost about $.81 per 8 oz (it was probably a little less, but I was generous in my estimations). That's a savings of $1.69/8 oz! Definitely worth my time and the gelatin mistake that was corrected easily enough!

Friday, January 13, 2012


I have a facebook page! If you're like me, and forget to check your blog reader, this is a handy way to keep up on my posts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fermented Garlic

I'm starting fermented garlic today! I'm really excited. I LOVE garlic, and love good bacteria that is made through lacto-fermentation. Lacto-fermentation can be dairy free, the "lacto" is referring to "lactobacillus", a good bacteria we need. Fermenting makes more vitamins, more digestible, more good bacteria in your guts, & it just plain tastes good!
To make it dairy free, I used lemon juice (that is fermented, an experiment I didn't know I was doing in my fridge) in place of the whey. It seems you can also use vinegar, but you'd want to use a really good one, like Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (you can find it in the health food section at HyVee, Baker's/Kroger, etc).

Next, I plan on trying Quick & Easy Gingered Carrots (but I won't be grating them, they'll be organic baby carrots or sliced carrots).

I got the bag of garlic at Costco, in the produce cooler. 
See my beautiful flowers my friend brought me yesterday?
And in the way back, you can see my 
gallon jar of sauerkraut a friend gave to me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Creamy Turmeric Tea

Mmm, this turned out really well and is a satisfying replacement for traditional hot cocoa.
I recently learned of turmeric's health benefits & have been looking for a way to incorporate it into my diet.
I used almond mik, turmeric, ground ginger & coconut sugar. I think cinnamon would be a welcome addition.
Recipe from Mark's Daily Apple

Bacon muffins

Yummy!! My friend, Kristen, shared this recipe on facebook, and boy did it sound good! So I made some today for breakfast tomorrow and snacks! :) Healthy fats, fiber, protein makes for a great muffin.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Journey

I'm Mary, I have an amazing husband and four wonderful children, all with names that start with E. I started down the whole foods road about over 4 years ago, due to a wonderful friends' influence on a forum on www.thebabywearer.com . Thanks to her journey and the other awesome ladies on there, I learned about traditional foods and healthy fats

Two years ago in August 2009, I was pregnant with our third and started having more GI issues, causing me to lose weight. I became intolerant to dairy, gluten and corn and was already intolerant to soy. It turned out my baby was intolerant to all those things, PLUS (we found out when she was a few weeks old) rice. She's outgrown everything except rice, blueberries & bananas (as far as we know, we don't do gluten or oats in our home). I lost 56 lbs in 2010, while nursing E3, due to eating a Primal/Paleo diet (although I didn't know what it was called at the time). I looked the best I ever had & healthy, was wearing sizes I'd NEVER worn as an adult, and felt awesome. I even did the Insanity workout!

Shortly after E3 was born, the kids went dairy & gluten free with me. My oldest daughter had throat clearing issues when she had milk products and both of them had had eczema from the time they were babies.

My son changed. He became better able to communicate and his behavior went from tantrums all the time to being a pleasure to be around. It turns out he is on the Autism Spectrum with Semantic Pragmatic Disorder. SPD is very similar to Asperger's, but not as severe. It's the communication problems and many of the social skills, but he's not rigid in his schedule or rules, so doesn't freak out if we change things up. It's like he's come out of a fog. He's such a wonderful child to be with now! I hate to say it like that, but it's true. I'm tearing up, just remembering. We were feeding him poison for him. Chicken nuggets, gluten bread, etc. He couldn't communicate with us and was so frustrated. He's very bright and finished his first grade math and reading/language program a semester early. He's in speech therapy to help him learn some of the social skills he won't just pick up like neurotypical kids, and it's helped a lot.

My children, husband and myself are healthier. We rarely get sick (praise the Lord!). My older kids haven't taken antibiotics since about 2007, and my younger kids have never had them. My son and oldest daughter used to get lots of ear infections. Since starting chiropractic care, eating well, and trying to get lots of Vitamin D through the sun in the summer, and cod liver oil in the winter, they haven't had one to my knowledge. If they do start to get sore ears, we get them adjusted, and that takes care of it. We occasionally get colds and flu, but they're quick and not that bad, overall.

I am so thankful for what I've learned and the way we eat, because of the amazing changes we've seen in our family. 

I just had our fourth baby last month, and it seems she's intolerant to rice, also, so I'm back on the Primal band wagon full force. 

I choose Primal Blueprint www.marksdailyapple.com over Paleo because of the 80/20 rule (eat best 80% of the time, eat whatever 20%, though I try to be closer to 100%), the allowance of natural sweeteners like maple syrup, raw local honey, coconut sugar, and used to do stevia (but I'm allergic to ragweed and stevia is in that family or something, so I got allergy headaches from it).

Why eat foods that hurt me? I don't want to feel crappy or in pain, so I choose to eat this way for me, my family, and my little baby who can't choose what to eat herself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here we go again!

My little baby is having some issues. I'm pretty sure she's intolerant to rice as well as milk & soy proteins.
I've been wanting to go back to Primal Blueprint, but have been using my 20% on rice and corn in foods. I hope that she feels better quickly. I love her so much, it's hard when I know she's having troubles.

I wanted to talk about attitude again. I'm choosing to have a good attitude about the diet restrictions. Sure, it may mean a little more work for me, but now that I'm not pregnant anymore, I have energy and motivation to cook and look up recipes. I'm so thankful that I have experience, have found that paleo/primal works for our restrictions, and most of all, that I know what to do to help my precious baby feel better.

It's all about attitude. I could choose to have a bad attitude and begrudgingly do this diet for my baby (even though it majorly benefits me as well). I could choose to get an expensive formula that may or may not help. But I'm going to choose to have a good attitude and be thankful that it's a relatively easy fix for her (Lord willing, as long as it's not something other than intolerances).

It can be overwhelming, especially when starting out, but there's LOTS of support out there! Other moms have done it, loads of people are doing Primal/Paleo(disclaimer, I love the info, I don't believe in the evolution stuff, I believe that God created everything in six days, according to Genesis), allergen free products are easier than ever to find. Blogs, websites and recipe books are available all over the internet.
There are lots of things to be thankful for!

The first big hurdle of starting an elimination diet, in my opinion, is deciding to do it and do it with a good attitude. It's way more fun! :) And I'm here to help.

Xanthan Gum versus Guar Gum

When I first had to make drastic changes to my diet, due to my pregnancy, then little nursling at the time, I couldn't have corn, gluten, dairy, soy, oats. So I had to find something else to use as a binder in baking for my gluten free treats. Enter Guar Gum. Corn free and about a third the price of Xanthan gum, it's economical and works just as well. According to Wikipedia,
"Xanthan gum may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, dairy, or soy. As such, persons with known sensitivities or allergies to food products are advised to avoid foods including generic xanthan gum or first determine the source for the xanthan gum before consuming the food."
Guar gum, on the other hand, is made from ground up guar beans. Much more simple and not at risk of triggering a reaction if you're allergic/intolerant to corn, wheat, dairy or soy (depending on what the xanthan gum was derived from). And did I mention it's cheaper? About a third cheaper! 

Chocolate Pudding!

I got my cacao powder and nibs via UPS yesterday, so wanted to try something with them! I turned to one of my favorite websites, The Spunky Coconut and searched "cacao". This Coconut & Raw Cacao Pudding
recipe came up, so I tried it. I'm out of hemp seeds (something I will be remedying Friday) and used sucanat, bc I'm also out of coconut sugar. Amazon is my friend and that's where I got the cacao, ordered coconut sugar and will be ordering hemp seeds from. This was really easy and fun. I think I'll use almond milk instead of water next time, though. Looking forward to having the hemp seeds in it!