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Monday, January 3, 2011

Healthy Eating is Living Green-A Guest Post

My cousin, Jennifer, writes a blog about living green: journeytoagreenlife.blogspot.com.  I am really impressed with all she's shared through her blog. Her blog includes great tips for living a healthier life.  I was especially interested in her post about green household cleaners.  They are safer and cheap!

I asked Jennifer if she would be willing to write a guest post for our site.  I know many of us our looking to make healthy changes as our New Year Resolutions.  Jennifer has offered some great suggestions to head us in the right direction. 

After reading this post, remember to head on over to journeytoagreenlife.blogspot.com to get more great suggestions!  Thanks again, Jennifer!

Shannon

Healthy Eating is Living Green, Recipes Included!!

I have been experimenting with only home cooked foods and I am going to share some of my ideas with you. My goal is to not buy anything in a package other than the staples and some hard to produce items.

I have been on a journey to living a more green life. In this journey I have begun changing the eating habits of my family. My interest is piqued any time there is a new health news report on foods or eating habits. Having a son with multiple food allergies has also raised my awareness of the ingredients in the prepackaged foods we purchase. I have found the only way to feed my family the best and control the exact ingredients in the food we eat is to make it myself.
My son Eli was allergic to dairy and soy for the first year and a half of his life (I say "was" because he has since outgrown the soy allergy). He is also allergic to eggs, nuts, and a few other foods. There was only one brand of frozen French baguette's that he could eat because they did not contain any dairy, egg, or soy. This began my "basic foods" home cooking. I started making my own pizza crusts, rolls, and bread so that Eli could enjoy some of what the rest of us were eating. I realized that it was not only easy to bake these basic foods myself but it really didn't take much time either. The taste was unbelievable! It is unnerving the amount of ingredients and preservatives that are in some basic foods such as bread and pizza dough. Anyways this started my experimenting and opened my eyes to some healthy alternatives to pre-packaged foods.

When I grocery shop I pretty much buy the basic staples and anything that I cannot create myself within a reasonable budget and time frame. Anything I buy prepackaged I always check the ingredients to make sure there are not lots of fillers or unneccessary ingredients. Here is a great site you can find info on all those hard to pronounce ingredients and what to look for and avoid:
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/healthy-ingredients
Some of the things I have started making from scratch are tortillas, bread, waffles, pizza crusts, sweets like cookies and pies, and seasonings like chili and taco seasoning. My shopping lists usually consist of staples like flour, sugar, sunbutter, rice, meats, eggs, milk, spices, nuts and seeds and apple juice(this is something I have not found a way to produce better or more efficiently than the manufacturers). I try to buy my produce from local produce stands or farms to keep it green. I have found that in doing this my grocery bill has decreased and the amount of money we spend on eating out. These savings are a great way to buy some organic products that typically cost more.

My next big recipe will be making fresh cheeses. I haven't done so yet but my mindset is "if it can be done, I can do it myself". I am currently looking for somewhere to purchase unpasturized goats milk so that I can make some that the entire family can enjoy. Below you can find some of my recipes and try them out yourself. I do most of my baking dairy and egg free so you can always substitute real eggs and dairy where I use egg substitute and soy or rice milk. I have found that this way of cooking and preparing meals it great for a budget and your health. You will find you can be very satisfied with your meals and at the same time be consuming less calories and sodium than if you were using prepackaged foods or eating out and consuming no nitrates. I even sneak in fresh spinach in my brownies and anywhere else I can hide the vibrant color from my older kids. I always use fresh veggies as my fillers in homemade breads, sauces, soups, and even meatloaf. This is a great way to get picky kid to eat their share of veggies sometimes without even knowing:) Enjoy!

Fresh Salsa
3 fresh tomatoes
1/2 medium onion
1 green chili
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
Blend all ingredients in a food processor and serve

Homemade Hamburger Buns
2 tbsp dry active yeast
1 cup plus 2 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg replacer
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 cup of fresh chopped spinach
Dissolve yeast in warm water, stir in oil and sugar - let stand 5 minutes. Add egg replacer, salt, white flour, and 1/2 cup of wheat flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Fold in spinach. Knead 5 minutes. Divide into 8 pieces, shape into a disc. Let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes.

Turkey Chili
1 lb. ground turkey
1 green pepper chopped
1 onion chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1 yellow squash chopped
3 tomatoes chopped
1 can tomato paste (you can substitute tomato soup for a healthier option or homemade tomato sauce))
homemade chili seasoning to taste (recipe below)
Saute turkey and veggies in a dash of olive oil. When cooked thoroughly add tomatoes, and tomato sauce and season. Simmer for at least an hour to let all the flavors meld.


Homemade Chili Seasoning
1 tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp seasoned pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Store in an airtight container and season chili to taste. You can double or triple the recipe to save on time and have a larger amount on hand.

Pizza Crust
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cups flour
1 pack quick rise yeast
Top with favorite pizza topping and bake at 425 until browned.

Zucchini Lime Carrot Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 cup finely shredded carrot
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg substitute
1/2 tsp lime zest
Im a mixing bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, sal, baking powder, and nutmeg. In another bowl combine sugar, shredded zucchini and carrots, olive oil, egg substitute, and lime zest and mix well. Add flour mixture and stir until combined.
Pour batter into a 8x4x2 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Great for a healthy breakfast alternative to pancakes or poptarts.

We would like to thank Jennifer for sharing her wisdom and expertise.  If you have something you'd like to guest blog about, please let us know!
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Toys: Divide and Conquer!

My husband has been complaining lately that the kids have too many toys and that toys are everywhere.  I don't want to get rid of toys as I know that Anna will play with them as she gets older.  Since I am on "Mission Organization" at our house, I thought I would tackle all the toys.

I went to the store with everyone else on a craze to get re-organized and bought three huge bins. I was smart and got the ones with the wheels!
I put them in the basement all in a row, so that I could easily put toys in them.  I gathered all the toys from upstairs, minus the new Christmas toys and piled them in laundry baskets.  I took the laundry baskets downstairs and started dividing up the toys. 

I made sure to each child had toys to play with in each bin.  Once the laundry baskets were empty, I started tackling the playroom.  This was a chore, but I knew it would be worth it.  First, I took toys off their shelving unit.  I kept only the toys I wanted them to play with for the next month.  All the rest of the toys were divided among the bins.

I continued around the room until I had the room organized and all three bins filled.  Then I tucked away the bins in our storage area. Now the kids have a smaller selection of toys to play with for this month. 

Next month I plan to grab a new bin, empty it into the playroom and fill it with the toys they have been playing with.  Hopefully, this will keep the kids entertained with the toys they have and also make them feel like Christmas at the beginning of each month.

Our playroom isn't as cluttered and I have a happy husband who isn't overwhelmed with toys.  That makes me happy as well!

Have you tried this before?  If so, did it work well? 

In what ways are you organizing your house for the New Year?

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