Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Green Pea Guacamole

I was a little skeptical about this new recipe because I’m just not that crazy about green peas.  However, it turned out really good!  

Here it is…

2 cups frozen green peas
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon powdered garlic
¼ cup minced sweet onion
½ cup minced tomato
Cilantro to taste

Put peas under warm water until softened but still cold.  Drain well.

Place peas, lemon juice, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor and process until very smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Stir in onion and tomato.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

*The recipe says to serve within an hour or two to retain the color but mine looked just as good after being in the frig overnight and actually tasted better!

Serve with crackers, vegetables or chips.  It can also be used as a sandwich spread.

*Recipe from Vibrant Life magazine

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Health Magazine

When we ordered our latest bulk food order, we were given a copy of a magazine the company puts out.  I have read quite a bit of it and it’s very interesting.  Did you know the top two killers in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer?  Could this be due to the American diet?  I don’t see why not.  Most Americans eat a diet high in fat, preservatives, additives, hydrogenated oils, etc.  How much processed food is in your cabinet?  Heart disease and cancer are not diseases you get just because of age.  I believe, for the most part, they are diseases you get because of poor lifestyle choices.  You cannot expect your body to remain healthy when it is fed junk and never exercised. 

According to Dr. Esselstyn (a doctor and researcher featured in the film Forks Over Knives), 

“Cardiovasuclar disease is a benign, food-related illness that can be halted.  Cardiovascular disease is almost non-existent in China, Papua New Guinea, central Africa, and the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico.  These are largely plant-based cultures.”   

Now, I don’t believe your diet has to be completely plant based, however, most Americans don’t eat very many plants at all.  The sauce on your pizza should not be your only vegetable! 

“Eighty-five percent of common, chronic, killing diseases in Western civilization are diet-related,” Dr. Esselstyn says.  “The single most important thing is what goes through your lips.  That determines whether your disease progresses or regresses.  If everyone started eating to save their heart, we’d really empty out the hospitals.  This same approach doesn’t apply only to the heart.  It applies to other organs as well.”

This is my kind of magazine!  I am amazed at what people eat and consider it to be healthy.  Most of the time, they just don’t consider it at all.  They don’t think it’s a big deal to eat all that junk.  Changing your diet and lifestyle happens one step at the time.  You can’t do it all over night but you should try as hard as you can.  Make significant changes.  Follow the baby steps I have outlined to get you started. 

I’ll be honest.  The hardest part about it is the outside world.  People will look at you funny or even give you a hard time because you won’t eat everything at the potluck.  They may criticize you or call you weird.  We have been through it all…sadly.  Most of it came from people we are closest to.  Why is it that when you make a better choice for your life, like eating right, people get so worked up about it?  They are actually the “weird” ones because they choose to fuel their bodies with chemicals and nothingness then expect a doctor to fix it all later. 

No matter what, take the leap.  Do what is right and you will feel much better.  Your body will feel great and you will get tougher over time as your loved ones question you.  Stand strong and do it.

By the way, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it’s nasty.  We don’t eat lettuce and tree bark for supper.  (Just check out some of the recipes on this blog.)  In fact, we think our food is much tastier than traditional American food!  Maybe that’s because our taste buds are awake and not coated with additives and chemicals?!
Clean food is fulfilling

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Perfect Gift

Mr. Right always knows how to buy the perfect gifts.  Some husbands probably just buy their wife flowers or jewelry but Mr. Right can always hit the nail on the head.  The hard part for him is I’m not a typical wife…I guess.  Jewelry and expensive things do nothing for me. 

Yesterday he gave me the gift of the year; the gift that tops all gifts.  Curious yet?  He gave me the book Vegetable Gardening for Dummies.  Now, my husband doesn’t think I’m a dummy but he knows how badly I’ve been wanting to learn about gardening.  We have planted a garden for two years in a row and we haven’t been as successful as I would like to have been.  I didn’t know what to do.  I have tried to look up tips online, talk with Grandpa and I have even printed out charts but still felt like I knew nothing.  Well, let me tell you, Vegetable Gardening for Dummies  is an excellent book.  I can’t hardly put it down.  It discusses how to plant, care for, and harvest your vegetables, how to plot your garden and prepare the soil, composting, combating pests with environmentally friendly methods, money saving tips, when to plant, variety types, watering…you name it.  I was THRILLED to get this book…to say the least. 

My goal this year is to grow enough tomatoes to can LOTS.  We have scaled down the garden this year so we can focus on just a couple crops.  One thing we did wrong as newbies was plant too much.  We planted the entire produce aisle and didn’t get very far.  My plan is to slowly get better over the years by mastering just a few things each year then adding something to the garden the following year.

We will start tilling next weekend.  Well, Mr. Right will start tilling next weekend.  I don’t think my 31 week pregnant belly should be running a tiller.  But, I can’t wait to get in the dirt!  

I want to do more of this over the summer...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Did You Know?

Did you know that organic plain yogurt can be used in the place of sour cream?  We put organic plain yogurt on tacos, baked potatoes, you name it!

I like this idea because there is less to buy at the store...I don't need to buy sour cream.  Anything that makes shopping faster makes me happy!  PLUS, I know we're getting something good because the yogurt is organic.  You don't get all those live, active cultures in sour cream!

If you haven't noticed, organic plain yogurt is pretty versatile.  For example, you can also make dip with it instead of sour cream.  Like this taco dip  or this ranch dip.

So, get with it!  Toss out that sour cream and buy yourself something good.

from here

Monday, February 20, 2012

Clean 15

After you review the Dirty Dozen, check out this list of the Clean 15.  These are vegetables and fruits that are the lowest in pesticides.  They are safe to buy non-organic.

Here they are...
  1. onions
  2. sweet corn....as long as it's not GMO
  3. pineapples
  4. avocado
  5. asparagus
  6. sweet peas
  7. mangoes
  8. eggplant
  9. cantaloupe- domestic
  10. kiwi
  11. cabbage
  12. watermelon
  13. sweet potatoes
  14. grapefruit
  15. mushrooms
Mmm...sweet potatoes

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dirty Dozen

Have you ever heard of the Dirty Dozen?  These are a dozen fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides.  These are items you should grow yourself, buy organic or don't by at all. 

The fruits and vegetables to beware of are:
apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, white potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens.

We once thought you could just wash these items thoroughly and that would take care of the problem.  However, we learned that is not true. 

So, all those apples we bought several months back.....
weren't organic. 

Live and learn.  Now I have told you so you can't say you didn't know!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February Gardening

If you live in Arkansas, there are several things you can plant in February.  I know, it's kind of cold outside but you will be happy you planted something! 

Here's what you can plant:
Leaf lettuce
Mustard peas
Brussels sprouts
Irish Potatoes
Swiss Chard

So, if you have Spring Fever and you're tired of window farming, get out and plant something!

I think I'm going to start with leaf lettuce. A salad sounds so good!

My window farm

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Make something yummy for your Valentine like homemade cinnamon rolls or this yummy oat treat!

Have a lovely day!

Love, the Happy Homesteaders

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chinese Wonton

Here is the final phase of Operation Chinese Dinner.  Wonton!  I stole the idea from my Mayberry cookbook.  If you have ever watched the Andy Griffith show then you might know the Fun Girls.  This recipe was called Fun Girls Wonton, however, I changed it up...surprise, surprise. 

Here's the skinny.

You will need:
2 cups whole wheat flour that you have grown, harvested, and stone ground yourself.
Just kidding. 

We'll start over.  You will need:
2 cups whole wheat flour (white wheat works best)
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup lukewarm water (you might need to add a teaspoon or two)

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour the water into the well.  With a wooden spoon stir until the dough forms a ball.  Add a couple teaspoons of water if it seems too dry.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until stiff.  Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough stand for 30 minutes. 

While you're waiting...make the fried rice!

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a long strip 6 inches wide and less than 1/8 inch thick.

Ok, so, mine isn't perfect.  It's no fun being perfect anyway!
Cut into 3-inch squares.

I actually measured these.  They're pretty close to 3 inches.
Next, place a spoonful of fried rice in the center of each square.  Moisten the edges of the squares with beaten egg and press the opposite corners together to form a triangle.  Fry in hot coconut oil until golden brown.

Here are three of about 16 total:

The recipe said it makes 36 wontons....how in the world did they get 36?!  I even measured my squares!  Who needs 36 wontons anyway?

Now, dip into some sweet and sour sauce and enjoy!

These reheat well in the oven so you can make them ahead if you need to.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chinese Fried Rice

Here is step two in your Chinese dinner.  After you make the sweet and sour sauce, make fried rice!  Caveat:  you will need 2-3 cups cooked, brown rice that has been chilled.
(I just learned the word "caveat."  Mr. Right will be impressed when he reads this but honestly....I don't even know how to pronounce it.  Are you impressed anyway?)

Moving on...

Fried rice is fun because you can put just about anything in it you like.  Here's how I cook mine:

brown 1/4lb home grown beef
1/4-1/2 cup chopped onions
one chopped sweet pepper
3 whole carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (optional- actually, most things in this recipe are optional!)
several chopped pineapple rings...just for fun

Saute ingredients until tender.

Then, add the cooked, chilled, brown rice and stir around until heated through.

Finally, stir in some sweet and sour sauce to taste.  Don't forget to give it a little salt.

Viola!  Who needs to go out for Chinese?  Not you!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sweet and Sour Sauce

I really like Chinese food.  However, we don't ever go eat at Chinese Restaurants (or most restaurants for that matter) because there is rarely anything on their menu that is natural.  So yesterday I tried my hand at making Chinese food and it was a success!  Mr. Right greatly approved so we'll be having it more often!  Here's the first step: sweet and sour sauce.  What is Chinese food without it?

1/2 cup sucanat
4 teaspoons whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (I forgot I had this ingredient so I used apple cider vinegar...works just as well)
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet pepper
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons grated ginger root
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, minced

In a small sauce pan combine sucanat and flour.  Stir in water, vinegar, sweet pepper, salt, ginger root and garlic.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

Serve warm.  See your family be impressed.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups sauce.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Life Beyond Canned Soups

Several years ago, I removed all canned soups from our diet.  I'm talking about cream of chicken, celery, mushroom, tomato, etc.  Don't gasp.  You don't have to include a can of soup in EVERYTHING.  There is a whole, big world out there that doesn't involve these pesky, unhealthy cans.  Go explore it!

One thing I started doing is making my own cream of chicken.  Save the broth from the chicken you boiled, thicken it with flour then add some salt and onion powder to taste.

*Boiling a whole chicken is where the broth comes from.  Click here to learn how to de-bone one.*

It's as easy as....well...boiling a chicken!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning you buy from the store may contain MSG, anti-caking agents, etc. so the best thing to do is make your own.  It's super easy!  I just make the mix and keep it in a jar in the cabinet.  That way, I always have it on hand.

Mix includes:
1/2 cup parsley
1/3 cup minced onions or onion powder
1/4 cup chives (optional)
1/3 cup chili powder
1/4 cup cumin
2 teaspoons real salt

You can use this in meat mixtures for tacos or make a yummy taco dip!

To make taco dip:  combine 2 cups plain, organic yogurt with 2 tablespoons of the dip mix.  Then just whisk together and dip in some non-GMO corn chips!

Happy whisking!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Window Farming

Well, I have Spring Fever.  It’s so dreary outside but I would really like to start gardening!  Too bad it’s February!  So…I started window farming.  I had some old seeds from last year and I decided to see if they would grow.  We bought some potting soil and I planted them in plastic cups.  I planted tomatoes, cilantro, and lettuce.  If it all grows, maybe be can transplant it in the Spring!

If you garden, starting seeds early will save you a lot of money.  It's cheaper to buy seeds and start them now then it is to buy plants later.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Breaded Chicken Patties

Growing up, we frequently had breaded chicken patties for supper.  They were so good!  You know what I’m talking about…those round Tyson patties.  Well, seeing as how Mr. Right and I don’t eat those, I was happy when I ran across a homemade alternative.
I found it in a Taste of Home cookbook.  Here’s the Natural Blog version of the recipe:
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
6 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1-1/3 cups milk or water, divided
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons Real Salt
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (be choosey about the chicken you use)
1 cup dry bread crumbs or whole wheat flour
Any toppings you might like

In a large saucepan, sauté onion and celery in 3 tablespoons butter until tender.   

Combine flour and 1 cup milk (or water). I tripled my recipe...

Gradually add to pan.   

Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.   Add parsley, seasonings and chicken.  Remove from the heat.  Chill until completely cooled.  ...My chicken was still boiling so I just added the parsley and seasonings then let it cool completely.  I added my chicken later.

Shape chicken mixture into six patties, using about 1/3 cup mixture for each patty.  Place crumbs (or flour) and remaining milk (or water) in separate shallow bowls.  Rolls patties in crumbs, then dip into milk; roll again in crumbs.

In a large skillet, cook patties in remaining butter for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Serve on rolls with desired toppings.
Cooking to perfection
All done!  These are just some of them...
 Uncooked patties may be frozen for up to 3 months.  To prepare frozen patties:  Cook in butter for 5-6 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Yield: 6 servings

These are soooo yummy!  Mr. Right and I could eat them everyday!

*Note:  I tripled my recipe to have plenty to freeze.  This will give us chicken patties to eat when baby gets here.  Also, I used water instead of milk and whole wheat flour instead of bread crumbs.  I've done it both ways and they are equally delicious.