Category: Food

Cleansing, Iron Increasing Beet Soup Recipe

English: A bundle of organic beets from a loca...

I was recently asked for my beet soup recipe.

This recipe was given to me by my (step) mom and we enjoy this soup whenever we just want to feel lighter and cleansed or when I need a boost in iron. My children really like this soup too!

Ingredients:

2 – 3 medium beets, keep some of the beet greens if you have them

2 TBL butter or good oil (coconut, olive, grape-seed)

½ tsp salt

1 – 2 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning or similar

4 – 6 cups water

Optional: substitute vegetable broth or chicken broth for some of the water

Instructions:

1 – Wash and dice beets into small chunks or julienne if you want to be fancy. Chop up a couple tablespoons of greens.

2 – Melt butter or heat up oil on medium heat in a medium size pot.

3 – Carefully put beets (but not greens yet) in pot and sauté 8 to 10 minutes.

4 – Add seasonings (salt and Mrs. Dash).

5 – Add water and optional broth.

6 – Cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Add greens for the last 5 minutes.

 

I have a similar recipe in my Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Simple Life’s Guide to Home Economics: Beginning Cooking eBook, but uses Asian seasonings and adds rice noodles to make a more complete meal. 

Three Real Secrets of Weight Loss

Three_Real_Secrets_of_Weight_Loss.jpg

I confess that I am one of millions who struggle with my weight. I have played around with radical diets and have clicked on more than a few “Lose Weight Now” links on the internet.

But, these are mostly from mans’ wisdom and they may work for a few, but they don’t work for most. Here are three things that God has shown me about my weight loss, and when I practice them faithfully, my weight goes down.

1 – Serve Others Instead of Self

God recently showed me that my weekly menu planning was completely self-serving. I was picking meals that I loved, was craving, and that I would want to eat a lot of. I was putting my pleasure before the desires of the rest of the family, before our nutritional needs, and before what was best for all.

Having tried an experiment before, then stopped (and gained weight), I am going to try it again: I will only put a couple of my favorite meals on the menu. The rest are going to be nutritional staples (i.e. salad night, smoothie lunch, etc….), other family favorites and frugal, simple living meals.

The truth is, I simply won’t eat as much when I make rice and beans for 3 meals for the week, but a couple of my children and my husband really like it. Same with chili. Husband loves it! I don’t. I won’t each much that meal either, just what I need to keep going.

One other variation of serving others – I find that when I really take care in serving the family first, I will eat less. When I try to eat while serving, I find myself feeding my entitlement spirit and eating more than I need.

2 – Portion Control

I simply need to stop eating so much! Yes, it is so simple and we all make it so complicated.

The truth is, we (and I) lack self-control and make 1000’s of excuses for not controlling self. When I pray for help to control myself, I receive more grace to do so. When I confess why I am not controlling myself and repent, I also do better.

When I am not asking for God’s help and I try to hide the reasons I am overeating, or think I am entitled to eat – I only hurt myself. I have to pray before every meal, while I am cooking, and sometimes during the meal. But, when I control my portions, I lose weight and I feel better.

Yes, I have a dilapidated past and there are underlying reasons why I struggle with food. It is good to work out these things. However, one of the biggest things a godly women taught me this past year – that I can’t keep using that as an excuse to do things like overeat.

3 – Get Moving Doing Real Things

I most likely will never be seen at a gym. I have many reasons to avoid them, one being that the whole thing is very boring to me.

But I do have children.. and sidewalks… and music.

So, we take walks, we dance, we play, and we keep active. When I don’t get up and do things like this with the children, they get crazy and I start gaining (or at least stop loosing) weight.

When I get moving, even for 15 to 20 minutes a day, I can feel the difference – the first day. Sedentary living is not what we are created to do.

I hope something in this inspires you, helps you, encourages you and that you can overcome overeating. If you found it useful (or not) let me know. If you have a secret that has really worked for you, please share.

There Is A Limited Place For Weight Loss Supplements

Understanding that weight loss supplements are only a temporary help, I do want to share with you April’s Sunshine Weight Loss Products and their Holistic Weight Loss Plan (click links for more information). If you do decide to use their products, please support this blog by using my Rep ID: 3383365 when you purchase. You are also welcome to contact me for more information.

A Simple Life’s Sample Weekly Menu

So, how does one eat simple, healthy, and cheap??? Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers or what is best for everyone, but, I can share a sample of a weekly menu here. Contact me if you would be interested in any recipes.

Breakfast:

1 day of cold cereal – low sugar like Wheaties

1 day of pancakes – whole grain + fruit and maple syrup

3 day of oatmeal, sometimes with raisins

2 days of Cream of Wheat, sometimes with fruit

Snack:

3 days fruit

1 day dried fruit and nuts

2 days bread

1 day leftover hot cereal

Lunch:

2 days beet soup

2 days corn and potato chowder

2 days of leftovers

1 day of salad

(Note: Husband eats lunch at work, provided by his work for cheap)

Dinner:

Mac and Cheese – the really unhealthy box kind, because we like it! + mixed veggies

Lamb Curry + rice (the 2 lbs of local lamb was a lovely gift)

Snack – popcorn

Fried rice (with a little chicken)

Chicken with marinara, cheese and green beans

Salmon with plum chutney + salad and flat-bread

Leftovers

We spend about $100 a week on groceries. We don’t coupon, stockpile, etc… Just look for good deals and make use of local, fresh foods!

 

Here is one mom who only spent $44 for the week! http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/10/gretchens-44-grocery-shopping-trip-and-weekly-menu-plan-2.html

 

Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Healthy, Delicious Dessert for $.40 per Serving!

English: Coconut oil in solid state
English: Coconut oil in solid state (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leave it to the Mennonites and Amish to have a repertoire of tasty, fairly healthy and very simple and inexpensive foods. Many of their cultural dishes are worth learning to make and then improving upon by substituting healthier ingredients.

This classic dessert is called: Shoo-fly Pie. It is especially good to make if you are wanting a sweet treat and are needing an iron boost. Using organic molasses in the dish provides 20 – 30% of your daily iron value, depending on how large of a piece you eat (1 Tbs of organic molasses contains approx. 15% of your daily iron value plus 730mg potassium).

Cost Per:

Family of 5 – $2.05

Serving – $.40

*prices are approximate and will vary by where one lives and other factors.

Shopping List:

Pie Shell

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour – Fresh ground flour from white wheat berries is best.

½ tsp salt – Sea salt.

¼ cup butter or coconut oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available and if kept at less than 77 degrees, will be solid and act similar to butter in making the pie crust. Coconut oil can sometimes be found with other oils or in specialty and health food markets.

1/8 cup water

½ Tbs rice or apple cider vinegar – White vinegar is good for cleaning, but not so good for cooking. Find rice or apple cider vinegar near the white vinegar.

Filling

¾ cup organic molasses – Organic molasses can be found in specialty and health food markets or ordered online (try Vitacost ). Using regular molasses greatly reduces the nutritional content of the desert.

½ cup hot water

½ tsp baking soda – Baking soda is usually found with other baking products.

1 egg – Brown, free range eggs if you can.

¾ cup whole wheat flour – Fresh ground flour from white wheat berries is best.

½ cup cane sugar – Look for sugar in the raw, demerara, sucanat, or cane sugar. They can usually be found near white sugar. White, refined sugar is one of the least healthiest foods on the market and there are so many better options. You could also try making this pie with honey, but would need to cut back on the molasses and water by ¼ cup each.

¼ cup butter or coconut oil – Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils available and if kept at less than 76 degrees, will be solid and act similar to butter in making the pie crust. Coconut oil can sometimes be found with other oils or in specialty and health food markets.

¼ tsp salt – Sea salt.

Instructions:

  1. Make the pie crust 1 hour before making the filling and baking the pie.
  2. Mix 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour with the ½ tsp of salt.
  3. Measure the ¼ cup butter or coconut oil into a bowl and mix it together with your hands. It should seem like crumbs when you are done, although the coconut oil variation may be a little smoother, depending on how warm the room and your hands are.
  4. Fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/8 cup water, add the ½ Tbs vinegar to it and stir. Then add this liquid combination to the flour and butter / oil mixture. Mix with a spoon or your hands and form into a ball.
  5. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Make the bottom layer of the pie: measure ¾ cup molasses and pour into a large bowl, measure ½ cup hot water into the bowl, and then stir in ½ tsp baking soda. Be sure you have a large bowl, as the baking soda will cause the whole bowl of molasses and water to foam up quite a bit. Fun to watch, not fun to clean up if using too small a bowl.
  8. Beat the egg in a small bowl, then beat or whisk it into the molasses mixture.
  9. For the top layer of the pie: measure ¾ cup flour and pour into a medium bowl, measure ½ cup cane sugar and pour into the bowl, then mix in the butter or coconut oil with hands. It should seem like crumbs when mixed.
  10. Bring out the pie crust dough ball from the refrigerator.
  11. Press or roll it out flat between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and put it into a 9 inch pie pan.
  12. Pour the molasses mixture into the pie pan on top of the crust.
  13. Gently crumble the topping layer over the molasses mixture in the pie pan. Don’t press it down / don’t press on it.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then drop to 350 degrees and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes. Knife test the pie at 30 minutes to see if set (knife should come out clean, not wet).

Do you like what you see here? Did you try the recipe? Would you like more healthy, simple and cheap recipes for your family?

My eBook: Simple, Healthy, Cheap! A Simple Life’s Guide To Home Economics: Beginning Cooking, will be available in a few weeks. This recipe is from the Intermediate Cooking book, which will follow it up a few months later.

Want a healthy cookbook now? I have found a great eBook, Eat Good For Life that is worth a try for only $4.95!

Saving 101: Save On Food Costs

Saving 101 Food Costs

We continue our series on ways to save money by focusing on food costs this week.

Eat In More, Eat Out Less

Savings: $10’s to 100’s

It is a simple fact that it costs a lot less to make something yourself rather than eat it out. Even the bulk food purchases that a restaurant may make, does not offset the cost of running a restaurant (employees, building, overhead, etc…). It also doesn’t offset their profit. If you are used to the rich, flavorful and even exotic foods from eating out, it may be hard to make the change and eat in. If the budget still allows, you can make the change gradually vs. cutting yourself off completely. I will admit, this was a hard one for me. I have learned over the years how to make a lot of ethnic foods, but there are some I can not master. 

Example 1: A young couple with 2 incomes used to eat out 2 or 3 times a week. They were spending about $100 a week this way (about $400 per month). When one of the their schedules were reduced to ½ time, they cut back to eating out 1 day a week. This way, they were only spending about $25 to $40 a week, cutting the budget by more than half.

Example 2: A couple starting a family reduces down to the husband as the sole provider for the family. They were eating out about 1 time a week (about $120 per month) and they cut back to eating out once per month (about $30 per month). 

Compare Store Prices

Savings: $10’s to $100’s

It is pretty surprising how much prices can vary on an item between stores. Even in your favorite discount or bulk store, the price for certain items may not be the best or lowest. Keeping track of the prices of items only takes a couple of minutes after every shop. Then, every time you shop, only purchase the items from the store you are at that has the best price for the item.

Example: Here is a spreadsheet of some items, with prices tracked per store:

  Costco   WalMart   WinCo  
Alfalfa Sprouts            
Alfredo Sauce Mix            
Apples – Fuji 9.29 for 5.5 lb

$1.69

    1.28 per lb

$1.28

Apples – Gala     3.22 for 3 lb

$1.07

4.98 for 5 lb

$1.00

Apples – Pink Lady         .98 per lb

$0.98

Avacado     .78 each

$0.78

.88 each

$0.88

Baby Wipes 15.49 for 704 wipes

$0.02

7.97 for 288 wipes

$0.03

   
Baking Powder – No aluminum         2.51 for 10 oz

$0.25

Baking Soda         1.87 for 4 lb

$0.47

Bananas 1.39 per 4 lb

$0.35

.48 per lb

$0.48

.48 per lb

$0.48

Bean Sprouts         .98 for 8 oz, lb

$1.96

Better Than Bouillon         2.88 per jar

$2.88

Blueberries            
Bread – Bagels 4.49 for 12 bagels

$0.37

2.00 for 6

$0.33

3.48 for 12 bagels

$0.29

Bread – Buns     1.14 for 8 buns

$0.14

.87 for 8 buns

$0.11

Bread – Loaf – No Corn Syrup 3.89 for 2 loaves

$1.95

2.50 per loaf

$2.50

2.28 per loaf

$2.28

Bread – Puglaese 4.49 for 2 loaves

$2.25

    1.68 per loaf

$1.68

Bread – Sandwich Rolls 1.89 for 36 oz, lb

$0.84

       
Broccoli            
Butter 7.69 for 6 lb

$1.28

1.98 for 1 lb

$1.98

1.66 for 1 lb

$1.66

So, when you go to Costco, only get baby wipes, bananas, loaf bread and butter. At WinCo, get your apples, bagels, and buns. You don’t have to go to multiple store in one week if you don’t have the time, just stock up on a couple of weeks or a month supply at the one store each week. Many things can be frozen for weeks at a time.

NOTE: I originally wrote this for my old blog 4 years ago. I don’t maintain this list anymore as it is mainly in my head. Note that some of the prices aren’t available much anymore. 

What is your best way to save on food costs?


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Saving 101: Purchasing From Community Vs. Corporations

Saving 101 Purchase From Commnity

As we last read in our Saving 101 Series, many people have had success saving money by moving from large cities to smaller, rural communities. This week, we find some more benefits of living in a rural community or at least further from town and closer to land where food is raised and grown.

Rent From Individuals vs. Corporations

Savings: $100’s

If someone needs to rent vs. purchase a home, it has been noticed that one can generally save money when renting from an individual vs. renting from a corporation. There is also usually more personal attention and the ability for more flexibility with what one can do with the property, which may lead to other savings down the road.

Example 1: A family that moved from a major metro area to a small metro area found that another family was going out on the mission field for a year and needed renters. The Missionary family is renting the 4-bedroom farmhouse, on a multi-acre farm, for only $650 a month. However, one of the bedrooms has the stored belongings of the family out on mission. This is a place that should be renting for about $850 or more per month.

Example 2: The landlords of another family (we will call them family A) also own the house next door to family A. The house has been vacant for a while. When some friends of family A moved to town (we will call them family B), the landlords were willing to rent the house to them. For only a couple hundred dollars a month plus some upkeep on the house, family B have settled in and are very content with their place.

Steaks and Roasts for $2 to $5 per Pound

Savings: $10’s

You do not need to pay $5 to $10 a pound for roasts or $10 to $20 a pound for organic, grain fed, free range beef steaks. There are Internet sites that can hook you up with “local” farmers (even if “local” turns out to be a couple hours away). Some farmers post on Craigslist (Craigslist.org) or FB Groups when they have meat available for sale. Since you are purchasing in bulk, it would be worth the drive to get 6 months of meat for about half or less than what you would pay in the stores.

Example 1: A family found a cow at auction, within a reasonable drive from town. They went in with another family, purchased the cow, and sent it off to be butchered. The total cost of the meat per pound was about $3.25, including all kinds of cuts of meat.

Example 2: Purchasing $50 to $100 of meat at a time and freezing the bulk of it, a family found a local farmer about 1 hour drive from the city and purchased meat from him as follows: $2.50 per lb for ground, $3.50 per lb for roasts, $4.50 per lb for steaks.

How have you been able to save money by being plugged into your local and/or nearby rural community?


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Super Simple Recipes: A Healthy, Delicious Snack for Less Than a Candy Bar

Super Simple Recipes - Peanut Butter Balls


I know that sometimes a candy bar can sound and taste so good. But what about after eating it? How do you feel? I honestly don’t remember this as a child, but as an adult, a candy bar now makes me feel ill afterwards and there is nothing of value actually in it.

That is one reason our family loves this recipe – it has a taste a bit like a candy bar – but actually has nutritional value and will not leave you feeling ill afterwards.

Once you have the ingredients, this snack can be made almost as quick as unwrapping a pack of candy (well, maybe just a tad more work) and costs less than most single servings of candy bars. 

I am referring to a classic recipe: Peanut Butter Balls. Below is our family’s favorite, easiest version of this recipe.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

Cost Per:

Family of 5 – $2.50

Serving – $.50

*prices are approximate and will vary by where one lives and other factors.

½ cup PB – $1.00

½ cup honey – $.60

½ cup carob (price per lb) – $.62

¼ cup coconut – $.25

Shopping List:

½ Cup Peanut Butter – You may substitute Almond, Cashew, or other Nut Butter for Peanut Butter, however they are usually more expensive. Purchase nut butter from a bulk section of a store or purchase a no-sugar added kind like Adams Peanut Butter, where you find peanut butter.

½ Cup Honey – Find local Honey if possible as it can help with local pollen and flower allergies, and usually has more flavor options than the standard clover honey.

½ Cup Carob Powder – You may use Coco Powder if you are tentative about using Carob. Carob Powder is usually found in a bulk section of a store, but may also be in the baking isle of a health food store.

¼ Cup Shredded Coconut – Purchase unsweetened shredded coconut. This can usually be found in a bulk section of a store, but may be found in the baking isle.

Supplies:

1 medium mixing bowl

1 large spoon / wooden spoon

½ cup measure

¼ cup measure

wax paper (optional)

1 plate

Instructions:

  1. Measure the ½ cup Peanut (or other Nut) Butter, the ½ cup Honey, and the ½ cup Carob (or Coco) Powder into the bowl.
  2. Stir together until smooth and creamy looking. It will start to form a big ball.
  3. Place a piece of wax paper onto plate about the size of the plate.
  4. Scoop out a tablespoon of the mixture, roll into a ball, place onto wax paper on plate.
  5. Roll out the rest of the mixture into balls.
  6. Put the Shredded Coconut into a pile in an empty spot on the plate.
  7. Roll the balls through the Coconut.
  8. Place finished balls in the fridge for 1 hour or longer.

Have fun, be healthy, and learn to make good food choices!

Do you like what you see here? This is a peek into my beginning home economics curriculum for children, titled: Teach Your Children To Cook – The Simple, Healthy, Cheap Way .

 

Saving Money 101: Saving By Moving

Saving 101 Save By Moving

If you are just starting out on how to simplify your life and save money, or even if you have been living a frugal life for awhile, the tips in the Saving 101 series are foundational tips meant to help you think about how to save money, and give practical examples, in each area of life.

#1 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Housing

Savings: $100’s to 1000’s

By moving just 30 to 60 miles / minutes from a major city, one may be able to save $100’s of dollars a month for rent or $1000’s of dollars off of the price for a house.

Example 1: A family moved from an upscale suburb of a major city to a lower scale suburb of the same city, about 30 minutes further from the city. The rent there is $300 a month less on average. The commute cost increase was $60 to $80 per month

Example 2: Another family moved from a very large metropolitan area to a smaller, but still metro area. The commute is about the same (cost wise) and the wage is about the same. However, a comparative house is about $300,000 less in the smaller metro area. This is our example from moving from Seattle to Boise. You can purchase a good house in Boise suburbs for $100,00 / $150,000. Houses in Seattle don’t come under $300,000.

#2 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Utilities

Savings: $10’s

One lessor know way to save money in utilities is to simply move to a sub-burb from a major city or to move to a less expensive state. There are maps available (just Google or Bing) that show the average cost of utilities by major metropolitan areas.

Example 1: The family that moved from the upscale suburb to the lower-scale suburb saw about a 50% decrease in Water, Sewer, and Garbage. They also saw about a 25% decrease in Power & Heating.

#3 – Move to a Less Expensive Area – Food, Gas, Necessities

Savings: $100’s

Generally, the cost of food, gas and necessities goes down as one moves farther from the city centers and moves more into the rural parts of the country. However, savings can also be achieved, for those who want to stay in the major cities, by making planned day trips to the further out areas and stocking up at the markets in the rural areas. Also, there are many things that may also be purchased online for less than found in the stores in the cities.

Example 1: While still living in a major city on the coast, plan a day trip to do the bulk of the shopping for the month. This could include driving two hours to the local farming community to pick up meat, grains, produce, honey, etc… then driving back towards town 1 hour and stopping at a Costco, Walmart, Discount Grocery Stores, etc… for the needed non-perishable items for the month.

Have you ever moved to save money? Share your story with us!

Subscribe to: A Simple Life Too (see the bar at the top or on the right) to get the next installment in the Saving 101 series.


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Super Simple Recipes: Best Meal Ever

Super Simple Recipes Best Meal Ever

I don’t use this title lightly.

I recently made one of the simplest dinners and it was one of the best meals our family has ever had. Everyone liked it, including our three small children.

We acquired a fresh caught salmon.

Foolishly, I tried to fillet it. I thought after watching a video about how to do it, that it would be a breeze. Hah. I gave up after 15 minutes

My husband, currently into the Paleo Diet / Primal Blueprint (I don’t agree with the evolutionary precept behind it), sent me a link on how to grill (or broil) a whole fish. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-grill-a-whole-fish/#axzz1zCZz0Lc4 .

I salted and oiled the salmon and broiled it about 10 minutes per side.

While waiting, I sautéed some fresh green beans in olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt for 15 – 20 minutes.

That is it.

So simple, but it was so delicious. We really enjoyed the salty, crispy fish skin.

To summarize:

1 whole salmon

olive oil

salt

fresh green beans

chopped garlic

Less than 10 minutes of work in the kitchen. There was about 5 minutes of prep time to salt and oil the salmon, one flip of the salmon halfway through the cook time, and another couple of minutes of time stirring the green beans once or twice.

Bonus: We got three meals out of the fish.

Here are some cookbooks that have helped me find and develop our simple cooking: