Meal Planning

I thought it would get easier. Well if I am confessing, I thought a lot of things would get easier!

Head-up!! Parenting teenagers is so much harder than little people and forget the whole quasi adult thing. But that is another post for another day.

I wanted to talk about meal planning. We all know it saves time and money. We know. But still meal. planning is hard because I just keep planning the same meals over and over. When my kids were little I meal prepped all the time. I even got together with a friend a couple times and we batch prepped and walked away with like 30 meals each. Other times I did a soup swap. 10 moms make 10 batches of a soup. Then we all meet up with our coolers and trade – we each go home with 10 different soups! It was awesome!

Well my kids aren’t little, and I have no excuse why meal time is still hard. But it is.

Today I spent about 2 hours prepping 21 meals. My husband does all our grocery shopping (a huge blessing) and a huge savings!! When I sent him the list he texted back that he was not getting all that. It would require 12 carts. I am not sure it did. But he made it home with just about everything. I found a list HERE of summer meals to prep for the crock pot. I was very excited, most were pretty clean and easy to make sure they were gluten-free. Many we will grill instead of crock pot.

(I did not make them all, hence my 21 meals vs. 30). But I did find another post on Pinterest for chicken marinates for the grill and I did a couple of those too.

But I am super excited, now on Sunday I will pop 3 of these guys out of the freezer and have 3 nights done. Some I will put in the crock pot in the morning, some I might instant pot, and others we will grill. The work is not the problem for me, it is the coming up with meals. So this takes care of it!

I made a binder with the recipes so I can make them again if we love them. Also so my teenage son can make them while he is house sitting this summer and know what to do. (Not that hard, dump in a crock pot, but some had sides and stuff mentioned)

Here is the counter after shopping, mostly condiments. Lots of meat in the fridge. I did use some of our own meat like goat for a few pork recipes and I will use our own beef instead of buying (since we have it).

I am super excited and I think I will do this again later this summer and certainly for the fall. I love marinating meat to grill and having so many options just ready to thaw and dump!!

Fire Cider Prep

It is time.  Last year I missed this time and it was too late.  But right now you have time to mix up some fire cider, let it sit/brew/ferment whatever you want to call it so that when the flu starts hitting you have it.

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This stuff is amazing!!

First you need to know that there are tons of recipes out there but you need to make yours YOUR way.  A couple reasons for this : ingredients might be hard to find, you might not like a certain thing at all, or you may want to add some things.

I happen to have fresh rosemary and jalapeños from my garden, so I used those and did not buy a habanero – or any other pepper.   I hope to grow my own garlic this year so I do not have to buy that either!  What I did buy, in this case, I bought organic.  I felt that since we are relying on this to fight off bugs and viruses I wanted to use the best ingredients.

 

This video is by the lady that started Fire Cider in the 80’s and I love it because as she adds ingredients she explains what that ingredient is doing for you and your body!

Once you mix everything you want in you jar and add your vinegar, you need to let it sit on the counter about 4 weeks.  I try to mix it up daily.  After that I will strain everything out and put it in glass jars in the refrigerator.  This stuff is good for up to a year!


 

My next concoction that I have made is a fermented garlic in honey!  Oh my goodness it smells amazing!!  I cannot wait to try it as soon as I finish this whole30!!

Here it is after about a week – you can see the garlic is softening and changing as the honey gets into it!

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The honey was thick but is now very thin and runny as well.IMG_3145

This is a new jar with more garlic. – you can see the garlic is still very whole (even though I smashed it) but it has not let the honey really seep in yet.IMG_3148

Here are all my current fermentations.  I have 2 jars of honey and garlic.  I have 2 half gallon jars of my Fire Cider.  A 1/2 gallon of kombucha in a second ferment and there is a gallon jar missing with my current kombucha.  IMG_3149

This is a real medicine corner!!  With no scary side effects!!

 

 

 

Kombucha

So you know that I love to ferment!  And while I have been making Sour kraut for a while, I recently (April/May) was introduced to Kombucha.  I just want to tell you I love this stuff!  My kids love it, my husband thinks I’m crazy, but what’s new?  I love the energy it gives me, yes I can tell!  I love to experiment with different flavors, and I love drinking it knowing it is good for my gut!

So, (Kristen this is for you) here is my Kombucha making process.  Elizabeth taught me my first class, and then I read a bunch of things online about it and have tweaked it here and there.

First, you need a gallon jar.  My advice, if you have not been saving them in your garage for years, it to go buy a jar of pickles from SAMs for 7$.  Eat the pickles and voila, you have a jar.  Or you can go to Walmart and buy an empty jar for about $14.00.  Either way you are about to make money for your family.  If you want to drink Kombucha and not make it, expect to pay 3-5$ for a single serving bottle!  And good luck finding it in the middle of no where like where I live!

Next, get a starter Scobi from a friend, or buy a “high priced” individual serving bottle from somewhere.  {If you get a starter from a friend, skip this next paragraph}  Pour your bottle of store bought Kombucha in the gallon jar, cover the lid with a coffee filter – rubber banded on the top of the jar and put it in a warm cabinet for 3-30 days (above the stove is great).  Yes, three to thirty days.  In my house this process takes about 3 days, because I have fermenting particles in the air because we ferment and eat lots of fermented stuff.  If you are new to this, it might take up to 30 days.  Check on it often – eventually you will grow a Scobi.

 

 Scoby – symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast

Your scobi will grow as big as your jar is wide, and will grow thicker with each batch of Kombucha.  I will separate mine, like a hamburger bun, and gift one layer to friends, or give it to chickens to eat.

 

The scobi is making a seal on the top of your Kombucha allowing it to ferment and work it’s magic!!

Once you have your scobi, you will feed it.  You need to make the tea.

I use 4 cups of DISTILLED water – not tap water.  Tap water has chlorine and such and will kill the bacteria and good stuff.

I bring 4 cups of DISTILLED water almost to a  boil with 1 cup of sugar.  Still while it is heating until all the sugar is dissolved.  Then you can turn off the water right before it starts to really boil.

Then I add 4 family size tea bags and steep for 5 minutes, or until I remember to take the tea bags out.  Then I let it cool.

Add the tea mixture to your jar once it is room temperature and fill the rest of the way with the rest of your gallon of distilled water.

Let this sit in a warm dark place (over the stove is where mine sits) for 7 days.  Sometimes i forget and it is 8, sometimes i do it early and it is 6.  But generally I wait 7 days.

Then you take our your scobi, set aside.

Pour your kombucha into jars (I use quart and 1/2 gallon)

I save 1 cup of the Kombucha as  a “Starter” for the next batch.

Set bottled Kombucha aside.

Then I put scobi and “Starter” back into my jar (I wash it out sometimes, sometimes I just use it again.  I think it is fine either way)

And then you feed again with the tea mixture.

Meanwhile you can put your Kombucha in the fridge as it is.  Or you can flavor it.  If you want to be “lazy” you can buy fruit juice to add to provide your flavor.  I do not want what is in fruit juice.  I also do not want it any sweeter than it is normally.  So I flavor like this:

Pumpkin Spice Tea, Chai or Peppermint – steep 1-1 1/2cups of water with 2 tea bags

Blueberry – add 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

Grapefruit – add frozen 1/4 of a slice of grapefruit

Mango – add 1/4 cup frozen mango slices

Get creative with what you like.  Each variation offers different benefits and vitimins and nutrients.  Plus each taste different.  My favorite is grapefuit – I LOVE IT!!

Next would be Chai or Pumpkin Spice – they are really good too.

Whole family loved Blueberry.


FAQ:

Do not use stainless steel utensils, wooden or plastic and same with pots & bowls :wooden, glass or plastic.

Do not use tap water

Be careful washing everything and putting Kombucha right in or scobi – the chlorine in your water and the ingredients in your soap could kill good stuff.

You can go longer than 7 days, up to 30 – it will become alcoholic at some point.  You are fermenting like wine.

Kombucha help your gut, it even curbs my snack desire/appetite.  It is not a meal replacement but it impacts my day tremendously.

 

 

Day 1

Yep.  It’s time.  My addiction to sugar is out of control.  We have been letting gluten creep back into our diets in little ways.  But mostly its the sugar!

So today is Day 1.  Whole 30 here we are and yeah!!

I hope to journal better through this, our 3rd whole 30.  We both need this.  Robert has not been losing any weight since before Christmas, and my jeans are getting tight.  So time to reset.

These first few days will be the worst, but having done this before we know what to expect and that it won’t be long before we feel amazing again!!

While so many people are taking supplements to feel good, we feel like managing our diets is the key component to feeling good.  We know this works.  We know medically this lifestyle rocks!!  Our cholesterol numbers were amazing after our Whole30 last year, our sugar numbers were great, and we were thinner, had more energy and overall knew life was better!

If you are confused about what the heck I am even talking about, here is a LINK to some great info.  Whole30 is a reset for your body.  You eliminate sugar, wheat/gluten of every kind and anything processed.  You eat whole real food for 30 days.  At first you are starving your body of the carbs and sugar that is LOVES oh so much.  But after about a week you will start to have more energy, feel better over all and if you are like Robert or me, you will lose some weight.  Weight loss was never my goal, getting my sugar addiction under control was, but I got back to my college weight on my last Whole30 and college was 20+ years ago!!  (at least that weight was :))

So, here we go!  Hope to share more info and our results in the next 30 days!!

Relationships with food & beyond

I have been on a food journey since about mid February.  Haven’t said much about it on here, mostly because I am busy keeping up with it!  But I think I am settling in to a new normal, and my family is joining me for the most part, for a variety of reasons.

So I do not want to get on a soap box and preach because quite honestly everyone is at a different place in their life in a multitude of ways.  Ages of kids, busyness outside of the home, new foster kids, and so many other things.  I am not sure I would have ever braved this new land if I had toddlers at home, or if I recently have 3 kids dropped in my lap with a plethora of issues.  I am quite busy outside the home, but even that has settled a bit.

So here I am.  And I feel like we have redirected our eating lives forever.

Are you ever sorry when you learn something?  Like once you know it, it changes you?  You cannot go back to blissfully ignorant. It may not take over your thoughts but it is forever niggling in the back of your mind, cautioning your choices no matter what.

That is where we are.  We started Whole30 on April 27th.  I had been mostly whole30 for 7 weeks before that, but I did have some butter, and some stevia. {and a blissfully fun trip to Michigan with two Triple D’s along the way! and amazing food in Michigan}  But on April 27th we went all in, we joined the Whole30 world and it will change us forever.  We got the books – and we HIGHLY suggest you get & read the books BEFORE you start!  If you just use the internet you will never fully understand why you are doing what you are doing – and you will quit.  The books will help coach you through the days you want to kill the people around you, or rob a donutshop on your way to work.  Trust me, read the books!!

starts with food

w30book1 I’ll go into why I love Whole30 another day, but today I wanted to share our Sour Kraut adventure!!  One of the parts of being healthy on any program, plan, lifestyle is incorporating Fermented Foods!!  They are SO good for our gut, healing!

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Your intestines are so vital to good health and fermented foods help nourish your intestines!!

Here is another pic for you I LOVE:

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I really believe that!

So when I came home with a case of green cabbage, I knew I was going to attempt Sour Kraut again!  I tried some in Maine last summer, brought it all the way home and then threw it away.  It scared me.  And now I wish I had just tried it.  Oh well.

About 7 weeks ago I tried again.  Read tons of posts about sour kraut and how to make it and I did.  I put it in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, put a ziplock bag of water on top to keep out air and put it in the back of my pantry.  I took it out two days ago.  It looks gorgeous, no mold or anything suspicious.  But I still had to call my friend to ask if we could eat it.  After waiting a day, we tried it, the kids and I all gobbled it up – and we LOVED it!!  Got me so excited!!

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It was just cabbage, some carrots, a little radish and salt.  nothing else.  Pretty simple.  But it was tasty and not soggy – crunchy like something fresh.

So, here is what I did this time around.

First I shredded (finely) about 11 heads of cabbage.

Then I got out a HUGE bowl and a Large Stock pot  and put my cabbage in those to things.  Then in one I just added salt.

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Simple recipe – nothing added.  The next batch I added lime juice, a jalapeño with seeds, a head of garlic, and some poblano peppers which I threw in the ninja and finely chopped.

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I added all this to the other batch with lots of salt too and mixed.  Left it on the counter about 4 hours, mixing often to get the salt to get the juice out of the cabbage.

Then I sterilized my jars in the oven.

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Finally, I packed my jars, pressing down firmly – and once they were full, I left space a thte top to put a sandwich bag with water (about 1/2 cup) to be my seal.  I put the bag in and press all the air out and put a mason jar lid with ring on and close.

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Then I put it in a dark spot (back of pantry cabinet) and leave it.  I will check in 3 days to make sure it is bubbly, and not leaking too much, and no air inside.
Air is the enemy – it will grow mold.  If that happens you just scoop it out – it will not go deeper.

This morning I shredded up another 10 heads of cabbage, and included a head of red/purple cabbage.

I mixed in just a bit of red cabbage to make it look a little more colorful.

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Then I will mix in some lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and ginger to make a citrus ginger sour kraut batch.

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Two other batches are just garlic and one has carrots and one has red pepper slivers.  Pretty simple but should taste good and be GREAT for our guts!!

All 3 batches will set on my kitchen counter for about 4 hours, break down a bit and the cabbage will release a bunch of liquid to make the brine.  The salt is really the one thing you NEED to add, the rest is just for fun, color or flavor.  I will mix them every time I think about it – about 30 minute increments.

After that I will again put it into 1/2 gallon mason jars with the ziplock baggie of water on the top.  And hide them in a dark cabinet for about 6 weeks.

When I take all this yummy goodness out in 6 weeks I plan to can it in pint jars in a hot water bath.  10 minutes in boiling water will seal all the jars and then this concoction will be good for far longer than it will take us to eat it!  I cannot wait!!

Now, go get some cabbage and start your own!!  Let me know if you try some great new variation or flavor!!

My ultimate goal of all of this : whole30, Paleo, Sour kraut – is to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want to decide what I want to eat and then eat it – not be driven by cravings or emotional needs.  So here I continue on this journey of enjoying great food, but not letting it control me!!