Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Free eBooks on Amazon

I know it has been quite a while, but I couldn't resist sharing this with you:   3 great eBooks are free right now on Amazon:






Check them out - you don't need a Kindle or eReader to use them.  Amazon has a cloud Kindle, just buy, download, and read!  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gardening with the kids

This past Tuesday was my husband's day off, so we took advantage of the opportunity to finish our raised beds.  We already had two in, which I mostly did myself, but being now in my third trimester I just can't bend and move the way I need to!  We got all the kids involved as well - starting them out early learning to have a connection to the food they eat.  

Master Finn just wanted to play with his water table at first.  





He let the others toil while he happily splashed away.  




So intent in his playing he doesn't even notice me clicking away.



There we go!  Hi little man.


The two middles so proud to be helping daddy!  


Running like the wind.



Gwen got home from school and joined in the action.  


All planted and in need of some water.



Have you started your backyard garden yet?  We have already harvested lots of yummy buttercrunch lettuce so I can't wait for June when our warm weather crops will be ready!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Farm Fresh Eggs vs. Store Bought

Image Source
 If you have never had the pleasure of eating an egg fresh from the farm, boy are you missing out!  I had no idea how bland and tasteless those *insert major brand name "cage free"* eggs were until I brought home a dozen straight from the farm.  The yolks are brighter and creamier, and they are bursting with flavor.  And if that doesn't convince you, let's talk about nutritional value.... free range, farm fresh eggs are 4 times higher in omega-3s and 6 times higher in beta carotene than conventionally farmed eggs.  They also have HALF the cholesterol.  Below are 2 articles for you to reference the facts.  I have not bought eggs from the supermarket in 3 months now and I'm not looking back!  



So, where can you find these little nuggets of nutrition?  A sure-fire bet: find a local farmer and go have a look.  The farm where we participate in a CSA is 2 miles from our house in the burbs.  Here's a great website to get you started in your search:



You can also hit the farmer's markets, and health food stores....even our Whole Foods carries eggs from a local farmer here in TN.  I can't speak for the rest of the country, but here in middle TN you can expect to pay anywhere from $3.50 - $4.50 per dozen which is money well spent.


One other warning I have about those conventionally farmed eggs - even if they are labeled "cage free" or "free range" I would still tread very carefully here.  Most commercial grade chicken feed is made from GMO corn.... and that translates directly into the eggs and meat you are consuming.  Also "cage free" does not mean organic. This is just another case of marketing ploys meant to get your dollars.  I used to think buying those more expensive eggs was "healthier"...when in fact it was not. If you absolutely have to buy from the supermarket, choose a brand that is USDA certified organic.  Just some food for thought! :)  Below is a link to some facts about labeling on eggs- just click on the cow!






Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Coconut Oil & Sea Salt Popcorn



Who doesn't love popcorn?  Any time I make it my 5 year old asks: "Can we turn the lights off mama??".  He loves to eat popcorn and watch movies.  But let's not box popcorn into the "movie snack" only category - it's a great snack anytime.  High in fiber, gluten free, low in calories, and easily digestible.  Of course, I'm not talking about the microwave variety.  You shouldn't touch that stuff with a 10 foot pole.  Even though most major microwave popcorn manufacturers stopped using diacetyl years ago, OSHA has since found that the chemical subsitutes cause the exact same health issues - in some cases fatal.
  • You can read more about the diacetyl debacle here
  • This story outlines how the replacement, 2,3-pentanedione, is just as bad.  
  • Another story on the replacement, here.
Best to use an air popper, or make it on the stove top!  I'm still unsure why microwave popcorn was invented because stove top popcorn really doesn't take that long.  Here's a healthy and yummy way to make popcorn from the kernel on your stove top.  Once you master this, there is no end to the different spices and flavors you can add to popcorn!




Coconut Oil & Sea Salt Popcorn
by Tara Milam
Prep Time: 3 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Minutes
Ingredients (4 cups)
  • Popcorn
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sea Salt
Instructions
Put a medium sized saucepan on medium high heat.
Add 2tbsp of coconut oil to the pan and allow it to heat. Drop a couple of kernels into the oil and wait for them to pop. Once they pop, pour 1/3 cup kernels into the pan in one even layer.
Cover the pan, and shake while kernels begin to pop. Allow steam to escape through the lid every so often. Remove from heat when popping stops.
Add 2tbsp of coconut oil and 1tbsp of sea salt and toss to coat.
Serve warm and enjoy!
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax

On the journey to saving money and reducing chemicals from our food/environment, I started to seek out homemade laundry detergent recipes.  I knew that not only would this save money but eliminate the strange chemicals our skin would come into contact with.  The more I searched, the more frustrated I became:  it seems as though almost all of the recipes out there call for Borax.  I remember my grandmother using Borax to clean her sinks and toilets, and harshly warning us kids against touching the stuff.  That didn't sit will with me, especially when you consider that our skin is the largest organ of our body!  Even if that risk is very minimal, the point of this life change is just that..... to change.  And if you CAN make laundry detergent without Borax, why wouldn't you?!  

Yep, my detergent is in a Bubbie's pickle jar :-)
It's ridiculously easy - here goes!

1 1/2 cups Washing Soda (found at most any grocery store)
1 bar of soap (some people use fels-naptha, or ivory.  I used Dr. Bronner's lavender castille soap)

Grate the entire bar of soap into small flakes using a grater.  Mix soap flakes with washing soda.  Voila!  

This is what your mixture will look like.
Use 2-3 tbsp per load depending on how dirty things are.  I use a 1/8th cup scoop per load myself.  It works wonderfully - very clean clothes and a light scent.  So far I love it, and have no complaints!  Each batch yields approximately 25 loads.

Here is the cost breakdown:

For a 50oz bottle of Tide (32 loads): $9.99, or .31 per load

Dr Bronner's Castille Soap, $4.49 (makes 1 batch), or .18 per load
Washing Soda, $2.99  (makes 4.5 batches) or .03 per load

Total per load for homemade detergent: .21!!  


Tips: 

  • You CAN use this in front load machines - it is very low suds.  
  • Wait for some water to collect in the basin before pouring it in.
Here are a few links to information about Borax if you are interested.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Musselman's Applesauce: Product Review and GMO Information



You know I'm all about making staples at home, to save money and use whole foods.  But sometimes you need a snack food that is convenient and easy.  I don't always have the time to make something from scratch.  My kids love applesauce as a convenient snack, so I decided to check them out on my next trip to the store.  Once I got there, I began checking the labels on every brand of applesauce.  Every single brand (including the Mott's "natural") had high fructose corn syrup in it!  As I reached for the last brand, Musselman's, I expected to see more of the same.  Nope!  The ingredient label read: apples, water, ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  Score!  I then emailed the company to ask them about GMOs in their products and here is the response I received:


"Thank you for taking the time to contact Knouse Foods regarding our MUSSELMAN’S Natural Applesauce.  In reply to your request for information on genetically modified (GMO) ingredients:  Knouse Foods has received certification from our ingredient vendors to assure that our purchases do not contain genetically modified organisms. 

We have also had our products that contain corn starches and sweeteners assayed and the results were negative for the presence of genetic elements which frequently occur in transgenic plants.

We are members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association (GMA/FPA) and support its position on bio-technology and are continuing to monitor information and products.

We trust that this information will assist you.  If you have any further questions, please let us know."


Cherry Felts
Consumer Affairs Technician

Description: Description: branded logo for email signature 2007 version     
Knouse Foods Co-op., Inc.
53 E Hanover Street
PO Box 807
Biglerville, PA 17307-0807
717 677 9115 x4248
717 677 5402 Fax


I was very pleased with the reply, although I am unfamiliar with the GMA's stance.  I also contacted them by forwarding the email, and will update their response when I receive it.  Also, just to clarify, this is the Musselman's Natural applesauce - not the regular.  You can feel good about feeding this to your kids!


A small disclaimer: any reviews of products is based solely on research I have conducted myself.  I am not a scientist, or a lab worker, and do not test these products myself for GMOs.  I am not paid for these reviews - I conduct research and report entirely on my own behalf.  Please verify any information you see here for yourself.  My goal is to provide information that can help us feed our kids and ourselves clean food!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's in your cereal? Cornucopia Institute Study

Obviously because this blog is brand *spanking* new, I'm a bit behind on posting this.  The Cornucopia Institute did a comprehensive study of cereal - specifically cereal that is labeled "natural" and organic.  The report came out in October 2011 so you may have already seen it - if not, click through to the scorecard to see how the cereals fared.  I was very surprised to see our favorite cereal brand, Kashi (which we pay almost double the price for), on the very low end of this score card.  Only 4 out of 24 of their cereals are certified organic, and they source ingredients from conventional farms where pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified crops are grown.  Blown away.  We don't eat cereal every morning, but we made the switch to Nature's Path cereals.  They are pretty good, and I have absolutely. no. worries. when I fill my kids' bowls in the morning.  Bonus is that you can find this brand at Publix and Whole Foods so they are readily available.  



Just in case you're wondering: nope, I was not paid by nor was this post endorsed by Nature's Path in any way.  Just my personal opinion, and I highly recommend them!