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Menu Planning Form

Here is a little gift from me to you.

We all know one of the best ways to save money AND maintain your sanity is to menu plan.

This is a weekly menu planner I made with slots for breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND dinner prep. I use the dinner prep box to add in things that need done in the morning or the previous day (put things in crockpot, soak beans, get pasta sauce or chicken broth out of the freezer, etc.).

You can type RIGHT on this form before you print it. (Click on the form to access it.)

Enjoy!

Our Favorite Granola

It wouldn’t be a whole foods blog without granola, would it?

I started making this granola recipe about six months ago. Oats, nuts, coconut, seeds — yum! And even though it’s good as written, I’ve tweaked and tweaked and tweaked.

My boys wanted it sweeter, so I added 1/2 cup real maple syrup. I also upped the vanilla (you can never go wrong there). The ginger was a bit much for me, so I took an entire teaspoon away. I also added more oats. I think that’s all.

If you want something less sweet with more {much more} ginger, check out the original recipe. However, if you kids like things a little more sweet and a little less spicy, try mine.

Azure Standard Staples

We received our sixth installment of wonderful foods from Azure Standard a few weeks ago, and another order went in today!

Here’s the list of Azure Standard Staples I use for my cooking adventures.

Almonds, Sliced Blanched 5 lbs. $25.80

Walnuts, Raw 5 lbs. $36.65

Peanuts, Roasted Salted Domestic 5 lbs. $15.90

Coconut, Shredded Fine (unsulphured, no sugar) 5 lbs. $13.30

Raw Honey 1 gallon $30.40

Raspberries, Frozen, Natural (not sprayed!) 10 lbs. $32.55

Rumiano Montery Jack Cheese, Organic, $5.40/lb (comes in 4-6 lb. blocks)

Lifeline Montzarella Cheese, Organic 24 oz. $10.85

Rumiano Butter (from grass-fed cows ~ you will not find better butter) 10 lbs. $39.90

Pure Alaska Think Pink Wild Salmon 24 cans $79.90

Shelton Ground Turkey 12 lbs. $52.75

Oats, Rolled, Organic 25 lbs. $18.75

Popcorn, Yellow, Organic 25 lbs. $19.70

Soft White Wheat Berries, Organic 50 lbs. $19.15

Hard White Wheat Berries, Organic 50 lbs. $32.40

Red Beans, Small, Organic 25 lbs. $24.80

Black Beans, Organic 10 lbs. (4 – 2.5 lb. bags) $16.90

Rumford Baking Power (Non Aluminum) 5 lbs. $14.75

Himalayan Stone Ground Salt 5 lbs. $15.35

I also order various produce depending on what’s in season. We LOVE their apples, but I can’t really link to them as they change stock frequently and are currently out. I’m hopeful they will return soon as apple season is approaching!

Flexible Frittata

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I think it was the chicken and then the egg. At least that’s the order we discussed things here. Let’s continue on with eggs.

Eggs are one of the cheapest sources of protein I can buy. My friend with roam-around-the-barnyard chickens sells me eggs for $2/dozen. Because of this, we eat a LOT of eggs. One of our favorite eggy things to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner is the frittata.

You start with eggs, milk, and cheese and add in whatever you have on hand ~ green onions, tomato, bell pepper, potato, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, etc. I rarely make the same fritatta twice!

So, here’s the recipe. Clickity-click-click the picture!

Note: I do like to cook my veggies a little bit first before baking. I forgot to mention that in the recipe (oops!).

I’m not going to claim my recipe as the very-best-frittata-you’ll-ever-eat-in-the-whole-wide-world. Here are some other (more specialized) recipes, if you’d like to give them a whirl.

Asparagus Ham Fritatta

Spinach & Potato Fritatta

Colorful Fritatta

Happy Fritatta-baking! 

Egg (r)Evolution

Elijah, my 10 yr. old, begged me to write a post for the blog. Brace yourself.

Hi! It’s me, Elijah. It’s my turn to tell you some healthy things.

Today, we are going to talk about eggs. Yes, we love scrambled eggs, deviled eggs, egg salad, omelets, you know the rest; but alas, do you know where they come from? If you don’t know, I’ll tell you the hard boiled truth!

1. Most chickens are caged up! Isn’t that horrid?!

2. They feed them GMO corn!

3. They NEVER EVER get to see the sun.(jeez, how do they get their Vitamin D?)

4. They tear off their, don’t pass out, beaks!

5. They sit in their own yucky, smelly, disgusting POOP!

The problem is that they’re supposed to run free! THAT’S how it should be, so next time you go to the store, make sure that your eggs are good! See you next time!

From Ami:
This video explains it all. And it’s why we buy our eggs from a local farm.

Watch The Story of an Egg on PBS. See more from The Lexicon of Sustainability.

 

Here, Chicky Chicky (or how to save a ton of money)

I want to post about granola today, but I’ve lost a camera card. The one with the granola-making pictures on it. I have five cards. I can only locate four. Why does one need five camera cards? Because one is constantly losing camera cards. Sigh.

Anyway, granola is out and chicken is in. Elijah (my oldest)  just made a fresh batch of granola this morning, though, so maybe I do see a granola post in your future. Elijah also wrote up a guest post about eggs for the blog, so that will be coming next week. I guess will just have a chicken theme for the next few posts.

Organic chicken, free-range chicken, pastured chicken . . . it’s not cheap.

I purchased two chickens from Costco for $22.42 (so, we’ll just say $11 each).

My friend, Tammy, told me I could cook the chicken, eat the chicken, and then throw the leftover bones-n-such in a crock pot and make broth. I pay about $2 for a quart of organic, free-range broth, so I’m willing to try making my own. It would save me a bundle.

I roasted the chicken (recipe found at Smitten Kitchen)

I ate the chicken. {Sorry, I’m not posting a photo of my chicken gobbling. That’s where I draw the line.}

Then I picked the chicken clean and ended up with 2 cups of meat (1 cup for soup and 1 cup for fried rice).

I threw all-things-leftover from the roasted chicken in a crockpot with some organic carrots (no need to peel!), organic celery, and onion. I sprinkled lots of salt and pepper, too. I filled it to the brim with water.

I let it cook on low for about 10 hours.

And then . . .

BROTH! 

I ended up with FIVE QUARTS of broth.

I strained all the weird-stuff (you know, the potential chicken nugget stuff) out and was left with this delicious broth.

If you want to freeze it, use wide mouth jars and leave at least one full inch at the top of each jar.

Let’s do the math.

1 organic chicken = $11

carrots, celery, and onion = about $1.50

I spent $12.50

I got

~ 1 meal of roasted chicken

~ 1 cup of chicken for soup

~ 1 cup of chicken for fried rice

~5 QUARTS of the richest, best broth ever (which would normally cost me $10)

That’s not really math. That’s crazy.  So, don’t feel bad about paying $11 for a chicken because you can do amazing things with it.

Here chicky, chicky . . .

FBI Girl Goes after GMO Corn

Seriously, this post was scheduled for 4.23, and I am just now getting around to writing it. I should not pre-schedule posts that require FBI Girl to do her thing. She’s slow. And dependent on someone else for a ride to the grocery store. And her family isn’t super keen about waiting in the car while she gathers intelligence.

FBI Girl doesn’t know how long she will be able to carry out these undercover operations because turning over package after package of processed food and reading the ingredient lists is quite depressing. It also makes her stomach hurt. On second thought, maybe she will continue these missions; maybe she will shed some pounds.

How did FBI Girl locate GMO corn? She looked for these obvious and not-so-obvious ingredients:

Maltodextrin ~ derived from any starch; in the US, the starch is usually processed corn

Dextrose ~ ditto

Corn Syrup ~ definitely a processed corn product

Corn Starch ~ ditto

Unless any of these product specifically state that they are free from GMOs, assume otherwise. Most companies will brag on the package if the product isn’t GMO.

Corn, corn, everywhere . . .

in bagels

in snacks

In jelly and jam . . .

Obvious offenders list

Watch out for these little packets . . .

Yes, there is CORN in your applesauce.

And corn in your peaches

It’s in your yogurt

and even in your beans.

Corn in your potatoes? Yep, yep.

I know you don’t buy any of this stuff, but just in case . . .

If you want to learn more about corn, I recommend watching King Corn because you are what you eat. 

Do You Know GMOs?

Genetically engineered. Manipulated and modified and mutated.

Huh? Isn’t this a food blog? 

Yes, it is. And all those words up there refer to food. Our food. They are doing weird things to it, and we’re buying into it.

Without ample studies, without listening to advice from scientists, without common sense, genetically engineered food is being sold. And  you don’t even know that you’re buying it.

I don’t care if the FDA tells us it’s safe. They also told us cigarettes were safe. They told us DDT was harmless. They aren’t always right.

Genetically engineered food has not been proven safe.

Although the biotech industry confidently asserted that gene transfer from GM foods was not possible, the only human feeding study on GM foods later proved that it does take place. The genetic material in soybeans that make them herbicide tolerant transferred into the DNA of human gut bacteria and continued to function. That means long after we stop eating a GM crop, its foreign GM proteins may be produced inside our intestines.*

It may take generations to determine the effects of manipulating a gene in the food we eat.

Mice fed potatoes engineered to produce the Bt-toxin developed abnormal and damaged cells, as well as proliferative cell growth in the lower part of their smaller intestines. Rats fed potatoes engineered to produce a different type of insecticide also showed proliferative cell growth in both the stomach and intestinal walls . . . Cell proliferation can be a precursor to cancer.*

There’s more:

~ GM fed animals had higher death rates and organ damage.
~ GM fed animals had liver damage
~ GM fed animals had reproductive failures and infant mortality.
~ GM crops trigger immune reactions and may cause allergies.

Last time I checked, my children weren’t gray. Or furry. With whiskers. Nor did they squeak. I decided to pull out of the science experiment and to stop buying GMO foods. The biggest offenders are corn, soy, sugar beets, cotton and canola.

I’m passionate about this one, and I’m sending FBI Girl on a mission to find GMO corn. Brace yourselves. The next post is going to be long.

P.S. You can look for this label to know that the food contains nothing genetically modified ~

Also, Azure Standard doesn’t sell any foods containing genetically modified organisms. Trader Joe’s products are sourced from non-GMO ingredients.

Buying organic is safer than buying conventional. According to the Non GMO Project website, “Shopping organic is a great step towards ensuring that your family eats the healthiest foods possible. The challenge is that although GMOs are an excluded method under the National Organic Program, organic certification does not require GMO testing. Choosing products that are Certified Organic AND Non-GMO Project Verified is the best way to make sure you are getting the safest, healthiest, highest-quality foo for your family.”

*The quotes in this post are from “State-of-the-Science on the Health Risks of GM Foods.” 

Sugar & Spice Muffin Mix

I want to be like Mary Poppins.
Practically perfect in every way.

I want to say I only used a spoonful of sugar in this recipe.
But I didn’t. I used an entire cup.

These muffins are a sweet treat.

But I’m pretty sure my treat is better for you than Little Debbie’s. Let’s check.

30+ (partially pronounceable) ingredients. In a muffin. I’m surely sure mine are better.

So now that proved mine are better and justified the entire cup of sugar, let’s continue.

The other basic ingredients include: baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, unbleached flour, whole wheat pastry flour, salt, cinnamon, egg, and vanilla.

First, you mix up a batch of Sugar and Spice Muffin Mix.

Then you grab what you need for one batch of muffins and store the rest in a cute jar or in a not-so-cute Ziploc bag.

Follow the directions on the recipe page.

You’ll get these.

And once you give them a dip (in butter) and a shake (in cinnamon sugar), you’ll get these:

Sugar & Spice Muffins attempting some kind of pyramid. Either that or the photographer was having an awkward food posing moment.

My son says they taste like donuts. My friend Krista calls them Elephant Ear Bites. Call them whatever you like.

And if you need a special occasion breakfast or a sweet treat, try these.

Yum.

Food (r)Evolution: Baking Powder

This is going to be one short post.

And this is going to be one underwhelming baby step you can take.

You can make the switch from baking powder with aluminum to baking powder without. Easy-peasy. It doesn’t cost much more, and it should be easy to find.

It might look like this ~

or something like this ~

Note: I prefer the Rumford and the Trader Joe’s brands because they are both made without genetically engineered corn (more on that later).

Because you don’t want to eat this.

Aluminum.

It’s no good.  It’s no good. It’s no good. Baby, it’s no good.

In fact, it’s horrible for us, and most of us are slathering it under our armpits everyday. We don’t need to be eating it, too. And we probably shouldn’t be cooking with it. Just sayin’.