Saturday, December 31, 2011

We Got Chickens at a Yard Sale

Like every Saturday morning, we were out going to yard sales. Our son actually didn't mind the car ride this morning. The last few weeks he has been fussy and we had to cut our trips short and come home. This morning he napped the whole trip. I noticed a dozen eggs on a table at the first yard sale we stopped at. (Lots of people in our area raise their own chickens and some sell the extra eggs, they just put a sign up in front of their house.) We asked about the eggs, then I heard the chickens clucking. We started talking to these people and they were selling chickens too!

Just yesterday, I had called a farmer on craigslist to ask about their chickens and was told their hens won't be ready for sale for another two weeks. Our chicken coop was ready for chickens and we could not get chickens.

Today was our lucky day. When we left the house this morning, we had no idea we would come home with chickens. This couple sold us three chickens since that was all that would fit in our animal trap/cage. My husband wanted to make a second trip and get three more, but I wanted to wait a few days so we can learn how to take care of chickens before getting more. They also told us where to get free hay for the nesting boxes, what kind of feed to get, and warned us of predators getting into the coop. We got two Leghorns and one Rhode Island Red. My husband actually caught one of the chickens to put into the cage!

We could tell these people have taken good care of their chickens because they are so friendly. The chickens seem really happy in their coop. They have been eating bugs all day!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Broccoli Ricotta Casserole

Hopefully, everyone had a great holiday weekend. This was our first Christmas with a baby, so it was a whole new experience. He wasn't old enough to actually open his presents so we opened them for him. I haven't posted in a few days because my husband has the week off so I've been a little distracted to post. We started working on our temporary chicken coop in the last couple of days. We just need to get food, pine shavings, and chickens. We will be doing that either today or tomorrow. I have tried a lot of new recipes since my last post but forgot to take pictures of most of them. I did get a picture of my broccoli casserole.

I had a head of broccoli and ricotta that I needed to use up to go with a pizza I was making. I googled broccoli casseroles and all the recipes were more like frittata bakes (they had a lot of eggs.) This was not what I was looking for. Then I remembered we were over at a friend's house for dinner a while back and had an eggplant lasagna type of bake without pasta. So I decided to try and make my own version of that with broccoli. This dish turned out to be delicious!

Broccoli Ricotta Casserole

1 large head broccoli
12 oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup sweet peppers, chopped
1 cup mozzarella
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350F.

Chop up the broccoli and put in food processor with s blade. Process until broccoli is little tiny pieces. Place in bowl. In a separate bowl mix together ricotta, eggs and mozzarella. Combine both mixtures along with peppers, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder.

Grease and 8 x 8 casserole dish. Pour half of pasta sauce in casserole dish. Pour broccoli mixture on top. Cover with remaining sauce. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Frugal Gift Wrapping

I have never seen a point in buying gift wrap. The receiver just rips through it and in the garbage can it goes. Not to mention all the trees that are cut down just for gift wrap that goes in the trash immediately after the gift is opened. We try and recycle as much as we can so using the comics section from the Sunday paper is a good way of recycling. After the gifts are opened, we then recycle the paper. So we end up getting an extra use of the paper before recycling. I usually start saving my comics in November and I end up with extra comics. Now, my brothers always makes fun of my choice of paper for wrapping gifts but they are not as frugal as I am and they find all sorts of new reasons to mock me. I did immediately notice at my baby shower, one of my good friends did wrap my gift with comics! I was so happy to see that others do think the same way I do. We also save gift bags, bows, and tissue from gifts that we receive and we reuse these at a later date. Above, you can also see my homemade granola in a canning jar where I used comics in between the ring and the lid.

Here, I made a bow using an old Christmas card. I just the card in to 2-3mm strips. Then curled each end with my fingers. I put a piece of tape in the middle (either use double sided tape or fold a piece of tape over so both sides are sticky) then arranged the strips on top of the tape so they would stick. You can also tape something to the middle like I did in the first picture, I taped a little square i the middle. If anyone has frugal gift wrapping ideas, please share by commenting. Happy wrapping!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grain-Free Almond Snowball Cookies

I have been making regular, unhealthy almond snowball cookies from the Food Network as Christmas gifts for years now. The people I make these cookies for do not care about eating healthy so I just make the same thing for them every year, including this year. As I was baking the cookies, I wanted to try one so bad but we don't eat white flour or white sugar and the ingredients were not organic so I couldn't have any. The next day I decided to try and make a healthy version for hubby and me.

Grain-Free Almond Snowball Cookies

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 stick salted butter
1/4 tsp stevia
a few drops almond extract
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup coconut flour
powdered sugar for dipping cookies

Combine butter and almond flour in a bowl. Add stevia, honey, almond extract, and vanilla extract and mix well. Add coconut flour and mix until combined. Put dough in fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheet and press down with fingers or the bottom of a glass. Bake for 20 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and leave on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Dip cookies in powdered sugar and place on cooling rack. After cookies are cooled, dip in powdered sugar again and store in an airtight container.

Makes 12 cookies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homemade Raw Grassfed Butter

I had bought a quart of raw grassfed cream for Thanksgiving and I didn't use it fast enough so it started to sour. I googled what to do with the cream once it sours and people said the butter you make with it tastes great. I put about 8-10 ounces of cream into my stand mixer and mixed away. After about 5 minutes, the cream started to turn yellow and I got excited! It finally turned into a large clump of butter. I poured the liquid (buttermilk) from the bowl into a canning jar and I rinsed the butter until the liquid was clear. Then I added himalayan salt, mixed it in, and poured it into a dish.

We have been wanting to get a cow or goat for dairy. I have wanted a goat and my husband wants a cow. After making my own raw butter, I am leaning more towards a cow because the cream separates naturally and I can make so many things with it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sophie the Giraffe Review

When I picked items for our baby registry, I researched everything. One of the items I put on the registry was Sophie the Giraffe teether. My husband thought that nobody would get this for us from our registry but someone did (my bff.) What I liked about Sophie was that it is made of rubber and it is painted with food grade paints, so it is safe for our son to put in his mouth. We gave Sophie to our son when he was around 2 months old. He is almost 4 months old now and he loves this toy. He puts it in his mouth to to suck on for fun, to self soothe, and he enjoys holding and squeezing it. When he gets fussy sometimes, we just stick Sophie up to his mouth and he calms down. I just want to clarify that he does not use this like a pacifier, he just likes to put it in his mouth and play with it in his hands.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cold Breakfast Cereal

I came across Sarah's article at The Healthy Home Economist about how toxic store bought cereal is for you and how to make your own. Now, I have known that store bought cereal is toxic because of the high temperatures they use to cook the cereal. I haven't bought cereal in a while, but after watching her video, I decided to make some cereal. She buys fresh wheat and grinds it herself. I do not know where to get the whole grains to grind yourself, so I decided to try make the cereal gluten-free with flours I already have. I also made a third of the recipe as this was more of an experiment. Here is my altered version (feel free to multiply the ingredients by 3 if you want a lot more cereal):

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Cereal

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup plain yogurt

Mix the above ingredients and put them in a large glass bowl and cover with a cloth for 24 hours.

The next day, add the following to the mixture:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Spread this out in a round cake pan and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Once it cools, crumble it up into small pieces and add 1/4 cup chopped almonds and spread out on a cookie sheet. Put in warm oven (the lowest it will go, I used 175F) for 4 hours mixing it every hour. Take out of oven and leave on tray to crisp up some more. 

This cereal came out amazing! You can change the flavors based on personal preference. The cereal does stay crispy in the milk. After I made this, I saw that Sarah had a gluten free version using almond flour. I will try that next time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Post Pregnancy Excercise

It's been almost 4 months since I gave birth to our son and I still do not have an exercise routine. I have been doing squats and lunges here and there but not regularly to benefit. I am already back to my pre-pregnancy size but I still need an exercise routine to tone up. This is the only thing that's missing from my healthy lifestyle. While I do have a gym membership, I cannot use it because I am breastfeeding and can't be away from my son for that long. I also will not use the daycare at the gym because I do not trust anyone who is not family to watch my son.

We do have Netflix and I have seen some 10 minute workouts on there. So my goal is to start out doing one ten minute workout every weekday while my son takes his morning nap. Once I am able to follow this routine for a while, I will up the amount of time I workout each day. The name of the workout video I will be using is 10 Minute Solution: Target Toning. This workout has separate 10 minute workouts. Today, I will start with the arms routine.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cream of Cauliflower Porridge

I have 4 more heads of cauliflower to use up. I have been looking for new cauliflower recipes to try but haven't come across anything that sounds better than mashed cauliflower. As I was eating the last of the mashed cauliflower, I found the consistency to be similar to that of cream of wheat. Bingo! I have a new meal to create! If it is a success, I will serve it to my husband as cream of wheat and see his reaction. Yes, I have fun tricking people into eating something healthy that looks and tastes unhealthy. Off to test my creation...

Well, I tested it and it came out delicious! The almond flour gives it a texture like that of wheat. Feel free to replace it with any ground up nut of your choice. This is really a good base for a breakfast porridge. You can just add whatever nuts, seeds, or fruit you would normally add to a hot porridge.

Here is the recipe:

Cream of Cauliflower Porridge

1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
1/4 cup of almond flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup or other sweetener of your choice

In a pot, boil the water and cauliflower until tender. Drain cauliflower reserving 1/4 - 1/2 cup of water. With a stick blender, puree the cauliflower and reserved water. Add almond flour, maple syrup and butter. Mix well.

I am just going to store this in the fridge in individual portions for ease of serving.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mashed Cauliflower

Publix Greenwise had organic cauliflower on sale for $1.99 a head, so we bought 5 heads (that's all that would fit in our fridge.) For dinner, my husband suggested mashed cauliflower with pulled bbq chicken and sauteed chard, so that's what I made. The cauliflower came out so good, you could trick someone into thinking the were mashed potatoes! My hubby said I should make the "mashed potatoes" for Christmas dinner at my parents house and see if they could tell the difference. I actually boiled 2 chicken leg quarters and used that broth to boil the cauliflower. I think the fat in the broth is what gave the mashed cauliflower the great taste! Here's the recipe:

Mashed Cauliflower

1 head organic cauliflower
chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Chop up the cauliflower and put it in a pot with the chicken broth. Boil until tender. Drain the cauliflower reserving 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the broth. Using a stick blender, blend together the cauliflower and the broth until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add spices and mix or blend again. If using, store bought broth, you may add butter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nutty Granola

I have become obsessed with granola since my pregnancy. I can eat a whole box of Cascadian Farms granola cereal in one sitting. Their granola doesn't have any nuts and uses sugar so it is not as healthy. Since we are trying to avoid prepackaged foods, I have to make foods for us to snack on. I have been experimenting with granola recipes and this is what I have come up with. My husband loves this stuff and he normally does not eat anything with oats.

Nutty Granola

1 cup raw almonds, chopped
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, chopped
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free if you have allergies)
1 cup crisp rice cereal (I used unsweetened)

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond butter (I have made it without this)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*All of the ingredients above are organic.

Preheat oven to 175F. Grease 9" x 13" glass casserole dish.

Melt coconut oil on stove top for a minute if it is solid. In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix in all the other ingredients, ensuring everything is coated well with the maple syrup mixture.

Dump the mixture into prepared casserole dish. Bake for 2 hours minutes. Shut oven off oven and leave the granola there for another couple of hours to crisp.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gifts for the Cook

My husband has been asking me what I want for Christmas, so I thought I would make a list of budget friendly gifts for the chef/cook in your life.

Garlic Press - I have this one, the kuhn rikon. It is the ultimate garlic press made of quality steel. A garlic press makes chopping garlic a breeze. I find myself using more garlic when cooking now.

Immersion Blender/Stick Blender - This is a very versatile kitchen appliance. Every cook should have one in my opinion. This can be used to puree soups and baby food and blends smoothies and shakes quickly. Cleanup just takes a minute versus taking out the hand blender or food processor. I use this all the time to puree squash soup, make mayonnaise and blend smoothies. Recently, I have used this to blend eggnog for the holiday.
Progressive International 9-Inch Easy Reach Stainless Steel Steamer Basket
Steamer Basket - I don't have a steamer but I already have all the pots I need; so this is the perfect item that will store easily in a cabinet after use. Now that I have a baby who will be eating solids, steaming and then pureeing baby food is in my near future. Steaming keeps all the nutrients in the vegetables, so healthwise, we should already be steaming our vegetables. Just be sure to get stainless steel as aluminum will leach into food.
Chef's Knife - Every cook needs 1 good quality chef's knife. I got the Wustof Classic Santoku knife as a wedding gift and I absolutely love it. It cuts through everything with ease and no more squishing tomatoes while trying to cut them!

Pepper Grinder - Freshly ground pepper tastes so much better in foods than the already ground stuff. I never realized the difference until I got one myself. Every house should have a pepper grinder. They make these in all shapes and colors to match anyone's kitchen or dining table.

Well there is my list of budget friendly gift ideas for the cook in your life (well the knife is a splurge but well worth it!) Some of these I already have and some are on my wish list.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


My name is Lavina and I live in South Florida with my husband and son. I have spent the last 2 years transitioning to eating organic, nutritious and fresh foods. I no longer buy any processed food (well I still buy organic brown rice pasta.) My family is completely organic now. Everything from produce to meat to spices, it's all organic. When I got pregnant with my son is when we really became more strict about what we were eating. I am now a stay at home mom after spending the last 5 years in accounting. I will use this blog to share recipes, nutrition facts, my lifestyle, organic gardening, being a mommy and many other related topics.

Thanks for joining me...