Homemade Snack Bars

It is getting colder quick. Today’s high here in Northern Indiana was only 38F/3C. Brrr.  Tomorrows high will be a bit warmer at 45F/7C.

bars1Since I’ve been changing the way I eat to help control my pain, I have worked to eliminate processed sugar. I’m not a sweet snack person but more of a salty snack person. Eliminating processed sugar was a bummer, but not really that hard. Eliminating chip and crackers?  Tough.  But I do like sweets once in a while and when I came across LÄRABARs, they were perfect.

I was looking at them the other day and I thought “Hmmm…dates and nuts. Bet I can make that.” I happen to have dates and cashews…so that’s what I set out to do.

I had no idea what amounts to use, so I winged it.  I tossed a few handfuls of cashews into the food processor and spun them around some.  Then I added pitted dates until I guessed they looked like the right consistency.

bars2Once it looked right, I spread the date and nut mixture onto some plastic. It is a plastic zip freezer bag that I cut open and use when making tortillas or sticky things like date and nut snacks. I shaped it into a rectangle-ish shape and cut it into bars. I guess they were just under a half-inch thick. I ended up with 16.

I had some snack sized zip bags that I thought would work well, but the bars being sticky wouldn’t be easy to get in or out. So I wrapped each piece with wax paper before I put them into the zip bags.  And being frugal…I’ll just wash and reuse the snack bags.  Yes I will!

bars3How cool is that? Of course I had to taste test one, so I actually packaged up 15. I tossed all the snack bags into a gallon zip bag and put that into the refrigerator.

The whole process…including pitting the dates and stopping to sample one of the bars…took maybe an hour.  Wrapping and bagging the bars took the longest.  I don’t know if I saved any money, but it was nice to make my own snack.  I’m hoping to test out some different flavors with other nuts and dried fruit.

Have you tried making a homemade version of your favorite treat?  Leave a comment below and let me know.  If you have a link to a blog post or a recipe, I’d love to check it out!

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…



Soaking Grains


Soaking Buckwheat and Quinoa

I’ve been interested in soaking grains for a while now. I try and soak grains we eat (when I remember to) like rice and oats. Right now I’m on a special eating program for my joint pain and it calls for eating a lot of quinoa and buckwheat. And so I’m soaking them overnight to maximize the health benefits. I simply add the grains to the canning jar, add the warm water, and add an acidic medium such as apple cider vinegar. You can also use yogurt, lemon juice, kefir etc. Rinse well and cook with equal amount of fresh water. I like to add a pinch of salt to mine.

Right now my quinoa is fairly plain while I work on healing my gut, but I do like quinoa and if you to go The Nourishing Gourmet you can find some great recipes for it.

Since I’ve been on this program my joint pain has decreased. I can actually close my hands fully into a fist. The pain isn’t gone, but there is a noticeable decrease. I fully believe diet has a huge impact on our health and can reduce and/or eliminate many health issues as well as reduce/eliminate the need for prescription drugs. I still may have to use medication at some point, but I want to do as much as I can control myself. It’s not easy, but trying to avoid being on prescription medication for the rest of my life is worth the effort.

I’d love to hear what you do to keep or stay healthy.  Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know you stopped by.  I’m off to play in the garden. I have many beans, tomatoes and peppers to harvest.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…


A Health Journey

I’ve been fortunate that most of my life I’ve been in good health. Other than having to have a rescue inhaler for my asthma, I don’t have to take any medication at all. Last year I started having problems with my asthma and over the fall/winter it was the worst it’s ever been. At the same time something new appeared…joint pain.

Now, I am going to admit that I have a big birthday coming up. 50. The big five-oh. The half buck. Half century. Yeah, that one. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m not dreading it either. When I turned 30…worst birthday ever. The birthday itself was wonderful…hubby, family and friends…a lovely day at the park. It was the idea of turning 30 that was devastating and I cried. Honestly, I’m not sure why it bothered me so. But turning 50. Wow. Significant. And blessed. Boy am I blessed. 50 years of blessings. Not everything was good, but God has been good. I’m blessed.


The pain in my hands has been pretty bad.

Turning 50 I’m now dealing with bad join pain. Part of me is really surprised that this joint pain not just appeared but hit hard. The other part of me knows that people in my family have battled arthritis so it really isn’t a surprise. Now, I haven’t been officially diagnosed with arthritis. We don’t really have the money to go and get it checked out (insert stupid healthcare system crummy insurance vote all the bums out rant here). It could be something else entirely. But I do know two things: I don’t want to end up on long term medications that could cause more health problems, and I don’t want to suffer with painful joints. This week the pain has been pretty bad, especially in my hands.

One other thing I do know: food and supplements can have a big impact on your health.

I already know that I am intolerant of dairy products. Not lactose intolerant, but casein (the protein in dairy) intolerant. Cutting out dairy and cutting back on sugar and sweets actually helped calm my asthma. Also with a lot of research adding specific supplements have helped too.

So I have been researching pain and inflammation and starting to make more dietary changes.  To start I know that I need to totally eliminate refined sugars and flours (I may go gluten or grain free for a while).  I know that changing my diet won’t cure, but it should help a lot.  I’m not good at going full on with diet changes…I tend to “fall of the wagon” a lot. It’s hard also when hubby and son still like to eat the things I want or need to avoid. I figured that if I journaled about it here on my blog I would be more accountable and maybe more likely to stick with it. I also figured that there may be others in similar situations who might be willing to share what worked for them.

Here I go on this journey to try and improve my health.  I’d love to hear about your journey to wellness.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!  Grace and peace…




Hubby and son built a trial rocket stove, so I thought I’d test it out with what else?  Bacon!

I don’t know many people who don’t like bacon.  They are out there in the world, somewhere, but I don’t know them.  Here @ home…we love bacon.  Unfortunately we don’t love the nitrites and other ingredients that make bacon what it is today.

Curing meat is a way of preserving it for long term.  Salting and smoking allowed the perishable meat to be stored without spoiling and used later when fresh meat wasn’t readily available.  While some people still cure their own meat for long term storage, commercial meats are cured with chemicals and mainly for taste rather than storage.

For me in my mind, it seemed rather absurd to purposely buy something like bacon in the grocery store that is loaded all sorts of who-knows-what to achieve that salty cured taste.  It didn’t need to be stored, it was readily available…if we are only buying it for the taste, why take any chances?  So we avoided it and other commercially cured foods like lunch meats.  We started buying regular uncured meat and cutting it up for sandwiches, but totally avoided bacon.  Until we came across something called fresh side pork…or fresh bacon.

Fresh side pork is uncured bacon.  We get it from our local butcher shop.  It is cut into slices just like bacon except that it is raw, uncured and unseasoned pork.  And I cook it just like cured bacon except I season it with salt and pepper first.  And it does taste like bacon except it has more pork flavor.  It actually tastes much better than commercial cured bacon.

If you are raising your own meat, curing can make sense.  If you have access to sides of beef and pork, it might make sense for you also.  You might just enjoy smoking and curing your own meat.  But for me, it just doesn’t make sense to ingest all the commercially cured meats just for the taste and convenience.  If you get the opportunity, try some fresh side pork and you’ll see what I mean!

Favorite Finds Friday

Here are a few of the most interesting, fun, practical, weird, frivolous, informative, creative, yummy, etc. finds I have found on the internet this week.  Let me know what you think!

woven-rag-rug-1Woven Rag Rug from Craft Passion

I’ve always been interested in rag rugs, but never had the patience to sit down and try to make one.  Which is funny because I do have the patience to sit and crochet a big afghan.  This project is a great way to recycle those old sheets into something useful other than rags.  It doesn’t look too hard and the finished product is really nice.  I’d love a couple of these for my kitchen!

Hidden-sources-of-BPA-and-why-alternatives-may-be-worseHidden Sources of BPA (And Why You Should Care) from Wellness Mama

A couple years ago Hubby and I made a concerted effort to remove sources of BPA in our home.  We’ve done a lot since then, replacing a lot of plastic with glass and metal.  That was actually the easy part.  There is a lot more BPA (and other junk) in our lives than we realize, like canned goods.  It is really hard to find canned good that don’t use it, it’s almost easier just to avoid buying canned goods when possible.

CreamOfMushroom-800x533Homemade Cream of Something Soup by Once A Month Meals

I find that so many recipes today start with a can of “cream of (fill in the blank) soup”.  Convenient, yes.  For most people.  But not so convenient if you need or want to avoid some of the ingredients they contain (especially dairy for me), if you are concerned about BPA inside the cans, or if you plain just run out.  This recipe for Homemade Cream of Something Soup is actually quite handy to have on hand for everyone and even has instructions for freezing.  I made a tuna casserole with this and it was great!

hot-process-soap-recipe-2Homemade Hot Process Soap Recipe in a Crock Pot by The Prairie Homestead

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making soap.  She mentions a fear of the lye, and that has always been why I hesitated.  I even have the lye, I just haven’t been brave enough to actually try it.  This article has given me a little encouragement in the direction of trying it, and maybe this weekend while the guys are fishing I can muster up enough courage to do it.

That’s all my finds for this week.  More next time! If you come across something you think I might be interested in (or maybe you posted it yourself), leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.

Colossians 3:23 – And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.


Recipe: Smoothies

We drink a lot of smoothies in our house. I usually just throw them together with whatever I have on hand. I never use sugar in my smoothies. Instead, I always use a banana. This sweetens it up nicely without adding sugar. Sometimes I’ll use honey if I’m out of bananas. I also never add ice to smoothies. Instead, I make sure my fruit is frozen before hand. Bananas are easy to freeze, simply peel them before you freeze them.  I love to catch sales or buy discounted bananas to have in the freezer.  I’ve use all sorts of berries, kiwi, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, grapes, watermelon, apples, pears, plums etc. I’ve even tried carrots, cucumbers and spinach in them with no complaints!   Coconut oil and chia seeds are great too, and hardly noticeable.  I also use rice/almond/coconut milk since I can’t have cows milk and for my own smoothies I have to skip the yogurt as well.  I never actually measure, but here is my general smoothie recipe:

Fruit Smoothies

1 frozen banana
about 2 cups of your choice of frozen fruit
1/2-1 cup plain yogurt
1/2-1 cup milk or unsweetened fruit juice

If it’s too liquidy for your liking, add more frozen fruit. If it’s too thick, add more milk or juice. It’s not an exact science, make it to your taste. I don’t think I’ve ever made the same one twice!

Green/Veggie Smoothies

It took me a while to get used to the idea of vegetables in my smoothies.  Adding veggies is a great way not only to increase your veggie intake, but single out the healing properties of raw veggies (and fruits, herbs) such as celery, ginger, beets, cucumbers, parsley, for your specific needs.  There are many recipes out there, and I’m sure you’ll find several to fit your taste and needs.

One of the things I learn from a lovely friend who is a certified clinical nutritionist is that we should be drinking our food and chewing our drinks. Basically we don’t chew our food well enough for proper digestion. And even the things we drink (like smoothies) need the help of our saliva to digest properly. So don’t gulp down your smoothies, sip them and enjoy them.

Bone Broth Stock

stockRight now…bone broth!

When I first moved out on my own and discovered a crockpot…I really loved how easy it was to make meals.  It was so convenient and I use it all the time.  When I realized I could cook a whole chicken in the crockpot for dinner, then put the carcass back in with water and seasonings overnight to make broth for soup…it quickly became my favorite kitchen tool.  I have several now.  It is still my favorite way to make meals and soup stocks. But while I love the ease of crockpots, I love the efficiency of the pressure cooker…my current favorite kitchen tool.  In just a few hours I have a beautiful rich, yummy bone broth start to finish.  I think it make much better broth than the crockpot. There is still a lot of fear out there regarding pressure cookers.  They aren’t as unpredictable as they once were.  Modern features make they much safer and easier to use.  I have two, one stainless just for cooking and one aluminum just for canning.

If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know there is a difference between stock and broth.  If you’re not like me, you’re probably laughing.  I’m all right with that.  Anyway, I’ve been making homemade stock/broth for soups for a long time and when someone pointed out that there was a difference, I decided to find out for myself.  One place said that the difference was broth is made from meat and stock is made from bones.   Another said that stock is clear while broth is cloudy.   Still another said that stock is unseasoned and broth is seasoned.  So I just shook my head and called what I make stock or broth depending on my mood.  Recently I found a post from one of my favorite chefs…Alton Brown…on the difference between stock and broth, and I figured if anyone would know, it would be him.  He basically says that stock is made from bones and such and broth is a liquid in which meat has been cooked.  I trust him.  So technically bone broth is really bone stock.  That name change will never catch on.  I digress…

I won’t bore you with the details of how to make bone broth or stock.  A quick internet search will give you plenty of instructions and recipes but if you’d like to know how I do it, let me know!  Basically you take the best bones you can find, put them into your water filled stockpot, crockpot or pressure cooker  with a tablespoon or two of good apple cider vinegar (to draw the minerals out) and any other seasonings/aromatics that you like (if you like).   I keep a bag of left over veggies and veggie scraps in the freezer for this.  In the past I made mine in the crockpot, but now I find that it is easier and tastes even better using my pressure cooker.

There has been a bit of discussion as to whether using a pressure cooker to make healthy bone broth was good or not.  Some say it destroys vitamins, some say it doesn’t.  I read a lot of both arguments and with adding the convenience and the taste, I’m fine with using the pressure cooker.   I don’t just make it for it’s health properties, but I can it to have on hand for soups, stews and gravies.  I love knowing what is in my broth when I go to use it.

So, do you make your own bone broth or stock?