Quick and Easy Chicken Nuggets and Mac and Cheese

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In less time than you can heat up the oven and bake frozen chicken nuggets from a bag, (and no matter what the commercials say they are NOT good for you) you can make your own chicken nuggets.  Simply chop up raw chicken, roll it in white whole wheat flour and salt (add any other seasonings you like but plan is just as good) and cook it in a little coconut oil.  Coconut oil is a good choice because it’s a healthy oil and doesn’t add any flavor (like olive oil would).

Homemade mac and cheese is just as quick and easy.  It only takes me one minute longer than making the box kind.  Just cook up some whole wheat noodles (my kids like spiral or shells).  Drain and add a couple TBSP of butter and some milk, 1/2 a cup or so, and boil until the butter melts and milk cooks down a bit.  While it’s boiling cut up some small chunks of mozzarella and colby cheese.  OK, here’s where the extra minute comes in- throw the noodles in a bowl, add the cheese, and microwave for one minute.  Stir it up and serve.  Yes, it’s different than the junk from the box and yes my kids complained that it was different.  But the other day they had some friends over and I overheard my youngest telling her friend how this mac and cheese was way better than the stuff from the box.  I didn’t think I would EVER hear her say that!

Pizza Time

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The great thing about pizza is that you can make such great varieties and throw lots of veggies on it (as long as your kid doesn’t pick them off 🙂  I tried a couple of different recipes for pizza crust and this is the one my family likes the best.  Again, we use the white whole wheat flour (ground from white wheat instead of red) which makes for a much better tasting crust.  As for toppings, I have not found a decent pepperoni.  But organic beef or sausage (or chicken sausage) works great.  We also used some veggies from the farmers market, and I found an all natural black olive at walmart.  They are canned in only water and sea salt,

Pizza Crust Recipe:

1 cup warm water
2 tsp active yeast
1 tsp honey (optional)
put these together and wait several minutes
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour
add yeast mix to flour salt and oil.  mix and kneed dough.  put in fridge for at least 1 hour.
spread dough out on pizza tray.  I always bake it for a few minutes and then add the toppings and
finish baking.  8-10 min. 400-450 degrees.

BBQ Time- Buns, Chips, Whipped Cream, and Vitamin Water

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My kids love to use the fire pit in the summer.  At least once a week we have to have a cook out.  So after finding a local farmer to buy all of our meat from, including brats, I decided I needed to make some other stuff so we could have a real cookout.  I found a great bun recipe that I used to make hamburger buns last week.  The kids loved them so today I’m shaping them into hotdog buns.  I got this recipe from deliciouslyorganic.net and I use white whole wheat flour.   This is NOT white all-purpose flour.  This flour was ground from white wheat instead of red wheat.  So it’s still whole wheat but is a lighter color and produces softer bread.  Normally this is used for pastries but I like it for my bread and buns.  The original recipe calls for a mixture of both flours (white and red) but I just use all white.

Now before the recipe for buns I also want to mention potato chips.  I mean, how can you have a cookout without potato chips?  I did find all natural baked potato chips from Kettle Brand.  The sea salt flavor only has three ingredients: Potatoes, vegetable oil (safflower and/or sunflower oil), sea salt. (walmart carries these)  But they are super expensive.  So I thought there must be some way to make my own.  Well there is!  Unfortunately it requires the microwave (this just doesn’t work in the oven). Also, we made a fruit salad with whipped cream and homemade vitamin water.  Must have some color on the plate!  Recipes below.

Homemade Buns
1 cup warm water
3 TBSP whole milk
2 TBSP honey
2tsp active dry yeast

combine these and let sit for 5 min.  It should more than double in size
3 ½ cups white whole wheat flour (or 2 cups white and 1 ½  cup regular whole wheat)
1 ¾ tsp salt
2 ½ TBSP unsalted butter
, cold and grated on cheese grater
mix with fingers until small clumps form
1 egg
put one egg and yeast mixture into flour.    Mix completely and then kneed in mixer (with
dough hook) for 5 min. or by hand for 8.  Cover and let sit for 2 hours.  Separate and form
into 8 hamburger or hotdog buns.  Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Cover and let sit and rise for another 1-2 hours.  You can glaze these by mixing one
egg with some water
and brushing on the top of each bun.  (optional)
Bake for 10-14 min. at 400 degrees.

Chips
Thinly slice your potatoes, add sea salt, lay them in a single layer on a plate, and microwave for 4 minutes on each side.  Then set them out to cool.  They get crisp! (cook time may vary but cook until there is not moisture left)

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla
1 TBSP honey
Mix together and put in a chilled bowl.  Mix with chilled beaters until fluffy.

Vitamin Water
Any combination of fresh fruit in filtered water and ice.  Let it soak in the fridge for hours and then, for a pint sized jar, add 5 drops of stevia.  Stir and serve cold.

Ice Cold Lemonade

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Who doesn’t like a glass of lemonade in the summer?  And let’s face it, when you take away caffeine, sugar, food additives and artificial sweeteners your drink options are…a little limited.  I’m not much of a water drinker either, and after reading the label of my much beloved LifeWater and Crystal Light, I put those on the “do not consume” list.  So my solution?  Stevia Lemonade.  Real Stevia is extracted from the Stevia plant, a naturally sweet herb. It is MUCH sweeter than sugar so it takes very little to sweeten a drink.  I buy Sweetleaf brand liquid stevia.  They also make flavored drops and I know people that buy those to make drinks.  I haven’t tried that yet because it was cheaper to order a bigger bottle of the plain SteviaClear.  Also be careful of some powdered forms of stevia that add artificial fillers.

You can make this in a pitcher but I find it easy to make it one glass at a time.  Also, feel free to play with the recipe a bit.  Adding more or less lemon juice.

2 cups filtered water
2-3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
10-15 drops liquid stevia
ice

Mango Cobbler with Coconut Ice Cream

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I wasn’t planning another post this week but this was too good not to share.  The ice cream did need to be prepped a day in advance or you need a better ice cream maker than I own 🙂  Rating of 4, everyone loved it!

My family always feels like eating real food is better when I can produce things like this.  Tonight I made a real food version of tator tot casserole and for some reason I felt it needed some dessert.  I had found a raw mango cobbler recipe on Ani Phyo’s site and tweaked it a little to fit our family.  I had to omit the nuts for a couple of my kids but that just meant more for the rest of us.  Now of course you could bake this whole thing but raw fruits are so much better for you.  Cooking any food kills much needed enzymes and nutrients.  (I highly recommend watching Food Matters for more info on that).  If you want this to be totally raw just don’t warm the topping at all.  Raw milk and fresh coconut milk from a young coconut are also great for ice cream if you can get some.

Mango Cobbler with Coconut Ice Cream
(serves 4-5)

Cobbler
1 cup of dry oatmeal
1/2 cup almonds (chopped in food processor)
1 cup pitted and chopped dates
2 TBSP coconut oil (melted on extremely low heat)
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 bag Dole frozen mangos (thawed at room temp- don’t microwave)
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup

Melt coconut oil on lowest stove setting and add in salt and vanilla.  In separate bowl mix oatmeal, chopped almonds, chopped dates, and then pour oil mixture over top and stir.    Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 until warm.  Mix honey together with thawed mango and spoon into 4 bowls.  Top with warm oatmeal mixture.   Top with coconut ice cream.

Coconut Ice Cream
This ice cream does require a vitamix or other high speed blender and needs to be prepared in advance.  If you have another ice cream maker I’m sure you could make it in there also.  This does not have a super strong coconut flavor.  My daughter who hates coconut didn’t even notice and asked for seconds.  But you could throw some extra unsweetened coconut on top if you’d like more.
1 cup of coconut milk (I used canned)
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla (or more to taste) or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/8 tsp salt
liquid stevia (I think I did about 10-12 drops, just until I liked the taste)
mix all together in a saucepan and stir on low heat for about 5 min.  Pour into ice cube trays and freeze overnight.  Should fill 2 trays.  Dump frozen cubes into vitamix and blend until it’s an ice cream consistency.

2 Recipes in 1- Cream of Celery Soup and Creamy Cheesy Tuna Noodles

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Well I’m really excited for this post, partially because it’s been weeks since I’ve had time to write anything, and partially because my kids raved about this recipe.  My youngest has begged me to make my creamy cheesy tuna noodles for the last two days.  I wasn’t sure how I could make this into a healthier recipe since it calls for miracle whip, cream of celery soup and velveeta!

So I first searched the internet for a homemade cream of celery soup recipe and found one that worked great.  (recipe below)  I also found a homemade velveeta recipe which I’ll try sometime but didn’t end up needing for this.  I decided to use my expensive spectrum mayonnaise for this recipe.  It’s not perfect but a much better alternative to the regular kind.

I was really worried that this wouldn’t turn out.  I’ve made recipes before that just didn’t go over well.  My kids are used to rating everything they eat now and immediately give me a number when trying a new food.  Last night’s goulash got 2’s and 3’s.  This however got a rating of 5,000 from the kids, including the two pickies (my youngest and my husband)!

So I’ll round down and give this our highest rating of 4 stars!

Cream of Celery Soup Recipe- From www.tammysrecipes.com

Yield:
3 1/2 cups (about 2 cans)

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons real butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced (I use organic minced garlic from walmart)
5 celery ribs (leaves are okay too!), washed and finely chopped (about 2 cups of chopped celery)
(I found organic celery at walmart)
dash of black pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk (walmart carries organic milk if you can afford it 😉
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube, optional (reduce salt to 1 teaspoon if you add chicken base or bouillon)*

Instructions: 

1. In a 3-quart sauce pan, melt butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, chopped celery, and pepper. Cook and stir until onion is translucent and celery is tender (about 5-10 minutes, depending on how small you chopped your celery!).

2. Stir in flour (mixture will make a sort of thick ball as you stir, but that’s okay!). Add water, milk, salt, and chicken base (if using). Continue to cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the soup comes to a boil. Let cook for 1 minute longer, or until thick.

3. Allow soup to cool, and use in your favorite recipes in place of canned cream of celery soup (or, freeze for later use).

Kelly’s Creamy Cheesy Tuna Noodles

1 Box Whole Wheat Spiral Noodles (I use Great Value brand)
2 cans tuna (packed in water)
1 pound Colby cheese (cut into chunks)
½ cup frozen peas
cream of celery soup (from recipe)
1 tsp salt
¾ cup whole milk (my normal recipe calls for 1 cup but I thought ¾ was enough)
¾ cup spectrum organic olive oil mayonnaise (normal recipe calls for 1 cup)
¼ cup dry onion

Boil noodles  until done (I used to use egg noodles but couldn’t find a good alternative for those. The whole wheat ones at walmart had ingredients I didn’t want so I went with the Great Value spiral noodles).

Leave the cream of celery soup in the sauce pan after making it and add the milk and cheese, stirring on medium heat until totally melted.  Then throw in the peas and let it simmer for a bit.

In a 2 ½ qt corning ware dish mix tuna, mayo (real recipe calls for 1 cup but I used ¾ on this because it’s expensive), salt and dry onion.  Drain noodles and then mix them into tuna mix.  Pour cheesy sauce over the top and stir completely.  It will fill up to the brim.  I usually have to pour and stir, pour and stir, and then pour some more to get it to all fit.  Then bake for 20 min at 400 degrees.  (may get done sooner so check for the top to look done).

2 New Meal Ideas

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Tonight we made Quinoa Stir Fry.
Family rating of 3 1/2
First a made up some Ancient Harvest Quinoa.  This is found at walmart above the rice and it is organic.  That takes about 15 minutes.  While that was cooking I put some chicken breast on the George Forman grill.   Also, cooked a bag of frozen asparagus stir fry (Great Value brand at walmart) with a good drizzle of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.  When everything was done I threw it all in the skillet with a little more Braggs and some olive oil and “stir fried” it up a bit.

Breakfast for Supper
Family rating of 4
This was AWESOME.  Waffles made with Bob’s Red Mill Pancake and Waffle mix.   I made this with melted unsalted butter instead of oil, “real” eggs that we get from Eigenberg Farms, and whole milk.  Rating of 4.
The sausages were Smart Chicken (organic) Country Breakfast Sausages.  I thought these were amazing.  The “pickies” dragged the family rating down to a 3 on these, but trust me, they are awesome.
We had two syrup options.  Great Value maple syrup- sometimes I have to choose “cheaper” over organic.  Also our homemade strawberry syrup that is super yummy.  See my recipe page for that.
We also cooked up some eggs (not pictured).  See my link page for Eigenberg Farms where we get our eggs.

The beginning…

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Because we have switched to whole foods (see our “about” page for more on that) I decided to start a blog in order to help our family and hopefully help others.  I plan to include links to other blogs that I frequent, recipes with ratings from my family members, pictures, and a place for others to leave recipe ideas. 

Each meal I include will be rated (good or bad) by my family.  I figure this will give everyone a good idea because I have some very picky people in my family.  First is my husband, who thinks he is allergic to healthy food.  My oldest daughter is 18, getting ready to start college, and is normally a healthy eater.  She however is the one with food allergies.  My middle daughter is 12, and is slightly picky.  She would much rather eat junk.  The youngest is turning 10 in a couple of weeks and she hates almost everything I make.  She would live on tv dinners, ramen noodles, and poptarts if I would let her.

So for each meal I am asking them to rate the food items on the following scale:
1- I hate this and refuse to ever eat it again
2- I don’t really like it but might eat it again if I’m starving
3- It’s pretty good and would probably eat it again
4- Love it!  I would eat this any time.