Leftover Soup

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tomorrow I am making leftover soup! I thought I would tell you a little about how it goes.

Leftover soup is delicious, easy, and thrify.

The base for the soup ingredients is....leftovers! After meals when you have a little bit of rice or veggies or broth or meat that nobody wants to eat, stick in the freezer til soup day. Eventually you'll need a crock pot meal, and you should have a nice variety of items to go into your soup.

Start with some liquid. Whether you have homemade broth, or an organic broth like Imagine brand (please none with MSG), or a creamy soup base (I often get Imagine brand organic soups marked down at Kroger), any of it plus some water will work. Pour it into your crock pot.

Now is the time to empty all of your little containers and ziploc baggies of leftover bits and pieces. Put it all in the crock pot.

Then add in any fresher leftovers that you have in the fridge as well.

Then if you aren't happy with the amount of stuff in there, chop up some onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, etc. Toss in some frozen veggies if you like. I now like using my Thrive freeze-dried veggies--I have a really nice variety, so it makes my soups so much more flavorful and colorful than I used to have when I didn't have so many different veggies on hand all the time!

You can add cooked or uncooked brown rice, wild rice, or barley. If you want to add pasta it does best to go in toward the end of cook time since it gets pretty mooshy after being in the crock pot all day.

Once you've added all the food bits that you want, add more water or broth if you feel that it's needed. Then add seasonings like parsley, a bay leaf, marjoram, sea salt, pepper, or any other herbs or seasonings that you think will add to the taste.

Cook it on low in your crock pot. Come home to a beautiful dinner!

It's never the same soup twice, but it's really good regardless. As long as you get the liquid-to-food ratio right, you can't really go wrong.


Peanut Butter Balls, take 2

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Those of you that have taken my class have my original peanut butter ball recipe that I grew up with when my healthy-eatin' grandmother would make them. I found a new recipe recently that I adapted and enjoy. Here's the original source, with several variations there that you might enjoy. Personally, my family and I didn't really like the almond butter versions, but your taste buds may vary!

1 cup healthy peanut butter (I like the crunchy kind and it works fine, but creamy would work too)
half a cup + 2 T raw honey (you could use agave if you don't have any honey available)
1 teaspoon vanilla
half cup + 2 T coconut flour
6 T ground flax seed (I use my coffee grinder for this purpose)
half teaspoon sea salt
optional: half cup chocolate chips or raisins

Mix it all up thoroughly and then form into balls and store in the fridge in a covered container. Once again, I use my pampered chef scoop to make this easy and mess-free!

My kids and husband scarf these up! Not low in calories, though, so go easy if you're needing to watch the waistline.

Delicious Raw Scones

I've had this recipe for awhile, though I'm not sure where the original inspiration came from. This is easy to make and is such a yummy healthy treat to have on hand for a quick grab on the way out the door, for a light snack, etc.

2 cups grated carrots
2 cups grated apples
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups raisins
1 cup cranberries
1 cup ground flaxseed (I use a coffee grinder to grind these up quickly)
4 tablespoons agave or honey
quarter-cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

Generally I measure the carrots, apples, and walnuts dry, going a little above the 2 cup amount. I throw all of these ingredients into my food processor, pour it out into a bowl and hand mix if it isn't evenly mixed already. Then I use my pampered chef scoop to make nice even mounds of the dough onto my teflex sheet on a dehydrator tray. Since nothing gets bigger in the dehydrator, you can put them really close together. This recipe fills one tray plus usually makes about a dozen more scones on another tray.

Dehydrate at 105-115 degrees for 15-20 hours, then turn them over (remove the teflex sheet) and do another 3 hours to get the bottoms finished. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Cheesy Kale Chips

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I have pulled myself away from devouring the latest batch of these delicious yummies in order to share the recipe with you. You will need a dehydrator that you can adjust the temperature on. I use and recommend the Excalibur dehydrator. (link to the left side of the blog for you to check it out)

First you need one of those big bags of washed, cut kale (or you could use collards) from the produce department. They are probably about 2 gallons in size.

At home you need to mix up the following ingredients in your food processor, blender, or whatever similar equipment you've got:

2/3 (two thirds) cup raw cashews
4 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons water
half a cup extra virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoon sea salt
half cup nutritional yeast (this is what gives it the cheesy flavor and is a good source of vitamin B12)
about a half cup finely minced onion (I used Thrive freeze dried onion and added a little extra water to the mixture)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
half a teaspoon black pepper

Mix all of that up until it's mixed well. It'll be a little chunky because of the onion and cashews.

I used two very large bowls to put the kale in. If you take the time to rip the kale leaves away from their big stems, it will make for more convenient eatin' later on. (Those stems are very tough and not nice to eat. You can leave them on and just rip them away later as you're snacking, but once you see how fast you want to stick these in your mouth, you'll wish you could do so without the unpleasant surprise of those tough stems!)

I split the kale in two bowls just because the mixing goes a little easier. Pour half of the cashew and liquid mix onto each bowl of kale and just mix it up with a big spoon or spatula. You want to get all the pieces coated as much as you can.

Next you need your Excalibur dehydrator and the teflex sheets* that go with it. For this size batch I usually fill 3 trays with the now-coated kale leaves. Just gently plop them on the teflex and try to spread them out to be fairly even and not too lumped up on each other. When you put the trays back into the dehydrator you'll need to use every-other rung in order to have space for the height of the kale.

Put the door back onto your dehydrator and turn it up to 115 degrees and let it do it's thing for at least 12 hours or until not damp at all. It's a weird smell to wake up to, but very convenient to do overnight, since you can just let the dehydrator go til lunch time when you want some of these for a snack.

Warning: Turn off the dehydrator before you remove the door to check on the kale. The blower will blow the delicate, dehydrated leaves right out if you aren't careful. :) (ask me how I know)

Store these in an air-tight container. If they lose some of their crisp-ness, just throw 'em back in the dehydrator for a little while and that'll take care of that.

The large bag of kale costs less than $3 at my Kroger, and the ingredients for the sauce are quite economical. Such an easy way to enjoy your greens, and an easy way to sell them to your kids!

*If you don't have the teflex sheets, you could use parchment paper if you needed to. I've done it in a pinch and it worked fine, though not as convenient.

**I adapted this recipe from one I think I got from Green Smoothie Girl. I have tried some other kale chip recipes, but this one is the best tasting and most successful one I have tried.

Let me know how it goes for you.

Go Make This...STAT!

I just made this awesome healthy caramel dip to go with the Macintosh apples my in-laws brought back from NY state. SO GOOD! Plus, enjoy the video interview from two years ago....especially my rambunctious boys in the background. True to life, folks!

Raw Nut Sale is Live!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Once again we are able to offer fresh, raw almonds, cashews, and walnuts to you in bulk. This is our third year doing this, and each year I have been very pleased with the quality of the nuts, and our customers have been, too.

Cashews and walnuts are available in 5 pound increments. Almonds are available in 10 pound increments. Shipping is only $6.95 regardless of how much you order, as long as you live in the USA.

Right now we are accepting orders, and I expect to be placing a large bulk order by the end of October. If we get enough orders before that, I'll order sooner. Basically, I need to order these nuts in large quantities and then break down the orders for each of you, so we wait til we get many-hundred pounds worth of orders placed before getting the ball rolling. I'll do my best to make it speedy for you. :)

If you have any questions, let me know.

The Wonders of Coconut Sugar

Thursday, October 06, 2011

To say I am excited about coconut sugar would be an understatement. This wonderful product has allowed me to be able to "healthify" SO many more recipes without sacrificing a bit of taste or convenience. I am in Love!

Coconut sugar isn't actually a sugar at all. It comes from the sap contained in coconut flour buds. The sap is cooked, the liquid evaporates off, and the crystals are ground up into sugar. (actually, you can get coconut sugar in various forms, but the crystallized kind is what I am used to using) It is sometimes also called Coconut Palm Sugar and a few other names.

Basically, coconut sugar is a form of coconut and is considered a whole food. It has a low glycemic index of 35, so it's a great thing for anyone trying to lose weight and for diabetics. It is very high in minerals and macronutrients that our bodies need, too!

It's super easy to use: You use it in place of white or brown sugar in any recipe, at the same amount of other sugars that were called for, and you don't have to change the baking temp. either. IT DOESN'T GET ANY EASIER THAN THIS, PEOPLE! :)

I buy my coconut sugar from amazon. If you use the Subscribe & Save option you get an additional 15% off the regular price PLUS free shipping! Yes, you have to get six bags of it at once, but they will keep in your pantry so you will just be glad to be stocked up! :)

As you will see, coconut sugar is not cheap like white sugar. For me, when I compare homemade goodies to store-bought ones, even with the coconut sugar going into the homemade ones, it's still cheaper than a package of cookies from the store shelf. When I consider that I'm getting extra nutrients, I'm eating something that isn't going to lower my immune system and help me get sick (and then I'll have to buy stuff to take to combat the sickness), PLUS it isn't contributing to extra weight that I'll regret, it is worth it to me. Your feelings on this may vary. :)

You can read more in-depth information about coconut sugar here.

The Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute released the following information about their analysis of nutritive values found in coconut sugar:

Macro-nutrients (mg / l – ppm, dry)Coconut SugarBrown SugarRefined White Sugar
Nitrogen (N)20201000
Phosphorus (P)790300.7
Potassium (K)10,30065025
Calcium (Ca)6024060
Magnesium (Mg)2907010
Sodium (Na)4502010
Chlorine (Cl)4700180100
Sulfur (S)26013020
Boron (B)600
Zinc (Zn)2121.2
Manganese (Mn)120
Iron (Fe)220.60.6
Copper (Cu)212.61.2
Source: COMPARISON OF THE ELEMENTAL CONTENT OF 3 SOURCES OF EDIBLE SUGAR - Analyzed by PCA-TAL, Sept. 11, 2000. (MI Secretaria et al, 2003) in parts per million (ppm or mg/li)

Health Attributes of Coconut Sugar Nutrients
Macro-nutrientsHealth benefits provided by these nutrients
Nitrogen (N)help treat cardiovascular diseases
Phosphorus (P)important for bone growth, kidney functions and cell growth
Potassium (K)reduces hypertension, helps regulate blood sugar, helps control cholesterol levels and weight
Calcium (Ca)vital for strong bone and teeth, and for muscle growth
Magnesium (Mg)essential for metabolism, nerves and stimulates the brain (memory)
Sodium (Na)plays a key role in the functioning of nerves and muscles
Chlorine (Cl)corrects the pressure of body fluids and balance the nervous system
Sulfur (S)important for healthy hair, skin and nails, also helps maintain oxygen balance for proper brain function.
Boron (B)essential for healthy bone and joint function, enhances body's ability to absorb calcium and magnesium
Zinc (Zn)called the "nutrient of intelligence" is necessary for mental development
Manganese (Mn)has antioxidant, free-radical-fighting properties, is important for proper food digestion and for normal bone structure
Iron (Fe)vital for the quality of blood, mental development and the immune system
Copper (Cu)helps to release energy, helps in melanin production in the skin, helps in the production of red blood cells and aid in the absorption and transport of iron
Source: www.nutritiondata.com

Deal of the Week: SuperDad vitamins!

Deal of the Week: SuperDad vitamins: Always popular, the SuperDad vitamins are on sale for you! The big, economical 240 tablet bottle is normally $48, but this week you can get it for just $39. It appears that our supplier is no longer offering this size, so once we sell out of our current stock of this size, that's probably all we'll be able to get. Of course, we'll still have SuperDad vitamins in the other size bottles, so don't panic!

Sale ends Oct. 12 or when I run out of stock, whichever comes first. :)

Interested in weight loss support? We had a bit of discussion about this on the facebook group awhile ago. While I don't have a complete plan right this minute, I do want to hear from those of you that feel you would benefit from some sort of community to encourage you in this area. Simply reply to this newsletter and tell me a little about where you're at on this and what kind of thing you think would be helpful to you.

Ingredients to Avoid in skin care, body care, and cosmetics

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

This helpful list was compiled by our friends at Good For You Girls. We are exposed to hundreds of chemicals in our daily beauty routine. By knowing what's in the products we use, we can be empowered to make educated decisions. We want to look beautiful and feel beautiful without needlessly exposing ourselves to harmful ingredients.

Ingredients to Avoid:
  • Acrylamides - Thickeners used for a variety of cosmetic purposes. In personal care products, they act as stabilizers to add richness and body. However the material may be a possible human carcinogen because of its potentially harmful impurities. It is already a restricted substance in European cosmetics.
  • Alcohol denat (denatured alcohol) - A petrochemical byproduct. Usually contains benzyl alcohol, making it undrinkable. Can cause systemic eczematous, contact dermatitis and chemical sensitivities. Used in all commercial perfumes, used as solvent.
  • Aluminum ingredients - Skin irritants, linked to Alzheimer's and lung disease.
  • Benzyl alcohol - Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Severe irritant for eyes, skin and respiratory system. Petrochemical.
  • Bismuth Oxychloride - Bismuth is put in cosmetics because it gives a sheen to the face, is soft to the touch, and is extremely inexpensive. A byproduct of lead and copper refining, bismuth oxychloride is a heavy metal. Heavy metals have been linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.
  • BHA and BHT - Encourages the breakdown of vitamin D, can cause lipid and cholesterol levels to increase. Linked to cancer and endocrine disruption.
  • Diethanolamine - DEA is used as a skin softener and humectant in personal care products. It can be carcinogenic when combined with other ingredients. It's a skin irritant. It's close and dangerous cousins are TEA, and MEA.
  • Ethoxylates - Chemical compounds made as reaction products involving ethylene oxide. Ethoxylated materials include ingredients such as Laureth, Myreth, Ceteth, Ceteareth, Glycereth, etc. Trace contaminants in some ethoxylates have been implicated as potent carcinogens.
  • Formaldehyde - A preservative which includes Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. A known irritant and potential carcinogen. It is often hidden in other ingredients, banned in Sweden and Japan mainly because of its inability to inhibit the growth of acid producing bacteria and it's implication in cancer.
  • Fragrance - Highly allergenic. Companies do not have to list the chemicals used in fragrances. They contain large quantities of toxins and chemicals not disclosed. Fragrance-free means that fragrance chemicals have been added to the product to mask the natural aromas of the ingredients.
  • Glycol - Often used as solvents for preservatives and other materials. Glycols are potentially irritating and harmful to the skin. Examples are: Propylene, Butylene, Pentylene, Hexylene, and Caprylyl Glycol.
  • MMP (Matrix Metalloproteinase) - An enzyme that breaks down collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. They are involved in wound healing, but also cause premature aging of the skin and tumor cell metastasis.
  • Methylisothiazolinone - An antimicrobial agent found in some shampoos and hand creams and widely used in industrial settings. It inhibits the development of particular neuron structures that are essential for transmitting signals between cells. Prolonged exposure to low levels of methylisothiazolinone (MIT) may have potentially damaging consequences to a developing nervous system.
  • Phthalates - Phthalates are synthetic chemical compounds mainly used as softening agents and to create fragrance. Look out for your plastics - squeeze bottles, shower curtains, soft plastics. Possible carcinogen.
  • Parabens - Parabens are synthetic compounds used as a preservative in most beauty products. You can find them listed as methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens. Parabens cause many allergic reactions and skin rashes. They have also been found in breast cancer tissue and implicated in a multitude of health problems.
  • PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) - A water soluble polymer used as an emulsifier and plasticizer. Impurities in these materials have been cited as potentially carcinogenic.
  • Petrochemicals - Derived from raw materials of petroleum or natural gas origin. These include materials such as propylene glycol, ethoxylates, acrylamides, mineral oil and polyethylene glycol (PEG).
  • Petrolatum - A derivative also known as petroleum jelly. Petrolatum is very occlusive and can clog pores. Additionally, it provides no nutritive value to the skin and contains no essential fatty acids. Petroleum by-products can pass through the brain barrier and cause ADD/dyslexia symptoms. Acne producing, may be carcinogenic, causes dry skin, respiratory toxins, and may cause dizziness.
  • Phenoxyethanol - A synthetic ether alcohol preservative. Synthetic preservatives are considered by leading dermatological associations to be the number one cause of contact dermatitis.
  • Silicone - A synthetic additive used to provide emolliency. Some forms of silicone such as Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane, Methicone, and Phenyl Trimethicone can be harmful or irritating to the skin.
  • Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate - Is used in many soaps, cleansers, and shampoos to enhance the foaming action of a product. It is a common skin irritant and is rapidly absorbed into the heart, liver, brain, and eyes, which can cause long term effects. It has been linked to cataracts in adults and inhibiting proper development of children's eyes.
  • Synthetic Dyes - Synthetic colors are byproducts of the petroleum industry. The molecular structure of these products are so small that they can pass through the brain barrier. This can manifest itself as turning numbers backwards when writing or reading, peeling skin, acne, or ADD symptoms. Many people have allergies to artificial colorings, especially red 40.
  • Talc - Talc has asbestos in it. Asbestos is another dangerous carcinogen. Do not use on babies, linked to ovarian cancer, possible respiratory toxin.
  • TEA (Triethanolamine) - Contains ammonium salts. It is an eye irritant, and sensitizer and is mildly toxic.

Introducing Good For You Girls

Good For You Girls is the leader in all-natural and organic skin care specifically formulated for the special needs of young skin. Common skin care products are made with risky parabens, harmful petroleum ingredients, potential carcinogens, and more. These chemicals are not safe or healthy for anyone, let alone girls who are going through delicate hormonal changes.

My teenager daughter and I tested these products for 6 months before deciding to bring them to our customers. We have been pleased with the performance, scent, texture, and everything! What I've found is that they work great even for my skin--and I'm 40! So for all the moms looking for affordable, natural skincare products, you'll want to check this out!

Psst.....boys can use these products too! Just pull the labels off. ;)

NO Parabens
NO Sulfates
NO Phthalates
NO Propylene glycol
NO Mineral Oils
NO Silicone
NO Synthetic Fragrance
NO Dyes

Gluten-free and vegan!

I love this starter skin care kit! Perfect for Christmas gifts for all the teen and tween girls on your shopping list. Don't you agree?

Our supplier had a mix-up during their production process for the Blemish Wash and Deodorant that resulted in them getting the wrong bottles, which caused their labels to not affix nicely to the bottles. The end result is that although the product inside the package is top-notch, the container isn't as attractive as it normally would be. This problem turns into a WIN for you, because we are able to offer you the products at a deeper discount than would be normally possible. Once our initial stock is depleted, I don't know if we can get more of the cosmetically-imperfect product or not, so if you want to take advantage of this bargain, now is the time! :) Clickety-click on the product photos to read all about 'em and take advantage of the sale price!

Some of the Good-for-your-skin ingredients used in these products:

* Organic Arnica Extract - Anti-inflammatory properties. Improves skin circulation and stimulate healing.

* Organic Lavender Extract - Natural antibacterial. Tones and revitalizes skin as well as provides a soothing, calming aromatherapy effect.

* Organic Chamomile Extract - Anti-inflammatory properties and very calming to the skin.

* Organic Calendula Extract - Antimicrobial skin healing properties; it is also helps retain skins natural moisture.

* White/Green Tea Extracts - Beautiful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Reduces free radical damage, and healing to the skin.

* Black Tea - Astringent and toning properties.

* Comfrey Extract (Allantoin) - Repairs skin tissue and promotes new cell growth.

* Vitamin E (Tocopherol Acetate) - Important antioxidant in the deactivation of free radicals and in maintenance of the body’s cell membranes. Improves skin softness and smoothness.

* Organic Olive Oil - An antioxidant, moisturizer and skin smoother. Rich in vitamins and minerals.

* Organic Avocado Oil - Nourishes with Vitamins A & E; also has antioxidant properties. Beautiful for sensitive skin.

* Organic Jojoba Oil - Helps provide a protective barrier on skin to maintain moisture and keep out environmental toxins.

* Organic Sunflower Seed Oil - High in essential fatty acids that nourish the skin and help break up excess sebum that can clog pores.

* Glycerin - Plant derived skin-softener and humectant.

* Witch Hazel - A natural astringent, chosen for its antibacterial properties. It is cooling and soothing to the skin.

* Organic Aloe Vera Gel - Anti-inflammatory properties, it’s cooling to the skin, and stimulates repair to damaged skin.

* Spirae Ulmaria Extract (Meadowsweet) - Targets clogged pores, anti bacterial and reduces sebum.

* Canadian Willow Extract - Natural salicylic acid helps to exfoliate and slough away dead skin cells. Anti-inflammatory, and promotes new cell growth.

* Papaya Extract - The enzyme papain, for its exfoliating properties, ability to remove dead skin cells. Antibacterial without irritation.

* Pineapple Extract - Anti-inflammatory properties, helps repair skin.

* Pumpkin Seed Extract – Helps repair the skin, and promote new cell growth.

* Organic Rose Hip Oil – High in Linoleic and Linolenic essential fatty acids which are beneficial for the treatment of damaged and distressed skin.

* Organic Borage Oil – Excellent for dry skin, acne, and dermatitis.

* 100% Natural Aromatics - A combination of natural essential oils and aromatics. No synthetic fragrance

How to Make Smoothies

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Most mornings I make smoothies. It's SO delicious, and a great way to get some fresh produce into your body and those of your husband and kids! Here's our basic recipe:

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
half cup plain organic yogurt (you can make it in your crock pot!)
several handfuls of organic spinach or mixed salad greens
3 bananas
Enough water, juice, or healthy lemonade to make it all go 'round nicely.

You can do this in a food processor, blender, vita mix, or right now I have a Ninja that I use. Whiz it all up and serve with a straw.

Obviously you can swap out the types and amounts of any of these things, so try it with what you have on hand. Organic berries are best, but if you feel you can't afford them, just start with regular. A big hit with the whole family! (and you can freeze it in popsicle molds if you have leftovers!)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I made this delicious soup tonite and served it in homemade bread bowls. Oh so very yummy! I found this recipe thanks to Pinterest and adapted it to meet my healthfulness guidelines and what I had on hand. Also, you will notice that I used some freeze-fried foods in this recipe. I was recently introduced to Thrive Foods from a company called Shelf Reliance, and I was so impressed that not only have I started using their products in my own everyday cooking, plus building up some emergency food storage, I've also decided to start offering their products for sale. More about that at a future date, but that's the short version, and you are welcome to check out what Thrive has to offer here.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

quarter cup butter
half cup chopped onion (or half cup Thrive FD onion plus half cup water, rehydrated for about ten minutes)
1 clove garlic
quarter cup whole wheat flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 cups organic chicken broth (or veggie broth)
half pound fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried broccoli (if freeze dried, reconstitute with water first)
1 cup shredded, chopped carrot or 1 cup Thrive freeze dried carrot plus 1 cup water, reconstituted.
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces colby jack cheese
sea salt and pepper to taste

If using freeze-dried foods, set them up to reconstitute first, then gather your other ingredients.

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter over medium heat. Then add the flour, stirring constantly. Then add half-and-half, milk, and broth. Heat at medium high, stirring frequently, until almost boiling.

Reduce heat to simmer. Add broccoli and carrots. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then.

Add salt, pepper, and cheese. (you could use more or less, or even leave it out, as you like) Let simmer for another 10 minutes before serving. Oh-so-very yummy!

Homemade Bread Bowls

Bread bowls always seemed so very comforting to me, and although I had heard about people making them from scratch, I hadn't gotten around to it. I think I thought it was going to be kinda complicated. Well HELLO it was easy! Now I won't hesitate to make bread bowls to spruce up any soup or chili night around here. What a revelation!

I used my usual Honey Whole Wheat recipe, except cut it in half. As it turned out, this made 8 generous bread bowls plus a loaf of bread, so probably a lot of families would want an even smaller amount of dough to work with. To break it down for you, here's my recipe, but only half of what I made. You can probably get 4-6 bread bowls out of it:

1.5 cups warm water or milk
1.5 tablespoon yeast
.75 tablespoon lecithin (just eyeball it)
a little more than a quarter tablespoon sea salt (I'm sure there is some perfect measurement in teaspoons, but I don't know it off the top of my head, so do your best and know that the bread will be fine without you knowing a specific amount)
3 tablespoons sliced butter
quarter cup honey

And however much freshly ground whole wheat flour it takes to get the right consistency. (read my original bread post for more information on that.) Let your mixer do it's job and knead that dough for ten minutes.

In the meantime, let's get the bowls ready! I sprayed two cookie sheets, and then got out all of my glass custard cups, turned them upside down on the cookie sheets, and sprayed them generously. The glass bowls are going to be the mold for your bread to bake around.

Once your dough is done kneading, grab a fistful of dough (maybe a little smaller than a tennis ball size?) and roll or pat it out into a round, maybe ending up 5-6 inches or so. This part is going to vary depending on the side of the bowls you are using for your mold. The ones I had are probably a little more than a one cup capacity.

Once you get your dough flattened down a bit (but still a little thick--maybe a half inch or so), just lay the dough on the overturned bowl, and kind of pat it around the bowl and if you need to, stretch the dough a bit to make it fit all the way to the cookie sheet.

Repeat til all your dough is gone. If you end up with more dough than bowls, you can always just roll the dough into balls and make some dinner rolls as well!

Cover with a light towel and let rise for a half hour. (In the meantime, start making your soup. Recipe coming up in the next post!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees so that it will be all warmed up and ready to go when your bread bowls are done rising. Pop your cookie sheets full of bready goodness into the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes. Then once you take the cookie sheet out of the oven, you need to flip each bread bowl, remove the glass custard cup from the bowl of the bread, and then put the cookie sheet back in the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

The technique that worked for me was to use a wide spatula for flipping the bread bowls, and my hand was protected from the heat of the bread by a clean, dry cloth. I used a table knife to get a little edge of the glass bowl separated a bit from the bread, then grabbed the glass bowl and pulled it out of the bread. Very easy.

After you let the insides of your bread bowl bake, this is what you should have:

Place your bread bowls inside regular bowls, and then fill 'em up with your soup, stew, or chili. Warm, delicious, and filling! Oh...and did I mention *healthy*? There's no apology in the healthfulness of this meal, guaranteed!

Healthy Hot Cocoa

It was a chilly day at my son's football game this morning, so when we got home my boys were clamoring for some homemade hot cocoa. My happy discovery of coconut sugar has made so many of my regular, non-healthy favorites possible to make in a healthy way, and BOY AM I HAPPY ABOUT THAT! :)

So today, I bring you the Healthy Hot Chocolate recipe:

3 cups milk (you can use rice, almond, coconut, or regular milk as you wish)
half a cup water

Heat the liquids either on the stove top, stirring often to avoid the milk scorching on the bottom of the pan. Or if you are not opposed to using a microwave, just microwave the liquids for three minutes or so and avoid the scorching issue altogether.

Add to the warm liquid:

3 tablespoons cocoa, cacao, or carob powder
a dash of sea salt
two-thirds cup of coconut sugar

Whisk it up and enjoy!

I'm back to avoiding sugar, so I am glad I can make this in time for cold weather! :)