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If you’re one of the two other people in the world beside myself that don’t care for smoothies, this recipe is for you.

I’ve just never found smoothies appealing.  The thick, gloppy texture…the unsatisfying lack of anything to chew…the “drink your calories” mentality…I’ve never understood how anyone can just have a smoothie for breakfast and nothing else, or been satisfied with one as a snack.  Beyond that, they’re not exactly toddler-friendly.  Either my almost two-year old gives himself a stroke attempting to suck it through a straw or spills it everywhere: no thanks.

Gelatin, on the other hand, is something my kids have never once turned down, no matter what is in it.  Considering it’s an ingredient often added to smoothies anyway, these gummies are a more palatable–not to mention cleaner–way for my family to enjoy it. (more…)

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I’m a big fan of taking things that wouldn’t normally be a meal in themselves and turning them into one.  Why dirty more dishes and spend more time cooking than necessary?  Here is how I turn a simple bowl of porridge into a filling, frugal meal.

Malt O’ Meal–the iconic box from certainly my own childhood and that of many others.
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Is Malt O’ Meal “real food”?  Well, no, not really.  Processed grains with synthetic vitamins added: hardly real food territory.  However, we have it occasionally when a quick breakfast is needed, after adding ingredients to increase its nutrition, and my family loves it.  When it’s a choice between a compromise item like this and grabbing an Egg McMuffin or similar, this is still definitely much better.

Having gotten that out of the way, preparing it as directed on the package definitely won’t provide you with a balanced or satisfying breakfast.  Just grains and water, and sweetener if you add it, will only do horrible things to your blood sugar, no different than sugary cereal.  I always enjoyed eating breakfast cereals as a snack as a kid rather than at breakfast time, since even then I found it unfulfilling.  The addition of protein and healthy fats is what turns Malt O’ Meal into something worth eating.  There are virtually endless ways of doing so; the recipe below is just a start.  A savory concoction made with homemade stock, cheese, and green onions, for example, could be a sort of pseudo-grits.  The sky’s the limit!

 

Making A Meal Out of It: Malt O’ Meal Porridge

6 Servings

  • Coconut milk or other milk with water to equal 4 1/4 cups
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1 cup Malt O’ Meal
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed, if frozen)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Maple syrup, honey, or granulated cane sugar to taste
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice or cream (optional)

Whisk milk/water, salt, and gelatin together in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium high.  Bring to a boil and whisk in the Malt O’ Meal.  Reduce heat to medium and whisk until thickened.  Add cream cheese, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract and whisk (or switch to a spoon and stir–it gets thick) until the cream cheese is melted in.  Remove from heat and stir in the fruit.  Sweeten individual servings to taste and pour on a little milk or cream if desired.

 

 

 

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“Brandy seems to be your downfall,” I observed. “I’m sorry I haven’t anything to give you for your head; I don’t have any medicines with me at the moment.” 

“Oh, not worry,” he assured me. “I having healthy balls.”

 “How nice for you,” I said, trying to decide whether he was gearing up for another attempt on my feet, or merely still too drunk to distinguish basic anatomy. Or perhaps there was some connection in Chinese philosophy, between the well-being of head and testicles? Just in case, I looked round for something that might be used as a weapon, in case he showed a disposition to begin burrowing under the bedclothes.

Instead, he reached into the depths of one baggy blue-silk sleeve and with the air of a conjuror, drew out a small white silk bag. He upended this, and two balls dropped out into his palm. They were larger than marbles and smaller than baseballs; about the size, in fact, of the average testicle. A good deal harder, though, being apparently made of some kind of polished stone, greenish in color.

“Healthy balls,” Mr. Willoughby explained, rolling them together in his palm. They made a pleasant clicking noise. “Streaked jade, from Canton,” he said. “Best kind of healthy balls.”

“Really?” I said, fascinated. “And they’re medicinal—good for you, that’s what you’re saying?”

He nodded vigorously, then stopped abruptly with a faint moan. After a pause, he spread out his hand, and rolled the balls to and fro, keeping them in movement with a dextrous circling of his fingers.

 “All body one part; hand all parts,” he said. He poked a finger toward his open palm, touching delicately here and there between the smooth green spheres. “Head there, stomach there, liver there,” he said. “Balls make all good.”

 “Well, I suppose they’re as portable as Alka-Seltzer,” I said. Possibly it was the reference to stomach that caused my own to emit a loud growl at this point.

Voyager, Diana Gabaldon

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That passage was running through my head continually while making these, so it was only fitting to include it.  If you’ve never read Diana Gabaldon’s massive tomes, please run out and immediately do so.  I’ll wait.

**approximately one year later**

On Christmas Eve, we made molasses cookies for Santa.  It was a full batch and six days later, the remaining cookies were getting pretty stale and crumbly.  Always on the lookout for ways to add nutrition, and given my current desire to cream cheese all the things, this idea was born.  If necessary, you could bash your cookies about in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin, but mine just crumbled between my fingers.

Like most things I make, this is pretty easily adaptable to your needs.  I used about a cup of stale cookie crumbs because that’s all I had left, but if you’ve been gifted with more cookies than you can reasonably eat this holiday and have more left, you could easily replace some or all of the coconut flour with additional cookie crumbs.  Likewise, you could sub almond flour or even regular flour, I suppose, although I wouldn’t be too keen on chowing on a bunch of raw wheat flour.  And of course, you could make these without any cookie crumbs at all; just use more flour.  Keep in mind, however, that the predominant flavor will then be whatever kind of flour you use.

You could also sub out any part of the cream cheese/sweet potato mixture for a very ripe banana or avocado.  I did consider adding an avocado, but the ones I have aren’t quite ripe enough to mash easily.  Feeding sweet potatoes to my family in a savory capacity has had mixed results, so this is a good way to do so.

You could also sub chocolate chips for the raisins; I used the raisins because I felt they went better with molasses cookies.  The finished balls could be rolled in cocoa powder or shredded coconut for a truffle-like effect.  This sort of recipe is great for experimentation because even if you have to eat it off a spoon, it will taste good!

 

Healthy No-Bake Cookie Dough Balls

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and steamed/boiled until very soft
  • 1 cup (or more) cookie crumbs of choice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Coconut flour as needed (I used between 3/4 cup and 1 cup)

Mash cream cheese and sweet potato together and mix until well blended.  Stir in the remaining ingredients other than the coconut flour.  Mix in the coconut flour a few tablespoons at a time until the dough can be lightly handled (it will be still be sticky but should roll if handled quickly).  Roll quickly between hands (dust hands with coconut flour if necessary) into a ball and place on plates or a cookie sheet.  Chill up to several hours or as long as you can keep them away from hungry fingers to help them firm up.

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My 7 year old pronounced them “even better than cookies.”

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This was one of those happy accidents that actually turned out better than I originally intended.  Our breakfasts are virtually always meatless–bacon and sausage are reserved for main dishes–and so we generally eat eggs and something else.  However, my toddler has decided he doesn’t like eggs and so he needs something else with protein and healthy fat.

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Oh, hey, I remembered I have a blog!

Nah, I’ve just been really busy–kid #1 is homeschooled, kid #2 is 20 months old, kid #3 is due next spring,  and I work part time.  I don’t have time to get bored.

Anyway, now that we’re going to be a family of 5, frugal yet nutrient-dense meals are more important than ever.  Despite my busyness, I try to repeat meals very infrequently because I just like variety.  However, I love soups of all kinds and one that has begun to grace our table more frequently is vichyssoise.

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I’ve always loved Rice Krispies Treats, but let’s be blunt: they are a nutritionally bankrupt snack.  Even if you skip the pre-made, packaged variety, the standard homemade recipe still contains high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, something formerly known as rice, and more corn syrup.  It’s the stuff of real food nightmares.

Having recently started using the latest darling of the real food community, grass-fed beef gelatin, I was excited at the thought of making homemade marshmallows.  But a marshmallow by itself is not a very substantial snack, and so I put off making some for a while in favor of heartier items.  Last week, I sprouted and then dehydrated some buckwheat to make a granola bar-type snack, but then I started thinking that with their crunchiness, the sprouted buckwheat might just mix together perfectly with the marshmallows. 

Success!  It worked out beautifully and both my son and husband love them.  The recipe can be easily adapted for a variety of substitutions and additions; I will try it with sprouted dehydrated rice in the future to make it even more like a Rice Krispies treat.  I used three cups of buckwheat because that’s what I had, and the ratio of marshmallow to buckwheat was pretty high, so for more crunch, I will use 3 1/2 to 4 cups next time.  For the marshmallows, I used this recipe from Mommypotamous but with 1 cup of maple syrup instead of honey and I heated it to about 230°.  Her recipe calls for an 8″ x 8″ pan, but I wasn’t sure if the treats would all fit in there and so I used an 11″ x 13″ pan instead.  The treats didn’t take up the entire pan, so next time I’ll compromise and use something in between, maybe 11″ x 7″.


 

Homemade Real Food “Rice Krispies” Treats

  • 1 recipe homemade marshmallows, with either maple syrup or honey or other marshmallow recipe as desired
  • 3 to 4 cups sprouted dehydrated buckwheat, rice, or other relatively small grain
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
  • Other additions as desired: dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, etc.

Prepare the marshmallows as directed.  As soon as the desired consistency has been reached (which took about seven minutes for me), immediately stir in the buckwheat and any other additions desired.  Spoon into pan (see notes above on size) and press down using oiled hands or a piece of parchment paper.  Let stand until set, cut into slices, and devour!

**Shared at The Homestead Barn Hop and Make Your Own Monday**

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I arrived home from work last night over an hour late due to extremely aggravating vehicle issues, and had only a few minutes to make dinner.  It’s always a good idea to keep cooked meats and grains handy, and I happened to have roast beef, pork stock, and quinoa already thawed in my fridge (had they been frozen, it would have added a few minutes to the cooking time, but still wouldn’t have taken very long).  You could use practically any frozen or quick-cooking vegetable, especially if corn is a no-go for you.  Quick and tasty!


 

10 Minute Dinner:

One-Pot Beef and Quinoa

4 to 5 servings

  • 1 cup stock of choice
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups cooked roast beef or stew meat, chopped or shredded
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese

Place stock, corn, beef, and spinach in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 6 minutes or until corn and spinach are fully thawed and heated through.  Stir in remaining ingredients and serve. 

(**Shared at Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday**)

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