Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whole Foods Kitchen Challenge #1

I did promise this.  I didn't forget.  We've just gotten back from a wonderfully blissful stress-free vacation (to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks).  Now I can get back to work with renewed vigor and focus!

Challenge #1 - Devise a menu plan

I need this challenge too!  I do it, but I always need new motivation and focus.  Whether it be dinner, or all 3 meals.  Whether it be for one week at a time or 4 weeks at a time.  If you don't already have a plan, get one!  I'm telling you, I have never been consistent with menu planning.  Obviously that is not ideal.  But since I've been doing one, wow, do things go more smoothly!  Much less stress and last minute standing at the pantry wondering what I will make tonight.

If you do have a plan, does it work?  Is there something that you can do to change it to meet your needs better?  There are some meal planning templates over at Money Saving Mom, http://moneysavingmom.com/downloads/meal-menu-planners, that I have found helpful.  There are so many options, I am sure you will find one that will work for you.

My goal is to have one month planned at a time, but I've been working up to that.  I have been doing 2 1/2 weeks. (Because I originally started when a particular month had 2 1/2 weeks left.)  I think I am going to try for one month this time.  I will report back.

Now get to work!  There are many, many wonderful blogs that have wonderful dinner recipe ideas.  I, of course, lean towards the whole foods blogs.  If you desire to start making some healthy changes, check out these websites for recipes.  You will find many great ideas...

Pumpkin Waffles (plus some homemade dairy recipes)

I wrote this post a few months back when we were buying some dairy straight from the dairy farm.  That experiment was fun, but unfortunately (as I've mentioned) we ran into some major dairy sensitivities, so our fresh dairy products are no longer.  But since a friend was asking me for my pumpkin waffle recipe and I remembered I had posted it and never published it, I thought I'd pass on the info about the dairy with the waffle recipe at the end.  Such a great fall twist on a favorite breakfast!  Here is the post:
I promised to post some recipes for the homemade dairy I have been trying lately. Here we go...plus a bonus waffle recipe!


Mix fresh cream with a hand mixer for a few minutes (time will vary, 8-12 minutes), or until you see the liquid starting to separate. It will look like whipping cream first and then start to turn into butter/buttermilk. Once it separates, pour out the buttermilk. Use buttermilk in a pancake or waffle recipe. I'll post one here that we like! Then press out the rest of the buttermilk using a spoon, pressing the butter against the bowl. Press until most of the liquid is out. Then salt (optional). Form butter into a fat log (or loaf) and wrap it up in some parchment paper. It will be pretty soft, but upon refrigerating will set-up.


Put 1/2 to 1 gallon of milk in a pot and when it scalds (starts to boil up and out of pot) immediately take it off heat. Leave it off the heat and cool to room temp. Once you can stick your finger in it for 10 seconds without having to pull it out, it should be ready. Then take 1/4 to 1/2 cup of starter (yogurt from a previous batch or yogurt you have bought from the store) and stir it in a separate bowl with a little bit of the cooled off milk. After mixing, stir it into the whole batch. Then warm the oven at 350 degrees and turn it off after it has been pre-heated. Leave the milk in there for at least 8 hours, and then you've got yogurt! Now this isn't a "raw" recipe. If you are using raw milk, there is another recipe which will keep it raw if that is important to you.

Pumpkin Waffles
(Makes 12 4-inch waffles)
Adapted from a recipe found at www.weelicious.com

2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar 
(We don't use sweetener anymore because the sweet topping does the trick for us.  But as a natural sweetener alternative, use honey, brown rice syrup or agave. Use 1/2 to 3/4 as much honey or agave, or the same amount of brown rice syrup.  You may also need to add a bit more flour to off-set the fact that you are using a liquid sweetener instead of a dry sweetener.)
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Ginger
4 Eggs
1 Cup Milk (can use milk substitutions such as almond/rice/or soy)
1 Cup Buttermilk (from the butter you just made!)
1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
6 Tbsp Butter, melted 

1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift first 7 ingredients into a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Pour about 1/2 cup of the pumpkin batter into a waffle iron that’s been buttered or greased and cook according to manufacturer’s directions.
6. We serve with a fruit sauce (just frozen fruit mixed with water & stevia sweetener), but you could also serve with maple syrup or make into sandwiches, filling with cream cheese and whatever other fillings you desire.
*Allow to cool, place in a ziploc bag, label and freeze. When ready, place in toaster oven or oven at 300 and heat for 10 minutes or until heated through.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day #3 and my twist on the 21-day organization challenge

Tupperware cabinet (Hold your excitement!)



Computer desk challenge continued - more "after" pictures of the desk

I bought organizers for my desk drawers after posting my desk results, so thought I'd share those pictures now. The kids' drawer still needs some help, but overall I'm pleased with how much more functional my desk area is!

(Is there a reason one needs so many black Sharpies?  Seriously.)

What I love about this challenge is that it has changed my focus.  Even when I'm not working on part of the challenge, I'm thinking about what needs to be organized when I'm doing tasks around the house.  Mostly in the kitchen because that is where I always seem to be.  So today while putting away clean dish rags and dish towels, I re-organized 3 of my drawers and even washed them out.  The sad part is that I had a drawer full of baby bibs and baby washcloths and my youngest will be 3 in February.  (Out of sight, out of mind, right?!)  I also had the thought to organize my recipes and I even put them on the counter so I would remember.  And then I eventually put them back because I knew I wouldn't be able to get to it right away.

On that note, I am going to twist this challenge to meet my more immediate needs and the purpose of this blog better.  There are so many things to organize when it comes to food.  Meal planning, grocery lists, recipes, cupboards, pantry, the list goes on. So sometime next week I will post my version of the challenge, with the focus being on the "Whole Foods Kitchen".  I will still be doing the old challenge as I can, but the organization with the food and kitchen needs to be a priority for me, and I found myself straying from those priorities as I did other projects.  In the meantime, if you want to follow someone who is doing the 21 day challenge as it is written and will be consistent with it, go over to momHow and join Katie as she progresses through the challenge!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Raw Pesto

I made this today and it was super good!  I adapted the recipe a bit because it just needed a little more something.  I added olive oil and lemon juice and sea salt and it tasted MUCH better.  I ate it "stuffed" in half of a red pepper.  But it is also great as a dip for raw veggies.

Adapted from a recipe by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, found in his book "Conscious Eating". 

1 1/2 cup walnuts, soaked
1 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, soaked
3 large cloves garlic or 1/2 tsp sun-dried garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup water

Blend all ingredients in a food processor with the S-blade.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back to the Food

I am loving this organization challenge and taking it seriously. It is, however, taking over my focus when I have some pressing food and menu organization to accomplish. Also, I am finding 10 more projects that I need to accomplish with every challenge that I do. (Little things, like magnets that need to be glued together, game pieces that need to find their homes, a box full of things that I have cleared off that I need to find space for somewhere.) So in order to give myself time to be thorough and REALLY get everything done, not just halfway done, I am going to continue with the challenge at a slower clip. I will post when I do one, but in between we'll talk about organization in the area of food - which is my expertise and the reason why I'm writing this blog anyways.

So tupperware, I'll get to organizing you tonight, maybe tomorrow. But today I will be mopping my floor, buying some desk/drawer organizing tools, looking for some new raw dinner recipes, and planning my family dinner menu for the month. And I will be voted Superwoman of the Year if I get this all done today. Especially with a sick kid at home, a husband out-of-town, and dance lessons tonight :). So we'll see...but I'm on a roll. More on the dinner menus tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day #2 - Computer Desk

Today's challenge was only supposed to be the top of the computer desk, but I went ahead and did the whole thing (drawers, plus the top where I have some shelves). It wasn't a fast project after all. It gets addicting...once you see one space looking so clean, you want the rest to look just as beautiful! My drawers weren't too bad from the beginning, but the rest did need a little help. I feel like I'm always straightening/cleaning this space, so my challenge now will be to keep it more consistently clean and uncluttered.



Whole computer desk before:


The next challenge is the tupperware cabinet. I have to laugh because if there is one place in my house that is halfway organized, it is this cabinet. I don't know why. And when I was sick and had no energy and had different people in and out of my kitchen helping, on more than one occasion someone mentioned how organized my tupperware was. Now if I could just be that organized everywhere!