Monday, March 31, 2014

Eating Real Food on a Shoestring Budget

Doing A Lot with A Little

Rewind for a few moments back to September of last year, I sat next to the Director of Counseling Services of Cerro Coso Community College at our community's Veterans' Stand Down event. She was intrigued about my deliverance of teaching the importance of eating antioxidants (through real food) to those that visited my L.E.A.N. table. She asked me if I'd consider talking about nutrition at her event in the Spring. So, here I am getting prepared for the nutrition talk where I will share the foundation of L.E.A.N. (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition) and I will cover several topics then end it with my signature green smoothie. The event will be held the first Friday in April. 

In thinking about this group of students I wanted to share Real Food Recipes using every day ingredients that small towns, food deserts, and fixed and low-income families have access to. Some recipes have substitution options if a particular ingredient isn't accessible or affordable where you reside. This is a collection of recipes I've gathered with written permission to share. 

I must mention that some of the recipes (namely condiments) below you can buy at the store already made. However, if you're wanting to make wholesome foods from scratch (with ease), you'll find that making them will cost about the same (sometimes less) albeit sometimes more but you get to decide if it's the direction you want to take. With that said, making your own can yield more food and it will almost always taste better! Many of the foods we buy at the store that is already made for us includes additional ingredients, primarily preservatives, that aren't really good for us. So when we can we ought to opt for homemade

Stocks & Condiments

2 Ingredient Chicken Broth via 20 Something Allergies 
Creamy White Sauce (secret ingredient) via Raia's Recipes

Chicken Broth (from scraps + a frugal recipe) via How To Just About Anything

Crockpot Chicken Broth via All Done Monkey

Homemade Barbecue Sauce via Raia's Recipes
Homemade Chocolate via Economies of Kale
Homemade Ranch-ish Dressing via Raia's Recipes
Homemade Rice / Coconut Milks via Raia's Recipes

Homemade Tomato Sauce via Economies of Kale 
Tomato Paste in 2 Easy Steps via A Happy Health Nut

Smoothies & Snacks

Blueberry Pie Smoothie (you can sub vanilla extract) via Good Girl Gone Green
Chocolate Covered Bananas via Conveying Awareness
Garbanzo Bean Poppers via Conveying Awareness
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie via Raia's Recipes

Pumpkin Smoothie (using canned or pumpkin leftovers) via The Provision Room
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus via Raia's Recipes
Spinach & Applesauce Smoothie via Raia's Recipes


Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie via Raia's Recipes

Banana Pancakes (can be made without gelatin) via Paleo Gone Sassy

Crustless Veggie Quiche (sausage can be omitted) via Conveying Awareness
Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce via Economies of Kale
Egg "Muffins" via Conveying Awareness

Egg Scramble (Paleo) via Paleo Gone Sassy
Fabulous Frittata via Lil Suburban Homestead

Meal Planning

Real Food Meal Planning via Don't Waste the Crumbs
Frugal Meal Plan (Family of 4; 3 meals/day; 1-week = $80) via We Got Real
How to Meal Plan with Tara via We Got Real
Meal Planning When Broke via We Got Real

Lunch or Dinner  

30-Minute Tamale Pie via the Real Food Girl: Unmodified
(This is a very budget friendly dish and all the food can be found in a food dessert (they can use canned and boxed versions of the beans and veggies in the dish OR organic fresh if they have access. You can also substitute butter in place of ghee.)
Brazilian Cheese Bread via Inculture Parent
Cheesey Mexi-Lentil Macaroni via Don't Waste the Crumbs

Chicken, Pasta & Veggies in under 20 minutes via Conveying Awareness
Classic Vegetable Lasagna via Family Gone Healthy

Crockpot Chicken for fast weekday meals via Raising Generation Nourished

Easy Lentils & Rice via Family Gone Healthy 

Frittata (can omit kelp and use regular milk) via Real Food RN
Hearty Lentil Soup via The Organic Kitchen 

Kid-Friendly Vegetable Soup via Raising Generation Nourished
Nourishing Cabbage Soup via Busy Mama 911

One Pot Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder via the Real Food Girl: Unmodified (Recipe can be made without chicken to make it more affordable.)
Savory Collard Greens via Real Food Carolyn 

Spaghetti with Collard Greens via Conveying Awareness
Taco Soup via Conveying Awareness

Nutrition Tips

Avoiding HFCS via Conveying Awareness 
Dear Mom Who Can't Afford Organic Food via The Humbled Homemaker
Eating Well on a Budget {Guest Post} via The Good Long Road

Healthy Food at the Dollar Store via Don't Waste the Crumbs
How to Eat on Less than $4.50 a day {Guest Post} via Conveying Awareness
March on with Nutrition via Conveying Awareness
Organic Food on a Budget (buying & preparing) via Homemaking with Heart

Portion Control the L.E.A.N. Way via Conveying Awareness
What is a Brainy Breakfast via Conveying Awareness

Ridgecrest (CA) Resources

Abundant Harvest Organics (delivers in-season produce 2x/week at a fee)

Resources for Meals (& Other Great Finds) in Ridgecrest, CA
As of July 2020 - Please contact me for the PDF.
Compiled by Jessica David of Conveying Awareness

Community Garden 
This garden is ran by volunteers which provide organic and non-GMO vegetables to local families in need. If you know of a family in need that can use fresh vegetables from the garden, message the administrators on the Facebook page with the name and phone number with permission to contact. If you're looking for an opportunity to volunteer your time, contact them on Facebook: Ridgecrest Community Garden. 

Other Helpful Resources

10 [More] Supermarket Products You Can Make at Home via Attainable-Sustainable 

As always, start with one food item that you'd like to make from scratch. At one time, I thought that making homemade foods was 1) from a box from the store (I made it at home!) or 2) too difficult! The initial successes lie in looking for a recipe that has ingredients you have on hand or have seen in the store and are within your budget. Build from there and after awhile you may surprise yourself with the foods that you can make at home and from scratch!

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let me count the ways: Smiling

Let Me Count the Ways: Smiling - 9 Reasons

Many say that smiling is a silent laugh. Have you ever grinned so hard that your belly leaped for joy? You probably could already feel a hearty good laugh sneaking up on you! 

+ Instant mood lifter...

+ It brings people together... 

+ Breaks down barriers...

+ Boosts confidence...

Get all of them in detail on my health coaching website

Choose, eat, and live well! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Themed Montessori Activities

This year is my son's first official year in school (he turned 5 one month into school starting). Last summer he was in a 2-day summer camp and the year before he was in an evening day care center while I worked outside of the home. While he was at home with me, we worked on his name, alphabet, colors, shapes, and the basic pre-K stuff. The Montessori school has taught him different ways to learn the same materials we did at home - kind of like 'fine tuning' the various skill sets except they teach a lot more - critical, independent, and abstract thinking using various methods. He is also learning phonics which is the preferred way of teaching reading, in my opinion. His writing is getting stronger and has had many compliments on his penmanship.

Over the last 6 months, I have learned a lot about myself as a parent of a kiddo in a Montessori program. I thought at one time that I didn't have any skills in coming up with 'crafts' but I have surprised myself often. I've made sensory bins and devoted an entire bookshelf to my son's Montessori themed "works" - what we like to call them. 

I will share what we did on St. Patrick's Day along with his activity / work center (bookshelf). The works will be rotated out every quarter or so. I buy everything from the dollar store, thrift stores, or general merchandise stores. Living in a smaller community, I need to really think outside of the box and make different things work. The works should all be on a tray of some kind but the small totes are working just as well. 

Let me tell you - my son was so excited to see his activity / work center (above). He couldn't wait to get started on them. I created a chart that I can use to track his progress on each activity. 

Now imagine an activity that hits many different elements of learning - cutting, categorizing, counting, colors, and creating! We started out with reading the How to Make a Rainbow book where he was able to remember the 6 (main) colors of the rainbow before I turned each page. Then we worked on matching colors and spelling the words of each color from My Very First Book of Colors before heading over to identifying pipe cleaners that matched the six colors of the rainbow from the first book. 

After identifying the colors and putting them in the right [rainbow] order, he found 6 matching beads for each color of the rainbow. He threaded the beads on each coordinating pipe cleaner color and then pushed the ends of the pipe cleaners into the floral bock. After all the beaded pipe cleaners were pushed into the block, he added a nice touch - cotton balls for clouds!

My son: "This is fun! Can we do this activity again?" He looks very pleased doesn't he?

Next we did a counting activity using shamrocks and beads. Out of 12 shamrocks, he was able to randomly choose any 5 and had to find the right number of beads per shamrock. 

Last activity was a science experiment - 'color transfer' - I have seen floating around. I had not read the directions for the activity before I began so we will have to do this one again! I added 1/2 cup of water to each glass and 3 drops of craft [they call it 'food'] dye (blue, red, then yellow) to each glass (1 color per glass). We rolled the paper towels and inserted one end into one glass and the other into a separate glass. When the 3 drops did nothing (the color did not travel up the paper towel as we had hoped), we added 7 more drops so that there were 10 drops of craft dye in each glass. Then when this didn't do anything, we added white distilled vinegar. After 15 minutes, we saw the color travel slowly up the paper towel especially the yellow. 

In our next attempt, we will use 1/4 cup of water and 10 drops of craft dye first then perhaps add the vinegar in. (Or maybe I should just find the directions, right!?)

Thanks for reading and learning about my journey into alternative learning methods for my son. The other purpose of this post is to remind you to keep an open mind when it comes to learning a new concept in your life. This is the same across the board in your journey. Wellness is the fabric that runs through every part of our life. We can embrace it and it's okay if it doesn't work out the right way the first time. We can try again. Love yourself in the process, too. 

Be well! =)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring into Natural Cleaning

Spring into Natural DIY Cleaning 

Well, it's that time of year again - good ole Spring Cleaning!! I want to encourage you to make your own cleaning supplies and to get you started (or to add to your arsenal) with a choice of over 50 DIY recipes. Bonus: Personal and Pet Care links are shared, too!

Here's something to ponder - Do you know what's lurking in store brand cleaning products? Would it be shocking if I shared with you that they don't have to be 100% truthful in disclosing all of their ingredients? Well, at least as it stands today but thankfully groups like Women's Voices and Safer Chemicals are spreading the awareness and we can stay in the know. 

Women's Voices has shared the common hidden chemicals as seen here

The task to make all of your own may be overwhelming, so my personal recommendation for you is to start with replacing one store bought cleaning product. I am starting slow. I began my journey about 4 years ago with an all-purpose cleaner. 

Before you run off pinning the recipes below, take a moment to sign the Mind the Store petition spearheaded by Safer Chemicals. With our signatures we are telling the nation's largest retailers to get tougher on toxic chemicals found in commercial cleaners. Your signature makes a difference! Please share.

Home - Care


Non-Toxic Household Cleaner from Actual Organics
All-Purpose & Floors from Healing Cuisine by Elise
All-Purpose Lemon Cleaner from Faulk Farmstead 
DIY Citrus Infused Vinegar from Don't Waste the Crumbs
DIY Orange Cleaner from Natural Living Mamma 
Grapefruit All-Purpose Cleaner from 5 Little Homesteaders
Make Your Own Cleaning Products from Natural Living Mamma
Natural Cleaners (oil free) from Hands On Learning 4 All 


Soft Scrub and Mold Killer from Naturally Mindful 

Cheap and Easy Drain Cleaner from Natural Living Mamma
Homemade Peppermint Scrub from 5 Little Homesteaders
Mold & Mildew Spray from Rooted Blessings
Tub & Tile from Healing Cuisine from Elise


Furniture Polish from Learning and Yearning 

Wood Furniture Polish from Healing Cuisine by Elise 


DIY Disinfectant Cloth Wipes from Red and Honey 

Carpets & Stains from Healing Cuisine by Elise
Chemical-free Cleanin' on the Cheap from Wholesome Mommy
Cleaning with Baking Soda from Conveying Awareness 
DIY Remove Labels From Jars from Don't Waste the Crumbs 
Easy Homemade Floor Cleaner from Homemade for Elle 
Essential Oils for Green Cleaning from the Untrained Housewife 
Glass Cleaner from How We Flourish
Green Clean Glass Cleaner from Girl Meet Nourishment 

Making Your Own Cleaning Products from Natural Parenting 
Non-Toxic Carpet Cleaning Solutions from the Untrained Housewife
Non-Toxic Disinfectant (Better than Lysol) from Real Food RN 
Windows, Mirrors & Glass from Healing Cuisine by Elise


Easy Natural Oven Cleaner from Health Extremist 

Drain Cleaner from How We Flourish
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tablets from 5 Little Homesteaders
How-to Clean a Burnt Pan without Toxic Chemicals from Little Owl Crunchy Momma
How-to Clean the Kitchen Sink without Toxic Chemicals from Little Owl Crunchy Momma
How-to Clean Your Dishwasher Naturally from Natural Living Mamma
Non-toxic Cleaner for Stainless Steel from Real Food Whole Health 

Non-Toxic Grapefruit Mopping Solution from Homegrown & Healthy
Zap Kitchen-Bathroom Germs from Scratch Mommy


5-Minute Chemical-Free Laundry Detergent (liquid) from Wholesome Mommy 

DIY Guide to Laundry Detergent (powdered) from Homegrown & Healthy 
Homemade Laundry Detergent (powdered) from Mommypotamus
Homemade Laundry Soap (without Borax) from Little Owl Crunchy Momma
Laundry Detergent (powdered) from Live Essentially 
Make Your Own Dryer Balls from Nourishing Joy
Making Your Own Laundry Soap (powdered) from the Untrained Housewife 
Safe Alternatives to Laundry Day from Conveying Awareness

Personal - Care

Face Lotion Bar from Don't Waste the Crumbs 

10 Ways to Use Coconut Oil from Conveying Awareness 
Cloth Diaper Solutions from Vintage Kids Modern World 
DIY Spa Recipes from Fiddlebump's 
Treating Yourself Naturally from Conveying Awareness

I recommend a few Pinterest boards worth following: DIY, Health & Wellness, and Recipes from Conveying Awareness.

Every blogger featured on this round-up has given me written permission to share their links and where applicable, their images. If you're a featured blogger and wish to have your link removed and /or image, please contact me via my blog. I will remove it promptly upon your request. Every link points directly to the blog from which it was collected. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Crustless Veggie Quiche (with Sausage)

As a certified L.E.A.N. health coach who stands behind the guidance taught by the Sears Wellness Institute, it is my honor to share the Traffic Light Eating concept with you via my many recipe posts. I use it daily and it is the foundation to embracing an easier way to understanding real foods, per our opinion and the guidance of Dr. Bill Sears. 

Today, I'm sharing my Crustless Veggie Quiche (with pork sausage) recipe. Yes, it's not 100% veggie because of the added pork sausage but you can omit and it'll taste fine but I'd recommend you double up on some of the other vegetables to give it a good filling. 

Other than the sausage (which is generally a red light food), the quiche is mostly green and yellow light. [Pork] Sausage is considered red light because conventional pigs eat some pretty gross stuff (and you are what you eat eats). The Jimmy Dean pork sausage (as seen below) is free of MSG and nitrites so I made a compromise. The sausage does not taste as salty and fatty as his other sausages but it's because there are no added preservatives or artificial ingredients. 

The quiche turned out yummy. I made two dishes - one with mozzarella cheese and the other without. With all my savory dishes, I add as many vegetables as possible. I want to encourage you to not be afraid of the [real] rainbow and make the vegetables front and center; do not hide or disguise them. I encourage you to make it a regular occurrence that at every meal, fruits and vegetables (more than 1) are offered. 

Vibrant colors from 4 vegetables! 
2 tsp olive oil
1 sweet potato, peeled & chopped into similar sized pieces
1/2 sweet onion, diced 
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 package of Jimmy Dean (All Natural / No MSG added) sausage (optional)
1-2 tsp of oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coconut oil / olive oil to coat pans for baking
10 eggs + 1/2 cup milk, *divided 
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella (optional)

Veggies & Sausage topped with 6 of the eggs. No cheese.

Veggies &Sausage topped with 4 eggs; optional: 1/4 cup of Mozzarella.

1. Preheat oven to 375*. 
2. While veggies are being chopped / diced, heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add first the chopped sweet potatoes. While potatoes are cooking, dice the onion.
3. Allow the sweet potatoes to cook for about 8-10 minutes before adding the onions to brown. Once onions start to turn golden and are fragrant, add the chopped bell pepper. Allow all 3 to cook together for about 5 minutes. 
4. While veggies are cooking, coat pans (I used Corning Ware dishes) with oil of your choice. 
5. In a separate bowl, beat 10 eggs and 1/2 cup milk. Set aside.
6. Add the zucchini to the skillet, stir and cook for about 4 minutes. **When vegetables are nearly done, push them to the outer edge of the skillet, and brown the sausage in the center. Season with the oregano and salt. 
7. When vegetables and sausage are done, you'll spoon them into an even layer in your bake ware of choice. 
8. Divide the eggs & milk pouring it over the sausage-vegetable mixture. Top with cheese, if you'd like. 
9. Bake at 375* uncovered for about 35 minutes. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before digging in! 

Buon Appetito! 

Baked, no cheese. 

Baked with mozzarella. 

*The egg mixture is divided if you're using small bake ware. I had two different sized corning ware dishes, so I ended up using 6 eggs in one and 4 in the other. If you've got a large enough dish, you won't need to divide it. 
**You can remove the vegetables when they're done cooking and brown the sausage separately or you can cook them simultaneously in two different skillets. This will allow you to drain the small amount of fat from the sausage. I chose to leave the fat in with the vegetables for added flavor.
Lastly, I recommend you waiting until the quiche is nearly baked before adding the mozzarella. The quiche with the mozzarella almost burned before it was done baking. So, if you add the cheese, add it in the last 10 minutes of baking.

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Not Your Mama's Shortcake!

Not Your Mama's Shortcake! 

But, I bet they're both 100% from scratch, right?! Are you ready for a nutrient dense dessert? You may just ask for more! This post was inspired by my Complete Breakfast in a Muffin recipe as seen here. The ingredients are almost exactly the same except I used vanilla Complete and added a strawberry reduction and whipped cream. 

This recipe is gluten free (not grain free) and you can make coconut milk whip in lieu of heavy cream making this shortcake dairy-free too!

Ingredients for Shortcake:
2 tbs of ground flax seeds
2 tbs of vanilla Complete (like this)
1 T applesauce
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp coconut oil + 1/4 tsp to coat the bowl for non-stick
1.5 tsp coconut sugar 
1/4 tsp raw honey 
large coffee mug


1. Grease the bowl with the 1/4 tsp of coconut oil (you can use a paper towel to coat or your clean fingertips). 
2. Add all the ingredients to the mug in the order above. Mix well with a spoon.
3. Cook on regular temperature for 2 minutes (this is based on a 1,000 watt microwave). You will know it's done when the top is springy and not sticky.

It'll look like this when it's done. It kind of reminds me of the texture and bounciness of sponge cake. 

Since the shortcake takes so very little time, you might make your whipped cream and strawberry reduction ahead of time. 

Ingredients for strawberry reduction:
10-12 medium strawberries + 3 sliced to garnish
2 tbs water

1. Heat the strawberries with the water in a pot for about 10 minutes on medium. Using an immersion blender you'll blend the strawberries for a minute - just until the whole strawberries are broken down a bit. You can also use a potato masher. 
2. Slice the extra strawberries for garnish. (I didn't have any fresh on hand. During the non-season, I buy organic and then freeze them to use for later.) 
3. While the strawberry reduction is cooling, make your whipped cream. 

Ingredients for whipped cream:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tbs cane sugar
1/2 tsp real vanilla 
Optional: Pinch of sprinkles (I recommend Let's Do Organic)

1. The best way to make whipped cream is in your mixer with a very cold bowl. Put the bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. 
2. Add all of the ingredients to the cold bowl and mix on high for 2 minutes. If you over mix, it'll be a lumpy not so creamy texture. 

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Another strawberry favorite recipe you may like:
Strawberry Pizza

Friday, March 7, 2014

Taco Soup GF with DF options

I wanted to share a quick recipe to my taco soup I made recently though after it was done, it was more of a chili because it was thick. 

Note: I'm not a trained chef. I just cook from the heart, so my measurements are not spot on. I just 'eye' them and I always add where I need more flavor and I encourage you to do the same!

This one is made in the crock pot. 
I like my rice cooker for fail-safe perfect rice.

40 minutes prep (includes before and after prep time), 3-4 hours cook time

1 - 15 oz of diced tomatoes
1 - 15 oz of tomato sauce
1 medium yellow onion diced, cooked 'til translucent
4 tsp cumin
2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup diced green onions 
2 cups of vegetable stock (like here)
4-8 chicken breasts, diced and cooked
2 zucchini, diced and cooked
1 red bell pepper, diced and cooked
1 can of black beans, rinsed
2 cups of cooked rice (we like Jasmine)

1. Pour the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in the crock pot on low heat. Add spices and give it a good stir.
2. While tomato products and spices are heating up, cook diced chicken breasts, onions and other vegetables for about 10 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through). 
3. While chicken and veggies are cooking, make your rice. This takes about 20 minutes. 
4. While chicken/veggies/rice is cooking, rinse your black beans and pour into the tomato products in the crock pot. 
5. Add the cooked chicken and vegetables to the crock pot. Add the 2 cups of vegetable stock. Stir.
6. Test the sauce for flavor. Add more seasonings as you deem fit. Top with diced green onions.
7. Allow the tomato products, chicken, seasonings, and vegetables to cook in the crock pot on high heat for about an hour. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent scorching of rice at the bottom.
8. Add the rice, stir and turn on low. Cook for up to three more hours. 
9. Turn off crock pot and prepare fixings. 

Crushed organic tortilla chips
Plain Greek Fage yogurt
Shredded cheese
Sliced avocado

What kinds of fixings could you add that would make this recipe dairy-free?

Other recipes you may like to make in your crock pot:
Slow cooker acorn squash chili
Slow cooker butternut squash stew

Choose, eat, and live well! =)