Food swaps: making your old recipes into whole foods recipes

One of the biggest challenges about “going whole foods” is finding family-pleasing recipes.  These recipes need to taste good AND be comprised of whole-food ingredients.  In my opinion, this goes hand-in-hand…these recipes taste good BECAUSE they’re comprised of whole food ingredients! 😛

Before you toss your old recipes out the window, STOP!  That may not be necessary.  Most recipes can be turned into good, whole-food recipes by substituting ingredients.  Find below a list of my favorite substitutions:

  • Sub coconut oil or butter for vegetable oil:  depending on what you are doing-baking vs cooking, but they are basically interchangeable:
  • Sub whole wheat flour for regular flour: I tend to up the water ratio a little bit (or don’t add quite as much flour) as you would when using the white all-purpose flour variety.  Wheat flour is thirstier. 🙂
  • Sub brown rice for white rice: This just requires a little planning, as brown rice takes 3x as long as white rice to cook on the stove. (50 minutes for brown rice vs 15 minutes for its white counterpart.)
  • Sub honey or 100% maple syrup for sugar: I use honey instead of sugar for most baking.  On rare occasions when I do use sugar, I use the raw, organic, non-GM kind (available at Costco…you may begin to notice my love for all things Costco-
  • Start preparing your own beans vs using the canned kind.  For more on how to do this, see my post entitled Freeze Your Beans
  • Substitute store-bought bread for bread you make yourself!! (Super easy if you have a bread-maker, and still not too incredibly hard even if you don’t.)  Plus, then you can make your own home-made bread crumbs for recipes that call for breading, etc.
  • Substitute home-made creamed soup recipes for store-bought creamed soup (cream of mushroom, cream of celery, etc).  (The recipe link is for cream-of-mushroom soup, but my family personally doesn’t care much for mushrooms, so I just leave the mushrooms out and it’s still a great sub!)
  • Make your own chicken, beef, and vegetable stock vs buying it at the store!
  • Make your own tomato products such as tomato paste and tomato sauce, which can later be made into pizza sauce, pasta sauce-whatever you need! (Tomato paste is easy, just quarter tomatoes, boil them on the stove for 15-20 minutes, and then transfer to the crockpot on low for 6-7 hours, or until desired consistency is reached.  I like using roma tomatoes, but any tomato will do.)
  • Make your own whole wheat tortillas vs buying them at the store.  Here is a basic tortilla recipe that can easily be made whole wheat.
  • Buy meat locally, where you know it won’t be processed with all kinds of chemicals.  (Plus, when you buy in bulk, such as buying a quarter of beef, you end up paying a lot less in the long run.)  Craigs list is a good place to start your search for local meat (plus, you get to help support the local economy, always a plus)!
  • Make your own ice cream vs store-bought.  (There are a TON of ice cream recipes out there, and that way you can know you are eating real cream instead of a bunch of chemicals!)
  • Make your own frozen-yogurt popsicles vs store-bought popsicles.

Admittedly, it does take a little bit of work and a lot of planning, but it’s worth it because you know your family is eating good, healthy food that is chemical free!!  What I like to do is build up my pantry staples and freeze ahead, so I don’t have to scramble last minute.  (So I will often make large batches of beans, or tomato sauce, or whatever I am making so I won’t have to make it again for some time.)

The moral of the “story”?  Make Your Own and Freeze Ahead!! 🙂


V helping out in the kitchen. We have been trying out new recipes for granola and energy bars using medjool dates…look for a post on that to come!!




Freeze Your Beans (plus more…)

Lately at our house we have been going a little stir crazy due to the fact that the kiddos have been sick (all of them, in turns).  So while stuck at home, I’ve beent taking advantage of my time and stocking up on my pantry staples.  Yes,  I’ve been freezing my beans. While it may sound mundane, it is really quite exciting. 😛  But seriously, it is nice to have a supply of go-to beans that I know don’t contain any additives or chemicals…just beans!!

freezer beans

Look at that beautiful stack of beans, all ready for the freezer!!


Most beans need to be soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed in the morning.  You then place the beans in a large stockpot, cover with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 1 to 1  1/2 hours.  For a list of how long to soak/cook each different kind of bean you may come across, click here.  I am currently torn between freezing in glass jars and freezing in plastic freezer-baggies (they stack so nicely into the freezer!).  A current hot-topic of debate is whether plastic commonly used in the kitchen leaches into our food. Regardless of how you freeze, make sure beans are COMPLETELY cooled down before transferring to the freezer.  (Mine like to hang out in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to await their transfer to the freezer.)

In other news, my hubby gave me a cast iron skillet for our 6 year wedding anniversary, and I am in love!!  (With my hubby, of course…what, you thought I was talking about the cast iron?)  Ok, so I am kind of talking about the cast iron as well.  I have been on a cast iron cooking spree.  Taliyah (my oldest) has picked out a cast-iron big cookie recipe that we will be trying out on Valentine’s Day (“healthifying” it a bit, of course), so you MAY see a post on that in the future…


Also, my latest recipe, adapted from Averie Cooks (I know, I can’t seem to leave recipes alone!!)

BANANA-PB-CHIP BLENDER MUFFINS (no oil! no refined sugar!)

  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 1 large egg (I’ve become a little crazed about buying local and/or organic, but your call)  🙂
  • heaping 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I love the Kirkland brand available at Costco)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (regular or greek)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • heaping 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips (I prefer Life is Good brand-no soy lecithin)   *Note;  This is NOT an affiliate link (I wish) because I have no affiliates 😛
  1. Place all the ingredients (minus the chocolate chips) in the blender and blend until a smooth consistency is reached.
  2. Removed the blender blade and mix in the chips by hand.
  3. Put blender cover back on and pour batter into paper-lined muffins cups (I got 12).
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes (or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).



Muffin love


These muffins were AMAZING, so dense and moist (I like a thick muffin-who doesn’t?).  I enjoyed one right out of the oven with a cup of coconut coffee:

  • 1-2 cups fresh-brewed coffee (I use my big mug, which allows me to put in 2 cups and milk, etc.)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp 100% percent pure maple syrup
  • Fill to top with whole milk (I never measure this, but if I had to guess, I would say slightly less than 1/4 cup)

I am drooling just thinking about this. Seriously.  You don’t want to see.  If you don’t have coconut oil, you can substitute 1/4 tbsp. butter.  (Butter in coffee?  Sounds weird, I know.  Actually, quite delicious.)

I’ve had to get creative with my coffee as I have quit using commercial coffee “creamers” since finding out what is actually in them.  For those of you not aware, they actually contain NO cream.  Which begs the question, why the name “creamer” when there is no actual cream or dairy of any kind involved in the making of these admittedly delicious, but very unhealthy, non-dairy ‘creamers’?

FYI: the main ingredients in Coffee-Mate: WATER, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL. (For a complete listing of ingredients, visit their site and click the Nutrition Info tab.) Umm, think I’ll stick with the actual cream, but thanks for the run, Coffee-Mate.  It’s been real.

I thought giving up creamer would be hard, as creamer and I used to be best buds-but it really hasn’t been as hard as I thought.  Definitely not going back.  Sorry ‘creamer’, it’s over…for good.



DIY Chicken Stock w/ a Special Guest Appearance by DIY Hubby

Since switching to a mostly-whole food diet, I’ve had to spend a bit more time in the kitchen.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I like to cook, and it gives me a chance to teach my kids about healthy eating.  (Those girls are budding bakers!)  Because let’s face it, if you want whole, healthy food, you pretty much need to do it yourself.  (It’s the only way to know what’s really going into your food.)

So the other day I made a whole chicken in my crock-pot (see recipe below-I adapted it slighlty from the 100 Days of Real Food recipe as the original was a little too spicy for my family’s liking).  Every time I make a whole chicken, I like to follow-up by making a nice, large crockpot full of chicken broth (waaaay better than you can buy in a store-and no chemicals!!).


I then strain the broth through a doubled-cheesecloth to make sure the bones, fat, etc. doesn’t end up getting stored in the broth (which I just freeze and take out as needed).  Anyway, there I was, attempting to strain my broth, when DIY hubby comes up with a brilliant idea.  Using our daughters’ hair ties, he constructs a giant elastic to hold my cheesecloth in place.  It worked WONDERFULLY.  (I think he might be a distant cousin to MacGyver-he will neither confirm nor deny.)  Love being married to a handy-man.




  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions
  • 1 chicken ( 3 to 5 lbs)
  1. Chop onion and line the crockpot with the onion, using it as a base for the chicken.
  2. Mix the dried spices together.
  3. Wash chicken and pat dry.  Make sure giblets are removed.  Rub chicken with the spices, making sure the entire mixture gets applied.  Place chicken in the crockpot, breast-side down.
  4. Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours, or HIGH for 4 hours (I am a big fan of the slow-cook on low, but to each their own)


Faith in the Journey


Last year I was invited by a friend to attend a welcome class for Bible Study Fellowship.  I went, and two years later, I am still loving it.  If you want a place that challenges you, that stretches you in your thinking, that makes you look at the Bible in a completely different way, and that provides you with an awesome fellowship opportunity, then I HIGHLY recommend Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF as we affectionately call it.

You see, it all started with a prayer.  Ever since I had moved back from Peru with my husband, I had felt disconnected. Sure, I had my family in the area, but I didn’t really have many friends.  (I had lived in Colorado for six years prior to living in Peru-suffice it to say I had not lived in the area since close to graduating high school.)  I didn’t have other women to talk to, to share my daily struggles with and vice versa.  So I prayed (you might begin to notice a reoccurring theme in my life and blog…).  “Please, Lord,” I prayed, “help me to connect with a group of like-minded women who will help me grow in my faith, who will hold me accountable.”  And shortly after I received the invitation from my friend to attend BSF.  (I am a firm believer that there are no coincidences; God plants an opportunity in our paths and our choices are to jump in with both feet, or to ignore God and His calling.  Believe me, ignoring God never works out very well.  His will gets done with or without you.  Been there, done that, not going back.)

BSF was the first step to me on the road to a deeper relationship with my Savior.  Prior to BSF,  I wanted a deeper relationship with God, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.  BSF pointed me in the right direction, and it continues to keep me on track to this day.

This year our study focuses on Moses and the Israelites journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land.  The distance from Egypt to the Promised Land was not that great in miles, yet it took the Israelites 40 years to make it there because they had much to learn prior to being ready to receive God’s promised blessing.  I can relate-I’ve done a little wandering around in the wilderness of my own.

At first glance, it’s easy to be critical of the Israelites.  After all, every other passage they’re complaining about something new!  “Thanks for raining down super-natural food from the sky God, but what we would really like is some meat.  Think you can make that happen?”  They saw God perform miracle after miracle (we’re talking water springing forth out of rocks and plagues being rained down on Egypt), and still they questioned him at every turn.

It’s easy to be critical of others, harder to see fault in ourselves.  How many times have I looked past the plank in my own eye to point out the speck of sawdust in another’s eye?*  At work (I work at a call center), it’s easy to become angry with people who call in and are rude.  If I’m being honest, I’ve even made fun of people after disconnecting from the conversation. “Can you believe that guy?  He was so rude, and had no clue what he was talking about.  What a dummy.” It’s easy to become defensive when someone is mean to us.  It’s easy for us to snap back out of anger.  Yet, Jesus teaches us that we need to love even our enemies.  Easier said than done.  However, how many times have I done the same thing as the rude customer on the phone?  So many times we are able to justify and rationalize our own anger.  I remember lashing out at a friend because some things she had said behind my back got back to me.  I felt justified in my anger.  How dare she say those things about me?  She had no right!  Yet how many times had I done the same thing?  I’m not talking about them behind their back, I would rationalize, I’m talking out my problem.  That darn plank, always clouding my vision.

If we were to be defined by moments such as these, none of us would stand a chance.  There are certainly plenty of instances recorded throughout the Old Testament of the Israelites screwing up (Golden Calf, anyone?) Yet it’s not those moments that define them.  The Israelites were defined as being God’s holy people, set apart to Him.  This is a distinction He gives to us, as well.  Even though the Israelites continued to screw up, like the gracious, forgiving Father He is, God continued to welcome His children back with open arms.  This is not to say that there were never consequences for their rebellion.  Good parents discipline their children so that they grow and mature.  This is what God did to the Israelites.  This is what God does to us.

Faith is a day to day struggle that is hard-fought, and never won of our own merit (Jesus accomplished for us what we could not do ourselves).  It involves constantly dying to ourselves, our anger, our will, OUR WAY.  It’s humbling.  It’s meant to be that way.

The best thing about faith?  It’s a gift from God.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  My prayer today?  Jesus, increase my faith.