Secrets to Eating at Home

Let’s talk about some secrets to eating at home more often.  But first…why do we even want to eat at home? Especially when there are so many options available to us?  There are two obvious benefits I will mention but I’m sure we could come up with more. 

First, it just makes sense financially.  It is not sustainable to eat out all the time.  Making food at home costs a fraction of what you would pay for something similar at a restaurant.  Another advantage is the investment you make in your long term health.  When you make things at home you get to choose and know what is in the food you are consuming.  We are all aware that convenience and fast foods are not known for their health promoting abilities.

4 Secrets to eating at home more often

1. Grow your own Food

When you have taken the time to grow your own food you are way more likely to want to use it.  Whether you start with a seed or a tiny plant it often takes many weeks or months of tending before you are able to harvest.  After investing that kind of time you will not want to see the fruit of your labor go to waste.  

If you can’t garden another great option is to join a local CSA (community supported agriculture).  By partnering with a local farm you can get a share regularly and reap the health benefits of fresh garden produce but without all the labor.

When you grow your own food, visit a farmers market, or are part of a CSA you greatly reduce the amount of packaging waste.  Less plastic in the landfill is always a win!

2. Prepare things ahead of time

We are all incredible busy people.  Having some things prepared ahead of time makes eating at home so much more enjoyable!  How often do we open the fridge, think we have nothing to eat, and then decide to go out because starting with nothing seems to difficult.  It is so helpful to have some items on hand ready to go. Here are a list of basics that I find helpful to have on hand to help me pull together quick meals.

Freezer : tortillas, bread, bagels, muffins, scones, quiche crust, cooked meats, cooked beans, broth, homemade hummus, and pesto

Fridge: Fermented foods like kraut, kimchi, pickles; chopped and prepped veggies; salsas, sauces, dips and spreads

Pantry: canned goods like jams, salsa, tomato sauce; freeze dried food such as cooked beans/lentils or spaghetti sauce; and prepped seed crackers or breads

3. Elevate your experience with extras.

What makes the food special when you go out?  Often it is the extra things they include.  Special toppings and sides, for example, and this can be easy to do at home too.  

Sprinkle dried herbs on top.  Maybe a lazy susan or a basket on your table with a variety of table friendly spices.  That way everyone can add what they like.  A little old bay or maybe some everything bagel seasoning.

Take the level up a notch by running to the garden and adding some fresh herbs or edible flowers.  So many herbs come back year after year like chives, sage, oregano, and mint making them well worth planting.

Grow some sprouts or micro greens.  They are easy to grow, add an extra touch, and pack of punch of nutrition at the same time.  

Add a sauce to the side or a drizzle of something on top.  A homemade condiment such as hummus or pesto on the side can be a special treat.  A drizzle of peanut butter on top of a muffin and a sprinkle of hemp seeds takes a homemade banana muffin from good to great.

4. Make your plate pretty.

When you go out they almost always make your food look good.  At home we often think nothing is appealing because we don’t make it so!  Make some art with your food!  We eat first with our eyes.  You might just be eating yogurt but if you put it in a bowl, add your favorite fruits, sprinkle some chia and hemp seeds, add granola and a drizzle of honey you have a cafe worthy meal in front of you. 

Sometimes you need to drink from your favorite mug or on a plate that you need to wash by hand or just arrange your food so that it looks appealing.  Doing the three secrets above will also help make your plate pretty.  When you are eating whole real food and elevating it with extras the result will be a beautiful picture worthy treat you will feel excited to eat.  

For quick meals to go check out this blog post

home grown carrots and smoothie bowl with granola
Continue Reading

Simple & Healthy Homemade Food to Go

freeze dried mangos, apple muffins, carrots and hummus, powerballs

I absolutely love to be at home.  I appreciate daily strolls in the garden picking homegrown produce and time in the kitchen preparing healthy food for my family.  But the reality is whether it be school, work, activities, appointments, or other commitments, there are days and times when we are not able to eat at home.  When that’s the case I like to have simple and healthy homemade food options that we can take with us on the go.

Preparing some healthy homemade food ahead of time is very helpful for those busy days out.  These suggestions would make great snacks and lunches.  They also work well when you are not able to heat up your food.

Healthy Food to Go Stored in the Freezer

The benefit of storing these things in the freezer is that they can be made when you have the time and then stored in the freezer until you need them.

  • Scones…A variety of flavors are fun to have on had both sweet and savory. For example…berry, pumpkin, or maybe a bacon, cheddar, chive combo for a savory option.
  • Muffins and bread….I like to use up things from the garden such as zucchini and berries. Bananas are another great option.
  • Hand pies…Both sweet and savory work well here.
  • Power balls…With just a few ingredients there are endless combinations to create. Chocolate peanut butter, berry, or carrot cake are all delicious.
  • Granola bars…similar ingredients to power balls but in a classic bar shape.
  • Smoothies…blend up your favorite smoothie and store in a freezable cup. It will defrost by lunch time.
  • Bagels…Sourdough or not make a big batch and store in the freezer
  • Sourdough PB & J and other sandwiches…If smuckers can do with with Uncrustables so can we with some homemade bread.
  • Sourdough soft pretzels
  • Pancake/waffle sandwiches…Make a big batch on the weekend. Then slather on peanut butter and nutella, sprinkle with hemp and call it good and store in the freezer.

Food to Go Stored in the Pantry

These foods can be stored in the pantry.  Some will need to be eaten within a few days but others will last for weeks at a time or longer.

  • Crackers…Lots of options such as homemade seed crackers, sourdough, or wheat crackers.
  • Granola…Lasts stored for weeks in the pantry and you can change up ingredients and flavors.
  • Dried fruit…Raisens, craisens, apriocots, whatever you like.
  • Spiced nuts…Great protein snack and wonderful in the fall.
  • Roasted chickpeas…I can think of some sweet and savory flavors that are really good.
  • Freeze dried fruit…A light weight way to carry your fruit.
  • Dehydrated fruit roll up…Replace fruit roll ups with some homemade fruite leather.
  • Popcorn…Make it on the stove stop and then grab and go.
  • Jerkey…A great protein option.
  • Trail-mix…Make your favorite combinations.
  • Freeze dried salsa…Easy to transport in the freeze dried form. Just add water and you have a perfect pair with some chips.
  • Freeze dried guacamole…All you have to add is water and then you have a great dip.
  • Freeze dried hummus…Just like the two above a great dip option just add water.

Healthy Food to Go Stored in the Fridge

These foods work best prepped at the beginning of the week.

  • Fresh veggies and fruit…I like to peel carrots and have other veggies washed and chopped and put into jars. This makes it so much easier to grab last minute.
  • Hummus…This can be frozen in individual containers so its ready for your dipping needs.
  • Nut butters
  • Yogurt….Make a big batch and put it in individual containers. If they are freezer safe this will freeze fine as well. Pairs great with freeze dried berries and granola.
  • Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Meats…extra cooked meat or lunch meat are great to grab.
  • Hard boiled eggs… Nice to eat plain or add to a salad,
  • Fermented veggies…They make great easy additions to lunches.

There are really so many options for healthy whole real food to have on hand. No need to succumb to fast and processed food. With a little planning and forethought simple and healthy homemade food to go is very possible.

freeze dried mangos, apple muffins, carrots and hummus, power balls
Continue Reading

Delicious and Easy No Recipe Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, lime, on table with roasting pan

This delicious and easy no recipe roasted tomatillo salsa is a must when its harvest time in the garden or if you have found yourself blessed with some tomatillos from the farmers market.  

Tomatillos are considered distant cousins of tomatoes and they grow very similarly in your garden.  Just like tomatoes, when it is time to harvest, there will be quite an abundance. What better way to use them than up than to make an easy and delicious green salsa to pair with some chips or use in any Mexican style dish you desire.  

Simple Ingredients

The main ingredients for this roasted tomatillo salsa consists of tomatillos, onion, and peppers. No recipe means flexibility! For instance, you can utilize white or red onions, spring onions, or chives based on what you have available. When it comes to the peppers, a combination of whatever types you have on hand will yield satisfying results. You can opt for bell peppers, sweet peppers, or a variety of hot peppers like banana or jalapeños to add some heat if you like.

If you prefer a green end color, make sure that the ingredients you use are yellow/green in color. Additionally, if you happen to have a zucchini, it can be a clever way to incorporate more vegetables, especially for picky eaters.  Garlic, lime, cumin, parsley or cilantro, and salt and pepper will be wonderful additions to boost and round out the flavor.  

tomatillos in bowls, lims, peppers, onion, garlic, roasting pan on table

How to Make Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

First, remove the husks from the tomatillos. Tomatillos tend to have a sticky residue so give them a rinse. Depending on their size slice in half or quarters.  If they are small leaving them whole is fine. Then dice your peppers, onions, and optional zucchini to a similar size and place along with the garlic on the roasting pan.  

Give it a drizzle of avocado oil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 min.  You will know it is done when the tomatillos start to char a bit on top.  Carefully remove and transfer the all the ingredients to a high speed blender or a food processor.  Blend completely smooth or leave a little chunkier if you like a thicker texture. Finally, add some lime juice, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Learning to cook without a recipe takes some time but trust your taste buds and adjust accordingly.

This delicious and easy roasted tomatillo salsa is fantastic cold with chips or tacos but it also tastes great warm and makes a wonderful enchilada sauce.  Roasted tomatillo salsa can be frozen for later or if you have a freeze dryer that is a great option for long term storage. an

I store my freeze dried goods that I will use within the next year in mason jars with an oxygen absorber and then I seal the jar. The jar sealer that I have is no longer available but this is a similar one. Mason Jar Vacuum Sealer. They are super helpful to have for dehydrated and freeze dried goods. Use an oxygen absorber to keep moisture out and keep your food fresh longer.

As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission when you make a purchase using my links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for using them:)

Continue Reading

Simple Healthy Meal Prep Cabbage to Enjoy Now and Later

purple cabbage on table

Simple healthy meal prep.  What does that mean and how do you do it?  Don’t get me wrong I love to work in the kitchen but I don’t have all day every day to spend in there.  I have kids, a job, and errands to run that keep me busy just like I’m sure you do too.  

Healthy Meal Prep to Maximize Your Time

Because I have a garden and value eating and feeding my family whole real foods I have to get very intentional and creative. How do I use these fresh ingredients while also maximizing my time?  Have you ever spent time chopping fresh vegetables up?  It can take a while! 

When I am in the kitchen I want to accomplish as much as I can for an upcoming meal and at the same time do whatever I can to help my future self out a bit.  Here are some tips that I keep in mind to help myself out.

Simple Meal Prep Tips

  1. Chop once. Whether you are using a knife or a food processor chop the whole thing.  You can always put extra in the fridge for later and save yourself time.
  2. Use similar ingredients. This makes meal making faster and you can often make very different flavor combinations even using the same basic ingredients.
  3. Make something for now. Think about what is currently pressing…the next meal or maybe an upcoming social event where you need to bring something to share.
  4. Plan for tomorrow. You will feel so thankful when you have food prepped and ready to go for when you are busy and don’t have the time.  This will also save you from last minute decisions made when you’re hangry. No one wants to wind up spending money or eating something that is not healthy just because it was convenient.
  5. Think of the future. Could be for next week, next month or maybe next season.
  6. Double it. If what you make would store well in the freezer make two.  One for now and one for the future when your busy or tired and can’t prepare something.
  7. Maximize your extra time. When I have a few moments to spare but its not quite meal time I will chop and prepare the ingredients so that come meal time I’m a step ahead.  On my day off I will also make things such as tortillas, pie crusts, bread, sauces, etc.  and throw them in the freezer so that I have a nice start or addition to a meal later.  

Healthy Cole Slaw for Now

I grew a beautiful purple cabbage in my garden.  Let me show you my meal prep in action.  I was getting together with friends later in the evening and needing to bring a side dish to share.  My first thought was to make some coleslaw.

A food processor makes shredding cabbage easy.  What goes great in Coleslaw? I grabbed some carrots and shredded those as well.  Finding a few extra things from the garden and the fridge (mayo, plain yogurt, mustard, chives, honey, garlic) I was able to put together a quick and delicious Cole slaw.  

Garden Spring Rolls for Tomorrow

Sundays tend to be prep days for me for the upcoming week.  I work a very long day on Mondays so while I prepped the coleslaw I decided to make some spring rolls that I could quickly and easily eat during my busy day. 

Using swiss chard from the garden as the wrapper helped me make use of even more things in my garden.  I gave the chard a quick dip in boiling water and then added the filling before rolling them up.  You could add anything to these rolls that suits you. 

Shredded carrots and cabbage, some cooked garbanzo beans, chives, and fermented beets are what I had on hand.  I stored them in a container and made a quick peanut sauce (rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey) to dip them in.

When Monday came and I was super busy I was very thankful to have the prepared food on hand.  

Simple Lacto-Fermented Purple Cabbage For Later

I still had more shredded cabbage and carrots left so I decided to ferment them for later.  Lacto-fermented veggies are full of beneficial probiotics not to mention it is a great way to preserve things for later. 

In a bowl I added the carrots and cabbage along with some garlic and chives for a little extra flavor. I then sprinkled with salt.  I transferred the mix to a mason jar and made sure to push it down.  You could use a wooden spoon or the tamper from a blender.  As you push down liquid will rise above the cabbage. 

Once the jar is full I topped with a cabbage leaf to make sure everything stayed below the brine.  Then I placed a weight on top and put on a lid.  A ferment like this will stay on the counter around 3-5 days and then it can be transferred to the fridge.  You could enjoy this as a side dish to a meal such as tacos or on top of avocado toast.

Preparing the cabbage in multiple ways made sure that none of the food that I worked so hard to grow went to waste. Let me know in the comments other tips/tricks you find to be helpful for meal prep.  

If you’re interested in more lacto-fermented foods check out these homemade pickles.

Continue Reading

Quick and Simple Homemade No Recipe Roasted Spaghetti Sauce

Tomatoes, peppers, and onions, on roasting pan

Believe me…you’re going to want to try this quick and simple homemade roasted spaghetti sauce when your garden tomato plants are in full swing.  If you are new to gardening let me tell you tomatoes are worth growing because they are high yield plants.  One plant is going to give you dozens and dozens and dozens of tomatoes!  We all know a fresh tomato blows away anything you can get at the store…that alone makes them worthy of growing.

No Recipe Benefits

This roasted spaghetti sauce in particular has many benefits.  The first is that you can use any variety or size of tomato.  You don’t have to stick to the Roma tomatoes that spaghetti sauce typically calls for.  From small cherry, to big beefsteak, to plum tomatoes any and all will do.  The color doesn’t matter either.  You can include red, orange, or yellow…whatever color ripe tomato you have is great.  I grow small Sungold tomatoes in my garden because I absolutely love their flavor and sweetness.  They make a great addition to this sauce.

Homemade Sauce and Bonus Juice

Making a traditional stovetop sauce can take a fair amount of simmering time to thicken.  This sauce is made roasting the tomatoes in the oven which allows for two things.  One, the tomatoes will be done after about 20-30min.  Two, you will end up with tomato juice as well.  I don’t know about you but getting two things accomplished at the same time is my kind of multitasking.

Getting Creative with Optional Additions

While you’re gathering your tomatoes take a stroll through your garden and see what other things you have that need to be used or that you think would be a good addition.  I like to add some sort of onion.  It could be a yellow onion, scallion, leek, or even chives.  Peppers are a wonderful addition.  You could add a sweet green, yellow, orange, or red pepper.  Summer squash such as zucchini, yellow, or patty pan are also great to include and trust me the picky eaters in your life won’t even know.  If you have herbs growing…gather some of them.  Basil, oregano, sage, thyme, and rosemary are all great options.  Garlic is also fantastic.  If you have whole cloves great.

Roasting the Sauce

Grab a couple rimmed roasting pans.  Cut out the tops of the tomatoes and then fill your pan with up with them.  If they are really big tomatoes you can cut them in half or in fourths.  Cut up whatever onion you have or any squash or peppers.  Just try to cut things about the same size so things cook evenly.  Garlic you don’t have to peel till after it comes out of the oven if you don’t want to.  The skins will slide off easily then. 

This sauce is also good with just tomatoes so don’t feel you have to add in all the extras.  I like to drizzle some avocado oil over the tomatoes but it is not necessary if you don’t want to add it.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 min.  You will know it is done when the tomatoes start to char a bit on top.  

Blending the Sauce

Carefully remove the tray from the oven.  Using a ladle remove the liquid and put it in a jar.  Be careful because working with hot liquid can be tricky and no one likes a burnt arm.  If you are not in a rush you can let the pan cool a bit, which makes it a touch easier to work with.  Next transfer your tomatoes and extras into a high speed blender. I bought a refurbished Vitamix 10 years ago and it has served me well. The high speed blender does a great job at blending the skins of the tomatoes.

If you only have dried herbs that’s fine! If you only have fresh that’s fine too!  I like to add a combination of fresh and dried herbs and salt to taste.  Trust yourself and experiment with different flavors.  Any italian herbs will work in this sauce.  Taste and adjust to get the flavor you like .  Some people like a sweeter sauce and if so you could add a bit of sugar.  Cherry tomatoes help add natural sweetness to the sauce so I don’t find sugar necessary.  You may have to work in batches blending some then adding it to a pot and then blending more and tasting till you like the flavor.  I find the thickness tends to be pretty much spot on but feel free to add some of your juice back in if you need to.

Adjusting Sauce Color

If the color of this sauce is not as red as you’d like to due to the variety of tomatoes you used feel free to add in some tomato paste.  This will also impart a stronger tomato flavor.  Then you can add some of your juice back in if you need to thin out the sauce because the paste will make it thicker.

Saving the Sauce for Later

Now your quick and simple homemade spaghetti sauce is ready for you to use for dinner!  You could also keep it in the fridge to use within the next few days.  Feel free to make a ton of spaghetti sauce if you need to use up those tomatoes. It can be easily stored for later.  Just put in freezer safe containers and transfer to the freezer.  The sauce would be great in many Italian dishes and tomato juice is great to use in soups, stews, and chili.

Another way to preserve this sauce is by freeze drying.  Place on trays and let the freeze dryer do its thing.  Store the freeze dried sauce in a jar with an oxygen absorber to keep out moisture.  When you want to use just spoon out what you need and add enough water to get the consistency you like.  We like to use it for quick tortilla pizzas.  We have a Harvest Right and absolutely love it.  It is an investment but if you are looking to preserve garden bounty it is phenomenal for preserving individual ingredients as well as fully cooked things such as this spaghetti sauce.

As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission when you make a purchase using my links at no extra cost to you. Thanks for using them:)

Continue Reading