Tag Archives: real food

Healthier Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is one of my favorite winter treats after chilly morning chores or an afternoon of snow-day play. However, the sugar-ridden packets of hot cocoa mix probably aren’t an ideal way to enjoy the drink. Hence, the need for a healthier hot chocolate!

Healthier Hot Chocolate

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You’ll find a gamut of hot chocolate mix recipes on the internet, usually full of sugar and powdered milk. It’s nice to have something pre-made on occasion, but to me, it’s not all that much more convenient than making it fresh. (Besides, fresh just tastes better!)

Here’s the guilt-free recipe that I make for our family.

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Reinstating Healthy Habits (Plus The Healthy Living Bundle Flash Sale)

I was making such good post-baby progress on my health goals this fall. I was exercising five days a week, eating nourishing food, prioritizing sleep, and consciously caring for my mental health. Of course it wasn’t perfect 100% of the time, but I was headed steadily in the right direction.

Reinstating Healthy Habits

But then, life hit me. Thanksgiving through Christmas was a bit of a wash in the health department. I worked too much, stayed up too late, ate too much, and may or may not have indulged in way more sugar than I should have. I went into survival mode and dropped the ball on almost every wellness goal I had been working on.

I imagine the busyness and corresponding downfalls of the season is one of the reasons people end up setting New Year’s resolutions so readily. December, with all of its merry making, cookie baking, and feasting can get the best of almost anyone. (Right? Or is it just me?)

I don’t beat myself up over a few bad weeks. I think the over-indulgence of Christmas is just part of the natural ebb and flow of the seasons. That being said, I can feel the awful difference in my body between being an active, mindful eater vs. a sluggish, cookie-vacuum machine. I am SO ready to reform and do better come January.

I don’t usually make formal resolutions, but I do have intentions to press my own “health reset button”- because heaven knows I need it! Here are my health goals for January:

  • Exercise 5x days/week.
  • Plan and eat balanced, wholesome meals.
  • Limit sugar intake.
  • Give myself a 10:00 p.m. bedtime.

I’m the type of person who thrives on using tools (or gimmicks) to keep me motivated in areas of health, cleaning, or what-have-you. (This post contains affiliate links.) One of my favorite tools that I keep returning to is the Healthy Living Bundle that I purchased last fall.

If you missed it back in September, there’s good news- it’s back for two days only- today and tomorrow- and is packed full of awesome resources to get you back into your healthy groove. (Cause that’s a thing. I groove to health all the time. 😉 )

You can read my full review of the Healthy Bundle here, but let me highlight three resources that really went to work for me last fall:

  • The Thrive 90 Fitness Program– This 90 day workout program (valued at $47) includes daily exercises that can all be done at home with minimal equipment in 30 minutes or less. After completing over a month of this course, I felt much stronger and more energetic- two things that a mom of three littles can really benefit from!
  • Oh Lardy’s Guide to Fermenting. (Valued at $9.99) This book was the one that really got me started on fermentation. Tamara and Kelly dish out the science and many health benefits to fermentation, and share many tasty recipes to try. After my first few successful ferments, I never looked back. There’s almost always something sitting out on my counter with an airlock now! (You can find a recipe from the book here.)
  • Tired and Hungry Cook’s Companion. Of the twenty-three real-food resources included in this digital library (twenty-three!!!), this is my favorite so far. The two free months of healthy meal plans from Kresha at Nourishing Joy (valued at $24) are complete with over 65 recipes a month, ingredient checklists, and family dinner activities. I can’t even tell you how much money, time, and decision fatigue this meal planner has saved me. I sense a full review coming in the future.

These three resources alone are worth almost 3x the price of the entire bundle, but there’s so much more that it includes! There’s paleo and allergy-friendly recipes, natural home and natural health solutions, basic homesteading skill books, and healthy pregnancy and baby reads. It’s 90+ health resources for under $30- now that’s a way to kick-start your new year!

Remember, the bundle is only available today and tomorrow, so make sure to grab yours before it disappears for another year. I’m so looking forward to getting back in gear and working towards better health all-around. What are your goals for January?

When you purchase the Healthy Living Bundle, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. As always, I only promote products that I have experience with and truly value. Thank you in advance for supporting our family in this way!


Why I’m Glad I Bought The Healthy Living Bundle

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard some mention of the current Healthy Living Bundle. I’ve been talking about it, readers are talking about it, writers all over the blogosphere have been talking about it. I’m sorry to say, I’m going to mention it again because today is the LAST day it’s available and it’s such a super deal that I’d hate for you to miss it. (This post contains affiliate links.)

What is exactly is bundled together in this deal? It’s over 90 resources (e-books, e-courses, and physical bonuses) on all things health, food, and fitness at a super low price. Topics range from essential oil usage to real food recipes to natural remedies to exercise routines you can complete in your own home. It’s a dream package for the crunchy natural health nut, but also a great resource for anyone who is interested in taking a more active role in their own health.

Without further ado, here are seven reasons why I’m glad I bought the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle:

1) I have a secret relationship with junk food- and I’d like to leave it behind. Sure, we make most of our meals from scratch, I rarely add sugar to anything I bake, and I’m all about preserving the harvest and getting nourishing stuff in my body. But when it comes down to it, I still love me some good junky snacks.

While I don’t think the occasional donut or stop at the fast food joint will kill us, I definitely don’t think it should be the usual. I need real food and real snack ideas that aren’t going to stress me out with exotic ingredients or extensive prep time. I’ve been loving all the cookbooks included in the Healthy Living Bundle for that exact reason. (There’s over 30 of them, for less than the cost of one dinner out!) Freezer meals, crock-pot meals, chicken dump recipes, healthy snacks, kombucha, fermentation, and culturing recipes- all in one complete library. I keep visiting this section of the bundle again and again.

caveman2) Because my husband’s a caveman. Actually, just kidding. He isn’t. And we’re not on the paleo diet either. But for those of you who are, the bundle includes an entire selection of paleo cookbooks, as well as an allergy-free section.

smellyfeet3) I’ve somehow turned into a smelly hippie. (E.g., my natural remedies are sometimes rather strong! 😉 ) One night at the end of my last pregnancy, I was feeling pretty sick and miserable. I put a homemade garlic-mullein oil infusion in my ears for an ache, an essential oil blend called “Breathe” on my chest for congestion, and a soothing nighttime essential oil blend on my feet. Tim came into the bedroom and declared, “Hi, hippie! What do you have on?”

I’m not usually slathering myself in essential oils, but I do enjoy using them as needed for natural remedies. The Healthy Living Bundle includes five major essential oil resources that cover the use of EO’s for cold and flu, family needs, and of course- their safety! Included in the cost of the bundle is also a free three-oil set from Plant Therapy. Just pay shipping and receive 10 ml bottles of lavender, lemon, and peppermint. That alone is worth half the cost of the bundle!

Even if you’re not into EOs, the bundle also includes a large selection of natural remedies for common ailments and natural home care. I’m always looking for ways to reduce the need for drugs and chemicals in my home, and the Healthy Living Bundle offers the knowledge and community support I need to achieve that goal. One bundle resource that I am absolutely thrilled about using is a year’s membership to the Herbal Academy of New England’s Herbarium– and that alone, at the usual cost of $45/year, is worth more than the cost of the entire bundle!


4) I’m totally a bohemian mother. Okay, okay, kind of kidding. I do wear my baby, breastfeed, make my own baby food, and cloth-diaper part time. And I did have my kids naturally at home. BUT in reality, I’m very flexible on these choices. I have may friends who do things very differently, and we get along just fine. 🙂

However, my inner natural-mama gets excited to see e-books on natural pregnancy and conception, breastfeeding, and morning sickness remedies in the bundle. (Oh, morning sickness. Why didn’t I have this during my last pregnancy?!?) From nourishing baby food to cloth diapers- and even going diaper-free- this bundle covers all the info you need to help give your baby a healthy start.

chickens september 001

5) I’m actually a clueless homesteader. I know what I’m doing in the kitchen- well, usually, anyway- but I’m actually pretty clueless with the rest of the homestead. Sure, I help with the garden occasionally, but my hubby is the main plant man. I feed the chickens and collect eggs, but you don’t see me writing articles on complete chicken care, do you? And the goat? Well, she’s been a fun experiment for sure, but I’ve got a LOT to learn.

Good thing this bundle includes a homesteading section to help a girl out. There’s info on controversial chicken practices, gardening, food preservation, and even urban farming for kids! The authors want to help you create a more self-sufficient lifestyle wherever you live, be it in the country or the city.

Sleeping with I

6) I’m lazy. By nature, I would rather sit down than get up and work- and this is particularly true about exercise. While there’s several diet and fitness books included in the bundle, there’s three resources I’m particularly excited about:

  • Love Your Body: The Imperfect Girl’s Guide to Positive Body Image from Elizabeth Walling. I haven’t read this one yet, but in light of my recent post on loving your postpartum body, I thought this would be an appropriate and encouraging read.
  • The Healthy Moving Core Workshop, from Jennifer at Healthy Moving. (Normally $79.)
  • The Thrive 90 Fitness Program- a 90 day program of short workouts that can be done at home, geared towards busy parents. Now that sounds up my alley! (Normally $47.)

These resources will help give me the motivation I need to exercise in the time that I have- and hopefully improve my overall health and energy level while I’m at it!

7) I’m cheap. I don’t like to buy things. And until this year, I’ve always drooled over these bundles, but kept myself from diving in because I don’t usually make unnecessary purchases.

If purchased separately, the various e-books, courses, and bonuses included in the bundle would cost you about $1900. If purchased in the bundle, it costs you a grand total of $29.97.

Did you read that? Here’s a visual in case you missed it:

How in the world is it this cheap? Well, the folks who put together the bundle made it possible by only offering it for a week. That’s one week out of the whole year- and today is the last day it’s available.

There are so many resources in this bundle at such a low price, it almost seems silly to pass it by. Even if you only use a handful of the many resources included, it pays for itself easily. For under $30:

  • It’s cheaper than one nice dinner out, but includes recipes and meal plans to keep you eating healthy all year.
  • It’s cheaper than a gym membership, but includes several months worth of fitness challenges.
  • It’s cheaper than any one of the many classes and memberships would cost on their own. An herbalism membership ($45), a cultured foods course ($147), a free Craftsy e-course (up to $60), and several more are included in the cost.
  • The bonus products alone are worth 7 times the cost of the bundle!

The Healthy Living Bundle is a great investment for anyone who wants to be an active participant in their health care. I love this thing because it’s filled with good stuff that I’m passionate about, and because it is a REALLY good value. And I pretty much don’t buy anything unless it is.

Check it out to see if it’s for you. If you buy it and decide it really wasn’t worth it, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can return it with no problems.

But…. my guess? That probably won’t happen. 😉

When you purchase the Healthy Living Bundle, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. As always, I only promote products that I have experience with and truly value. Thank you in advance for supporting our family in this way!


An (Almost) Real Food Summer Pool Party

My little V is now an official two year old! My son really wanted to have a pool party for her birthday. I know, I know- it wasn’t his birthday, so why was he picking? Because he’s nearing five and has ideas and opinions about these things, and V doesn’t know the meaning of a birthday yet. 😉

So I ran with J’s ideas and said we could do a pool party with our inflatable kiddie pool. It turned out to be a smashing hit with the kids, and the brain work required for planning games and activities was almost zero. These guys were having a blast.

V's B-day 2015 033Our ingredients for success with a small group of toddlers and preschoolers? (This post contains affiliate links.)

The only “game” we planned was a water balloon fight. Which is very easy for kids this small. Just give them some buckets filled with balloons and let ’em have at it!

V's B-day 2015 029(Ready for war.)

V's B-day 2015 045(Soaked and loving it.)

woodland fire pit

We set everything up in the backyard, with the adults mostly centered around my hubby’s home-built fire pit, and the kids playing with all the water stuff right nearby in our only semi-flat stretch of grass.

Now that I’ve properly digressed from the title of this post, let’s address the food.

Most of you know that I try to eat relatively healthy, and our big passion is sourcing a lot of our food from our own backyard, local sources, or at least with healthier versions of the prepared stuff. But we are also on a journey– and we most definitely aren’t whole-food-traditional-diet-only-perfectionists!

The party was no different for us. We tried to serve up a lot of healthy options and avoid most of the junk that comes with typical kids’ parties. (Plastic-tasting pizza and lots of Coke at the bowling alley, anyone?) But I didn’t panic if I used a couple of prepared sauces and crackers. For me, balancing health-consciousness and sanity was key in preparation for this party. And a couple prepared items really did save my sanity. 😉

Here’s what was on our menu:

  • Grilled chicken, four ways: BBQ, Buffalo (using this recipe), Teriyaki-ish (with my dad-in-law’s homemade “Piggy Pork Sauce”), and plain-ish, with only olive oil and spices.
  • Grilled veggies with olive oil, salt, & pepper.
  • Corn on the cob.
  • Summer salad: Greens (some store-bought organic spinach and some homegrown arugula), sliced organic peaches, crumbled feta, pecans, and this homemade balsamic vinaigrette (with the olive oil cut in half).
  • Pasta salad: regular old bow-ties, lots of veggies, pepperoni (gasp!), cheese cubes, and Italian salad dressing. (At least the dressing was organic?)
  • Sprouted sweet potato tortilla chips, crackers & cheese, plus a few other snacks.
  • Lemonade, water, & homemade iced tea

For dessert, we used the basic chocolate cake recipe found in The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (using our goat’s milk & pastured eggs!), topped with homemade whipped cream and pureed strawberries and blueberries.

cakeFor the kids, I made some of the cake batter into cupcakes, and tried to turn the fruit purees into a ladybug design. Tried being the key word.

ladybugcupcakesDon’t laugh.

These guys donned chocolate chip spots and candy eyeballs to turn them into critters. (Remember, real food compromise, people. 😉 ) We also made homemade frozen yogurt from our goat’s milk to go alongside the cake.

Overall, I felt like we did a fair job of offering healthy options for food without killing ourselves making absolutely everything from scratch. And I’d say the kids had a lot of fun, too!

What are your favorite real-food party options? Share your recipes below!

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and make any purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting my blog and my family!

How we formed a (mostly) real food menu for a kids' party that we felt good about.


Good Pickins’ #6

This week has been more of a preservation whirlwind, though I think my canning to-do list is finally winding down. I’ve been visiting our chickens outside on a regular basis and happily watching them peck at the earth and catch grasshoppers with great skill. Home preschool is in full swing, and J is teaching me how to relax a bit and give him a little bit more freedom in his learning. V is saying a few words and expressing herself through toddler-style interpretive dance on a regular basis. 😉

Sept 2014 013(He’s pretending to can these apples… I love this kid.)

September is coming to a close. I’ve immersed myself in thoughts of speckled pumpkins and bumpy gourds of flaming colors, and enjoyed more than a few cups of fresh raw cider. Soon I’ll be snuggling into my sweaters and boots for the deep autumn that eventually leads to snow.

In the meantime, I still enjoy sharing some of my favorite finds from the week with you. Here come the pickins’ for this Saturday:

Fighting for a Sane Food System– Self-proclaimed “lunatic farmer” Joe Salatin is at it again, combating the argument that a desire for nutritious food is equivalent to elitism, and opening the conversation about the cost of his so-called “integrity food.” If you’ve ever been interested about the true costs of eating “real food” vs. prepared/processed/industrial market food, this article is for you. (I warn you, the man is passionate.)

Breaking Free from Real Food Burnout– From Trina Holden. Trina is full of inspiring, healthy ideas for eating wholesome, nourishing food- but what happens when you just get sick of feeding your sourdough starter and cooking from scratch and eating veggies for snacks? Trina talks about how to get over “real food burnout” with a healthy dose of grace. (I’m just starting to read Trina’s new book on the topic now, so you can expect to hear more about our own real food journey in the near future.)

Time Management for New Moms- Are you a mom of a new baby (or just young children in general)? Rachel provides a unique and flexible framework for thinking about when to get all those things done that you need to get done.

And, finally, a video on “chicken tunnels” to help work your garden beds. If you don’t have chickens this will make you want to get them. Right???

Have a glorious Saturday!