I really do love coffee.
I can drink it black. I can drink it hot. I can drink it cold. I can drink it without sugar. I can drink it with sugar. I’m starting to sound like a Dr. Seuss book.
I am particular about coffee. I actually dislike Starbucks coffee, though I do go there on occasion. I can really only drink their double espresso, though I hate when it tastes burnt, and it’s ok… Gives me the kickstart I need to get going. I love my coffee clean, organic, single estate and medium to dark roast. I’m so glad Handsome Roasters, Stumptown and Verve understands the importance of a good roast of a good clean bean! A good roast is especially important with a pour over hot cup of coffee.
Anyway, enough about coffee. I just want to show off my coffee that talented artists have made for me. Coffee at home doesn’t look so pretty. It’s ridiculous that I’m thinking of coffee at nearly midnight. I can’t wait to get up and have so coffee!
Ikura-don is probably my favorite of the “don” or rice bowls. As eating rice is an issue for me, I eat this sparingly and very infrequently. Ikura happens to be very pricy per serving anyway, so it’s one of those dishes to be cherished. I usually find frozen, Ikura at the local Japanese store, but I do pounce on the fresh ones when I can find it. I’m also pretty satisfied with the Ikura-don a local Japanese restaurant (Geko Tei in Cerritos, California) serves. This blogger shared a perfect recipe with awesome photos! Yum!
The salmon roe season is only few weeks a year even though you can find Ikura (marinated salmon roe) and it’s just now🙂
Many of Ikura, especialy cheap ones, are frozened and the texture is different from fresh ones.
And if you have Home made one, you don’t want to have the pre-made one anymore since it’s so good!
I’m not a big fun of Ikura (salmon roe) usually, but love this Home-made one!
You don’t have any bad fishy flavor or the odd taste.
2 chunks of salmon roe with the skin, it’s called as Sujiko in Japanese (about 600g this time)
100cc soy sauce
5cm × 5cm piece of dried kelp
1. Remove all the salmon roe from the skin in the warm water (about 40℃) gently. If the salmon roe is not fresh, you might break the pieces but usually it’s…
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For many families, increasing the budget for a healthier diet can be difficult to handle financially. Gluten free, organic foods, pasture raised dairy and meats all have premium prices compared to their factory raised counterparts. Processed foods that have wheat and sugar products are so heavily subsidized, that pound for pound, those products often cost less on the wallet than a weekly budget that is all about real food. Coupons for produce and meat are so lacking, but plentiful for bad-for-you snacks. Sometimes, it can be so daunting to stay within a budget while needing to eat gluten free, organic, pasture raised and as much real food as possible.
I found that shopping sales, creating a food plan and being creative* has all helped me keep our food budget under control. *please note: me being creative has resulted in both delicious winning dishes as well as nights where we wind up getting tacos!
With growing teenagers, one meal full of clean protein and fresh produce easily throws off our family budget! Planning and shopping sales is the best and biggest way to save and stay on budget.
Here’s 10 more tips that we do to keep our costs lower while on a pasture raised, gluten free, rice free and as many organics as affordable lifestyle:
1. Make soups and broth – Canned soups are more expensive than homemade, and they just are not as tasty. I will use chicken quarter legs in my soup or grill T-bone steaks and pull bones before serving so I can I throw them in a crock pot overnight with some onion, ginger, celery, salt, and garlic to make broth that I can freeze for later. I freeze them in 2 cups portions and use them as I would store bought broth. When I make soups, I can use my frozen broth then add some a lot of hearty vegetables like carrots, squash, beans along with some meat like chicken or stew cut beef. It does take longer than opening and and heating a can, but I can make a lot more for the same dollar amount in about 30 minutes.
2. Limit snacking: “Paleo” and “gluten free” foods like crackers, chips, brownies and cookies are STILL JUNK FOOD! and they are hell expensive. It’s a total waste of money, you might as well shovel a spoonful of sugar, salt or oil into your mouth. It’s cheaper. Just say no when these little goodies jump into your cart. If they don’t make it home, you can’t eat them and you save yourself some cash.
3. Cabbage instead of organic kale. Both from the cruciferous family! Cabbage is #4 on the clean fifteen ranking, it’s not necessary to be organic. I often find cabbage at 3 lbs/$1! It’s great in stir fry, chopped and steamed as a side dish instead of rice or potatoes, or used in Asian cole slaw. Kale can get very pricy, though in the summer I tend to find it at the farmer market for about $1 a bunch. And according to the clean fifteen website, kale is on their dirty dozen list. We still buy and eat a lot of kale, but also including cabbage also helps our wallet.
4. Shop ethnic markets – in Southern California we are lucky to have an array of choices; Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean to name a few. The produce section of these stores are priced much better than traditional stores like Ralph’s. I’ve even found young coconuts $1 each! Asian markets will often have a variety of wild caught fish under $6 a pound. Big boxes of fruit tend to be inexpensive. A box of mangos was $4 the other day. I also bought a box of papaya* for $5. *I have heard all US grown papaya is GMO…I don’t know, have not researched it and right now prefer not to know. I love papaya.
5. Avoid “Gluten-Free” products: Many are tasteless, expensive. This is wear creativity comes in. What can you use instead? How about butter lettuce for taco shells? Cream Cheese for Pizza crust? Or Zucchini spirals instead of spaghetti? And my favorite for ease and taste: Baby Bok Choy leaves as buns for sliders?
6. Farmers market: I prefer to go early for the best selection. However, when I go late, I often can score much better pricing on produce. Their motivation is to unload as much as they can, so sometimes that last half hour vendors are offering half off, or extra pound free and other sales. This works best for fruits!
7. Buy a share of meat: considering ordering a share of beef directly from a farm as part of a co-share program. We ended up with a variety of cuts of a pasture raised cow including t-bones, rib eyes, shanks, roasts and ground packages. The ones we have ordered have been dry aged, with a flavor that just doesn’t compare to wet aged. Buying separately easily would have cost double.
8. Buy extra when on sale: I usually budget in a buffer of $20 to use towards meats on sale as well as other bargains that I can freeze. The last couple of weeks I’ve managed to score some organic chicken drumsticks, leg quarters, lamb chops and grass fed beef roasts for about half the normal cost. Also, some stores do managers specials, one of my local stores I frequent seems to have their manager’s specials on Tuesday mornings.
9. Eat less meat: Make the shares, bargains last longer! We love to eat lamb, grass fed beef, bison, wild caught fish. It can get pricey. We eat a lot of inexpensive produce based sides to compensate. Stir fry, salads, stews are all great ways to get in more veggies and less meat.
10. Ease up on being strictly organic (unless you have no choice): If I get stuck on organic everything, I could end up skip out on the nutrients vegetables an provide. Sometimes the organic version is just not found. What is worse? No veggies or veggies with pesticide? The EWG website features a clean fifteen and dirty dozen list and app. Their ranking system that is a wonderful tool on decided which foods do not have as many pesticides. I keep the app on my phone and will refer to it while shopping.
I am always looking for ways to save, and will post any ideas. Please comment with suggestions!
As we transitioned to a gluten-free lifestyle, we used alternative pasta noodles. The corn noodles were the worst of the bunch, but a quinoa/corn blend was palatable. However, the price of these alternative pasta noodles was not something I could stomach. I missed the days of a family size box of spaghetti for a $1 on sale. Well, that will never happen in this house again!
We eventually discovered spaghetti squash, it had a delicious taste, especially when roasted, butter and salted then paired with our favorite spaghetti sauce. But, spaghetti squash is so troublesome! It doesn’t cut in half easy, it’s big, have to be seeded….oh how I missed the days of throwing some noodles into a pot to cook up! Spaghetti squash took forever to prep (unless done in a microwave, but ew!)
So how about regular Italian or Mexican squash? We happen to have a fun gadget that makes spiral cut fries, shredded cabbage and the like. It also takes zucchini or Mexican squash and turns them into long spirals!
And these are fun to make!
At our local farmers’ market zucchini squash runs about $1 to $2 a pound. I bought the 5 fat round Mexican squashies (my name for them) for about $2. We peeled the squash (don’t have to, but I find the skin bitter,) cut off the stems then stuck the little round buddies onto the spiral cutter. My teen daughter wanted to do the rest of them.
To prep them, I steamed the “noodles” for about 15 minutes, so they are tender but still a bit firm. Too much cooking will make them too soft. I added a pinch of Himalayan pink salt to toss then served with our homemade meaty sauce.
Easy to toss like flour pasta and get an extra helping of veggies!
We love spaghetti, and the sauce is what makes the recipe. The best sauces are the ones that simmer all day long, using fresh herbs and tomatoes, but there isn’t always time or energy for that. When in a hurry, we use prepared spaghetti sauce in a jar, with a few extras added for extra flavor, otherwise just brown the ground beef and simmer with the prepared sauce. It cuts down prep time significantly. However, I do like my sauce to have simmered all day. That’s not always possible so my recipe is a compromise, one that could be done when home early enough to prep for dinner. I happen to have a small bell pepper and lots of basil and oregano growing in the summer sun, so I wanted to put them to use!
Garden fresh basil!
Here’s my silly explanation of ease-ingredients-time on how I could grade sauces:
Not Easy Best sauce – fresh herbs and tomatoes – all day
Almost Easy Better than Good sauce – fresh herbs, box or jarred tomatoes – about an hour
Easy, Pretty Good sauce – prepared sauce in a jar with some extras – 20 minutes
Lazy Easy Eh Sauce – just the premade jar of sauce! 5 minutes!
We like our sauce meaty and chunky!
Here’s our almost easy spaghetti meaty sauce recipe to go with our super easy squash noodles.
1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1 small bell pepper finely chopped
1 lb grass fed ground beef (don’t compromise your health and get the scary pink slime stuff)
1 box of diced tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
About 5 springs of oregano, finely chopped
Salt to taste, if the diced tomatoes are not salted.
In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef with garlic, and onion. Add the finely chopped green pepper, herb and chopped tomatoes. Finely chopped will help the sauce cook faster. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for one hour.
After an hour, check the sauce, adjust the temperature, taste a bit to see if extra sauce needs to be added. Simmer some more.
Prep the squash or zucchini by using a spiral cutter. Boil water for the steamer, add “noodles” to the steam basket and steam for about 15 minutes. Toss with a pinch of salt.
Serve hot, with the sauce and a bit of shredded Parmesan.
I love to cook, and I am a busy mom of teens who seem to do everything under the sun…but on opposite sides of town!
I am always looking to make dinner fast and easy, sure a drivethru or pizza would be fast and easy, but not be nutritiously sound. My kids, my husband and I put out a lot of physical energy on a daily basis, just as many others do. But a meal devoid of protein, nutritious minerals would make us tired, cranky and not able to handle a full day. We’ve committed to better nutritious foods, clean eating, organic when possible, and minimal amount of junk like unnecessary preservatives, pesticides or sugar. Quick cooking means we need to plan, so if I have a package of thawed chicken in the fridge, I know I can get dinner done fast. I also break up cauliflower to snack on for the week, stored in mason jars. If the budget permits, and pressed for time, I’ll get the packaged florets, but I’m finding them not worth the month. I’d rather save the dollars and apply that towards clean protein!
We have found a difference in a pasture raised chicken, even an organically raised chicken over conventional. While I prefer to buy pasture raised, sometime the budget just doesn’t allow it. We were lucky to find Rosie’s Organic Chicken on a special at our local Sprouts, so I jumped at the chance to stock up and freeze a bunch of packages.
My oldest loves to eat chicken, so to add tasty interest, and the healing powers of turmeric, I created a fast, skillet fried recipe. I use a large ceramic lined skillet with a lid. I lot of recipes use flour to help crisp up the chicken, but when 3/4 members of a family have to eat gluten-free, we find ways to adapt. I hope you enjoy the recipe and tell me what you think!
Chicken Quarter legs
1 medium sweet onion
2 carrots, thick bias slices
1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 zucchini chopped thick
Sprinkle salt, garlic, turmeric and paprika onto chicken. Since we like the turmeric flavor, we go very heavy on it.
Chop all the veggies, I like to cut them in big chunks.
Preheat your skillet/pan.
Add 2 tbs coconut oil into a already hot skillet (the big kind with a lid). Our pan needed to preheated over a medium flame for about 2 or 3 minutes, it’s a ceramic non-stick.
When it’s oil is heated, add the chicken, frying about 2/3 minutes on each side.
Move the chicken to the side of the pan.
Add the chopped veggies and stir it around the spices and oil for a bit. Evenly spread out the veggies.
Usually the pan is full of veggies, so I use the tongs and place the chicken quarters on top, let it simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes, then I stir things around, simmer for another 15 minutes, maybe longer. You just don’t want the chicken under cooked, of course!
Pizza night was the hardest to give up on a gluten free diet. I missed how easy it was to hit up Costco for pizza or one of our favorite local joints. I also missed the taste. Rice crust pizza is not tasty, plus it’s made with rice, which molds easy and is very high on the glycemic index. Cream Cheese Pizza is the solution! We use Organic Valley’s cream cheese. The recipe we used can be found here at food.com. While it is not quite a total replacement, it works for us!
Since it makes enough to fill a 9×12 baking sheet, we split it between the three of us and each top it the way we want.
I opted for fresh tomatoes, ham and a basil and feta mix. One of my daughters kept it simple with just ham and shredded mozzarella. The other topped her portion with ham, jalapeños from our garden, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. Yummy!
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Recipe – Karaage Japanese Fried Chicken
The hardest part of being wheat and rice free is giving up some of my favorite Japanese foods. One of our favorites and my oldest daughter’s absolute favorite dish is found in any Japanese grandma’s kitchen or a local Japanese pub – Karaage – Japanese fried chicken. Karaage is often served with fresh lemon wedges and a dollop of Japanese mayonnaise. Karaage is cooked in small batches in hot oil. I had to revamp my grandma’s karaage recipe into one that is gluten-free, almost paleo (uses corn starch) and not cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils.
Unfortunately, soy sauce is now made with fermented wheat, which makes me incredibly itchy, dizzy and I swell up. It’s not worth it. All the restaurants near me use that kind of soy sauce. I can buy a real soy sauce, gluten free, made the old fashioned way with fermented soy beans at my local Japanese store and even some traditional stores are carrying it. Amazon (with my prime shipping) carries it as well as plenty of gluten-free hard to find products. (I have affiliate links at the bottom, for easy shopping.)
Corn starch is often processed on shared equipment with wheat, so buying gluten-free cornstarch is important for those with celiac or severe gluten intolerance.
The chicken we use, is the cage free kind and the leg meat is the tastiest for this recipe. Often, I have had to debone the chicken myself, but if I make the trip to the Japanese market, I can find it prepared boneless, skinless and cage free.
Oil – there are many kinds of oil choices out there. The information is out there on the disadvantages of using canola/soy/corn/vegetable oil, so I choose to avoid it. I find that deep frying in coconut oil adds a delicious twist and flavor. Coconut oil come refined or unrefined, and for me, I buy both. Refined doesn’t have a coconut flavor to it, and some dishes need that, like paleo mayo with I eat with this chicken.
Equipment – I use a small stainless steel pot to deep fry in. I drain the hot chicken on paper towels even though specific draining paper exists in Japanese stores. I often cook with long chopsticks, but long tongs or a deep fryer basket work just as well. I don’t deep fry often enough to warrant buying a deep fryer, but I have heard they work well.
Here’s the recipe!
1 pound pasture raised chicken thigh, boneless, skinless
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
3/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 gluten free cornstarch in a shallow bowl
8 to 12 ounces of unrefined virgin coconut oil
Chop up chicken into bite size pieces, does not have to be absolutely uniform or square. Add to a glass bowl along with the ginger, garlic, soy sauce and let marinate in the fridge for not more than 1 hour.
Heat coconut oil to about 350 degrees F.
Working quickly in small batches, for me it’s about 5 or 6 pieces, dip the marinated chicken in the cornstarch, cover completely as and add to the hot oil. It takes about two to three minutes each batch and I take them out when they are golden brown.
Serve with lemon wedges, lettuce leaves, paleo mayo or Japanese mayo or just eat them!
*test batch – Sometimes, I will test one piece of chicken by deep frying it alone for two minutes, pull it out and cut it in half to see if its cooked fully. That test will help me determine if I need a hotter temperature or longer cooking time.
Japanese Ice Coffee
My mother and grandmother used to make the most delicious, sweet, rich and creamy iced coffee. As a child, I was only allowed a sip. I have always liked coffee, and now as an adult need to drink coffee about 3 times a day. Espresso drinks are better, but I can even settle for a brewed coffee.
As my sugar intake has decreased, I have found I would prefer to drink coffee with heavy cream rather than with half and half….just like mama used to take her coffee. I loved stirring the black coffee and slowly pouring the cream into a swirling mass before it blends into the coffee ice cream color I so love, but then not getting more than a sip! With ice coffee, sugar seemed to have quadrupled, or they would used what seemed like half a can of sweetened condensed milk into the coffee! If time permitted, they would make a simple syrup on the stove for the sweetener in ice coffee.
I recently learned that the way my
Mother and Grandmother made ice coffee was very different than American ice coffee. It’s very sweet, but I think it is simpler to make, too. Many ice coffee recipes are made with the cold brew method, which takes hours. The way they would make it is just logically easier and incredible fast.
Simply, you need strong brewed coffee, ice and your favorite sweetener and cream. We have done this with French press, regular drip brew, Italian stove top espresso maker and a regular espresso machine. Doesn’t really matter how the hot coffee is made, it just needs to be at least twice as strong as regular brew and it pours over the ice as the ice melts.
Recently, I came across this nifty little coffee brewer at World Market.
This is very similar to the one cup brewers my mother would use. One of hers was a plastic pink, Hello Kitty she bought on Japan and used until it fell apart. I never had that privilege! It’s my again favorite method because I can watch it brew directly onto the ice. I’m easily amused.🙂
After lots of hinting around, I received one for Mother’s Day. These cup brewers make it easy to make ice coffee. It’s perfect for ice coffee!
Fill a tall glass with ice, used about triple the amount of grounds into the filter and slowly pour hot water over the grounds. My tall glass holds about a cup of ice and 6 ounces of hot water to make about 10 ounces of coffee. Then I add agave syrup and heavy cream and I have a perfect drink for a hot summer day!