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Our Favorite Bottled Salsa

It's that time of year and I'm excited to bottle a bunch of salsa since we ran out in June. We have been making this salsa every year for at least 8 years and it's still some of our very favorite. It's so good why not give it a try this year. If you like spicy don't be afraid to add extra jalapenos or we actually like to add habanero to some extra spicy batches. Yum!

Our Favorite Bottled Salsa
4 quarts tomatoes, scalded, peeled and smashed (preferable with your hands;)
6-8 green bell peppers, chopped
4 onions, chopped
1/2-1 cup chopped jalapenos, more if you want it hotter
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup Sucanat
4 cloves garlic
12 oz. tomato paste
2 cups tomato puree
2 teaspoons cumin
4 bunches cilantro, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons Real salt

In a very large pot add all ingredients except for cilantro bring to a boil add the cilantro.  Water bath can in pints for about 20 minutes or quarts for about 30 minutes. Now enjoy great tasting homemade salsa ALL YEAR LONG!

Blondie Brownies

Blondie Brownies made healthy
I didn't grow up with Blondie Brownies......I know deprived huh! I don't remember trying them until my husband's family introduced me to them. Ummmmm yeah I liked them. And then well a lot of cookies and brownies and things took a back seat while I learned a healthier way to live.

I did slowly add treats I loved back in as I learned the art of "Healthifying" but for some reason there are a lot of things I kind of just forgot about or I don't know maybe just never worried about them. Most of the things I have healthified have been things that I was craving.


It's kind of funny how many things I just haven't craved or really even thought about. There was a time when I thought my life would end if I had to live without certain foods. Well guess they weren't really all that important now were they.  All I know is I have not ever felt deprived on this road to healthy whole foods.

Anyway we were sitting around visiting one evening and we were feeling like a treat. But I wanted to try something new. Like I have said before sometimes I just get bored of making the same things. So I asked Ryan if he wanted me to try Blondie Brownies. He was like, "Oh heck yeah!"

Plus our kids had never had them I wouldn't want them to be deprived like I was. It took a few tries but here they are and they are mighty tasty if I do say so myself!

Healthified Blondie Brownies

Blondie Brownies
3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (ground soft white wheat)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Real Salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 dash almond extract (optional)
1 cup coconut oil, melted (add one heaping teaspoon ghee in place of some oil if desired)
3 cups Sucanat
2 organic free range eggs (or double next ingredient)
1 heaping Tablespoon egg replacer mixed with 1/2 cup water
carob chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix egg replacer and eggs together. In a separate bowl cream coconut oil (being sure it is not hot), Sucanat, vanilla and almond extracts together. Add egg mixture, stir in well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until smooth, should be the consistency of thick cake batter. Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until crackly on top and toothpick comes out clean. If wanted sprinkle carob chips over blondies as soon as they are removed from oven. Let cool before cutting. Cut into squares and serve.

Favorite Recipes for Fall

From Pumpkins, Apples, Caramel Corn....to Comforting Soups, Cranberries and Pies. These are some of our favorite fall recipes. Great for Fall parties, Thanksgiving dinner and even Christmas. We start enjoying these recipes as soon as there is that nip in the air clear into Winter.

I tried to limit this list to the very favorites that we make most often but there are many more yummy warm fall recipes to be found by searching the archives or clicking on a category. Both options are in the sidebar. May your Kitchen be full of wonderful smells and comforting tastes all season long

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Dinner in a Pumpkin
Dinner in a Pumpkin

Healthy Pumpkin Pie
Healthified Pumpkin Pies

Pumpkin Carob Chip Bread Pumpkin Carob Chip Bread

Healthy Pumpkin Cookies
Pumpkin Cookies

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Pumpkin Soup


Apple Pie Filling
Apple Pie Filling

Spiced Crock Pot Apple Sauce
Spiced Crock Pot Apple Sauce

Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

Caramel Apples
Caramel Apples


Caramel Popcorn
Caramel Popcorn

Popcorn Balls Popcorn Balls


Homemade Stuffing
Cranberry and Apple Stuffing

Broccoli Salad Broccoli Salad


Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Creamy Vegetable Soup
Creamy Vegetable Soup

Minestrone Soup
Minestrone Soup

Split Pea Soup
 Split Pea Soup

Cauliflower and Curry Soup Cauliflower and Curry Soup

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Broccoli Cheese Soup

Barley Soup Barley Soup

A Few More Favs

Bread and Butter Pickles Bread and Butter Pickles

Pickled Beets
Pickled Beets 

Pineapple Cornbread Muffins

Dinner Rolls Dinner Rolls

My Favorite Smoothie Mix

For quite some time now this has been my favorite mix to put in smoothies. It has a great flavor and is full of fiber, nutrients and multiple sources of protein. With the right amount of added fat and fruit a smoothie will keep me full and energized for hours. It has also done wonders for my hair, skin and hormones. My eyelashes are longer and thicker then they have ever been. Make up a batch a give it a try I started noticing a difference within the first three months of using it consistently.

I'll share some of my favorite smoothie recipes soon but for now here is my basic formula for making a healthy well balanced smoothie.

My typical smoothie formula:
2 cups of liquid (almond milk, water, kefir or combination)
2 scoops of the mix (recipe below)
1-2 Tablespoons Fat (Nuts or nut butter, coconut oil or MCT oil)
1-2 cups frozen fruit
other add ins fresh greens etc. (optional)

My Favorite Smoothie Mix

Makes about 1 gallon

3 cups chia seed
3 cups collagen
3 cups vanilla bone broth powder
3 cups vanilla plant based protein powder
1/2 scant cup acerola cherry powder
1/2 scant cup maca
1 1/2 cups greens powder

Mix everything into a gallon glass jar. Shake well to combine add two large scoops to your favorite smoothie recipes.

For the Greens Powder I have been using Green Smoothie Girl's but she doesn't seem to be selling it anymore so I'm looking for another brand I will probably end up using this Moringa powder (since it is so affordable and super healthy) and another variety greens mix (I haven't really found one I like yet but there are lots of options out there.)

Carrot Butter

We just recently harvested our carrots although the garden for the most part struggled this year, the carrots did great. Of course I had to make me some carrot butter. You maybe have never had carrots this way but oh this recipe is wonderful!  A great Spring time recipe that would be great at part of a Easter dinner, breakfast, brunch or whenever. But also an awesome Fall recipe in fact it is quickly becoming a Thanksgiving favorite around here....heck I say it's great any time of year.  We love this Carrot Butter on toast, scones, with rolls, as a fruit dip, or any way you can think of eating it.  I personally like it by the spoonful! ;)  ENJOY!

Carrot Butter
1-1.5 pounds carrots peeled and cut into small pieces
Large pot of water
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3-4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons Real Salt

Place carrots in large pot of water and boil until the carrots are very, very soft.  Drain carrots then add them with all other ingredients to blender and puree until really smooth.  Good warm or cold.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Egg Replacer, Make Your Own

I bought energy brand egg replacer for a lot of years. A few years ago I wondered if I could make it myself. I found that I could make it myself and have been using this recipe for years now. Today I looked up prices and did the math again and changed to updated numbers below. It still saves more then 50% and stores really well! Or you can just buy it already made it's a pretty good price through Azure right now at only $6 for a box. Whatever works best for you! I just thought you might like a little update.

I had bought some tapioca flour (and for the life of me can't remember what I was going to use it for but that's okay cause I found another use) which was one of the main ingredients on the box. The other was potato starch. So I went to the Azure website to see if by chance they sold it in bulk. And sure enough there was potato starch.

At an average of 7 dollars a box I figured making my own should save me some money. So I did the math:
5 pounds potato starch = $9.80
5 pounds tapioca starch = $8.95
I already had the baking soda and other ingredients on hand but I figured that cost in there too.

So my best calculations tell me that to make a pound of egg replacer will cost me not quite $2.75. A one pound box of Energy Egg Replacer is $6.00 right now through Azure. That's a savings of over half!

At more than 50% savings I say it's worth it to make my own. I will be making my own from now on.

This obviously would make more than just the one pound box so the upfront costs would be more. But then you have plenty in your food storage and you are never out of eggs so to speak. ;)

I'm pretty excited about this because I use this in a lot of my baked goods.  Like these Snicker Doodles, Blondie Brownies, Ginger Bread Cookies, etc. A lot of times I will use a ground flax or chia seed paste as an egg replacer but certain recipes don't hide their flavor and/or texture well enough so that's when I opt for this.

It took a few tries to get the recipe to where I felt it was "right" but I have been using it for well over a month now and find it works every bit as well as the stuff you buy.

Make Your Own Egg Replacer
2 1/2 cups potato starch
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1/3 cup baking powder (non-aluminum)
2 Tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tarter (optional)
1 teaspoon guar gum (optional)

Mix all ingredients together into a jar with a lid. For the replacement of one egg use 1/2 Tablespoon of powder to 1/4 cup water. May add more or less powder depending on consistency you want.

Ranch Dressing Mix

I found we were making my Ranch Dressing recipe quite often.  So of course I wanted to make it even more simple and quick to make.  Now it takes hardly any time to make  I just make this mix up and keep it in my pantry.  It works great!  Plus have you ever read the ingredients in the store bought dressing mix packets?  Give it a try, make your own Ranch Dressing Mix.....it's cheaper, tastes better and is oh so much healthier!

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix
(all herbs are dried)
1/4 cup basil
1 cup dill
1 cup parsley
1/2 Tablespoon garlic granules
1/4 cup onion powder
1 Tablespoon Real Salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Combine ingredients in a jar stir or shake until well combined.

To make Ranch Dressing:
2 cups Vegenaise
1 Tablespoon of this mix (more or less to taste)
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or to taste)

I just mix the dressing ingredients in a jar and add a little water to desired thickness.

Our Favorite Lentil Soup, in the Crock Pot and now the Instant Pot

I'm going to try this in the Instant Pot tonight 15 minutes on high pressure should do it! I know it will turn out great.....I will let you know if there should be any adjustments.

I love that this soup is so simple to make and that more often then not I have all the ingredients to make it. Super nutritious and full of fiber and.....BIG BONUS the whole family likes it!  Go good on chilly nights.  I hope you will like it too!

Our Favorite Lentil Soup
4 Tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil
1 Large onion, chopped
4 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups water
3 cups dry green lentils
2 Heaping Tablespoons Vegetable Broth Powder
2 (14½–oz.) cans diced tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Turn large 5 quart crock pot on high. Place oil and chopped veggies and garlic in, stir. Add the water and lentils. Place lid on and let cook on high for about 3 hours until lentils are soft. After lentils are cooked stir in Vegetable broth powder and diced tomatoes, turn crock pot to low and let warm until time to eat. Just before serving add 1-2 Tablespoons, or to taste, of Balsamic vinegar. Can optionally mash some of the lentils with a potato masher or blend with a hand blender for a thicker consistency or just eat it like it is. Add salt and pepper to taste!

Good Friday Meal, An Easter Tradition

When Charly was just a baby we started a fun yet very simple Easter week tradition. We start on Palm Sunday and talk/read about what happened each day the last week of Christ's life. We also enjoy finding videos about those same stories. And there is this Because of Him Easter site that was started this year that we have already been using.

Then on the evening of Good Friday we like to have a meal that may have been similar to what Jesus may have had for passover. We even sit on the floor to eat it. The kids love this simple little tradition.

Our meal typically consists of a lentil dish, dried fruit and nut mix, flat bread, hummus and grape juice. So simple but the kids look forward to it every year and always ask if we are going to do it again!

On Saturday the kids get a few fun small healthy "treats" in their Easter baskets. Usually there is something very practical like socks or flip flops and books. And then sometimes a very small toy like a yo-yo or lawn darts or something fun like that.

We hunt eggs and spend the day together and try to spend as much time together with family as we can. On Easter Sunday we go to church some of us sing in the choir as part of the Easter program. Then more often then not we have a spring type picnic meal with extended family and just enjoy being together and being grateful for our Savior.

Curried Lentils Over Rice
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
4 Tablespoons Curry Powder
3 cups brown or green lentils
6-8 cups water, divided
1 1/2 cups hummus
1 heaping teaspoon Vegetable Broth Powder
1 teaspoon Real Salt or to taste
pepper to taste
3-4 green onions, sliced
1 lemon cut into 8 wedges
cooked brown rice

Crock pot instructions:
In a warm crock pot, place the first 5 ingredients stir well and let warm up while preparing the rest of ingredients. Add lentils and 6 cups of water. Let cook on high for 3 hours or until lentils are tender. Add hummus, broth powder, salt and pepper and add more water to get desired consistency. Season to taste turn down crock pot and keep warm until ready to serve. Top with green onion just before serving. Serve over bowls of cooked brown rice, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each serving.

Stove Top instructions:
In a large pot heat olive oil then saute onion, carrots and garlic together. Add Curry powder and stir just until fragrant. Add lentils and 6 cups of water. Cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until lentils are done. Add hummus, broth powder, salt and pepper. Add more water if needed for desired consistency. Turn down to low and let heat through, stirring frequently. Season to taste. Top with green onion just before serving. Serve over  bowls of cooked brown rice, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each serving.
recipe adapted from Curried Lentil Soup

You will find my Totally Homemade Hummus recipe here.

Dried Fruit and Nut Mix
50% dried fruit
50% nuts

I just make a mix of about 50/50 dried fruit to nuts. I like to use what maybe would be maybe more traditional foods and that we don't very often eat in our other nut mixes. For fruit I will do figs, dates, raisins, apricots. Sometimes I will do dried cherries and cranberries. Usually I try to work with what I've already got. For the nuts I like to use walnuts, pecans, almonds and sometimes hazelnuts and pistachios.

Flat Bread

You can take about any dough and roll it into the flat shape you want and cook it like a pancake in a hot oiled pan or griddle. I have used My Best Yet Whole Wheat Bread recipe for this (I know not very traditional with the yeast and all;) or even this tortilla recipe just not rolled so thin would work.

This year though, since I have a sourdough start I am going to try a sourdough flat bread recipe. I have tried a few and they have all been eaten up but I haven't been super excited about any of them. So instead of posting an actual recipe I found this very cool sourdough flat bread link up that looks like it has lots of fun options. I'm going to choose one of those or a mixture of a few of them. ;) Hopefully I'll find something we love.

Rejoice for He is Risen and have a very Happy Easter!