29 Fun Treat Recipes for Valentine’s Day – With NO Red Food Dye

Low Sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait 1

Traditionally we think of red or pink food dye squirted into white frosting to make festive Valentine’s Day cookies and cupcakes. Want to put some fun Valentine meals and treats on the table this year – but want to keep the food real and avoid food coloring?

It is a true fact that food exists that is red without any help from outside sources. There’s also this lovely thing we like to call chocolate. It’s not red, but it certainly says, “I love you,” don’t you think?

Here are 29 great recipes for you that can be turned into Valentine’s Day goodies for your family. You might be able to tell that I am desperately hoping for fresh strawberries to be in season and on sale THIS WEEK.

29 Fun Treat Recipes for Valentine's Day with NO Red Food Dye

Red and Pink Treats (No Food Dye!)

Don’t forget obvious foods that are red – like tomatoes, sweet peppers, strawberries, grapes, cherries, raspberries, and oranges. Ha. Just seeing if you were paying attention.

Chocolate Treats

Do you have foods you traditionally make and serve on Valentine’s Day?

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This Week in Food ~ the Blizzard-Turkey Edition

Our week began with several college students coming over after church for lunch on Sunday. We set out a big Build-Your-Own-Burrito Buffet, along with bowls and jars of fruit, and two different desserts. We found this meal to be a perfect way to accommodate allergies and taste preferences – plus it was really easy. Win!

burrito buffet

Monday morning during our breakfast/Bible time, our kids looked outside and what did they see? Oh, nothing out of the ordinary. Just three turkeys strutting through the yard.

turkies2

turkies1

Malachi declared that watching turkeys for five minutes was his science lesson for the day. Good try, Buddy. But it was a fun school connection for him since he’s currently reading The Great Turkey Walk right now. (Have you read that book? It’s a very fun read!)

the great turkey walk

Ironically, I had a turkey thawing in the fridge to bake this week. I’d picked it up during the holidays when it was on sale. For so many reasons, this was a big turkey week at our house.

turkey1
Everything in town shut down on Tuesday when Nebraska received a blizzard that resulted in 18-inches of blowing snow. Matt and the boys had their work cut out for them digging people out for days (Matt runs a snow removal business). Just about the time they got people’s sidewalks cleared, we woke up to more snow on Friday. It was a small amount in comparison, but guess what we found in our yard that morning?

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Turkey tracks!

I guess those turkeys have been wondering around town all week, poor things.

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I’ve tried a couple of the recipes from the Paleo Freebie this week. The first was a Bacon Roast recipe (which I adapted slightly by using stew meat and adding green beans). I cooked it low and slow all morning for Matt and the boys to eat when they came home from moving snow. It got devoured!

paleo1

I already mentioned the Chocolate Ganache I made. Wow. It’s low enough in sugar that I can eat it without feeling crummy. I’m not sure if this is a blessing or not. It is soooo good. (If you got the free Paleo package, the Chocolate Ganache recipe is in the 5-Minute Paleo Recipes book and the Bacon Roast is in the Paleo Crock Pot Entrees book. If you haven’t gotten these yet, it is still available and it is completely free. Sign up here and you’ll get all the recipes! You can read my thoughts on the Paleo diet here.)

chocolate ganache with fruit

Over the weekend, 130 teenagers came to town from all over Nebraska, and even some from Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. Our church hosted a Youth Rally from Friday to Sunday – one of our favorite (and most exhausting) weekends of the year. Here we are worshiping together on Saturday morning:

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Friday and Saturday nights, 15 teenage boys crashed at our house. Aside from not getting much sleep, it was a fantastic weekend. (I took a nap today and I’m taking tomorrow off to rest too!) Most of their meals were hosted at the church fellowship hall, but we did get to feed our guests snacks each night and breakfast Sunday morning!

youth rally breakfast

Did you have snow at your house this week? Turkeys in your yard? Anything fun to share? I’d love to hear about your week too.

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FREE! Printable Valentine Learning Activities and a New Kiss-Tac-Toe Game

A couple of weeks ago I introduced our new Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone where I offered a freeFun With Grammar ~ Valentine Edition” Packet for 2-5 graders. This week, we’ve got a FREE Valentine learning activity packet for younger kids!

Free Pre-K Valentine Activity Packet - Sample Pages

I’ve realized that I enjoy creating fun learning activities almost as much as I enjoy creating recipes! This new packet includes activities to help your younger kids practice color recognition, numbers and counting, same/different, big/small, and more. Pick and choose which activities your child(ren) would enjoy. It’s all FREE!!

Enter your email address below to download your free Valentine Activities Packets:

If the form isn’t showing up for you – click here to sign up. Easy as that!

I’m super excited to share that signing up for these freebies will connect you to our new Heavenly Homemaker’s Learning Zone. It’s free, of course. You can unsubscribe at any time, your info will never be shared or sold, and being on this list means that you’ll be the first to know of the other fun (yes, FUN!) educational tools we’re putting together! 

Happy Valentine’s Day Kiss-Tac-Toe

Remember when I made the Merry Christmas Kiss-Tac-Toe printables? Several requested a Valentine’s Day version, which is such a great idea! Malachi and I decided that these are perfect packages to put together to distribute to all his friends at our homeschool Valentine Party!

vday kiss tac toe5

The download comes with four Valentine themed Kiss-Tac-Toe playing cards, printable instructions, and printable gift tags. Malachi and I printed, cut, and created an assembly line to baggie up the games to have them ready to give away. Each bag needs to include 10 Hershey Kisses – 5 each of two different colors. The Kisses are the playing pieces (instead of X’s and O’s). It’s deliciously fun (although harder to play once you’ve eaten the playing pieces).

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Download your FREE Happy Valentine’s Day Kiss-Tac-Toe Printables Here.

Happy Valentine's Day Kiss Tac Toe Free Download

Next week I’ll share some of our favorite recipes that are pink and red but free of artificial colors – perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day!

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Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

I was looking through Pricematerz.com this week to see what produce I could get for great prices, and what do I see? Oodles of sale prices for chips, frozen pizza, and crackers. It must be Super Bowl Week.

I’d forgotten all about it. For us right now it’s Blizzard Week, and we are in preparation for Youth Rally Weekend (where our church hosts 120+ teens for a fun and spiritually encouraging weekend). Therefore, I’m very much out of football mode. This is not such a shocker, since I’m always out of football mode and don’t even know who’s playing this weekend. Denver? And some other team? Forgive me.

Now that I’m (only barely) caught up on what most Americans are thinking about this week, I’ve decided to share a new chip dip recipe in case you want to make this for your Super Bowl party. It includes bacon, sour cream, cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, and shredded cheese – so you know that means it is delicious. Since the recipe is coming from me – so you know that means it is easy.

Our family tested it with corn chips, potato chips, and baked tortilla chips. We all preferred a different chip – which basically means that anything goes.

Why do we have so many chips on hand? Oh my goodness, you do not want to see my stash of chips right now. It has just a little something to do with my preparations for Youth Rally Weekend where somewhere between 15-20 teenage boys will be staying at our house from Friday-Sunday. They’ll eat their meals at the church building, but it’s so weird that they are all hungry again when they come back here for the night. It’s like they’re normal or something.

For this dip recipe, you’ll need this Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix recipe. Make it by the jar-full because that mix is what makes the world go ’round.

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons homemade ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 2 cups sour cream
Instructions
  1. Cut bacon into ½-inch strips.
  2. Cook the bacon to your liking, then drain.
  3. Stir cooked bacon into a bowl with all other ingredients.
  4. Spread mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.
  5. Bake in a 400° oven for 20-25 minutes or until dip is bubbly and hot.
  6. Serve with corn chips, potato chips, or baked tortilla chips.

Easy Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Unrelated to bacon and ranch but very much related to dip and the Super Bowl…

This Homemade Chocolate Ganache happened this week in my kitchen.

chocolate ganache with fruit

I’ve already started playing with some of the recipes in the big free Paleo Package being offered right now. (Remember – I’m not going Paleo. I just appreciate their nutrient-rich recipes for my family!)

This Chocolate Ganache recipe is in the 5-Minute Paleo Recipes book included in the package. You’ll want to look it up! I had to add more honey than the recipe suggested – but YUM! What a fun way to eat fruit. Now I desperately need strawberries to be in season so I can eat them by the truckload with this dip!!! You can get your free package here.

Are you in Super Bowl Week mode? Or Blizzard Week mode? Or Something Else Week mode? Or all/none/some of the above?

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I’m Going All out on Valentine’s Day By Staying In

A huge thank you to MELT Massage for Couples for sponsoring this post!

fried chicken

Winner, Winner, Valentine Dinner

It was actually my 14-year old son’s idea.

“Mom, you know what we need to do sometime soon? We need to put together a full fried chicken dinner. We need to serve it in different ‘courses’ like with salad and rolls first, then the chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and all that stuff, then a dessert.”

Wow. He’d been thinking about this, apparently. That and he was obviously hungry for fried chicken. (We roll chicken legs in whole wheat flour and sea salt then fry it on all sides in an electric skillet in palm shortening for about 45 minutes . It is so good.)

We decided that this was a perfect Valentine’s Day meal plan for our family. I told him we’d need to all work together to make it happen and that we could go all out to put together all the courses. Again, let me just say that I am amazed my 14-year old even came up with this.

Balancing Family Time and Couple Time on Valentine’s Day

There was a V-day a few years ago that I planned nothing and did nothing for our sons. Why? Because I assumed they were too old and too boy to care. Would you believe – that afternoon when they all realized that it was Feb. 14 they were all like, “Mom!! You didn’t make heart pancakes this morning! Where was the special red and pink lunch? Aren’t we doing anything for Valentine’s Day this year???”

How silly was I to assume they were beyond caring about my yearly attempt at lopsided heart-shaped pancakes?? My bad.

Ever since that year, I’ve made a few festive foods to make the day special for the boys. I love that they actually care. I love that this year we’re doing a little something different with our Fried Chicken Dinner and that we’ll all be working together to make it special for each other.

So what about making Valentine’s Day special for just Matt and me?

If you’ve read here long, you know that Matt and I don’t buy each other stuff on Feb. 14 and we rarely go out together to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s never been our thing. Typically Matt cooks a spaghetti dinner for us without any help from me. I love this. He loves this. It’s been good for our boys to see Dad doing something sweet and special for Mom – even with all six of us sitting around the table.

But later…

It’s fun to plan one-on-one couple time – and believe me when I say that now that our kids are older and busier and stay up later – Matt and I have to be intentional about finding and creating alone couple time.

Through the years, Matt has become my personal master masseuse. I am so spoiled by this. My shoulders would frequently be in knots if it weren’t for him taking the time to give me thorough massages. Me? I’m not as skilled as he, plus I am not even close to as strong physically. But I still give it my best shot. We both know that Valentine’s Day massages await us after our family Valentine time. (Fried chicken and massages. Does life get any better?)

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Remember when I shared about the MELT video series a few months ago? This is how we have been learning to give the massage of all massages. Matt and I really appreciate that these videos are so tastefully done. We’re learning massage skills and techniques without feeling weird. We continue to access the videos from time to time to learn more or to remind ourselves of what we previously learned. It’s a gift that keeps on giving and will keep on giving because massages? Yes please forever and always. (Fried chicken dinners are also welcome.)

For You and Your Spouse

It’s fun to hear about different couples’ Valentine’s day celebrations and traditions. Some love going out – some love staying in. Either way, ending the night (any night of the year!) with massages is a win for everyone.

If you’re interested in giving your spouse a gift that will last way beyond one romantic dinner or box of chocolates…oh my goodness MELT is where it’s at. I wanted to let you know that the Melt Video Series (which is usually $147) is being offered to Heavenly Homemaker’s readers for just $89 now through February 14. It’s a sweet deal and the final time MELT will be bundled at this price. Think your spouse would love this gift? Definitely check it out!

So in summary, we’ll be having a fantastic Valentine’s Day which includes none other than fried chicken and ultimate massages, with a few ugly heart pancakes thrown in for good measure. Staying in to enjoy special plans is my very favorite way to celebrate a holiday.

How about you?

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Melt - facebook

Learn more about the MELT Couple’s Massage sale here. Best date night ever!

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Easy Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies

orange sugar cookies

In case by now you’re wondering if I’m obsessed with creating these Low Sugar Melt-Away Cookie varieties, the answer is obvious that of course I am obsessed. After two attempts at creating this here orange flavored variety, I have definitely decided that of all the flavors – orange is my new favorite.

Why two attempts, you ask? Oh well. I just burned the first batch, that’s all. Guys, it is so weird what happens to cookies when you put them in the oven, walk away, and then forget that there is actual life going on outside your office door. So weird. Someone should have warned me about this. We can’t even leave cookies unattended in a 350° oven for 27 minutes. Did you know that???

Set a timer much, Laura?

You know what? Just…I know, okay? I should have set a timer. I used to have one of those clicky, clicky, clicky timers but it got dropped four too many times so its spinner stopped spinning. Then Matt got me a digital timer that was persnickety and sometimes decided to shut itself off because it was selfish and couldn’t care less about the company coming over to eat in exactly 52 minutes. After a few months of this behavior, I declared it to be faulty and went to the store to purchase another one just like it. It, however, had the same exact issues as its brother and that is what tipped me off that maybe that brand couldn’t be trusted.

After that, I decided I could just use the timer app on my phone. This is a great idea except that it takes so many difficult and tedious steps to get to the point of actually setting the timer (find phone, turn phone on, unlock screen, find timer app, open timer app, think about how much time has elapsed since I started this whole process so I can figure out how long to set the timer at this point, so on and so forth). Also, I really hate to touch my phone when I have egg white on my fingers.

I think you can all see now how challenging it has been to accurately time my baked goods. I have mostly resorted to trusting my nose to be my timer. Typically, cookies and casseroles smell “just right” when they are ready to come out of the oven. What more do I need?

Oh yeah, just someone to remind me that I am actually baking cookies in the first place.

So the first batch burned. They were edible, just really, really crispy and not at all picture worthy. Over the weekend, I tried again. Oh my goodness, I will (go to the trouble to) set a timer from now on. It is worth it to pull the perfect cookies out of the oven when they are perfectly perfect in every way.

Easy Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies

Easy Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies
 
Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • ½ cup sucanat or raw sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • The juice of one medium-sized orange
  • grated orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (give or take)
Instructions
  1. Stir together melted butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, orange juice, and baking powder.
  3. Grate orange rind into the mix for extra flavor.
  4. Stir in flour until a solid ball of dough forms.
  5. Drop teaspoon-sized balls of dough onto a cookie sheet, about an inch apart.
  6. Bake in a 350° oven for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

grate orange rind

In other scatterbrained related news – the second time I made these cookies, I was talking to a friend and didn’t realize until later (like 9 hours later) that I hadn’t put eggs into the mixing bowl. These still turned out to be my favorite cookies. So eggs in this recipe? Take ’em or leave ’em. These turn out fine either way. This is further proof that I can’t talk and cook at the same time. Like you needed more proof.

Low Sugar Orange Melt-Away Cookies

Want to try the other varieties of these cookies?

Hey, just curious. What kind of timer do you use??

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Pyrex Storage Set Deal Alert!!

Christine emailed to tell me of this great deal on a 10-Piece Pyrex Storage Set. Get the entire set right now for just $12.63. No guarantees on how long this price will last. I have these, love them, and use them all the time!!


pyrex

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What I Think About the Paleo Diet

Welcome to the inner workings of my brain. Having given very little thought to eating a Paleo Diet or researching it until about five minutes ago, I will now take you on a journey as I process the entire matter. This could be fun! (Fun is relative.)

Blueberries

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet suggests you eat lean meats and fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and coconut oil. It suggests you avoid eating dairy, refined sugar, legumes, processed foods, grains, and refined vegetable oils.

Some Paleo Diet sites suggest that you should “eat a Paleo diet to lose weight.” I never, ever recommend that you “go on a diet” to lose weight. Eat nourishing foods, exercise, and watch portion control – all in the name of good health – YES. But please never “go on a diet” for the sole purpose of losing weight. That’s not a lifestyle; it’s an “I just want to lose weight” mindset and I think it’s unwise. But sure enough, I think a person would lose weight eating the Paleo diet, especially if they are used to eating many processed foods.

This is where Laura says, “I Just Can’t Do It.”

Can’t or won’t? I don’t know. After all, I’m processing this as I write.

I just took a moment to picture what it might look like to feed my family absolutely no grains at all. No rice. No popcorn. No oats. Certainly no wheat. No bread. No pasta.

I hate to play the “I can’t afford it” card, but how in the world would I keep all these teenage boys full if I don’t feed them any grains? I’m not sure there are enough cows and chickens in Nebraska to make up the difference.

Did I see that right? The Paleo Diet doesn’t even allow beans? No peanuts? (Did you know peanuts are a legume?) No dairy. No potatoes?? WellSince I love it when my teenage boys get hungry and ask for food every five minutes, I can see that this diet would be full of giggles for all of us.

Come To Think of it, I Really Like the Paleo Diet

Hard to keep up with my thoughts here?? Well, like I told you – I’m processing. Plus I’m a woman, so I totally get to swing from one side of the fence to the other in one thirty-second interval. Hang with me (if you dare).

The thing is, while I struggle with some of the “don’t eats” recommended by Paleo, I definitely agree with all of the “do eats.” Eat good meat. Yes. Eat fruit and vegetables. Yessssss. Eat eggs and nuts (but not peanuts because that’s a bean and I do not know what to do with this information). Eat good oils like olive oil and coconut oil. Of course, yes.

Don’t eat refined sugar and processed food. Well sure, I agree with this. I even believe we could all use fewer grains in our lives.

So it appears that I nod my head yes to much of what Paleo recommends. (She says, as she licks peanut butter from her fingers and washes it down with a glass of milk. So what??)

Liking it and Following it to the Letter are Different Stories

I hereby conclude that an exclusive Paleo diet isn’t best for my family right now. I could be convicted otherwise eventually, but for now, I’ve gotta stick with feeding us potatoes and whole grains with our meat and vegetables. My athletic, growing sons need more variety and balance. And please don’t take away my peanut butter. Shoot – what is up with peanuts being a bean? I cannot get over this.

While I do think it’s worth it to invest money in food that nourishes, I think my grocery bill would actually double if I didn’t stretch it with brown rice, oats, potatoes, other whole grains, and beans (like our friend, the peanut). Doubling what already doubled a few years ago when my boys hit their teen years makes my calculator curl up into a ball and cry. (Not me though. I’m never emotional. It’s only my calculator that is unstable.)

food1304#almostbutnotquitepaleo

Two Weeks Later…

I wrote all of the above a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been reading more and processing the information.

I’m choosing to learn more about eating Paleo recommended foods and how to prepare Paleo specific recipes. When I think about it, many of the foods our family eats count as Paleo friendly (roast, chicken, broth, coconut oil, all the fruits and veggies…). So see? I’m not against eating Paleo foods. I just can’t cut the cheese. Nor do I want to.

Paleo food is very nourishing. I love nourishing food. Some of you may love and embrace an exclusive Paleo lifestyle. The rest of us? We’re all on board with nourishing food for our families, right? Maybe if you and I don’t look at the Paleo diet like one specific way of eating, but simply use Paleo resources and recipes in an effort to easily put nourishing meals on the table? I think this is a fantastic idea (of course, I thought of it myself…).

PaleoDork is My New Friend

There’s a fairly new site called PaleoDork that is helping me figure all this out. They keep it simple, and we all know how much I love simple. I thought you would like to know that right now, PaleoDork is offering a bunch of paleo resources for FREE. I hesitantly checked into it, because it looked too good to be true, you know? (I thought maybe they needed a glass of milk or maybe – I don’t know – a handful of peanuts to clear their heads.) But no. It’s actually a big bunch of free stuff, they are giving it to everyone who wants it, and there’s no catch. We just sign up and get all kinds of downloadable resources including videos, meal plans, skin care suggestions, fitness memberships, and of course like three-dozen recipe books!

I’m thinking – why not get these free resources and learn how to pack more nutrition into our days (while still holding on to some trusty standbys like rice).

paleodork.com

Of all these resources, I’m most interested to check into the Paleo Crock Pot Recipe book and the 5-Minute Paleo Recipes book because I know those recipes will be both super nourishing and super easy. I’ll report back in a few days to share what I’ve tried and what my family thought about the recipes/meals. (By the way, the freebies are only being offered until February 12.)

I want to hear your brain’s thoughts on this.

Have you researched the paleo diet? What do you think? Does it (mostly) make sense to you how my brain is working on this? Why not grab some paleo friendly recipes since we know they will be packed with nutrition?? I’m in.

P.S. Here’s the link to PaleoDork so you can get all the free stuff. I’m curious to hear which of the resources you like best and which recipes you try and recommend.

P.P.S. I like what PaleoDork is offering so much that I signed up to be an affiliate for them. When you click through and sign up through my links, you get free stuff and they give me a small referral bonus. For that, my family and I say thank you.

P.P.P.S. Paleo will never take away my butter. No one ever doubted this.

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This Week in Food ~ the Ridiculous Amount of Cauliflower Edition

One doesn’t notice how strange one’s house smells until one walks outside and then comes back in a few minutes later. This is how I realized that my entire house currently smells strongly of weird cauliflower stench. Bet you wish you were here.

See, I got excited when I saw that Bountiful Baskets was offering cases of cauliflower – 22 pounds for just $14.50. I snatched it up because I’m tired of paying over $3 for one small head. I figured it would be great to have this on hand to easily make Cheesy Cauliflower Hashbrowns. This morning, we picked up our basket along with a case of tomatoes (that are sadly very green), two packs of tortillas, a pack of bread, and yep – a case of beautiful, large heads of cauliflower! They were nearly twice the size of those I’ve seen at the store lately – and the cost of these broke down to just over $1.60 each. Great savings!

food1303

I wasn’t particularly looking forward to prepping the cauliflower for the freezer – so I just decided to dive in and do it before I got busy with other work. I soon had a nice system going to blanch all the cauliflower: wash, cut, blanch, rinse, repeat. The process is just like blanching and freezing broccoli, so head over there to read those instructions if you find yourself with plenty of cauliflower or broccoli.

My long counter-top was soon covered with blanched cauliflower. I nibbled as I went, because why not?

food1302

After it cooled, I bagged it up in freezer bags and stuffed it into a freezer. Then I left to drop off two of my kids at church to work on a project. I arrived back home, walked in, and almost gagged. There is a heavy hovering stench of cauliflower in my home. I guess this means I should probably bake something chocolate to knock that out. I mean, this smell cannot be what greets people when they come here.

food1301
In other, better smelling food related news, we were so thrilled when our little friend Abigail handed this to Malachi at church on Sunday:

food1306

She and her family have been working through Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve. You guys, we did this with our kids beginning when our son Justus was 3 years old. He’s almost 16 now!!! I can’t even believe this. Watching Abigail’s family work through the curriculum makes me so happy and brings back so many memories. (Back when Justus learned the letter M, he made mini-muffins to take to Madge and Mabrey Miller. These dear ones have both passed away now, so not only did Abigail’s Monster Cookies for Malachi bless us and bring back memories of our kids learning and serving when they were little – they also reminded us of the dear Millers who were such a blessing to our family.)

So in summary, Abigail’s cookies made me cry. This is a very good thing. Memories are so sweet. (As were her cookies. Malachi shared with his brothers and they enjoyed them very much!)

Now can I show you my favorite meal from last week? I baked a spaghetti squash, which I would eat any day over actual spaghetti noodles. (The boys still choose wheat noodles while Matt and I finish off an entire spaghetti squash by ourselves.) The squash with tasty meat sauce, green beans, and salad was so crazy delicious. I need to make this more often.

food1304

Since I was already baking squash that day, I baked the acorn and butternut squash I had sitting around. I then proceeded to turn those into pumpkin pies. (Don’t tell the pies that they are actually squash pies.)

food1305

A nasty sinus infection has now made its way through every member of our family (except for Asa who is living at a dorm and apparently not exposed to germs – ha!). My homemade Orange Julius made with homemade buttermilk and freshly squeezed oranges has been so refreshing and filling.

food1307

Dare I ask?? What does your house smell like right now??

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How Much Coconut Oil Do You Use?

How much coconut oil would you say you go through in a month’s time? In three months? In a year?

Our family goes through about a quart every 2-3 weeks. We use it for all kinds of cooking – stirring it into everything from muffins to popcorn. We loved the stuff! It’s great for more than just baking and cooking. It’s fabulous to apply to the skin or to use as a carrier for essential oils. My doctor recently recommended that I eat a teaspoon a day – straight coconut oil on a spoon to help with my overall health. It sounds weird, but when I eat the good brands, it actually tastes like candy to me. (Maybe I’m the weird one??)

If you are like our family and go through a significant amount of coconut oil, you definitely want to check out this gallon bucket coconut oil deal at Tropical Traditions this weekend!

tropical traditions oil

They have their gallon-sized bucket of Gold Label Coconut Oil marked 50% off through Sunday, January 31. PLUS they are offering free shipping! It’s a sweet deal! If you don’t think you’d use this up quickly enough, I recommend splitting it with a friend so you can still enjoy the deal!

You’ll find this 50% off bucket on this page, but you’ll have to scroll down to find it (under all the great information about the benefits of coconut oil).

How long does coconut oil last before going bad?

Typically there is an expiration date on coconut oil which is about 1.5 years from the time you purchase it. Coconut oil rarely goes bad though, so it can still be good and useful for several years past its expiration date. If you’re questioning if you could use up a gallon before it goes bad, I can almost guarantee that you can. I’ve never once had coconut oil go bad (especially TT brand).

1/2 Price Gallon Bucket of Coconut Oil

You’ll want to grab your 1/2 price coconut oil bucket before the sale ends on Sunday, January 31. Use the code 11162 at checkout for free shipping to apply. Free shipping ends Monday, February 1.

The links in this post are my referral links.

Anybody else snack on coconut oil??

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We eat orange cheese again. At least it’s cheese.

From grass fed beef to raw, organic milk – I’ve had several requests to share my current real food grocery budget priorities. While I’m working on a comprehensive post that breaks it all down, I’ve discovered some important items to note.

First, I shared that I rarely buy Sucanat any more. I explained all my reasons and shared what we’re doing instead here.

Next, I will let you know that I’ve made some changes in the cheese department.

grated cheddar cheese with block

My extensive research tells me that dairy is best when it is:

  • organic
  • hormone free
  • raw
  • full fat

Our family continues to drink raw, organic milk because we have a fabulous source close-by for just $5.00/gallon. It is affordable and our family generally doesn’t drink much milk. But cheese? In this house, the people like their cheese. We eat it in many of our casseroles, on our pizza, in our tacos and quesadillas, and on our scrambled eggs. Plus, the boys like to eat it plain as a snack.

Solving My Cheese Dilemma

For years, I bought a case of Landmark Raw White Cheddar every couple of months from Azure Standard. I love everything about it – except for the price. It’s not at all unreasonable for its quality. But at $5.59/pound, I’ve recently stopped buying it. We eat at least twice as much as we used to, so this is one of the food choices that I compromise on now.

You know what this means right? This means that our cheese isn’t white anymore. Why manufacturers have decided to change the actual color of cheese is beyond me.

cheese

While it might be considered a compromise, I am okay with it because cheese is still real food. This kind isn’t organic. It isn’t raw. But the ingredient label doesn’t make me gag at the store (which I have been known to do on occasion while reading various labels) – so we’re going to stick with this for now. I pick it up in bulk when I find a good price-match. Cheese freezes well, so my freezer door is full-o-cheese.

If you’d like to read more about our Houseful of Teenage Boys Grocery Budget, you’ll find it here. It’s also worth mentioning that we have a son in college and are about to add a second teenage male driver to our monthly car insurance premium (I can’t talk about it). Good food is worth the investment, no doubt! I’m not trading home-cooked meals made with real food ingredients for boxes of poptarts. I’m simply switching some of our pricier real food choices for less expensive real food choices.

The moral of my cheese story:

Just because something works for you now doesn’t mean it will work for you always. Be willing to re-evaluate your family’s situation and needs. But if at all possible, keep your food real. Some things just aren’t worth the compromise.

Tell me about your cheese preferences. Are you forking it over for the good stuff? Or sitting happy with the less-than-perfect-but-still-real-food cheese?

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