Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Saving Money and Planning Ahead Tip #1

I love ways to still eat well but save a little money.  This idea does take a little planning ahead but it will save you time in the long run.  It has been years since we have bought canned legumes, beans, peas or whatever you want to call them.  I am not a fan of using cans when I can avoid them, due to the BPA liners, sodium and additional garbage waste.

Letting your dried beans soak for 6-8 hours actually begins bean germination.  This germination causes enzymes to release, breaking down the complex bean sugars. Some suggest that breaking down the complex sugar is a good thing as this is what gives us gas.  Once beans are soaked and cooked they can placed in freezer save containers and ready for your next meal.

Some of our favourite ways to eat beans/peas or legumes are:

Soaking and Cooking Beans 

Option 1-Pre-soak with Boiling
  1. In a large pot add dry beans, rinse with water and remove any poor looking beans.  Add enough water to full over the beans plus another 1-2 inches.
  2. Let soak for 6-8 hours on counter.
  3. Rinse beans and place in a large pot.  Add enough fresh water to cover the beans and simmer them for 30 minutes and then check to see if they are tender but still firm. If cooking kidney beans to let them boil for 10 minutes and then simmer (to reduce the Phytohaemagglutini) 
  4. Once cooked either use right away or rinse with cold water and place in freezer safe containers.
Option 2-Quicker-Doubled Boiled 
  1. In a large pot dry beans, rinse with water and remove any poor looking beans. 
  2. Add enough fresh water to completely cover the beans plus another 1-2 inches.  Bring pot to a boil and turn off and let sit for 1 hour. If cooking kidney beans to let them boil for 10 minutes and then simmer (to reduce the Phytohaemagglutini) 
  3. Rinse beans again and add enough fresh water to completely cover the beans plus another 1-2 inches to the pot and bring to a boil.  Tilting the lid a little let the beans simmer for 1 -2 hours depending on the bean.  Check frequently to ensure they are tender but still firm.  You don't want to over cook your beans.
  4. Once cooked either use right away or rinse with cold water and place in freezer safe containers.
*Beans that don't require soaking, just cook for approximately 30 minutes

  • Black beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Lentils

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chocolate Black Bean Fudge (Dairy, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free)

This has definitely become a new favourite for me.  This simple recipe is full or energy and nutrients. The black beans provide lots of protein as well as fibre.  The raw cocao is rich in iron and magnesium.  Dates are high in many vitamins including A, B and K.  The coconut oil is high in lauric acid which has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties making coconut oil a great support for your immune system. 

I do highly recommend a high powered blender when making this fudge.  You want to make sure you can get a good puree from the dates and beans.  We have definitely gotten used to a lot less sweet in our treats so the dates bring about enough in this fudge but if you prefer sweeter you may want to add a few drops stevia.
We have been enjoying these as a snack, for breakfast or to satisfy a chocolate craving.

  • 2 teaspoons gluten free vanilla
  • 5-7 drops liquid stevia (optional I don't add it to mine)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup raw cocao or cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Grease a 4 x 6 dish or loaf pan.
  2. Add all ingredients in order listed to your blender.
  3. Puree on high until completely smooth.
  4. Scope into prepared dish and flatten down.
  5. Set in the fridge for 1 hour.
  6. Cut into squares and try not to eat too many.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Natural Wood Sealer, Wax or Polish-Without the Chemicals

I recently learned how to make a natural wood sealer or wax. I finally decided to update our bedroom since we moved into this house a year ago.  The closest was stained a light wood but our furniture is dark so I attempted to stain the closest to match.  I didn't want to use a toxic sealer so decided to see what was out there for natural options.

I found, The Modern DIY Life and Ben Nyquist's DIY Beeswax Wood Polish and Sealant so I have it a try.  I was really impressed with how easy it was to make.  This wax really brought out the new stain and seems to be locking it in.  I added in some lemon essential oil as helps bring out shine.  I am aware that I will probably have to reapply this sealant every year or so, but at least I won't be subjecting the family to any more chemicals.

  • 1 part beeswax 
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 10 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

  1. Grate beeswax and add to a double boiler pot.  
  2. Melt until a complete liquid.  Turn heat off and add olive oil and blend completely.
  3. Add your essential oil and stir to combine.
  4. If using as a sealant it is best when warm.  You can always bring it back to the double boiler to soften as it hardens once cooled.
  5. As a polish simply add a small amount to a clean cloth and rub on wood in a circular motion.
  6. Store in a sealed glass container.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Spiced Milk Steamer (Dairy and Sugar Free)-10 Point Food Rating Scale

I seem to be in the mood for hot drinks lately, it must be all this cold weather.  Straying from my usual chocolate craving, I went with a warm spice blend instead.  I love these flavours, as well as their relaxing, immune boosting and digestive properties.

In our house we have been using a 10 point rating scale on food. (See Below)  The scale was designed to give us an idea of how much the girls really like, or dislike certain foods.  It is very helpful when creating new recipes.  My youngest gave this drink a 10 which on our scale means you love it and could have it every day.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 5-6 dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch black pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Pour into a small sauce pan.
  3. Heat while stirring frequently with a whisk.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Pour into mugs and enjoy!

*Our 10 Point Food Rating Scale
10-Love it, could eat it every day
9-Really like it, almost eat it every day
8-Like it quite a bit
7-It was alright
6-It was okay
5-Take it or leave it
4-Didn't care for it
3-Didn't like it
2-Don't want to eat it
1-Never want to eat that again

Monday, January 12, 2015

Creamy Hot Chocolate (Dairy and Refined Sugar Free)

Hot chocolate is definitely a favourite here, especially after playing out in the snow.  In order to ensure a rich, creamy drink, we definitely prefer using homemade cashew milk.  This recipe definitely satisfies a hot chocolate craving and with all this snow, it is quickly becoming a "regular" thing.  
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 3 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raw cocao or cocoa
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey, agave or palm sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten free vanilla or vanilla powder (optional)
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan.
  2. Slowly heat while stirring frequently ensuring not to burn the bottom.
  3. Enjoy hot, warm or even cold.