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Portabello Spaghetti with Spaghetti Squash. Make sure you drain the squash; it can water down the sauce! The Black Bean Broth and Kumatos make for a rich, red-brown sauce.

Lately I have posted a lot more faith articles than food, so it is good to get back to sharing some of my culinary exploits!  One of the most important parts of a Daniel Fast is to do meal planning in advance.  Here is our weekly Daniel Fast menu with links to some of the recipes:

PRE-FAST (the week before): Make sprouted black beans, sprouted lentils, sprouted wheat berries, and sprouted rice.  The cooking water from the black beans is “Bean Broth” and can be used in stead of chicken stock.  Store sprouted grains/legumes and cooked beans in 2-cup portions in the freezer.  Make Summer Squash Broth to supplement bean broth (if needed) and Green Soup to eat when you don’t have much time to prepare anything.  Buy lots of fruits and vegetables; to see which produce items should be bought as organic (Dirty Dozen), and which are safe to buy conventionally (Clean Fifteen), check out the Environmental Work Group’s Executive Summary for Produce.

Breakfast: Pineapple Oatmeal.  Since we have to avoid dairy, I use pineapple juice instead of whey to soak the grains overnight.  We have the same breakfast each morning to keep things simple!

AM Snack: Nuts, Organic Raisins & Fresh Fruit.  Nuts help me to avoid headaches from having too little protein, and raisins help curb sugar-cravings (grapes are notorious for having dangerous pesticides on them; only buy organic grapes and raisins).  Apples and Bananas are great options; apples have many healing and detoxing benefits and bananas supply carbs missed from leavened goods (like bread) and potassium lost through loose stools (although sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beet greens, and raisins have more potassium than bananas).  Again, only buy organic apples because they top the list of pesticide-ridden produce.

Lunch: Meal leftovers, Fruit & Veggies.  This is a great time to have a salad, or “finger snacks” like celery, carrots and tomatoes.  If it’s cold outside, Green Soup can help warm you up and relieve stress symptoms.

PM Snack: Salted Popcorn, Nuts & Raisins.  Use an air-popper if you are abstaining from oils; otherwise, to hold to the spirit of the fast, use only as much oil as necessary to pop the corn kernels in a covered pot on the stove; I use Palm Kernel Oil (in non-hydrogenated organic shortening form, Spectrum brand) since it has a high smoke point.

Dinner:

  • Monday: Portabello Spaghetti.
  • Tuesday: Savory Stuffed Peppers.  (Add Bean or Summer Squash Broth to leftover stuffing to make a tasty soup for lunch!)
  • Wednesday: Lion’s Den Stew.
  • Thursday: Greek Summer Squash Stew and Sprouted Wheat Berry Soup Biscuits.
  • Friday: Mushroom Pesto Pizza (Cheese-free; recipe coming soon)
  • Saturday: Bean Curry and Sprouted Rice (recipe coming soon)
  • Sunday: Roasted Root Vegetables and Steamed Broccoli.  (recipe coming soon)  This is a perfect day to take the organic potato peelings and use them to make Potato Peel Broth (recipe coming soon), another great source of potassium.

As far as drinks go, a true Daniel Fast uses only water.  However, what you drink on your fast is between you and God.  Some churches advise that fruit juices and herbal teas are fine; make sure to ask God what is right for you.  I drink water throughout the day, but I have a hot cup of green-tea infused Potato Peel Broth in the morning to help me wake up and replenish lost nutrients.

I hope this resource gives you a hearty helping of hope for your fast (it is achievable!); even if you aren’t fasting (if you’re vegetarian or vegan, for example), these recipes are still pretty tasty and economical.  Bon Appetit!

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A healthier alternative to the jar!

I love mince pies at Christmas. It’s
an English tradition and it seems to have caught on in the ‘States too! Until now the only mincemeat I could find was the jarred variety: its main ingredient? Corn Syrup 😦 Today I found this option which has fewer ingredients, all it requires is reconstitution with hot water. It is not a healthy as homemade (it contains brown sugar, dextrose, and cornstarch), but it is a much healthier version than conventional mincemeat products.

For a gluten free crust, consider mixing melted butter with almond meal (you can add a little honey or maple syrup if you wish) for a Graham-cracker crust alternative. Push the warm almond dough into the cups in a greased, mini-cupcake tray and bake for a few minutes until the insides look drier or lightly golden. Scoop reconstituted mincemeat into the shells and bake a few minutes more, until crusts are golden brown. (I’ll have measures and temps in recipe format shortly: if you experiment in the kitchen as I do, this should be enough info to get you started! You can always follow general Graham cracker crust and open mini-pie baking guidelines)

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Just a quick note to apologize for the lack of posts over the past few days.  We’ve been fighting off sinus infections/colds in our house; we tend to take turns getting sick so it drags out over a few days.  We’ve recovered surprisingly quickly…much faster than we did before switching to whole foods!  Usually my kids would take one to two weeks to get rid of a hacking cough: we did it this time in two days!  Here’s how:

  • Breakfast: Banana (minerals, energy), Homemade Yogurt (probiotics, protein) flavored with Cranberry Jam (anti-infection), Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Morning Snack: Hard-boiled eggs, 2 each for children, 4 each for teens and adults (vitamins), Sliced & Cored Organic Apples (fiber & vitamins), Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Lunch: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with extra fresh, grated Garlic (minerals, vitamins, gelatin, natural antibiotic), Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Afternoon Snack: Grapes and Chips (Granny came to visit so chips became whole foods temporarily 😉 ) Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Dinner: Whole Grain Rotini Pasta (fiber) in Organic Spaghetti Sauce (vitamins) with Ground Turkey (protein) and Steamed Broccoli (vitamins & minerals), Grapefruit Juice (ran out of Honey-Juice!)

So what is this Honey-Juice, you may ask?

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Honey-Juice | A Helping of Hope

Honey-Juice helps to soothe sore throats and fight off colds!  Give 4 oz. (1/2 cup) to children over one year old every one to two hours.  Grapefruit Juice provides vitamin C and has an amazing ability to strip infection and film off the throat.  Honey soothes sore throats and has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (it also kills infectious amoebas, viruses, and reduces fever).  The added salt makes the liquid electrolytic, so it is more easily absorbed and better hydrates.

    • 1 cup Grapefruit Juice
    • 1 cup Filtered water
    • 1/4 cup Honey
    • 1/4 tsp Real Salt

Mix ingredients in a small pan (avoid nonstick) on medium heat until warm to the touch (do not over heat or allow to boil: high temperatures will kill off enzymes in the honey).  Sip before giving to children to ensure a safe drinking temperature.

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Did we use OTC drugs? Yes, somewhat.  Since I do not have a stocked apothecary (!) I still use Tylenol and Ibuprofen to help reduce fevers and Children’s Mucinex at night to help suppress the coughing (here is a better, all-natural option I need to try).  As a rule of thumb, I avoid drugs unless the fever approaches 102F and/or at night; a good night’s sleep is essential to getting better.  One day I hope to have natural remedies that are as effective as OTC drugs, yet without the artificial sweeteners and synthetic, side-effect inducing ingredients.  Until then, I use them sparingly and prayerfully, relying as much as possible on nutrition and physical rest.

Helping of Hope.  Right Choice: rely on good nutrition and rest to get well.  Medicines deal with symptoms, they do not typically give your body what it needs to function properly.  Supplements are not as well absorbed as vitamins and minerals in food and can be very expensive.  Antibiotics kill your body’s natural ability to fight infection and shut down your digestive system so you can’t get nutrients from your food.  Do as much as you can (with food and rest) as soon as you can to avoid having to take medicines, supplements, and antibiotics or it may take you several weeks to get back to normal.  Bright future: FASTER recovery time, less money spent on OTC remedies, no antibiotic-resistant illnesses, healthier immune system!

I hope this Christmas finds everyone well and not sick. If you find yourself ill, try the Honey-Juice!  It works wonders…

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Sweet and savory!  One of the easiest and tastiest jams you could ever make ;-)

Sweet and savory! One of the easiest and tastiest jams you could ever make 😉

This makes for an excellent gift …or something to enjoy for yourself on toast, crepes…even a PB&J!  It only has THREE ingredients and takes about an hour to make in a pan.  If you want to make something at a beginners level that has a large “wow” factor to it, this is the recipe for you!  I hope you enjoy it!

CORRECTION: I forgot last night to add the need to strain out the skins.  I’ve since updated the recipe to include this.  Sorry for any confusion!

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This delicious salad is easy to "fix" and even easier on the palette!

This delicious salad is easy to “fix” and even easier on the palette!

It’s Thursday somewhere… 😉 This recipe was a great hit this Thanksgiving; I’m sure it would work well for Christmas too!  It is simple, inexpensive, and DELICIOUS!

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Make this your own “Christmas Classic”!

Want a healthy alternative to corn-syrup-laden hot chocolate and marshmallows?  Here are two, much HEALTHIER recipes sure to impress guests and leave an impression on twinkling-eyed children this holiday season!  My hot chocolate recipe takes about the same time as nuking four cups of instant hot chocolate; the honeymallows take more time in preparation but with their unique honey-flavor and foamy-goodness, the investment is definitely worth it!
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Its about that time: whether you are making vanilla essence or aftershave, it is going to take several weeks for the flavor or scent to properly work itself into your homemade Christmas gifts.  Make them now so that they can be used right away.  Here are four gifts sure to please this Christmas:

  • HOMEMADE AFTERSHAVE ($15).  I used this aftershave recipe from Passionate Homemaking (5 TBSP Organic Filtered Apple Cider Vinegar, 3 TBSP Dickinson’s Witch Hazel, 1 TBSP Vegetable Glycerin).  For a manly scent my husband and father loved, I added 5 drops of Lavender essential oil and 10 drops of Patchouli essential oil (it was a weaker craft-store brand…you may want to use a few drops less if you have a high quality oil).  The interesting things about the scent is that it really does change over time.  The recipe says to wait 3-4 days; at that time the aftershave smells great, but you can tell the scents apart.  After a couple months, the scents blend together and smell like something store-bought.  My husband wears the aftershave I made him every day; when the bottle gets down to 50%, he tops it up with unscented aftershave (same ratio as above 5 A.C.V.:3 W.H.:1 V.G.)  I think I made his present for $15, including the bottles.  It has lasted almost a whole year with 3 top-ups.  The scent has got a little weaker each time, but he isn’t a fan of strong-smelling colognes anyway.  If you want to make your gift very versatile (and a bit more expensive), you can create a homemade aftershave gift basket, providing a large, “refill” bottle of unscented aftershave, the scented aftershave, and the essential oil bottles you used.  That way the grateful man receiving your amazing and thoughtful gift can dilute or strengthen the scent to his hearts’ content!
    Check out my pins below:

  • LAVENDER BALM ($15).  I used this aftershave salve recipe from Passionate Homemaking (2 TBSP Coconut oil, 4 TBSP Shea Butter), except that instead of the recommended manly scents I used 5 drops of Lavender Essential oil and put it in a pretty glass container for a female family member with eczema.    Pure Shea Butter is difficult to find: I had to get it at my local health food store.
  • RASPBERRY, CHERRY, and CRANBERRY “WINE” VINEGAR ($2-$5 each).  This sounds so impressive, but if you have been saving your glass bottles and use scraps from frozen or fresh fruits, the only expense is the organic filtered apple cider vinegar.  The vinegars may be used to make vinaigrette.  So far I have used the leftover juice/seeds from frozen raspberries to make Raspberry Vinegar, a few chopped up Michigan cherries to make Cherry Vinegar, and cranberries that were too far gone to be used to make sauce–mildly fermented but not rotten–to make Cranberry “Wine” Vinegar.  There really isn’t a recipe: approximately 10% of the volume is the finely chopped up fruit, the rest is apple cider vinegar.  Store the tightly-sealed “fruit” vinegar bottle in a cool, dark place for at least a month so the fruit flavors will be infused into the vinegar.  The vinegar will preserve or pickle the fruit bits and keep them from spoiling.  You can make a vinaigrette gift basket by making my Sweet Basil Vinaigrette as well as a fruity vinegar and placing both bottles in a basket with a set of dried, organic herbs used in the recipe.
  • VANILLA AND SPEARMINT EXTRACTS ($10-$15 each).  The greatest cost to this is the alcohol.  Vodka is the most versatile medium for drawing out flavors because it can be used on anything (and is cheaper).  However, nothing beats the Bourbon flavor of  whiskey for a homemade Vanilla Extract.  To make a vanilla extract, use 4 vanilla beans per 8 oz. of alcohol; split the beans lengthwise using a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the alcohol, then place the bean pods in the alcohol.  The larger the overall amount of vanilla beans/alcohol, the better, because it makes “re-flavoring” easier (I used a large olive oil bottle but you could easily add the beans straight to the alcohol container); When you have used half of the extract, top up with alcohol and shake.  Replace old vanilla beans once or twice a year.  For a spearmint extract(milder and sweeter than peppermint), use fresh spearmint leaves from the garden or your grocer: fill up a glass bottle with rinsed & touch-dry leaves, lightly packed, and pour vodka over them until the top leaves are completely immersed.  Extracts need to be stored away in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months (ideally), 6 weeks at a minimum.  Shaking extracts regularly during this waiting period will help to speed up the extraction process.

    I used old spice jars to make Mint Extract. This should taste yummy in hot chocolate or coffee, give a milder flavor to homemade toothpaste, and add a fresh “Christmassy” flavor to tapioca pudding when combined with a little nutmeg.

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