Monthly Archives: September 2013

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It’s fall or autumn or whatever you call it. I call it Soup Season. I love soups. They are warm and cozy and economical. Like curling up with a dollar bill. OK, maybe not. But they sure are yummy comfort food that can be made with REAL FOOD ingredients that don’t break the bank. I have two soups on the menu this week.

Later in the week I’ll be making a vegetable beef stew with the other 2.5 lbs of potatoes in the bag I bought, but today…it’s Rosemary Potato “Throw-It-In” soup. Why do I call it that?Because it’s one that doesn’t take a lot of precise measuring. It’s quick to get in the pot and quick to get on the table. I make this one in my pretty crockpot because when I do it on the stove, there is ALWAYS a scorched layer on the bottom. Every time, no matter how low I turn it down. The crockpot solves that problem for me. Here’s how I remember making it today (AKA: my version of a recipe).

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Rosemary Potato ‘Throw-It-In’ Soup



1. Quarter 2.5 lbs of red, russet or yellow potatoes and add to crockpot
2. Chop and add 2 tbsp scallions
3. Press in 2 cloves of garlic
4. Add 1/2 gallon milk (I use grass-fed raw)
5. Add 1 tsp Real Salt and a pinch of black pepper(add more later if desired)
6. Add a dollop (about 2 tbsp) of lard (from foraged pigs) or other quality fat like butter or coconut oil
7. Sprinkle in 1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
8. Cook on high setting for 3 hours and then mash the potatoes with a potato masher
9. Add more milk if needed and cook for another hour.
10. Top with scallions, ham, bacon or cheese (or all of those)!



11 Great Ways to Use Lavender


Instead of a bunch of flowers in my front yard landscaping, I planted a couple and filled in the rest with lavender and rosemary plants. I didn’t save the tags on my lavender plants but I am pretty sure I have two varieties. One is English Lavender and the other is most likely Folgate or Royal Purple.  I’ve harvested bunches of lavender and tied them in bundles and hung them to dry. When they are dry, I will separate the buds from the stems and store them in a mason jar. I’ve tried to give some away to neighbors and they take the rosemary, but they end up saying “I wouldn’t know what to do with lavender.”  So, here are a few ideas.


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1. Lavender Bath

This is my favorite. Adding lavender buds to your bath water gives off such a relaxing and calming scent.  With essential oils, the scent can dissipate quickly, but the scent from the buds lasts quite a while.  I learned the hard way that just sprinkling the buds in the bathwater can get very messy and it can make a huge disaster of your hair! (I picked buds out of my hair for days). Instead, I recommend putting a tablespoon or two of buds in a sachet or tying them up in some cheesecloth and adding a drop or two of vanilla. You can then toss it in the water as your bath fills up and the scent will fill the room. It’s lovely! And don’t forget to neutralize the chlorine in your bathwater.

2. Lavender Sachet

I like to put some lavender in sachets my dresser drawers to keep my clothes smelling fresh. This also keeps moths away. I use little bags like this and place them in drawers and on shelves in my closet. The scent is not too feminine, so my husband doesn’t mind having it in the closet we share.

3. Lavender Carpet Refresher

Crush some of the buds lightly in your hand and then sprinkle over your carpet. Let them sit for a few minutes and then vacuum the room. The lavender will freshen the carpet and make the room smell great.


4. Lavender Fabric Refresher

Steep 4 tbsp of lavender buds in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain the water into a spray bottle. Let it cool and you have an all natural linen spray. Spray it on your drapes and bed linens or on your clothes to give them a boost. This also works to encourage sleep if it’s sprayed on your pillow before bed.

5. Lavender Dryer Bag

Put a tbsp of lavender buds in a sachet bag and place in the dryer instead of dryer sheets. Alternately if you use wool dryer balls, you can put the balls in a bag with lavender buds for a few days and the next time you use the balls, the scent will carry over to the clothes.

6. Lavender Floral Arrangements

Lavender can be worked into many floral arrangements or can stand on its own in a a vase or even a mason jar. It can also be woven into wreaths or sprays or used in table centerpieces for special occasions. Plant it in strategic locations in your yard to add interest and texture to your landscaping. Not to mention, you’ll have it ready whenever you need it!


7. Lavender Tea

Steep lavender buds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and then strain the buds out. Lavender tea can help soothe the stomach, relieve insomnia and alleviate migraines. It can also relieve stress. As with all herbs, be careful about ingesting when pregnant or breastfeeding.

8. Lavender Salad

This would be a fun one to try out! The flowers of the lavender buds can be sprinkled over salads to give it a pop of color and a bold taste similar to rosemary. The leaves of the lavender plant can be substituted for rosemary in most dishes.

9. Lavender Ice Cream

Yes, ice cream. There are several recipes that use lavender with honey, lemon, vanilla, berries and more. It’s pretty good, actually. I haven’t tried it out on the kids yet, but it’s on my list. Here’s a photo from Healthy Green Kitchen that goes with a recipe for Honey Lavender Ice Cream. Try it out! http://www.healthygreenkitchen.com/lavender-honey-ice-cream.html


10. Lavender Headache and Stress Relief

Carry some buds of lavender with you in a tiny tin or container. If you feel a headache coming on or just need some stress relief, open the tin and take the aroma in through your nose. For a headache, you can also rub the buds between your fingers and then rub it on your temples.

11. Lavender Bug Repellent

Lavender is a great insect repellent. You can make a spray with other essential oils, or just hang bunches of lavender around the area you’ll be spending time in. It’s nicer to look at than store bought citronella candles.



This list could go on and on, but these are my favorite uses for lavender. I like to look at it growing and blossoming in my yard, which is stress relief in itself. I plan on adding another 6 or 8 plants in the back yard this fall so it will grow like crazy next spring and summer. It’s a great little herb to have on hand. For more ideas from another blogging friend, click here.




What’s in the Real Food Lunchbox?


One of the hardest things I’ve had to figure out since switching to real food from standard processed foods, is how to get real food on the go. Specifically for my kids’ lunches. They’re not really big on sandwiches, so we’ve had to get creative. I end up sending them with things like:

  • Sprouted almonds, pumpkin seeds or other nuts

  • Slices of raw Cheese
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Organic nitrate free sliced meats
  • Sliced or whole Fruit
  • Sprouted grain tortilla or bagel
  • Raw Vegetables (sliced peppers, carrots, and even basil leaves)
  • Left over meats like chicken or salmon (My 2nd grader is in love with salmon!)
  • Dried fruits (sugar and sulfate free)
  • Homemade Kefir or Yogurt
  • Homemade granola
  • Homemade granola bars or date bars (similar to Lara Bars)
  • Organic applesauce

There is also the occasional ‘better’ packaged snack. These are NOT the absolute best choices as they often have sweeteners like agave or sometimes soy lecithin or other preservatives we’re trying to avoid, but they are a step up from the junk that used to fill the kids lunch bags. Some people steer clear of any packaged food and that is probably the better choice, but I allow a few treats in on occasion. I opt for things like:

I can’t get my oldest to take a lunch box and my youngest has lost three so we do paper bags. SOMEDAY I would like them to use something cool and waste-free like THESE. it may never happen, but it’s a nice thought.

Silicon Lunch BoxLunch Bots

If you’re in need of more ideas on how to fill your child’s lunch box (or YOURS, for that matter) with real, nutrient dense food, there is a new facebook page dedicated to JUST THAT. ONLY THAT! It’s pretty amazing and you might just see my cute little lunch on that page. Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/realfoodlunchboxideasforbusymoms


GIVEAWAY! Reluctant Healthwife is Now ‘Healing For Real’

The Reluctant Healthwife Blog was started shortly after I committed to replacing my SAD diet and long list of medications with real food nutrition and natural supplements. It was a way to document my progress and – I admit it – convince myself that it would really work. That I would really feel better and get my life without pain and sickness back. My husband has been convinced for over 10 years.

I was skeptical and unwilling to give up my vices, namely processed foods and prescriptions to treat my symptoms. I dragged my feet until I couldn’t handle taking a fistful of immune suppressants and pain medications every day and giving myself a shot every week. I got tired of getting every cold that my little guy brought home and I got tired of being tired. I would sleep half the day away and still want to sleep more. And the worst thing was that even with all the meds, I was still in pain.

Pain is a great motivator. So, I committed. I stopped the fast food, cheap processed snacks, factory farmed meats and dairy and started eating nutrient dense food including FATS and SUGARS. Just way better versions of them. I also STOPPED the meds! (I went to an integrated medicine doctor to slowly transition off of medications and on to natural supplements. PLEASE do not discontinue any medication without checking with your doctor first!)

Six months later, I can say that this is working. It’s working well. I am not ‘healed’ by any means, but I am in the process. I rarely need a nap these days. Instead of my joint stiffness staying with me for half an hour in the morning, it subsides in about 5 minutes with a little movement. I get fewer migraine headaches. I am losing weight (albeit, slowly). My digestion has never been better. I am convinced. So, I’m going to keep at it. My plan instead of just treating symptoms is…HEALING FOR REAL and sharing it with you.

As an introduction to my new not-so-reluctant ways, I am giving away a little package of my favorite real food essentials.

REAL FOOD by Nina Planck.
A great book on the basics of eliminating processed foods and eating real foods.

Redmond Real Salt.
Natural sea salt with more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals.

Cultures for Health San Francisco Sourdough Starter.
An easy way to introduce some fermented foods into your diet.

AND a cute little reminder on a MUG (designed by ME!).


Enter to win and come back and visit often!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spaghetti Squash The Anti-Pasta

Right now in the squash patch, a variety of colors of oval colored globes lay all over the ground. The RIPE ones are golden yellow and hard skinned. Hard enough that you can’t pierce the skin with a fingernail. That hard skin is what makes these squash last for a month on the counter top or longer in a cool storage area. They’re great for getting fresh produce into your diet in the winter.

But…you don’t have to wait for the skin to turn yellow.

Even green soft spaghetti squash cooks up nicely. This makes them a great crop to plant for use in the summer AND through fall and winter. Plant a big patch of them and you’ll have enough to top with fresh pesto and tomato sauces in the summer and hearty preserved sauces and in soups in the winter.



There are a various ways to cook this versatile fruit.

If you’re one to use a microwave for cooking…

  • Place it in the microwave
  • Cook it for about 15-20 minutes. It will steam the strands from the inside.It’s a quick way, but MAKE SURE YOU PUNCTURE THE SQUASH or it can explode. (Yes, this has happened to me and it was a mess to clean up!) Alternately, you can puncture and cook the squash whole in a conventional oven at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

We’ve recently tried to stop using the microwave to cook our food and because the big oven heats up the house so much in the summer I like to use this convection oven. It’s too small to put the whole squash in, so this next method is the way I prefer.

  • Cut the raw squash in half lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the seeds and fibrous strands. (I find it easier to separate the fibrous strands and seeds from the meat strands before cooking the squash.)


    • Place the two halves face down on a baking sheet.


  • Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 45-60 minutes.

You’ll know it’s done when the outer skin gets softer and dimples. Use a fork to separate the noodle-like strands from the skin.

When the squash is tender, use a fork to separate the noodle-like strands from the skin. If you’ve cooked it whole, you’ll cut it in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds and fibers out and then separate the noodle strands.


Now for the fun part!
Using your squash in your favorite recipes.




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My 6 favorite ways to use spaghetti squash:

1. Use the noodles just like you would any pasta. In the summer, we like to make a fresh basil pesto or toss the faux noodles in butter and olive oil with roasted garlic and sea salt and top with garden tomatoes. The kids love it with just butter and salt.
2. Make Chow Mein or other Asian dishes. The ‘noodles’ are soft but slightly crunchy and remind me a little of bean sprouts you would use in Chow Mein, but are a lot thinner. They toss very nicely with vegetables in a wok for stir-fry and are a great vehicle for coconut aminos (or soy sauce if you use it). Here’s an Asian inspired dish from Living Low Carb One Day at a Time.

3. Make a faux noodle soup. Cut the noodles short and use them in your homemade bone broths for texture and flavor without having to roll out sprouted flour noodles. Here’s a great recipe for Sweet and Spicy Squash Noodle Soup from foodloveswriting.com

4. Use the strands in place of shredded potatoes for delicious hash browns or ‘potato’ pancakes. If you’re eating Paleo or GAPS or just watching carbs, spaghetti squash has about 5 grams per half cup where potatoes have about 4 times that many. Check out this Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns recipe from Empowered Sustenance.


5. Use it as a simple side dish in place of rice or potatoes or beans. A little coconut oil and salt and pepper make this into a nice light and colorful companion to your main entree.
6. Roast the seeds! Just like pumpkin seeds, these little things pack a huge nutritional punch( a good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Manganese). They are also tasty when roasted and salted. Some people have trouble getting all the fibers off of the seeds, but rinsing them in a colander and shaking them around a bit has always worked for me. Here’s a great squash seed roasting recipe from Healthy Living How to.