Category Archives: Real Food

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.




Father’s Day Gifts for the Real Food Dad

rfdadweb2Father’s Day is June 16th! I actually ordered Father’s Day gifts more than 2 days in advance this year. Yay for me! Way less stress.

My husband has typically been hard to shop for because he’s picky about what he wears, eats, does, uses, etc. It’s always been hard to step out of my ‘normal’ eating, wearing, doing, using life to imagine what he could possibly want. This year, choosing his gifts was SO much easier! I FINALLY understand and live the Real Food lifestyle, so I think I know what he wants. We’ll see if his reaction is any different this year. (Photos and update to come!)

For a couple years I’ve just had him choose his own gifts. Last year, we got him a Fiskars 9210 Long-Handled Swivel Grass Shears and The Fiskars 6201 18-Inch Staysharp Max Push Reel Lawn Mower. He loves that he can go out and mow the lawn early and enjoy the quiet at the same time. And it doesn’t use any fuel except the energy of the pusher. He picked it out himself though, and that’s not much fun.


Here are some of the ideas I had for gifts for the Real Foodie Dad: This year there were a bunch of things I thought he’d like. I settled on a couple, but I won’t say which ones. (Shhh!! It’s a secret!)

We make real ice cream from raw cream a couple of times a week, but he would like it to be MORE. Making a big batch in our regular ice cream maker takes a lot of cream. Plus, he doesn’t like chocolate so the rest of us ‘SUFFER’ with fruit flavors! 🙂 The Hamilton Beach Half Pint Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker would let him make his own when he wanted. It comes with two bowls. The blue version is only $14.99!!

Something else I know he would want is a food dehydrator. We have an old ‘infomercial’ dehydrator that works OK but it is huge and bulky. He’s been wanting one that’s easier to dry nuts and seeds on. And maybe some homemade jerky.
The EXCALIBUR 3900 would do the trick.










We’ve been talking about Earthing lately, so I think he’d appreciate some kind of device. Shoes, sheets, straps…there are all kinds of fun things to ground you to the Earth when you’re not running around barefoot. I loved these Pluggz flip-flops and kind of want them for myself.  If I were buying something for ME, though, I’d get the sheets. 8 hours of uninterrupted grounded-ness!

pluggz Earthing-Sheet



He takes his water to work every day in an Aquasana glass bottle. Sometimes it gets banged around a bit. This water bottle holder doesn’t curve up at the top like a lot of them do, so it would fit perfectly on his glass bottle to give it a little protection and keep it from sweating on his desk.


Sometimes Real Foodie dads are Real Foodies because of Real Foodie moms. He may eat the good food willingly but not necessarily know why his wife is filling him full of yummy grass-fed beef steaks and butter and ice cream. In our case, I was the last to know, but if the Real Food dad in your life needs some good reading for the summer, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price is the perfect gift.

Whatever Father’s Day gift you decide to get your Real Foodie dad, you’d better get it soon! It’s just around the corner!

The Month in Review – Link Love

May has been a crazy month! I taught a class at my kid’s school this term, so my house suffered miserably. This last week of May I finally got things under control again and I have a bunch of good stuff going on in the kitchen.

I have milk souring on my counter for THIS cottage cheese recipe from Homemade Mommy. (Update…I finished the process and this cottage cheese is amazing. I’ve done other methods and this is BY FAR the easiest and tastiest version!!)

I also have a sourdough starter getting all bubbly using THIS method from Cheeseslave.

I made THESE fruit snacks, from Butter Believer, which my kids LOVED!!

The kids and made up our own recipe for THESE easy popsicles

I became a huge Gouda Cheese fan because of THIS post on the amazing benefits of Gouda by Real Food RN.

And…I’m almost to the end of The Nourished Metabolism by Elizabeth Walling of Living the Nourished Life. SO informative! My goal for June is to get my temp up!!

JUNE!! It’s here! Time to reevaluate goals and update the calendar. The kids’ CHORE calendar, that is. 😉 I think *I* will read a book!


Brownies. Bad Food? Not so fast!


I’m learning valuable lessons in this whole Real Food way eating. It’s more a way of living. It’s freeing and takes so much of the stress out of eating for me. This week I NEED chocolate. Most likely I really need magnesium, but chocolate is what I WANT. Brownies, cake, mousse, chocolate milk…whatever. I could resist the ‘temptation’ and eat a carrot. I could indulge in processed, chemical-filled, hydrogenated oil brownies and feel like crud tomorrow. OR…I could adapt what some would call ‘bad food’ and make it good. What? Good brownies? Do those even exist? YES! They do. Weed ‘Em and Reap proves it with this awesome recipe! I happened to have everything in my kitchen today to make them real and good and nourishing AND tasty! I am surprised they made it into the oven because the batter was like a smooth and creamy mousse. It was hard to wait for them to cook.

What makes these ‘good’? Well…REAL FOOD. Breaking down the ingredients might give you a better idea of how brownies can be real food.

Pastured eggs
Eggs from chickens who are raised outside and eat lots of grubs and bugs and get lots of sun are more nutrient dense than commercial, store bought eggs (organic or not)!

From CheeseSlave
Compared to supermarket eggs (from factory farms), real pastured eggs have:

5 times more vitamin D
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene


Grass Fed Butter

Butter is GOOD? YES! Butter from grass-fed cows has numerous benefits, especially over hydrogenated and denatured fats.

Check out what Food Renegade has to say about butter:

Butter is More “Heart-Healthy”
Butter Contains Cancer-Fighting Fats
Butter Protects Against Degenerative Arthritis
Butter Promotes A Healthy Brain & Nervous System
Butter Protects The Gut
In Short, Butter Is Awesome



Whole natural sugar cane has some valuable nutrients that are lost when processed into simple white sugar. Keep it close to its natural form and it’s got some good stuff in it! It’s still a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of natural sugars you eat, but having a dish sweetened with natural sugar on occasion is a nice treat.

From Weed ’em and Reap:

The sugar that I recommend, that is truly the LEAST processed is called Sucanat. Sucanat stands for “Sugar Cane Natural”. Sucanat is simply dehydrated, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. It is also a good source of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins and chromium. I choose Organic Sucanat because then I know for sure it is NOT genetically modified. READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE ON SWITCHING TO GOOD SUGARS AT WEED ‘EM AND REAP HERE


Chocolate gets a bad rap. It’s not the chocolate part of chocolate that is concerning. It’s the processed, hydrogenated fats and empty sugars that usually come WITH the chocolate that cause the problems.

According to one study:
Cacao(or cocoa) has more antioxidants than teas and red wine
Cacao has more phytochemicals and flavanoids than teas and red wine

*There is some controversy over one compound in chocolate ‘theobromine’ but the more I read about it, the more I believe that, while it is similar to caffeine, it is NOT caffeine and does not effect the central nervous system.


Salt (where to buy)
Regular table salt has been chemically bleached and stripped of a lot of natural minerals. Those minerals are then sold back to you in your supplements! Just use real sea salt and you won’t have to add your minerals back in other ways.

From Thank Your Body’s great article on salt:
Real salt should have all its minerals in tact. This means that real salt rarely resembles the white and perfectly uniform crystals you see at your local diner. My favorite salt has a spectrum of colors from pink to gray. It’s full of mineral goodness, and I have noticed a tremendous benefit to my health by getting more salt into my diet. It’s “made” just the way nature intended it because it’s made by nature… not man. (And did I mention how good it tastes?)


You don’t have to give up your favorite recipes to eat real foods. Just use real ingredients and make the recipe fit the way your body WANTS to be nourished. The stack of brownies in the photo above barely made it through the photo session. The kids were finishing lunch as I was shooting and asked several times “Can we have a brownie now?” “What about now?” And when I gave up on getting the perfect shot, they disappeared. Not once did I hear “We want brownies like we used to have.” I didn’t hear anything. Their mouths were full of deliciousness and I was happy I could satisfy their sweetest desires(OK…and mine!) with a bit of goodness.


Thsi post is also shared at Butter Believer

Easily Separate Cream From Raw Milk – Video

When I first started using raw milk, I noticed the cream sitting right on top, but I just shook it up before pouring to get full fat milk each time. As I’ve gone further into the Real Food lifestyle, I make butter, ice cream, creme brulee, whipped cream and such from the raw cream. It took me a while to figure out how to efficiently get the cream out of that gallon container.

Some people suggested using an expensive cream separator. Um…no. Others suggested a turkey baster, which I tried but always got a bunch of milk with it and had a heck of a time cleaning it out. I had read that you can use a fancy drink dispenser, but some people didn’t like that the spout was too high on the dispenser and…I didn’t have one.

I finally read about poking a hole in the bottom of the milk jug and thought. “I can do that!” My first attempt got milk everywhere. It took another person to get the jar ready for the quick switch and the hole didn’t exactly make for neat pouring. Got some cream…along with a big mess.

I put some thought into it and came up with a similar plan that works beautifully! I made a little how to video for clueless people like me! The pot I use in the following video is called a Chef’s Pot and it came in the Wolfgang Puck stainless set I got myself for Christmas. A large bowl would work as well. So, here’s my method! It works and it’s not messy! My 6 year old was filming instead of standing by ready to catch the cream in a jar. Enjoy the high budget film (I paid him in yogurt)! Bumper music by ZenoFi – AKA my oldest son. Let me know if you have other easy solutions for separating cream from raw milk!

This post is also shared at My Cultured Palate, Thank Your Body

Oh, Sweet Ricotta! This Was Supposed to Be Yogurt.


This is the story of a failure that turned around. This blog is not about how much I know about real food or how great I am at making all of it. It’s about MY personal experiences and some of those will definitely be experiences at FAILING. I am sharing my failures so that you can laugh with me and learn with me. I am SO not an expert at this stuff. The only way I will become one is by DOING IT, whether I fail or succeed. So…here’s my semi-fail for the week:

This week, my first attempt at yogurt FAILED. I tried this recipe and it didn’t thicken at all. I figured maybe it needed more time but I could see little curds in there and knew it was past the point of yogurt consistency. Still, I am so in love with raw milk, it’s not even funny. Not only because it tastes great and has a bunch of nutrients I NEED, but because it is so forgiving. If I mess up a recipe, the mess still has uses! As an example, my first attempt at fresh mozzarella was somewhat of a failure, but guess what… It still tasted awesome on a pizza.

When I saw that my yogurt hadn’t thickened at all, I looked up how to attempt to save it. I tried heating it again, but it just ended up all curdled. I thought it was a lost cause. Not a lost cause. Turns out it made a nice sweet (yeah, I used a flavored yogurt for the starter) ricotta. The kind that goes in a breakfast danish – only better! This morning’s breakfast…sweet ricotta on einkorn sourdough toast. Just checked on my second try at yogurt using live cultures instead and it has succeeded! I made sure the temp stayed up by putting some jars of hot water in with the jars of yogurt and it has firmed up nicely! It will go in the fridge to cool and by afternoon, the kids will have a great after school snack. I’ll have to add some honey because this batch was earmarked for savory ricotta if it failed. Nothing wrong with having a plan B.


Sourdough Part Deux

super-easy-sourdoughxSadly, my old neglected sourdough starter just wasn’t coming back to life. I am assuming the wrong kind of bacteria (protein-eating) took over the starch-eating bacteria. I went ahead and tossed it and started anew. The Fresh Loaf had a starter I was particularly interested in because it used a bit of juice to get the bubbling going. I used fresh squeezed orange juice and tended to it a few times a day. After about 4 days…lots of bubbly goodness. I made my first loaves at the 7 day mark using a recipe from weed’em and reap (recipe close to the bottom of the post). Total fermenting and rising time was about 7 hours for today so it doesn’t have a super strong flavor. Just enough. No commercial yeast. Just fermented flour, water and juice.

For these loaves I ground half spelt berries and half Einkorn berries. Einkorn is a non-hybridized ancient wheat variety that my husband has been wanting to try out. It is imported from Italy by Jovial Foods. (See the video at the end of this post for more info on Einkorn.) The flavor is so great and I can’t tell if it’s the Einkorn or the fresh starter or both. Einkorn is a bit more expensive than organic spelt or wheat. We don’t eat a lot of bread, so cost won’t be much of a problem. Although…with it being this good, you never know. My husband likes that this recipe has no sugar. It doesn’t need it at all! The kids scarfed it down a little too fast and I enjoyed it with butter dripping down my fingers. I will definitely be making this again.

This post is also shared at: RealFoodForager, Nourishing Joy, nourishingtreasures, skiptomylou, The Prairie Homestead, Holistic Squid, Thank Your Body

How Real Foods Made My Plantar Fasciitis Worse

plantarThose darn real foods! Raw milk, bone broths and sprouted grains have taken a toll on my poor feet. How is this even possible, you ask? It’s been about 4 weeks since I committed to eating at least 80% real food instead of my usual of less than 50% (depending on the day and my cravings for processed treats and sweets). The first noticeable change – increased energy. I sit down to rest between tasks as I have for the past few years dealing with autoimmune issues and the side effects of the drugs that come along with them, but I don’t stay there to recover for an hour or so anymore. Within a few minutes I think of something else that needs to be done, most likely cutting grids into my settling cheese or feeding the sourdough starter, and I pop up and go do it. My poor feet aren’t used to all the standing and running around completing long-neglected tasks. They scream at me when I head up the…STAIRS! By the end of the night, they kind of hate real food. I, however, will not back down.

After just a short time eating mostly real foods and NOT eating processed foods, I have successfully replaced a couple of my pharmaceuticals with natural supplements(NP doctor approved). My joint pain is no worse, and if I think about how I felt a month ago, I’d even say it’s a little better. I am optimistic for the first time in years. My energy level is almost incomparable. My husband says he’s surprised at all of the things I’m getting done lately. I am surprised. My feet are surprised.

What have I changed? A lot.

  • I am eating a lot of raw whole milk products I make myself. Kefir, sour cream, mozzarella cheese, ice cream, whey.
  • I am eating organic local pastured meats and eggs, making broth from the bones and using it in my cooking.
  • I am eating fresh (or lacto fermented) whole organic fruits and vegetables, especially fatty ones like olives and avocados (and no – I’m not gaining weight from eating more fat, I’ve lost 5 lbs, although that’s not my main focus right now).
  • I am drinking lots of filtered water and using lots of good quality sea salt.
  • If I have sugar it is in the form of raw local honey, succanat or grade b maple syrup.
  • If I have grains, they are whole, organic and usually sprouted or soaked.
  • I am taking fermented cod liver oil (seriously!) and a couple other supplements to help me digest and heal quicker.
  • I am replacing chemical versions of my household cleaners and beauty products with natural non-toxic formulas.
  • I am expending energy in enjoyable and stress-free ways.
  • I am attempting to get more sleep.
  • I am FEEDING my body the nutrients it needs to heal instead of putting emphasis on restricting entire food groups.

I expect to progress more and more as I heal and change my lifestyle, but if the changes I’ve seen so far were the only ones to ever happen, I would still be thrilled. I’ll take sore feet over days in bed anytime. Besides, thanks to my awesome friend Catherine, and her recommendation of the book Every Woman’s Guide to Healing Foot Pain, I can work with sore feet as I keep on changing for the better.

This post is also shared on Holistic Squid, My Cultured Palate, Thank Your Body, Food Renegade, Our Heritage of Health, Mamaandbabylove,Butter Believer

Perennials with Bad Haircuts

perennialIt’s a little bit sunny and even a touch WARM lately and getting outside is just what I’ve needed. I cut the ornamental grasses back  so the new stuff can grow, but they may refuse to come up again because I gave them such bad haircuts (or should I say HACK JOBS?!) I should have read a little more before I went out with trimmers.

I’ve got a few books on my Kindle list to read before we start the garden.
These books are either free or super cheap, so snap them up before you go dig in the dirt.


I kind of hacked the heck out of the lavender today and I am not sure if it’s coming back.  I really need to learn more about all the plants I stuck in the round last year. I’m hoping this book will help me figure out how to best grow herbs like lavender and rosemary in the park strip in front of my house. The city requires part vegetation,  so I might as well grow something I can use. 99 cents…I can handle that. My plants will thank me.


This book is FREE today.  tomatoes this year. I’ve had seeds started inside by this time the last couple of years, but I haven’t done anything yet this year. We may actually have a nice long spring, so maybe the tomatoes could go in early. I’m hoping to grow some pretty (or ugly!) heirlooms. We’ve done Earth Boxes the past few years and the tomatoes love them.  I may try some in the raised beds and some in the Earth Boxes.


This one is really interesting. If you wonder why we use heirloom seeds over standard commercial seeds, this book explains it all. And it’s FREE! The seeds that come from heirloom plants can be gathered and used again. It’s like a nice savings account, really.

Looks like I have a bit of reading to do…What are your favorite gardening books?