Monthly Archives: January 2014

Post 24 of 365 Real Foods Series: Mango “Ice Cream”

We all love desserts and finding healthy options is a bit challenging at times. I often make “ice cream,” because I like to have something sweet on hand when a craving hits.

Making “ice cream” is super easy and fun. Pick and choose the ingredients you would like and run with it. I often break out my vitamix and experiment with flavors. I am sure many of my 365 Recipes will be “ice cream” related, especially come summertime.


  • Frozen or fresh mango chucks
  • Half can of full fat coconut milk


  • Blend together in blender
  • Pour into freezer safe container
  • Enjoy once frozen


The only problem I have with this recipe is trying not to eat it right out of the blender. Add in some pineapple and banana for an exotic treat. Do you have any easy “ice cream” recipes?

Happy Ice Cream Making,

The Joyful Homemaker

January Homeschool Roundup


January is coming to an end and we have spent the month mostly stuck inside. We have accomplished quite a few homeschool activities. Jack is into building with blocks, Magforms, art, and playing. He enjoys Legos and inventing tools and vehicles.



January Homeschool Roundup!

January was certainly buggy! Jack is interested in all things insect. Since the ground is covered in snow we have used plastic bugs to explore various types of insects and arachnids. This spring we will head outside and see what we can find.


Jack has worked with matching, tracing letters, drawing lines, circling objects, and counting in his workbooks. Jack enjoys using his “first pencils,” and using workbooks. I let him decide when to use workbooks. We don’t use them everyday. He also enjoys peeling stickers and placing them on paper.



Play dough was big this month. Jack goes through waves with play dough. We often make our own at home; however, we did get some for Christmas, so we have dug into new containers. 🙂



Imaginative play is an everyday thing in our home. There is never a shortage of imagination and play!



Reading happens daily. Jack reads to Wesley almost everyday.




Jack enjoyed art this month. He’s become quite the painter and loves to draw with fine tip markers. He enjoys creating maps and buildings.



Last week we decided to see if we could grow new food from food scraps, and so far, it works! Our lettuce took off immediately and the celery is starting to grow. Each morning we make basic observations on growth. Jack loves checking on his plants each morning. Today the onions are really reaching for the sunlight and the lettuce is very green! Our little scrap plants are a nice touch of green growth in a snowy world. Jack wants to see how “huge” the lettuce can get!



Jack is learning the basics of cooking. He enjoys mixing, using measuring utensils, chopping, and adding ingredients. I try to cook a few times a week with Jack. Pancakes are his favorite meal to make.



Jack and John try to play a game every day. Jack especially loves The Angry Birds game he got for Christmas. He also loves puzzles and matching games. Anything with his daddy is his favorite.


Well, that about wraps up January. We have accomplished a lot of great things this month. Next month I have a few goals in mind. Jack starts his weekly reading hour at the library and Wesley starts Kindermusik.  I want to do a few Valentine’s activities. I plan on making Valentine’s play dough and some decorations (we did this one last year).



<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

We will have to wait and see where the month of February takes us. Do you have any educational goals for February? Do you have a unit or curriculum you plan on using or do you unschool?

I can’t wait to share our accomplishments with you next month. February is a fun month. <3

Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 23 of 365 Real Foods Series: Homemade Ghee


Ghee is a staple in our home. I use it for everything from stir-fry to popcorn. It is delicious and therapeutic, plus many of us with dairy allergies can eat ghee without an issue since the milk solids are boiled out.

I recently finished my last container of my favorite ghee,

Locally I can purchase 13 ounces of Purity Farm ghee for $10, which I don’t mind spending on organic, non-GMO ghee; however, it is cheaper to buy a pound of organic, non-GMO butter to make my own ghee and I get roughly a pound. Not a bad deal.



  • 1 pound of butter


  • Put butter into a cast iron skillet.
  • Turn to medium high heat.
  • Butter will begin to melt, stir slightly.
  • You will begin to hear the butter boil and the first foam will form on top.
  • In the next few minutes the butter will start to turn yellow and the foam will start to dissipate.
  • Reduce heat to low and allow butter to continue cooking.
  • At this point, the butter will form a second foam and the cooking sound will lessen and stop.
  • Part the foam and you should see a nice yellow, clear liquid and the solids should be at the bottom of the pan.
  • The ghee is done cooking.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Pour into desired container through a very fine sieve.
  • Strain twice to make sure all solids are removed.
  • Allow to cool before putting on lid.
  • Ghee does not need refrigeration and has a shelf life of a few months. It can be refrigerated with no harm done to the product.

Melting butter


First foam dissipating 


Second Foam – Cooking is coming to an end


Ghee is done!


Begin straining


Second straining


Cooling down


Ghee is a delightful addition to any dish. It’s widely used in Indian cooking and traditional Indian medicine. It has gut healing properties and is a healthy oil source.

Happy Ghee Making,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 22 of 365 Real Foods Series: Warming Winter Soup – Featured Recipe


This is certainly the kind of winter for a myriad of soups; therefore, I must feature my friend Alicia’s Warming Winter Soup as Post 22 of my 365 Foods Series. This soup is delicious, healthy, and perfect for the frigid winter nights we have been experiencing.

Take a hop over to Alicia’s blog, Peace, Love, Laundry and Food, for a step by step on how to prepare this amazing soup.



Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker


Post 21 of 356 Real Foods Series: Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

While I don’t consider peanut butter cups, “real food,” we must have desserts every once in a while! 🙂

I found this recipe when searching for something yummy to make:, on the Humbled Homemaker’s Blog,

With a bit of tweaking, this gems came out awesome! My husband did say they taste a bit “coconut-ish,” so next time I will use refined coconut oil. Additionally, the stevia leaves an aftertaste that everyone (four adults) noticed. I swapped the protein powder for PB2 (powdered peanut butter). We were all thoroughly impressed with this healthier version of peanut butter cups.



  • 4 Tablespoons of melted, extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Pb2 powder
  • 2 packets of Stevia


  • Mix everything together
  • Pour into molds (I used small Tupperware containers because I had nothing else on hand)
  • Freeze (mine were in overnight)
  • Pop out of mold and eat immediately, these melt super quickly




The above recipe is all it takes to have a healthier peanut butter cup. They are pretty delicious. Thank you to The Humbled Homemaker for a great recipe!

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 20 of 365 Real Foods Series: Coconut Carrot Soup

I woke this morning with plenty of energy; however, by noon I could feel a cold coming on. I fought off the last cold with my winter soup ( so this time I took some Sambucol and made a batch of this good stuff. 🙂

I have been making this soup for years. It is a soup I turn to when I am sick or need an immune system boost. It is a very simple, tasty delight. It makes a great comfort food and uses healthful ingredients. I love coconut milk and I really enjoy cooking with it. It is thick and holds up well in this recipe.



  • Three carrots
  • About 1 1/2 cups, or two cups, of full fat, canned coconut milk
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Vegetable stock or bone broth


  • Skin and chop carrots into small pieces
  • Put into a small sauce pan
  • Cover with just enough stock to cover carrots
  • Bring to a boil
  • Lower to medium heat and cook until soft and broth has evaporated
  • Remove carrots from pan and blend with a hand blender until smooth
  • Put coconut milk and some water from can into sauce pan
  • Set heat to medium / low and stir gently until milk is liquid
  • Put carrots into milk
  • Add as much of the above spices as desired
  • Mix until steaming and hot, no need to boil
  • Remove from heat, sprinkle with cracked pepper
  • ENJOY!







I simply love this easy soup. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 19 of 365 Real Foods Series: Homemade Gluten-Free Egg Noodles

Yesterday Jack and I decided we really wanted egg noodles with homemade bone broth gravy and peas for lunch. The frigid weather had us craving serious comfort food. I did a quick internet search for recipes on homemade egg noodles and came across this super easy recipe from the

Our attempt was successful! Thanks Elise for the delicious recipe!



  • Two egg yolks
  • King Arthur’s All-Purpose GF Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • A pinch of salt


We followed Elise’s directions. (excerpt below):

“Beat together first four ingredients. Mix in enough flour to form a ball. Sprinkle more flour onto a flat non-stick surface and roll the dough as thin as you can or want to… Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut strips. Drop noodle strips into simmering broth.”






These came out great and tasted JUST like egg noodles should! My noodles were not pretty, but with some practice, they will look pretty good. The yield was small, so to feed a family of three or four, you need to triple the recipe. Easy enough. These are sure to happen more often in our house.


Happy Noodle-Making,

The Joyful Homemaker


Post 17 and 18 of 365 Real Foods Series: Cinnamon Quinoa & Coconut Flour Banana Pancakes


It’s been pretty impossible to work on my blog lately. It’s not easy with a 3-month old and a 3-year old, so I figured I would combine two easy breakfasts into one post.

Cinnamon Honey Quinoa and Coconut Flour Banana Pancakes are two of the easiest breakfasts going. They are both healthful and delicious. Jack LOVES the coconut flour banana pancakes. He often asks for three or four. John prefers my Chocolate Chip Hemp Seed pancakes (we’ll save those for another post).

So, below are two easy breakfasts that are sure to please. 🙂

Cinnamon and Honey Quinoa


  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Fruit and/or nuts of choice (optional)


  • Cook quinoa per directions
  • While almost done add cinnamon
  • When done pull off heat
  • Add raw honey and any other desired ingredients (I add chopped raw almonds and blueberries)


Coconut Flour Banana Pancakes


  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • About 1 1/2 tablespoons of raw coconut flour
  • A few drops of vanilla extract



  • Combine all ingredients into food processor, I used my Kitchen Aid
  • Heat skillet, toss is butter or coconut oil if needed
  • Pour in desired amount of batter
  • Cook on one side about 7 minutes per side
  • Flip, cook until done




That’s it! Both recipes are super easy. Give them each a try and let me know what you think.



Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Menu Plan and Grocery Purchases: Week 1/18 – 1/25

*Below are some pictures of our fridge, and on the table are some items purchased on Saturday*



I had a number of responses to my post $75.00 per week grocery budget post, ( I had a few people ask me to post my weekly menu plan so they can see how it translates to $75.00 per week.



This week my purchases included the below food items:

  • 2 Almond milks – $4.98
  • Organic Apple Juice – $1.39
  • Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheeses – $3.58
  • Organic Blueberry Apple Sauce – $1.59
  • 1 Can of Black Beans – $.59
  • 2.27 lb of Bananas – $1.68
  • Organic Roma Tomatoes – $1.69
  • Organic Grape Tomatoes – $1.99
  • 3 lbs of Carrots – $.79
  • 1 lb Strawberries – $2.99
  • 3 lb Clementines – $3.99
  • Mixed Lettuce – $2.49
  • Unsalted Peanuts – $2.39
  • 1 Jar Salsa – $1.49
  • 1 Can of Coffee – $5.49
  • Whole Chicken – $4.34 (.95 per lb)
  • Rudi’s Gluten-Free Wraps – $5.99
  • Chicken Wings – $5.99 for 3 lb bag (Target – on sale)
  • Lay’s Potato Chips – $2.50 per bag (Target)
  • Sour Cream – $1.65 (Target)

Total Food Purchases This Week : $57.59

Menu Plan For This Week

Saturday 1/18/14

Breakfast: Banana, clementine, cashew butter toast on gluten-free bread.

Lunch: Leftover chicken taco mix and cut up strawberries

Dinner: No dinner cooked at home – we were without power.

Sunday 1/19/14 – Football Sunday

Breakfast: Kind granola and coconut yogurt. Jack and John had rice cereal, almond milk, and some strawberries on top.

Lunch: Banana, handful of mixed nuts, and spinach pancake

Dinner: Chicken wings, venison burger, and grilled pineapple (our friends brought the pineapple and some buffalo wings). The buns were non-gluten free buns we had leftover from Christmas. I froze them and we thawed them for the burgers. Easy! Don’t throw away those leftover bread items. They can be easily frozen. 

Monday 1/20/14 – MLK Day

Breakfast: Bacon, Cinnamon Honey Quinoa with Blueberries and Almonds, Jack also had a banana and a bowl of rice cereal with almond milk.

Lunch: John – leftover venison burger and green salad, no bun. Jack – cut up venison burger, humus and veggies. Me – Green salad with humus on top. I make my own humus. I have  a HUGE stash of chickpeas I purchased on sale at BJ’s during the summer.

Dinner: Roasted chicken, carrots, potatoes, and small salad. I have a massive supply of baby red potatoes from my parent’s garden.

Tuesday 1/21/14

Breakfast: Gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, egg and venison sausage on GF bread, fruit salad.

Lunch: Chicken salad on greens, humus and veggies.

Dinner: Rice and black beans, salad.

Wednesday 1/22/14

Breakfast: Sunshine smoothie, handful of mixed nuts.

Lunch: Chicken salad lettuce wraps.

Dinner: Chicken pot-pie.

Thursday 1/23/14

Breakfast: Rice and beans with scrambled eggs, frozen berry and kale, smoothie

Lunch: Bone broth soup, humus and veggies, fruit.

Dinner: Leftover chicken pot-pie

Friday 1/24/14

Breakfast: Hemp seed banana smoothie, mixed nuts, clementine

Lunch: Bone broth soup, humus and veggies, fruit.

Dinner: Gluten free pasta and sauce, salad

Saturday 1/25/14

Breakfast: Hemp seed pancakes, bacon or chicken sausages.

Lunch: Leftover pasta, cut-up veggies, fruit.

Dinner: Venison steaks on the grill, potato on the side, salad.

Summary of How This All Adds Up:

  • We eat simply, and try to keep things easy. I don’t plan for snacks or desserts in my menus. We don’t typically eat desserts, but have fruit, nuts, and the occasional treat on hand.
  • Whole chicken – this purchase feeds us for the entire week, from the night it is cooked, to the chicken salad, pot-pie, and bone broth.
  • Chicken wings, chips, and sour cream were bought specifically for Sunday Football
  • Lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots are for salads, wraps, and even side vegetables (carrots) to go along with main dish.
  • Clementines, peanuts, apple sauce, and cheese are all snack items for the week, along with some fruit, like the berries.
  • Beans used for beans and rice. We have tons of rice in our bulk supplies.
  • Bananas, almond milks, coffee … these are our weekly staples.
  • We currently have bacon, chicken sausages, blueberries, already in house, so I didn’t need to purchase them this week. We have a surplus of apples and a watermelon in the fridge. We have mini peppers, lemons, and a Bolthouse Farms pre-made smoothie we got for free at Target last week (I had a coupon).

This is our food plan for the week and how it correlates with the purchases above. I have extra money in my weekly food budget. I typically leave extra money for extra produce purchases during the week. We will need extra greens and cucumbers. I was unable to purchase cucumbers at Aldi on Saturday; therefore, I will hit Stop and Shop tomorrow to grab those.

Keep in mind, this is the plan that works best for us, and may not be suitable for your family. Also, my plan changes here and there. I typically move things around and sometimes change an item all together, based on what I feel like eating or making. 🙂

We keep a pretty decent overflow of certain items, like eggs, GF bread, frozen veggies and fruits, protein powders, etc. We have a chest freezer and another refrigerator in the garage. I stock up on things when they are on sale.

Again, I am not claiming we are perfect or eat perfectly. We eat as healthy as we deem appropriate and are always striving for healthier. When I worked part-time, we were able to spend roughly $120 to $130 per week on food. This allowed us to buy all organics, special meats, and more extras. We had to scale down and figure out how to make this work on a more limited budget once I stopped working. A lot of my 365 posts are healthier food choices and it is also a learning process for me. 🙂

Happy Menu Planning,

The Joyful Homemaker


Post 16 of 365 Real Foods Series: Football Sunday


Yesterday we lost power for a chunk of the day, and I didn’t document our day. Today was really not a “365 Day.” We had our good friends over for Football Sunday and needless to say, we didn’t eat anything not typically seen at football gathering, except the venison burgers.

Below is a quick recap of our food choices today. Hey, even the healthful eaters need a day off. 🙂


Gluten Free Kind Granola and Coconut Yogurt



Banana, handful of mixed nuts, and spinach pancake


Chicken wings, venison burger (I skipped the burger altogether), and grilled pineapple.


Tomorrow I plan on blogging my food menu for the week along with my Aldi purchases from yesterday, so everyone can see where we use the food we buy. Tonight the baby is restless and I need to clean up a bit. See you all back here tomorrow.


Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker