Monday, March 24, 2014

Bueller..... Bueller........ Bueller......

Yep. It's been a while.  Like a looooong while.  And while I love to write, post recipes, put in my two cents, life has been absolutely crazy.  Here's a dose of brutal honesty and a glimpse at what I mean by crazy:
  • My grandpa died...
  • I was depressed for months and still feel the sting and randomly cry almost every day...
  • I started and will finish grad school course work in three summers...
  • My son has ADHD... 
  • We tried meds - four of them actually - some with horrible results...
  • We stopped medicating and now use essential oils, vitamins, and the Feingold diet - a full time job in an of itself...
  • I quit my job as a band teacher...
  • I don't have another "real" job lined up but do plan on teaching private music lessons and being a stay at home mom, something I have honestly wanted to do all my life but never thought I could...
  • We bought cattle to start a herd...
But I digress... 

When we made the drastic switch to the Feingold Diet, which eliminates all processed foods and food additives, colors, and preservatives, I posted on FB looking for closer grocery options for organic, natural, and whole foods.  St. Paul has a ton of options, Rochester has a few.  HyVee in Austin was better than Albert Lea and I hear Mason City is even better yet...  But at any rate, one of my friends saw that I had mentioned meal planning and wanted to know how to do it.  I had a done a post a while back but have updated my format since then, learned a lot more about how to stretch my budget and food purchases, and now of course, we eat a completely different diet.  I figured my first full post back could cover two bases at once - what a week in the life of a Feingold family looks like and how to effectively and efficiently meal plan on a budget.  Furthermore, once a few meal plans have been built, and quick copy and paste moves around favorites or deletes disasters and just keeps building!  Right now, I have 3 - two week meal plans.  That should take us through the first 7 weeks of Stage 1 of Feingold, which is a 6-8 week process.  (I had the first week that we were on the diet that we were in Duluth and I made meals from what we had on hand.)  Following this first stage, we can begin to reintroduce foods to test for sensitivity and reactions and our menu choices will change again.

This isn't entirely impressive, but our monthly food budget for our family of four people ranges anywhere from $300-500 a month, or about $75-125 per week.  Sometimes I simply have to restock pantry staples and I end up spending more; sometimes I just need fresh produce and milk.  One big reason we can keep it somewhat low is because we raise our own beef.  I would love to get in on some sort of meat co-op where local farmers exchange meats - I'll give you 10 pounds of burger for 5 pounds of sausage and 3 chickens.  Wouldn't that be awesome!?!  I know I have said this before and I'll say it again, home-raised meat is healthier and most cost effective.  You will pay the same price for burger as you pay for steaks.  When was the last time you saw steaks for $2.50 a pound??  Chickens weighing 7-9 pounds usually run around $10-15 dollars, and I don't know about you, but I can get at least three meals plus bone broth and stock out of one chicken.  Yes -- even the carcass doesn't go to waste in our house!  And you know exactly where it comes from.  Remember a few weeks back about a family being treated for consuming LSD in tainted meat sold at Wal-Mart?  Try tracing that meat back to the original packing house let alone the original herd.  Buying locally means that most likely that farmer knows exactly which animal you are getting.  Now that's quality control!

After quitting my job, I did some number crunching.  I sincerely do want to live on less.  We have so much stuff and so much of it isn't even necessary.  So in an effort to see this goal through, I recently gave up paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic cups.  It is an added expense we don't need.  I have beautiful dishes, a sink, and a dishwasher.  Soap costs a fraction of what disposable dinnerware does when all is said and done.  Not only that, but the environmental impact of plastic production and waste is a pretty hefty price.  At one point, I needed the convenience to keep me sane, but I am now on a different path towards a more crunchy lifestyle where living on less, wasting less, and wanting less is making me and my family happier and healthier.   

Apparently I like side bars tonight... Sorry about that soapbox.  But it all contributes to how I build a meal plan centered around a well stocked pantry and freezer.

So how do I build a meal plan...?  To be honest, I don't read the flyers, although I know I should.  That will be the next step to fully realizing this crazy idea of living on less.  I ask the kids and the huzzy what they want to eat and feed them accordingly.  Right now, it is more important that they are eating and enjoying it than saving a few pennies.  But if that is something your family values, building a meal plan around sales is another excellent, cost-saving method.  (Can you teach me how???)  I usually ask them on Saturday or Sunday what they want to eat for the week, start putting things in place, and then build a grocery list.

With treating Minihe's ADHD by dietary needs and not wanting to put extra pressure on caregivers, I pack all his meals every day - breakfast, lunch, and snack.  This usually means a quick, hearty breakfast with a protein punch, leftovers for lunch, and a satisfying and fun snack.  I like things that I can make ahead and reuse as needed -- whole wheat pancake bites (pancake batter baked in mini-muffin cups), any muffin or bread (we can have cinnamon, pear, streusel, banana), eggs & cheese, ham/egg/cheese cups, sausage egg tortillas (I make a bunch ahead and freeze in individual plastic wrap for a quick breakfast), fruit and veggie smoothies with a protein boost...  Anything I can make or prep the night before and reuse for a snack or other breakfast is a definite plus!

As we adjust to our new norm with foods, I am finding that we eat even better now than before.  Our options are only as limited as our creativity.  At this current stage, we can't have any tomato-based sauce..  We can't have berries.  We can't have yellow cheeses.  And the list goes on.... But looking at my menu, it's still full of flavor and nutrition.  Follow me on Pinterest to get a lot of the recipes I use as the basis to help build my meal plan and follow the Feingold structure.  

Also, if you're family is dealing with ADHD or Autism and is looking for another way to treat it without medication, you are at the right place!  I will be posting several entries over the next few days that essentially chronicles our journey.  It is most definitely not a how-to manual but rather like an online journal.  It's rudimentary, but I did not want to forget what these early days of a natural treatment method are like.  I found it so incredibly helpful to know I wasn't alone when I began researching natural methods, so if our story can help someone - anyone - I am glad. 

Peace and goodwill to you and yours...
Reeder Ranch

This is a .jpg but if you would like a Numbers or Excel version, email me and I'll ship it out to you!


Wow.... has life changed since I dropped off the face of blogging!  My kids aren't toddlers anymore - in fact, I'll have a kindergartner this fall and another the following fall!  YIKES!  So many of my posts speak of my grandfather in present tense, when it has been past-tense for almost a year.  Those are hard to re-read.  I miss everything about him.  I had just been accepted to grad school two years ago but will be finishing up course work this August.  I have officially resigned as band director from my district.  Get this - to be a SAHM and teach piano/voice/flute/organ lessons.  Yep.  Something I never thought I was cut out to be is the only thing I want to be right now.  I desperately need to slow down, live on less, and count my blessings more.  I simply cannot justify the time demand relative to the paycheck any longer.  Between shuttling the kids from daycare to a babysitter or another caregiver, there were weeks I would see them once or twice in the evenings.  Ridiculous.  We don't just buy and finish out calves anymore as we started our own foundation herd from the calves born the spring/summer my grandpa died.  I still struggle with patience in parenting but not as much now that we know Minihe has ADHD.  A whole-foods diet has taken a very strict turn as we elect to treat M's symptoms by completely eliminating any and all food additives.

Speaking of that major, public share that I have been putting off doing for nine months.......  I had planned to start a second blog dedicated to just that, but this one feels like home.  This one was created to talk about my passions, and my newest passion is treating ADHD naturally.  We tried medication and it didn't work for us.  This does.  We do not pass any judgement on family or friends that find success with medications.  We are joyful for you!  In many ways, that would be so much easier than what we are doing.  But medications can have side effects, and for us, those side effects weren't worth the benefits.

I am anxious to transfer over my blog entries so you can start learning about what ADHD looks like for our family.  I want to also try to break any preconceived notions you many have regarding the disorder.  It is real.  It affects our family very deeply.  Our son will live with this the rest of his life.  It isn't a fad.  He is not academically-challenged.  We cannot always use traditional parenting techniques successfully because of how children with ADHD are wired to respond to discipline.  Not every single child who has ADHD is the product of their environment.  We are not perfect parents, but we are involved... we have rules and expectations... we have fun... we read... we play games... we make silly faces... we let our kids play with Wii, LeapPad, iPad, iPhone, and watch movies.  but we also draw, color, paint, ride bikes, go camping, take trips.  And we have a child that is hyperactive, impulsive, inattentive, lacks attention to detail, has difficulty following directions, and is demanding of our attention.  It can be exhausting being his parent but it is also immensely rewarding to stop and see the world through his eyes.  I can't even begin to imagine the wonder and beauty he must see!  He moves so fast and is so captivated - like he will never have enough time to see everything this planet has to offer.  But yet he notices a lady bug crawling on a blade of grass, names it, feeds it, and cares for it for weeks on end.  He is truly magical.  Parenting him is an act of wizardry, though! :)

I do not have answers.  Admittedly, I do not know what I am doing some days.  But if our story can help one person find a place to commiserate, get ideas, find inspiration, or in the very least, not feel alone; then my goal is fulfilled.  I truly do believe there are people looking for alternatives for treating their child's ADHD, autism, allergies, and ailments.  I am a member of five Facebook groups alone dedicated to a more natural way of life.  I hope you can join us on this journey, if for no other reason than curiosity.  But if you know someone who could benefit from one family's journey into parenting a child with ADHD, send them our way and we can learn from each other.

strawberry sour cream pancakes

pancakes are a huge hit in our house. anytime. i've experimented with bisquick, homemade batters, add-in's, syrups...  i've made this strawberry sour cream recipe several times with excellent results and very happy eaters.  i hope you like it!

strawberry sour cream pancakes: i eyeball a lot of my ingredients so this in generally a more or less kind of recipe.  add ingredients to achieve your desired consistency.
1 cup bisquick
1 egg
1/4-1/3 c sour cream
1/4-1/3 c milk
2 T sugar
1/2-3/4 c quartered strawberries (i used frozen and thawed them partially)
mix together the first five ingredients, adding more milk or bisquick to achieve your desired consistency
fold in the strawberries; be gentle or your pancakes will turn pink
heat a griddle with a teaspoon of oil, spoon batter and spread out slightly. 
flip when bubbles pop and don't fill back in, 2-3 minutes.
second side goes faster, about 1-2 minutes.
i have found that lowest heat setting yields the most even cooked, blonde colored pancakes.  it takes a little more patience, but definitely worth the effort.

 my happy eaters dug right in!

Oh. My. Goodness.  Look at how little they are!!  They have changed so much!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunrise Pancakes with Pineapple Syrup

As I've said in previous posts, pancakes are a huge hit at Reeder Ranch and this morning's concoction was no exception! With all those FFA oranges I have just waiting to be used, this batch of flapjacks practically invented itself! Although I happened to have fresh pineapple on hand, canned would work just as effectively.

Sunrise Pancakes
Enough of your favorite boxed or homemade pancake mix to make a dozen or so pancakes, OMITTING 1/4 c liquid.
Zest of 1/2-1 orange
Juice of two small oranges or one large orange
Drizzle of honey

Fry 'em up!!

Pineapple Syrup
2 cups cubed pineapple or 1 small can
1/4 c water
1 T honey
2-3 T water
1 T corn starch

Heat first three items in a small pot over medium heat until pineapple has broken down. Mash up any large chunks. Once it has boiled for a few minutes, make slurry of cold water and corn starch. Add it to the pot in small doses until you reach your desired syrup consistency. Serve warm over Sunrise Pancakes and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mmm...Mulled Cranberry Cider

I have been craving warm apple cider since late fall hit! I have seen recipes with cranberry juice that look good but usually include extra brown sugar. What I want is a cranberry infused cider. Problem solved!!! Use whole berries!

64 oz apple juice or apple cider
12 oz. bag cranberries
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1-2 T whole cloves
1-2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 ground allspice
1-2 oz. orange liqueur, or zest, or juice

Throw everything in a crock pit for 2-4 hours or in a big pan on the stove for an hour. Don't allow it to boil, though. Strain out berries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks before serving.

Yum! Yum!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pizza Roll-Ups

Kids love to cook and meals they can help prepare often means meals they're more likely to eat! Found this on Pinterest during naps and knew it would be hit!!

4 string cheese sticks, cut in half
Pizza or spaghetti sauce
Pepperoni slices
Crescent rolls

Unroll and separate crescents. Spoon on some sauce, layout 3-4 pepperoni slices, and top off with the halved string cheese. Roll up and bake until golden. Serve with some warmed pizza sauce! Absolutely delicious and most definitely kid approved! And at only 174 calories per roll, a fraction of the 400 calorie-per-slice pizza from the local gas station, it's mom friendly, too!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chicken Stoup and Cornmeal Dumplings

This is seriously one of my favorite meals I've made in a long time! It was a version of Chicken Stew and Cornmeal Dumplings found in the good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook. I changed up the vegetables slightly as well as the milk/water/broth ratio. If you have that cookbook, by all means use that recipe and tweak it as you see fit. Kids hated it but I am seriously looking forward to leftovers for the second day tomorrow! Oh and did I mention it's a one pot meal and ready in under 30 minutes???!!!

1 1/2 C cubed, shredded, chunk chicken (I used 4 frozen breasts, boiled them to just thaw, and changed out the water to continue)
1 package frozen stewing vegetables (onions, celery, red peppers)
1 C frozen corn
1 C carrots
2 C chicken broth
1 C milk
3-4 T flour (or equivalency in corn starch)
Season with pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic salt (I also used a dash of red pepper flakes)

1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C shredded cheese (I used 3/4 C)
1/3 C yellow cornmeal
1 t baking powder
2 T milk
2 T cooking oil
1 egg
Dash of pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic salt

Dump in everything under the stoup list BUT the milk and flour in a big pot. I microwaved the raw carrots for approximately 3 minutes which really helped them get tender fast. Cook until carrots and other veggies are tender and chicken (if raw) is done. Prepare your dumpling batter while that is simmering away. Make slurry of milk and flour and add to pot. Simmer until bubbly. Drop dumpling batter in by tablespoons; there should be 6-10 depending on how big your tablespoon is. Cover and simmer on low for 8-12 minutes until toothpick inserted in dumpling comes out clean.


Sorry no pics. I ate it too fast!

The nutrition facts below are based on six servings. I had 12 small dumplings and about a cup of stoup.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sweet and Savory Pork Chops with Mashed Squash and Roasted Potatoes

I am not usually a fruit and meat kinda gal and definitely have an aversion to pork, but I had some leftover cranberry sauce from last week's experiment with stuffed pancakes and a package of pork chops that we're begging for something different. Turns out with the right combination of seasonings, sweet and savory can be splendid!!

**Recipe is organized in chronological order for preparation purposes.

1 large butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
2 C quartered potatoes
2 t minced garlic
1/2 C diced onion
2 T canola oil
Garlic salt, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cut sides of squash down in a cake pan with enough water to completely cover the bottoms. Pop in oven. When done, scoop out and serve with dabs of butter and salt and pepper or with a pinch of brown sugar.

Combine remaining list of items in a different cake pan. If you want a little more browning for a roasted look and taste, do not cover with tin foil. For a more mashed-potato consistency, cover. Pop them in the oven.

While the veggies are getting a head start in the oven, start on the chops.

2 lbs pork loin or pork loin chops
Salt, pepper, garlic salt, rosemary
Canola oil

Season meat. Heat oil and sear loin or chops. Place in another cake pan or casserole dish and bake in oven until internal temp reaches 160 degrees. They should finish at about the same time as everything else. Don't wash that pan just yet... Save those juices and brown bits for the sauce!!

1/3-1/2 C cranberry sauce or a preserve of your choice (apricot sounds really good...)
1/2 C chicken broth
1-2 t rosemary (I don't particularly like rosemary so I went on the lighter side)
1/2 C diced onion (very fine)
1 T balsamic vinegar

Use the same pan as you seared the meat in; add all your ingredients, and if you can, some of the drippings from the chops in the oven. Simmer until sauce is reduced by at least half.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50-60 minutes

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sausage, Wild Rice, & Barley Soup with Beer Bread

So my cupboards get pretty bare by the end of the month, and I'm always eager to use healthy ingredients for a meal. I was staring at the items I had left, perusing the food blogs, and contemplating what I could throw together when I realized that had the the makings for a soup and hearty bread--a perfect meal for an early fall day!!

Beer Bread
3 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1T baking powder (I accidentally used soda so we'll see how this tastes...)
1 - 12 oz beer

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a loaf pan for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sausage, Wild Rice, & Barley Soup
1 - 2.75oz box KC's Best instant wild rice
3/4 c quick barley
Fresh or canned mushrooms
1-1.5 lb pork sausage
2T butter
2t instant chicken bouillon
1 can cream mushroom soup
Milk to thin

Boil rice and barley for 7 minutes. Drain. Add 2C water, bouillon, and butter. Simmer. Brown sausage. Add sausage to rice/barley. Mix in soup and milk to reach desired consistency. Simmer until ready to eat.

**I LOVE Lawry's new roasted garlic salt with oregano and basil. It is basically all I use now and gives a real sophisticated taste to "regular" dishes. It's what I used to season the sausage and soup.

**Thoughts and Suggestions:
You could make the soup with chicken, turkey, or even go meatless.
Leave the soup thick and serve it over bread or biscuits, too!! Thin it out and serve with crackers...
Use sour cream in place of milk for an extra creamy texture without making it runny...
Add in asparagus or puréed cauliflower or butternut squash.
Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for a later date.

Good luck and happy cooking!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ooey Gooey-lash

Having the coolest day in a while enticed me to make something a little more fall-like. What's better than cheesy goulash??

1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 c zucchini, cubed
3/4 c mushrooms, quartered
2-3 T canola oil
Seasonings (salt, pepper, lawry's garlic salt... whatever you like)

8 oz elbow macaroni (1/2 of a 1 lb box)
1/2 to 1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 to 1.5 lb browned burger

*Start water for macaroni and add when at rolling boil.
*Start browning your beef. I waited until the veggies were done to save on dishes, which cost me about 7 minutes in cooking time.
*Chop onion and start to sauté over super low heat in 2T oil while you prep the other vegetables. Sauté until translucent.
*Add zucchini. Once that has sweated, add mushrooms. These don't take long...
*Drain noodles and mix with veggies, burger, and sauce.
*Sprinkle shredded cheese over a serving while hot.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

*I thought about making a velveeta and milk mix and throwing it all in the oven. Next time I'll give that a whirl.

Heads up - this made enough to feed an army! I froze half of it for another time.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!