Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Quinoa Cereal Recipe March 12, 2013

Filed under: cooking,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 12:38 am
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this past week, our family tried a new way of using Quinoa. We made hot cereal with it. It is not a really difficult thing. Quinoa is cooked exactly as you would rice, but unlike rice it is packed with protein.

To make the cereal, we cook the quinoa with 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. We set the water to boil, adding an extra 1/4 cup to the measurement, and toss in a handfull or two of finely diced dried fruits or raisins. When the water starts to boil, stir in the quinoa, remove from heat and cover. The quinoa will continue to cook just as rice does, absorbing all the liquid.

To serve, we add a bit of honey or you can use pure maple syrup for sweetening and a bit of milk. To make it vegan, simply use almond milk or your favorite alternative milk. The kids loved it! The cereal is equally good as a cold cereal. We made a large batch and refrigerated the extra for the next morning.

Next time, I will try teh same thing using only brown rice. In our efforts to find alternatives to gluten foods, these seem like a God-send.


Spring Menu Changes March 7, 2013

Filed under: cooking,family,pantry building,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 1:40 am
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I love the spring season. After a cold winter, it is so refreshing to have the warmer days. It also brings about changes in our diet. Throughout the winter we eat a lot of soups and stews. These not only are comfort foods but really seem to fit the season. As spring approaches however, I am planning out meals that are lighter. These meals will be a blessing come the hot days of summer!

We are also making a major dietary change for a month or so. Our autistic son is showing signs of having a sensitivity to gluten. Quite simply, everytime he eats foods containing gluten, he has gas issues that are far beyond the normal range. He gets cranky sometimes, especially if he has too many foods containing gluten in one day. Since there is no real test for sensitivity (other than the test for Celiac which is a much more severe reaction to gluten) I am taking the old fashioned approach. We will go without gluten for a month and see if anything changes. If his gas problems are solved, then I will gently start introducing gluten into his diet again. If the gas problems start back up, we know he is sensitive to it and will eliminate it from his diet.

Luckily, I have a lot of vegetarian & vegan recipes to choose from. I also have 2 books on gluten-free cooking. These are the resources I am using to revamp my family’s diet. It is taking me some time to put together a month’s worth of weekly menus, but will be posting them as soon as I am able. I will then give more detail on how to shop in bulk for the month. I had a wonderful response to the previous blog post about my monthly grocery shopping. I am hoping that the upcoming menu will help to explain it even more.


Vegetarian Diet & Kids January 26, 2013

Filed under: cooking,family,pantry building — ourprairiehome @ 5:10 am
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It is always interesting to me how often people assume that a vegetarian or vegan diet is not healthy for kids. Where did we get the idea that proteins from meat are the only healthy ones? Today, I took the kids to the health food store in the city. Our daughter was absolutely bouncing up and down over my buying some tofu. Yep! I said she was excited about tofu. You see, I have learned to cook it in a way that the kids really enjoy. One super easy recipe is to dice it into bite size pieces after it has been drained. Coat in flour, then egg or egg supplement, then coat in seasoned bread crumbs. Baked for a few minutes at 350*F until lightly golden and you have a fun nugget that can be dipped in any sauce you have on hand. She says she likes them better than chicken nuggets.

A favorite food of our son’s is to make vegetable fritters. I make a simple batter similar to pancakes. Into this, I add a variety of finely chopped vegetables. The ratio of vegetables to batter is pretty even mixture of each. Sometimes, I add so much vegetables that it looks like 2 parts vegetables and 1 part batter. I fry on a skillet the fritters, just as you would pancakes. These are always a hit with the kids. To add protein, I simply add some cooked quinoa to the fritters in place of some of the vegetables. Quinoa (pronounced as “Keen-wah”) is a grain that is cooked as you would rice and is a complete protein.

The bulk bins are my favorite resource at the health food stores. I am able to buy many of our food basics at a fraction of the cost. Today, I bought Sea Salt, Quinoa, and Pearl Barley to add to my pantry. I already have gallon jars filled with an assortment of various dried beans, lentils, split peas, and rice. There is also a good supply of all types of vegetables and some fruits. I love how low cost I am able to build up that pantry. The key is to stick with the bulk bins only.

We bought a case of almond milk while at the store. We love this stuff! Of all the alternative milks, this one has the most mild flavor. We use it for everything, just as we would cow’s milk. The advantage is that it is much easier on our stomachs.

There is so many meatless recipes that are healthy for the entire family. I am surprised often to see the surprise that people get in their expressions when I explain that any recipe that does not contain meat, egg, or dairy products are considered to be vegan. For vegetarians who do eat dairy and eggs, the number of recipes common to meat-eaters is greatly increased. To make those recipes “vegan” you only have to substitute the vegan alternatives for the dairy and eggs.

At the grocery store, our daughter asked if we could get Boca Burgers. These are a vegan burger made from soy. We all love them. The kids and I actually prefer them to the meat burgers. That is one of the advantages that we have right now. Even though our bodies feel sick if we eat too much meat or dairy milk, we do have the option of eating them in moderation. This is an advantage in that we are choosing to eat vegetarian/vegan because we love the recipes and how we feel after eating this way. If the kids really want a beef burger or some salmon, it is no big deal. We don’t believe in denying them the choice. So, we now have Boca burgers in the freezer. Our daughter is thrilled!

I can’t wait to see how the diet change affects my weight. I have extra weight to lose and last time I was eating vegetarian exclusively, I lost quite a bit of weight. I was in the best health and weight that I have been in for a long time.


Trip to the ER January 20, 2013

Filed under: faith,family,homesteading,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 6:44 pm
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On Saturday, I ended up going to the ER. My legs and lower back were painful with my legs also having some numbness. Long story short, I have had this problem for a while but I was being stubborn. The doctor found that I have a lot of inflammation. In November, 2004, I had been in a minor car accident that caused a back injury. It seems that old injury is coming back to haunt me. The doctor also suspects that I may have Rheumatoid Arthritis showing up. Monday, I will be calling to set up a follow-up appointment at a clinic. Likely, there will be some testing needed to find out for certain.

I am returning to my old diet of eating vegetarian foods, leaning more heavily towards vegan diet. In the past, that helped me to have relief. I seemed to feel much better when I avoided packaged foods, meat, eggs, and most dairy products. The only animal products that I ate were hard cheeses, yogurt, butter, and sour cream.

How will RA affect my lifestyle? As little as possible. I will continue to do the daily tasks that I have always done. The only difference is that I will be portioning out the workload a bit more. Heavier work will be saved until my husband is home from his trucking job so that he can help me.

Already, I have been scaling the work down. That is in part the reason why I am working towards getting the house organized. Once the work is done, I will have an easier time in the daily maintenance.

The doctor sent me home with a couple of prescriptions. I will be taking Prednizone for 3 days and a muscle relaxer as needed. I am not entirely thrilled to be taking medication. I am looking at the more natural alternatives. Getting back to the vegetarian diet is only the first step.

On a fun note, my husband and I are doing something new on Monday afternoon. I haven’t been able to wear a wedding ring due to metal allergies. So, we found a tattoo design that we are getting done on our ring finger. The tattoo artist we are going to uses only organic, metal-free inks. I am really excited about this. On our anniversary, February 17th, we will be renewing our wedding vows after church services. When we married, it was very small with only the pastor, his wife, and members of their family. There were no friends or family of our own in attendance. This time, we will be married by our own pastor with our church family there with us. It is such a wonderful time for us.

In upcoming posts, I am going to start sharing more ideas on how to live without electricity. I have been really bad about not posting pictures, so am taking another step in that area. I am planning out my blog posts a bit more and listing pictures that may be needed. The future posts that are of a tutorial style will often have pictures or a link to a YouTube video to go along with it. I have been trying to figure out how to do the videos and finally have come up with a temporary solution using an old cell phone. Quality may not be as good, but it will at least give some illustration.