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eating healthy on vacation

vacationVacation… a lovely getaway without the stresses and hassles of home… except when it comes to eating healthy food. Eating healthy on vacation can be difficult, but don’t worry! We have some great ideas to help you and your family eat (mostly) healthy while having fun!

Prep vacation foods ahead of time!

Brilliant. Prepping foods before leaving for vacation ensures that you have healthy meals to eat while you’re there. If you’re anything like me, there is no way that every meal on vacation is going to be healthy. For me, food is part of the vacation! But I can make sure my family and I all eat a healthy breakfast and at least one other healthy meal (lunch or dinner) while on vacation.

  • Make burgers, bacon or grilled chicken and freeze them to take with you.
  • Make a jar or two of healthy homemade mayonnaise to have with you.
  • Make a jar of healthy homemade ranch dressing.
  • Make a few healthy snack bags (fruits and veggies) to take with you for the ride to your vacation spot and the first day or two after you arrive. This will help keep the fast food on the road to a minimum and give you some healthy snacks to eat right away when you arrive at your destination!

Check out the local farmer’s market!

YES! This is a great vacation outing, allows you to get your hands on the freshest local produce, and it means you don’t have to bring fruit with you. Not having to pack fruit means more space in the car, win-win! This is also a great way to support local farmers and all their hard work.

  • Look up local farmer’s markets (and fish markets if you like fish) prior to leaving for your vacation. Make it a part of your game plan!
  • Prep your farmer’s market fresh produce as quickly as possible when you return to your vacation living quarters… otherwise, you may forget about it and not eat it.
  • Only buy what you need… taking any leftovers home may not be super easy and you don’t want to waste any of the food (or money you spent!).

Be smart at restaurants!

Eating out is just part of being on vacation for a lot of people, myself included. I just try to be smart when eating out so I can help myself eat healthier.

  • Only eat half of what you order. Most restaurants serve the equivalent of two (sometimes three!) actual healthy serving sizes on each plate. Save half, take it home, and have it the next night with a side salad you prepare… saves money and adds a healthy aspect the next evening!
  • Watch the drinks you order! Sodas have so much junk in them, keep the sodas to a minimum and instead of allowing the automatic refills that most waiters and waitresses provide, request a water for your second glass.
  • When ordering a salad, request the dressing on the side. This allows you to only dress the part of the salad you’re going to eat at the restaurant and take the rest home to enjoy with your own homemade, healthy dressings.

Don’t let dieting or trying to eat super healthy ruin your vacation!

Be smart about what you eat, plan and prep ahead, and just give some thought to what you’re putting in your body. Vacations are fun and some fried foods at a fair or on the boardwalk are part of that fun. I know I don’t feel guilty when I eat some junk on vacation… I just try to counter it with some healthy food as often as possible.

VACATIONS ARE AWESOME!!! ENJOY YOURS!!!

homemade ranch dressing is incredible

ranch dressing

This is a simple homemade ranch dressing that was modified from the Whole30 version a little bit to make it a little thinner and add a bit more of a kick (that’s the extra chili powder!). Though the recipe was modified, it is still Whole30 compliant and Paleo… delicious!

homemade ranch dressingHomemade ranch dressing is awesome!

My family can seriously eat some ranch dressing! My family says homemade ranch is better than Hidden Valley, which I think is fantastic, and here’s why… Hidden Valley bottled ranch dressing contains MSG, added sugar, added salt, artificial flavoring and other ingredients that simply aren’t necessary. Here’s a great post I found explaining all the ingredients in Hidden Valley ranch and any issues with them: Inside the Label: Ranch Dressing.

We use this ranch for dipping, and as a dressing on salads and other foods. When I use it as a salad dressing, I either add a little extra coconut milk or water to get the consistency I need. It’s a great dressing and I love it that our kids think it’s better than the store bought stuff!

This recipe calls for a cup of mayonnaise… I use our homemade mayo for that, recipe here.

Homemade Ranch Dressing
A deliciously creamy ranch dressing that is Whole30 and Paleo compliant, no added junk!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk with some cream (I put a can of coconut milk in the fridge for an hour and use 1/3 cup of the soupy mixture it ends up becoming)
  3. 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  4. 1 clove garlic (pressed or finely minced)
  5. 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  6. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  9. 1/8 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until fully mixed.
  2. Eat and love it!
Adapted from The Whole30
Adapted from The Whole30
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

spicy deviled eggs

Deviled eggs are great… spicy deviled eggs are amazing!

Spicy Deviled Eggs
Yields 12
Deviled eggs with an extra kick! Delicious as a side at any barbecue!
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Total Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 hard-boiled eggs
  2. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  3. 2 Tablespoons mustard
  4. 1 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  5. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  6. a little bit of red onion, minced (OPTIONAL, adds awesome flavor and a little crunch)
Instructions
  1. Peel hard-boiled eggs and cut in half length wise.
  2. Remove all yolks and place in a bowl.
  3. Once all yolks are removed, mash them with a fork until they start to become less chunky.
  4. Add mayonnaise, mustard, Tabasco sauce and smoked paprika (and red onion if you opted to add it).
  5. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Spoon filling into each half of egg. This can also be done using an icing bag or a small plastic baggie with a small piece of the bottom corner cut off.
  7. ENJOY!
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/
When making deviled eggs, you need to start with hard-boiled eggs. Check out our recipe for making Perfect Hard-Boiled-Eggs to make sure the deviled eggs come out well!

The first several times I made deviled eggs, I used a spoon to put the filling into the eggs. What a mess that is! It never looked right, I always ended up getting filling all over the edges of the eggs, and it took more time than it should have. Now I use a small plastic baggie. I fill it up with the deviled egg filling, cut a small piece of one of the bottom corners off the bag, and use it like I would a bag of icing. This method of filling deviled eggs is much faster and cleaner than simply using a spoon!

perfect hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a fantastic and extremely versatile food, but it can be difficult to make perfect hard-boiled eggs. No worries though we’ll show you how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs in about 20 minutes!

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Perfect hard-boiled eggs, great for eating plain or making deviled eggs!
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Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. Eggs
Instructions
  1. Place eggs in a pot, not stacked on top of one another, cover with water to about an inch over top of eggs.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Once boiling, cover, remove from heat.
  4. Let stand 10-15 minutes.
  5. Peel and eat!
Notes
  1. I peel my hard-boiled eggs under a very small stream of cold running water. This helps loosen the shell from the egg.
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

eggs-in-potWhat all can hard-boiled eggs be used for?

The first, and most obvious answer is just plain eating them! A hard-boiled egg with a little salt or pepper, or maybe some tabasco sauce, is awesome!

Hard-boiled eggs are also used to make deviled eggs (or our Spicy Deviled Eggs), which are extremely delicious. Deviled eggs make a great snack or a side dish to barbecue. We love a good deviled egg, as do our kids.

Hard-boiled eggs also go really well in salads. We sometimes add egg to our chicken salads or just a plain salad to get a little extra protein in. They’re great in a tossed green salad with tomatoes, red onions, and shaved carrots!

ground turkey spring rolls – baked!

ground turkey spring rolls

YES! I figured out how to BAKE spring rolls, so no more frying them up, woohoo! These ground turkey spring rolls are super delicious!!

Ground Turkey Spring Rolls
A delicious blend of spices and meat rolled in rice paper and baked. No sugar or salt added!
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound ground turkey
  2. 1 tablespoon pickled ginger, minced
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  5. 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  7. 1/3 large cabbage, shredded
  8. 5 medium sized carrots, shredded
  9. rice paper
  10. extra light olive oil (just enough to brush the tops of the rolls)
Instructions
  1. Brown the meat in LARGE skillet, cabbage and carrots will be added later.
  2. While meat is being browned, shred the cabbage and carrots, set aside in a bowl. *don't forget to check the meat on the stove*
  3. Mince the ginger and mix it with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and white vinegar. Add spice mixture to meat.
  4. Once the meat has fully browned and the aroma of the spices is in the air, lower the heat to medium and add the cabbage and carrots. Cook about another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F (oven should reach temperature by the time all the rolls are made)
  7. Get out rice paper. Wet rice paper thoroughly and gently dry each side with a paper towel or clean cloth (simply lay the rice paper on the cloth and pat it, flip and do the same).
  8. Move rice paper to a smooth surface (cutting boards work great) and add about two heaping tablespoons full of turkey and veggie filling.
  9. Roll up the rice paper, tucking the edges, like making a small burrito.
  10. Place on a baking sheet.
  11. Repeat until all the filling is gone.
  12. Lightly brush each spring roll with extra light olive oil.
  13. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, watching carefully to ensure the rolls don't burn.
  14. ENJOY!
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

Yes, ground turkey spring rolls with NO added sugar or salt!

Absolutely love it! I was so excited after tasting this delightful mixture of ingredients! Pickled ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and white pepper make an excellently flavorful dish!

turkey-spring-rolls-preppedBaked spring rolls? Awesome!

Right? So exciting! In general, I am not the biggest fan of having to fry things, as I prefer to use as little butter (ghee, clarified butter, etc.) as possible. Not to mention frying things can take quite a bit of time (no, I do not own a deep fryer, haha). Being able to just pop something in the oven and walk away for 20 minutes is much nicer than having to stand over a skillet for the same amount of time, or more, depending on how large the skillet is! I was also very happy that these ground turkey spring rolls were just as good as any fried spring rolls! Tasty and healthy!

Is rice paper always this difficult to work with?

No… and yes. Rice paper can be a bit of a pain sometimes. I’ve found it’s easiest when I wet it right before use… I set out a pie pan with about an inch of water in it for easy dipping, soak each piece right before use, set it on a paper towel and push on one side, flip and push on the other, then lay it on a cutting board, add ingredients, and roll it up. The rice paper I’ve been using seems to get a bit too sticky if I don’t dry it a little on a paper towel before attempting to roll anything up in it. Of course, if it’s not fully wet prior to rolling, it will crack. It’s a bit of a learning process, but I only messed up a few rolls my first time using rice paper, and now I’m able to make all my rolls pretty much the same thickness and length without much trouble. It just takes practice!

pork and cabbage spring rolls

pork and cabbage spring rolls

Better than takeout, these pork and cabbage spring rolls are incredible!

Pork and Cabbage Spring Rolls
Absolutely delicious pork and cabbage spring roll the whole family will love!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound pulled pork, unflavored (make this ahead of time)
  2. 3 to 5 large cabbage leaves, shredded
  3. 5 to 6 medium carrots, grated
  4. 3 to 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  5. 2 to 4 tablespoons clarified butter (or regular butter, or olive oil, or ghee - your choice)
  6. 1 teaspoon pickled ginger, minced (more if you like the flavor!)
  7. Rice paper
Instructions
  1. If you haven't made the pork yet, you can either cube it and cook it, or make pulled pork in a crock pot. The times here are assuming the pulled pork is already made.
  2. Shred cabbage, grate carrots, mince ginger
  3. Put soy sauce in large skillet and heat over medium heat.
  4. Add cabbage, carrots and ginger, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring and mixing often.
  5. Add pulled pork and continue cooking for about another 5 minutes, stirring and tossing often. You want to mix all ingredients and infuse them with the flavor of the soy sauce.
  6. Set meat and veggies aside and get out your rice paper.
  7. Wet each piece of rice paper prior to laying on a flat surface (cutting boards work great). Wetting the paper ensures it won't break when you try to roll everything up.
  8. Lay out wet rice paper, Add meat and vegetable mixture. Roll it all up like a small burrito, tucking the edges in. Set aside.
  9. Repeat until all the meat and vegetable mix is gone.
  10. Now for the cooking of the spring rolls. I know a lot of restaurants deep fry their spring rolls, but we don't.
  11. Heat skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter (or other ingredient you chose).
  12. Add as many spring rolls as will fit, without them touching each other. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until crispy and slightly golden brown (you may still be able to see through the rice paper, but it should be crispy).
  13. Repeat this step, only adding more butter or oil as needed, until you've cooked all the spring rolls you made, the time may vary depending on how many you made.
  14. EAT AND ENJOY!
Notes
  1. The rice paper doesn't need to be soaked, just wet enough that it becomes pliable and not brittle.
  2. Other meats can be substituted, but this recipe is for amounts of pulled pork (unflavored).
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

Pork and cabbage spring rolls are amazing!

First, I was just amazed that I was actually able to make these. I was a little nervous at first because I had never worked with rice paper before. But after the first one (nightmare) it was easy! My first attempt to roll up the rice paper with the pork and cabbage filling failed. The rice paper broke, it refused to roll, and it turned into a mess. So what did I do? I got the rice paper wet before attempting to put my filling in and roll it. Absolute perfection!

I didn’t wet the rice paper much, just enough to make it pliable, and stop it from cracking and breaking every time I tried to roll it up. Once wet, I was able to roll it just like I would a soft tortilla for burritos. Awesomeness!

Can other meats be used?

Absolutely! This recipe is for pork and cabbage spring rolls, but it can be modified to fit whatever meat you’d prefer to eat. Just keep in mind that the meat should not be in large chunks, as big cubes may puncture the thin rice paper, making it difficult to keep the roll held together in transport and cooking.

substituting ingredients

Substituting ingredients means you don’t have to have everything on hand all the time.

The whole substitution thing happens for me all the time! I keep my main pantry staples in stock, but sometimes a recipe calls for a little more of something than I have, or something I don’t have. Knowing that substituting ingredients is an option if I need it is wonderful! A great example is making desserts for our kids. I generally don’t keep the bars of unsweetened chocolate on hand. I do, however, always have unsweetened cocoa powder and clarified butter or oil. So boom! Substitution.

Substituting for Health

sub-apple-sauce-for-sugarKnowing what I can substitute for things in a pinch is great, but I also sometimes use substitutions simply to make things a little healthier. Applesauce for sugar in what I know is already going to be a really sweet cake is one example. Juices for wines is also something I like to substitute regularly. I just don’t keep cooking wines on hand, but I almost always have juice around (unless the kids drink it all before I can stock up again!).

Substituting to Save Time

For me, time is also another reason to use substitutions. Fresh herbs are wonderful, but when everyone’s already hungry and I’ve just started prepping dinner, time is off the essence. Knowing the amount of dried herbs that equal out to fresh herbs is important for saving time.

Want more information on substitutions?

Check out our cooking resource, Substitutions for Common Ingredients. We’ve got a nice list of what you can substitute for other things, and we have a PDF available!

a bit about wine

wine glasses

Pairing a good wine with the right food can make a meal go from good to fabulous with just a sip!

I am not a wine connoisseur, however, I do know how to do some research. We’ve created a new Cooking Resource just for Pairing Wines with Food. If I can’t always remember which wine goes with what types of food, then I figured other may want a handy resource like the one we created. This is just a bit about wine… I won’t go into too much detail in this post, as we already have it elsewhere, but there are a few things to note…

wine-glassServing Temperatures

White wine is generally served at cellar temperature, if you’re lucky enough to have a wine cellar, that is! It can also be served at refrigerator temperature, or chilled in a bucket of ice for about 10 or 15 minutes prior to being served.

Red wine is served at room temperature, no chilling required.

Dry versus Sweet Wine

The main difference here is the sugar content within the wines. Dry wine has less sugar than a sweet wine.

Dry wine is tart, crisp, and tends to have more alcohol content than sweet wine. Many dessert wines are the sweet wines.

There is a lot to learn about wine, and I know a lot of people who like a good glass of wine with dinner or dessert. I have tried my best to learn at least a little bit about wine so I can provide the appropriate types of wine for whatever food I am serving to my guests.

 

 

pork and veggie skillet

This pork and veggie skillet is wonderful! This recipe serves 2, as I usually make it for me and my husband for lunch. We double it when serving 4 people.

Pork & Veggie Skillet
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 ounces pork (or other meat you'd like to use)
  2. 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  3. 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  4. 1/4 red onion, sliced
  5. 1 small carrot, large grate
  6. 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons dry rub
  7. 1/2 tablespoon clarified butter (or ghee, or butter, or olive oil)
Instructions
  1. Cut the meat into cubes (if using ground meat, it doesn't need to be cut).
  2. Brown the meat in a small skillet.
  3. While the meat is cooking, chop up all vegetables and toss them in the dry rub.
  4. Heat clarified butter in skillet over medium heat.
  5. Once hot, add all vegetables. Cook approximately 5 minutes. Add meat, cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!
Homemade Health Food http://homemadehealthfood.com/

Pork and veggie skillet? Do you ever use different meats?

Absolutely! This skillet is great with chicken, or any ground meat, especially deer! We change it up all the time, adding different veggies and different meats. This one just happens to be our favorite and we always have the ingredients on hand.

Where’s the recipe for the dry rub used to add flavor?

That recipe can be found right here. When I make the dry rub, I usually double or triple the recipe and set it aside in a little jar. This enables me to use it whenever I want without having to make more very often. It goes great in so many different dishes, that having it on hand just makes sense!

Prep extra veggies ahead of time!

veggies-skillet
We often have these skillets two days in a row with the veggies I’ve prepared ahead of time. I simply change up the meat and the flavors. Adding fresh ginger to a meat and vegetable skillet is also a fantastic idea! It completely changes the flavor of the dish!