Things I’ve learned as a home cook

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

(Sorry, couldn’t resist the photo. It’s ridiculous, right?)

I was watching “The Taste” on TV and I was really excited that a home cook made it SO far in the competition.  I shouldn’t be shocked, Nigella Lawson herself is a home cook.  But the big thing is, I really loved seeing someone with no formal training totally kicking ass.  Marina had lived on multiple continents, and wasn’t afraid to do crazy things… I mean, she made a soup with rooster testicles.  C’mon.  She’s crazy, but in a good way.

I’m not an expert cook, but my cooking is always getting better and better.  I have a couple of things that I’ve learned over my many years of cooking.

  • Play with your food.  If you’re at a restaurant and you’re eating something good (or bad!) tasting, figure out why you like it or hate it.  Pick it apart.  Is it cooked wrong?  Are you liking the seasoning?  Is this something that you could cook at home?
  • Try something crazy.  I’ve been cooking since I was tall enough to stand at the stove, and helped out with cooking since I could stand at all.  I’ve added some CRAZY things to my food.  My sister will tell you that I used to add cinnamon to the pasta water.  But sometimes when you try something crazy, something amazing comes out of it.  I discovered that adding orange juice to pancakes tasted amazing.  Obviously that’s not a LCHF food, but it sure tasted good back then!
  • Find a recipe site that you really like.  I love Nom Nom Paleo for savory dishes, and Comfy Belly for baked goods.  Their style is similar to mine.  If the recipes appear on their sites, I can be pretty sure that I will like them.  If I go to a catch-all site with user-submitted recipes, I don’t have as big of a success rate.
  • Challenge yourself.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of these recipes.  My mom DID make amazing food (her chicken stir fry is INSANELY good) but I didn’t learn how to make chicken stock from her like most people do.  I had a desire to make it, and learned how to make it.  Maybe you’ll find a recipe that is unlike anything you’ve ever done before.  Maybe you’ll find a veggie at the farmer’s market that you’ve never cooked with (hellooo bok choy).  Whatever it is, jump into the water and man/woman up.
  • Perfect is for prissies.  My food isn’t always pretty.  Master cooking the food first, then worry about fanciness.  Food is no good if it looks good but tastes like crap.  Focus your energy.  You can be prissy later.

Home cooks, what are your tips for people trying to become better at cooking?

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Making your own lip balm

20140225_165359I go through a TON of lip balm in the winter.  As we discussed in the lotion post, it’s so dry here that from September to May i’m constantly slathered up from head to toe trying to keep from drying out.  In my mission to create a healthier home, I decided that something that is frequently used and goes near my mouth should probably be near the top of the list.

I found this great recipe for lip balm:

Just like last time with the oil wash, I’m going to tell you what changes I made, and what products helped me.  Just like before, I don’t get paid for telling you these things, I’m just trying to point you down the right path.

The basic idea is that you need to melt some things down, without overheating them, and without exposing them to water.  You can put an inch of water in a pan, and then put a sturdy glass container (like a wide mouth mason jar) in the pan and heat your ingredients in there.  That process is identical to the lotion recipe.  For the oil I used apricot oil this time, as I was making some of them for someone with coconut allergies.  For wax, I used organic beeswax pastilles.  I got the pastilles versus a bar because I don’t wanna have to grate them, it just saves me time.  I did add in some shea butter.  For both lotions and lip balms, your basic ratios are 1 part beeswax, 2 parts oil.  You can add in butters (like shea butter or cocoa butter) and you don’t have to adjust your beeswax/oil ratio.  If you like it a little more sloppy, have more oil.  You like a firm lotion or lip balm, add a little more beeswax.

When I made my lip balm, I got these cute little balm containers.  You can get empty tube-style if you prefer, or you can throw it in old altoid tins for all I care.  These just worked for me.  I made several different scents/flavors using essential oils: I made a couple with lemongrass, a couple with ginger lemon (GREAT for cycle-related nausea), a couple with lime/tangerine/lemon (citrus), and lots unscented.  It’s easier to get it in the containers with droppers.  They’re gonna be impossible to clean out, so if you go that route, get disposable.  If you don’t want to be throwing away that much, use a narrow spoon and clean it well afterwards.

Labeling the lip balms is optional, but it can help identify them in 3 months when you suddenly can’t remember what you made.  Or if you’re handing them out to people.  We use this label printer, but you don’t need anything fancy like that.

At the end of the day, you may be wondering about price.  When I made it with coconut oil I did the calculations, and each lip balm came in under 70 cents a piece.  That’s WAY cheaper than buying anything remotely comparable in the store.  And you get to control the consistency, the scent and flavor, and whether you want to spend a little more for organic components.


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Recipe Round-up: Braised Coconut Spinach with Chickpeas and Lemon


Photograph by Blake Royer,


Here’s another great vegetarian and vegan dish that is secretly LCHF.  Skip the rice and you’ve got a yummy meal!

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Recipe Round-up: Cheese taco shells

I’m fine with just using pork rinds or digging into taco meat (or lentil tacos!) with a fork, but Superhusband was needing something a little more like the real deal.  I heard rumblings about microwaving cheese in a circle and letting it cool in the shape of a taco shell, to basically make the equivalent of the hard corn taco shells, without, you know, corn.  This seemed a little like a weird “too good to be true” hack, but after the success of the Fathead pizza, it was worth a try.

I microwaved a slice of provolone cheese (you can use shredded, though, as the recipe states), and after dabbing away any grease that had pooled off, I let it rest around a round container of garlic powder.  It’s not the prettiest setup, but it worked.  By the way, the grease dabbing isn’t because i’m afraid of grease (obviously, I promote fats!), it was just a mess.  When the shell cooled, it was time for Superhusband to eat.

He’s a picky eater, so I was waiting to see what his reaction was.  His official response was: “Can you make some more?”  I’ll take that as a score!  They are a teensy bit chewier than a “real” taco shell, but it’s really tasty.  We’ll be doing this again.

It's not really a sexy picture, I can't really spice of a picture of microwaved cheese. Sorry.

It’s not really a sexy picture, I can’t really spice of a picture of microwaved cheese. Sorry.

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Recipe Round-up: Zucchini Pasta with Sausage and Roasted Garlic Sauce

I’m always looking for a good excuse to use my spiralizer.  Really, who needs an excuse?  Zucchini pasta is so fantastic!    If you’re dairy-free, this recipe will work for you.  Homemade yogurt, like we’ve mentioned before here, would also work great.  It’s also GAPS, Paleo, and SCD friendly.



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I’m tapping out.

I’m really kinda bummed to write this, but I’m giving up vegetarian month.  I’ve been really pushing hard through it and trying out some awesome recipes, but my body was giving me signs.  I was doing blog maintenance last night approving comments, deleting spam (no I don’t want your site design or penis enhancement help) and I re-read my entry about shoes/listening to your gut.  Starting this month, I was trying new recipes and my gut got mad, so I backed off and started going with tried-and-true recipes.  This helped some, but the last few days I’ve had an increase in migraines, a BIG increase in hand tingling, and leg swelling.  These were things that used to be everyday experiences for me pre-LCHF, but have gone away since.  I’ve been wanting to keep going, but  I decided I need to take my own advice, and return to my original way of eating a bit early.

Could it be the increase in nuts and dairy to make up for the lack of meat protein that caused the issues?  Maybe.  Could it be some sort of omega 6 overload?  Dunno.  Here’s what I do know:  I represent me.  There are six billion people on this planet.  I’m one of them.  Just one.  N=1 experiments are intriguing, but don’t really tell you much (and this really wasn’t meant to be an experiment, it was just something fun anyway).  So you shouldn’t take anything from my experiences beyond that they’re mine.  I find Sam Feltham’s self-experiments fascinating, but he’s one person.  For every one person who has an issue taking out meat, there’s tons more who thrive on plant-based diets.  I’m still going to continue to try new vegetarian and vegan dishes like I always have on this blog, but it seems that my body likes it better when they are spread out between meals with meat.

I still want to continue this month with featuring higher-fat grain-free sugar-free vegetarian dishes, so that’s my plan!

Still friends?

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How a waitress in Wisconsin reacts to a meat-free grain-free order

“I’d like 3 over-easy eggs, please.”

“And what kind of meat with that?”

“No meat.”

“And what kind of toast?”

“No toast, please.”

“OOOOOooooohhh.” (In a tone like I just said “My family was just brutally murdered by a werewolf.”)

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It’s not paranoia when it’s real

I scrolling through the day’s news when this article came up: it’s about how the drug Ambien, which has been approved for 20 years, has now had the recommended dose for women cut in half due to it recently being discovered that it works differently in women.

Too often, we get caught up with the idea that if something has gone through an approval process, it’s safe.  That’s not the case.  And too often, things are considered safe until they are proven toxic (think BPA).  Even when there is a government process for inspections for things like meat safety, they are stretched so thin that there is no way even a tiny percentage of your food to be inspected.

Eat healthy, and you’ll have to take less (or no!) medication.  Know where your food comes from.  Buy from your local farmer’s market, and get to know your vendors.  Err on the side of caution.  Only take medication if you absolutely have to, and only for the shortest length of time needed.  Read food labels.  This is your body, and you only get one of them.

Day 9: Sofritas and musings on shoes

Image courtesy of photostock /

Image courtesy of photostock /

Today I went to Chipotle and got a sofritas (tofu) bowl with guacamole, sour cream, pinto beans, lettuce, and cheese.  I’ll be honest… I didn’t miss the meat.  It literally tasted the same.  Score!

I was thinking today about a pair of shoes I bought a few years ago.  I WANTED them to fit.  They were cute, they were like what other people wore, and they were a good deal.  But every time I wore them was a disaster.  I’d get blisters within a quarter mile.  I didn’t get the arch support my poor feet needed.  They squeezed and tortured.  Yet I still put my feet through that laced suffering over and over again.  I didn’t need a podiatrist to tell me that those shoes weren’t good for me, my feet were SCREAMING at me that I needed to stop wearing those shoes.

If you’re someone who still eats a food that still hurts you,  you need to seriously ask yourself why.  I don’t care if that “hurt” is diarrhea, joint pain, migraines, or heartburn.  Your body is telling you that it shouldn’t be eating that food.  You don’t need to take tylenol or antacids or eat some fancy yogurt to fix it.  There is no pill for common sense, and common sense would tell you to stop eating that food.  I know you probably like the taste of it, maybe it’s a cheap food, maybe it’s convenient or is in lots of things, but you owe it to your body to listen to what it is saying.  You don’t need a doctor to tell you that when you eat bread/tomatoes/insert-name-of-your-offending-food, it hurts, and when you stop eating it you feel better.  You also don’t have to be allergic to an item to have an internal sensitivity to it.  I’m not allergic to tight shoes, but I get blisters from them.  I’m not allergic to wheat but it gives me migraines and joint pain.

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Day 8: Those plate-face looks

Day 8 was sort of a rush in the morning, and I quick packed a bag of walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds.  Awesome decision!  That was some great fuel.  My husband and I went to Pizza Ranch for dinner.  If you’ve never been there, it’s basically a pizza buffet but they also have a salad bar and fried chicken.  I grabbed some cheese pizza and ate just the toppings, and then went up to grab myself a salad.

Here’s where the heading of today’s blog post comes in.  I made myself a delicious garden salad and topped it with buttermilk ranch dressing and sunflower seeds, and dished myself out some cottage cheese as well.  As I was walking back to my seat, I got some of those plate-face looks.  You know, when they look at your plate, then look at your face.  It’s that “That’s a lot of fat” look.  It’s even worse when you’re overweight, because they think that you got fat eating that way, when you’re actually losing weight by eating fat.  I feel like I need a t-shirt.

I’m pretty much immune to the look, but I wish people wouldn’t do it!  How ridiculous.

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