Household · Kitchen

Menu Plan Update

We are on week two of the menu plan. I changed a couple of things to work around a stomach bug my oldest had for two days. Instead of bean and barley soup, I made a simple risotto instead with homemade bone broth. I figured the beans would be too hard on her tummy while it was out of sorts. And instead of the chicken and rice dish, I made it into a chicken and rice soup, again made with homemade bone broth.

There are several things I am really loving lately – bone broth, water kefir, and fresh orange juice.

1. Homemade bone broth is a WONDERFULLY healthy food to keep on hand. What I have found to be easy and manageable is using my crockpot to slow cook two whole chickens together all day long. I then take the meat off the bones and put the bones back into the crockpot, cover them with water (usually 8-12 cups) and throw in a little apple cider vinegar, a stalk of celery, some onion and a couple of carrots. Then I cook is on Low for 12-18 hours. It works perfectly if I start the broth at dinner time; then I can catch it at breakfast and it is always done around lunch. There isn’t much hands-on except starting it and then straining the bones and other things out when it is done cooking. I pour the strained broth in quart mason jars and let them cool on the counter, then put a lid on and store in the fridge because we usually use them over the next few days. (you can also freeze or can the broth, if you want.) It will gel as it cools, but it easily melts once you warm it for soup (or risotto, or making rice or pasta with, or even to sip!). Bone broth is amazingly good for you, and there are a lot of resources online that recommend sipping it throughout the day, especially when you are feeling under the weather. It is incredibly easy on the stomach.

Here are a couple of sites for more info on bone broth:

Nourished Kitchen

Cultures for Health

Keeper of the Home

Wellness Mama

2. Water Kefir is another great food to keep around. I am still new to making my kefir, but I am amazed at how easy it is and how many options there are for flavors! A friend from church gave me some water kefir grains (which are not actually grains, that is just what they are called) and some instructions and away I went. My girls were pretty interested in experimenting with me. I am making about a quart of it every other day, and we have tried 4 flavors (other than the original flavor) so far: vanilla, strawberry vanilla, pomegranate soda, and raisin soda.

Essentially, all you are doing is feeding the good bacteria with sugars, letting them ferment once (or twice, with flavors) and then drinking it! You just repeat the process over and over with the “grains” and they grow. You can divide them up and give them away to friends, which I am excited to do soon. My husband isn’t quite sold on the idea of fermenting things and ingesting them :), but I am hoping to win him over soon!

Here are a couple of sites that I have found great info from with regard to feeding the grains, flavors, and other things:

Wellness Mama

Cultures for Health

3. Fresh Orange Juice is mostly just so delicious. Did you know that the company’s that produce orange juice color their juice, so that they all have that bright orange color? Have you ever wondered how the juices are so uniform in color and taste?? And they don’t have to list that coloring or flavoring on their containers! I had never really considered it before, saw an article about it, and then really began to notice the coloring of the juice. EVERY carton is the same color….but when I make it at home, sometimes the color varies in orangey-ness (is that a word??) and in flavor.

I have cut back on the amount of juice I consume because of the sugar content. Even juice squeezed at home is high in sugar. The BEST way to consume fruit juices is in smoothies (in my opinion) because you get the fiber of the fruit in addition to the juice. When you juice fruits, you ONLY get the sugary juice. No fiber. When you make smoothies you are using the whole fruit (skin/peel/rind of most fruits). AND usually you use a probiotic rich ingredient like yogurt with the smoothie, so you are getting even more benefits with the smoothie route.

My kids still enjoy juice with breakfast, so on the days I serve juice I like to make it myself. My husband would prefer to just pull a carton from the fridge and pour a glass, but that’s a struggle for another day. 🙂 Thankfully, my kiddos do love smoothies as well, so we can mix it up in the morning with options of juice, smoothies or just a glass of milk.

So, those are some of my favorite things as of late and the reasons I am enjoying them in our diet.

Have you tried something new lately that you just absolutely love?? Please share!

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