Category Archives: Journey to Real Food

Garlic, Ginger, and Raw Honey

Everyone around me is getting sick these days. Cold, flu, nasty flu, bronchitis, pneumonia… It seems nobody, even my healthiest friends with the strongest immune systems, can fight off the illnesses that abound. And yet, I am trying… I am throwing together every natural remedy I can think of or find, in pure stubbornness and refusal of getting sick. I have been able to dodge the symptoms so far. A tiny sniffly nose here and there, but an extra dose of the next natural remedy I have discovered has been able to scare those germs away before they take a full hold on me. I am hoping to keep that up as I am starting to feel a little twinge of something coming on this evening. Some extra garlic pieces with dinner, a few shots of my home remedy concoctions and early to bed tonight will hopefully knock it out of my system! I figure if I eat enough garlic and ginger, the germs won’t want anything to do with me. (This may also contribute to my single status…perhaps I should re-think my healing strategy?)

My wish for you today is that you are healthy and happy. My wish to all my friends, family, and blog-readers who are ill or fighting off illness is for fast healing. To help nurse you back to health, I share with you some remedies that I hope will help in your healing. They have certainly helped me in fighting off the germs, and I hope they keep doing their job.

Honey Tea: 3 Ingredients to relief from cold and sore throat symptoms Fresh Lemon Slices Fresh Ginger Local Raw Honey

Honey Tea:
3 Ingredients to relief from cold and sore throat symptoms
Fresh Lemon Slices
Fresh Ginger
Local Raw Honey

In the last 3 weeks or so I have boiled fresh ginger and added raw honey for a ginger tea. I tracked down a supplier of dried elderberries to make elderberry syrup. My local bee keeper and his family have seen me in their shop multiple times, picking up more raw honey for my next concoction. Today I finally chose a larger container (3#, it fills a glass quart jar) that is refillable, so I can save a little money on my next trip. I considered getting the 6# half-gallon jar, but thought that may be overkill. I would have been wrong. I already used over half the jar I did purchase, and that was just a few hours ago! I also picked up some buckwheat honey at the bee keeper’s recommendation. It is a much darker honey, sweet and rich like molasses with extra benefits to help fight off the cold and flu.

I made my first round of Honey Tea, using local raw honey from Bees in the ‘Burbs a couple of years ago. I still use their honey and have gotten to know the family that runs the local business and I like giving them my business, even as seldom as it may be. I made 3 jars of Honey Tea today, so I can bless some friends with this treat. Among the most simple remedies, this “tea” requires only 3 ingredients (raw honey, ginger, and lemon) and takes about 5 minutes to put together. Store it in the fridge and when you need a boost or want to add flavor to your tea, mix it up and add a spoonful or two to your hot water.

A search last month for natural cold and flu remedies brought me to many, many links for elderberry syrup. It quickly became my new favorite remedy and I have started calling it my Feel Better Juice! I found a place near-ish my office to buy dried elderberries, but if you don’t have any luck with that, there are several retailers selling them. The remaining ingredients were already in my arsenal at home.

Feel Better Juice | Elderberry Syrup | Cold and Flu Remedy | |To make your own Feel Better Juice, you'll need whole sticks of cinnamon, whole cloves, fresh ginger, dried elderberries, water, and raw honey. Simmer all except the honey for about 20 minutes. Drain, discarding the solids and reserving the liquid. Allow to cool slightly. You don't want the honey to cook, just melt. You lose the benefits of raw honey if you let the good stuff cook out. Pour your Feel Better Juice into jars and take a shot or two every day, sick or not.

To make your own Feel Better Juice, you’ll need whole sticks of cinnamon, whole cloves, fresh ginger, dried elderberries, water, and raw honey. Simmer all except the honey for about 20 minutes. Drain, discarding the solids and reserving the liquid. Allow to cool slightly. You don’t want the honey to cook, just melt. You lose the benefits of raw honey if you let the good stuff cook out. Pour your Feel Better Juice into jars and take a shot or two every day, sick or not.

You will find many more natural remedies on the web, or better yet, Pinterest! That way you can save all the great things you find into one place, like I’ve done on my Pinterest page. Of course, you’ll want to create different boards to keep yourself organized. My Natural Remedies board has a pretty good collection of remedies with everything from headache relief to cold and flu symptoms, and everything beyond and in between! I hope you find some remedies that work for you! And as I find new ways to make my family healthy without putting drugs into our bodies, I will share them with you.

Now go get yourself some garlic, ginger, and raw honey and feel better soon!!!


Filed under Journey to Real Food

Bountiful Baskets

Bountiful Baskets

I have discovered (with the help of my Baby Sis) an amazing resource for affordable fresh produce, and I’m wondering what took me so long to participate in the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op. I picked up my second basket this morning, and am so excited about all the fresh foods my kids and I will be having this week! Plenty of fruits and veggies to last us all week.

When I say affordable, by the way, I mean that I got all the produce you see in the picture for just $15! That’s right. I got 6 sweet potatoes, 3 small zucchini, a bunch of asparagus, a large head of lettuce, 2 heads of broccoli, 2 bags of brussels sprouts, a pineapple, a bunch of bananas, 3 grapefruit, 5 apples, and 7 oranges! Thatsalottafreshfood! Will we eat it all? You bet! Possibly not all this week, but when stored properly, most of this will be good for 2+ weeks.

I bet you’re wondering how we’ll use all that produce… well, we started out tonight by roasting some in the oven and topping off big bowls of pasta with the vegetables and some fresh grated parmesan cheese. And for dessert? How about some pudding and sliced fresh fruits? Yes, please! And Thank You. 🙂 And of course there will be plenty of snacks with all those fresh foods! (Hint: If you put out a bowl of cut up fresh vegetables and/or fruits while you’re cooking dinner, the kids will have something to snack on when they say “I’m HUNGRY!” Hummus or Ranch Dressing may make those veggies more appealing to the pickier eater.)

(I bet you thought I was going to be talking about a different kind of Bountiful Baskets, huh? Silly… the Easter Bunny hasn’t visited yet… that’s not til tomorrow!)


Filed under Journey to Real Food

Surprising Edible Goodness

Oh, what excitement I’m feeling today! I was squealing with joy last night as I read the following in Eat Pray Love 

“Then there was a pop-surprise bonus side order brought by the waitress for free– a serving of fried zucchini blossoms with a soft dab of cheese in the middle (prepared so delicately that the blossoms probably didn’t even notice they weren’t on the vine anymore).”

WHAT?! You mean I can actually eat the blossoms on the zucchini plants? It sounds divine! In my excitement I got all giddy, thinking of the beautiful flowers I had been looking at on our zucchini plants, and what a wonderful treat they are going to make. (And in my thoughts I continued on that next year, I will plant more zucchini plants! Neighbors, you’ve been warned.)

I am now researching to find what other plant parts might be edible from our smallish garden, and so far we are eating kohlrabi leaves & beet leaves and have discovered the leaves (but NOT the flowers) on tomato plants are edible, as are the broccoli leaves. I will share my research and our kitchen experiments and hope you will find that a happy side effect of having your own garden is getting more parts of the plant to use and share with your family.


Filed under Books, Cooking With Love, Eat Pray Love, Garden, Journey to Real Food

Market Chatter

Saturday morning has quickly become one of my favorite times. It means a trip to the Farmer’s Market. A place where it seems everyone is happy, from the vendors to the visitors, kids and even the dogs. A friendly place where you can visit with anyone you happen upon. Even the lady with hair longer than mine seemed happy to talk about hair for a bit– My hair, for those who may not know, is down to my waist. This lady’s hair was about mid-thigh! I commented to my sister that I was jealous of the length of the lady’s hair, and she pondered “I wonder what kind of shampoo she uses?” And then asked her! Me? I would never have said a word, but my sister is not shy about those things. We had a fairly lengthy (pun kinda intended) discussion about tips for growing long hair before moving along to finish our shopping for our dinner salad.

This was my sister’s first trip to our market. She lives 4 hours away, and was in town just overnight, and today I was travelling with her, back to her home, along with my boy and girl children for their week at camp down “in her neck of the woods”. So, since she is kind enough to let us stay in her home overnight before sending the kiddos off to camp, I wanted to make a contribution for dinner. I knew I wanted to pick up some tomatoes, and needed to walk around a bit to see what else we might want to add. Although we only ended up picking up the lettuce and tomatoes from the market, it was a very enjoyable and worthwhile trip.

I always like to talk to the vendors I’m buying from. They are full of information and tips, and when they get to know you from stopping in regularly, they can even make recommendations for you. Today I was picking up some lettuce from one of my usual stops and she pointed out a speckled lettuce in the back of the display. Having turned me on to arugula previously, I trusted her and added it to my bag. (And, I have to say, we were very pleased with this decision!) And do you know what else she had today? She had a flyer for a local farm selling Raw Cow’s Milk!!! I’m thinking about getting a drop off site set up in my town if I can find enough people interested. It only takes 20 gallons every 2 weeks to get the drop off site set up. Just 1 gallon a week for 10 families! Let me know if you’re interested or have questions. The benefits of raw milk are amazing (click the link above for more information on raw milk). I’ll share more of my thoughts on raw milk and other real foods, but not tonight. No, tonight I am just rambling about my miscellaneous kind of day at the market.


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Filed under Farmer's Markets, Journey to Real Food

Duck, Duck, Goose

I walked into the kitchen one night to find 3 eggs sitting on the counter, marked “duck”, “duck” and “chick”. We had hard boiled some duck and chicken eggs and in order to know which is which, they were marked… for some reason, I found the sight quite hilarious. The boys in the house didn’t find the humor, but the girl child shares my sense of humor and all I had to do was show her the eggs and she started laughing, too.

Of course… I immediately knew what I had to do… I had to buy some goose eggs! And I did. And they are huge! I also had to do some research to share the difference (other than size) in the eggs. (Really, any excuse to go to the Farmer’s Market. I was happy to visit Triton’s Farms for more duck eggs and a couple goose eggs, and of course the rest of my fave vendors down there, too.)

store chicken egg, chicken egg from friend's chicken, duck egg, goose egg

I searched and searched and was unable to find a nutritional comparison that included goose eggs. What I did find compares the nutritional value of duck eggs to chicken eggs. (I know… it’s a website selling duck eggs… quite expensive duck eggs, I might add!!! But, the information is good.) Another site for egg nutritional information isn’t quite as complete, although it includes information for more types of eggs. If those sites don’t convince you that you’re not getting the nutrients you need and deserve from “regular store bought eggs”, check THIS out, and then look at my pictures below, keeping in mind that more color, brighter color=more flavor and more nutrition!

L-R: store chicken egg, chicken egg from friend's chicken, duck egg, goose egg

How about side-by-side:

clockwise L-R: goose egg, duck egg, chicken egg

Now… go out and buy yourself some better eggs! (Or if the urge strikes you, do as many of my friends have done: buy your own chickens and collect your own eggs, right out of your own backyard!)


Filed under Cooking With Love, Journey to Real Food

Garden of Health

For 8+ years, we lived in an apartment. An apartment facing the Northside of the building, garnering exactly zero sunlight through the windows, including zero sunlight on the small apartment deck. This made it impossible to garden, even container gardening that I always heard of people doing in small spaces, such as apartments. No sun=no garden growth… not to mention I always felt drained and I know it was partially due to the lack of sun. (But that’s a story for another day) In December 2009 we moved into a house. A house with a yard. A house with a fenced in area that looked like a perfect space for a garden. So, with permission from the owners of the house, we dug up the grass in that area and set to the task of creating our first garden.

Tilling the land proved to take longer than expected and my plant starts sat in their little plastic pots for a couple weeks before the garden was ready. While the back garden was being prepared, I got to work on the front gardens. I have no patience for flowers (all that work and I get no food from it!), so I have transformed the front “flower beds” into a berry garden with raspberries and strawberries and a salsa & salad garden with tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lettuce, carrots and some other herbs. My Mom will be pleased to know that I caved and planted some pansies… of course, that was only because there was a stray plant growing at the edge of the lawn, and I decided to save it before the boy child ran it over with the lawnmower!

We anxiously await our first crop, but while we wait for the fruits and vegetables of our labor to be ready, we are making good use of the fresh herbs. The girl child was proud to tell me last night at dinner that the cilantro she sprinkled on top was from our garden. She was beaming with pride, in turn, making me beam with pride for teaching my children the value of hard work and what it’s like to grow your own food. Important lessons will be learned this summer, and into the fall as we weed, water, harvest and get ready to start all over again for next year.

I’m fighting back against industry, and this is just another step in the direction of not depending on industrialized, overly-processed foods. We are growing our own! In the process, we’re getting some sun, we’re moving and taking back our health!

——-This post is part of Fight Back Friday on Food Renegade… because I AM a Food Renegade!

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Filed under Garden, Journey to Real Food

A Healthy Addiction

Yes, I have an addiction. I’m calling it a healthy addiction, because I can’t think of a single thing wrong with being addicted to the local Farmer’s Markets!

Reasons I love the market:

  1. It has beautiful, vibrant colors in nearly every shade imaginable.
  2. I get to be outside on sunny days, and I don’t even mind it when the day isn’t so sunny. 😉
  3. It supports local farmers
  4. The customer service is great
  5. Even the kids find entertainment
  6. I always end up running into friends or people I haven’t seen in a long time, which makes me happy

Yesterday I spent some time with my girl-child (who was kind enough to be my photographer for the day) at the Kittitas County Farmer’s Market. My first experience at this market was just a few weeks ago, though it was not my first farmer’s market experience. After just 1 trip to this market, I was addicted! Immediate addiction! For all the reasons stated above and so many more that are impossible to describe with mere words. Pictures can help a little, but the thing that cannot be shared with words or with pictures is how being at the market feels… it’s a warm, inviting place, and I can’t believe I have waited this long to get there. (Perhaps because I already knew I would fast become addicted! 😉 )

My mission for this week was to get some duck eggs from Triton’s Farm and some tomatoes from Kittitas Valley Greenhouse, and I needed 1 more tomato plant from my favorite vendor, Lark Meadows (sorry, no website for them… but you’ll be hearing more about this place from me, because they are just amazing!). Arming my shoulder with shopping bags and my pockets with cash, I was ready to accomplish my mission of gathering fresh ingredients for the weeks’ meals.  And I must say: “Mission Accomplished”

Triton’s Farm had 1 dozen duck eggs left! We were lucky enough to get there in time for that last dozen… and decided on a couple goose eggs, as well. The family is excited to give those a try, and the chosen meal for those big ol’ eggs will be quiche (flavor yet to be decided…) If you’ve never seen a goose egg, well… here’s a picture of my bowl filled with duck & goose eggs. Can you guess which are which?! (You’ll hear more about the difference between duck eggs and chicken eggs in another post… and now we have goose eggs to add to our comparisons!)

Kittitas Valley Greenhouse always has a colorful array of tomatoes to choose from. Their “seconds” bin holds great deals for those who aren’t picky about the shape of the tomato or other imperfections, like scarring or soft spots. I’ve gotten tomatoes from that bin a couple times and am always extremely happy with the purchase. This time, however, I did not find what I wanted there, because I was looking for something specific and needed to be a little pickier. To go with grilled tacos yesterday, I needed some fresh salsa, and thought it would be fun to make it colorful! I picked up a lemon boy, a goliath, a green zebra and a cucumber, and we made a wonderful salsa, plus had some left for our salad this evening.

Lark Meadows found me smiling yet again as they had 1 more of the Long Keeper Tomato plants I was hoping to get. I also picked up some asian greens, leaf lettuce and fresh tarragon for salads and dressings this week. My girl child took the opportunity to snap many more pictures, as she found the plants interesting, and I think she was even more entranced with the beautiful tags for each plant (I am only guessing on that, due to the number of pictures she took, but I think it’s a pretty accurate assumption. 😉 ) I chatted with the girl there, who, by the way, has remembered me every time I have come by to see her, which makes me happy and she earned a loyal customer by smiling and always being helpful to this newbie gardener! She has said I can bring the kids out to the farm to see their goats and sheep, and I will definitely be taking her up on that, now that school is out for summer. I look forward to seeing what other fresh yumminess Lark Meadows will have in store for me this summer, and can hardly wait for the tomato & pepper plants I have bought from them to begin producing some fruit!

Though I didn’t visit them on this trip to the market, I do want to be sure to mention Whitaker Grassfed Beef! I bought a box of their beef on my first 2 trips to the market, and the next time I visit them, it will be for purchase of a larger amount. Freezer space is currently limited, but I am finding my way to the back of what we have to make room for healthier, grassfed beef! We have used several pounds of the ground beef and find it to be more flavorful and less greasy that grocery store meat. Also used has been a gorgeous chuck roast and stew meat that was made into my favorite busy day beef soup!

As I mentioned, my girl child was my photographer and she did a great job. You’ll find more pictures in the photo album on my Facebook page. Be sure to “Like” the page and get updates from That Cook Girl, including more pictures and links to helpful information. Oh… and how could I forget?! Next weekend the Roslyn Sunday Market opens! I hope to see you all there.

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Filed under Farmer's Markets, Journey to Real Food

My War Against Industry

It’s a different battle every day, and while some may say it’s a losing war, I will not even “agree to disagree”, I simply DISAGREE! I may lose a battle now and then, but I am winning in the war against industrial food. The war for Real Food. The war for taking back my family’s health, one day at a time!

I trust traditional foods. I believe this world was created with all the nutrients we needed to survive and to HEAL. We are an arrogant people to think what we can create in a factory is better for us than what was created in order to sustain life on this planet.

I have always cooked most meals “from scratch”, but in recent years, my busy schedule and laziness got the best of me, and I began using more and more “convenience foods”. I’ve decided those foods aren’t so convenient. Unless you consider getting sick more often than ever and generally feeling awful to be convenient. (I don’t.) I’ve removed most of these foods, but have kept dried pastas and we’re working our way through a large stash of canned foods. In the process, we have (re-)discovered the virtues of Real Food and enjoy not getting sick. (An occasional sniffle, maybe a little fever for the kids here and there… but nothing like we were going through 2 years ago!)

I’ve been reading and researching for a while now, and while I’ve not removed all industrial foods from our kitchen life, I have to say I feel much better about what we’re eating. We’re finding new foods to try and enjoy, and meeting some wonderful people along our journey.

The folks over at Food Renegade have been an amazing source of information for me. I am so happy to be joining their Fight Back Friday Blog Carnival this week.

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