real food abcs - dressing

D for Dressings

Eating more real foods can be really simple when you include homemade salad dressing. They are very easy to make and you control of the ingredients.

Of course I had to include dressings in this real food series. I was on a homemade dressing kick for quite a while and now have about 20 different salad dressings (and some bonus sauces) on the dressings and sauces page.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Taco/Buttermilk Ranch/Blue Cheese Vinaigrette/Creamy Taco Dressing/Sesame Ginger/Cilantro Lime

Why make your own dressings? Because many of the ingredients in store-bought dressings are both unhealthy and unnecessary.

Here is a list of typical ingredients in a ranch dressing:
Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Canola), Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors (Milk, Soy), Spices, Less Than 1% of: Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium Edta As Preservatives, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate.

And here is a list of ingredients in a fat free italian dressing:
Water, Vinegar, High fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Contains Less Than 2% of Dried Garlic, Soybean Oil, Garlic, Modified Food Starch, Xanthan Gum, Dried Onions, Dried Red Bell Peppers, Spice, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, With Potassium Sorbate.
There is some MSG, colorings, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors. No thank you!

Most of the dressings on my site, and on others' blogs as well, are simple. The nice thing about making your own dressings is that after you do it a couple times, it becomes very easy to just throw one together with whatever ingredients you have in your kitchen. It is a great way to start your real food journey.

Up next: E for Eatwild

Click here to see all the posts in the series
For more real food tips, healthy recipes and inspiration for your well-being:

real food abcs - coconut oil

 C for coconut oil

Coconut oil is a real food staple in many households and has many health benefits.  I had to include coconut oil in my abc's because I have been talking about it and converting people to using it for years. Although it is in vogue now, I am sure there are still some people who are hesitant to use it.

It is loaded with saturated fat. LOADED. Don't fret about it. If you missed it, I linked a few articles in B for butter on the issue of saturated fat and heart disease. Also coconut oil is unique in its saturated fat chemical make-up.

A bit biochemical
Most of the saturated fats are medium chain fatty acids. These types of fatty acids are readily absorbed by the body to provide energy. Which means they are less likely to be stored as fat.
Coconut oil also contains lauric acid and caprylic acid which have anti-fungal and antiviral properties.

The different ways you can use coconut oil are endless and many others have blogged about them as well. So I am just going to include what I use it for.

  • Baking - every once in a while I will use coconut oil in a bread or cookie instead of butter or oil
  • Coffee - I put a tablespoon in my coffee in the mornings to give me some energy and get some healthy fat
  • Cooking - sauteing foods - but not eggs, it gives them a weird coconutty flavor
  • Hair conditioner - sometimes I will put it on my hair for a deep conditioning treatment
  • Homemade deodorant - yes, I make homemade deodorant and the main ingredient is coconut oil
  • Homemade toothpaste  - pretty much same as the deodorant
  • Lotion - I will occasionally use coconut oil as a moisturizer. However, I do not use it on my face because it actually makes it more dry.
Coconut oil is so versatile and such a healthy ingredient to have on hand. I definitely would recommend it for stocking up your real food pantry.

Click here if you missed any letters.

Up next: D for Dressing

For more real food tips, recipes, and inspiration for your well-being:

real food abcs - butter

B for Butter

Real food includes butter, which is simple and can be a part of a healthy diet. Basic butter. Not fancy, not new, not fake. Butter is a real food with few ingredients. It is simple.

But isn't butter high in saturated fat? Yup. But I am not worried about saturated fat (more on that in a sec).

Butter is a great real food, but  some manufacturers that want you to think there are healthier alternatives. Let's look at a product that wants you to believe it is just as good or maybe even healthier.

And they say it right in the name. But believe is NOT butter. 

Since I am all about less ingredients and less processing, the ingredients list comparison is enough for me to choose butter over not butter. The ingredients are easy to understand and it is something that could easily be made from scratch at home. Not only that, but soybean oil and canola oil are not as healthy as you might think.

Besides being less processed with basic ingredients, butter also contains the vitamins A, D, E and K.  And it has something called Conjugated Linoleic Acid that may help the immune system and with weight loss. 

And yet in your head you may still be saying "But it still has saturated fats."

Saturated Fats

If the ingredients list comparison and nutrients is still overshadowed by your fear of saturated fats, here is some information that may help.

Now I know you may find other research articles that will say saturated fat is bad. But the research is not conclusive and saturated fat actually increases HDL, which is the good cholesterol that is protective.

One other thing to consider with butter is the source. Happy cows roaming freely in a pasture will produce a much healthier product than CAFO cows. When possible choose butter from pastured cows.

Up next: C for Coconut Oil

Did you miss A for Apple Cider Vinegar

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These baked apple chips are flavored with pumpkin spice. A simple, healthy fall treat. |

Apple season is here. These baked apple chips are a great, easy way to transform some of those apples into a yummy fall snack.

I originally made these with traditional pumpkin spice, but as I have been incorporating vitality essential oils* more into my cooking, I have updated this recipe to show both ways.

2 Apples - or however many you choose
~ 1 Tbs. Coconut Oil -more for more apples

~ 1 tsp. Pumpkin Spice - more for more apples
3 drops cinnamon vitality oil
3 drops ginger vitality oil
2 drops clove vitality oil
1 drop orange vitality oil

Heat oven to 225 degrees.

Slice the apples thin - about an 1/8 inch thick. (no I didn't measure). Place apples on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Warm the coconut oil so that it is liquid. You can heat it in the microwave, on the stove, or under some warm running water. Once it is liquid, mix in the pumpkin spice or the essential oils. Brush the coconut oil mixture on the apples. Place baking sheet on middle rack in oven.

Bake for ~ 2 hours or until chips are crispy. I have seen some recipes where they only cook for an hour, but mine were not done in that short of time. I think it was actually closer to 2.5 hours.

*Only ingest essential oils from reputable companies that you have researched. Not all companies are the same. I only trust Young Living for myself and my family. 

Want more pumpkin?
Fudgy Cocoa Pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin Cakies

real food abcs | a for apple cider vinegar

You know apples, you know apple cider, you know vinegar, but you might not be familiar when it all comes together as apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is a great item to add to your pantry for good health. Writing this post, I still felt that although I knew a bit about it, I was not aware of all the potential benefits.

This post may contain affiliate links. 

Apple cider vinegar is a fermented product made from apples. Apples are fermented to cider and then a second fermentation process turns the alcohol into vinegar. 

The reason I started using apple cider vinegar was for energy. I heard that a tablespoon in a glass of water in the afternoon could boost energy. For me, it really does work. Could it be a placebo? Sure. But even if it is, it is an easy, cheap way to get an energy boost. 

I have also used it as a hair rinse. In place of conditioner, rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar. It makes it really shiny and manageable. 

There are some other purported benefits of apple cider vinegar including:

  • Aids in weight loss
  • Helps to regulate blood sugar
  • Fights dandruff
  • Helps with body odor
  • Treats oily hair
  • Tones skin
  • Detoxifies

Many of these benefits may be more anecdotal than scientific, but I try to keep an open mind. Even if I am not sure the science completely backs it up, placebos aren't always a bad thing if they do not harm.

The other nice thing is that since it is vinegar, it can be used just like any other vinegar: in salad dressings, cleaning bathrooms, for marinades, etc. So even if there are no health benefits that come about from trying it, at least it will not go wasted. 

If you are going to try it, I would recommend getting one with The Mother:

"a natural cloudy substance found only in raw, unfiltered organic vinegar formed from naturally occurring, strand-like chains of protein enzyme molecules"

Let me know if you have experienced any positives from apple cider vinegar.

Up next: B for Butter

 For more real food tips, nutrition & inspiration for your well-being: 


real food abcs

Real Food ABC's is a series of articles highlighting real food and giving you simple tips to start eating more real food regularly.  Each letter of the alphabet highlights a food, website, or other item that has to do with real food, cooking, homemade, eating from scratch, or simplifying real food.

Some posts introduce things you may not have heard of or just simply do not use. Each post gives you more information that is practical and to the point. You might find the information is enough, or maybe a post might spark you to do more research.

My hope is that this series will help you on your path to enjoying more real food. 

All posts in the Real Food ABC series

For more real food tips, simple recipes, nutrition, natural living & more:

When it comes to toiletries and beauty products, I would say I am about 80% natural 20% conventional. (I really do not want to give up my Diorshow) One way I have decreased the scary chemicals I am exposed to is by making homemade toothpaste.

This toothpaste only has 3 ingredients. Although you can find a lot of variations around the web and on Pinterest, I have played with the formula a bit to get what I think is the best consistency.

This post may contain affiliate links. 

I love my crock pot and I love freezer cooking. Over the last couple weeks I combined them and filled my freezer with food. 

This is what I did over 5 days plus a bonus day the next week:

Sunday - homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh tomatoes
Monday - cooked ~5 1/2 pounds taco meat. Used ~ 1 pound for dinner and froze four 1-pound portions
Tuesday - crock pot chicken - ate some for dinner and froze the leftover meat which will be enough for 2 meals
Wednesday - zucchini lasagna - didn't really turn out as expected, but it made a great side dish and I was able to freeze enough to use as a pasta sauce
Thursday - Carnitas - ate some for dinner and was able to save another portion for another dinner

So just in those 5 days I was able to freeze 9 items. The weekend was a holiday weekend and we were out and about, but then...

Tuesday - sausage and carrots - ate some for dinner - froze two dinner portions.

So that makes 11 freezer items in 10 days!

And besides the Sunday where I made tomato sauce, the rest of the days did not require any extra prep work from what I would have normally done for dinner.

Hope this inspires you to try some freezer cooking using your crock pot. 

Besides my crockpot, I also love these tools. They make cooking so much easier. 


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