real pumpkin ice cream -

Since pumpkin season is now upon us, and I am in the midst of my Real Food ABC's, I wanted to include a "real food" pumpkin recipe. Although ice cream is more of a summer treat, I don't deny myself some at other times of the year. And of course, walking in to a grocery store, the freezer aisle has an endless amount for sale.

The other day at the store I noticed some seasonal pumpkin ice cream available. As I often do, I had to turn it over to look at the ingredients.

19 ingredients in the store-bought version. And although not all of those ingredients are weird and/or scary, there are still a lot of them. Especially when you compare the ingredients in the homemade version vs the un-homemade.

6 ingredients vs. 19

You can still have a yummy real food treat and avoid the over-processed products by making things at home.

A special thank you goes out to my sister. She actually made the ice cream for this post and photographed it for me. She used her KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. (affiliate link) The recipe also came from KitchenAid.

pumpkin cakies -

I love the idea of using a cake mix to make cookies. I happened to have some Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix (affiliate link) in my pantry and a can of pumpkin. I just needed to add some spices and I was on my way to some easy cakies. 

Why cakies? These are not as crispy as cookies. I wish I could say I coined the term, but I did not. I first saw it used here.

Vanilla Cake Mix - I used Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix, (affiliate link) however you can use any store-bought or, even better, homemade
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the cake mix, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice in a bowl until combined. This creates a much thicker dough than cake batter. Drop ~ 1 tbsp worth of dough onto a cookie sheet. These really did not spread much for me, so you do not have to worry about placing the dough mounds close together. Bake for 8-12 minutes. 

I bet these would taste great with some cream cheese frosting. 

*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. 

real food abcs - gelatin

G for Gelatin

Gelatin is a fantastic healthy, real food that can enhance your wellbeing and elevate your nutrition.

If you are thinking this post is all about that jiggly dessert in bright colors, you are a bit off. Although jello does contain gelatin, my focus will just be on the gelatin itself.

Part of the reason I chose gelatin for G was because I also wanted to do more research on it for myself. I knew gelatin was healthy, but I wanted to know more.

What is gelatin?
Gelatin is a protein. Although it is a good source of protein, it is not complete; which means it is missing some of the essential amino acids.

Where does it come from?
Gelatin is derived from the collagen of animals.  It is usually found in connective tissue and bones.

What is it good for?
There are so many purported benefits of gelatin. I am not going to name them all, but I do want to share some that I think are enough to convince you (and me) to consume more gelatin.

  1. Gelatin is hydrophilic (water-lovin') and helps attract digestive juices to the gut for better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Source
  2. Decreases cellulite! Anecdotal
  3. Protects the stomach lining form ulcers. Source
  4. Weight loss Anecdotal
  5. Protects and strengthens the joints and helps alleviate pain from osteoarthritis. Source
  6. High in the amino acid glycine, gelatin can help with sleep, inflammation, and blood sugar levels. Source

Where to get it?
First and foremost, you can get it from animals themselves. You know after you cook a chicken and put the leftovers in the fridge  Then the next morning there is that congealed stuff around it. Do not throw it away. Eat that up!

Secondly, you can buy gelatin powder. It is best to get the powder from animals that have been raised ethically. For example, grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. You can get grass fed gelatin here (affiliate link)

So will gelatin become part of your real food journey?

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I truly am in awe at how people save so much money on groceries. I did write a post about saving and splurging when it comes to real food, but I don't think I will ever get close to the numbers some people get. So here is my top ten list on why I will never be able to feed our family of 2.5 on $100 bucks a month (or some other ridiculous low number).

top ten reasons I don't feed my family on $100 a month |

10. Does wine count in the grocery budget?

9. Yes, of course I am going to use the bok choy, kale, beets, turnips, parsnips, ugly fruit, and quince in recipes this week that will end up lasting us the whole month. No, I won't let it go bad...

8.  I'll buy organic granola for little one so she isn't exposed to GMO and pesticides and I'll buy more of the regular granola for me and #1.

7. Look, with this coupon doubled I can get ___________(fill in the blank) free. No thanks. I don't really like to buy food-like substances.

Some suggestions
  • pop tarts
  • cheese whiz
  • chicken nuggets
  • nutri-grain bars
  • margarine
  • anything with soy protein isolate (I isolate that from my diet)
 6. I need a second bottle of wine for using in recipes, honest.

5. When that poor chicken telepathically told me what a horrible life he lived, I had to buy the twice as expensive organic one to support that farm.

4. I can't find my coupon for organic apples...oh wait, it doesn't exist.

3. I remember something in the news about some olive oils being fake but can't remember which one. I'll just buy the most expensive and hope for the best. Should have bought from here.

2. Even a crunchy mom wants some go-to snacks. Let me grab this 2 oz bag of dried blueberries and find out later it is $9.00. (Yes, this happened. I actually did buy this but didn't look at the price. I ended up returning it because there was no way I was going to spend that much on a handful of berries.)

1. One more bottle of wine should be enough for the week. :)

What would be in your top ten?

Crock pot freezer meals -
If you missed it, this weeks real food ABC was on the freezer. Utilizing your freezer and making freezer meals can help increase real food and decrease boxed meals or eating out.

I created a printable to help you. If you were to use this you could make 5 things in your crockpot (affiliate link)and have enough for ~ 19 meals!!

There are a few things to note:

  1. These are only suggestions and do not include recipes. This is just to give you an idea of what you could do.
  2. Okay technically some of these are not "meals" but they are a good start to create a meal from. 
  3. I was definitely on a Mexican food kick when I wrote this.
  4. The amounts are approximate. If you have a bigger family who eats more, you may not get the same number of freezer items.
  5. Some grocery items are not listed. Things like spices or butter/oil. 
  6. If you do this each night for a week and are wondering about cleaning your crockpot every night, you can use slow cooker liners. Reynolds liners are BPA free. (affiliate link)

Click here for the printable.

real food tip 6: crockpot freezer meals -

linked to Talent Show Tuesday

real food abcs - freezer cooking

F for Freezer

When eating more real food the freezer is your friend. It has helped me out in so many ways to eat less processed. Even if you do not have a large freezer, you can still benefit from any space you may have available.

Fruits and veggies (F&V)
Although eating fresh F&V is important, there is a place for frozen. The nice thing about frozen F&V is that they are usually frozen very shortly after picking. Which means they will not lose as many vitamins and minerals.

Frozen F&V also will last longer. How many times have you bought some bok choy, mushrooms, beets, and zucchini loftily thinking about all the recipes you will create with them only to find them wilted and moldy a week or two later in the fridge. (That cannot be just me.) But with frozen foods, if you do not make that fancy recipe you spotted on Pinterest, you don't have to worry about throwing food out. You will have several months to use those freezer items.

Meat is expensive. Organic meat is more expensive. Grass-fed beef is really expensive. But if you buy in bulk like I talked about in E for Eatwild, you can get great meat much cheaper and have it available in your freezer. Another option, which I do all the time, is to try to always buy meats when on sale. So even if you were not planning on spending 75 dollars on meat one week, but there were a bunch of markdowns, snatch them up. Then you will be set for a while and the next few weeks your grocery bill should be less because you already have the meats you might need.

Freezer cooking
Another way to use your freezer for real food is by doing freezer cooking. If you have not done this yet, I highly recommend it. It really makes life so much easier, saves time, and may not take a ton of extra time to do.  I did a post on freezer cooking using my crock pot. In 5 days I was able to make 10 extra meals at the same time I cooked our regular dinner.

So now that you have F&V, meats, and freezer meals stocked in your freezer, you will have less of a need for processed foods.

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Linked to Fresh Foods Wednesday

Don't you get warm fuzzies just hearing that: concentrated animal feed operation? Do you picture rolling hills, beautiful trees, lush grasses, and happy cows hearing: concentrated animal feed operation? Yeah, me neither.

CAFOs are where animals are raised and kept in a confined operation. They "congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area." source Additionally, these animals have no access to grass or vegetation.

Some of these may be small and have less than 300 animals, while others could have over 1000. Although I could not find information on typical land size, if you do a google image search of CAFO, you will get an idea of the level of confinement.

Although there are many reasons to avoid CAFO meat, I think for me, what they may be fed is the most disturbing.

real food abcs - eatwild website

E for Eatwild

On our journey towards eating more real foods, the next entry focuses on meats that are grass-fed, pasture raised, from local farms and sustainable. is a great website to find local, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, sustainable meats.

Why would you want to to include this on your real food journey?

Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Yup, those beneficial fats that you always hear about in fish are also in beef. But not just any beef. Grain-fed beef does not have as high of an amount. Grass-fed also has a higher amount of Vitamin E.

And what do they not have? Hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs, GMO corn and soy. When we eat animal products that are treated with those substances or eat those foods, we are also exposed. It is so so cliche but I have to write it, I'll write it small: we are what we eat.

I will be doing another post this week on larger factory farms, but I wanted to keep this post mostly focused on the positive. So back to eatwild.

They have an interactive map where you can find your state.

When you click on your state, it will list the farms in that state that sell grass-fed beef, pastured chickens and lamb, pastured eggs, etc. And it doesn't just list the name of the farm and the address. It gives you a little information about the farm. For example, this is the information about a farm in NJ:

Beechtree Farm, Hopewell, NJ. Inspired after hearing Jo Robinson speak on why grassfed is best in 2003, we began to expand our cattle operation of 20 years and selling our grassfed beef directly to consumers from our 58 acre, preserved farm. We have two other farms nearby and partner with local farmers whose pasture we graze in-season. We also sell chicken, pork and eggs seasonally.
Our meat is sold frozen, by the cut, in our store here at Beechtree Farm. Please call ahead to let us know when you'd like to visit. While we live and work from the farm, we want to make sure to be here when you arrive. From Spring to Fall we also participate in several farmers markets (see our website for locations and times). We take names for those who are interested in ordering 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 share of beef.
Our cattle live an unconfined, humane life on pasture and hay in the winter with access to shelter, minerals and salt. We practice rotational pasture grazing to maintain the growth of lush pastures. Working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, NRCS, we follow Comprehensive Nutrient Management to protect local water and enrich our soils. The meat is processed at small USDA certified facilities. We have observed the entire process and are confident that our animals receive humane treatment up to the very end.
You not only get the listing, but also a feel for the farmers themselves. It makes buying food much more personal when you are buying it direct from the farmer raising/growing it.

Asking Questions
When you do decide to buy direct from a farmer, don't be afraid to ask questions. Take advantage of this fact, since you are unable to do it at the grocery store.
Here is a short list to start you off:

  • Are your cows grass-fed?
  • Are your cows grass-finished?
  • Do you treat your animals with antibiotics?
  • Do you give your animals hormones?
  • Do your animals eat GMO feed?
  • Do your animals eat organic?
  • Besides grass, what do your animals eat? 
  • Are your chickens pastured?
  • When you have to give an animal antibiotics, what happens to it, i.e. does it still produce milk for consumption, or is it slaughtered for food?
  • How much (blank) can I buy at once?
  • Do you have a discount on bulk buying?
  • Do you offer a discount for volunteering to help on the farm?

Not all these questions might be an issue. I would much rather have a non-organic but also non-GMO fed cow. Just because something is not organic does not mean it is bad. 

In a follow up post I will be giving more information on CAFOs.

Up Next: F for Freezer

real food tip 4: grass-fed beef -

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