Amazing Homemade French Fries

If you love french fries then you must try cooking them this way! It takes some time to get each fry cooked evenly, but it is completely worth the effort. Once you have fries cooked in lard, you won’t want them any other way! (I get my lard from Sullivan Farms if anyone is around Columbia, Missouri.)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Organic White Potatoes
  • 1-2 Tbsp Lard or Bacon Grease from Pastured Pigs
  • Sea Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic Powder (To Taste)

Directions

  1. Heat enough lard or bacon grease to cover the pan.
  2. While it is heating, wash, peel and cut potatoes into french fry shapes.
  3. When the grease is hot turn to medium heat and carefully place the fries into the pan. Make sure there is only a single layer of fries so that they cook evenly. It takes a little longer, but is totally worth it!
  4. Season while cooking and flip as needed.
  5. When all sides are crispy, remove the fries onto a paper towel to remove excess grease.
  6. Enjoy! We don’t even use ketchup, not even our toddler! For an extra treat, top with bacon pieces and sliced green onion!

 

8 Tips For Helping Positive Diet Changes To Stick

David Ramsey says, “Change is very hard and we change only when the pain of same is greater than the pain of change.”  Let’s face it, for many people, cleaning up your diet is hard! I mean, unhealthy foods are EVERYWHERE and not to mention addictive (and cheaper). It seems so much easier to just deprive yourself for a few days or weeks, instead of actually trying to make long lasting positive diet changes. Really though, we are not talking about going on a diet, but instead about replacing nutrient poor foods with nutrient dense foods. I have rode along on the journey as several people have went through this process, as well as gone through it myself, so I know first hand how much some people struggle with it.

Any positive diet change is not going to be just for a few weeks or months like so many “diets” out there, but instead should be a lifestyle change, a whole new mindset if you will. I have had the pleasure of meeting some people who seem to make this lifestyle change with what appears to be very little effort. After reflecting on what these people had in common, I came up with the following tips:

  1. It has to be YOUR idea. Any major change can not be your wife’s idea or your father’s or even your doctor’s. It has to be YOURS, if you are going to have enough motivation to stick with this long term, YOU have to want it. When people that come to me say something like, “my doctor says I need to give up gluten, but I just don’t know”, I already know their chances of long-term success are minimal, because they lack the personal motivation to stick with it through the tough times, which are inevitable. That is not meant as a judgement of any kind, but I see it happen quite often.
  2. You must have some kind of plan. In the land of convenience foods, pizza parties and donuts at the office every friday, it is critical that you make a plan before starting your diet change. You are going to be tempted, you are going to get busy, things are going to come up, you will not always be eating at home and sometimes there will be no options available. All of this will undoubtedly happen when your motivation has already left the building! It can really help to know what you are going to do in these types of situations before you reach them. You need recipe ideas and to know what you are going to buy at the store. You simply can not wake up one day and say “I want to clean up my diet” and instantly do so perfectly 100% of the time. (And if you somehow did, please email me and tell me how!) Freezer meals, weekly meal prep, doubling meals and help from my boyfriend are the main way that we make it work in our house. It took us a few years to get to this point though, so be patient.
  3. Only wanting to lose weight is not enough. In my experience, there tend to be two types of people that make the effort to clean up their diet. People who are trying to lose weight and people who are sick and in pain, and of course many people experience both reasons. Those people who are only trying to lose weight will eventually go back to eating unhealthy if that is their only motivation. That is not to say that many of the people who try diets like Paleo for weight loss reasons, do not eventually change their mindsets, because so many do. They feel so much better eating nutrient dense foods that their bodies were craving, that they don’t even worry about the weight loss anymore. Those people who are sick and in pain tend to do a better job of sticking to the path out of necessity. Having a gallbladder attack or migraine will quickly remind you that “cheating” is not an option for you!
  4. Focusing on what you can eat, instead of what is “off-limits” is crucial. When I first started eating Paleo, I really focused on some of the things that I could no longer eat and drink. It made it really difficult. When I eventually stopped focusing on things I was suppose to be avoiding, I realized that there is actually more things that I eat now than when I was eating a Standard American Diet. I mean really, when you really open your mind, there are soooo many things you can make out of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats! For example Beef and Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry, Beef Bourguignon, Pineapple Meatballs and Ground Beef Stroganoff are use a few amazing Paleo friendly recipes just for beef. Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sweet Potato Pie, Mexican Chocolate Pots de’ CremeEskimo Pies and Flourless Zucchini Brownies are just some of the amazing Paleo “friendly” desserts. (Of course, these desserts are not healthy if you eat them all the time, but they are great options for those people who can’t or do not want to eat bad oils, flours and fake foods when they want a treat.) Another way to look at this is to start adding in good foods, instead of focusing on removing the bad ones. This can be the kick start that some people need in order to achieve their goals.
  5. Doing what works best for YOU can give you the extra step up that you need to succeed! When some people enter a swimming pool, they dive in, and take in the full shock of the temperature change. While this can be very uncomfortable for a moment, it doesn’t last long. When other people enter the swimming pool, they ease their way in, little by little. This makes for less of a shock, but it does drag out the process. The point is, that either way both people eventually are adjusted to the temperature of the water and in the pool….  Gretchen Rubin discusses the difference between abstainers and moderators in this episode of Underground Wellness Radio (start at 33:00). Moderators are the ones who can eat one tiny square of chocolate a day but the thought of no chocolate is too much for them, while abstainers, by contrast are the ones who can’t eat any chocolate because they will eat the entire bar! Neither strategy is right or wrong, you just need to find what works best for YOU! If one way is not working, maybe you need to try the other way.
  6. Know your triggers and act accordingly. When I was finally able to kick my soda pop habit for good, I couldn’t eat any fast food, because when I did it would send my cravings through the roof! I am sure it was partly the addictive foods themselves, causing me to craving my glass of Dr. Pepper, but I also think it was the memory of always consuming it with my fast food meals that made it worse. Personally it was too hard for me, so I just avoided fast food for a few months (that is really never a bad idea, is it?!?).
  7. Persistence. Persistence. Persistence. When I quit smoking cigarettes several years ago, it took me 9 tries before I finally kicked the habit for good. I tried the patch, the gum, Chantix (prescription medicine), cold turkey and the list goes on and on. You want to know why I finally was able to quit? Because I stuck with it! I made a goal and nothing was going to keep me from it. I kept that same intensity for a few years until I finally figured out what worked from me (which goes back to tip #5). The ability to stick to your goal (remember it must be your goal) is one of the top traits that will ensure success when transitioning to a healthier diet. These are the people who are able to adjust their plans and make things work through all the bumps in the road. These are the people who despite failing 197 times, they keep trying until they find what works, because they are determined at all costs to reach their goals!
  8. Forgiveness. Being able to forgive yourself when you make a mistake or when you fail is possibly the most important trait to have when trying to make a diet change. People who beat themselves up for failing are, in my experience, not going to make the change long term; however, those who frown, brush themselves off and move on, are more equipped to make the a lifestyle change instead of just “dieting” for a few weeks. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Failure is not permanent and you must never let it steal your hope. Forgive yourself and move on.

And while I decided not to add it to the list, because I have seen many people accomplish their goals without it, support can be very necessary for some people so I thought I should at least mention it. It never hurts to know that you have some people on your side! Of course, many people have also used the motivation they get when everyone doubts them. Either way, other people opinions can help add fuel to your fire and give you the extra incentive that you need to accomplish your goals.

I also have to add making the right diet changes are extra important for long term sustainability. If, for example, you try to go on a low fat diet, I suspect you will be hungry all the time and it will be near impossible for you to sustain with all the unhealthy tempting choices that we are bombarded with on a day to day basis. Check out The Paleo Mom or Robb Wolf if you would like to understand more about how Paleo can be a great starting point for you to find out what works for your body. Check out Nourished Kitchen to get started with real food. If you are in the Columbia, Missouri area, join us for a Meal Prep Workshop to set yourself up for success! And hopefully this blog will be helpful to you on your journey as well!

Are there any tips you would add to this list?

15 Grain-Free Side Dish Ideas

Here are a few of my favorite side dishes for anyone who has taken one of my freezer workshops or just anyone reading who needs some fresh ideas! All are “clean” and super tasty! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do….

Roasted Carrots

Brussel Sprout Chips

Kale Chips

Roasted Potatoes

Rainbow Roasted Root Vegetables

Cucumber Dill Salad

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Plantain Chips

Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Mashed Garlic Cauliflower

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Cauliflower Rice

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Butternut Squash

Zesty Side Salad

Side Salad Topped With Roasted Sunflower Seeds And Drizzled With Olive Oil & Lemon

Side Salad Topped With Roasted Sunflower Seeds And Drizzled With Olive Oil & Lemon

If you are in a hurry, you can also sauteed a bag of frozen veggies in coconut or avocado oil or just toss together a simple side salad full of leafy greens and top with extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice in place of store bought dressings. Enjoy!

 

 

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Have you ever cooked sweet potatoes in a crockpot? If not, then I STRONGLY URGE you do it. Like right now, stop what you are doing and go put some sweet potatoes in your slow cooker.                 You can thank me later!

Pictures are awesome I know, but I will have to edit this post to include them later. People NEED to know about this and my camera is out of batteries! 🙂

Instructions

  1. Wash, scrub and rinse 3-4 organic sweet potatoes.
  2. Place in slow cooker on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high.
  3. Try not to eat them all.

I promise it will be the best baked sweet potato you have ever had! We make them a lot in our house, because as far as effort goes, this amazing side dish is about as effortless as they come, short of popping open a bag of unhealthy chips.  Baked sweet potatoes pair well with a variety of dishes. Add some butter from a grass-fed cow and cinnamon for a sweet snack!

Make Ahead Sausage & Veggies Breakfast

I am not a morning person. My toddler on the other hand loves to wake up at 5 or 6 am! He is ready to go as soon as his eyes pop open and he is ready to eat. He does not care that I am not ready to get up and he does not care that I do not feel like making breakfast. Since we are grain (and dairy) free, it obviously limits our breakfast options. On top of that, my son refuses to eat eggs unless they are mixed into something, so there really are no quick options.

This is one of my favorite egg free breakfast recipes, but I usually brown the meat and veggies in a skillet and then place that with seasoning and the apple into the oven. This time though, I said “Hey self. Why not just trying throwing this into the crockpot before you go to sleep and see what happens.” Not only did the house smelling absolutely amazing when we woke up, but the recipe was even better than when I used a skillet and the oven….

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1/2 medium head of cabbage-shredded
  • 1 medium yellow onion-diced
  • 1 medium honeycrisp apple-diced (you can substitute for other sweet apple types)
  • 2 carrots peeled-sliced or shredded
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Slow Cooker Directions:

  1. Crumble the ground sausage at the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add the vegetables and seasonings.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Please note, if you prefer your apples to be crispier, do not add until the last 1-2 hours of cooking. And remember locally sourced meat is always the best option! If you are in or around Columbia, Missouri like I am then be sure to check out the Columbia Farmer’s Market, where you can find locally raised Sullivan Farms (pastured, non-gmo) and Crocker Farms pork products!

The recipe will half, double or triple great! So try any of those combinations if feeding more or less people. You can add baked sweet potatoes as an excellent side dish to make this meal go farther (which also cook excellent in a crockpot).

Check out the Back 2 Basics Cooking resources page for tons more whole food resources!

What is your favorite go to breakfast choice?

One Handed Egg Cracking Video

Eggs are so fantastic! We eat a lot of them at our house. Like a few dozen a week between the three of us. My son doesn’t like eating them unless they are mixed into other things, but he lovesss to crack them!

If you are eating a lot of eggs, it can come in handy to be able to crack an egg using only one hand. After a little practice you will, not even remember not being able to crack an egg with only one hand! Check out this quick video I made to demonstrate one handed egg cracking for you.

Mini Chef Cooking Classes

Back in June of 2014, I started Back 2 Basics Cooking. One of the services that I offer is cooking classes for children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years old (13 years and up attend the adult classes). For this mini chef class, we made the Flourless Zucchini Brownies from Lindsey over at Delighted Momma and we had children from 4-8 years old. I know that some people in the Paleo community are not fans of Paleo Desserts, but I think this is one of the amazing examples of a great use for them! Anytime you can get children to cook with (and eat) more whole foods is a win in my book. Even if that food happens to be a brownie.

We had such a blast! One of the little girl’s actually said, “This is the BEST time I’ve ever had in my life!” And while I suspect that to a 7 year old, a lot of things are probably “the best”, this completely melted my heart and reaffirmed my decision to start my business in the first place. Since we had so much fun, I thought I would briefly go over the class for anyone who might be wondering what a mini chef cooking class at Back 2 Basics Cooking looks like.

Set-Up & Zucchini Prep

After we all put on our nametags and aprons, we washed our hands. I explained how I had already preheated the oven. Then each mini chef got their own zucchini. They then washed, peeled and cut their zucchini into large chunks. And don’t worry, they used a knife I purchased from Pampered Chef that will cut, but will not cut them. The kids all did such a great job and really enjoyed this task!

brownie2brownie4brownie1

Zucchini Shredding

After this we all took turns pushing the button on the food processor (because we, of course, ALL had to push it!) and then scraping the zucchini into the bowl. The kids were very excited to see how we were going to make a brownie out of zucchini. They did not think this was possible.

brownie 5         brownie 6        brownie 7

Remaining Ingredients

We then took turns again, adding in the remaining ingredients. We talked about how we were doubling the recipe, and took the time to figure out what the doubles of each ingredient were.

Fresh Farm Eggs

Fresh Farm Eggs

Pure Vanilla Extract

Pure Vanilla Extract

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon

Almond Butter

Almond Butter

brownie 11

Raw Honey

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips

Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Mixing

And then we stirred, stirred, stirred it all up!

  mixing2                                                stir2   mixing4                                                stir

Greasing the Pan

And while some where mixing, others were taking turns greasing the pan with extra virgin coconut oil:

mixing 3greasinggreasing 2

Pouring

Then came the pouring:

pouring3pouring1pouring

Fun Activities While Waiting for Brownies to Bake

While the brownies were in the oven, each mini chef got to decorate their very own cookbook. We talked about how this was their own very special cookbook, and that if they did not like a recipe then they did not have to leave it in their book. They each gave their cookbook a personal touch with some stickers and a few markers.

bronwies24bronwies 23bronwies22brownies22

The kids were each proud of their personally designed cookbooks!

The kids were each proud of their personally designed cookbooks!

We also played simon says, red light-green light and talked about our favorite foods! Then these amazing kids all lined up at the sink and worked together, as a team, to wash all of the dishes (except the sharp food processor blade off course). All I did was get them set up and then they did the rest!

Teamwork

dishes

The teamwork that these children displayed was nothing short of impressive and better than many adults I have seen!

Are they done yet?!?

brownies23

Before we opened the oven, we talked about how hot it was and how careful we all needed to be so no one would get burned.

After much suspense, the brownies were finally finished!

done done2

Since we doubled the batch, we should have stirred once about 10 minutes into baking and the middle wouldn’t have been lighter than the outside. Lesson learned. However, the taste wasn’t affected in the least. These kids make some super yummy brownies!  The two “eye” holes are from me making sure the brownies were done with the knife and the “mouth” baked into the brownies itself. Some of the kids thought the brownies looked like a face and found a lot of humor in this!

We did not get any pictures of eating the brownies, because everyone was busy filling their tummies! All of the children and parents said the brownies were very tasty.

What Did The Parents Think?

So, by now you can probably tell that the children had lots of fun and enjoyed themselves. But you may be wondering what the parents (grandparents,etc) thoughts were. Let’s take a quick look:

“We did our first kid’s class today and it was GREAT. Ashley was engaging, friendly, and knowledgable. The recipe was delicious, and the kids had fun! We’re looking forward to next month’s class!” -Rebecca Johanning QA/Control Technician

“It was lots of fun and very well organized. Fun for kids.” -Leanne Lake, Administrative Associate

I love how hands on it is. The entertainment during the cook time was great. I love the personalized cookbooks. This is a hands on event, full of family value. It is a great way to spend some one on one time with your child, and you get a healthy tasty treat at the end!” -Jenifer Smith, Mother of 3

Other Mini Chef Classes

I hope that this post has helped answer any questions you might have about the mini chef classes. If not, please do not hesitate to ask me! Also, some classes won’t require such a long baking time so the extra activities will be less.

Please Note:At the time of this class, I have all the mini chef’s (ages 18 months to 12 years) in one class; however, as enrollment continues to pick up, I will be added an junior chef classes. At that point the mini chef classes will be for children ages 18 months to 6 years and the junior chef classes will be for children 7 years to 12 years old. If your child is 13 or above they will attend the adult classes (unless they wish to come to a junior chef class).

leanne

Conclusion

Getting your child (or grandchild/niece/nephew) excited about eating whole foods is only one of the many benefits of the mini chef cooking classes at Back 2 Basics Cooking. In this class alone, in addition to the actual cooking, the children worked on teamwork, sharing, fractions, fine motor skills, and patience! So if you want your child to learn a skill that will last a lifetime, along with practice of many other skills, sign up for a mini chef class today! Seating is very limited.

BIG THANK YOU to Jenifer Smith for taking all of these awesome pictures while her daughter was attending this class.