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Super Simple Homemade Bread Recipe

Super Simple Homemade Bread Recipe

When we were first married, my parents got my husband and I a grain grinder. Since I was so busy with teaching, my mom actually taught my husband her famous bread recipe. He was the main bread maker in the family until we had two kids and I became a stay at home mom.

Scott is teaching his sister how to make bread in our old apartment back in 2006.

Here’s an old picture from 2006 where Scott is teaching his sister how to make bread.

When I have the time, I actually prefer making sourdough muffins (I never have been able to master a sourdough bread loaf recipe.) because it breaks down the phytic acid, but this whole grain bread recipe is great for when I just want a quick and simple loaf of bread.

This recipe will make 3 loaves. Before you get started, preheat the oven to 350° F. Also note that while this recipe is simple, it does take about 2 hours start to finish until you’re eating bread. (Don’t worry though, it’s not so much work as it is waiting.)

Ingredients

  • 6 c. Flour – I use organic prairie gold wheat berries that I order from Country Life Natural Foods (you can get prairie gold wheat berries on Amazon too) and grind my grain fresh with this grain grinder. If you are just looking for flour, this sprouted grain flour is the best. (Sprouting is another way to break down phytic acid.)
  • 1 c. Hot Water – Many recipes will call for warm water, but I like mine scalding hot to dissolve the coconut oil and honey. I make sure it’s not scalding when I add my yeast though!
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil – I buy my coconut oil in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods and keep a large yogurt tub full of it on my counter for greasing pans and cooking. If you don’t need such large amounts of coconut oil as I, then you should check out Nature’s Way Coconut Oil. *You could also use extra-virgin olive oil instead of coconut oil.
  • 2 T. Raw Honey – The yeast needs something sugary to consume, and I think raw honey is the best, but you could also use regular honey or even plain old sugar. I like finding local sources for raw honey, but you can find organic raw honey on Amazon as well.
  • 8 t. Yeast – I usually pick up something like this Red Star Active Yeast at the grocery store, but these individual yeast packets are really handy too.
  • Salt – You’ll be sprinkling some salt onto the dough during the kneading phase (any earlier and it can kill the yeast). I like using Real Salt because of the taste and high mineral content.
  • *3 Bread Pans – I like using glass baking pans. You could also trade out a loaf of bread for a pizza crust.

Directions

  1. Activate the yeast. In a large bowl, combine the hot water, coconut oil, and honey. Stir until the coconut oil and honey until dissolved. Sprinkle in the yeast, gently stir, and cover with a towel for 10 minutes.

    Activated Yeast

    Activated Yeast

  2. Add the flour. The mixture should be nice and frothy from the activated yeast at this point. Add 3 cups of flour, stir, then add the remaining 3 cups, and mix everything thoroughly. If it seems too wet, add a bit more flour. If it seems to dry, add a bit more water.
  3. Knead the dough. Dump the dough onto a floured table and knead the dough by folding it in half and rolling it over itself, turning the dough, flipping it over and repeating this process over and over again. Try to knead for 5-10 minutes. The longer you knead the dough, the more it activates the gluten and sticks together. You’ll notice a change in the texture after kneading for a bit.

    Kneading the Dough

    Kneading the Dough

  4. Break into three loaves. Evenly divide the dough into three lumps and continue kneading each one for about 5 minutes each. (You’ll be surprised how much easier it is once it’s divided!) As you knead, sprinkle salt onto the dough about 3 times for each loaf.

    Three Loaves

    Three Loaves

  5. Let it rise. Grease your pans, roll the dough into the shape of a hot dog bun with a crease on the bottom, and place inside of the pans. Set them on top of a stove that’s pre-heating or somewhere warm for about 40 minutes to an hour. To help the dough rise faster, sometimes I’ll open the oven door with the pans on top or put them inside the oven set to the lowest setting with the door open.

    Dough Baby

    Dough Baby

  6. Bake. Once the dough has doubled in size, it’s ready to bake! Bake at 350º F for about 35-40 minutes. You’ll know when it’s ready by the bready smell!

    Two Bread Loaves and a Pizza Crust Ready to Bake

    Two Bread Loaves and a Pizza Crust Ready to Bake

  7. Eat! There is simply nothing better than a fresh warm slice of bread topped with butter and honey. This is our traditional reward for a bread well done!
    Fresh Baked Bread

    Fresh Baked Bread

    Fresh Baked Bread with Butter and Honey

    Fresh Baked Bread with Butter and Honey

In Conclusion

There is something so satisfying about making your own food from scratch. My kids always love helping me make bread and eating the dough along the way. I love this recipe because it’s simple, easy to follow, and makes the most delicious bread ever. Another favorite snack I love to enjoy with my homemade bread is a fresh slice topped with homemade hummus, chopped green olives, and fresh tomatoes from the garden. Yum!

Homemade Bread Topped with Hummus, Green Olives, and Tomato

Homemade Bread Topped with Hummus, Green Olives, and Tomato

Embracing Motherhood How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

Using sourdough is one of the pillars of healthy eating in our family because it is the best way to get rid of phytic acid, which is in all grains (and basically anything that is a seed) and prevents us from accessing the much needed phosphorus located in grains and leaches minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. (Read more about phytic acid in my blog here.) Not only that, but the souring process breaks down all of the sugars in the flour and makes it much easier for the body to digest. Making sourdough can seem like a daunting task at first, but once you get the sourdough starter established, it can become a very easy part of your routine.

I got my first sourdough starter from a friend, and things didn’t turn out so well. The problem could have been any or all of the following: 1) the starter flour was different than the flour I was using to bake with, 2) my gallon size jars were too big, 3) my hard winter wheat grain was too dense, and/or 4) I didn’t feed it enough. So I scrapped the project and waited until I had more time to do it properly. Now, I have an excellent starter that’s nice and poofy, some great containers, the perfect grain, the time to feed it regularly, and some great sourdough recipes that I love using.

Materials Needed

  • Sourdough Starter Packet (I got mine from Breadtopia via Amazon)
  • Wide Mouth Mason Jars (I use 2 jars at a time. You can get some here or in the canning aisle at your local grocery store.)
  • Coffee Filters (To cover the mason jars. This keeps out the fruit flies and lets the sourdough “breathe”.)
  • Fresh Ground Grain (I get my organic prairie gold wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too. I use my Wondermill Grain Grinder to grind it up, but you can also get a hand operated grain mill if you’re looking for a cheaper option.*I’ve tried hard winter wheat berries, and they just didn’t work as well.)
  • Filtered Water (We have city water that fortunately has no flouride, and we bought a simple filter to get the chlorine and other chemicals out. You can also let water sit out for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine.)

Starting the Starter:

  1. Put 1 t. of dried starter into your mason jar(s) and add 1 T of lukewarm filtered water. Stir until softened.
  2. Add 1 T of freshly ground flour and stir. (You can grind a big batch of flour and keep it on your countertop, which is what I do, or you can get a little coffee grinder and grind some fresh every day. The more freshly ground the flour, the more phytase will be available to break down the mineral leeching phytic acid. Don’t freeze your flour, this will “kill” all of the phytase.)
  3. Cover the mason jar with a coffee filter, screw the cap on to keep it in place (or place a rubber band around it), and let it sit for 24 hours.
  4. For the first few days, you’ll just add tablespoons of water and flour, but once your starter is established (you will notice the bubbling action of the fermentation), you can increase the amounts to 13 c. of flour and 14 c. of water. *You want the consistency to be soft but not soupy, and you want to be able to mix it easily.

    Sourdough Starter

    Sourdough Starter

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my sourdough established? After you feed your sourdough and let it sit for 24 hours, you should see it get poofy, double in size, and there should be little holes dotted throughout. Because of this, you never want to let your jar(s) get too full.
  • How should I maintain the starter? If you’re like me and want to use the starter as often as you can for things like sourdough muffinssourdough pancakes, and sourdough pizza crust, you’ll want to leave it on the counter in warmish place (not near a drafty window) where it can be left undisturbed but remain within easy reach, and feed it 13 c. of flour and 14 c. of water every day. If you won’t be using it very often, you can keep it in your refrigerator. When you want to use it, take it out of the refrigerator, feed it, and let it sit out until it gets nice and poofy again, preferably 24 hours. Try not to let more than 2 weeks go by between feedings.
  • What if I need more? You can always double the amount of flour and water each time you feed your starter or feed it every 12 hours if you need a quick boost in volume.
  • What should I do if I forget to feed my starter every day? If you miss a day here and there, you should be fine. But if you miss more than a couple of days and the starter starts to turn black, you are getting near the point of no return. But still, try to feed it, stir it really well, and see if it will come back.
  • How do I know if my starter has gone bad? Make it a point to really stick your nose in your starter and smell it when it is first established. It should have a pleasantly sour smell. If it goes bad, it will have a rotten and putrid smell. When this happens, you just have to throw it away and start over.
  • When should I clean out my jars? When wet sourdough dries, it is VERY hard to clean! This is why I highly recommend cleaning any measuring cups with sourdough starter in them right away! If you notice that the inside sides of your jars are getting caked with lots of dry sourdough and especially if the dried sourdough is turning black, it’s time to clean your jars! Get a fresh clean mason jar(s), transfer as much of the wet starter as you can into the new jar, and soak the dirty jar in hot soapy water. Warning: It will not be easy or fun to clean! It will require a lot of scraping and perhaps even some more soaking, but you will be glad you did it when it’s over. 🙂
  • Why should I go to all of the trouble of using sourdough anyways? All grains (as well as seeds, nuts, corn, oats, tubers, and bean…even coffee beans) contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is found in the hull of the grain and protects it. If we eat phytic acid without breaking it down first, not only can we not access the phosphorus inside (which is needed by every cell in the body), but it leaches valuable minerals (such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium) from our bodies. By making sourdough, we are releasing the phytase within the grain which is the only thing that can break down the phytic acid. I did an insane amount of research to learn more about this fascinating topic and you can read more about what I learned in my blog: The Dangers of Phytic Acid and What to Do About It.
  • Where can I find some good sourdough recipes? Well, I’m glad you asked! It just so happens that I have a collection of my favorite sourdough recipes here.
Embracing Motherhood How to Make Sourdough Muffins

How to Make Sourdough Muffins

I have tried so many different recipes for sourdough bread, and I never found anything that really worked (or that I really liked) until I stumbled across this recipe and found the perfect solution! Who needs to make loaves of bread when you can have these perfect, single size, delicious little muffins? We love eating them toasted for breakfast with butter or cream cheese, as an “English muffin” for an egg sandwich, with lunch meat and cheese for a portable school lunch, or as a bun for hamburgers. Everyone who comes over LOVES these muffins!

The sourdough process is extremely beneficial for your health because it is the best way to get rid of the phytic acid in the grain. Phytic acid prevents us from absorbing phosphorus and it leaches valuable minerals from our bodies. (Read my blog: The Dangers of Phytic Acid and What to Do About It to learn more.) It also breaks down the sugars in the grain which makes it easier to digest.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Sourdough Starter (Blog Post: Sourdough Starter Recipe)
  • 2 c. Raw Milk (Blog Post: Why We Drink Raw Milk)
  • 4 c. Fresh Ground Flour (I get my wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too. I use this grinder. You could also just buy some organic sprouted grain flour here.)
  • *2 T. Raw Honey (Optional: It helps to neutralize the sour flavor. Get some here.)
  • 1 ½ t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • 2 t. Baking Soda (Optional too, I think it just helps them rise a bit better.)
  • Coconut Oil (To grease your hands and the pans. This coconut oil would be best, but on our budget, I buy this.)

Materials

  • Mixing bowl
  • Towel or saran wrap
  • Stirring utensil
  • Baking sheet (I use the standard baking sheets I’ve had forever, but in a perfect world where money was no option, I would love some stone baking ware like this.)

Directions

Part 1: Mix it Up and Let it Sit

  1. Mix together the sourdough starter and the milk. I usually don’t mix it until it is completely dissolved, I just try to stir it up for a bit to make sure it mixes more evenly when the flour is added.
  2. *Add the honey. If you are going to add the honey, now would be a good time. My raw honey is usually solid at room temperature, so I put it in a glass cup and microwave it until it melts. (I added this when I first started making these to cut down on the sour flavor, but now that my family is used to it, I don’t add this anymore!)
  3. Add the flour until you achieve a solid, but pliable consistency. When you use freshly ground flour, it has plenty of phytase that will break down the phytic acid. (Read more about the dangers of phytic acid here.) If you don’t have the time to grind it fresh every time you use it, you can always leave your flour in a sealed container on your countertop at room temperature. Just don’t freeze it or it will kill the phytase.

    Sourdough Ingredients All Mixed Together

    Sourdough Ingredients All Mixed Together

  4. Cover with a towel (or saran wrap) and leave in a warm undisturbed place for 8 hours. It is best if it can be slightly warm during this process (but not over 90°F). I usually just tuck mine away on the counter during the warmer days, but if it’s cold, I’ll put it on top of the stove and turn on the stove to like 200°F.
  5. *Notes: If you’re just starting to get your family used to the taste of sourdough, I would start out only letting it sit for a few hours. This will still be enough time for the sourdough to break down some of the phytic acid. Then, you can gradually increase the time to 8 hours, and you can even leave it overnight if that’s more convenient. If you set it out and 8 hours later, you’re not ready to make your muffins, pop it into the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Part 2: Make Your Muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Get the dough ready. The dough mixture should have risen to almost double its size by this time, and you’ll need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to loosen the mixture before dumping it onto your countertop. (*If it didn’t rise, it probably wasn’t warm enough, or maybe the starter isn’t good anymore.)
  3. Add dry ingredients and knead. Sprinkle your salt and baking soda on top of your lump, grease up your hands with some coconut oil, and knead the dough to mix everything in. *If your dough is too soupy, you can add a little bit of flour at a time until its more stiff and pliable. **It is very important that you don’t add the salt until the end because it hinders the fermentation process. You don’t want to skip it though because it tightens the gluten structure and prevents the dough from getting too sticky. 

    Sourdough Mixture Ready to Make Muffins

    Sourdough Mixture Ready to Make Muffins

  4. Grease the baking sheets. I like to use coconut oil.
  5. Make dough blobs. Make sure your hands stay nice and greased up with coconut oil and then pull apart a little blobs of the dough, roll them in your hands until they are formed into nice little cookie dough balls, and place them on the baking sheets. (This recipe should make enough for two sheets of muffins.)

    Rolling Dough Into Balls (Yes, my pans are atrocious!)

    Rolling Dough Into Balls (Yes, my pans are atrocious!)

  6. Flatten the blobs. Use the palm of your hand to press them down, and then even out with your fingers.

    Flattened Out Muffins

    Flattened Out Muffins

  7. Place the muffins sheets on top of the warm oven. Cover with some towels and leave them to rise for about an hour. (If you don’t have an oven underneath your stove, you can turn your stove to warm and place them inside with the door open.)

    two trays of sourdough muffins covered with towels so they'll rise

    Covered Sourdough Muffins

  8. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes.
  9. Place in Ziploc bags and store in the fridge or freezer. I like to cut them in half and toast them or use for sandwiches, English muffins, hamburgers, etc.

    Homemade Sourdough Muffins Fresh Out of the Oven

    Sourdough Muffins Fresh Out of the Oven

*I adapted this recipe from The Fresh Loaf, which is a GREAT resource for all bread making.

Tips and Tricks

Cutting these little buggers in half can be a little tricky, but my husband came up with a way that works really well even on the thinnest of muffins. First of all, hold the muffin up on its side and insert just the tip of the knife all around the edges (almost like you’re scoring it). Then, gently saw back and forth while rotating the muffin in a circular motion until you get to the middle. Walla!

cutting technique for homemade sourdough muffins

How to Cut These Sourdough Muffins

These muffins are kind of little, so they can get stuck in a toaster. I prefer making them in my toaster oven.

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

These muffins taste great with an egg sandwich, with scrambled eggs, or my favorite…sunny side up eggs!

Check out my sourdough starter recipe here, or take a peek at some of my other sourdough recipes like these sourdough pancakes and sourdough pizza crust.

Embracing Motherhood How to Make Soaked Steel Cut Oats

How to Make Soaked Steel Cut Oats

If you’re looking for a breakfast alternative to commercially processed cereal, steel cut oats are a great alternative! I buy organic steel cut oats in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods, and with 7 g of protein and 10% of our daily recommend iron per serving, they are a healthy and economical breakfast choice that the whole family enjoys. When you top them with butter, you’re getting plenty of healthy fats. They do have a considerable amount of phytic acid that prevents us from absorbing necessary minerals, so that’s why I recommend soaking them first.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. Organic Steel Cut Oats (I buy mine here, but you can get a smaller amount here.)
  • 2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar (I buy mine here, but you can get some here too.)
  • Filtered Water
  • 4 Quart Pot
  • Butter
  • Real Salt (I buy mine here, but you can get some here too.)

Directions

  1. Place the steel cut oats in a pot and cover with about twice as much water.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar.

    soaking oats

    Adding Apple Cider Vinegar

  3. Let sit overnight or for 8 hours minimum. The ideal would be to soak for a complete 24 hours to get rid of all of the phytic acid, but anything is better than nothing.
  4. Bring to a slow boil stirring often.
  5. Once it boils, turn off the burner off, cover with a lid, and let it sit until all of the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes).
  6. *If it’s really hard to stir, add more water. If it’s still really soupy, turn the burner on low and leave the lid off, and cook until more of the water evaporates/is absorbed.
  7. Serve with butter and salt. Sometimes we like to add brown sugar and milk for a sweet treat.
Steel Cut Oats with Butter and Salt

Steel Cut Oats with Butter and Salt

Embracing Motherhood Homemade Pizza Recipe

Homemade Pizza Recipe

If everyone is hungry and you haven’t made plans for dinner yet, how about a homemade pizza? If you order out, you’re getting freeze dried toppings, loads of “natural flavors” (i.e. MSG), and not to mention you’ll be out $20 or more. By making your pizza at home, you can guarantee that all of your ingredients are fresh, custom designed to the specific needs of your eaters, and at a significant cost savings to boot.

Pizza Crust

  • Sourdough Pizza Crust: If you can plan ahead by about 8 hours or so, this sourdough pizza crust will taste great and be free from the mineral leaching phytic acid present in all grains.
  • Quick and Easy Pizza Crust: If you’re looking for a quick and easy pizza crust that is made with fresh homemade ingredients, this is the recipe for you.

Ingredients

  • Sauce Options:
    • Organic Tomato Sauce: I like finding the little cans that are pre-seasoned with basil and such, but you could use plain tomato sauce and add your own seasonings too.
    • Organic Spaghetti Sauce: I try to keep my cupboards stocked with this and use it if I’m in a pinch.
    • Tomato Pureé: This is  the healthiest option, but it can be a bit watery.
  • Herbs and Spices: Basil, Oregano, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and Salt – I like using fresh herbs when I have them, but dried works just as well.) 
  • Mozzarella Cheese (This is the ooey gooey cheese that gives pizza its classic look and taste. You can use just about any cheese and it will taste great though.)
  • Kid Toppings: Pepperoni, Ground Beef, Lunch Meat, Bacon, etc. (My kids really only like meat toppings.)
  • Adult Toppings: Jalapeños, Green Pepper, Onion, Mushrooms, Green or Black Olives, Chives, Tomato, etc.

Directions

  1. Crust: Spread the crust out onto a pizza tray like this or a pizza stone like this. I like using a pizza tray with holes for a nice crispy crust.

    pizza crust

    Pizza Crust

  2. Sauce: If you want to make a pizza that tastes like take out, the trick is to go really really light on the sauce. I prefer it a little thicker though. If I’m using plain tomato sauce, I like to sprinkle some basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt over the sauce. *If I’m feeling really fancy, I like to melt some butter in dish, mix in some herbs and salt, and paint over the outer crust.

    pizza sauce

    Buttered Pizza Crust with Sauce

  3. Season: Add the herbs and spices.

    Homemade Pizza with Herbs and Spices

    Homemade Pizza with Herbs and Spices

  4. Cheese: Add a generous amount of shredded cheese.

    pizza with cheese

    Pizza with Cheese

  5. Toppings: Add any toppings you’d like. Sometimes I’ll go with a plain pepperoni pizza, and sometimes I like to get more creative!
    pepperoni pizza

    Pepperoni Pizza

    Half and Half Pizza

    Half and Half Pizza

  6. Bake: Bake at 450° F for 15-20 minutes. Time will vary based on your oven, altitude, and amount of toppings, but 18 minutes is what usually works best for me.
  7. Cut and Serve: Use a great pizza cutter like this to cut up the pizza into slices and let it cool. You will want to devour this pizza quickly, so make sure it’s had time to cool so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth!

    taking a pizza slice

    Half Pepperoni Pizza

Variations

The thing I like about making pizza is that it’s a hodge podge meal. You don’t have to specifically shop for it, but instead just use whatever ingredients are in your fridge!

Half Lunch Meat Half Veggie Pizza with Cheddar Cheese

Half Lunch Meat Half Veggie Pizza with Cheddar Cheese

Chicken, Feta Cheese, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Tomato, and Green Olive Pizza

Chicken, Feta Cheese, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Tomato, and Green Olive Pizza

Rectangle Pepperoni Pizza

Rectangle Pepperoni Pizza

embracing motherhood Pizza Toast: Your Kids' New Favorite Food

Pizza Toast: Your Kids’ New Favorite Food

When my sister Lisa was visiting recently from Oklahoma, I loved seeing how much my little two year old nephew Tristan loved his “pizza toast”, and it inspired me to make some pizza toast of my own! I went on a little pancake binge not too long ago and created every conceivable recipe for pancakes that I could imagine (I have since created several more, but I’m sick of writing recipes for pancakes!) Well, now I feel like everything is coming up pizza these days! And why not? Kids love pizza, it’s a great way to incorporate a mixture of foods and flavors, and there are many different ways to make it if you’re feeling creative!

Ingredients

  • Sourdough Muffins (or whatever kind of bread you have or like to use)
  • Butter
  • Organic Tomato Sauce (glass jars are best, but we make do)
  • Herbs and Spices (basil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt)
  • Mozzarella Cheese (shredded, or any cheese you like or have around)
  • Toppings (pepperoni, ground hamburger, lunch meat, green pepper, tomato, green olives, etc.)

Directions

  1. Cut the sourdough muffins in half and top generously with butter. (I like putting my salt and garlic powder on at this point, but it can go on top of the sauce too.)

    Sourdough Muffins Topped with Butter, Garlic Powder, and Salt

    Sourdough Muffins Topped with Butter, Garlic Powder, and Salt

  2. Place a spoonful of tomato sauce on top of each muffin and spread using the back of the spoon.

    Sourdough Muffins Topped with Tomato Sauce

    Sourdough Muffins Topped with Tomato Sauce

  3. Top with herbs and spices.
  4. Sprinkle generously with cheese.

    Sourdough Muffins Topped with Mozzarella Cheese

    Sourdough Muffins Topped with Mozzarella Cheese

  5. Add any desired toppings.
  6. Pop in the toaster oven for 10 minutes (or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted and bubbly).

    Pizza Toast with Pepperoni

    Pizza Toast with Pepperoni

  7. Use a pizza cutter to cut into little pieces. (My kids always like eating bite sized things.)

    Pizza Toast Cut Up Into Bite Sized Pieces

    Pizza Toast Cut Up Into Bite Sized Pieces

Embracing Motherhood How to Make Paninis That Will Knock Your Socks Off!

How to Make Paninis That Will Knock Your Socks Off!

Finally, I have a reason to use my George Foreman grill again! Remember back in the day when everyone thought that high protein, low-fat diets were healthy? (You know that we were misguided then, right?) Well, when I learned the truth about fats and how good it was to eat fats with their attached proteins (thank you Sally Fallon), I put my George Foreman grill on the shelf. Well, now thanks to one of my lunchtime panini cravings, the Foreman is back!

It all started when my husband and I stopped at a little deli the other day, excited to try one of their advertised special paninis. At the mere mention of said panini, my mouth started watering in anticipation. The crisp bread, the melted cheese, the caccophony of flavors, I could hardly wait! But then, as I bit into the premade deli sandwich, I was crestfallen at the reality of the flavor, or the lack thereof.

So, I went on a mission to create my own panini, and let me say, it was well worth the journey. I think that having fresh, quality ingredients really makes all of the difference.

Ingredients

  • Sourdough Bread (I just purchased some from our local grocery store. Properly prepared sourdough is, in my opinion, the healthiest bread choice because it gets rid of the most phytic acid that blocks mineral absorbtion.)
  • Lunchmeat (I would have preferred sliced organic free range chicken, but I settled for Oscar Meyer’s carving board lunchmeat.)
  • Cheese (I used sliced havarti and shredded cheddar.)
  • Tomato Slices
  • Avocado Slices
  • Finely Chopped Jalapeño
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)
  • Real Salt
  • Butter

Directions

  1. Plug in the Foreman grill. Prop the front legs up on a cutting board to make it level so that all of the butter doesn’t slip out.
  2. Spread the butter generously on one side of the sourdough bread.
  3. Stack the two slices of bread so that the butter sides are together so that you can put the toppings on the other side of one of the slices.
  4. Start by spreading the mayo and mustard on the bread.
  5. Then add your lunchmeat and sliced cheese.
  6. Add the tomato, avocado, and jalapeño. (Be careful not to let things stack too high.)
  7. Add a nice sprinkling of Real Salt, and hey, maybe even add a dash of pepper to boot.
  8. Cover everything with a handful of shredded cheese.

    Making the Panini

    Making the Panini

  9. Carefully place the bread half with all of the toppings onto the preheated Foreman grill and cover with the other half of the bread.
  10. Press the top down really hard and cook for about 10 minutes (or until all of the cheese is melty and gooey and the bread is nicely browned.
grilled paninis on a foreman

Grilled Paninis

Variations

  • Ultimate Grilled Cheese Panini: I put tomato, jalapeño, garlic, and salt into our little food chopper and pulsed it until it was a finely chopped. Then, I put these ingredients in between two layers of cheese and grilled them to perfection.

    Ultimate Grilled Cheese Panini

    Ultimate Grilled Cheese Panini

  • Roasted Chicken Panini: After I cooked a delicious roasted chicken and cut up all of the meat into chunks, I placed those chunks on my sourdough bread and topped them with sliced tomato, chopped jalapeno, fresh parsley, and shredded cheddar cheese. It was amazing!
  • Breakfast Panini: Cook some scrambled eggs and bacon separately, then place the scrambled eggs, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese on sourdough and grill it up! Add some jalapenos for a little kick!
How to Make Healthy Granola Cereal and Why Commercially Processed Cereal is So Bad

How to Make Healthy Granola Cereal

This homemade cereal, using organic rolled oats, is a great alternative to commercially processed cereal. (Check out my other blog here about why commercially processed cereals are so bad.) Not only that, but this was ridiculously easy to make and an instant success in this household! My daughter Ruby LOVES this cereal and begs me to make it when we run out. My son, who can be a picky eater (and by “picky” I mean he’ll only eat like six things: chicken, salmon, bacon, pecans, apples, and my homemade fries) has recently had a really sore throat and it’s been a battle to get him to eat anything. Well, after making this cereal, he reluctantly tried one bite, and then devoured the entire bowl! I will be making this recipe quite often I imagine! Oh yeah, I’m on my second bowl right now.

Ingredients

  • 3 c. Organic Rolled Oats (Get some here.)
  • ½ c. Butter (1 stick)
  • ½ c. Brown Sugar or Maple Syrup (You can use either one or a combination of both. I personally think the brown sugar tastes better, but the maple syrup is healthier. Grade B maple syrup is full of antioxidants and naturally occurring minerals like thiamine, calcium, and zinc. Get some here.)
  • 1 T. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T. Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Real Salt (Get some here.)
  • *Optional: Raisins, Almonds, Pecans, Cranberries, Craisins, or anything else “granola-y” that you think would taste good

Directions

  1. Preheat the over to 400ºF.
  2. Heat up the butter on the stove (or if you’re in a pinch, just microwave it).
  3. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and stir.

    Heat until just bubbling.

    Melted Butter, Maple Syrup, Vanilla, and Cinnamon

  4. Spread out the oats in a glass baking pan. (Sometimes, I just add my dry ingredients to the oats and mix them with my fingers.)

    Organic Rolled Oats in a Glass Baking Pan

    Organic Rolled Oats in a Glass Baking Pan

  5. Pour the butter mixture on top of the oats, and gently mix together until all of the oats are coated.
  6. If you want to, you can add some raisins, cranberries, craisins, or any nuts at this point.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. (Try to stir the oats up about halfway through if you can remember.)
  8. Let it cool.

    Baked Oats Cooling

    Baked Oats Cooling

  9. Put into a bowl and pour milk over it, just like you would any other cereal. Or you can mix with some plain or vanilla yogurt for a really yummy treat!

*Note: Since this cereal is so good, I tried making a double recipe, but it just turned out awful. The oats were too chewy instead of nice and crispy even though I stirred it a bunch of times. I even tried using 4 cups of oats, but it just didn’t turn out as good as the 3 cups. So don’t mess around with this recipe!

*If you’re really digging these rolled oats, you should also check out my yummy recipe for Healthy Oatmeal Cookies.

How to Make Healthy Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Yes, these oatmeal cookies are healthy! They are healthy because they are made with real all natural ingredients and half the sugar of conventional cookies, yet they still taste absolutely amazing! Butter is not the demon you might think, it is actually a healthy fat and a good source of energy. Pastured eggs are a superfood with the perfect balance of fat and protein. Organic rolled oats are a good source of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and helps you digest sugar more efficiently. The dark chocolate chips provide beneficial antioxidants, and who can argue with that?

Not only are these cookies a staple of my children’s diets, but they love helping me make them too! I think they secretly just like eating the batter. 🙂 (*Note: If you’re cooking with pastured eggs, eating them raw is not a problem.)

Ruby Cracking Eggs

Ruby Cracking Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks (1 c.) of Butter, Room Temperature (Grass-fed like Kerrygold is best, but I at least look for organic, or rBST free at the bare minimum.)
  • ½ c. Sugar (You could even use less than this.)
  • ½ c. Brown Sugar  (Sometimes, for extra flavor, I only use brown sugar.)
  • 2 Eggs (Preferably pastured for the highest nutrient content.)
  • 2 t. Vanilla Extract (Get some here.)
  • 2-3 T. Cinnamon (Get some here. *I go REALLY heavy on the cinnamon! We love the flavor, plus it helps stimulate insulin production which helps the body process sugar better.)
  • ¾ t. Baking Powder (Look for the aluminum-free kind. You can also use baking soda, and no, there is never any aluminum in baking soda.)
  • ¾ t. Real Salt (Get some here.)
  • 3 c. Organic Rolled Oats (Get some here.)
  • 1 c. Fresh Ground Whole Wheat Flour (Get a grinder here and some grain here.)
  • 1 c. Chocolate Chips (Ghirardelli are the best!!)
  • Coconut Oil (to grease the pans)
  • *Optional: ½ c. Craisins (Get some here.) or Raisins
  • *Optional: ½ c. Coconut Flakes (Get some here.)

*I included Amazon links to most ingredients, but I’m actually in a co-op where I order most of my ingredients in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  2. Mix the butter, eggs, and sugar. First, let the butter sit out until it’s at room temperature. I like to do this the night before (if I can think of it).

    Eggs, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Butter

    Eggs, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Butter

  3. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix with beaters until it is nice and creamy. (I actually never measure anything…so basically, I shake a TON of cinnamon, add a few glugs of vanilla, and then a sprinkling of salt and baking powder. 🙂

    Oatmeal Cookies with Vanilla, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, and Salt Added.

    Oatmeal Cookies with Vanilla, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, and Salt Added.

  4. Mix in the flour and oats. If you’re looking for a more sturdy cookie, go with a bit more oats; if you’re looking for a softer cookie, go with a bit less.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and any other extras. My kids LOVE the chocolate chips and would hate it if I skimped, but you could totally just add half a bag.

    Oatmeal Cookie Batter

    Oatmeal Cookie Batter

  6. Cookie sheet time! First, grease the baking sheet liberally with coconut oil. Use a cookie scoop (I love this medium sized one.) to place the dough balls in scattered rows on a baking sheet.

    Oatmeal Cookie Batter Neatly Scooped on a Cookie Tray

    Oatmeal Cookie Batter Neatly Scooped on a Cookie Tray

  7. Press down the balls with a fork. If you cook them in little balls, they will stay in the shape of little balls, but hey, that might be pretty good too!
  8. Bake at 375˚F for 10 minutes. If you like your cookies on the soft side, this is a perfect amount of time, but if you want to avoid the crumbles, you might want to go with 12 minutes.

    Oatmeal Cookies Fresh Out of the Oven

    Oatmeal Cookies Fresh Out of the Oven

  9. *Let cool on a cooling rack. Get one here. This is totally optional, but I find it necessary when I make a double batch because I just don’t have enough counter space. Plus, it makes the bottoms more firm.

    Oatmeal Cookies on a Cooling Rack

    Oatmeal Cookies on a Cooling Rack

  10. Serve with a tall glass of raw milk, sit back, and enjoy.

    Freshly Baked Oatmeal Cookies with a Glass of Raw Milk

    Freshly Baked Oatmeal Cookies with a Glass of Raw Milk

In Conclusion

I make a double batch of these cookies about every other week. My kids love them as a snack, packed in their school lunches, when we’re on the go, and even as a meal replacement. I like to store them in large ziploc bags and keep them in the fridge. If you’re looking for another great recipe with oats, check out my healthy granola cereal recipe, and if you’re looking for another great cookie recipe, you’ve got to try my Great Grama Gene’s famous gingersnap recipe.

How to Make the World’s Best Yogurt and Buttermilk Pancakes

I stumbled across the recipe for these yogurt and buttermilk pancakes this morning purely by accident when I ran out of my intended ingredients, and the results have absolutely blown me away. These are the best pancakes I have ever made. Period. It isn’t even dinnertime yet and the entire batch has been devoured by everyone in the family. Now, let me share the brilliant story of their creation.

It all started when I woke up this fine Saturday morning with my precious little five month old who decided that 5:30 a.m. would be a fine time to start the day. While everyone else slept in and Julian played happily in his bouncy seat, I decided that I would waft the house with the delicious aroma of a pancake breakfast and fresh coffee.

After I had added two cups of flour to my bowl, hoping to next add the milk and my cup of sourdough starter for my Sort of Sourdough Pancakes, I realized that we were out of milk. “Rats!” I thought, as I slowly remembered that I knew that we were out of milk since it was milk day and we had plans to visit the farm and get our weekly eight gallons of fresh raw milk when everyone woke up. Come on brain!

As I scanned the fridge, I found one cup of buttermilk left over from making my Ranch Dressing. “Hmmmm, buttermilk pancakes sound good,” I thought. But after adding the one cup of buttermilk to my flour, I realized it wasn’t near enough liquid. So I scanned the fridge again and noticed some plain organic yogurt sitting way in the back. “I sure hope this isn’t rotten,” I thought, not remembering the last time I had even touched the stuff. “Phew!” it passed the smell test, and into the mixture it went!

Next, I had hoped to add 3 or 4 eggs to at least make some super protein pancakes that Scott and I could force down, but we only had one egg. So after adding it to the mixture, I only half-heartedly mixed in the rest of the ingredients (vanilla, cinnamon, aluminum free baking powder, and salt). I had pretty much accepted the fact that this recipe was a bust, and I was ready to toss the whole thing out. But after mixing everything together, I realized that, hey, it wasn’t half bad. “Maybe there’s hope!” I exclaimed to Julian who just looked at me with a big goofy grin.

So I heated up the skillet with some coconut oil and decided to give these my best shot. I spent the next hour cooking one pancake after another (they took a reeeeeeeeeeally long time to cook thanks to the yogurt) until I had one big stack of pancakes. I usually take pictures of just about everything I cook since I like to blog about my recipes, but I didn’t even think it was worth it to snap one single photo.

After all of my pancakes were complete, I finally decided to try one. I was prepared for the worst as I hesitantly lifted up one corner of a still warm pancake and took a little nibble. It was…good. I mean, wow, like, really good, and it didn’t even have any butter or syrup on it yet! So I smothered one with butter, cut it up into bite sized pieces (cuz that’s what you do when you’re a mom, even if there aren’t any kids around), and drizzled some fresh maple syrup on top. Then I poured a big glass of milk, and sat down to one of the best pancakes I have ever had in my life.

The texture was just so amazing. It was chewy and moist, and full of so much wonderful flavor. The way that the buttermilk and yogurt complemented each other, and how the vanilla and cinnamon accented this taste explosion was simply exquisite. When my husband and children finally awoke, they were all treated to the most amazing breakfast ever. Everyone devoured these pancakes for breakfast, and then we ate them again for lunch! I am happy (and sad) to say that they are now all gone!

We only go shopping every other week nowadays to help with our time and budget, so we’ll have to wait awhile to stock up on buttermilk and organic plain yogurt again, but you can bet your buttons that this will be a recipe I will make time and time again. Now, without further adieu, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Buttermilk
  • 1 ½ – 2 c. Plain Yogurt
  • 2 c. Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 T. Cinnamon
  • 1 T. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Real Salt
  • 1 t. Aluminum Free Baking Powder

Directions

  1. Preheat your cast iron skillet at heat level of 3 (if that’s how you’re cooking) and plop in a huge dollop of coconut oil.
  2. Mix together the flour, buttermilk, and yogurt. The mixture shouldn’t be too thick, but it shouldn’t be runny either.
  3. Crack the egg and mix it in.
  4. Then add the cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and baking powder, and gently mix everything together.
  5. Turn the heat up to a 4, and pour in a ladle’s worth of batter.
  6. Cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Check to see when not just the edges, but the entire pancake starts to look a darker shade of brown and you can see little bubbles popping up before flipping.
  8. Cover and cook for another minute or two. If you don’t cook these pancakes long enough, they will feel gooey in the middle. As they cool, they will firm up a bit.
  9. This recipe should make about 6 medium sized pancakes.
  10. Top with tons of butter, drizzle on some fresh maple syrup, and sit down at a real table with a big glass of milk to enjoy the best pancake you’ve ever had.
  11. You’re welcome.
yogurt_and_buttermilk_pancake_partly_cut_up_with_butter_and_syrup

Yogurt and Buttermilk Pancake

ruby_eating_yogurt_and_buttermilk_pancakes

Yogurt and Buttermilk Pancake Lunch