Supplementing with Beans

Beans are an oft-overlooked addition to the standard American diet, yet they have been (and still are) a traditional staple in many diets around the world.




What are some of the benefits of beans?

  • Inexpensive
  • Full of protein, fiber and nutrients
  • Nutrient dense
  • Versatile

Beans are inexpensive. They are especially inexpensive when you cook dried beans (instead of purchasing canned). If cooking dried beans scares you—as it did me for many years—read about my really easy method of cooking beans. It has not failed me! I can easily buy organic beans for around $2.00 per pound, give or take a little depending on the type of bean. Non-organic beans will even be cheaper.

Beans have protein, fiber and nutrients. Beans are not a complete protein, but when you pair them with a whole grain like brown rice, combined they are a complete protein. (A complete protein means the food possesses the 9 amino acids that humans can not make on their own but instead must consume. If you consume meat, whether or not beans are a complete protein is not nearly as important.) Beans also contain fiber, which assists in keeping your digestive tract healthy. Some of the nutrients found in beans are vitamins (including folic acid and B6), minerals (such as copper and magnesium), lignans, phytosterols and flavonoids.

Beans are nutrient dense. Nutrient dense means that the amount of nutrition per calorie that you receive from eating the food is particularly high. This is true of beans. What a blessing that such an inexpensive food is also such a nutritious food!

Beans are versatile. And they’re versatile in multiple ways. Beans are easily cooked, and they can be eaten immediately or frozen for future meals. Beans can be served as whole beans, mashed and turned into patties (like veggie burgers), added to soups and pasta, and they can be served hot or cold, as the Colorful Double Bean Salad pictured above. Beans can be a stand-alone meal (like rice and beans), served as a side (like this lentil salad), or added to soups and casseroles for texture and flavor, and beans can be added to foods like meatballs or casseroles to extend the meal. Believe it or not, beans can even be added to brownies and other baked goods! (Oh yes, a great way to slip nutrition into your kids without them having a clue.) In my cookbook, my sister and I share some of our favorite bean recipes.

What are you favorite ways to use beans? 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? Well, what about when life gives you a failed cake disaster?

I thought I’d start off the new year with a bang—a kitchen disaster! You may think that food bloggers like myself are whizzes in the kitchen and fly through meals and all things food with ease. Some of them just might be that and do that, but not me. I’ve been telling you from the beginning that I’m far from perfect, and it’s true. While I can find my way around the kitchen nicely and do find it generally easy and enjoyable to cook and bake, I still make mistakes and deal with kitchen disasters. In fact I’m well-known in my family for a few prime disasters, namely blowing up an oven—ahem…but those stories are for another day.

Over Christmas we had a lot of family visit. My brother-in-law’s birthday happens to fall right after Christmas, so I was tasked with making his birthday cake. I’d found this beautiful recipe, which I’d pinned. (Isn’t it gorgeous?!!) But because the original recipe is written using the metric system, I opted to go for a simple gingerbread cake recipe using US measurements. I really wanted this cake to come out nicely, so I wanted to play it safe instead of trying to convert all the measurements. I found good ol’ {I’ll let the culprit remain nameless}‘s gingerbread cake recipe. She’s generally pretty reliable when it comes to baking.

Well…here are my cakes when I checked on them after about 15 minutes because we smelled something burning.


(Pardon the ack!-my-cakes-are-exploding-quick-grab-my-iphone blurry pic.)

Despite having only filled up the cake pans just past half-way, the cakes had WAY over-risen and overflowed and were literally pouring out of the cake pans onto the racks and the oven floor below. What a mess!!!

In retrospect I think there may have been a typo in the recipe. It called for 2 tsp of baking powder and 2 tsp of baking soda as well. When I was measuring that out, I hesitated. Golly, that seemed like a lot of baking soda especially in light of the baking powder already present. But—ironically—I didn’t want to risk a failed cake just because I fudged the recipe, so I followed the recipe despite my nagging gut feeling. Alas! (My best guess is that it should have stated 1/2 tsp baking soda but the “1/” was inadvertently left out.)

So there I was stuck with cakes that WAY over-rose and then sank miserably low in the centers due to all the lost batter. But I’ve fixed many a cake (as has my mom—as she was quickly reminding me) with frosting. Frosting can glue a broken cake layer back together, even out a crooked cake and more. But as the cakes came out of the pans, oh my…


Some chunks literally fell off as the layers cooled. The cake was so tender it was crumbling apart in my hands.

As I was saying, “I don’t think frosting can fix this!!” my husband walked in, glanced at the mess, and flippantly said, “Just make trifle.”


So when life brings you lemons, make lemonade. And when life brings you a failed cake disaster, make a beautiful trifle!


What do you want this new year to bring?

What do you want for this new year? What are your goals?

Are you trying to eat healthier? Live more naturally? Keep to your budget?

Lose weight? Provide more wholesome, nourishing meals for your kids?

Goals are wonderful things! They propel us forward. They cast a vision and direction for us to move in. We all need goals or we naturally will spin our wheels and progress nowhere.

It’s easy to throw out noble goals; it’s hard to set realistic goals.

A Few Thoughts On Setting Goals

  • Write them down. If you don’t write your goals down and post them somewhere, you likely will quickly forget you made those goals. Post your goals on your fridge or bathroom mirror, write them in your journal, or set reminders on your phone to ding at the beginning of each week. However you want to set your goals before you regularly, do so. Seeing them in front of you physically will help you keep them in front of you mentally, which will aid your efforts to reach those goals.
  • Keep it simple. Tackle just one or two goals at a time. If you reach them early you can always set more! But one of the quickest ways to fail at reaching your goals is to set too many. Better to succeed at one than fail at many.
  • Be specific. “Eat healthier” is far too vague. What does it mean? Far better goals would be “Get rid of processed food” or “Eat 5 vegetables every day” or “Limit myself to one dessert a week.” Those are clear, specific actions you can take. Specific goals are also very easy to assess. Did you “eat healthier” this year? Um, I think so…maybe? But did you “Get rid of processed food?” Yes! My pantry, fridge and freezer are full of unprocessed, natural foods. Did you “Limit yourself to one dessert a week?” Yes, 45 weeks out of the 52 I did!

Once you have your goals, look for resources to help you change and reach those goals.

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, of which I am an affiliate, is one such resource. Packed with a ton of e-books, e-cookbooks, printables, classes, bonus products and more, it’s chock full of useful and inspiring material to help you meet your healthy living goals. Wondering what’s included in this bundle?

  • Essential Oils? Check.
  • Menu planning and grocery shopping, including eating organic and quality food on a budget? Check.
  • Natural skincare and natural remedies? Check.
  • How to become a better cook? Check.
  • Recipes for whole food meals, including make-aheads, gluten and allergy-free? Check. Check. (There’s A TON!)
  • Natural pregnancy and birth and raising children naturally? Check.
  • Losing weight and getting fit individually or as a family? Check.
  • Gardening, homesteading and raising chickens? Check.
  • Natural cleaning? Check.

And there’s still more! That’s why it is called the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle…because it is. It truly covers all the bases.

This resource designed to help you meet your healthy living goals is only available until midnight tonight (EST). So don’t wait!

Buy it right now and use it to start meeting your new year’s goals. At $29.95, you’ve got very little to lose. (And actually, you won’t lose, you only stand to GAIN!)

Make 2015 the year you make a change for the better. 

It’s HERE!!!

When I first began to explore eating a true whole foods-based diet, cooking more traditionally, and buying quality-raised animals and produce, I had my work cut out for me. I read A LOT. I explored, I scoured the internet, I asked questions, I read blogs, I researched numerous topics, I experimented with recipes, I bought books, I visited farms, I talked with farmers and growers.

It was hard work! I felt like I was swimming upstream alone. I would have really benefited from one well-balanced resource that kind of “had it all!” One massive bundle full of many resources on various topics—all to teach and help me eat and live more naturally and healthfully.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have that…but the good news is YOU DO.

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle IS BACK!!

Today and tomorrow, this collection is available once again in a flash sale. Not only am I an affiliate for this bargain collection, but I am blessed to have my cookbook Whole Foods for the Everyday Cook is included in this incredible collection!

If you missed this collection in September, take advantage now! This has incredible info on essential oils, healthy grocery shopping and planning, tons of whole food-based recipes (including paleo and allergy-free), bonus items you’ll love and more. But it’s only here for a quick two days, so do not miss this opportunity!

What do you want?
Do you want to change your life this year?
Do you want to lose weight?
Do you want to become a healthier, better you?
Do you want to eat better or exercise more?

Do you want to garden or homestead?
Do you want to clean your house safely and naturally or learn about essential oils?
Do you need help planning your weekly meals?
Do you want yummy, truly healthy, whole foods recipes your family will love?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this bundle is for you.

What’s the big deal?
Well, how about over $1000 worth of resources for just under $30? THAT’S a big deal!

What’s the rush?
The sale is only today and tomorrow and then it’s gone.

I hope you are able to take advantage of this extraordinary sale today!


We Have A Winner…and Have You Been Following Along?

The Winner!

MANDY! You won! So cool that the first person to comment nearly nailed it! (I’ve emailed you.)

That big ol’ pumpkin gave me 16.25 lbs of pumpkin puree. 

We’ve already used some of it to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin baked oatmeal and pumpkin-cranberry cookies! I think pumpkin breakfast cake is up next.

A Simple First Step To A Better You

Here is a simple 4-step healthy living challenge for you. It’s free and it’s just four simple steps to help you actually move forward and start reaching your goals to become a healthier you. Take a moment to check it out. Simple steps are often the most effective at helping us actually put the rubber to the road and move forward toward our goals.

Have You Been Following Along?

I’ve been sharing one foodie book each day since Thanksgiving via Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Pinterest. Most are some of my favorite cookbooks and other food-related books I’ve read and enjoyed. Several of the selections are books that are on my own Christmas list this year. I’m continuing to share each day until Dec. 23rd…which is probably the last day you can order on Amazon and have it arrive in time for Christmas.

So if you are a foodie or you have a foodie in your life, make sure you’re following along. There are some great ideas for Christmas gifts!

Follow #foodiebooksforchristmas here:


If you’ve missed them thus far, they’re all posted with the hashtag #foodiebooksforchristmas, or you can check my Pinterest board Foodie Books For Christmas to get caught up.

Happy Christmas shopping, friends! :)

So, what do you think this is?

What do you think is in these jars? 

Being an artist, I love the beautiful shades of orangey-brown, nutmeg and pumpkin. Oops, did I say pumpkin?

Those are mason jars of pumpkin water left over from roasting that HUGE BEAST of a pumpkin we had on our porch through the fall. I save the pumpkin water and freeze it because it’s a simple way to add flavor, nutrition and a bit of color to soups. Use it in place of water or part of the stock. (I’m all about easy ways of adding nutrition to our diet!)

But anyway, I finally got around to roasting that big ol’ pumpkin down into puree. And boy was that a task! I bet you’re wondering just how much puree I got…read on.

First my mom and I (remember, we’re living with my parents right now while we’re building our house) worked to hack it apart.

You can see my mom using her old knife and hammer trick. Carefully stab the knife into the pumpkin (or hard squash, etc.) and hammer the knife blade through it.

That knife, by the way, is my great-grandmother’s knife that she brought with her from Italy. That’s one heck of a knife!!

This pumpkin reminded me of cheese pumpkins, though I’m not quite sure that it was one. But it had a lovely peachy-colored flesh inside, which my daughter used to make a delicious pumpkin pie for dessert last night, and which my son is going to use to make pumpkin-cranberry pancakes later this week for breakfast.

We roasted pumpkin ALL AFTERNOON, using both of my mom’s ovens. As far as how much puree we got…well, why don’t you all guess how many pounds of puree we got from that monster?

Just for fun: a $20 amazon card to the winner!

Just comment below with your:
email address
and your guess.

Take a good look at the pictures of the pumpkin again (one more here), and guess away!

I’ve rounded the amount of pumpkin puree to the nearest quarter-pound. 

And for you pumpkin-puree-making-experts, I did drain most of the liquid off. It’s not quite as dry as canned but pretty close.

Happy Guessing!! Hope you win! 

Only one guess per person allowed. First person to comment with the correct answer wins. If no one guesses correctly by midnight EST Sunday night (Dec. 14, 2014), I’ll choose the winner by whomever is closest (and if needed for a tie-breaker, whomever commented first).

Joining All The Cyber Sales This Week!!

Joining all the cyber sales this week…is my cookbook, Whole Foods for the Everyday Cook!!!

Normally priced at $9.99, the Kindle version is on sale on my affiliate for just $2.99 through the end of this week!

You can read more about it here, but to sum it up:

+ Over 100 whole foods recipes
+ LOTS of professional photographs to inspire you
+ Recipes tried and tested by my sisters, my mom, myself and others
+ Mostly simple, quick recipes that taste delicious but are easy enough to throw on the table any old night (or morning!)
+ A special section just for kids, all recipes kid-tested by my four children
+ 3 Appendices, full of extra info on our top kitchen appliances, how to stock a whole foods pantry and more!

(And don’t forget that you can also get a FREE copy this week only with your purchase of Juice Plus+ —Check it out!)

Here’s Your Chance!

Do you remember recently that I wrote about Juice Plus+, a wonderful vegetable and fruit supplement, designed to help you get lots of fruits and veggies in your diet?

Well, for this week only, if you purchase Juice Plus+, I will personally give you a free copy of my cookbook, Whole Foods for the Everyday Cook (PDF or kindle version, your choice)! It’s normally priced at $9.99—over 100 recipes and loaded with professional photos to inspire you.

Juice Plus+ is a wonderful product for both adults and children, with published research to back it up. (Though really, don’t we all know fruits and veggies are very, very good for us?) I love that Juice Plus+ is not a fad or some “miracle” superfood. It’s just plain old, nutritious, good-for-you fruits and vegetables! I have benefited from Juice Plus+ over the past 3 years that I’ve taken it.

Please don’t forget that every adult who purchases Juice Plus+ has the opportunity to receive a free children’s purchase. You as a parent can sponsor one of your children through the Children’s Health Study. No strings attached. All that is required is for you to complete a simple written survey that arrives with the child’s product. If both parents purchase Juice Plus+, they can each sponsor one of their children.

And even if you aren’t a parent, you can still sponsor a child! Do you have a grandchild, niece, nephew or little friend? Talk about a wonderful Christmas gift for this next year—improved health for both you and a child you love! And if you sign up this week, you also get my cookbook to boot, helping you cook and eat more healthy, whole foods.

To simply purchase Juice Plus+ you can order online here.

To sponsor a child and receive their product free, please email me <> so that I can personally help you. (Don’t worry, nothing hokey, no strings attached!! I just have to personally verify you understand the program. Trust me, four years of free product is worth the quick email and chat!)

Here’s to a new year and a new, healthier you!

Giving Thanks

As we head into Thanksgiving, I am thankful. Truly thankful.

We made a big move early this fall. It was a brand new chapter for us. We left much behind. We stepped out into many unknowns, trusting God to provide.

I am thankful for how well our whole family has adjusted to a new area, new day-to-day life, new friends, new church.

I am thankful for my parents allowing us to live in their new home for 6 months while we build our own house next door.

I am thankful for our new house being built. It’s been a lot of hard work, and it is a blessing-still-to-come.

I am thankful for a big yard that allows my children to explore their interests.

I am thankful that my kids are delighting in the fascinating nature around them.

I am thankful for the beauty of God’s creation that I get to enjoy every day.
I am thankful that we get to be with family this Thanksgiving week! Family is a gift I do not take for granted.
Life is not easy. Troubles come and often multiply. Thanksgiving is the oft-overlooked and ignored holiday. But when it arrives each year, it beckons me to stop and ponder, focus on my haves instead of my have-nots, find my blessings, and choose a thankful heart.
Wishing you all a blessed holiday week!

Enjoy some of my favorite festive recipes this week:

Pumpkin-Cranberry Breakfast Cake
Pumpkin Quinoa with Cranberries and Walnuts
Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
How to Make Pumpkin Butter
Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Sweet & Savory Carrots with Bacon
Cupcake Carrot Puddings 
Mushroom-Leek Risotto
Coconut-Ginger Sweet Potato Soup
Roasted Garlic Chicken Soup with Farro – sub in leftover turkey for the chicken.
Try making these hot potato panckaes with those leftover mashed potatoes!