Elderberry Syrup

My sweet sister-in-law and I are always looking for natural ways to prevent and fight sickness for our little families. A few friends shared with us that they give their kids Elderberry Syrup to prevent and to fight the flu. Seriously, these friends swore by it. A homemade, organic remedy to prevent the nasty flu? Yes! Some for us, please! 

So, we did some research (see link way below) and set out to give it a try. It was EASY and we had so much fun preparing it!

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You will need: 

  • ⅔ cup organic black elderberries
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 T organic fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 tsp organic cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp organic cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (we get ours locally)

Tools:

  • boiler
  • fine mesh strainer
  • measuring utensils
  • jar for storing syrup

First, peel and finely chop your ginger root. 

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Then, add your water, berries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to the boiler. 

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Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. 

And sit down and have a little visit with your sisinlaw/ bestie while you wait– that’s what I did!

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Remove from heat and cool for 5-10 minutes, or until warm.

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Pour through a fine mesh strainer into mixing bowl.

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Discard Elderberries (with a frown on your face). 

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Add your Honey and mix well.

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Store in a mason jar in the fridge.

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Take it  yourself and give it to your family once daily to boost your immunity to colds and the flu. 

Recommended Doses: 1/2 to 1 tsp for kids and 1/2 to 1 Tbsp for adults for prevention. If you do contract the flu, take normal dose every 2-3 hours or until symptoms are gone. 

Wishing you a Happy and HEALTHY winter season.

Love,

Anna (and Katie!)

PS,

We found our recipe here:

http://wellnessmama.com/1888/elderberry-syrup/

This blog rocks my world. ^^ This gal has it going on. Check it out!

Katie ordered the elderberries here:

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/elder-berries/profile

Christmas List for the Kitchen

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Merry Christmas from the Stephens Family!

Who doesn’t love Christmas? I love literally everything about it from the music, the traditions, the family time, remembering the birth of our Savior, and every other reason that you could possibly think up. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! And let’s be honest: the gift giving and gift receiving is super fun, too.. With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I would share some “Healthy Kitchen Tool Must Haves”, just in case any of you are deciding what to put on your Christmas list this year. I recently saw an ad that made fun of the fact that husbands/dads get their wives Christmas, Anniversary, and Mothers Day gifts that the women can use around the house. There was a day that I would have rather opened up a designer purse or an expensive piece of jewelry. But these days I’m honestly just as tickled to open up a new LeCreuset dutch oven or Dyson Ball Vaccum Cleaner. Seriously. Age is making me more practical, I suppose. I’m annoyed and a little sad that I just admitted that. But, who’s with me?! So, for all of you fellow practical ladies, here are some things to consider adding to that list, with some links to help your husband or whoever is doing the giving make the purchase.

1. Holland Grill

We use our gas grill almost daily. It is so easy to start, cooks our meats and vegetables evenly, and makes for hardly any clean up in the kitchen. (Holla!) There is a metal piece in between the flame and the grate, keeping the flame from directly hitting your meat and drying it out or charring it. This makes it so easy to grill fish and other delicate meats and vegetables. You can purchase these locally at Tyner Petrus or Golson’s on Cypress St. in West Monroe. There were only a few places online that have them in stock.

Maverick Holland Grill

Some of our friends bought the smaller version of this grill, intended for tailgating. It is the more affordable version and while it’s smaller, it cooks just the same!

2. Food Processor

Do I talk about this too much? I love the good old food processor and use it often. It surely makes life easier from everything from dicing, pureeing, grating,… the lost goes on and on. Get one!

7 cup Food Processor

11 cup Food Processor

3. Juicer

We love to juice!! And its so much easier than you think. We have always used this juicer, but there are so many to choose from. We use our juicer to juice fruits and vegetables as morning meal replacements, but also to make orange and apple juice for the kiddo. Also, we make homemade popsicles with juice from the juicer.

Jack Lalane Power Juicer

4. Dutch Oven

I use the dutch oven to roast a whole chicken, make a roast, soups, and more. The link I’ve provided is for cast iron dutch ovens that have a lifetime warranty.

Shop LeCreuset

5. Cookbooks.

Here are just a few of my favorites.

Jaime Deen’s Good Food

Weeknight Fresh and Fast

Cooking From the Farmers Market

Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple

6. Mini Chopper

AKA Slap Chop. Do y’all remember this commercial? So crazy! And I’m honestly not one for “As seen on TV” purchases, but I literally use the slap chop at least twice a week. Best way to mince garlic, in my opinion.

Mini Chopper

7. Fine Mesh Strainer

I really didn’t have one of these until recently. I use it to rinse quinoa and small amounts of fruits and veggies for snacks.

Fine Mesh Strainer

8. Dehydrator

Okay, this is actually on MY Christmas list this year. This is great for making fruit leathers for yourself or the kids, also for making your own jerkeys and dried fruit snacks.

Dehydrator

9. Cast Iron Skillet

There was a time when I didn’t have one of these. You can get these pretty much anywhere from Walmart to your local hardware store. (Go to Tyner Petrus, Y’all!)

10. Cutest Measuring Cups of all time

Because every girl needs some pretty measuring cups.

Anthro Measuring Cups

Anthro Measuring Spoons

***** Kitchen Pretties*****

These are just some of the prettiest kitchen tools around. I think that loving your kitchen tools makes cooking more fun. Here are some of my favorites:

Prettiest Butter Dish That you Ever did See

If your pot holders look anything like mine, click here.

Aprons make you feel pretty

I could literally add at least 15 items to this list. Like a great knife set, a silpat mat, a stand mixer, I could go on for days. Maybe I will sometime soon, when I’m not needing to start on supper. Hope this list can give you some great ideas to put on your list to GIVE or to RECEIVE!

Merry Christmas, Ya’ll!! Now, cue the Pandora Christmas tunes!! 

Love,

Anna

Planning is Everything.

Aside from your overall commitment, Planning is the key to success in cooking healthy. For some reason, I found it to be the most challenging part. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it these days! Here a few quick tips for planning.

First. Pick out a super cute planner. Here are some that I just LOVE: (click on the links below)

Cute Planner on Amazon

The Planner that I use

Free Printable Planners

I plan out each meal for the week on my meal planner. I use this list to make my grocery list. Below is an example of my list. And I get almost every single thing on this list from good ole Walmart. Save Money. Live Better. For Real though.

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Seriously though, these pictures were so much prettier on my camera. So, sorry about that! I picture Ree Drummond seeing these pictures on my blog and shaking her head and saying, “bless her heart”.

I try to use each ingredient in at least two meals. If I roast carrots for a side dish, I’ll use the rest of the bag of carrots in my chicken soup later in the week. I try to use whatever I have extra or leftover for lunches for the week. For example, if I buy a bag of sweet potatoes for a side dish, but I don’t need to use all of the sweet potatoes in the bag for that particular meal, I plan to use them for lunches throughout the week, or to make homemade sweet potato tots for the freezer. Or if I plan to roast a chicken, but know we won’t eat the whole thing, I plan to make chicken soup the following night. This allows us to save enough to be able to buy organic ingredients.

I shop weekly because organic fruits and vegetables don’t typically have a “shelf life” of longer than a week. Some people choose to shop biweekly and freeze their fruits and veggies. Also, there are frozen organic veggies in the freezer section!

I like to stick to this rule of thumb to make planning AND cooking easy during the week. If you don’t have a particular recipe in mind, you can do what  I do 80% of the time. I choose a meat and two or three vegetable sides to prepare for a meal. A favorite at our house is grilled chicken with broccoli, carrots, and a sweet potato. It’s just as easy, if not easier, than preparing a casserole or something like that. Plus, it’s the EASIEST way to keep your supper FRESH and HEALTHY (and delicious, of course). The possibilities are endless- more ideas to come on that for sure!

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Doesn’t that look delicious? It really is so good. And so fresh. And so pretty sitting on that plate. And honestly, quite inexpensive if you plan it just right. I’ll blog that soon.

I hope this helps! Happy planning, Y’all!

Love,

Anna

First Things First: Deciding What to Change

First Things First: YOU have to decide what changes YOU want to make for YOUR family.

Keep in mind these are just the things I have read about and have decided for our family. As you will be able to tell with my explanation of each topic, I am in no way a nutritionist or a health coach! And I have lots more to learn! I’m just a mom on a mission to make better choices for my family. I encourage you to read and make your own choices based on what YOU think is right for yours!

I started here:

Organic

Organic fruits and vegetables contain less or none of the pesticides that nonorganic fruits and vegetables contain. The Organic Momma (Follow her on FaceBook!) recently shared a fact about apples stating that non-organic apples contain up to 47 pesticides! 6 of which are linked to causing Cancer. Here are a few other food-pesticide facts:

tomatos   choose Organic!

Buying Organic is much more expensive. Because of that, I like to follow that Dirty Dozen/ Clean fifteen list. The dirty dozen are the twelve fruits and vegetables that are most affected by pesticides. The clean fifteen are the ones that are least affected. I also purchase a larger quantity of the fruits and veggies on the clean fifteen than I do of the dirty dozen to make eating organic more affordable.

dirty dzn

Refined Sugar

I know this is a doozey with kids. Do I think Shep will never have any refined sugar? No. I know he will want a piece of birthday cake (which will also contain gluten. Ugh) at a birthday party one day. My goal is and has been to limit this greatly compared to the normal amounts of sugar we are exposed to. If I do make a GF treat that calls for sugar (Which is extremely rare these days) I like to use turbinado sugar, or even more rarely organic unrefined sugar.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/253642-the-nutritional-facts-of-turbinado-sugar/

Dairy

I do see the argument that cows milk was created for cows and not for human consumption to make sense. I encourage you to read more on that as I need to myself! We don’t drink much milk as a family anyway, but do eat cheese and yogurt. We drink Grass Milk, which is milk produced from cows are fed grass. We eat organic cheese, and grass milk cheese (when we can afford it!). And we eat organic yogurt (Stonyfield Brand is Shep’s favorite!)

Juice

Occasionally Shep has an organic juice box, but we prefer for him to only have juice that we juice from our organic fruits and vegetables with our juicer. This is because all juices, even organic juices, contain lots of sugar. I read that kids that drink lots of juice are 4x more likely to have a weight problem as an adult.

Grains

Okay, so we don’t eat wheat (90/10: read below), but I do choose to feed our family organic brown rice and quinoa. If you haven’t tried quinoa, do! It’s our new favorite. I think ill blog it first! This is probably one of the least “studied” areas of my mission so far. More to come on that.

Meats

We eat organic, farm raised eggs from a local farmer often, but I always but organic eggs when purchasing at the store. (The taste is not comparable!!) We can rarely afford Grass Fed Beef, so we eat lots of venison (Okay, I feel silly even calling it that): Deer Meat!  We eat free-range chicken. Walmart has the most affordable free-range poultry. The Brand is Harvest Land. You’ll taste the difference!We only eat wild caught fish.

I may change my mind on some of these as I continue to research and learn how my family responds to these different choices. But this is where we are NOW.

This last big change, I don’t recommend for everyone. For me, this was a choice I made for the benefit of my husband and my kids. Jake has type-1 diabetes, which is an auto-immune disease. Our sweet babies are at a higher risk of developing this disease as it is considered genetic. If you have a history of auto-immune disease in your family, you may be interested to study up on that. I’ll post a couple of the articles I read below.

Gluten or No Gluten

I mentioned something about gluten-free to my sister in law and she said, “Anna. What is gluten? I mean, if none of us has a gluten allergy, what’s the issue?” My answer sounded something like the participants of Jimmy Kimmel pedestrian question “What is Gluten” interview. EMBARRASSING!

So i went home and read up:

Gluten is:

http://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/

And I found lots of artiles about the benefits of going “gluten-free”. . Here is just two articles that prompted my consideration of researching and cutting out gluten for our family. (PS, Jake takes a whopping 1/4th of the insulin that he took before we made this change. PICTURE A BIG SMILEY FACED EMOJICON HERE)

http://www.healing-diabetes.com/can-gluten-free-diet-cure-type-1-diabetes

http://celiact.com/blog/celiac-diabetes/

None of us have technically a gluten allergy or intolerance, so we follow a 90/10 gluten free principle. This means that we eat zero gluten at home, but if we go to a friend’s house or party, we will allow shep to have a small treat or whatever. I have another friend that does it this way for her family and I am so glad that she shared it with me.

Again, take what you want and leave the rest! Research and make the BEST choices for YOUR FAMILY!

How to Plan, NEXT!

Love,

Anna

Words of encouragement…from one of THOSE moms

A word of encouragement for anyone thinking about making a lifestyle change in the way of cooking for your family:

Stay with me here.

A few months ago, my sis in law and I were in a conversation with a young mom that was talking about how she had begun to prayerfully consider the things that she fed her children. I’m pretty sure I politely nodded repeatedly, with my eye brows raised and my head tilted to one side. I was thinking, “What did she just say?” I envisioned her literally praying over each meal as she was preparing it for her kids. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, obviously. But I totally labeled her as “one of those moms”. I was a little completely intimidated, and I was totally missing the point. She meant that she wanted to prayerfully consider the choices that she made in feeding her kids: what kinds of foods she would feed them. She wanted to feed them the things that God has created for us to nourish our bodies.

Fast forward a few weeks later. I was looking through a cooking blog that I had recently began following. The woman stated that YOU are the one responsible for the health of your family. God gave them to you and you are the one that will answer to Him for the way that you cared for them. Again, “What did she just say? Isn’t that a little extreme?”

Then it hit me. God has blessed me with my husband and my children, and entrusted me with their well-being. Why wouldn’t he expect me to care for them in the same way that he expects me to take care of my other blessings, but to a much higher degree?

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And why wouldn’t I? I focus so much on the importance of teaching my kids to make good choices in other areas; why wouldn’t I teach them to make good choices in caring for the body that God gave them? I know that it is my responsibility. What I buy and put in the pantry, they will eat. What I cook and set before them, they will eat. I create their habits, especially while they are young. And I want what I do to bless them and honor God.

So, I studied up. And I became “One of those moms”. And I feel such a sense of accomplishment and such a peace about this between me and the Lord.

I have tons more to learn. And it hasn’t all been easy. But, when you know better, you do better. I want to encourage anyone considering making a change in the kitchen for your family’s health to do so without fear.

If you’re interested, I am going to start blogging (in like 10 minutes) about how to plan, purchase, and prepare healthy meals. Please take what you want from it and leave the rest!

God has so richly blessed us in this country with an abundance of healthy, whole foods to NOURISH our families with. Do you know how many mothers across the world would KILL for that?

Let’s learn together and encourage one another!

Love,

Anna

“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” -Julia Child

“What are you cooking tonight?” This is a common discussion among my friends. Most of us are stay at home moms, and most of us have really young kids, so what my friends are really asking is: “What are you going to try to put together for supper during nap time or in the crazy, mad rush hour  that happens right before your husband gets home and your picking toys up off the living room floor and deciding if you’ll change out of your yoga pants. And often, the conversation leads to, “I wonder what’s going on in ‘Honey’s Kitchen’.”

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– This is “Honey”, wife, mother of two, “Honey” to two grandkids, and Master Chef of the Smith Household.

“Honey” is my mom. She has a love for cooking that goes beyond the art of cooking itself. It’s her gift. It’s her love language. And, in my opinion, as well as the opinion of all of my friends referring to “Honey’s Kitchen”, she is the very best at it. There was never a “fend for yourself” night at our house. Mom always cooked us healthy, balanced, better than delicious meal and then insisted that we all sit together at the table to eat it. She used the things that her mother and grandmother taught her, along with the things she taught herself about cooking through the years.

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-No one loves checking out what’s going on in Honey’s Kitchen more than my son, Shep.

I think cooking for your family is a lost art. But, I think a lot of people are coming back to it. I see more and more of my young friends making a valiant effort to cook for their little families, even in all of the business of living life with young kids. I wanted to share my moms gift with anyone that wants to learn how to cook for their own family, improve on what they already know and do, or just want to see “what’s going on in Honey’s Kitchen.”

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– Our Family, Honey’s best food critics

 

Neither mom nor myself are claiming to be bloggers, so we’ll see how blog savvy we can disguise ourselves to be. We just love cooking for our husbands and our kids and want to share with others some of the simple and fresh dishes we put together  most often. The purpose of this blog is to share recipes and tips to help make cooking for your family less stressful, and more enjoyable for anyone who reads. I was blessed to grow up with such great family dinners, and to see my mom serving others with the gift of food. I want the same for my husband and kids! Thanks for visiting and Happy Cooking!

 

Love and Blessings,

From Honey’s Kitchen