real food for busy women - crockpot roundup

crockpot roundup

In the first post of my series posts for Pat: real food for busy women, I suggested the necessity of a crockpot to make meals fast. And I gave you the easiest possible slowcooker pot roast recipe, just using frozen stew vegetables and a chuck roast.

Today, I am posting a crockpot roundup, a bunch of yummy recipes from my favorite bloggers. It turns out that my "cheap & good" blogging friends are enthusiastic about helping out those of you who need to be "fast & good"!

My criteria for including recipes in this roundup are that it must take less than 15 minutes to prepare in the morning and the recipe must be able to cook for 8-10 hours unattended. So all these recipes are ideal for busy working women, even if not as simple as the crockpot recipe I gave you to start with.

why I don't buy chocolate from Nestle or Hershey

boycott Nestle and Hershey

As a general rule, I'm not much of a food nazi beyond nagging my loved ones to eat their vegetables. Similarly, I've only participated in about 4 boycotts in my entire life as I understand that corporations exist to make profit and thus don't expect ethical behavior from them.

But I've made an exception in the case of chocolate: Nestlé values it's profits over the lives of poverty-stricken infants, which is just too much for me to accept. For years, my alternative was Hershey, until I discovered their chocolate was produced by child slave labor. I realize both of these statements are inflammatory as heck, but I will support them in this post.

I will also provide information on the alternatives I have found, cause let's get real, we can't live without chocolate! But we can live without supporting the killing of the third world's infants and the trafficking of it's children.

are natural sugars good for you?

whole cane sugar, grey

This is a picture of whole cane sugar, adapted from a photo provided to Wikipedia by Fritz Lasinger. First thing to notice is that it looks NOTHING like that "Sugar in the Raw" stuff, which is highly processed stuff, not much different than "brown sugar" which is white sugar with some molasses sprayed on.

IMO, there are three considerations with sugar in addition to the processing issue: glucose content, fructose content and practical use.

Beginning with the processing issue, most white sugar is made from sugar beets, most of which are GMO. White cane sugar is not GMO, whether organic or not, as there isn't any GMO sugar cane yet. So you can avoid GMOs just by buying cane sugar.

In processing the white sugar, a side product is molasses, which is basically all the minerals from the raw sugar. Most of your standard brown sugars are highly processed white sugar with some molasses sprayed on for color and flavor.

The primary processing issue is that the minerals are removed. However, I do not feel this is very significant, as anyone who is getting significant mineral content from their sugar intake has way bigger problems to worry about than their mineral intake. I do feel there's a much more important reason to use natural sugars, which I'll get to when I discuss practical use below.

marshmallow root infusion

marshmallow root infusion

As a backwoods biochemist, I am interested in many alternative and natural treatments. However, I am also of the opinion that one should not be so open-minded that one's brains fall out.

So when I look at an herbal treatment, the first step is finding out what has been used for a long time, because there's generally some empirical evidence that it's useful. But the second step is hitting the research literature to find out what solid scientific evidence is behind it. And the final step is figuring out how to practically incorporate it in my life; e.g. adding turmeric to my juice daily.

Having done the herbal and scientific research, I am extremely convinced that marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis L.) is a very useful herb. I prepare a cold infusion to maximize it's utility, which is incredibly easy to do.

real food for busy women: the fruit bowl

Sometimes, it seems that there are so many food blogs out there, that it's hard to find anything unique to say. Today, I think I do have something uncommon to add to the blogosphere: this is about the fruit bowl as the most basic possible thing anyone can do to improve their own or their family's health.

This is part of the series: posts for Pat (real food for busy women); a fruit bowl is a very easy way to improve your diet and it literally takes 5-10 minutes while doing your normal grocery shopping, As a rough estimate, multiply the number of people who live in your home by 5 or 6; buy that many pieces of fruit; come home and stick in a bowl. That's pretty much all there is to it!

The fruit bowl is not just for still life paintings!

help for procrastinators on Valentine's Day

Valentines sweethearts

Have you procrastinated too long for Valentine's Day?

It's WAY too late to get reservations anywhere nice; that ship sailed some time ago.

And it's also pretty late for most hand-crafted gifts; that idea in the back of your head for the past six months, you should've started it already.


No! You can redeem yourself! And if you do it right, your beloved will never know you didn't plan it from the start!

I've got your back.

Pão de Qeijo (Brazilian cheese rolls)

Pão de Qeijo - Brazilian cheese rolls
by Jackie Patti

I never really got into gluten-free baking much beyond a few almond meal or coconut flour recipes.

If I needed to be gluten-free, perhaps I'd be more willing to experiment. But I did a month-long gluten-free trial and pretty much determined gluten isn't an issue for me. Of course, I greatly limit carbohydrate due to T2 diabetes, so my diet isn't exactly crammed full of gluten anyways, but the serious motivation to go gluten-free just isn't there and thus I have little interest in gluten-free baking.

People I admire do all sorts of complicated recipes involving multiple types of flour mixed together with gums to approximate gluten. It always seemed like too much work with too many unfamiliar ingredients, though I expect I might feel differently if I were celiac or had NCGS.

But one day I ran across the idea of Pão de Qeijo, which are Brazilian cheese rolls. I was attracted to the idea for two reasons, first because these are an actual traditional recipe, apparently having been made since the 1800s.

Secondly, they are made with only one gluten-free flour, tapioca flour/starch, which meant I could pick up a bag of Bob's Red Mill bag at the grocery and experiment instead of a big pile of unfamiliar ingredients most gluten-free baking seemed to call for.

January 2014 link love

by Jackie Patti

Weather was the main news this month. Hubby claims the words "polar vortex" didn't exist before this month. If anyone runs across an earlier usage, let me know!

All I know for sure is everyone nearly froze their nipples off this month. Here in central PA, the cold has continued, with very few days hitting above freezing. I have no hope of pulling a leek out of my garden! And my chickens, now five months old, haven't free-ranged in weeks. (By the way, the roosters LOOK like roosters now, though no crowing has yet occurred. Keeping fingers crossed for eggs soon!)

The cold was EVERYWHERE; early in the month, a Nor'easter killed 13 folks in the eastern US; mid-month the Kỳ Sơn district in Vietnam had it's first recorded snowfall EVAH; and at the end of the month the Carolinas through Texas were bracing for ridiculous cold and snowfall, perhaps we can call this a Sou'easter.

The cold wasn't quite everywhere; Australia had a record-breaking heatwave; it would've hit 110 if they used sensible degrees, but due to metric it was only 44.

Other notable events in January 2014:

No soup for you!

No soup for you!  NEXT!
by Jackie Patti

You remember the Seinfeld episode...

The Soup Nazi terrorized New Yorkers, denying them his luscious soup unless they followed his soup ordering protocol EXACTLY.

"No soup for you!" he bellowed, "NEXT!"

Through a bizarre set of circumstances involving an armoire, Elaine wound up with copies of all the Soup Nazi's recipes, thus ending his monopoly and saving the people from his tyranny.

Today, I am playing the part of Elaine, bringing soup to the masses!