Why I am Not Vegetarian: A Homesteader’s Perspective.

Lets start with this.  If I couldn’t raise my own meat or source it locally and sustainably I would be vegetarian.

Why I am Not Vegetarian

I have been attacked many a time by readers who say I can’t claim to be “green” when I eat meat.  Hold it right there.  Since when does the definition of being green have anything to do with eating meat?  I found a good definition of green:

What is the definition of green livingGreen living is a lifestyle which seeks to bring into balance the conservation and preservation of the Earth’s natural resources, habitats, and biodiversity with human culture and communities.
-sustainablebabysteps.com

Does it say anywhere in there that green means not eating meat?  It does not.  That said, I don’t actually like the term “green” anymore… it doesn’t seem deep enough, or meaningful enough.  Anyone can recycle their garbage and use safer cleaning products and be considered “green”.  And really, is that actually very green?  Or is that just our everyday responsibility in today’s world?  Lets go deeper, and get far beyond green-washed consumerism.   I prefer the term “sustainable living”.  And I also like Wikipedia’s definition of it.

Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual‘s or society‘s use of the Earth‘s natural resources and personal resources.[1] Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportationenergy consumption, and diet.[2] Proponents of sustainable living aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, in natural balance and respectful of humanity’s symbiotic relationship with the Earth’s natural ecology and cycles.

That’s a loaded definition and one worth working towards.  It also, incidentally, does not say anything about being vegetarian.

As many of you already know, and the rest of you now know, my aim is to grow food to supply my family with most of the food we need for a year. ON MY PROPERTY here in Canada.  Not from California or Mexico or Peru.  Right here, were I can see what is going into it, how it is handled, and how it is prepared or preserved.  I fall short of that year after year, but come closer every year.  The last year we have had more than enough meat to eat, produced right here on my property.  We raised meat birds and pigs, which filled our freezer. This year as well as raising meat, my canning cupboard has been filled with local, unsprayed produce and my own food.  My two freezers and extra fridge are stuffed full of meat, fruit and vegetables produced on my property.  Full to the point of considering buying another freezer.

Canning Shelves 2014b watermarked
If sustainable living is partly defined as reducing your carbon footprint by altering your diet to include mostly food produced on your own property, then I think we are pretty well covered.  Most grocery stores in my area are filled with fruit and vegetables brought in from California or further.  The carbon footprint to bring that food to Canada is huge.  My carbon footprint is tiny in comparison.

Kidney beans in a jar watermarked

Actually, my big discovery as to WHY I could never be a strict vegetarian (ie. vegan) occurred this fall.  I discovered that I can’t reasonably grow enough protein on my own property to supply my family of 5 without raising meat.   I grew kidney beans from my own seeds from last year.  I expected to grow enough to have a year’s supply.  I planted them in a section of my garden that was about 6 feet by 8 feet.  The plants grew and produced.  I allowed them to dry out on the bushes and I collected them to dry further in the house.  Then I shelled them and put them in a jar.  My total of beans for the year, from that size of space, was a 1 L jar full of kidney beans (as seen pictured above).  Now, I am not sure how many meals that would provide for my family but it isn’t very many.  Of course, I could have grown a larger field of beans.  In fact I could have grown an acre of beans and finally had enough to supply my family with enough protein to feed them.  If they didn’t understandably kill me first after feeding them only beans for the year.   I don’t actually own enough land to grow an acre of beans, but you get my point.

 


Joel Salatin quote
Now I see nothing wrong with living on beans.  Or lentils, or quinoa, or nuts, or any of a variety of these protein-high products, especially if they were grown in your garden or locally.  But in comparison, the amount of land I would need to grow enough protein to supply my family, when compared to raising meat is incomparable.  In fact I don’t truly believe I would be able to grow and harvest enough vegetables and grains on my 1.9 acres of land, most of which is forested, to provide my family with a balanced diet.  In Canada we have a smaller growing season, a cooler climate, and we are limited to how much protein we can grow.  I don’t even know where I could supply myself locally with enough non-animal protein for the year, from other farmers.  Lentils and quinoa, dried beans and nuts are just not grown here very much, because they require space, commercial harvesting techniques and equipment, and longer, hotter growing seasons to be even remotely efficient.

Pig

I can, however, provide meat for my family which in turn provides protein.  Lots of it.  So a zero mile diet, complete with lots of fruit and vegetables, and some meat, is doable.  And we are doing it.  Our chickens are free ranged and fed GMO-free feed.  Our pigs are fed exclusively on scavenged and organic bread, whey and vegetables.  Our goats provide us milk.  Our bees provide us honey.  Our garden provides us with lots of vegetables and fruit.  We source Canadian organic wheat berries to grind for bread.  We eat well, our animals are happy, and we know where our food comes from.  Right here in our back yard.

I live in Ontario, Canada and during the winter the only local vegan foods left to eat are frozen berries, carrots, potatoes, squash, parsnips, turnips, yams and other root vegetables. Sustaining on those foods all winter would be impossible.  So you start importing coconut oil, gojis, cacao, maca, avocados, green salads, etc.  I realized that driving half a mile down the road to buy some eggs is a better option ecologically than buying all these expensive imported “superfoods.”  And when you do the research, the pastured, local egg has more nutrition than any of the superfoods I was paying 10 or 20X more for.  So after awhile I felt pretty counterproductive and hypocritical in my vegan stance.  -from Interview With an Ex-Vegan: Kaleigh Mason, an 8 year vegan. 

There are lots of different arguments on both sides of the coin.  And there are lots of different reasons for eating the way we do.  And I respect (almost) everyone’s decision.  I have found studies that show the world can live entirely on a vegan diet.  I have found studies that show that we can’t.  I have found articles calling vegetarians hypocrites for eating plants because they are alive too.  I have found articles condemning meat eaters because they are taking a life.  I certainly can’t solve the world’s hunger issues, neither can I solve climate change or any other environmental issue.  But I can make a difference by sourcing my food sustainably, and teaching others how to do so themselves.  And before you tear a strip off me for not being green, I challenge you to take a good long look at your own food sources.

It’s not that vegans are right and vegetarians are wrong, or vegetarians are right and omnivores are wrong, or omnivores are right and carnivores are wrong – it’s about where we each choose to draw our line. Better still, to return to the arrogant view that ‘man’ thinks he is at the top of a food chain, Keith concluded “I’m not going to draw a line. I’m going to draw a circle.” We are part of the circle of life, just as any other animal is. They and we need to live and die to give back to the land, so that birth and death can continue. – The Vegetarian Myth

If you are not eating meat because you don’t think animals should be killed, that is your choice.  If you don’t eat meat because you don’t like how commercial meat is produced, and can’t raise it yourself, I applaud you.  If you choose to eat meat and source it sustainably, fantastic.  If you eat meat produced commercially in large factories where animals suffer horribly, may you learn something.  If you eat meat but don’t think you could ever kill an animal for meat, let me teach you.  Just PLEASE don’t be that person who just told me today that she feels sorry for the chickens, thinks she should be vegetarian, and then goes home and cooks up a commercially produced chicken that she didn’t have to see when it was alive.  That is too hypocritical for me.

So back to the beans.  I will continue to grow them and use them as an alternate source of protein but they will go hand in hand with the meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables and fruit I grow to provide my family with an adequate supply of healthy, low carbon footprint food.

More reading:

Interview With An Ex-Vegan

The Vegan Myth

Fertile Soil Needs Animal Agriculture: Joel Salatin on Integrated Farming.

 

 

 

A Homesteader’s Canning Shelves: Preserving Summer’s Bounty.

Canning Shelves 1 watermarled and titled 2014My canning shelves are as important to me as a biker’s Harley. Or a shopaholic’s purse collection. So it is with a lot of pride and a little anxiety that I share them with you today. I have spent countless hours collecting, preparing and canning local or home-grown food to preserve for the winter months when I have nothing left available to me in the grocery stores except conventional produce from countries so far away from me I will likely never see them. As you all know I prefer to grow my own food whenever possible, and since our growing season on the coast of BC Canada is relatively short, I need to preserve it. All summer long I have been harvesting and canning, freezing or dehydrating my own or locally sourced food. This provides us with a source of local, whole food when local is no longer available. I know where the food originated, I know how it was handled, and what went into it. I know that I am providing quality food for my family in the winter. And it feels good.

canning shelves 2014c watermarked

This summer was a particularly busy one. My husband, a commercial fisherman, was gone for most of the 3 summer months. It was my responsibility to take care of the kids, the farm, and the food-growing and -processing. With over 100 chickens to be processed, and the care of 40 plus layer chickens, 10 goats including milking and kidding, 3 pigs and 10 ducks, my time was tight. The large garden produced well and required many hours of labor. The daily activities of our family included, for the most part, feeding, cleaning, weeding, cooking and preserving. Thankfully we live on a piece of property where my children are safe to play because we didn’t have much time to stray from home this summer…

Canning Shelves Close up 4 watermarked

During a few days that my husband had available at home he built a new set of canning shelves for me. They needed to be strong, they needed to be big, and they needed to be earthquake-proof. Just in case. He used 3/4 inch plywood for the shelves. They are 2 feet deep (a sheet of plywood cut length-wise) which holds 6 quart-sized canning jars deep. Each shelf has an oak strip across the base of it that creates a lip so that no jars will slide off the shelves. The shelves go directly to the floor so that the weight will be borne by the floor not the wall. Canning jars are HEAVY!! I can easily climb these shelves without them giving a bit. My choice was to have the shelves staggered a bit for visual appeal which is what we did. My husband grumbled a bit because he knew that they would sag a bit, not being supported one beneath the other but only he really notices that. We filled in the nail holes and finished the shelves with tung oil, from a tung tree. As you enter the house you are confronted with a massive wall of canning jars, and food preservation tools. Most newcomers take one look and their jaws drop. It is quite a satisfactory feeling! Not unlike the feeling a biker gets when someone admires his Harley, or a shopper whose purse is praised. :) And not unlike the shopper, it is tempting to keep filling and collecting jars…..

So while some people show off unique pieces of art, I show off my canning. After all, many hours of dedication went into the creation of this work of art! And no, my canning is not for sale!

 

Canning shelves 2014d watermarked

 

Homemade Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette with canning instructions

Raspberry mint vinaigrette

I’ve been pulling out frozen food from the freezer and using it up in preparation for the onslaught of fresh fruit and vegetables coming soon.  I had a few bags of frozen raspberries, and since my bushes are loaded this year I need to use up the older berries now.  Some of them were used in fruit leather, but I decided to make some into raspberry vinaigrette.

I’ve been wanting to make my own salad dressing for a long time, and while I have conquered homemade mayonnaise and ranch dressings, I haven’t had anything I can safely can yet to make shelf stable.  Oil, cream and eggs can’t be safely canned at home.  But anything that is acidic can be, and raspberry vinaigrette can be made without the oil (to be added later, when opened).

raspberries and mint

It isn’t hard to make, uses up extra berries, and is flexible… you can add or sub different vinegars, or even make with other fruits.  I added lime juice to one batch to make raspberry lime vinaigrette, and fresh mint to another.  The mint is my favorite.

Homemade Raspberry Mint Vinaigrette from Scratch
Author: 
Recipe type: salad dressing
Cuisine: American
 
Homemade raspberry mint vinaigrette has a tang and sweetness that match the best commercial dressings available. Instructions for canning included.
Ingredients
  • 8 cups raspberry juice
  • 1½ cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. dry mustard powder
  • 6-8 sprigs (stem and leaves) fresh mint
Instructions
  1. Prepare raspberry juice. Place frozen berries in large thick-bottomed pot and heat on low to thaw. Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
  2. Measure and add remaining ingredients except mint. Heat to almost a boil. Whisk well; sugar should be dissolved.
  3. Add mint. Remove from heat and steep mint in vinaigrette until it is cooled. Remove mint.
  4. Pour into prepared jars. Wipe rims clean, add lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove from canner and cool. Store, without rings, for 12 months or more.
  5. When you open the jar, pour into a larger jar and mix 2:1 vinaigrette to oil of your choice. .
Notes
Makes 6 pint sized jars.
Feel free to sub lime juice for the mint, or remove the mint altogether.
You can use therapeutic-grade peppermint essential oil in place of fresh peppermint if you like. Start with just a few drops... it's powerful!

Raspberry Vinaigrette with lime

 

Berkey Water Purifier Co-Op Opportunity! *Updated*

Berkey Systems Co-Op Contact us June 22nd***Updated!***  The Co-Op has been extended to June 22nd to give everyone a chance to get the full discount!!

Hello everyone!  I am thrilled to offer you an exciting opportunity!  I have been working with United Environmental Solutions recently, and today they are offering a unique deal, open to all of my readers, myself, and a few select other bloggers and their readers.    As you know, I recently worked with some other homesteading bloggers and Berkey Water Purifiers to provide our readers with an opportunity to win a system.  That contest is now closed, and Berkey is now offering us a Co-Op Program where you and I can get a fantastic deal on a Berkey Water Purifier system, depending on the number of people who join the Co-Op.  The Co-Op is open June 2nd 2014 to June 22nd 2014.   This is an unheard of deal for Berkeys, and we are thrilled to offer it for the following systems:

    • The Berkey Light
    • Big Berkey
    • Royal Berkey
    • Imperial Berkey
    • Crown Berkey
    • Go Berkey
    • Travel Berkey

*Recently updated to include the Go Berkey and Travel Berkey too! Plus, shipping is included in the cost*, so there won’t be any extra surprises! Not only that, but Berkey is also offering 10% off replacement filters. The Berkey Water Purifier Systems are a big name in homesteading, green living, permaculture and survivalist circles.  The thought of having pure water from a trusted source is undeniably delicious. *The Co-Op is open to USA and International customers, but shipping will apply for international customers.  Some restrictions apply to California and Iowa residents.  Message me for details. Straight from the source:

Berkeys have the capacity to remove harmful pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, and unhealthy chemical contaminants such as Chlorine to levels higher than 99.99%, while at the same time leaving in the essential minerals your body needs. Did you know that over 60% of US municipal water is fluoridated? Berkey water filter systems also distinguish themselves from many other filtration systems by having the capabilities to significantly reduce fluoride and arsenic via the “PF” line of filters. Berkey Water Filter systems are capable of purifying both treated water (municipal/city water) and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds, and water supplies in foreign countries.

With the peace of mind brought to you by a Berkey Water Purifier system, you will have more time to enjoy life and one of its main elements: water.   Interested in buying a Berkey for your household? Email me at myhealthygreenfamily@hotmail.ca  for more information or to get your order in now! * If you don’t hear back from me within a day please comment below and I’ll get back to you.  I am having trouble receiving emails from some of you.  Thank you! The Co-Op is open from June 2nd, 2014 to June 22 nd, 2014.  Orders must be in on time. I am looking forward to working with you!

-Leona Free Range Mama My Healthy Green Family Berkey Water Filtration System Affiliate

* a few models are back-ordered.  It is typical for co-ops to ship within a month from the order being placed.  Some will ship out faster.

Big Berkey Giveaway! UPGRADED to IMPERIAL!!

Don’t miss this giveaway! I am thrilled to join forces with some of my favorite homesteading bloggers to give away a Big Berkey, a well-known and respected water filtration system. I have been eyeing these systems for years and all I can say is… too bad I can’t enter and I hope you win!

The Big Berkey is a 2.25 gallon water purifier, which makes it perfect for small- to medium-sized families, or outdoor activities. Its filtration system is so powerful that it removes viruses, pathogenic bacteria, pesticides, and much more, without stripping the water of beneficial minerals.
Big Berkey Upgrade

***** Update!!  The giveaway has been upgraded to an Imperial Berkey, including 2 fluoride filters!!*****

United Environmental Solutions is one of the top distributors of Berkey water systems. Today, the amazing folks at United Environmental Solutions (UES) have generously offered a Big Berkey water purifier to one lucky reader. Thank you so much to UES for this opportunity!

Ten of my favorite homestead and natural living blogs are co-hosting this giveaway. Be sure to visit their websites as well!
The Toups Address
The Browning Homestead at Red Fox Farm
Little Mountain Haven
Hullabaloo Homestead
Whistle Pig Hollow
The Faulk Farmstead
Reformation Acres
Ever Growing Farm
Homestead Honey
Learning and Yearning

Giveaway for a Big Berkey Water Purifier | Homestead Honey

Follow These Four Easy Steps to Enter

1. Visit the UES Website to check out the Berkey, Propur, and AquaVida water systems that they offer.

2. Leave a comment as to why you’d love to win a Big Berkey water purifier.

3. Subscribe to the My Healthy Green Family newsletter by entering your email below




You are free to unsubscribe at any time after this giveaway has ended. I will not share your email address with a third party. Your email address is solely used for the My Healthy Green Family newsletter (sent with new blog posts), and occasional special news.

(If you are already a subscriber, thank you! Just continue to step 4. You will confirm your subscription in the Rafflecopter widget below.)

4. Head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below to confirm your entries and unlock opportunities to gain additional entries.

The winner will be chosen via random.org. This giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday June 1st. The winner will be contacted by email, and will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Good luck!

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Pamper Yourself Giveaway!

Here’s a chance to pamper yourself with some gorgeous hand-made natural body products! Have you ever experienced the luxury of goat or sheep milk in soaps and lotions? They are extremely hydrating, nourishing and healing. Great for everyone! Three products and three winners! Learn how to enter below, and best of luck in the giveaway!
soap-giveaway

A big thank you to our sponsors for this giveaway:

Humble House Gardens – Goat’s Milk Hand & Body Lotion (see their shop page)
YB Urban – Lemongrass and Peppermint Retro Luffa Soap (see their shop page)
Cedar Springs Farm & Dairy – Honeysuckle Lavender Sheep’s Milk Soap (see their shop page)

Be sure to visit the other blogs co-hosting this giveaway!

Blue Yurt Farms
Green Eggs and Goats
Faulk Farmstead
The Jahner Farmstead
Whistle Pig Hollow
Homegrown & Healthy

Follow These Two Easy Steps to Enter

1. Subscribe to the Blue Yurt Farms Newsletter by entering your email below.




You are free to unsubscribe at any time after this giveaway has ended. I will not share your email address with a third party. Your email address is solely used for the My Healthy Green Family newsletter (sent out with new blog posts).
(If you’re already a subscriber, just continue to step 2. You will confirm you subscription in the rafflecopter widget below.)

2. Head on down to the Rafflecopter widget below to confirm your entries and unlock opportunities to gain additional entries.

Three winners will be chosen via random.org. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on Monday, May 12th, 2014. The winners will be contacted by email, and each will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to US residents only!

Good Luck!

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pamper-pin

Soothing Body Butter With Aloe

Body ButterI’d like to introduce you all to a fellow Canadian blogger who has a beautiful new blog all about natural living.  She has some fantastic DIY tutorials for all natural body products and she has offered to share one here, in a guest post!  Please welcome Carly from Modern Hippie Housewife! -Leona from My Healthy Green Family

So another weekend unfolds, and my kitchen, once again, resembles a meth lab (Breaking Bad fan over here.) This weekend I’ve been experimenting with body butter. And I don’t mean to “toot my own horn” but, after some trial and error, I’ve really nailed it–this body butter is one-of-a-kind!

[Read more...]

With coconut oil, shea butter, avocado oil, vitamin E oil, and aloe vera, this body butter is soothing, nourishing, and highly moisturizing.  Use as your daily, body moisturizer or to sooth after-sun skin. If you’re pregnant, rub it on your baby-bump (and boobies) to ease the itchiness of a growing belly.

Why I Switched to Homemade Moisturizer

Aside from the obvious savings, I’ve made the switch to homemade body butter with my health, and the environment in mind. Fragrances, preservatives and dyes, found in the majority of moisturizers and cosmetics, are absorbed into your skin, and are toxic to your body, as well as the environment. The David Suzuki Foundation has compiled a helpful list of the “Dirty Dozen” Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid–so at the very least, avoid cosmetics that contain harmful ingredients on the list. Or, even more effectively, make your own! It’s easy, affordable, and you’ll ALWAYS know what the ingredients are!

A Bit About Aloe…

This is my first time experimenting with aloe vera in my lotions, and after researching it further, it seems like a no-brainer. Aloe vera gel, commonly used for soothing sun-burns, has so many incredible properties–to name a few…

  • Aloe vera gel contains more than 200 active amino acids, vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals, enzymes and sterols.
  • Aloe vera is rich in nutrients, and when consumed, is believed to aid in digestion, relieve ulcers, and help combat constipation.
  • There have also been claims that aloe “boosts the immune system and acts directly on abnormal cells, thus preventing or treating cancer.”
  • Used externally, aloe vera gel is highly moisturizing, can help treat acne, and decreases the appearance of scars, stretch marks and aging.

So naturally, I wanted to incorporate it in to this body butter.

How to Make Body Butter with Aloe Vera

First you’ll need to gather your ingredients. For this recipe, you’ll need coconut oil, shea butter OR cocoa butter, organic aloe vera juice, vitamin E oil, and some kind of unrefined, liquid oil, such as avocado, olive, jajoba or almond oil. I use avocado oil in the recipe below because that’s what I have on hand at the moment. (Read more about the benefits of avocado oil in my Homemade Facial Cleanser post.)

If you have an aloe vera plant, you can use the gel from that instead of buying the juice. Just make sure you pulse the gel in a blender prior to adding it to the lotion.

Melt  the coconut oil and shea butter in a double-boiler. Anyone can do this: first, add the two ingredients to a small, glass jar, then place the jar in a pan of lightly simmering water.

Double-Boiler Method

As soon as the mixture has melted (the shea butter will be the last to melt), remove it from the heat, and leave it at room temperature until it becomes opaque, but still soft.

Opaque

Next, add the “opaque mixture” to a stand mixer bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and using the wire whip attachment, whip the ingredients until it’s light and fluffy. This will take about between 5-10 minutes–let’s say 7 :) If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can achieve the same result using a hand-mixer. The picture below still needs to be whipped for a couple more minutes.

006

The body butter is complete once it becomes light, fluffy, and can stick to an upside-down spoon.

Spoon Test

Transfer your body butter to an airtight container, and store in a cool place. Apply it to your whole body as frequently desired!

As you can see, this soothing body butter with aloe vera  is easy and affordable to make–I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Body Butter with Aloe Vera
Author: 
 
Soothing Body Butter with Aloe Vera
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp Shea Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Aloe Vera
  • 1 Tbsp Avocado Oil (OR Olive, Jajoba or Almond Oil)
  • 10-15 Drops of Essential oils of choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Melt coconut oil and shea butter in a double boiler. You can create this by putting the ingredients in a small, glass jar and then placing the jar in a pan of simmering water.
  2. Remove from heat once melted and let the mixture cool until it's opaque (to speed this is you can put it in the fridge, but don't let it become solid.)
  3. Next, add the remaining ingredients and the coconut/shea mix to a stand mixer bowl, and whip until ingredients are well combined, and the mixture is light and fluffy (about 5-10 minutes.) It's finished when the body butter can stick to a spoon when held upside-down.
  4. Transfer to an a small container or jar and store in a cool place.

Meet Carly, the Modern Hippie Housewife

MODERNHIPPIEHOUSEWIFE_logo-page-001 (1)Carly is a stay-at-home-mom and wife, who left her career in finance to stay at home, raise her daughter, and pursue her passion: growing and cooking awesome, wholesome food for her family, and leading a sustainable, minimalistic life. You can follow her journey to cleaner, greener living (on a budget) by visiting her blog at www.modernhippiehousewife.com.

 

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Homemade Sustainably-Sourced Chocolates. Easy To Make and Delicious.

I stopped buying those cheap, junky chocolate Easter eggs from the dollar stores a few years ago. They are probably made in China, and definitely not all natural or sustainably-sourced. When my kids get treats, I like them to be at least made with safe ingredients. Even better, from reliable sources that aren’t damaging both the natural environment and the people who are growing and processing the cocoa beans.
Last year I bought sustainably-sourced chocolate bars, broke them into squares, and wrapped them in aluminum foil. This worked fine… but was kind of boring. This year, I made my own. It turned out to be a fun, rewarding experience, and was simple enough to have the children help out!

I made several different recipes, but found these two to be the best:

The recipe by Wellness Mama is made with sustainably-sourced cocoa butter and cocoa powder, raw honey and vanilla. Nothing more, nothing less. The recipe by Cupcake Project can also use sustainably-sourced, organic ingredients. One of the batches of chocolates I subbed 3/4 of the powdered sugar for raw honey and it turned out really well. In another batch I added a tbsp. of cashew butter to the white chocolate recipe for a nutty treat. If you can’t find organic powdered sugar you can make it yourself from this recipe from Whole New Mom using certified organic cane sugar and arrowroot powder to avoid the typical GMO sugar and GMO corn starch.

 


Both provided easy-to-follow instructions, used ingredients that can be sourced sustainably, and created a delicious product that I’ll be working with in the future! Think… dark chocolate with sea salt and butterscotch… white chocolate hazelnut… the possibilities are now endless! And what great gifts they would make!

If you make some, please let me know how they turned out, and if you varied the ingredients with great success! Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Easy Homemade Marshmallows Recipe

Marshmallows are a fun treat.  People roast them over bonfires, melt them in hot chocolate, make s’mores with them, make rice crispy squares with them and so on.  But have you ever read the ingredient list on a bag of Jet Puffed marshmallows?  It isn’t very pretty.

Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dextrose, Corn Starch Modified, Water, Gelatin, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate A Whipping Aid, Flavor(s) Artificial, Color(s) Artificial (Blue 1)

Corn syrup is super-concentrated, highly processed, and made from GMO corn.  Sugar is made from GMO sugar beets.  Corn starch is made from GMO corn.  Tetrasodium pyrophosphate A is… well, a chemical used as a thickener, and if ingested in large doses requires immediate medical attention.  It is also a skin and eye irritant.   Yum.  Artificial flavor and color (color?  In white marshmallows?!) is self-explanatory.  So basically, they are trash.  I don’t want my kids to eat them, period. But wait!  You CAN make them at home with safer and natural ingredients.  Easily!  You don’t have to forever ditch marshmallows!  And they taste better than store-bought ones. Let me just say this first: everyone should make marshmallows at least once.  Partly because it is a fun, tasty treat, but also to demonstrate first-hand how much sugar is in a marshmallow.  It is rather astonishing, and proves that marshmallows should, indeed, be a once in a long time treat, even if you make them with safe ingredients.

Easy Homemade Marshmallows Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: snack
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 marshmallows
 
Simple, delicious homemade marshmallows without the artificial ingredients, color, additives or GMOs.
Ingredients
  • Butter, for greasing the pan and parchment paper
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 3 c. granulated sugar (I used organic white cane sugar)
  • 1¼ c. raw honey
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ c. confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)
Instructions
  1. Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan with butter. Add parchment paper on top of the buttered pan, and carefully fit it inside the pan. Allow 1 inch overhang on each side. Grease the paper well. Set aside.
  2. Put sugar, honey, salt and ¾ c. water in a small pot. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat.
  3. Put ¾ c. cold water in mixing bowl and then add gelatin. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. With a mixer, whisk water/gelatin mixture and add honey/sugar mixture slowly. Increase speed and whip on high until mixture is thick, white and forms peaks. Whip in vanilla. This could take 10 minutes.
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish, scrape bowl and smooth the top with buttered spatula.
  6. Set aside uncovered until firm, about 3 hours.
  7. Sift 1 c. icing sugar onto counter top. Grease your hands and a knife. Flip set mixture onto icing sugar on the counter top. Cut into squares.
  8. Dip marshmallows into remaining icing sugar on all sides and set on a plate.
  9. Serve immediately or store for up to a week in an airtight container.

The recipe is above.  For more details and photos please read below. Notes:

  • It is very important to grease your hands and utensils before touching the marshmallows once the mixture is combined or you may be permanently stuck to the marshmallows!!
  • The marshmallows are slightly softer than store-bought ones.  The more days you let them sit, the firmer they become.
  • If using on a bon-fire, be very careful… they melt faster than store-bought ones and may fall off the stick if you don’t watch closely.
  • Unless you are using certified organic confectioners sugar you will be using GMO sugar with GMO corn starch added.  You can easily make your own confectioners sugar using organic white cane sugar and arrowroot powder by following this recipe.

1. Grease a 9×13 inch cake pan with butter. Add parchment paper on top of the buttered pan, and carefully fit it inside the pan. Allow 1 inch overhang on each side. Grease the paper well. Set aside. 2.Put sugar, honey, salt and 3/4 c. water in a small pot. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat. 3.  Put 3/4 c. cold water in mixing bowl and then add gelatin. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes. 4. With a mixer, whisk water/gelatin mixture and add honey/sugar mixture slowly. Increase speed and whip on high until mixture is thick, white and forms peaks. Whip in vanilla. This could take 10 minutes. 5. Pour into prepared baking dish, scrape bowl and smooth the top with buttered spatula.  Set aside uncovered until firm, about 3 hours.   6. Sift 1 c. icing sugar onto counter top. Grease your hands and a knife. Flip set mixture onto icing sugar on the counter top. Cut into squares. 7.  Dip marshmallows into remaining icing sugar on all sides and set on a plate.  Serve immediately or store for up to a week in an airtight container.  

 

 

Local Bite Giveaway!

Welcome to the Local Bite Giveaway! I am honored to be a part of such an exciting contest and challenge, with such a fantastic group of bloggers! One winner will be selected to receive ALL of these fantastic prizes.   My hope is that these items, coupled with the Local Bite Challenge itself, will help one winner continue on their journey to a more locally centered way of eating and living!  Good luck!  And please consider taking part in the challenge in whatever way you can!  Follow My Healthy Green Family on facebook as I enter my household of 6 into the challenge.

Learn more about each of the items and enter to win this phenomenal giveaway by following these four easy steps!

1) Click the below links to take a closer look at the amazing items included in this giveaway package! After reading about them all come back here to complete steps 2-4.

  1. One $200 Gift Certificate to Local Harvest, purchased by all of the bloggers participating in this giveaway (see the full list below)
  2. One “Locally Grown” t-shirt, graciously donated by Fed by Threads
  3. One Preserving by the Pint book, graciously donated by Marisa McClellan
  4. One set of autographed Homemade Living Series books, graciously donated by Ashley English
  5. One The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil eBook, graciously donated by Susan of Learning and Yearning



3) Complete the mandatory skill question in the Rafflecopter.

4) Leave a comment below letting me know which prize you’re most excited about and/or why eating local is important to you!

Use the Rafflecopter widget below to confirm the above entries and unlock even more! Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget.

For even more ways to win, be sure to visit and subscribe to all of the amazing blogs who have come together to help me offer you this exciting giveaway!

Attainable Sustainable

Blue Yurt Farms

Ever Growing Farm

Faulk Farmstead

Five Little Homesteaders

Green Eggs & Goats

Homestead Honey

Mama Philosopher

The Jahner Farmstead

A winner will be randomly chosen via rafflecopter.com. We will announce the lucky winner on Monday, July 21, 2014. The winner will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name, address, and phone number. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian Residents, ages 18 and older. Please see the full Terms & Conditions in the Rafflecopter widget

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GOOD LUCK!