My Favorite New Fudge

I love simple food!  Ok, so this is supposed to be called brownies, but I think it is more like fudge.  I got this recipe from a great friend and have made it twice …. in the last week.  I haven’t had the guts to add the cocoa, and I haven’t made the icing, but just the brownie/fudge is heavenly.  (no cooking and only about 5 minutes of work)

Truth be told, I have this as a treat now instead of a piece of dark chocolate. 

Ok, so this is what I do: (I double the original recipe)

2 cups dates (the ones I have are rolled in flour, but it would probably work better with the straight ones)

1 cup coconut (I used 2 cups coconut and no nuts on the first batch and it great too)

1 cup nuts (I used cashews)

Instead of 1/3 cocoa powder I put in lime juice and a bit of cinnamon.  Enough lime juice to make the mixture sticky.  (add as you mix)

Put all the ingredients into the food processor.  (I use my blend tech)

Press the mix into a brownie pan (or another pan that will help it hold it shape)

Put in the fridge for a bit (you can eat it right away, cooling just makes it less sticky and hold form better)

Here is the finished product.

Here is where my friend got the recipe.  (this includes the icing and more yummy pictures)


Forks Over Knives

Much anticipated and desperately needed, the movie “Forks Over Knives” is now available! My husband and I watched it on Neflix (available for instant streaming).

Trailer and website.

Timely and life saving information in a great presentation.I am not sure where to start writing about it. I think everyone should watch it. If you don’t have Netflix, than you can sign up for a 30 day trial and watch it. If you do have Netflix… there is no excuse. (It is also available for rent from Amazon Forks Over Knives.)

The truth about food is out there, and it isn’t that complicated. Health and weight is not the mystery that it is made out to be For the most part it is really simple. However, in this case, simple isn’t always easy.

But simple is sure a good start. Society is bombarded with so much health advice that often contradicts, that it is dizzying. I have always been on a quest for health, and it is easy to head in a different direction with every book or every fad trying to find the ‘secret’. It is frustrating, time-consuming and expensive.

The truth is that all the health push on our society for the last 50 or so years isn’t working.  People are getting fatter and getting diet related diseases more and more.

‘Forks Over Knives’ takes the work of experts in the field. It tells the story of The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Healthby Dr Collin Campbell.

I loved this book when I first read it, and it was neat to see him and hear more about how all his research was done. The movie also interviews and follows other well-known experts in the field.

The only drawback I see with this movie is that it is too much to cover in a video. Just like almost any other movie that has roots in books, the book has key information that isn’t/can’t all be included in the movie.

I have trouble tackling the subject down to write about. Depending on who you are, one or more of these is a big issue for you:

  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Lots of other diseases
  • Fresh water supply
  • Endangered Animals
  • Rainforests
  • Cruelty to Animals
  • Ozone Layer

… and many other reasons all have the same answer. A whole foods, plant-based diet. It doesn’t answer everything in each point, but it is arguably the most important factor in all of them.

Along with the movie some of the best books on the topic that I would recommend are:

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our WorldHealthy Living Books)

It is a big deal, but it is simple. Not easy, but significant

The Bad Side of Bulk

This is a crazy post for me to write.  A year ago, this post would have sounded very different so, I guess, this area really shows how my thinking has changed.  I have learned that simple living and simple homemaking often doesn’t including buying in bulk.

I used to love bulk.  I have never been a hoarder of stuff after I have used it (like kids cloths or craft projects) but I was a big hoarder on bulk items.  Before we moved to our apartment this spring I had our house packed with all kinds of things I found in bulk or on sale.  We had a year or more supply of stuff from toiletries, to food, to kids cloths (these purchased several years in advance at garage sales).  My thriftiness had me buying everything in advance when I could find it.  I always shopped through all the clearance sections and found great deals. 

While downsizing this spring I ran into the problem of trying to figure out what to do with our years supply of so many things.  I found myself selling lots of never touched toiletries and boxes of laundry soap, and donating lots of cloths that they kids wouldn’t have grown into for years.  Even now, lots of stuff that we have in our apartment now is left over bulk that I kept that we will hopefully use up in the next year.   

What I am coming to realize is that bulk really isn’t cheaper for two main reasons:

First, I am not sure I will really need it.  Often I have ended up with more cloths purchased ahead of time than my kids even need for a size and season.  I have gotten lots of shampoo that I then decide I don’t like as well as I thought I did.  We get sick of a food and there is still lots left in the cupboard. 

Second, I am paying for temperature controlled storage for my bulk.  It might be cheaper to buy TP for a year at a time on sale, but then I need to have a house big enough to have a place to store it.  Most of my basement and bathroom cupboards were full of different bulk products.   Now I don’t have the space to keep all these products, but I am also paying much less living expenses and utilities.  Having a chest freezer was nice in the house and it was always full, but I am not sure that it saved what we paid for in electricity to run it.  Honestly, the stuff purchased in bulk was cheaper, but was it really cheap enough to make up for the costs.     

Beyond these there is the hassle of having to sort through stuff and keep it organized. 

Probably most people aren’t near as crazy as me.   My excuse was that hoarding for the future was much smarter than hoarding other useless items.  It has just been a revelation, or a change in the way I am thinking, to realize that this really wasn’t saving me money and that living simply, buying only a few things in bulk or ahead is really, surprisingly cheaper…. and way easier.

If we need to have it all, than couponing or shopping all over town might make it cheaper… but maybe we don’t need it all.

Less hassle, more time.  Less stuff, more money.   Simple life, more freedom.

Making a Big Difference…. Simply.

Welcome to my simple living blog!  Thanks for reading.  Take a look around and feel free to comment or e-mail me. 

I want to share a simple way that my family has been involved in making a powerful difference.  For the last 3ish years we have sponserd 2 children through World Vision.

First off I have a huge burden for those in 3rd world countries.  There are evils and poverty in our country, but here there are programs everywhere for food and medical.  Clean water and education are amazingly easy to come by no matter who you are or where you are.  In other countries it isn’t this way.   Lack of clean water, food and basic medical attention kill millions of people.  The education that could help pull them out of the cycle is often something they can’t get, don’t have time to get, or are too weak to get.  We did nothing to deserve where we were born and they did nothing to deserve where they were born.  In the world, we are all family and we should do all we can to help each other. 

What is neat about world vision is the connection.  We picked 2 children, matching ages and genders with our own as close as we could and have been able to write back and forth and learn about how they are benefiting from our support.  We know that these children will grow up to get the education that can give lasting help to their community. 

Let me introduce you to our kids:

Juster(below)-Juster is a 7-year-old girl in Malawi.  She seems shy, but likes to draw us pictures and is doing well in school.  Her aunt writes us letters because she isn’t old enough to write yet.  As she does more school I am looking forward to seeing letters from her.  Last Christmas we sent extra money and she was able to get several things including a metal storage container to keep the bugs from destroying her blankets, cloths and a goat.  We send $35 for Juster every month and a world vision worker checks on her everyday because she is high risk.  She is a Hope Child.

Phochland(seen at the top of the post)-Phochland is a little 4-year-old boy with lots of older siblings living in northeast India.  Still to old to do school or write he has done a few simple drawings or colorings for us and we send him lots of stickers.  He loves playing ball and is very healthy.  Last Christmas, with some extra money we sent, world vision purchased a bike for his dad.  We send $30 a month for Phochland and the world vision worker checks on him every week. 

Sponsor a Child

These are my additional kids.  It has been a great experience for our whole family.  Lily and Ian both write letters and pick out stickers and treats to send.  We would love to visit them someday. 

In this world we can’t fix all the problems, and it seems overwhelming when we hear all the terrible struggles people face.  I love that I can do something for someone.  These kids, their families and their communities benefit from a small amount that is automatically withdrawn out of my account each month. 

Will you help too?  Will you find a kid to help?  It is super easy, pick and kid and set up automatic withdrawal and they take it from there.  If you have time, when you remember, you can send a note, but your money is working even when you don’t think about it.

My reason for writing this article is two-fold.   First, I think all kids deserve a chance no matter where they are born, and I believe World Vision does a great job of offering sustainable help to communities.

Second, if I can convince 5 of you to sign up by the end of Sep to sponsor a child I get entered in a drawing for a trip to Peru.  So, if you sign up, send me an e-mail with your name and your sponsored childs ID number :)  I would also love to hear how it is going as you sponsor your child. 

This is such a great opportunity.  As much as I would love to fly over to some of these countries and try to help, I can’t figure out a good way now.  What my small contribution does every month provides the practical, educated, lasting help that I can’t physically give.  It is a blessing to be involved, simple to , and a bargain! 

Will you sponsor?  Sponsor Now! 

Seitan, Rice and Peas Part 1

Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water.  I originally was taking the picture for the fried seitan example but it got mostly covered with sauce.  This ended up fabulous and was super easy.  This is what I did.

  • Boiled brown rice (it can be made ahead and last a few days over a few meals
  • Fried some seitan ‘steaks’
  • Boiled frozen peas (I hate the canned mush)

Made a cool sauce (it was really hot outside and I didn’t want my food that hot so the sauce was made to be cool) with hummas, Trader Joe’s goddess dressing, garlic, lemon juice, green olive juice, and dill.  Really all the amounts are to your taste. 

This made an awesome balanced meal with lots of colors and textures.  Great carb in brown rice, lots of veggies in the peas, protein in the seitan and fats in the sauce.