25 Healthy & Delicious Summer Salads {Plus 5 Tips for Creating The Perfect Salad}

25 Healthy Summer Salads Tips {Keeper of the Home}

By Kelly Smith, Contributing Writer

The warmer weather of summer lends itself to lighter meals like deliciously fresh summer salads. They’re not only a satisfying and refreshing way to beat the heat, they’re also simple to put together, and can easily be adapted based on what you have on hand.

Perhaps the best part about salad is it’s a wonderful way to showcase a variety of fresh seasonal produce, and thereby provide a nutrient-dense meal that almost everyone enjoys!

If you’re looking for some fresh summer salad recipes, we’ve got a treat in store for you! From healthy veggie- and fruit-packed salad recipes to hearty protein-rich dinner salad recipes, each of our favorites below is chock-full of fresh, seasonal ingredients.

In fact, this collection of healthy summer salads is perfect for summer picnics, barbecues, pool parties, or just everyday family dinners. With 25 delicious recipes, we’ve provided you with a new recipe or two to try each week all summer long. So be sure to pin this post to refer to over and over again!

25 Healthy & Delicious Summer Salads

Nutritious, easy, and gorgeous enough for a party – these healthy salads top our list of favorite go-to recipes for family meals and summer entertaining.

Fresh Veggie Salads

25 Healthy Summer Salads Tips {Keeper of the Home}

• Brussels Sprouts Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette (shown above)
• Broccoli Raisin Salad with Yogurt Dressing
• Chopped Power Salad with Creamy Parsley Dressing
• Layered Salads with Homemade Mayo
• Mixed Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
• Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad with Kombucha Vinaigrette
• Simple Carrot Salad with Yogurt Dressing
• Stephanie’s Greek Salad with Dijon Dressing
• Zucchini Noodle Salad with Coconut-Avocado Dressing

Salads with Fresh Summer Fruits

25 Healthy Summer Salads Tips {Keeper of the Home}

• Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Blueberries
• Avocado Mango and Lime Salad with Citrus Dressing
• Cherry Caprese Salad with Fresh Basil
• Citrus Endive Avocado Salad
• Fresh Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
• Spinach and Radish Sprout Salad with Strawberries and Mint Vinaigrette (shown below)
• Strawberry Beet Salad with Balsamic Mustard Dressing
• Strawberry Feta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Hearty Protein-Rich Salads

25 Healthy Summer Salads Tips {Keeper of the Home}

• BLT Salad with Creamy Ranch Dressing
• Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad
• Classic Cobb Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
• Color Burst Salad with Asian-Style Vinaigrette
• Nicoise Salad with French Vinaigrette
• Southwest Fajita Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing
• Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
• Thai Crunch Salad With Creamy Honey-Sesame Dressing

5 Tips for Creating Great Summer Salads

25 Healthy Summer Salads Tips {Keeper of the Home}

When it comes to making delicious salads, here are a few tips that will transform your salads from good to great!

Make your own salad blends. It’s certainly convenient to purchase pre-packaged salad mixes. However, the packaged salad blends usually aren’t very fresh or tasty, and often contain bits of slimy lettuce. So the best bet is to go fresh and choose whole heads of lettuce that can easily be washed and cut in a matter of minutes. Making your own salad blends not only ensures the best flavor, but often saves money too!

Soak your salad greens. The best way to wash greens is to fill a large bowl with cold water, add the greens, give them a gentle toss, and let them soak for a few minutes. Then, lift the greens out of the water, leaving any dirt at the bottom of the bowl. Empty and rinse the bowl. Then, repeat the process until no more dirt remains. The cold soak not only helps to remove dirt and debris, but also helps to freshen up the greens. Once they’re clean, give the washed greens a good spin in a salad spinner, or place them on a kitchen towel and lightly pat dry.

• Properly store your salad greens. The best way I’ve found to store salad greens is to first wash and dry them thoroughly, as described above. Then, wrap the clean greens in paper towels, and place in large Ziploc-style bags. Be sure to gently remove as much air from the bags as possible before sealing. Store in the vegetable crisper, making sure to check the bags every 2-3 days, and replace any damp towels with dry ones. The Kitchn also has an interesting bath towel method that you may prefer.

Make your own dressing. Homemade salad dressing is super easy to make, and is so much healthier and tastier too. Most vinaigrettes and dressings can be made ahead of time and stored in airtight mason jars in the fridge so you’ve always got a tasty dressing on hand for making quick healthy salads.

• Dress the salad just before serving. Oils from dressings and vinaigrettes are the main cause of limp, wilted salad greens. So the best bet for crisp salads is to add the salad dressing just prior to serving. In addition, the best way to evenly distribute dressing on salad greens is with a pair of large salad tongs, or simply use your hands to gently toss.

25 Healthy and Delicious Summer Salads {Keeper of the Home}

For more delicious salad recipes, be sure to check out “Sensational Summer Salads.”And if you’re looking for more healthy homemade salad dressing recipes, “Everyday Real Food Salad Dressings” has 10 great recipes for those classic bottled favorites.

What are your favorite summer salad recipes and tips? Please share them below.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, it helps to support this site, so thanks!

PlanToEat-150x150This post is sponsored by Plan To Eat. If you know you need to make strides towards regular meal planning and you’re looking for a tool to make it easier, I highly recommend you check out Plan To Eat’s virtual tour and then sign up for a free 30-day trial to see how it would work for you! Plan To Eat was born from a desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.

Why this is a post I never thought I’d write

Why this is a post I never thought I'd write  - Keeper of the Home

*It’s rather coincidental, yet so perfectly aligned, that I would feel led to write this post the same week that Jessica’s thoughtful post on such a similar topic went up. I think the message is coming through loud and clear… “grace, always grace”, for all our weaknesses and imperfections and frailty and unanswered questions.*

I feel grateful I brought a sweater. The air conditioning chills my feet, bare skin exposed in flip flops. Distracted, I page through a House & Home magazine, once in a while glancing up at the video of too-happy teens demonstrating how to floss their perfectly straight pearly whites. 

Meanwhile, my seven year old son sits in a big black chair, under sedation, without me, while a children’s oral specialist fixes, fills and yanks out far too many of his teeth. 
 
It’s bad. I mean, really bad. 
 
This is a post I never expected to write, but as I sit here, waiting, waiting, waiting, it’s running through my mind and needs to get out. Writing has become a form of therapy over the years, and today feels no different. 
 
He’d begun to complain about tooth pain for several weeks before we got him in to see a dentist, though we couldn’t see anything clearly for ourselves. But he needed a check up anyways, and we didn’t want him to be in pain, so one rainy spring afternoon, I bundled the kids up, and we went to a dentist I’d located in our new town. After looking at this teeth and taking a couple of x-rays, the dentist called me in. I took a deep breath and followed the hygienist down the hall. 
 
“There’s a lot of decay,” he said, rather unsympathetically. “He needs some major work done, too much for me to do. He’ll need to see a specialist, someone who can sedate him and do the work all at once, so he doesn’t remember. So he isn’t traumatized. After that, he’ll need a lot of orthodontic work, sooner than later, because there’s no room for his adult teeth and if you don’t get it taken care of now, his teeth will be really bad. Kids are mean these days. You don’t want him to be made fun of, do you?”
 
I sucked in my breath, taken aback. I had no idea. Oh, I knew his mouth was crowded. I know that he deals with more health challenges than the rest of the family and it was starting to show in his teeth. I expected at least one or two cavities, where he’d been complaining of the pain. 
 
But a mouthful at his age? Seeing a specialist to be sedated? To the tune of thousands of dollars? I was stunned, and struggled to contain the hot tears filling up my eyes, not wanting to show the dentist how his careless words had shaken me. 
 
Weeks later, we get in for the appointment with the specialist. A soft spoken Asian-Canadian woman, who takes her team members on dental missions trips to Nicaragua and has decorated her office like Around the World in 80 Days, sits down with me and gently explains the situation. It is as bad as the first dentist said. He needs extensive work. There are about 10 cavities, many of them need stainless steel caps, and some teeth are near the point of root canal or extraction. 
 
Why this is a post I never thought I'd write  - Keeper of the Home
 
He won’t feel the pain, she says, nor will he remember much of the experience. She’s sweet, carefully detailing the work to be done, how she’ll do it. I feel safe with him in her care. We’ll save up the money. We’ll get him what he needs to end his suffering, and learn how to prevent it from happening again. 
 
But that doesn’t take away the frustration, the guilt, and even the shame I feel. 
 
How can my child, the one whom I nursed for so long, whom I fed gluten and dairy free when he had food sensitivities, whom I’ve tried to keep from processed and refined foods to the very best of my ability, whom I’ve given spoonfuls of cod liver oil and sought out outrageously priced raw milk for, still have all these dental problems? 
 
My brain hurts as I think through all the possibilities of how it could have happened.
 
Was it the fact that while pregnant with him, my husband was diagnosed with cancer? We went through many difficult months of surgery, chemo, and then recovery during my last trimester of pregnancy and while he was very young. I was stressed to the max, not gaining enough weight towards the end. He was a small baby. I struggled with my milk supply several times. 
 
Or maybe it was the times when we made compromises in our diet, when we didn’t have cod liver oil regularly, when we occasionally gave in and bought ice cream cones for a special treat.
 
We do our best, but we don’t let food rules our lives. Excellence, but not perfection, is our goal. I’ve always tried so hard to feed my kids to the best of my ability, but suddenly it doesn’t feel like enough.
 
Was it my fault? Could I have prevented this? 
 
His siblings don’t have perfect teeth, but nothing like this. Maybe a pin-prick cavity, or some mild crowding. This is different. 
 
I’m frustrated, bewildered. Why him? Is it genetic? Did I do something wrong? Do I even know anything about healthy living? Is he paying for all the years when I was still so unhealthy in my teens and early twenties?
 
Trying to push away the thoughts that torment me, I ask the dentist if she’s ever heard of teeth being remineralized. She says yes, she believes that sometimes it can happen. I start to cry, this time out of relief. Finally, a dentist that doesn’t think I’m crazy.
 
I tell her what I’ve read about, ask her if we can try. She gives me her blessing, sells me a special toothpaste for remineralization and tells me to do whatever I think best with diet and supplements. 
 
While we wait months for his appointment, a far-off date on the calendar, we work hard. 
 
No grains, or at the very least, gluten-free if we’re stuck for options. No sugar. Double doses of cod liver oil and butter oil. A calcium and magnesium supplement. Swishing and swallowing Black Walnut tincture. Extra careful brushing and flossing, followed by remineralization paste before bed every night. Plenty of raw milk.
 
He’s so diligent. If I forget, he reminds me, sweet boy that he is. But I rarely forget. I’m determined. I know we can’t reverse it all, some of it is just too far gone. But I have hope that I can make a difference. 
 
Today he dutifully skipped breakfast, and his big sister and I sat with him, watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in a small room while the sedation medicine began to take effect. They took him away 20 minutes later, to begin the work and x-ray once again, just to be sure nothing had changed. 
 
I was hopeful. Oh, was I ever hopeful. Dr. Tsang had promised me that if anything had improved or was looking better than before, we’d leave it and just watch it, trusting that continued diligence with his teeth and diet and supplements might be able to reverse the small cavities altogether. 
 
That’s not what happened, though. 
 
As she began her painstaking work on Caden’s mouth, her assistant took me into a room, explained that all the cavities remained, and they hadn’t gotten smaller. The two baby teeth that were in need of possible root canals had deteriorated, the roots already begun to die. They needed to be pulled out. And once again, I choked down my tears as I tried to make a last minute decision whether we should have spacers put into those places or not (we did). 
 
I feel like I’ve failed. I’m discouraged and sad for my son. 
 
In every parent’s life, there comes a moment when you realize you can’t protect your children from everything. Just as we each walk through our own storms, standing battered by the pouring rain, and must gather up our courage in the midst of the darkness and the lightning crashes and the fear of the hard things we’re facing, so must our children. We can’t shelter them from it all. 
 
I can’t undo the fact that Caden may struggle with weak teeth the rest of his life, or have to undergo painful or complicated dental work and orthodontics. I know it frightens him, and later today, he’ll feel miserable as he comes out from under the sedation. His teeth will probably ache for days, with the new fillings and the pulled teeth and the unfamiliar spacers pushing against the teeth that remain. 
 
Why this is a post I never thought I'd write  - Keeper of the Home
 
We’ll continue to make the best choices we can with his diet, keep him low grain and even lower sugar, ensure he’s fastidious in his oral care, make sure he’s getting sufficient vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements, take him in for regular check ups. 
 
I’ll confess that today, right now, I feel doubtful that any of this makes a difference. 
 
And I know, deep down, that it does. I know that some people, for all sorts of reasons, are more susceptible than others. Perhaps if we’d discovered the problems sooner, or had longer to try to fix them, we could have made a difference. I don’t really know. And for now, I’m choosing to be okay with that.
 
What I do know is that I can’t go back and change those months of pregnancy or nursing, and that I was doing the best that I could during a turbulent time in our lives. I know that God’s grace is sufficient, for my struggles and for all that my son will endure as a result of his teeth. 
 
This is one of those posts where I don’t have any answers. I wish I did, but I don’t. I simply want to be honest about our experience. 
 
It’s important to remember that sometimes, we can do all the things that seem to be right, make the best choices we know how to make, and still not be able to fix the problem.
 
We have to come to terms with that, and realize that our hope is not in our healthy choices. They’re important, yes. But they aren’t a guarantee, or a way to escape sickness or hardship all together. Thank God that He is bigger than all of these things. 
 
I’d love to hear your stories, of challenge you’ve faced and how you approached them. Of times when you did the right things, and still didn’t get the results that you hoped for. Of how you’re moving forward with hope in situations that frustrate and discourage you. 
 
Let’s come around each other in the comments. We live in a broken world, with imperfect bodies, and there are no perfect solutions. Sometimes we don’t need suggestions or ideas or answers. We just need support and community and to encourage one another that we’re all doing the very best we can, and it is enough. I want to make sure that the comments remain positive and affirming, so please keep your tone encouraging. I trust that you will. Thank you for joining us here. It’s an honor to be a part of this community.
Love Stephanie

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Actually Use

Real Deals: This Week's Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Actually Use - Week of July 15th, 2014

Welcome to our newest weekly feature, Real Deals!

I know that, like me, you want to buy the best products possible (and support great companies) while still sticking with your budget. 

Starting this week, we’ll be bringing you a weekly roundup every Tuesday of the best deals we can find on real foods, organics, eco-friendly and fair trade products, and other items that fit into a natural living lifestyle, like herbs, vitamins, cloth diapers, helpful ebooks, and more. 

Most deals are online, since our readers live all over North America (and really, all over the world). We can’t guarantee that every deal with will work for everyone, but we’ll do our best to find ones that are available to as many of you as possible. Some deals are monthly specials from companies we love, some are short & sweet deals that come up for just a few days, and we’ll share just a few printable coupon links as well, for those who enjoy using them. 

Have items you’d like us to look into? Specific companies or websites you prefer to buy from? Brands you’re a fan of? Please let us know in the comments! Your requests will help us to refine these deals and make them even better. 

Want to get Real Deals in your inbox each Tuesday?

Just sign up here to receive these weekly emails. You can unsubscribe any time you like. 

Already a KOTH subscriber? These emails will NOT go out in our regular feed. So if you’d like to get them, make sure that you sign up for them specifically!

Enjoy the deals! 

Love Stephanie 

This week’s top deals:

sunflower seedsBob’s Red Mill Natural Raw Sunflower Seeds, 20-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4) for $12.60 (or just $2.68 per package). Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.

 earthmama milkmaid tea

Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea, 16 Teabags/Box (Pack of 3) on sale for $8.67.  Amazon’s lowest price-to-date.

rolled oats

Bob’s Red Mill Oats Rolled Regular, 32-Ounce (Pack of 4) at Amazon for $13.26 ($3.32/pack) with Subscribe & Save.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

33% off Organic Coconut Flour 2.2 pound bag from Tropical Traditions. Currently $9.99, regular $15.00. 

Screenshot 2014-07-14 17.08.29

Best Bottom Cloth Training Pants on sale $6.95 (regular $12.95) at Nicki’s Diapers. 

autoimmune cookbook

 

FREE Kindle Book: Autoimmune Cookbook: Real Food Recipes For The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol by Ancestral Chef: 50+ Delicious Recipes Designed Specifically to Heal Autoimmune Disorders (note: prices can change without notice, so please double check this is still free before purchasing) 

how to make soap at home

FREE Kindle Book: How to Make Soap at Home: The Simple Soap Making Guide for Beginners! Discover How to Easily Make Gorgeous Looking & Beautifully Scented Homemade Soap! (note: prices can change without notice, so please double check this is still free before purchasing) 

This week’s best coupons:

Real Deals: This Week's Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Actually Use - Week of July 15th, 2014

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About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

When “Natural” Isn’t Working: Hope For the Discouraged Crunchy Mother

When "Natural" Isn't Working: Hope for the Discouraged Crunchy Mama {KeeperoftheHome.org}

By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer

When my son was 18 months old, I put him down for his afternoon nap. Nothing unusual, except he had a bad cold, and was feeling yucky. Thirty minutes later, I heard him wake up, uncomfortable.

When I walked into the room, I was shocked at what I saw.

He was coughing – not just coughing – gasping through every breath. His ribs and neck muscles were retracting. He was trying to talk, but had to gasp before every couple of words.

I’m a compulsive worrier, but this time, I knew there was something wrong. I called my mom, buckled him with shaky hands, and rushed to the doctor.

A few long hours later, we took a memorable ambulance ride to the downtown children’s hospital, where we stayed for two days, until his oxygen levels rose back to normal.

When "Natural" Isn't Working: Hope for the Discouraged Crunchy Mama {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Here’s where I get to my confession part.

Since that (terrifying) day four years ago, my son has been off and on a slew of various asthma medications. Inhaled cortisteroids, albuterhol…

And it gets worse.

Once or twice a year, we have to give my son oral steroids. Prednisone. Even the word makes my stomach lurch. I know it’s bad because even the mainstream medical professionals – the “un-crunchy” crowd – hate using this stuff.

Please do not remind me how horrible this medicine is.

I know.

I know it every time we have to give it. I know it every time we totter near giving it, when my husband and I get on our knees (literally – how many times have we been on our knees for this child?), and we beg God to open his airways, to keep his lungs healthy, to let us not have to give us this awful medicine.

Sometimes it works: the prayers, the oils, the diet changes, the supplements – maybe all working together. Sometimes we’re spared, and his breathing returns to normal.

But others…

I cannot tell you how deeply I feel like a failure using these medicines. Nothing feels worse to a crunchy mom than her efforts not working. Of course, I have a long, long list of remedies and helps and aids that I have eagerly tried. They often help, but none for us has been a once-and-for-all cure. We deal with life-threatening food allergies, and trust me – that is crazy difficult.

When "Natural" Isn't Working: Hope for the Discouraged Crunchy Mama {KeeperoftheHome.org}

But this? This is the worst. When you try so desperately to fix something…and you can’t. Maybe you don’t have a child with asthma and bear the frustration of that awful disease.

Perhaps you can relate to my frustration?

A pesky sinus infection, a surgery you just can’t put off, resistant ear infections in a little one … or maybe something worse. Maybe you deal with a chronic ailment that may (or may not) respond to all your crunchy methodology.

If you’ve been there, I feel for you. Here are some things I’ve learned as a crunchy-mama-in-the-journey.

  • Just because you need some “conventional” medication, doesn’t mean your efforts are all in vain. Sometimes I will be so sure that my latest concoction will just cure my son’s asthma for good, and it doesn’t. I’ll whine to my husband, Why don’t we just give up, and put him on five different medicines, and let him eat whatever junk food he wants? None of it does any good anyway! And my sweet husband will remind me (as he often does in my embarrassing struggles): Sweetie. It is working. It is helping. Sometimes it’s just a big battle to fight. But you’re doing a great job.
  • Just because something “natural” isn’t working, doesn’t mean there isn’t a natural cure. Just because you haven’t found the answer, doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer. It is okay to be in process of discovering what can heal the body. Let me repeat that:

When "Natural" Isn't Working: Hope for the Discouraged Crunchy Mama {KeeperoftheHome.org}

It is okay to be in the process of natural living.

There may be people who have “reached” the destination. But for many like me, we are still learning what does and does not work, doing our best as we go along. And that is okay.

  • You have to remain upbeat, and open to trying new things. I bet after writing this, I’ll receive a host of asthma tricks and techniques that I’ve never even tried!  Instead of being defensive, or embarrassed, or afraid to try this or that, I’m learning to be grateful for yet another option to try!
  • Sometimes (and I’m wincing as I tell you this), you just take a deep breath, and do the horrible awful “conventional” thing, and thank the good Lord that you live in an age of modern medicine. Grace, mama. There is grace. I still believe that one day I’ll figure it out, and my son won’t need that steroid once a year. I truly do. But for now? When he needs it? When he’s struggling for breath, and coughs through every word? Friend, I will give this medicine, and I will thank God that I can.
  • And finally, I’ve been reminded that natural living is not my Savior. Jesus is. Because I’m a Christian, I take a weird sort of comfort in all my “failures.” Why? Because they remind me that this earth is not my home.  That one day – daily dose of cod liver oil or not – I will die. And that’s okay – because I will be with Jesus forever. The struggles we have on earth can serve as a reminder that there is a better life coming.

So, what about you? Have you, too, felt the disappointment of a failed remedy, or a natural journey in-the-process? What helps you when you feel like a discouraged crunchy mother?

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Seasonal Living {How I’m Learning to Number My Days} @ Accidentally Green

The Great Challenge Facing All Women  [and Why Women Need to Stop Judging Each Other] @ A Holy Experience

Honey Garlic Drumsticks (A Simple Summer Crockpot Meal) @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Why Can’t I Just Be Good? @ Visionary Womanhood

Real Food Road Trip {Eat Well, Spend Less} @ Kitchen Stewardship

DIY Hair Growth Serum Recipe @ Wellness Mama

Finding Solitude As a Mom @ Dirt and Boogers 

How to Love Your Neighbors (yes, the ones next door) @ The Better Mom 

It’s been HOT here in Colorado! What’s the weather like in your area? How do you handle the heat or cold this time of year?

42 Summer Recipes That Won’t Heat Up Your Home

42 Summer Recipes That Won't Heat UpYour Home {KeeperoftheHome.org}

By Jami Leigh, Contributing Writer

As the long, hot, lazy days of summer drag on, I dread starting my oven at night to cook dinner. We have a nice swamp cooler in our house but once that oven gets going (especially to make a 40-minute dinner), our house heats up and it just gets too hot!

This summer I’ve been exploring ways to cut down on the heat from my oven and also cut down the time I spend in the kitchen. I want to enjoy my summer and spend time outside with my kids while it stays lighter later. I’ve been playing with a combination of freezer cooking and slow cooker meals to help me stay out of the kitchen more, keep the house cool, and still have yummy home-cooked meals most nights.

I’m keeping my meal planning strategy simple this summer and I invite you to take it easy too with these amazing slow cooker and freezer meal recipes.

Utilize Your Freezer

Freezer cooking is the single best thing I’ve done for gaining control of my kitchen. Freezer cooking allows me to plan better, save money, and always have meals ready to go! And during the summer, it helps to free up my time so I don’t have to sacrifice precious moments playing with kids.

In California, 5 p.m. is the hottest part of the day. The sun is blazing and our house is cooking. I’ve been utilizing freezer cooking so that even if I want to make meals that require the oven, I can make them on days that are cooler and at times when it won’t heat up the house as much (such as early morning and in cool evenings).

42 Summer Recipes That Won't Heat UpYour Home {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Invest in a Slow Cooker (or three)

I love having multiple slow cookers because you can use them for so much! You can make breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, dessert, and even bread in the Crock-Pot! On days when it’s really hot, I’ll have things going in multiple slow cookers. Often I will have dinner and a side going, along with a yummy dessert baking away.

Making a plan beforehand and using my slow cooker(s) well, allows me to do prep work in the morning and by dinner time, my kitchen is clean and not too warm.

I’ve done the hard work for you … here are some amazing slow cooker and freezer cooking meals that you can add to your weekly meal plan so you can free up some time in the kitchen and keep your house cool!

Crock-Pot Breakfast Recipes

Pear and Ginger Slow Cooker Oatmeal  - Keeper of the Home

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal – Domestic Superhero

Pumpkin Oatmeal Recipe – Wannabite

Effortless Breakfast Burritos – Cooking Books

Breakfast Casserole – From Lemons to Lemonade

Spinach and Mozzarella Frittata – Skinnyms.

42 Summer Recipes That Won't Heat UpYour Home {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Crock-Pot Lunch/Dinner Recipes

Crock Pot Chili Recipe – Blessings Overflowing

Chicken Taco Salad or Burrito Bowl – Practical Stewardship

Crock Pot Chicken and Quinoa - The Nourishing Gourmet

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili – Milk Free Mama

Complete Steak Dinner in a Crockpot - Stockpiling Moms

Slow Cooker Pesto and Spinach Lasagna Recipe – Crockpot 365

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks – Practical Stewardship

Crockpot Rotisserie Style Chicken – Blessings Overflowing

Sweet and Sour Chicken – Practical Stewardship

Lemon and Herb Crockpot Roasted Chicken – Crockpot 365

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup – Mason Jar Values

Crockpot Beef BBQ Short Ribs – Natural Fertility and Wellness

Crock Pot Creamy Turkey and Quinoa – Stacy Makes Cents

Crockpot Roast, Potatoes, and Carrots – Blessings Overflowing

Crock pot Pasta Sauce – The Humbled Homemaker

Crockpot Broccoli Beef – Crock Pot 365

Crockpot Pork Chops with Gravy – Blessings Overflowing

Crock pot Clam Chowder – A New England Life

 

42 Summer Recipes That Won't Heat UpYour Home {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Crock-Pot Side Recipes

Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot – 100 Days of Real Food

Making Homemade Yogurt in the Crock Pot – Keeper of the Home

Crock Pot Sugar-Free Strawberry Chia Jam – Stacy Makes Cents

Easy slow cooker seafood stock – Anthony St. Clair

How to Make Slow-Cooker Ketchup – Simple Bites

Hot Onion Dip – Crock-Pot Ladies

Marinara Sauce – Once a Month Meals

Homemade Crock Pot Vegetable Stock - The Holistic Mama

Homemade Crockpot Apple Sauce – Young Wife’s Guide

42 Summer Recipes That Won't Heat UpYour Home {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Crock-Pot Dessert/Beverages Recipes

Crock Pot Pumpkin Spice Latte – Young Wife’s Guide

Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter – oh She Glows

Crock Pot Caramel Apple Cider – Young Wife’s Guide

Crock Pot Honey Spiced Latte – Stacy Makes Cents

Blueberry Lemon Cake – Healthy Slow Cooking

Slow Cooker Fudge – Skinnyms.

Cranberry Coffee Cake – Shape

Slow Cooker Brownies - The Gracious Pantry

Crockpot Almonds – Stacy Makes Cents

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Share with us in the comments!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, it helps to support this site, so thanks!

Why I Quit No ‘Poo and My Beauty Routine These Days

Why I quit no 'poo (and my beauty routine these days)

When something isn’t working for me, I’m learning to stop the madness.

Put down that boring book I’m halfway through. Switch up the daily routine to accomodate when I’m most productive or a toddler’s morphing nap time. Drop that homeschool curriculum that yes, I paid good money for, but is causing tears and friction each time math rolls around.

So when the “no ‘poo” method of shampooing only with baking soda stopped working for me, much as I was infatuated with this simple and uber-frugal practice, I ditched it.

It’s not that no ‘poo is bad. At all. In fact, I know plenty of people that still do it, have done it for years, get great results, and rave about it. I used to be one of them.

My problem is that although my hair tends to be greasy on the top, it gets very dry everywhere else, is fine, and very prone to being breakage.

After doing no ‘poo for an extended period of time (a couple years), my hair was actually getting brittle, dry, and damaged. Yes, I was doing it properly, being careful with how much I used, adding in a vinegar rinse, doing a conditioning treatment every once in a while, cutting back on how often I washed… all the things that should make it work. Except it didn’t. Not for me.

When I gave up on it, I figured I would go back to using natural store-bought shampoo from my local health food store. Just around that time, I got introduced to these fantabulous shampoo & body bars, and got hooked. The rest is history.

I switched over, went through a brief transition period, and promptly fell in love. These had that extra bit of moisturizing power my hair needed. They didn’t strip it dry like baking soda. The combination of the shampoo bars and a very small amount of natural store-bought conditioner, worked really, really well for me, and gradually my hair became healthier again.

I took an unexpected hiatus from using them during our Big Trip. I had originally planned to use them throughout, for myself and the whole family, and had bought plenty in advance to have shipped to us as we went. The challenge was that being in so many different places, different climates, different levels of water hardness or softness, my hair got finicky and I decided to take a break from them until we got home.

Instead, I used regular (or natural, when I could find it on the road) shampoo, switched to all-natural again as soon as we got home, and now I’m going back through the adjustment period that my hair needs to get back to the shampoo bars.

What do I love about these shampoo bars so much?

They really seem to nourish my hair. They’re made with only the best ingredients, nothing I disapprove of in the slightest. They smell and look divine. I can wash myself, head to toe, with one bar.

They’re no more expensive than using shampoo from an organic or natural brand, but I honestly like them a whole lot better. They’re convenient for traveling (like to weekend conferences or to take camping). Plus, I’m putting my dollars towards a business I’m happy to support.

This post is perfect timing for me, because Natalie (the owner of Apple Valley Natural Soap, a previous KOTH writer, and long time online friend) approached me to write it and review some of her new products just when I had been planning on getting back on the shampoo bar bandwagon. I thought it would be a great opportunity to tell you about what my beauty routine currently includes, since that has been a popular topic in the past, so here goes:

Why I quit no 'poo (and my beauty routine these days)

What beauty products am I using currently?

MakeupLavera foundation, currently trying out making my own powder, mineral makeup eyeshadow- Redeeming Minerals and Everyday Minerals, lip gloss – plain (homemade mostly, and Natalie has a great recipe for this), also Burt’s Bees shimmers and colored

Perfume – Essential oils. 

Washing my face – My homemade foaming facial wash at night. On the mornings I shower, I use a scrub, and I’m really enjoying Pineapple Strawberry Yogurt Facial Scrub. It’s a surprising texture and ingredient list, and works surprising well! After washing, I use this toner. About once a week, I use a masque, which can be as simple as plain bentonite clay, this pore-refining mask (now discontinued, I believe, which accounts for the insane price), or Natalie’s new Coconut Milk and Honey Masque, which I’ve just started using but might like even better.

Moisturizing – I like hard lotions bars for body and hands, and Argan oil for my face. 

Deodorant – I’ve been using two different store bought natural deodorants, both of which I hate, quite frankly. They don’t really do anything useful. But I haven’t had the ingredients for making my own deodorant. I was planning to buy them and start again, when Natalie asked me to test her new natural deodorant creme, so that’s what I’m using right now. The ingredients are great, and though it was weird to rub on a cream at first, it’s getting normal now and it rubs in really nice and clean, without clumps or residue. It doesn’t prevent me from sweating all together (remember, that’s not the job of a deodorant but we don’t want to use antiperspirant either, because blocking sweat pores and trapping toxins in your body = bad), but I do stay fresh smelling, which is the point.

Shampoo & Conditioner – I was using Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Shampoo & Conditioner, but have now switched back over to my beloved shampoo bars. I’m also trying Natalie’s awesome new herbal vinegar rinse. I love using it as a leave-in conditioner, to allow the infused herbs to really penetrate my hair, and I’m hopeful that using it long term will add some extra lustre. The scent is strong when it first goes on, but it dissipates really quickly. This is better than using the thick cream, which adds greasiness and weight to my already fine and thin and greasy hair. If the herbal vinegar can help to keep my hair strong and healthy, I’m all for giving up the white stuff.

Why I quit no 'poo (and my beauty routine these days)

Dry shampoo – I’ve been over the moon about dry shampoo. My hair can start to look greasy even the day after I wash it, but I try really hard to take at least two days (or better yet, three) between showers. Dry shampoo is my answer. I had been making my own, but am enjoying Natalie’s new citrus dry shampoo, which smells prettier than mine and is far more elegant in it’s proper shaker than my reccyled parmesan container (classy, I know).

Pretty earrings or a cute necklace – These are my daily non-negotiable, even for a day doing gardening or projects around the house, even when I’m not going out, even when I’m tired. Two things I learned during our travels (thank you, women of Europe) are that a) I have my own style and I should be confident in it and b) it’s worth it to take a little bit of time and effort to make yourself look nice each day. I’m talking 10 minutes here, not an hour. It makes me feel more beautiful and productive and ready for whatever my day holds. My husband appreciates it. It’s worth it. 

Two other non-beauty related products of hers that I have to include: 

Arnica Muscle Rub - I have some serious issues with a bad back and shoulders (I’m sure my computer work doesn’t help) but this rub is really nice on tense muscles. 

Healing Herbal Salve – This product wasn’t even part of this review, but I’d been using it for years now and can’t recommend it highly enough. My kids all know that when they get an owie, this is what they should use. We have several tubs of it around the house, and brought it with us on our trip. It works extremely well for speeding healing and preventing/treating mild infections on cuts or scrapes. It is the bomb for diaper rash. A must-have. 

I have a feeling I’ll be asked this, so I’ll answer in advance… my favourite shampoo bars are Peppermint Tea Tree, Simply Shea, Wheat & Honey, Coconut Milk & Citrus, Wild North, and Man 2.0 (yes, even for myself). The Calendula Castile bar is my pick for kids. 

But really? I’ve tried far more than that (I’m about to try Princess Buttermilk, and I’ve also enjoyed Marshmallow and Aloe, Rhassoul and Avocado, and Latte Brunette) and I’ve never found one I didn’t like.

Not sure how to choose the right bar for your hair? Check out this quick guide.

Why I quit no 'poo (and my beauty routine these days)

On supporting small business and conscientiously-made products

One brilliant aspect of blogging is the opportunity it gives me to share companies and brands I truly use and love. Natalie has told me several times that over the years that her best and most long-term customers have come from Keeper of the Home.

I would venture a guess that this is because a) her products rock and b) because I am one of her long-term customers. It’s really easy for me to honestly promote her products because they’re all over my home and I buy them in between doing reviews for her.

We talk all the time in the natural-living blogsophere about wanting to support small business, and buy locally, and especially to purchase from conscientious companies whose products and practices we can wholeheartedly endorse. I don’t run nearly as many giveaways or sponsored posts as I used to, and I never accept them for products or companies I’m not sincerely interested in or don’t believe in (as in, I won’t take any old review just to make a buck).

But when I do, it gives me the opportunity to introduce you to brands and smaller companies you might not have heard about otherwise. Hopefully I can steer you to some sweet finds, and save you time and effort in finding great places to shop!

That said, I hope that you do visit Apple Valley Natural Soap and see what they have to offer. Their ingredients are pure, often organic or naturally sourced whenever possible, totally non-toxic, and lovingly hand crafted. You’ll be supporting a true family business, and in turn, supporting the high quality suppliers from whom Natalie buys her ingredients. You’ll be using products that your skin will thank you for.

One thing I recommend no matter what is that you sign up for her newsletter. You’ll automatically get a coupon for 10% off any future order, and twice a month, they offer special deals for subscribers only, including limited edition bars each month.

Did I mention that Natalie is one funny writer? She was a writer here on KOTH for a long time and she never fails to crack me up. Getting her newsletters will be a treat.

deodorant and bug repellant

Here are a few special deals that you can snag right now:

  • TODAY AND TOMORROW ONLY – For our readers, the all natural Bug Repellent will be 20% off for two days (July 10-11). No coupon code necessary.
  • Any KOTH readers who place an order July 10-13 get a FREE organic lip balm of their choice ($4 value) OR a free natural perfume sample of their choice ($3.00 value). Place an order that values $25 or more AFTER ANY DISCOUNTS and before shipping is applied. Then leave Natalie a message when you check out requesting the free item of your choice. If your order meets the requirements, she’ll be sure to tuck it in your package!
  • Sign up for their bi-monthly newsletter to get a coupon for 10% off any future order. Twice a month they offer special deals for subscribers only, and let them know about limited editions. (They’ve got new, fun limited edition bars every month.) 

So potentially, you can get free shipping (any order $50 or over is free), 10% off your order, and a free balm or perfume sample if you play your cards right. (And save $2 on the bug repellent too!). 

Natalie also sent me some trivia, which I’m a sucker for. Here are a few quick facts straight from this Minnesotan’s mouth:

  • I’ve got nine kids ages 2-20. This next year I’ll have one kid married, one in college, some in private school, some in home school, and some in diapers. 
  • We have over 4,000 bars of soap in our house. Yet last week I realized my 6 yo daughter had somehow slipped through the Saturday Bath Routine and hadn’t had a bath (or changed her clothes – please don’t report us to social services – she loves her green striped leggings) in two weeks. 
  • We have over 40 varieties of soap bars including shampoo bars, salt sink bars, organic coconut oil body bars, and luxury facial bars. 
  • When we go somewhere as a family, people ask us, “What is that smell? You guys all smell like something…can’t put my finger on it…” The teenagers look away and try to pretend they belong to someone else, and the little kids all proudly tell them that we smell like soap. (No matter how many weeks we haven’t bathed.) 
  • My sister works for me, and we spend more time gabbing than we do working. We also play music loud (I’m on a Sara Bareilles kick right now), and my kids complain. 
  • I buy 20 pounds of essential oils at a time. 
  • My top favorite products I use daily and couldn’t live without include: Peppermint Tea Tree shampoo bar followed up by the Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse spray. I use the Citrus Dry shampoo in between washing days. I always do a body scrub in the shower. I love the Matcha Mint and the Citrus ones best. I have horrible lips that only respond to the Lanolin Intensive Lip Therapy. I always and only use Salt Bars by our sinks. They last for. ev. er. My favorite is the Kitchen Spice. The scent is unusual and incredibly addicting, in my opinion. And I never thought I’d be a fan of natural deodorant, but I’m in love with mine. It works. It smells terrific. And unexpected bonus? SOFT PITS! 
  • Most of my best customers came originally from the KOTH blog. I love KOTH readers! They are a perfect fit for our business.  

Go meet Natalie and check out Apple Valley Natural Soap. Tell her I said hi! 

What are you using in your beauty routine right now? What hasn’t worked for you and what have you switched to instead? 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Apple Valley Natural Soap, and some of the products mentioned were sent to me for the purpose of review. All opinions and ideas for this post (except for the parts where I quoted Natalie) are my own. 

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors {Keeper of the Home}

By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer

Remember the summers of your childhood? Did you spend long days outside? Were they spent riding bikes, climbing trees, playing hopscotch, or building sandcastles?

Mine were. I can remember lying on my back on the grass, watching the clouds blow by, and thinking how absolutely bored I was. I was 7. My summer days stretched before me and were filled with plenty of free time.

Now that I’m a mom, I want my own children to experience the same kind of summers – even if there are moments of boredom.

Instead of staying all cooped up inside, in front of a screen, I want them to open the screen door and head outside. Since my children are still pretty young, it helps when I give them ideas of what they can do.

This summer I’m trying to encourage children to get outdoors and:

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors {Keeper of the Home}

Climb.

Whether it’s trees or monkey bars, my children enjoy testing their physical limits by climbing and wowing their mom and dad.

Run.

My son especially needs to run – and he loves to do it. To help him get rid of some of his boyish energy, he likes to run around the outside of our house over and over and over again. Chasing fireflies also is an amazing, summery way to get running.

Swing.

Some days, there’s nothing nicer than swinging high in the air. I loved it when I was a school girl, and my son loves it too. (This summer, my daughter is slowly learning to pump her legs and swing herself.)

Kick.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a soccer ball, discount store plastic ball, or an aluminum can, as long as my children are running around the yard, they often add kicking to their energetic fun.

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors {Keeper of the Home}

Get wet.

There’s nothing like playing in the water during the middle of summer. It doesn’t matter if it’s swimming or playing with squirt guns and water balloons – as long as water’s around, it helps cool my kids. Just playing with the water hose keeps my son entertained for a half an hour. And both children like to play car wash with color changing toy cars.

(Stephanie’s note: Our kids just received this Double Surf Rider slip & slide as a birthday gift, and it’s super fun.)

Throw.

Playing catch is a great way to practice coordination and use up some energy. When my kiddos get tired of football or baseball, my husband switches things up with games of “keep away,” wiffle ball, and bocce ball. This summer they’ve been working on the art of skipping stones.

Hop.

Hopscotch is an easy, old-fashioned game. Don’t forget about jumping rope. And if you have enough children, try a relay race with the bunny hop.

Pedal.

Go on bike rides together – or, simply let your children ride their bikes in your driveway or garage.

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors {Keeper of the Home}

Dig.

Sometimes, my children love to dig in the sand. Other times, digging dirt in our garden can satisfy them for a half an hour. (They just need to be directed what part of the garden to dig in.)

Explore.

Sometimes my kiddos like to explore different parts of our gardens – they’re happy to look for insects or treasures. Now that they’re old enough to walk without being carried, my husband and I can take them hiking on local trails.

Work.

My son’s really taken to vegetable gardening with his daddy. He’s becoming a good weeder – it’s wonderful to have some extra helping hands. Both kiddos are learning to clean up their outdoor toys when we’re done playing for the day.

Invent.

Picking out shapes and figures in the clouds is fun, but so is playing make believe. (Are they trapeze artists performing on our swingset? Are they paleontologists digging for fossils?) Make believe is a fun form of invention, but so is creating actual items. Sometimes I’m surprised at the creations my kids have managed to engineer.

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors {Keeper of the Home}

Draw.

My children love art. Sometimes I give them blank nature journals and colored pencils to sketch what they observe in nature. Other days, sidewalk chalk fits the artistic bill.

Cool down.

On the hottest days of the summer, I plan on helping my kids cool down with some icy fun. I’ve frozen some of their tiny plastic toys in a big cube of ice – I’ll let them pick their toys out with plastic tools. Also, during the middle of last winter, I saved two containers of snow. I’ve kept the snow in our freezer for the past five months and will let them have a snow day (well, a snowy 5 minutes) in the middle of the dog days of summer.

Eat.

What is summer without food? As long as my kiddos are outside, I’m happy to feed them plenty of drippy, melty foods like homemade popsicles, ice cream, and watermelon.

Squeal.

Whether it’s discovering a toad or running through the sprinkler, I love to hear my son and daughter enjoying their free time.

16 Ways to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors {Keeper of the Home}

How do you encourage children to get outdoors this summer?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to some fun outdoor activities recommended in this post. When you buy through our links, it helps to support this site, so thanks!

25 Pantry Staples for Last Minute Meals

25 Pantry Staples for Last-Minute Meals {keeperofthehome.org}
Image by Larry Hoffman

Guest Post by Kate Tietje

There’s nothing worse than looking at the clock and realizing you need to have dinner on the table, soon. Only you have no idea what to make.  (Hmm…pantry staples to the rescue!)

It happens to all of us.  Some more often than others!

With some simple pantry staples, though, you’ll never get caught off guard again.  Sure, dinner may not be fancy.  But it will be healthy, it will be quick, and it will not require a trip to the grocery store.  Plus, it won’t require take-out or pizza delivery, and that’s a huge plus for your health and your wallet!

My family really enjoys eating Italian and Mexican-inspired dishes, as well as all-American comfort food.  This list of pantry staples and meal ideas are great for those types of meals!

Best part?  The meals or meal ideas with ^ next to them can usually be prepared in 30 minutes or less – exactly what you need when you don’t have a lot of time.

25 Pantry Staples for Last-Minute Meals {keeperofthehome.org}
Image by Lucia Sanchez

Top 25 Pantry Staples

1. Canned (organic) diced tomatoes

Why it’s good: Diced tomatoes are very versatile and can be tossed in almost anything.  They also can be pureed for an easy tomato sauce.  I always keep them around!

What to make:

  • Toss them in with chicken and Mexican spices for quick chicken tacos^
  • Add basil, onion and garlic for spaghetti sauce^ (add meat and/or veggies too if you like)
  • BLT pasta^
  • Add to sautéed onions and chicken stock for tomato soup^

2. Canned (organic) chick peas

Why it’s good: These are inexpensive and filled with protein.  Usually I recommend soaking and cooking your own dry beans, but canned work in a pinch.

What to make:

3. Canned (organic) black beans

Why it’s good: Black beans are a great addition to Mexican food.  They can be a side dish or tossed into a dish itself.  Plus, they’re nourishing and pretty cheap.

What to make:

4. Spaghetti 

Why it’s good: Spaghetti is really versatile, and it’s cheap and quick to cook.  Choose quality spaghetti.  I usually pick brown rice pasta, or Einkorn whole wheat pasta.  I don’t recommend standard white pasta (not very nourishing).

What to make:

  • Simple pasta and tomato or meat sauce^
  • Break up into bite-sized pieces and add to simple chicken noodle soup^
  • Add a cream sauce, veggies and chicken for a quick tetrazzini bake

5. Brown rice

Why it’s good: Brown rice is a hearty, healthy staple in any pantry.  It’s nice to cook up a double portion when you make it so that it’s ready for a second, super quick meal.  I like to cook mine with butter and chicken stock.

What to make:

  • Quick stir fry with whatever veggies and meat are in the freezer^
  • Taco salad, with rice, meat, beans, cheese, salsa, lettuce, whatever you have on hand^
  • Baked chicken over rice, one dish meal or even crock pot
  • Add to quick chicken and veggie soup^

6. Anchovies

Why it’s good: Anchovies may seem like an odd thing to include on the list.  They’re inexpensive and yet most brands are wild-caught and packed in olive oil, so they’re really nourishing. If you’re bold, put some on a pizza too.  I like it with pineapple!

What to make:

7. Tuna (in a can)

Why it’s good: Tuna’s an old favorite.  It can be served in casseroles, salads, or straight up on a plate.  My kids are partial to that last one.  Skipjack tuna is lower in mercury and also pretty cheap, too.

What to make:

8. Salmon (in a can)

Why it’s good: Salmon is full of excellent omega-3 fats, which most of us could use more of.  Canned salmon is pretty frugal and really quick to use.  My kids like to eat it straight out of the can, but there are lots of more elaborate uses too!

What to make:

9. Whole wheat flour

Why it’s good: A staple in most kitchens, whole wheat flour is a great way to get whole grains into your diet.  I prefer to soak mine before baking, or use my sourdough starter.  If you remember at breakfast, you can soak any of these recipes first.  See more on what soaking is and why we do it, as well as how to do it.

What to make:

10. Coconut flour

Why it’s good: If you’re gluten-free, or committed to using whole wheat flour only when you can soak it first (like me), coconut flour is a nice substitute.  This is what I use to bake when I want something really quick (I often pair it with almond flour and arrowroot powder, and it bakes up pretty close to ‘normal’ wheat flour!).  Just a warning, if you’re not used to baking with it, it can’t be subbed 1:1 for wheat flour – you need recipes specifically designed to use it.

What to make:

11. Olive oil

Why it’s good: A versatile and healthy oil, olive oil can be used in any salad dressing, plus for cooking (although some believe you should never heat it).  It’s full of monounsaturated fats and is a great addition to your pantry.

What to make:

12. Red wine vinegar

Why it’s good: This is my favorite vinegar, personally.  Apple cider vinegar is also great, if you prefer it.  Get it raw, with the “mother” still in it.  Use in all kinds of recipes for a little sour kick!

What to make:

13. Potatoes

Why it’s good: I love potatoes – and I try to always have them around!  Despite the bad rap white potatoes have gotten, they’re actually high in potassium and B vitamins and are a great food for some, plus they’re really frugal.  We use potatoes in many of our favorite dishes.

What to make:

14. Oats

Why it’s good: Oats are a simple whole grain, and one that many people tolerate well, even if they’re gluten-free.  They’re more often used for breakfast, but who says that “brinner” isn’t an option?

What to make:

15. Coconut oil

Why it’s good: Coconut oil is an excellent saturated fat that’s filled with beneficial medium-chain fatty acids (like lauric acid) and which has been shown to boost immunity and promote fat loss.  My kids will eat it off a spoon!

What to make:

25 Pantry Staples for Last-Minute Meals {keeperofthehome.org}

10 Spices That Are Pantry Staples

In addition to these 15 excellent pantry items, I like to keep the following spices on hand.  That way, my cooking is never boring!  I’ve listed them in order of how often I use them.

Spices:

16. Sea salt

17. Onion powder

18. Basil

19. Garlic powder

20. Chili powder

21. Cumin

22. Parsley

23. Black pepper

24. Turmeric

25. Cinnamon

Other Items to Have on Hand

In addition to pantry staples, I like to keep the following items in my fridge and freezer.

  • Assorted frozen veggies (peas, green peas, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower)
  • Assorted fresh veggies (onions, garlic, carrots, celery, lettuce, tomatoes)
  • Cheese (cheddar and parmesan or Romano, sometimes mozzarella)
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Frozen fruit (peaches, pineapples, mixed berries)
  • Yogurt
  • Assorted meat (ground beef and whole chickens, mostly; sometimes bacon and chicken breasts)

Honestly?  With just these items I can make almost every meal my family eats on a regular basis.  My grocery list is usually pretty simple!

Stocking up

One final (really important) tip: I use a lot of chicken stock, for soups, sauces, gravies, or to cook rice or veggies.  I like to have it ready to go at all times, so I keep it in my Crock-Pot.  As I remove stock, I add more water, and I keep it going for a full week.  Then I dump out the bones, rinse it out, and start again.  I roast a whole chicken once a week so that I always have stock!  It’s so simple, and so nourishing.

I do my meal planning and recipe searching on Tradishen, a brand new real food recipe and meal planning site.  There are over 500 real food recipes (no compromises) with new ones added each week.  Tradishen offers create-your-own meal plans or use pre-designed meal plans (traditional or GF/DF) plus one-touch automatic grocery lists.  It’s printer and mobile friendly, so use it anywhere.  Revolutionize your kitchen and never wonder “what’s for dinner” again!

What are your top pantry staples and favorite quick meals?

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

Dreaming Big…In Motherhood and Beyond @ Inspired to Action

What You Have to Do to Come to Peace with This Season of Your Life @ A Holy Experience

Healthy Ambrosia Salad with Toasted Coconut @ The Nourishing Home

What If We Gave Them the Benefit of the Doubt? @ Life Your Way

Naming and framing @ The Art of Simple

Lavender-Chamomile Bath Soak Recipe @ A Delightful Home

10 Meaningful Lessons from The Story of the Mexican Fisherman @ Be More With Less

From Our Head to Our Feet @ Becoming Minimalist

3

Starfish Project 50|50 Sale

Starfish Project is a non-profit and fair trade certified organization that helps women leave exploitation. Starfish offers the women a place to live, counseling, further training and education. One of the services they provide them with is employment – making jewelry to be sold internationally which they offer through their website. Right now, Starfish is offering a 50|50 sale during which you can get 50% off when you spend over $50 on 150+ participating products!

Not only is the jewelry beautiful and high quality, but we also wholeheartedly believe in the work that Starfish does with exploited women in Asia. Stephanie has friends who work with Starfish and it’s an organization where you can rest assured that your money is going to good use!

This sale only lasts until July 15th, so take advantage of it now!

July Sponsors

Are you looking for companies that share the same values you do? Here at Keeper of the Home we curate a fabulous selection of companies that fit well with our audience. Here are our KOTH sponsors for this month!

Plan to Eat | Eating at Home is About to Get Easier

Etsy Kids | Your Handmade Gift Guide for all Things Baby, Toddler, and Kids

Paula’s Bread | An Oklahoma Business Since 1987

On the Road to Joyful Motherhood by Jessica Fisher | A 31-day devotional to redirect our hearts, minds, and hands to this glorious calling of motherhood.

MadeOn Hard Lotion | Hard Lotion For Dry Skin

Homemaking with Essential Oils | A class that teaches you how to keep your home clean and healthy with a simple supply of essential oils!

Bundle of the Week | Bringing you a new bundle of five related digital resources each and every week for only $7.40!

How does your family celebrate holidays during the summer?