45 Real Food Slow Cooker Meals for the Summer

Today Stacy brings you a roundup of 45 excellent slow cooker recipes, categorized by protein type. This is a continuation of Jami’s roundup a few weeks back, where she shared 42 recipes, divided by meal type (breakfast, lunch/dinner, sides, dessert/beverages). Now you can easily fill that crock pot every day for the rest of the summer! I’m inspired myself, actually, to go pull mine out and get dinner started right now (it’s 8am as I write this)! ~ Stephanie 

45 Real Food Slow Cooker Meals for the Summer {KeeperoftheHome.org}

By Stacy Karen, Contributing Writer

No one wants to turn on the oven in the heat of summer! The extra temperature in the house can make you completely miserable.

Not to mention that many of us are spending a lot more time outside, enjoying our family, or working on special projects, leaving little room (or desire) to slave over a meal in the kitchen.

This is where the slow cooker comes in handy. Toss a few ingredients together in the morning, and enjoy a scrumptious meal at night. What could be more perfect?

One issue I have with many slow cooker recipes is that they contain undesirable ingredients, like cream of chicken soup (from a can). To save some time, I’ve collected 45 real food slow cooker recipes.

All of the  recipes below contain real food ingredients so you don’t have to worry about weird additives. There many be one of two that use items such as brown sugar, but you could switch that out for honey or sucanat.

Without further ado, here are 45 real food slow cooker meals for you to enjoy this summer:

45 Real Food Slow Cooker Meals for the Summer {KeeperoftheHome.org}
Image credit: BetterWithCake.com

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Meals

Slow Cooker Chick Pea Curry @ Better with Cake

Eggplant Parmesan in the Slow Cooker @ The Greenbacks Gal

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili @ Two Peas and their Pod

Slow Cooker Eggplant Potato and Mushroom Curry @ SkinnyMS

Garlic and Dijon Slow Cooker Chicken @ Baked by Rachel

Super Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Squash Curry @ The Paleo Pot

Crockpot Sweet Potato Lentils @ Pinch of Yum

45 Real Food Slow Cooker Meals for the Summer {KeeperoftheHome.org}
Image by Lynn Gardner

Chicken Slow Cooker Meals

Slow Cooked Barbecue Chicken @ A Delightful Home

Slow Cooker Chicken Caccitore with Quinoa @ 100 Days of Real Food

Slow Cooked Chicken in a Tomatillo Salsa Verde @ My Humble Kitchen

Quick and Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas @ The Greenbacks Gal

Slow Cooked Honey Chicken @ A Delightful Home

Crock-pot Hawaiian Chicken  @ Sweet Treats More

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken @ The Nourishing Home

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken @ The Nourishing Home

Aunt Beulah’s Saucy Chicken in the Crock-pot @ Red and Honey

Buffalo Chicken and Eggplant Lasagna @ The Paleo Pot

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps @ Once a Month Meals

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry @ Perry’s Plate

 

45 Real Food Slow Cooker Meals for the Summer {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Image by RPavich

Beef Slow Cooker Meals

Easy Slow Cooker Steak Chili @ 100 Days of Real Food

Spicy Mango Ginger Beef Roast @ Just Making Noise

Sun-dried Tomato Balsamic Onion Pot Roast @ Real Food RN

Easy Crockpot Grass-Fed Beef Sandwiches @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Crockpot Korean Beef @ Whole Food. Real Food. Good Food.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff @ A Happy Healthnut

Slow Cooker Italian Roast with Peppers Aus Jus (Gluten Free) @ The Nourishing Home

Crockpot Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce @ Red and Honey

Slow Cooker Flank Steak Fajitas @ 100 Days of Real Food

Chili Colorado @ DJ Foodie

Easy Slow Cooker Taco Meat @ Rubies and Radishes

Delicious Crockpot Beef @ Delicious Obsessions

Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs @ 100 Days of Real Food

Stuffed Cabbage Un-rolls @ Kitchen Stewardship

Slow Cooker Ginger Beef @ Kitchen Stewardship

Slow Cooker Cuban Vaca Frita @ The Curious Coconut

Seafood – Pork – Lamb Slow Cooker Meals

Crockpot Seafood Paella @ The Humbled Homemaker

Slow Cooker Shrimp Marinara @ Taste of Home

Crockpot Jambalaya Recipe @ Food Renegede

Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Pork @ Mommypotamus

Slow Cooker Pork Vindaloo @ Nourishing Joy

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin @ Add a Pinch

Slow Cooker Parmesan Honey Pork Roast @ Six Sisters Stuff

Slow Cooked Pork or Lamb Chops with Cabbage and Fennel @ My Humble Kitchen

Crockpot Leg of Lamb @ A Year of Slow Cooking

Slow Cooker Lamb, Apricot, and Olive Tagine @ Real Simple

45 Real Food Slow Cooker Meals for the Summer {KeeperoftheHome.org}

What are your favorite slow cooker meals during the summer?

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

3 Herbal Iced Tea Recipes to Beat the Heat

3 Herbal Iced Tea Recipes {KeeperoftheHome.org}

By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer

I grew up drinking sweet iced tea made from your standard black tea. And when the sweet tea pitcher ran out, someone was sure to throw a fit.

Sweet tea was a part of life, and it wasn’t until I went to college that I discovered not everyone drank tea the way I was raised to drink it. Some people had the audacity to drink their tea unsweetened, and even still, others drank their tea hot with honey and lemon. *gasp*

When I made the switch to a more natural lifestyle, I discovered the amazing world of herbs.

Herbs are incredibly versatile. They can be added to just about any recipe, made into an herbal tincture, snipped off the vine and eaten raw, or enjoyed in teas. Plus, herbs are easy to grow right in your backyard!

Today, I want to share some of my favorite herbal iced tea recipes. (I keep a pitcher of herbal iced tea in our refrigerator all summer long!)

How To Make Herbal Iced Tea

There are various ways to make herbal iced tea, but here is how I make mine:

Bring half a gallon (or 8 cups) of water to a near boil.

How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Rinse fresh herbs, and add them along with the tea leaves to a half gallon mason jar. Rinsing herbs from our herb garden is one of my toddler’s favorite kitchen tasks.

How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Add hot water to the jar.

How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Cover loosely with jar lid and let it sit on the counter until completely cool.

Once the mixture is cool, strain off herbs while pouring the liquid into your storage jar.

At this point, you can add any sweeteners you want, but I’ve found I like my herbal tea just the way it is!

Then, I add cold water until I have a gallon of herbal tea.

Pop it in the refrigerator to continue to cool, or pour over ice and serve!

How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

So simple. So refreshing. So nourishing.

Try one of these herbal teas to help beat the heat this summer while loading up on incredible nutrients your body needs.

3 Herbal Iced Tea Recipes to Beat the Heat

Lemon Pineapple Refresher Tea: How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Lemon Pineapple Refresher Tea

This herbal iced tea is incredibly mild and very tasty, which makes it great for children! You can easily eliminate the black tea, if you prefer to not let your child have any caffeine. Simply add:

3 parts lemon balm: Lemon balm is hands down my favorite herb. It’s easy to grow yourself, and it’s full of nutritional benefits.

1 part pineapple sage: Pineapple sage brings a tropical touch to this tea mix.

2 tablespoons black tea: Black tea adds a little more flavor and zing.

1 whole lemon, sliced (optional): If you have a lemon on hand, adding it will make this an alkalizing power drink!

Cooling Peppermint Tea: How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Cooling Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea soothes the digestive track and cools the body naturally. Peppermint tea is a great alternative to coffee, and can be enjoyed hot or cold.

My oldest has been drinking iced peppermint tea with milk and honey since he was just under two years old! This cooling peppermint tea is a hit with kids.

I typically fill 1/3 of a half gallon jar with fresh peppermint leaves. If using dried peppermint, you’ll cut the amount in half.

One of my favorite variations on this herbal tea is to substitute chocolate mint for peppermint for a sweet treat!

Surprising Lemon-Lime Ginger Tea: How to Make Herbal Iced Tea {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Surprising Lemon-Lime Ginger Tea

This is an overwhelmingly refreshing tea. Add:

3 parts lemon balm: Lemon balm can be paired with so many other herbs. I have a plethora of lemon balm in my garden, so I use it often.

Thumb length slice of ginger root: Ginger root gives this tea a spicy zing with the added benefit of aiding digestion and lowering inflammation in the body.

4 tea bags of green tea: Green tea is a powerful antioxidant, and a great addition to any herbal tea.

1 whole lime, sliced (optional, but highly recommended): The lime really gives this tea a nice, refreshing kick. Plus, limes are a rich source of vitamin C.

1 part cilantro: The surprise ingredient in this herbal tea is cilantro. I don’t typically think to add cilantro to anything except a Mexican dish or salsa. But because of cilantro’s ability to help transport toxins out of the body, I thought I’d try adding it into a tea, and it worked!

What about you? Do you have any favorite herbal iced tea recipes? Share in the comments!

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

Real Deals: Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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 Did you miss last week’s announcement? Find out what these “real deals” are all about!

This week’s top deals:

Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint & Rosemary Body Wash for $6.99 ($0.58/oz).  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, 54-Ounce Containers (Pack of 2) for just 40.15 ($0.37/oz).  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save (get it as low as $38.75).

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Equal Exchange Bright Day Brew, Ground Coffee, Medium Roast, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 3) for $24.00 (or $22.80 with Subscribe & Save). At $8.00 per bag, that’s cheaper than I ever find fair trade coffee at the store. This brand is fairly traded.

If you prefer something darker, their organic French Roast is just $0.70 more (though overall you’re getting 6 less oz. – the higher price due to the organic certification, I’m sure). 

Check out Berkey Water Filter Systems.  They have some great deals in their Scratch & Dent Sale right now!

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Gold Label Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil – 2 gallons for $99 (reg. $220) at Tropical Traditions.  Now through Sunday, July 27th only.  

Grocery geek that I am, I actually broke it all down and compared both coconut oil offers in this post.

The Tropical Traditions deal is just a few dollars more than what would equals the same amount of Nutiva coconut oil. The Tropical Traditions deal works out to $0.39 per oz. The Nutiva works out to $0.37 per oz. if you bought it packaged as 2 – 54 oz. tubs (and slightly cheaper if you use Subscribe & Save). The Nutiva has free shipping, the Tropical Traditions doesn’t (however, T.T. does carry a lot of other great items, so if you’d already been thinking of placing an order with them, it’s probably worthwhile for you). For what it’s worth, I like the flavor of the T.T. coconut oil a bit better. I feel like it’s a more pure coconut taste. That said, the Nutiva is still great. 

Discounted Kindle book:  The Quinoa Cookbook: Nutrition Facts, Cooking Tips, and 116 Superfood Recipes for a Healthy Diet for just $2.34.  (note: prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing) 

Discounted Kindle book:  Done & Dusted – The Organic Home On A Budget for just $2.79.  (note: prices can change without notice, so please double check the price before purchasing) 

Sorry, no worthwhile free books this week, but we’ll keep looking! 

This week’s best coupons:

real deals pinterest july22

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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!

8 Ways to Use Clay as a Natural Remedy

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This post was originally published in August of 2012, but the tips and advice are still timely, especially in the summer months!

Of all things, did you ever think that I would tell you to go eat some dirt?

Well, mark your calendars. Today’s the day. Stephanie has officially gone off the deep end.

Bizarre as it may sound, clay has actually become one of my favorite go-to remedies for health and healing over this past year. This summer I have been surprised to find myself reaching for clay more and more frequently, as I realize just how useful this “dirt” can be. 

Mind you, this isn’t just any old clay that you can shovel up somewhere. The clay I’m referring to is bentonite clay, and it comes from pure sources of undisturbed deposits in the ground. What is special about bentonite clay is that it has two ways of drawing toxins out of the body.

I’m going to get very practical in a moment, sharing exactly how I’ve been using clay in our home, but first I think it’s helpful to understand just a little bit of the science behind how and why clay works.

1. Adsorption

This isn’t a typo. The word is aD-sorption, not aB-sorption. They are two different things (more about absorption in a minute). Although I understand this concept, I’m not much of a scientist, so I’m going to borrow this helpful explanation of what adsorption is and how it relates to clay:

At a molecular level, the formation of bentonite resembles tiny business card shapes with the wide surfaces having a negative charge and the thin edges having a positive charge. Nature hates a lonely ionic bond, so each negatively charged ion seeks to satisfy its bond by pairing with a substance carrying a positive ionic charge. As luck would have it, many toxins, heavy metals, and free radicals carry a positive charge. The negative ions in Redmond Clay are eager to attach to these toxins, swapping negative ions for positive, and creating a bond that keeps the toxin and clay together in suspension until the body eliminates the pair together.

If you’re a visual thinker, it’s a reasonably accurate metaphor to imagine Redmond Clay as a magnet, and toxins as little bits of metal. Once the two become paired, it’s simple for your body to dispose of the magnet, and the metal bits along with it. (source)

Who knew, right? Amazing!

2. Absorption

This is the word we’re more familiar with, and of course, it’s natural to think of how a sponge absorbs water. Clay does essentially the same thing, absorbing not only water, but also other harmful substances like toxins, infection, etc.

Due to its capacity for absorbing, you need to avoid using clay internally at the same time as other medications or supplements, because it can interfere with their use by (what else?) absorbing them. It’s best used alone.

Additionally, clay has one more thing going for it when it comes to natural healing…

3. pH

We all know that pH is a measure of acidity, and with a pH of around 8.7-9.8 (at least, this is the pH of Redmond clay, it would vary slightly from clay to clay), that makes it on the alkaline side.

Alkalinity is a useful thing, because many health problems in the body arise due to acidity, and clay is able to neutralize that acidity. This is particularly helpful for ailments like heartburn, because the clay can neutralize the excess stomach acid that is causing the discomfort.

Phew… now that we understand the basics of how clay functions, allow me to share some practicaul uses for it.

8 Ways That Our Family Uses Clay as a Natural Remedy

Insect stings and bites

I discovered firsthand this summer that a bit of hydrated clay on a mosquito bite helps to relieve the itching and swelling quickly.

We also found out last winter that it helps with spider bites. My husband noticed a fairly large spider living in the light on our deck. He took a long stick and tried to knock the spider out. The spider dropped itself down on its thread and I wish I had filmed this little man vs. spider duel! They literally lunged at each other back and forth until my husband succeeded in knocking it out of the light, but not before the spider gave him a good bite on the arm. It didn’t appear to be a particularly poisonous spider, but nonetheless, the bites do hurt and it was swelling up. We slathered the bite in clay and within a short period of time, the pain had subsided and the swelling went down.

On the subject of stings and bites, a product that has proved SO useful to me this summer are the tubes of hydrated clay from Redmond. When I first saw them I thought “why don’t I just mix it up myself? It’s only powder and water.” And I can do that, and yes, it’s pretty easy. But squeezing it straight from a tube when I need it quickly is just so darn easy, I find myself using clay more frequently as a result.

Stomach problems

This is probably the most common way that our family uses clay. Whenever one of us complains about an upset or sour stomach, this is what we take. You can either put the powder into capsules (or even buy capsules pre-made, but I just make my own), or you can liquify the clay and drink a spoonful or two (this is easiest for kids). You know that yucky feeling you get when you eat something that’s gone bad, or your stomach just has an out-of-sorts day? Clay really helps to absorb whatever is bugging you.

I’ve even used it when I’ve had what was probably mild food poisoning that kept me up in the night with stomach cramps, and within 30 minutes it helped to start calming my stomach down so that I could go back to sleep.

As I mentioned above, the alkalinity of clay also makes it helpful for heartburn or reflux.

Another interesting way to use clay is for prevention of digestive issues. When I first began learning about clay, I instantly remembered reading in Weston Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration how the indigenous peoples in the Andes mountains would keep small balls of clay with them and dissolve just a bit of clay in water. As they ate a meal, they would dip their food in this slightly clay-ish water to prevent indigestion!

When we went to the Philippines, I was very careful about what I ate and drank, but I also took liquid clay just in case every morning, to help prevent any foreign bacteria or pathogens from taking up residence in my system while I was there. I have no idea if I would have gotten sick otherwise, but it seemed like a wise bit of prevention.

Detoxifying

This was what first intrigued me about clay. I read Shoshanna’s story of detoxing in a bath full of Bentonite clay, and then began reading stories of others who used clay to detox on the About Clay website. When I later read the free clay ebook from Redmond Clay, I stumbled upon this idea of detoxifying with clay yet again.

When you understand the adsorption and absorption qualities that I wrote about at the beginning of this post, it becomes clear how detoxification happens. Taking clay internally can literally help to pull toxins, heavy metals, and free radical cells out of the body, cleansing it. We also know that skin is the largest organ in our body, and that what we put on it goes into the body, so it stands to follow that when we use clay externally, it can also pull toxins out through the skin as well.

On cuts and scrapes

Clay works perfectly for drawing out the dirt and grime that gets in cuts and especially in children’s scraped knees and elbows. It calms down the pain and because it cleans the wound, it encourages faster and better healing. Our tube of First Aid clay has become what our children know as “owie cream”.

For beautiful skin

Ok, so this isn’t a remedy per se, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Clay makes a fabulous facial mask, for shrinking pores, tightening and toning skin, removing impurities, sloughing off dead skin cells, and just making your skin look and feel great overall. It can also be used directly on pimples to reduce their size and inflammation and get rid of them faster.

For drawing out infections

Though I chose to use activated charcoal, I could have easily used clay in its place when healing my son’s infection. Clay, like charcoal, has that same ability to draw out toxins and harmful bacteria.

I did use clay this past week on my daughter’s lip when she cut it open badly with her teeth. The doctor said it probably should have had stitches (although it was too late at that point) and he recommended oral antibiotics to prevent infection as it was beginning to look at bit red. Instead, I just put hydrated clay on the outside of the lip, put some herbal healing salve on the inside, and had her swish with salt water a couple times a day. It’s healing just fine now with no sign of infection.

For burns

Clay is soothing and healing to the skin when used on minor kitchen burns, sunburns, etc. Now, I haven’t used it on any serious burns to date (although I have read testimonies of others who have with success), so I can’t personally say more than that, but there are some very interesting stories in this free ebook. The one recommendation is that clay should not be allowed to dry on a burn, but should be kept wet (used as a paste or gel, and then wrapped in something like plastic to keep it from drying out).

Clay baths

These are useful for detoxification, as I already mentioned, but also for times when the skin needs soothing. I have used them frequently for my toddler’s eczema. Once a week baths with clay seem to help keep the eczema to a minimum (although it is the dietary changes that make the most difference), but the clay reduces the itchiness a lot and helps her not to scratch at it.

I also give one of my sons a clay bath once a week because his body doesn’t seem to flush toxins very well. If I forget to give him the clay baths for several weeks, I can sometimes begin to tell by his behaviors and reactions to situations, which I used to observe in him frequently back when his body was more toxic (before we did a major detoxification with him). When he is regularly using the clay, I don’t usually notice those same strong behaviours.

I know, these are both anecdotal and not scientific at all, but moms notice these sorts of things. Not to mention, using clay in baths gets expensive because you use larger amounts than in other types of applications, and so if I wasn’t’ seeing results, I would put an end to the clay baths.

Want to learn more about using clay, both internally and externally?

I know that I’ve given you a lot of ideas and suggestions, but it’s important to read more on your own to better understand how clay works, how it has historically been used for medicinal purposes, how to mix or prepare it for various types of internal and external uses, etc.

Redmond Clay has put together a free book called We Eat Clay (And Wear it, too!). It’s a fascinating read!

Clay As a Natural Home Remedy  (Yes, Really)  {Keeper of the Home}

I’m curious… has anyone else tried using clay as a home remedy? How have you used it and what have you found it to be helpful for?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

Weekend Links

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Links for this week:

The Secret Relief You Have to Know When You’re Overwhelmed @ A Holy Experience

On Gender Roles, Equality and the #BoyMom Hashtag @ Life Your Way 

Fabulous Fail-Proof Fruit Custard @ Kitchen Stewardship 

How generous are you, really? @ The Art of Simple 

Women Hold Up Half the Sky @ Jen Hatmaker 

Waldorf Tuna Salad @ Red and Honey

The power of the written word @ The Art of Simple 

secret sabbath: a gentle invitation to once-a-month rest @ SortaCrunchy 

What special moments are you savoring during this season?

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?