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Bok Choy, Kohlrabi, and Apple Slaw

You may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet around here lately. We just moved, and I simply couldn't keep up with a blog and a move at the same time. But we are now more or less settled and I'm hoping you'll see a little more of me. I'm writing now from the blissful peace of a coffee shop; my husband is giving me some much needed "me time" after a very busy month!

We are a part of a CSA again this year, and we're loving it! Fresh, local, organic veggies, a great community of people, a farm that cares about urban renewal (one of their locations is an abandoned outlet mall parking lot!). So much to love! There is only one thing I'm not loving: bok choy. It's good in stir fry or fried rice, but I'm not in love with it enough to do that multiple times per week. And I'm the only one who likes it in our family, which means I'm really on bok choy overload.

I've been scouring the internet for ideas, and this one inspired me. I added some kohlrabi that was also lingering in the fridge, and it added a nice crunch. It may not be apple season, but I'm totally okay splurging on some out-of-season organic apples to round out this mostly-seasonal dish.

And it got husband approval. Win!

Bok Choy, Kohlrabi, and Apple Slaw

1/2 a large head of bok choy, thinly sliced
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and julienned
1 apple, cored and julienned
1/4 c. sliced green onions (white and green parts)
1/2 cup of plain, whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 T. honey
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. unrefined sea salt
black pepper to taste
1 T. poppy seeds

Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Toss dressing with vegetables. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before serving.

(Note: Carrot and celery would be a great addition, as in the original recipe. I didn't have any but I might add some next time.)

What do you like to do with Bok Choy?

**This is part of Wellness Wednesday! **

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How To Make the Most of Your Expensive Honey

Raw, local honey. Do you love it as much as I do? In my real food kitchen, honey is one of our primary healthy sweeteners. We buy it by the gallon from a local beekeeper, and pay a pretty penny. I use it in my homemade granola and honey-oatmeal bread, I drizzle it on homemade yogurt, stir it into tea, and spread it on nut-buttered toast. Lately I'm loving it in this hydrating ginger-lemonade, too.

When I'm spending good money on high quality food, I don't want to waste even a tiny drop. So what do you do with the crusty honey at the bottom of the jar? It's impossible to scrape out, scoop out, or lick out. So here's what you do:

Make Honey Water!

Honey water? Yes. You can use your honey water to sweeten teas, make lemonade, or add to fruit sauces. And you're smart; I'm sure you could come up with even more ideas! It couldn't be any easier, and you'll be so happy that you are no longer wasting your delicious, nutritious honey that some bees worked very hard to make!

Note: I am not talking about a whole jar of honey that has crystallized. If you have crystallized honey, you can still make good use of it! Put it in a sink of warm water, or set it on top of a warm stove after the oven has been on. Or just scoop it out with a spoon! It is still fine to use for just about any purpose. :)

How to Make Honey Water

  1. Add a little warm water to your container of crusty honey. Start with a tablespoon or two. If the container is glass, you may use hot water. If it is plastic, only use warm water so you do not risk leeching chemicals into the honey.
  2. Put a lid on the container and shake!
  3. Shake until the honey has dissolved. If necessary, add more water, a little bit at a time. 
  4. If you are having trouble getting the honey to dissolve, let the water sit in there over night. In the morning it will probably be dissolved!
  5. Pour your honey-water into a jar and store it in the fridge. Use within a few days, but know that I've used mine for up to two weeks and I was just fine. :)

What's your favorite use for honey?

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Need a Last-Minute Dinner Plan? Try Creamy Beef & Noodles with Peas

The other night, I found myself alone with the kids around dinner time. My husband had something going on and wasn't coming home for dinner. I had - miraculously - been getting some organizing done while the kids played happily, and suddenly it was 5:45 and I had no dinner plan.

(5:45 might not seem that bad, but our daughter has been needing an early bedtime of 6:30 or so lately, so my goal is always to have dinner on the table by 5:30. Doesn't always happen, of course.)

Now, you know I'm all about meal planning, but I confess that I've been a bit lax lately. Maybe it's the warm weather, maybe it's two kids in rather demanding phases of life, maybe it's the husband studying for his ordination exams...whatever it is, I'm trying to get back on track!

So I looked in the fridge: I saw some leftover cooked noodles, and some browned ground beef. It looked like dinner to me!

I added a few other simple ingredients to pull it all together, and found myself with a quick, satisfying meal that can be altered according to what you have on hand. If you don't have leftover noodles and beef already cooked like I did, just cook them up quickly before assembling. It would still be a very easy meal!

There are no measurements, but you can handle it. Use whatever amounts look and smell and taste good to you. I hope this recipe gives you an example of something delicious you can throw together with very little preparation when you're in a pinch! If it helps you and your family consume one less frozen pizza or Big Mac, I've done my job. :)

Last-Minute Creamy Beef & Noodles with Peas

Cooked noodles (I used whole wheat egg noodles, but use whatever you have on hand)
Cooked ground beef (mine was just seasoned with salt and garlic powder)
Beef broth
Apple cider vinegar
Frozen peas
Sour cream
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder and onion powder
Additional spices of choice: I used dried dill, parsley and basil
Parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese you want) for serving

  1. Heat noodles, beef, a couple T. butter, a splash of broth (maybe 1/2 cup or so), and a bit of apple cider vinegar (about 1 T.) in a skillet, covered, until warm.
  2. Add frozen peas and heat a few minutes more.
  3. Add a dollop of sour cream and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings - be liberal with the salt!
  4. Serve with freshly grated cheese and enjoy!

Now sit back and congratulate yourself. You just cooked a delicious, fast, easy and healthy dinner for your family. You rock!

What do you cook when you're short on time?

This is part of the following real food & natural living link-ups: Fight Back Friday

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Is it Okay to Buy Crackers at the Store?

image by markn3tel

"Cracka" was my first word. Supposedly even before "mama" and "dada." These crunchy guys and I go way back: my mom still jokes about how I used to hold one in each hand and munch away, kind like this:

image by Joe Shlabotnik

Are Crackers Healthy?

I still love crackers, especially with some nice nutty grass-fed cheddar or a shmear of almond butter. But most crackers from the store, even a health food store, are not Plus Other Good Stuff approved. (Don't get me wrong: I gladly partake of any cracker at a party if there are delicious toppings to be had.) What's so bad about them?

The grains are either refined or whole but not soaked or sprouted which makes them hard to digest. The oils are usually either hydrogenated or rancid vegetable oils like soybean, cottonseed, or sunflower. They often contain high fructose corn syrup or "evaporated cane juice," AKA sugar.

Homemade Sourdough Crackers with Garlic Scape White Bean Dip

Some Solutions to the Cracker Dilemma

To avoid those unfortunate ingredients, I like to make my own crackers.  It's easier than you would think, and certainly gets some "ooh's" and "aah's" at a party. But in this busy and often overwhelming season of motherhood, I confess: I buy crackers from the store. I bake most of our bread and granola, and cook meals from scratch seven days a week. I ferment kombucha and make my own yogurt. All in a teeny tiny kitchen. But most of the time, I don't have time to make crackers. (I often don't even have time to take a shower!)

So here you have it: my favorite store bought crackers.

Why I Love Ak-Mak Crackers

1. No junk. Check out these ingredients:

Simple, clean, short list of ingredients. Can't beat that! I'm not worried about the sesame oil in small amounts, especially because it is not GMO.

2. Made with butter!
You know me, I love me some butter. Their butter may not be organic, but I'd rather have conventional butter than organic soybean oil! Also, their website states that some of their ingredients might be organic without being listed as such. So one can hope that it's even better than it looks!

3. Stone ground flour.
More nutrients are preserved when flour is stone ground, as opposed to steel ground. And I hold out a little hope that maybe they grind it themselves right before baking, which means it retains even more nutrients. No, it is not soaked or sprouted, but as an occasional snack I'm not too worried about it.

4. Cheap!
I get Ak-mak at Trader Joe's for less than $2 a box. I'm sure it's still cheaper to make my own crackers, but this is about as good as you can do for store-bought crackers. (We in West Michigan are still waiting and hoping for Trader Joe's to get with the program and open stores near us, but in the mean time our family stocks up whenever we visit relatives in the Chicago area.)

5. Delicious.
They really do taste great. How could they not, with those ingredients? I love the crunch of the sesame seeds and the very subtle sweetness of the honey. Delicious with hummus, cheese, nut butter, or even by themselves.

Do you buy crackers from the store? Have you found anything with ingredients you can be happy with?

This is part of Real Food Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesday, Whole Foods WednesdayFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through them supports Plus Other Good Stuff. Thanks!


Cinnamon Pecan Granola: my new favorite soaked granola

Soaked granola is a staple in this house. Whenever my husband needs a snack to bring with him to class or to the coffee shop or on a trip, he grabs some of my homemade granola. I try to make a batch every week, and I can barely keep up with our granola consumption!

Recently some dear friends sent us a care package of delicious healthy foods. Included in the box was some of this granola. I fell in love with the taste: it was so simple, and yet so flavorful! The ingredients are by far the best list I've ever seen on store-bought granola:

Ingredients: Organic Rolled Oats, Wheat Bran, Butter, Organic Honey, Pecans, Spices, Salt
In stressful seasons when I haven't been able to make enough granola for us, I've often found myself perusing granola packages at the grocery store, hoping for something that doesn't contain canola oil and refined sugar. Fail all around. Even "healthy" brands like Bear Naked are, simply put, full of junk.

So I was psyched when I tasted this granola and read its ingredients.

And being the real foodie I am, I thought, "Could I make granola that tastes like this...and is soaked?!"

So I tried, using this recipe as inspiration.

And what I got was delicious.

Admittedly, it has a slight tang from the soaking process, but I happen to like it. And on top of that you taste cinnamon and butter and pecans. Is there anything better?

Soaked Cinnamon Pecan Granola


6 cups thick rolled oats (available at health food stores or natural foods co-ops)
2 cups rye flakes (if gluten free see this post)
1/2 cup grass-fed butter, melted
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1 cup filtered water
3/4 c. local raw honey
1/4-1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1 t. unrefined sea salt
1 T. + 2 t. cinnamon (adjust to taste)
1 T. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped pecans, preferably soaked and dried

1. The day before you want to bake the granola, combine the oats and rye in a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl with the melted butter and coconut oil. Add the yogurt and water. Cover and let soak at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (I do this in my KitchenAid stand mixer.)
2. When you are ready to bake the granola, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper (you can try greasing them, instead, but I choose to save on dishes).
3. Whisk together the honey, syrup, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla in a glass measuring up.
4. Add the liquid ingredients and the pecans to the soaked mixture. Mix using your mixer (depending on how big the bowl is; it's a little risky with mine since I don't have a bowl guard) or your (clean) hands.
5. Once the oats are thoroughly coated in yumminess, spread the mixture onto the cookie sheets in an even layer.
6. Bake at 200 degrees for about 8 hours, stirring every two hours to break up clumps. The granola is finished when a cooled piece is golden and crispy. If you happen to be baking your granola while you sleep (I do this often) just lower the temp to 150 and stir it in the morning. It will need a little more time after you've stirred it. As long as you keep the temp low, you can't mess this up!

**This is part of the following real food and natural living link-ups: The Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living MondayReal Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through them supports Plus Other Good Stuff. Thanks!


Cast Iron Mac & Cheese: real comfort food

Did you notice? Plus Other Good Stuff is now plusothergoodstuff.com! You'll be seeing some more changes in the coming weeks, I hope, so stick with me and enjoy the ride. :)


When you need something a little more exciting than my Easy Mac & Cheese, but still not very time consuming, try this delicious twist. It's just as satisfying as baked mac & cheese, but super fast because the "baking" happens under the broiler for 4-6 minutes! Feel free to alter the spices to your liking and add different veggies as desired!

You'll need a deep iron skillet for this recipe. Here's the one I use

Cast Iron Mac & Cheese

(inspired by Parents Need to Eat Too)

One package of brown rice pasta (or pasta of choice)
3-4 organic hot dogs (optional)
1/2 c. organic frozen spinach (the kind in a bag, not a box), or a couple handfuls of fresh greens such as spinach, Swiss chard or kale
3 T. grass-fed butter
1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 t. mustard powder
1/2 t. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 t. unrefined sea salt
dash milk curry powder
2 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 T. organic unbleached flour, or sprouted whole grain flour

1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water. If your hot dogs are frozen (we keep a couple packages in the freezer and just take out what we need), throw them into the boiling water to heat them. Add your greens toward the end of the cooking time (just a couple minutes for spinach, 3-4 minutes for chard, 5 minutes or so for kale). When the pasta and greens are done, drain and set aside. Let the hot dogs cool, and then slice them into pieces.
2. While the pasta is cooking, preheat your broiler. Heat a deep iron skillet until very hot.
3. Melt the butter in the hot skillet. Add the milk and spices. Add 2 cups of the cheese, a handful add a time, whisking to melt.
4. Sift the flour over the cheese sauce, a tablespoon at a time (I don't have a sifter, so I use a fine mesh strainer and just tap the side of it to sprinkle the flour in), whisking the sauce until smooth after each addition. The sauce should be nice and thick when you're done adding flour.
5. Add the cooked pasta and greens, and cut-up hot dogs. Stir to thoroughly coat the pasta with sauce.
6. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and broil for 4-6 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

What do you cook when you want something fast and really, really delicious?


**This is part of the following real food and healthy living link-ups: Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Healthy2Day Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through them supports Plus Other Good Stuff. Thanks!