Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The Happy Homesteader
I must admit, before moving to my homestead my diet was pretty much all American. As our concerns grew about what we were putting into our bodies, we decided that growing our own food was the best choice. Hence the homestead! I remember the first year here wondering if we would really be able to do it. Failures in the garden and seemingly endless time frames to when we would actually process any meat was a bit discouraging at times, but before long we began looking at our plates and saying, "Hey, we grew this!" Meal time became a celebration of how many different items on our plates came from our own efforts. Soon everything on our plates was grown right on our own land. It was liberating!
During that year of transition there were also many adjustments we had to make in terms of our tastes and cravings. Some things were easy - there's no comparison to a home grown melon or tomato! Other things took some getting used to - free-range chicken definitely has a different texture than from the grocery store. The hardest thing however was getting used to eliminating processed foods. Oh the cravings!! No matter how much delicious home grown food we were consuming, we still missed the junk food for quite some time. We swore off Cheetos, Pepsi, and boxed Mac N' Cheese. Without really realizing it, our tastes changed and eventually we began craving strawberries or home cured bacon. A couple of times we indulged in the old favorites and bought a box of junk food, but to our surprise it didn't taste like we remembered. The Mac N' Cheese tasted like cardboard and the Cheetos like styrofoam. All in all, the adjustment period took a little bit of time, but was so worth it! Since then I've found some great substitutions to curb the cravings. I wish I had known them then, but maybe it's not too late for you.
Mix in glass 1-2 Tbsp raw honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and fill with club soda and ice. Tastes like cream soda!
Grate a couple tablespoons of ginger into a sauce pot. Add 2 cups of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger out of the water and while the water is still warm add enough honey to make a sweet ginger syrup (tastes are different, so make it however sweet you like). This concentrated syrup can be kept in the fridge and add a bit to a glass of club soda to make a ginger ale type drink whenever you want. More concentrate will make a stronger flavored drink.
When you thaw out your home grown strawberries, save the juice. Add this concentrated juice to a glass, then mix in 1-2 Tbsp raw honey and 1-2 Tsp raw apple cider vinegar. You can add water to dilute the drink to your liking. The honey and vinegar act like electrolytes and I've found it to be the best cure for heat stroke.
Potato Chip Replacement
Slice a large zucchini very thin - about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Spread them on a dehydrator and sprinkle with sea salt. Dehydrate until crisp.
Fruit Roll-Up Replacement
Homemade fruit roll-ups are called fruit leather and can really satisfy a sweet tooth. Remove any stems/seeds etc. and puree your home grown fruit in a food processor. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples - you name it, they all work great! Add a little bit of apple sauce to the puree. This is not absolutely necessary, but adds some sweetness to the leather and also helps to keep the leather soft and flexible. Spread this on a dehydrator tray making sure you have a solid bottom so it doesn't spill through. Dehydrators usually have accessory trays for this purpose. Dehydrate until it is just slightly tacky and peels off the tray without breaking. I store mine with sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper between them in an air tight container.
Homemade Granola Bars
Some times grabbing a homemade granola bar can satisfy all of your salty and sweet cravings at once. The best thing about them is that you can customize them to meet your taste and even if you can't grow all of the ingredients yourself, you can find most ingredients produced in an all-natural or organic way.
Heat the oven to 350. Add 2 Cups old-fashioned oatmeal and 1 Cup of sliced or chopped nuts of your choice to a cookie sheet. Toast this in the oven, mixing occasionally, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned then put aside. Reduce the oven temp to 300. In a sauce pot melt and boil 3 Tbsp butter, 2/3 Cup honey, and 1/4 C brown sugar. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Combine your toasted ingredients and liquid ingredients in a mixing bowl. Make sure all toasted ingredients are coated. Add some chopped dried fruit like apricots or raisins if you like and when everything is mixed well and sticky, use wet fingers to push it into an 8X12 pan that is lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure it is cooled before cutting into bars.
You can buy popsicle molds for the freezer or make mini pops in ice cube trays or paper cups. Puree your home grown fruit in a blender. Add honey if needed to sweeten and just enough water to make the puree pourable if it isn't already. For a different taste you can substitute orange juice or even yogurt for the little bit of water needed. Pour in to the molds and freeze. If you are using cups for molds, then you'll want to push your popsicle sticks into the pops once they have frozen a little bit so that the sticks will stand up.
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