Small Steps to Big Changes: Healthier Oils

Small Steps: Healthier Oil

Welcome to the first post in my Small Steps/Big Changes series! As I mentioned in the introduction, this series is all about a non-intimidating approach to self-sufficiency and a healthier, Real Food lifestyle. When Big Man and I started this journey a few months ago, the first thing I started researching was cooking oils. I’d been seeing more and more recipes that called for coconut oil instead of the vegetable or canola oil with which I was familiar, and I wondered why. What was the big deal about coconut oil? Was it just the current “trendy” ingredient, or was it really superior to other cooking oils? Let’s find out*

Small Step: Replace vegetable & canola oils with coconut oil

Why: Vegetable and canola oils are full of polyunsaturatedfats (PUFA), are endorsed by the USDA and Big Food, and easily go rancid. Coconut oil is used in traditional cultures and cuisines, is minimally processed, has many uses beyond the kitchen, and is highly praised by Real Food enthusiasts.

Difficulty level: Minimal. Coconut oil is easy to find (grocery stores, warehouse clubs, Amazon, or sites like this), there are many different brands, and it stores in the pantry just like vegetable and canola oils. The only downside is that coconut oil ranges from somewhat to much more expensive. So far, I’ve been buying coconut oils in the mid-range of the price array (e.g. Spectrum brand). I feel that’s a good balance of decent quality and affordability. I’m not yet convinced that the “Gold Standard” coconut oil brands are worth their price tag for our family.

My results: I’ve had great success with coconut oil! It’s a little strange at first, because it is solid at room temperature so sometimes it must be melted before using but that is easy enough. I keep both virgin (unrefined) and refined coconut oil on hand. The virgin oil has a slight coconutty smell and taste, so I use the refined oil in cases where that taste would clash with whatever I’m cooking. I use it to coat the pan before cooking meat or veggies, and just substitute it 1 for 1 for vegetable oil in baking applications. Sometimes I also sub it in for half the butter in a sweet recipe to get nutrients from both types of fat. Coconut oil is also great in making stovetop popcorn! I appreciate that it is versatile both inside and outside the kitchen. It works nicely as a body lotion and is great to hydrate the ends of the hair to help prevent split ends.

Worth it? Definitely. I’ve been very happy using coconut oil and seeing how well it performs in many applications. I like knowing it is much less refined and processed compared with vegetable and canola oils. Plus, vegetable and canola oils are nearly guaranteed to contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), a.k.a. creepy science experiments I don’t want to eat. (In my research, GMO’s seem to be far less prevalent in coconut production, though I don’t know for sure that all brands of coconut oil are GMO-free).

Conclusion: After using coconut oil for a few months and researching its benefits, I’ve come to believe that coconut oil is a far better choice than vegetable or canola oil. I don’t believe it is a “miracle food” as is sometimes claimed, but I do feel confident it is a healthy choice for our family. Plus, it makes some yummy cookies!

What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with coconut oil!

* This post contains links to other sites/blogs with which I have no affiliation and whose content I do not guarantee nor endorse.

Small Steps to Big Changes {New Series}

Small_steps

Big Man and I have been making some big changes to our family’s lifestyle! While some of the things we want to do (like raise chickens) will have to wait until we move to our “homestead,” there are quite a few changes we’ve already incorporated. The two biggest areas we’ve been focusing on are DIY projects and food. Most of the DIY projects have been small, like replacing store-bought things with homemade versions. The food changes have been more substantial, including seriously challenging our perspective on food: what it is, where it comes from, how to produce our own, and where to buy what we cannot make ourselves. We’re moving toward a (mostly) Real Food diet, and choosing to buy our food from places other than the supermarket. It’s been an adventure, and we’ve learned a lot so far. I know there is still so much more for us to learn.

Honestly, researching self-sufficiency and real food can be intimidating and discouraging. There is so much information (and mis-information) out there, and everyone has an opinion. My goal with this series is to chronicle our adventures as we change our lifestyle choices. I’ll be writing about information we find, changes we make, things we find that are worth it (or not!), and helpful resources for anyone else interested in following a similar path. I promise that this series will NOT: make any sort of medical claims, tell anyone how they should be living, or judge people for the choices they make. There are plenty of sites out there that will do such things; tell you that you are a terrible parent for feeding your kids such & such, or that the only way to be a good Christian wife and homemaker is to cook exclusively from scratch and eschew modern “conveniences” like washing machines. This is not one of those blogs. I have no authority or desire to tell anyone else what they should be doing. That’s between them and God. My responsibility here is to make the right choices to my family, and this blog is merely meant to recount our progression on this journey.

If you decide to pursue self-sufficiency and/or real food, you may feel (like I did) that it’s a scary prospect. It’s a big deal to change where you shop, to have a list of “bad” foods to avoid, to feel like buying an item instead of DIY-ing it makes you a failure. To think about throwing out half the food in your pantry and replacing it with new ingredients that are far more expensive. To start reading labels and realize how hard it is to avoid non-food chemicals and GMO’s because they are present in practically everything. It’s tempting to become overwhelmed and give up. I really think the key to making lasting changes is small steps. Try changing one small thing and see how it works. We’ve been picking individual things to change/improve and once we feel comfortable with each change, we move on the the next one. This journey has already been a few months long and I know we still have a long way to go. But it’s been a successful adventure so far, and I’m excited to see what’s to come.

Each post in this “Small Steps” series will focus on one small change we’ve made, why we did it, how it worked, and if we feel it was “worth it.” I hope our experiences will encourage you to become informed, challenge the cultural norm, and be open to making new choices if God calls you to. I’d love to hear your experiences with self-sufficiency, real food, living off the grid, homesteading, and pursuing a life of simplicity, so please join in the comments!

Here are the topics we’ve covered so far!

Healthier Cooking Oil

Read the Labels

Stock the Pantry

Sample Saturday

*****In case you haven’t heard, Google Reader is shutting down in a few months. I’ve moved over to bloglovin’ as my RSS feed reader, and they have a really quick process for transferring all your subscriptions from Google Reader. If you want to continue receiving my posts after Google Reader shuts down, please consider following Homekeeping Adventures through bloglovin’. The button is just to the right —–>  Thank you!Sample_sat_3 copy

Good Morning and Happy Spring! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for this week’s roundup of my favorite posts.

Kisses and Kiddos

No Fail Parenting Phrases – From The Confident Mom, this is a good list of clear and concise statements to improve communication with kids of all ages.

Top 10 Tips to Get Kids to do Chores – The Home Sanctuary blog has some wonderful ideas for encouraging (not nagging) kids to do their chores.

A Marital Intimacy Playlist – J from Hot, Holy, and Humorous put together a great list of clean romantic songs from different musical genres.

Yumminess

Bacon Cheddar Waffles – What can I say? It’s a waffle with bacon and cheddar cheese, and that sounds awesome. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe from Shutterbean.

Corned Beef Hash Eggs Benedict – If you are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, consider making this breakfast spin on the tradition dish. (From spoon fork bacon)

Cinnamon Espresso St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes – And then you can serve these beautiful treats from Bakingdom for dessert.

Just for Fun and Giggles

DIY T-shirt Dress – I have very few sewing skills, but this project from The Kurtz Corner looks so cute I might just have to try it someday when I learn to use a sewing machine.

And then there is this awesome picture of Baby Kraken! I dare you not to smile.

The Kraken! Art Print

Enjoy your weekend!

Happy Homekeeping Moments

Hi, everyone! I know I’ve been away from the blog lately; just been catching up on normal life. Anyway, here is this week’s list!

1. The Little Ones really enjoy playing together now. I love watching them run around, sing, practice the ABC’s, and play on the computer together.

2. Big Man and I enjoyed our Valentine’s dinner out. It was nice to be together, have a relaxing meal, and enjoy a movie that did not include singing Veggies.

3. Little Man looks so cute in his “big boy” crew cut. Plus it is easy and less expensive now that we can cut his hair here at home!

4. Little Lady is talking more and more each day. She knows most of her letters now and is starting to count. Very appropriately, her favorite word is “me.”

5. I’ve had lots of success in my recent kitchen experiments. One of my recent goals has been to include more veggies in our meals and trade pre-processed ingredients for homemade wherever I can. I’ve found some great veggie recipes that even I enjoy and I’ve successfully DIY’ed bagels, jam, flour tortillas, and chicken stock.

Hope y’all are having a great Friday! See you tomorrow for Sample Saturday.

Sample Saturday

Good Morning! Here’s this week’s Sample Saturday of my favorite posts from the last couple weeks.

Kisses and Kiddos

Love Changes Everything – A beautiful perspective in this Becoming Minimalist post.

On Raising Little Women (or Men) – A great post about the parenting and teaching lessons to be learned from Marmee, of Little Women. (post from Simple Homeschool)

Make a Homekeeping Mission Statement – A really cool idea from Home Sanctuary.  I’m still working on my mission statement, and I’ll be sure to share once it is complete.

Beyond Movie Night – A great list of fun and inexpensive at home dates from Beauty Through Imperfection.

Parenting 001 – I actually said “Amen” out loud when I finished reading this fantastic post at The Gospel Coalition

Yumminess

Espresso-Biscoff Heart Cake – I was all prepared to have a healthy, no dessert weekend until I saw this awesomeness from Sprinkle Bakes and decided I need to make it now.

Crockpot Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas – I like the idea of Mexican flavors in the slow cooker. This dish from the Foodie Bride looks like a great change from the usual pot roast.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – I actually made these last week and oh boy, were they good! Big Man loved them too. This Tasty Kitchen post has a nice set of step-by-step photos.

Cinnamon Streusel Chocolate Bread- Streusel and chocolate in the same recipe. Thank you, Bakingdom!

Just for Fun and Giggles

Paperman – This cute Disney short film has been floating around the internet for the last few days, and it is totally worth a look.  Does anyone else think the guy looks like Jim from The Office?

And finally, I found this on Pinterest and just couldn’t stop laughing.

Unless you’re a rhino who wants to be a unicorn. That’s not giving up, that’s refusing to bend to the pressure the media puts on rhinos to be more mythical.

Enjoy your weekend!

Sample Saturday

Here’s this week’s roundup of my favorite blog posts. Enjoy!

Kisses and Kiddos

You Can Never Ask Too Much – This post from the Desiring God Blog is full of encouragement and hope grounded in Biblical promises.

31 Days to Becoming a Frugalista – The Confident Mom is doing a series this whole month on saving money and running a home on an efficient and frugal budget.  It’s a great series and I’m learning a lot from each new post (the link above is for the kick-off overview post)

Household Organization, Part 2, Part 3 – Another great series is this one from Home Sanctuary.  I’m always looking for ways to run the house better, and I like they way this system is really easy to tailor to individual homes and priorities.

Yumminess

Cookie Butter Cream Cheese NY Style Crumb Cake – This just sounds absolutely amazing. (from the Vanilla Sugar Blog)

Creamy Crock Pot Mac ‘n’ Cheese – I’ve been getting a lot of use out of my slow cooker recently, and I’ll be trying this dish from Pennies on a Platter soon.

Soups to Warm the Soul – It’s soup season and this post from Picky Palate has a whole bunch of soups that look perfectly warm and satisfying.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Nutella, Brown Butter, & Sea Salt – Is it possible to have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes? I think not. (from Annie’s Eats)

Just for Fun and Giggles

And now, a real-life Angry Bird:

via *Very Clean* Funny Pics, Facebook

Enjoy your weekend!