Non religious homeschooling from a scientific perspective.

A-Z Flaxseed

In keeping with the running theme of healthy and alternative foods, todays ingredient is flaxseed. I don’t have a specific recipe again today, more of a advice column / tips and tricks for using flax. The first and most important thing to know is that flaxseed in its seed form is actually not digestible by people. So you can either buy it already ground up, or save yourself some cash by buying the seeds in bulk and grinding them up as needed at home. A cheap coffee grinder is great for this, just make sure its been thoroughly cleaned or you’ll end up with coffee flavoured flax.

I primarily use flax as a protein boost in homemade granola bars because it’s pretty tasteless and adds 1.3 grams of protein for every tablespoon of ground flax. It’s also super useful for people who have an egg allergy or choose not to eat eggs, you can use flax in place of eggs as a binding agent in recipes like cookie dough or bread. To use it this way you simply mix one tablespoon of ground flax and 3 tablespoons of warm water. Allow it to sit, you can put it in the fridge to speed up the process, until it becomes jelly like in consistency. This mixture will replace one egg in your recipes. Be careful when doing this not to make too much of a mess, as once its hardened again the flax jelly becomes like glue and is a pain to clean off the counter.

Flax makes a great addition to smoothies, seed bread, muffin recipes, granola mix etc. Its versatile and good for you. I promise to have a real recipe to share with tomorrows ingredient, which is … So see if you can guess what it is and you too can bask in the glow of secret prize!

Photo by paul morris on Unsplash

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A-Z Eggs

Today’s ingredient is eggs! Eggs are super delicious and can be used in a ton of recipes. I love having eggs for breakfast and egg salad for lunch and sometimes bacon and eggs for dinner. Who decided they are only a morning food anyways? I love omelettes and eggs benny and quiche, and what I’m getting at here is that I really like eggs.

However the recipe I’m sharing with you all today is something different and easy and awesome that you can make at home using eggs. Now I’m sure you’ve figured out, if you’ve been following along on your healthy food bingo card, that I try to eat healthy and make as much stuff as I can from scratch. This is not because I’m afraid of the !evil “chemicals” in food or anything trendy like that, its mostly because everything you buy pre made is just packed with sugar. Seriously packed with it, and stuff that you wouldn’t even think like ketchup! Do you know how much sugar there is in ketchup? When I started really looking into it I was so disappointed to find out how much sugar is in so many foods, even ones that seem healthy. Those little individual yogurts marketed to kids in bright packages? That’s a healthy snack right? Better than chips or a chocolate bar. They have more sugar per ounce than Coca cola.

All this to say that quite a while ago I started making my own mayonnaise, which before you run away, is super easy and takes like 5 minutes. All it takes is 2 egg yolks, some mustard (dry or prepared), oil (I prefer light tasting olive oil but you can use any light vegetable oil like canola), white vinegar (or lemon juice) and some salt. The recipe I use comes from a book called Science Experiments You Can Eat! but you can google “olive oil mayo” and find a ton of different variations online.

The basics of it are that you mix the egg yolks and vinegar and let them co mingle in the jar/measuring cup until they come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Then add your mustard and mix until thoroughly combined. Then while running the blender (regular or immersion works for this) very, very slowly drizzle in your oil. Adding it slowly allows the mixture to emulsify giving you that thick delicious mayonnaise-ness instead of an oily soupy mess. The entire mixing process takes about 3-4 mins and bam! You have mayo, with no sugar or preservatives added.

It’s worth noting that it’s best to make this in small batches, I do 1 cup at a time, as it doesn’t keep forever in the fridge like store bought mayo. However I’ve never had mine go bad on me, even after a few weeks. If you make this please comment and let me know how it turned out! Tomorrows ingredient is flax seed! Come back for some awesome tips and tricks.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

 

A-Z Drawn Butter

Well I forgot to update my draft of yesterdays post to include today’s ingredient! I profusely apologise and hope that my claim of being super busy over the Easter weekend will suffice as apology. Also since yesterdays recipe did indeed include cauliflower rice, so wonderful reader Camie has won a prize! Please email me your details Camie to emeraldbaynton@outlook.com to claim your $5 Amazon.com gift-card!

Today’s ingredient is Drawn Butter, also known as clarified butter or Ghee. This ingredient is super useful when doing a Whole30, or even just for those in need of a dairy-free diet. You can use it in place of butter in most recipes, it’s delicious melted over popcorn and great to use as an alternative to olive oil when frying things. Especially if you are specifically looking for that buttery flavour.

I don’t have a recipe to go with today’s ingredient, I just wanted to extol the virtues of clarified or drawn butter. You can buy it in most any grocery store, I got mine at the store 5 mins from where I live. Which is actually a discount grocery store, nothing fancy. It can best be found in the international food section, because it is often used in Indian dishes and in my store at least was found alongside other sauces and things dedicated to Indian cooking.

The alternative to buying your clarified, or drawn butter (Ghee) is you can make it yourself. Purchase a few pounds of regular salted or unsalted butter at your local grocery store. Watch for sales, or multi buys. Butter freezes really well, so if you want to do a big batch you can always buy a couple of pounds each sale and then do a large batch later. Making your own will result in about half the amount of clarified butter as you started with regular butter. So one pound = 1/2 pound et cetera.

In order to make clarified butter you simply melt down your store bought butter in a pot on low heat. You don’t want to burn or cook the butter so patience is definitely a virtue in this endeavour. Once your butter has melted it will separate into its fat and oil components. You’ll want to scoop out all the milk fat leaving behind just the oil and now you have drawn/clarified butter.

You can use this butter to mix into or top your mashed potatoes, to roll your corn on the cob in, top your steamed veggies, and all kinds of other things. I used mine the other day to saute garlic, onions and spinach for those twice baked Spinach and Artichoke stuffed potatoes. Tomorrows ingredient is eggs. If you can guess tomorrows recipe you can join Camie in the winners circle! Wouldn’t that be nice?

A-Z Cauliflower

Cauliflower! My favourite of all the vegetables. I love to cook with it, eat it raw, substitute it for many things. It’s amazing. This recipe is super versatile, you can add or take away things from this casserole to suit your tastes. The chicken bacon ranch version is my favourite so that’s what I’m going to blog about today.

This recipe is a great low carb casserole recipe, adapted from a Whole30 recipe to be less restrictive. Start with shredded chicken, we use chicken from a home made, fresh roasted chicken. (Pro-Tip you can roast a fresh chicken in a couple hours in your oven and then shred the whole thing and pile it all in a Tupperware container in your fridge to use in multiple recipes like this one) If you don’t have prepared roast chicken then boiling and shredding a pound of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts also works great.

While your chicken is boiling, separate a whole head of cauliflower into individual pieces and rice them. I use the Tupperware Quick Chef to do mine, its like a manual food processor. Any food processor or blender will do. You essentially want your chicken to look like rice.

You’ll also need 8-10 slices of chopped, cooked bacon. 1/2 cup of ranch dressing and shredded cheese.* Get yourself a 9×12 casserole dish and dump in your chicken, cauliflower, and bacon. Give it all a good stir with a silicon or rubber spatula, then pour the ranch dressing over the whole thing. Mix well to incorporate and top with shredded cheese.

*For a dairy free version use dairy free/homemade ranch dressing and 3tbsp of nutritional yeast instead of cheese. Nutritional yeast can generally be found in the health food/organic section of your local grocery store.

Bake covered at 350 for about 30 mins, and uncovered for 10. Serve and enjoy!

That’s it for today’s recipe, tomorrows ingredient is … and as per usual there will be a prize for any reader who can guess the recipe! See you tomorrow!

A-Z Butternut Squash

This recipe and ingredient is one of my favourites especially because it’s very versatile. Raise your hand if you have kids that hate veggies? If anything green is suddenly poison? If a burger with lettuce results in a chorus of “No leaves!!” Then you are not even a little bit alone, in fact, look around and I bet you’ll see and sea of raised hands from other moms struggling to get proper nutrition into their kids in this world of processed foods, commercials and billboard advertisements for french fries and cheeseburgers.

Well I have a solution that will help you get a serious helping of vegetables into a multitude of meals. First, purchase yourself a butternut squash. Then peel it and chop it in half. Microwaving your squash for 30-60 seconds can make it easier to cut in half. Once in half, clean out the guts and dice your squash into 1×1 inch squares. Now dump them all in a pot to boil.

While your squash in boiling work on your dinner recipe, good recipes to use with this trick are things like spaghetti, or mac and cheese. You can use store bought mac and cheese but I prefer to make it homemade with a roux based cheese sauce.

Once your squash is boiled to complete softness, drain it and either mash it or use your blender/food processor to puree your squash. Add the pureed squash to your cheese sauce or spaghetti sauce. Butternut squash gives your homemade cheese sauce an awesome orange colour and the kids will never know its there!

You can also mix pureed squash into mashed potatoes, use it as a base to make fritters, or just eat it with a bit of salt and butter. Any of these ways are delicious ways to enjoy your squash, but the above recipes will help you be sneaky mom and get some undetected nutrition into the bellies of your kids to keep them healthy.

Tomorrows ingredient in Cauliflower, once again I’ll be taking guesses in the comments, any reader who correctly guesses tomorrows recipe wins a prize!

*Photo by Natalie Rhea Riggs on Unsplash

A-Z Artichoke

Welcome to the first in this years A-Z April Blogging Challenge! Today’s ingredient is Artichoke, and this recipe if a brand new one for me. I made it for dinner today and it went over really well. It’s called Twice Baked Spinach and Artichoke Potatoes, follow this link to get to the original post on Paleo Running Momma’s blog.

Basically you bake your potatoes, scoop out the insides and mix them up with a pile of goodness! Spinach, artichoke, onion, garlic, coconut cream, nutritional yeast etc. Oh did I mention that this recipe is Whole30 compliant, paleo and dairy free?? I’m not strictly following any of these diets at the moment, but they are useful tags to use when you’re trying to eat healthier. Which is something I’m definitely working on.

One thing I wanted to point out about this recipe for anyone who is going to try it out is the original recipe says to use the guts from 3 potatoes and then fill in the two halves of four potatoes total. I found however that when following the recipe my mix became way too liquid-y after adding the coconut cream. So I ended up adding in the insides of the 4th potato anyways to thicken back up. So either use 4 potatoes or go easy on the coconut cream.

Another tip just in case, if you’ve never used coconut cream before, don’t worry! The finished product doesn’t taste anything like coconut. I use coconut milk as a substitute in tons of recipes and my husband hates coconut! He was pleasantly surprised to find a dairy free way to make things creamy and delicious that is also health conscious and tastes great!

That’s it for today’s recipe, tomorrows ingredient is Butternut Squash and as per usual there is a prize waiting here for anyone that can guess tomorrows recipe!

Photo by JACKELIN SLACK on Unsplash

Here begins the second instalment of my So you think you wanna homeschool series. In this post I’ll be sharing all of my favourite free to use curriculum sites. It’s a great way to get started and see what’s out there without spending a ton (or any!) money.  Once you’ve decided to make the jump into homeschooling you’ll quickly learn that there is a veritable plethora of curriculum options and it can be incredibly overwhelming.  Starting here will give you the chance to try some different ones out.

First on my list is one of the best maths and science programs out there, Khan Academy. It’s got instructional videos on every topic, progresses kids through their maths levels at their own pace and lets them collect points to level up their creature. What kid doesn’t love monster animals? They also send you a detailed report to your email each week so you can keep track of and see how much time your kids are spending on the program and what they are learning at the same time.

This next one has both a free and paid version. You can download and print out worksheets and sort them by grade level or subject. The aptly named Education.com has great paid for features as well, but I’m saving that info for another post.

Discoveryk12 is great for the busy parent who needs more time to work, either at home or away. Or has a larger group of children to teach, or babies who need constant attention. Everything is laid out on a 180 day schedule, meant to be used from September to June but children can start at any time of the year. They also recently added a grade specialising feature in which a child can take different subjects at different grade levels.  This all in one curriculum is very structured, not well suited to a parent looking to take a more relaxed approach.

The next two are amazing language learning resources;  Doulingo lets your child learn any number of foreign languages. My kids both do French as well one does Gaelic and the other Japanese. There’s a lot of reading involved in this program though so it’s only good for children who have learned to read independently unless you have the time to sit with your kids and read the lessons to them.  Lifeprint is an amazing resource for the whole family if you are interested in learning about the rich culture and language associated with American Sign Language and the deaf community.

Who doesn’t love a good spelling list? These ones are organised by grade level, easy to download with different activities for each day.  Free educational resources also has links for many other subjects.

In today’s world learning to use a computer and navigate the World Wide Web is important for anyone’s future career. That’s why it is important that kids learn to type quickly and efficiently. Dance Mat is great for introducing young children to the keyboard, it’s interactive and fun with cute cartoon characters and audio cues to let them know when they have made a mistake. Typing.com is better for older children, or those who have graduated the Dance Mat program. Like Khan Academy it allows kids to rack up points like a video game so they have tangible proof of their success and progress.

Music study is a great elective for any student and even if you aren’t musical yourself Opus Music Worksheets can help you give your child a basic understanding of how to read music. This can be great prep for a child heading into music lessons, or just interested in music and an understand of the musical language. There is also The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra run by the Carnegie Hall website, which is a great game kids can play to learn about the different instruments that make up an orchestra. My son has played through it probably 10 times!

Last on my list is a great blog with an even bigger collection of free resources. I told you this would be overwhelming. However it should be more than enough to keep you all busy for another week until the next instalment of So you think you wanna homeschool.

*Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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