Coconut oil has been in the media recently for being a healthy, beneficial oil. While most often sold with other cooking oils and used in, well, cooking, coconut oil has many, many other uses, making it quite the multitasking oil! This also means if you score a good deal on coconut oil, or grab a several-pound tub from your local big-box store, you can get quite a bit of use out of this one item, making it a potentially thrifty choice! What are some of the other uses for coconut oil?
Daily moisturizer: Coconut oil is solid at room temperature (unless you live in a warm, tropical area, in which case, store your coconut oil in a refrigerator or other cool place), meaning it’s actually quite easy to dip your fingers in a tub and scoop out a small slab to rub on your skin. Some people with sensitive skin find they tolerate coconut oil just fine. Pregnant women sometimes find that daily use helps reduce stretch marks.
Lip Balm: Do you have an empty lip balm tin lying around? Scoop some coconut oil into it and go! It’s easy to dab a little on your lips during the day, and you get to smell faintly of coconut!
Makeup Remover: Coconut oil can strip even the most stubborn of “24 hour lasting!” makeup off of your face. Place a tiny bit of melted coconut oil on a soft washcloth and gently scrub your face. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Easy!
Household Lubricant: Out of WD-40 and your creaky door hinge is driving you crazy? Want to get intimate but the KY Jelly container is empty? Coconut oil can substitute for both of those uses! It’s not a long term solution, but it can lubricate squeaky metal parts around your home until you can get to the hardware store, and if you want to use it for more intimate purposes, just keep in mind that it’s not compatible with latex.
What else have you used coconut oil for?
So you bought ten pounds of pork for only $1.50 a pound, or scored a few whole chickens from your backyard homestead neighbor. Dinner for weeks!… you think, but… now what? How to cook all that cheap meat you just got, assuming you are a meat eater?
Slow cooking has been a time saver for families for ages. Tough meat that would otherwise be hard to eat can simmer for hours in a pot, growing soft and tender. The trouble was that someone had to be watching the pot all day, something that’s hard to do in our modern, busy lifestyles. When the slow cooker, or Crock-Pot, as the brand name is, was invented a few decades ago, it was instantly popular. Because it cooked food at a low, constant, heat, without needing to be warmed by a flame or oven, parents could flip it on in the morning, go to work, and return home to a warm, nearly effortless meal. Since most cheap cuts of meat and vegetables generally require somewhat long cooking times, a slow cooker can be a great help to a thrifty lifestyle, as you can cook a cheap, nutritious meal very easily. Below is a basic recipe that works for nearly any cheap cut of meat, but this is only a guide—feel free to add your own vegetables or spices, and adjust cooking times to your preference.
- Chop up veggies. Onions and carrots go with almost every meat. Celery is cheap and is often used with poultry. Toss those in the bottom of the crock pot.
- You don’t need to add liquid, since fat will melt off the meat when cooking, but if you wish to, pour in a cup or two of water or broth.
- Pat dry your meat. Shake on some spices. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder are good basic flavors that go with almost everything.
- Turn on the slow cooker! If you need a meal within 4-5 hours, flip it on high. Otherwise, especially for tough cuts of beef or pork, cooking on low for an average of 8 hours will yield a more tender meal.
There you go! You have an extremely basic slow cooker meal! Again, this is a just a starting point—part of the fun is being able to experiment on your own! What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes?
It may be that you want to make your bread and know it will save you money, but you just aren’t sure how to go about doing so. You may be worried that you don’t have the time or a machine. You may also be worried about how to build it into your meal plans. Here are a few tips to get you started saving money by making your own baked goods.
Not having a bread machine is not a problem at all. In fact I have found that it is easier for me to make bread from scratch in my oven than in a bread machine. I can make it in various shapes and sizes. This comes in handy when tying to fit your homemade bread into a lunch for school or work. all you need is a detailed but simple recipe with ingredients you usually have in your kitchen every day.
Find a recipe that works for your time schedule. My favorite bread recipe is Amish White Bread. It takes about two and half hours to make and a good portion of that time is waiting for the bread to rise. I can go about my daily routine while the bread dough does its thing. What also is a time saver for me when baking is to double the recipe. I end up with four loaves of fluffy white bread rather than two. You may think that’s too much bread, but home cooked bread seems to go faster in my home than store bought bread.
Fitting It Into Meals
Store bought bread to go along with a chili or stew seems a little sad, but homemade bread is heartier and seems to go better with a crock pot soup, chowder, stew, or chili. It’s also a great stand alone snack.
You can also add your homemade bread to a lunch box. There is an easy fix if you are worried your cut bread is too big for a sandwich bag or that it will crumble to bits before lunch time. Make bread muffins in a muffin pan. They will fit in a sandwich bag and has a crust all around it to keep it from turning to crumbs. Just add a small container of butter and a cooling block and you are set to go.
The words “healthy” and “cake” are rarely ever used in the same sentence, much less the same title for a recipe. It doesn’t seem real or right to have cake that tastes good and is good for you, but it’s true and it’s possible.
There are generally two main ingredients that make cake bad for our health and for our waist line: white flour and white sugar. Replacing those two ingredients with other fillers that may not be as bad (like wheat flour or even gluten free mixes) don’t necessarily transform a cake into something nutritious. However, if you use coconut flour, it is a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy fat. When you replace the sugar with raw honey, you reap the benefits of the raw honey. Raw honey has antibacterial, antifungal, and is full of antioxidant properties, all great for immunity.
Talk about having your cake and eating it, too. Once you have cake like this, you’ll have a very hard time going back to cake that’s full of empty fattening calories. Keep in mind that you can adjust any recipe to your preference. So, if you prefer it sweeter, just add more honey. If it’s too sweet, just cut the amount in the recipe.
Here’s how to make tasty, good-for-you cake!
1 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup raw honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
In a bowl, mix the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix until no clumps are left.
Combine the coconut oil, vanilla extract, and eggs until well blended.
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
Grease a 9 by 13 inch pan (I like to use Pyrex).
Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool 15 minutes before serving.
Lately, I have been on a mission to make a healthy, tasty oat flour chocolate chip cookie. In my first attempt, the cookie tasted amazing. The only problem was that all the cookies melted into one big cookie. Again, not the worst thing in the world. The whole family loved the cookie(s). But, I didn’t want to bake one cookie; I wanted many cookies! So, I tried again. I tried a no bake recipe that I later transformed into a chocolate peanut butter oatmeal baked cookie. That was good but still not what I had in mind.
Then, last night, I tried again. I found another recipe. I modified the original to suit our tastes. So, here’s what I did.
1 3/4 cups oat flour
1/2-3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
chocolate chips (as much as you like)
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix all the wet ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Then, mix all the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until well blended. Then, fold in the chocolate chips.
5. Put the bowl into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
6. Then, scoop onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove and enjoy! They tasted amazing with my coffee this morning!
Now, I have to say that these cookies are a great improvement from the others. They are good and generally hold together (although they are crumbly). I don’t think that my quest is over. However, I’m happy with what we have today.
Does anyone else get on kicks like this? I am determined to find or create a recipe that tastes great, not just good, and holds together nicely. Trust me, when I find or make it, you will hear about it! 😉
You may have heard of the best selling business/leadership book called Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap… And Others Don’t. I only mention the title of the book because it’s what came to mind when a recipe I made (and considered quite good) was transformed because my husband didn’t think it was “great.”
This is the recipe I just tried yesterday. It’s a yummy, healthy no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal bar recipe. Here’s what happened. Rather than put it in the refrigerator, I left it out and it didn’t harden. And, while I was out running errands, our children dug in. I came back only to find that they had grabbed spoons and begun eating right out of the pan. (I wish I had taken a picture of that!) It was clear that they liked the non-bar bars, but my husband wasn’t a fan. He said he’d prefer baked cookies.
So, I took the remaining gooey bars, added a teaspoon of baking soda and a cup of white flour to form a batter.
Then, I spooned cookies onto a cookie sheet. I did this part quickly, as you can see (because I was fixing lunch at the same time. You know how it is, right?) By the way, another reason to do it quickly is to limit the amount of batter you “taste” while you are getting all that batter onto the baking sheet! 😉
I baked them at 350 for about 10-12 minutes and ta-da…Here they are! I transformed our “good” no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal bars into “great” chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies. I feel just as good about the children (and the hubby) eating them. And, by the way, now they are all eating them! 😉
Have you ever transformed one of your good recipes into a “great” one?
Every so often, I go on a particular baked good kick. I become obsessed with ways to make healthy muffins and begin to scour the internet and play with my own recipes in the attempt to create a healthy, tasty muffin for my family. Then, I usually move on to a healthy cookie kick, during which I scour the internet again (as though I’d never done it before) for healthy cookie recipes. This pattern usually continues throughout the year. So, I’m currently on a healthy cookie recipe kick. And, since we have about 25 pounds of organic rolled oats in our pantry right now (thanks to joining a co-op and getting an amazing deal on oats), I’m looking for recipes with oats!
So, I found one similar to one I have made in the past. But, the picture looked irresistible. I HAD to try it. (Heads up, the Pinterest picture looks nothing like mine!) Anyway, I gave it a try with some modifications of my own. We don’t like to use sugar. So, I generally substitute honey or maple syrup for sugar in most recipes. I also prefer to use coconut oil whenever possible. In this case, I used half coconut oil and half butter.
Here are the ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup butter
pinch of salt
1. Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and vanilla extract.
3. In a small saucepan, combine honey, milk, butter, coconut oil, and salt. Bring to a full boil and keep boiling for 2 minutes.
4. Pour the hot mixture over the oat mixture and stir to make sure it is well blended. Then, pour the entire mixture into the lined pan.
5. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares and storing in the refrigerator.
My bars look fine, as you’ll see. However, the original recipe looked like it was an oat bar with chocolate chips mixed in. Pouring the hot mixture over the oats and the chocolate melts the chocolate so that you have chocolate oats, not oats with chocolate sprinkled in… Next time, I’ll make it the same way minus the chocolate. I think that once I blend the hot and dry ingredients, I’ll sprinkle chocolate chips into the mixture (in case you are curious) 😉
In any case, they are delicious and pretty healthy too!
I don’t know one mother who doesn’t think about how to get her children to eat healthy or healthier foods. Whether it’s sneaking healthy foods into their favorites or trying to make healthy foods tastier, it seems to be every mother’s mission to get those kiddos to eat something nutritious. I, too, share that mission.
One of the ways I do that is by finding healthier ways to make baked goods. I have used coconut flour, almond flour, and combinations of those with organic white flour in order to get them to eat healthier baked goods. And, while we have made variations of oatmeal cookies, I found a recipe using oat flour at just the right time. Since we recently joined a co-op and I got a great deal on organic rolled oats, I have 25 pounds of oats to do something with. 😉
So, in case you’re on a similar mission and would like your children eat healthier cookies, you may want to try this recipe.
1 cup oat flour (I just put a cup of oatmeal in my food processor for this part)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar or honey*
1/2 cup coconut oil
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix all wet ingredients in a large bowl and dry ingredients in a smaller bowl.
3. If you haven’t bought oat flour, just put about a cup of oatmeal into a food processor until finely ground.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet until thoroughly blended.
5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Use a spoon to drop cookies onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
*I used honey (even though the original recipe called for sugar). As a result, when I baked the cookies (plural), they melted into one big cookie! So, if you decide to use honey, add some extra oat flour! In the end, as you can see, the “cookie” was a big hit!
How do you make baked goods healthier for your kiddos?