Category Archives: SCD

Almond Flour Biscuits

This biscuit recipe is a great addition to your repertoire.  The biscuits are great with butter and jam!  Or just jam!  They can be sliced in half and made into Gluten free biscuitssausage sandwiches or used for biscuits and gravy! Crumble them up, top with your milk of choice and some lightly sweetened sliced strawberries, and you’ve got strawberry shortcake!

I’ve served these when I host coffee for the homeschooling moms and at holidays in place of rolls.  They are easy enough that my daughters made them for me for Mother’s Day one year, placing them daintily on a lovely plate with the jam in an adorable glass bowl.

My sister requested the recipe yesterday and this is an easy way to share it, not only with her, but with you!

Almond Flour Biscuits

(Makes about 12 biscuits, depending on the size)

2 and 1/2 cups of almond flour (I prefer Honeyville, but Bob’s Red Mill or another blanched almond flour will work fine for this recipe.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).

Mix all ingredients together very well in a medium-sized bowl.  (Alternatively, you may feel free to mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, beat the eggs a bit in a different bowl, add the wet ingredients to the egg bowl, and then mix all the ingredients together well.  I use the one bowl, mix-well method and I’m happy with the turnout.)

Use a tablespoon to drop about 12-15 rounded mounds onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.  They don’t really expand out much so you can place them fairly close together without worry.  If you make them too large, they don’t get done in the middle.

Bake until lightly browned or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a biscuit comes out clean.  Depending on how your oven bakes and biscuit size, this could take anywhere from 12-20 minutes.  Do not overbrown.  Watch closely.

Allow to cool before attempting to slice.

Variation for savory biscuits:  Add 1/4 cup of diced onion and a teaspoonful of garlic powder.

Family “gustar” report:  A very good report.  Everybody likes them, even a finicky brother-in-law who gets very nervous when he hears the words “gluten-free.”  (However, they don’t like the savory ones as well.)

Wishing you all the best in all the things that count! ~~Terri


Homemade Sausage and Warm Sauerkraut

Store-bought sausage is usually laden with all kinds of fillers and preservatives.  Just reading the ingredient list practically makes me throw the stuff back into the grocery’s freezer or refrigerator case.  Here is a recipe we use that we like for “homemade sausage.”  My kids say it tastes “just like Granny’s does.”  Granny’s is probably Jimmy Dean’s.  Just pick up some ground pork and a few spices.  I love to eat it with sauerkraut tossed in the warm leftover drippings.  I let the drippings cool down to just warmer than lukewarm so I don’t kill as many of the beneficial probiotics in my “live” sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut and sausage

Homemade Sausage with Warmed Sauerkraut

1 pound of ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 to 1 and 1/2  teaspoons ground sage (I am generous with sage because I love the flavor.  To me, sage makes the sausage.)
Dash of red pepper (My kids don’t like it very spicy so I err on the low side here.)
Sauerkraut as desired, preferably one that has live active probiotics in it (not the pasteurized kind)


In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ground pork and all the spices by hand until well mixed.  Form into patties.  I usually make about five or so patties and squish them down so they cook pretty quickly.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat, flipping mid-way through cooking.  I like a light golden brown crust to form on mine.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Allow the drippings to cool to a still warm–but not hot–temperature.  Spoon in some sauerkraut (drain the sauerkraut juices if you want, but I don’t).  As far as how much of the drippings to use, you obviously don’t want your sauerkraut swimming in sausage drippings, but you want enough to flavor the sauerkraut and warm it.  I’m trusting your judgment here.  Drain drippings you want to save before adding in the sauerkraut.

Enjoy!  I do this also to sauerkraut when I make bacon.

Family “gustar” report:  All five members of my family eat the sausage very well.  It is a go-to for breakfast when I can’t think of anything else.  You can also make almond flour biscuits and make a sandwich out of them.  Or instead of making patties, brown up the pork and use in an egg casserole or soup.  Only one of my kids likes sauerkraut right now.

That’s it!  Take care!  Make the effort to simplify life.  You’ll be glad you did!  ~~Terri

Compare and Contrast Foraging

wpid-IMAG1085.jpgThis morning I sat down at the kitchen table to make my shopping list.  “What do I need?  What do I need?”  My shopping list has definitely changed over the last two years, much for the stranger.  And it just keeps getting weirder.

Am I Weird?  No!  I am a Modern Forager!

A week ago we visited my mom, dad, and sisters in Northern Indiana.  As always, I was “educating” my mom about this and that health-wise and food-wise.  She sullenly said, “Well, I don’t want to be a slave to food.”  That got me thinking.  Am I a slave to food?  I feel less a slave to food now than I ever have before in my life.  I tell you, before, I was definitely dependent on processed foods, dairy, wheat, and sugar.  Now, I can pass up donuts.  Yeah.  I don’t think I’m a slave to food anymore.

But this morning as I looked at my bizarre grocery list, I wondered if I was overboard.  Maybe Mom was right!?  (It’s always good to take stock of yourself.)  However, you see, each food on my list has a purpose!  A nutrient!  Then, I thought, “Well, what about other people who haven’t read about these nutrients.  Don’t have a medical background.  What are they to do?  How to manage?  Maybe this stuff I’m doing is all stupid.”

Then, I thought, “No!  In our history, before food was readily available for purchase, humans DID make a point to forage for foods that were known to be necessary!  Women knew how to identify herbs and dig for tubers.  Families knew how to brew sauerkraut.  The organs were not tossed out, but they were prized.  Salt was traded and used as salaries.  Kids got cod liver oil from their moms and grandmas in the near past.”  In the past, they foraged for foods know to benefit them.  I am simply a modern forager!

So What’s on That List?

The list is not too long because we keep a pretty well-stocked freezer and pantry, but here is the list:

Dulse:  A seaweed I usually sauté or toss into a soup to provide iodine for my family and me.

Kombucha:  A fermented drink with probiotics in it that I’ve started using for a smoothie liquid since my intolerances do better with little to no dairy, nuts, and coconut products.

Organic greens such as kale, chard, spinach, and arugula:  Lots of calcium, magnesium, and identified and unidentified health benefits here.  Not to mention some fiber.

Oysters:  A great source of zinc and throw in some iodine, vitamin A, vitamin D, and B vitamins–and you’ve got quite a “good things come in small packages” going on here.

And the not so strange fruits:  oranges, mangoes, strawberries, apples, grapes, and bananas.

Water:  Oh, my goodness.  Yes.  Water. My Dad told me it would be a sad day when he ever paid money for water, but I think he’s got the deepest well in the state of Indiana filtering down through layer after layer of great Indiana limestone.  Not bad water.  But for me, must be sad times.  I still haven’t decided on a water filter, and in the meantime, I’d like to reduce our intake of fluoride, chlorine, and any pharmaceuticals that don’t get filtered out.  So we buy reverse osmosis water.

Just though you’d like to see the weird list.

Compare and Contrast Modern versus Historical Foraging

I realized that my grocery list was an example of foraging, not weirdness. Picking through the vastness to find what benefits my family and me!  It is NO different than what thousands of people long ago used to do.  Times may change.  Basic human needs don’t.  In my mind I started comparing and contrasting foraging today and foraging of long ago.


Modern Foraging


Historical Foraging


Knowledge of needed nutrients handed   down by medical/nutritional fields and scientists.  Nutrients are known by name and entity. Knowledge of needed nutrients perhaps   not “known” by name or entity.
Knowledge distributed by writing.  If it’s not in writing and substantiated by   research, it is often held in limbo or disdain.  (Old research has often been buried, although it contains some neat leads we should follow.) Knowledge distributed by an oral culture taught by the elder   generation to the younger.  Much   respect given to elders and their experiences.
Nutrient guidelines in flux and ever-changing. Nutrients/foods probably stayed pretty   consistent within a locale.
Grocery stores, farmers markets,   Amazon, internet, health food stores. Digging, planting, hunting, trading,   long trips to obtain necessary supplies/foods/herbs.
Discouraged and mocked by general   culture, including and especially medical culture.  Modern foraging has to fight cultural   norms. Necessary for immediate survival and   prolonged health.  The “medicine men”   would have embraced nutrition and herbs as key healers.  Foraging for known necessary foods was the   norm.
More convenient but sometimes more   expensive. Likely physically taxing, although not   expensive.  However, certain things   were traded among people and would have required some material expense.
Not based as strongly on local,   available food. Bulk eating would have been based on   local available foods, although travel of varying distances would probably have   been required as seasons changed, resources diminished, or known necessary foods   needed to be traded for.
For many, foraging results in a   realization of how enduring the human body is of assault by sugar and   processed flour products, and yet how responsive it is to nurturing with   real, whole foods.  Modern foragers’   foes are chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease,   cerebrovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and gastrointestinal maladies. Food was food and eaten for survival   and function; often, trauma and infectious disease were historical foragers’   foes.


This was fun, and I think I could go on and on expanding it.  I am going to stop now and go do dishes and laundry and give thanks for a wonderful husband who took the kids out so I could have some peaceful time.

Some people embrace alternative health and nutrition changes, but I didn’t enter the realm really quite voluntarily–or without deeply embedded personal, professional bias.  I frequently find that I need to step back and make sure I’m doing all this for the right reasons and that I really have solid evidence behind me–at least as solid evidence as is available.  My family, friends, and professional training keep me with my right foot in the cultural norm, and my search for a normal GI tract and a way to not have a head so sensitive to certain foods  keeps me with my left foot straining and pulling to bring the right foot along.  Every day it’s all about checking and rechecking my work.  Liver is good to eat.  Is it good to eat?  Iodized salt is bad.  Is iodized salt bad?  Low carb is good.  Does it destroy your gut’s bacteria and your body’s metabolism?

I don’t have a nutritional heritage to fall back on much, although I have a few pieces my mom gave me–like butter and sauerkraut.  Mostly, though, my mom sold out to boxes.  So I will have to use what I can to rebuild a nutritional heritage for health for my family.

I will not sell out to boxes.  I will not sell out to sugar.  I will not resort to processed flours.  I will incorporate unusual foods known for their nutrients.  I am a modern forager.  Are you?  What are some unusual foods you incorporate in your foraging efforts and why?


PS:  I am continuing to work on one (if not “the”) of the last butyrate posts, our fourth grade curriculum posts, and I’d like to also post about vitamin K2 and iodine.  Maybe something in there will interest you.

Money Bribes for Liver

wpid-IMAG0656-1.jpgI am often asked how I get my kids to eat certain things.  Overall, they’re pretty good eaters, and I simply do what it takes.  I firmly believe in a multi-faceted approach to most things in life, including my kids’ nutrition.  So one technique doesn’t cut it.  Today I used money.

Do you pay your kids money for grades?  Do you pay your kids money for chores?  Do you pay your kids money for back rubs?  I do none of those.  Heck no!

But today I paid one child $2.50 to eat a bite of liver.  I tried to go lower, but it wasn’t happening.  The next child accepted $1.00.  The last child liked “the chicken,” needed no money, and asked for seconds.  (What?  Each child got a different amount?  You betcha’!)

Some favorite tools to get my kids to eat what I feel they need to eat:

1.  Small, small portions of undesired foods.  I’m talking one to two small bites here.  Over the years, they’ll get more accustomed to the sight and taste.  They’ll adapt.  They’ll eat it.  I cringe when I see parents shoveling heaps of veggies they know the kids won’t eat onto the plate. A painful experience for their child and dinner companions (me).  I hate that–watching the drama at the end of the plate when the kids wants to be excused to play.

2.  Feed them myself.  It started as a joke, but now it’s for real.  My oldest (now 10) was quite finicky and would not eat what I started serving two years ago when we underwent nutritional overhaul.   (“When are we going to get off of this STUPID diet?”)  I asked her if she wanted me to feed her, and she poutingly said “yes.”   So I sat right next to her and did the “airplanes are coming in” that you’d do with a two-year old.  We giggled and got most of the food down.  Two years later, when a meal is tough for the kids, I plop down next to them, sigh, and fly in the bombers.

3.  Minimizing snacks.  A great pediatrician I trained with always told sleepless mothers of 6 month old babies, “Physically, there is no reason this child can’t sleep through the night without nursing [or bottle].”  I figure if the liver has enough glycogen stores to get an infant through ten to twelve hours of sleep at night, it has enough to get a child through the three to four hours between meals.  Do we snack at my house?  Of course–but not too close to an upcoming meal and not as a substitute for a meal someone chose not to eat!  Also, I try to keep the snack well-placed and nutritionally beneficial (nuts, veggies, fruits).

4.  Sweet bribery.  If the kids want dessert, they eat their meal.  Period.  You know what?  Yes!  There have been times when a child watched their siblings eat their ice cream because dinner didn’t suit them.  Not often though, and if dinner sucked that bad for them, I usually will offer something that I think is nutritionally equivalent that doesn’t require me to cook.  Something like carrots or leftover meatloaf, and if they can get that down, I allow them to have their dessert.  But in our house, dessert often is all it takes to get the whole meal down.

5.  Money.  Today was a new one.  I have never offered money before, but I have been learning lots about fat soluble vitamins.  How we are deficient in them.  And great sources of them.  Liver just seems to be the tops.  I know many of you don’t like liver.  I don’t either much.  But I do like feeling and functioning well, not taking supplements, and not being wasteful.  A friend from a large family told me that her mother always made every kid eat liver once a week.  I thought if this mother of six could make all of her kids eat liver, so could I!!!!  Today I did.  I’m hoping the price comes down as the taste becomes more familiar.

6.  A little maple syrup.  Yesterday it was a drizzle of maple syrup over sautéed Brussels that got the youngest one to eat them.  Eventually, she’ll drop the need for maple syrup.  I used to have to have cheese over my broccoli as a kid or else there was no way on Earth I would eat it!  Once we were out of cheese, and I pitched a fit.  Poor Dad.  But the point is, I liked broccoli, and as a teenager and adult, I adjusted just fine to broccoli without cheese!

“This is not a diet.  It’s the way we eat now.”

Do what it takes to add in the nutritious food.  Keep working on minimizing food that has been enriched and “Botoxed”–like cereals, crackers, breads, bagels, muffins, juices, juice boxes, and boxed foods in general.  My oldest still whines and fusses.  Today I heard her say in the grocery store when she was looking at cereals and I shook my head no, “It’s MY body.”  But I will not give in.  As my husband says, “This is not a diet.  It is the way we eat now.”

I will not feel bad that when I don’t have time to make breakfast, my kids are eating fresh fruit.


Look On The Inside

Put The Label On The Front, Please

A friend and I joked the other day about how food labels should be on the FRONT of every package!  Show thyself, you traitor!  (The food that is, not my friend.)  Let’s look at a few labels.

Simply GoGurt  Healthy, right?  Used to always be in my cart two years ago!  I make yogurt with TWO ingredients:  milk and cultures.  That’s it.  If I want it thick, I sit it in a strainer with a coffee filter and let the liquid (whey) drip out.  If we want it sweet, the girls add maple syrup to taste.  If we want color, we add blueberries and strawberries.


Did you do an analysis?  What reasons did you come up with to leave this out of your cart and out of your kid’s mouth?

  • Sugar:  Kids get WAY too much sugar, especially in these hidden food products.
  • Preservative (Potassium Sorbate):  What are all these preservatives doing to the good, healthy bacteria that we absolutely have to have in our GI tracts?
  • Modified corn starch:  Why is there corn starch in yogurt?  You’d never figure out if the child had a corn sensitivity or dairy sensitivity if they ate this and you were unaware of the corn ingredient!
  • Gelatin:  Not inherently a bad thing.  It’s a thickener.  But why use gelatin and carrageenan to thicken?  Why thicken it at all?
  • Carrageenan:  This is extracted from seaweed and acts as a thickener and binder.  Health nuts will tell you it may cause cancer or colitis.  Bottom line here in GoGurt is it’s not needed.
  • Natural flavor:  Always an ambiguous term that can imply many things.  A gray cloud.
  • Vitamins:  You may or may not care.  But most vitamins are now produced in China.  I’m not too pleased with their track record on these things.
  • Tricalcium Phosphate:  Adds calcium and regulates acidity.  I don’t know enough to say any more.  But I do know it doesn’t have to be in there!

For you health-nuts (I do hope you know I’m laughing at myself when I type “health-nut”–as if I don’t belong in this category– I’m full, fair, square in the thick!), I’m sure you’re all over the fact that it’s not grass-fed dairy and it’s low fat dairy.  Good points, but we’re saving the world in medium-sized steps at a time here.  For this to work, it has to appeal to the masses.

Cereal  Once in elementary school I had an argument with my best friend on the bus about which was healthier, her breakfast of Life Cereal or my breakfast of Fruity Pebbles.  We made up over brownies at lunch.

Whole grains only is our goal here.  No sugar.  No preservatives.  Let’s check it out.



What did you come up with?

  • Sugar:  Ingredient number two!  Put it down.  If you want your kids to have sugar, save it for dessert.  Not breakfast.
  • Preservatives (BHT):  Your body needs the naturally occurring bacteria that live in our guts.  Preservatives have the job of stopping bacteria.
  • Colors (yellow 5 and yellow 6):  I can see NO good reason ever for colors to be added.  Color is added  because “all that glitters is gold.”  They want you to think it looks pretty.
  • Vitamins and minerals:  The original grains have been stripped SO badly of their vitamins and minerals during processing, that in order for this box of cereal to have ANY nutritional content (besides calories), the vitamins and minerals must be added back in artificially.

And the die-hards are saying they don’t touch grains with a ten-foot pole.  Another faction of die-hards are worried that it’s not organic and it’s not sprouted.

Garlic  The last one we’ll have time for today.  When I went gluten-free, dairy-free to fix my GI tract (and then I had to go A LOT further nutritionally), I didn’t realize the extent of ingredient mixing!  Wheat-protein here.  Dairy there.  Soy here.  I used this garlic as a short-cut in cooking.  This was an introduction to the philosophy of reading EVERY LABEL, EVERY TIME.



I know it’s hard to read so I’ll retype it:  organic garlic, organic canola oil, sodium lactate, whey (milk), sea salt, dextrose, glycerin, ascorbic acid to protect color and flavor, citric acid, calcium chloride, xantham gum.

What do you think?

  • Canola Oil:   Oil/fat choices are olive oil, coconut oil, tallow, lard, butter–to get us started (the topic does get a little–lot–deeper).  Canola oil makes me unhappy with my choice.  Briefly, canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oils, and other processed oils are high in a type of fat called omega-6.  Omega-6 is easy to come by in our diets and so we have exorbitant levels of it!  Omega-3s are not so easy to come by (seafood, certain nuts, pastured meats, plus a few other sources), and so we have a detrimental mismatch of omega-6 to omega-3.  This allows certain types of prostaglandins and cytokines to be formed which increase inflammation in our bodies (think allergies, eczema, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, headaches, etc).  There are also some processing concerns with canola oil.
  • Whey (milk):  Now if I was buying cheese, I’d be satisfied with this.  But what the heck are they doing putting whey in my garlic?  No wonder so many dairy-elimination trials, wheat-elimination trials, soy-elimination trials fail!!!!!  And two years ago I was clueless and missed this until I started label reading.  Every label.  Every time.
  • Dextrose:  A type of sugar.  So now I have sugar and milk in my garlic.  Again–put it down and walk away.
  • A bunch of hobbledy, gobbledy:  Xantham gum, citric acid, glycerin, calcium chloride, sodium lactate.  I don’t know what all that stuff is in my garlic for.  I kind of know what the stuff is, but I don’t have it in my kitchen.  My kids can’t pronounce the words.  Just a bunch of junk.

Look On The Inside

We teach our kids to look on the inside of people.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Appearances are deceiving.  If they’re mean to you, walk away.  You don’t need them.

Let’s teach them to look on the inside of food.  Beyond the box.  Beyond the commercial.  Beyond the “one-liners” on the front:  “All-Natural,” “Whole Grain,” “High in Fiber,” and “Organic.”  Read the ingredients together.  When they ask you why they can’t eat this or that when Suzy is, make some absolutes.  “We don’t eat food with added colors and preservatives.” OR  “We don’t eat food with sugar unless it’s dessert.”  I can’t tell you what is going to work, and although the health-nuts (yes, I’m included in here again) think THEIR diet plan is best, the truth is we just don’t know.  BUT I DO KNOW IT STARTS WITH REAL FOOD NOT PACKAGED FOOD.

Just like you need real friends, you need real food.  (Hey–before we get to know each other, can I see your ingredient list… 🙂 )


Paleo Wraps Just Got Better

We tried Paleo Wraps.

Hot Spots of Today’s Post

1. Paleo Inc, the makers of Paleo Wraps (a.k.a. My-Wrap-Is-Healthier-Than-Your-Wrap), stand behind their products.

2.  Paleo Wraps were discovered to be $6.99 at my sister’s local supermarket, much less expensive than the quoted Amazon price in my original review.

3.  Today’s post is a follow-up from Review From An Amazon Sucker:  Paleo Wraps.

My Blog Finally Fed Me

An excerpt from an e-mail that showed up early the next morning after the Paleo Wrap review posted:

Thanks for the nice review of our Paleo Wraps! After reading it though I became concerned when you mentioned the Paleo Wraps partially cracked. That is not suppose to happen and typically they are very soft and never break…We would also love to send a free replacement pack to you for any wraps that were like that…Please e-mail me back your address so we can send the replacement pack (s)…

Heath Squier/Owner

The e-mail further requested some packaging information, my home address–my height, weight, and eye color, along with my children’s ages and gender–and offered to send a replacement package to my home.  It appeared completely legitimate–but sure–Mr. Squier.  Sure you’re Mr. Squier.  I don’t know about giving my address out.  My husband said, “That might be a ‘Phisher.’  Are you sure it’s okay?  Don’t do it.”  He painted pictures of kidnappings and body bags in my head.

However, I kindly e-mailed back the information he requested minus the address and personal information (which he never asked for in the first place).  I called the company’s phone number printed on the package (which I had extracted from the yucky trash when I got the e-mail) a week later when my pregnancy nausea and headache allowed me off the couch, and the phone was answered by a real, live person!  She verified that Heath Squier was the owner and had indeed sent me that e-mail.

Within two days of that call, I had two more packages of Paleo Wraps.  No cracks.  Smooth and supple.  Super pliable.  Super pliable.  (That wasn’t a typo.)  Heath Squier was right; they shouldn’t crack.  My other wraps were good, even with the cracks.  These new wraps, I can see, are how they’re supposed to be.  I guess my ones from Amazon just weren’t quite right.

To further elevate my opinion of Paleo Wraps, my sister found them in her local supermarket for $6.99 a package.  That keeps them at about the $1.00 per wrap I was shooting for.

Forget Nutrient-less Bread

Lastly, due to pregnancy, I succumbed to buying tapioca-based bread (after two years without bread–go figure).  My kids just want to inhale it plain, at the expense of other well-needed nutrients.  The whole package in one day.  This is quite an amazing, interesting, fascinating phenomenon to watch.  How kids deprived of bread, any kind of bread, but not deprived of good, delicious food will still preferentially steer towards bread!  I’ll bet I’m not the only mom who has embarked on a whole/real foods journey who has observed this.  (You want some soup?  No, I ate some bread.  Want some stir-fry?  No, I ate some bread.  Want an orange?  Nah, I ate some bread.  Want some bread?  Yes!)

Because of my experience with Heath Squier, his company, and his excellent product, I will happily be sourcing Paleo Wraps for our home.  My kids enjoy them, I will be supporting a quality act, and I can stuff them with tons and tons of vegetables and nutrient-dense goodies (those wraps can handle it!).  May Paleo Inc be successful and blessed in their endeavors.  Seems like they deserve it!  (Now, if you’re reading this one Mr. Squier, could you come up with plantain wraps for people who don’t tolerate coconut?  There’s a niche for that.  Those poor people are out there…)

Food is like a drug.  With side effects particular to each person.  Take only those foods which benefit you and cause no harm.  Choose to leave the rest behind.  Eat whole, real foods.  Listen to your body.  Not the diet book. ~~Terri

Vodka On My Counter

Vodka for homemade vanilla

I keep a vodka bottle on the counter, right next to the wooden spoon and spatula holder.  Sip a little.  Stir a little.  Sip a little. Stir…

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

All you’ll need:  Vanilla Beans and Vodka.

Buy vanilla beans when you see them.  You can research all the fancy kinds of beans if you want and really belabor the process, I suppose.  I just spotted some once and snagged them up as an impetus to make myself get the job done.  My package contained about 6 beans (1 ounce) for about $6.  You need 6 beans for 1 cup of vanilla.  Twelve for two cups.  And so on.  You can find vanilla beans for less than this.  Just keep your eye out and snatch them up when you see them reasonably priced.  A fair price seems to be about $4-6 dollars an ounce.

Buy a bottle of vodka.  Vodka is usually used because it apparently has no flavor of its own to tamper with the vanilla flavor.  You can be fancy if you want, but I read that most of us won’t know the difference between vanilla made in cheap vodka or vanilla made in expensive vodka.  Look for potato or corn vodka if you react to low levels of gluten, although the distillation process should remove all traces of protein (Gluten-Free Vodka List).  And remember, it takes 6 beans (1 ounce) for 1 cup, 12 beans (2 ounces) for two cups, and so on.  So my bottle of vodka is about 3 cups (750 mL), and to make vanilla extract according to law, I would need about 18 beans (3 ounces).

Place beans in bottle of vodka.  On a cutting board, slit the beans lengthwise with a knife if you want.  Scrape up the insides if you want.  Chop them up into little pieces if you want.  Some people do not do anything except just drop them in!  Mine got slit in half and dropped in the bottle.  No chopping.  No scraping.  Do make sure your beans are completely submerged in alcohol to prevent mold; we don’t want “pure moldy bean vanilla.”  (Alternatively, you may transfer some vodka to a glass jar and make vanilla in a glass jar if you don’t have enough beans to do the whole bottle of vodka.)

Close bottle and shake well.  Store in a kitchen cupboard for about 6-8 weeks, shaking occasionally to mix up the flavors.  The longer it sits, the richer the flavor.  Some say up to 6 months.  I smelled mine every week or so.  It just smells so good!  I use it just like normal vanilla.  You can decant it if you want and put it in a cute bottle or something.  Right now, I have so much, I can just pour off the top without difficulty.  And leave it in the vodka bottle sitting on the counter within easy reach.

Cost:  McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract costs about two dollars an ounce.  My vanilla cost about a one dollar per ounce.

(Thank you to my second sister for being the force behind my bottle of vanilla.)

making vanillaClosing

I’ve kept the instructions basic.  If you are a die-hard perfectionist, you really should look up elsewhere all the finer details.  But my vanilla smells and tastes great!  (Sip a little.  Stir a little.)

Just a bit of encouragement to eat real food.  My husband knocked off 30 pounds AND his daily reflux (GERD) medicine.  My child eliminated dependence on Miralax.  All of my children got off of 2-3 prescription allergy medicines apiece.  Yes.  We did have to take out a lot of allergenic food initially, but now we have experimented a bit and see we can allow them to have treat meals or snacks without setbacks.  I am so proud of my family for sticking with me through this!  What we learned will have implications for them the rest of their lives.  What they learned at ages 10, 8, and 5, I had to learn in my fourth decade of life.

YOU, TOO, CAN DO THIS!  I wish you would.  (I’m talking real food here.  The vanilla is just a bonus idea.)

Identify the barriers and be a conqueror.