Essential Traditions/Real Food Real Frugal

The archives for the old Essential Traditions blog and the old Real Food Real Frugal Blog

Nourishing Chicken Foot Stock

I apologize up front for the pictures!  My good camera’s battery was dead and I had already started on the process of making the stock.  So, for now, I only have the crummy pictures from my iPhone and if a few are a bit blurry, keep in mind that some of them were taken by one of my kiddos 🙂  I’ve been making chicken stock for years now, both with a whole chicken and then a second and third batch with the carcass.  I use it for everything.  Rice and pasta taste absolutely wonderful when cooked in broth.  I’ve used it in mashed potatoes, Mexican rice cauliflower, and many other recipes.  Not to mention that I make soup with it and when we’re sick, we drink the stock by itself by the mug full.  It’s really good stuff!  But I’ve never made it with chicken feet, because I’ve never had any available to me.  A few weeks ago, I had a brilliant thought.  My friend Summer and her family have started selling soy-free, pastured raised chickens and eggs, their farm is called Mesquite Hill Farm (China Spring Texas–Waco Texas area).  So I asked her if she had any feet.  After looking at me like I was crazy for a minute, she said that, “No”, they didn’t have the process save the feet, but if I wanted them she would have him save them.  I told her “PLEASE DO!”  and promised to share some of the resulting broth with her to try.  We went over to get our whole chicken (the BEST I’ve ever had I have to say!) and also picked up about 4# of chicken feet.

This past Saturday, I started on my adventure of making homemade stock with chicken feet.  Having never made it before, I did a little research,(IE: googled it) and then went with a variation of my usual chicken stock.  Chicken stock is SO easy to make!  I usually start off with a whole chicken, covered with water and add a few veggies and allow to cook in the crockpot. When the chicken is done, I save the juice/stock and remove the meat from the bones of the carcass.  I use the meat in a variety of recipes and the bones/carcass go in the freezer.  We get a chicken a week that we cook like this.  I save the bones/carcasses in the freezer until I have 2 of them.  Then I’ll make my bone/carcass stock. With the feet though, I didn’t need to use the carcasses.  Instead, I used 2 pounds of chicken feet.

Thankfully, our chicken feet came to us with the yellow “skin” over the feet already peeled, so all I had to do was cut off the claws, which was an easy task (would have been easier if my husband would keep my kitchen knives sharper!).  I am required by real food law to show at least one photo of the chicken feet to help us modern folk get use to where our food really comes from!   We as a society are just too far removed from where our food comes from. Yes, they are a bit creepy looking, but food is food–and it’s a real blessing when that food is free or low cost.  I giggled over the responses I got from some people on my personal Facebook account when I posted pictures.  BUT LOVED that when I posted it on my Real Food Real Frugal Facebook account, everyone “got” it.

Chicken Feet before processing into stock

Processing chicken feet for the stock

Chicken feet waiting to be cooked

Chicken feet cooking…yummy stock coming soon!

Okay, now that the obligatory photos of the chicken feet are posted and I have done my part to bring America closer to where their food comes from….Now I will share the recipe!



Cauliflower Mexican Rice

There are just some things that I really do miss while on this grain free diet.  One of them is Mexican rice.  It’s my favorite part of going out to eat at a Mexican restaurant.  I just love the stuff.  So the other day, I decided to fix grain free enchiladas (I’ll post the recipe at another time, I still need to perfect) and I had a hankering for Mexican rice to go along with it.  Well I had heard about people making mock rice with cauliflower, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I have to say that my Cauliflower Mexican Rice turned out well and was a hit at dinner.  Everyone raved over it.  So, I’m happy to have another winning recipe and another way to replace a favorite grain dish with a grain free one!

[gmc_recipe 1014]


Chicken and Rice Soup

Normally, today, I would be posting my Thinner Me Monday post about how my diet is going. But instead, I am sick with some sort of stomach thing and just plain ol’ didn’t feel like it. I’ll continue the posts next week, but for now, I’m taking it easy. So instead, I decided to share one of my family’s favorite gotta-eat-when-sick soup,–Chicken and Rice soup. This is an really easy recipe and it’s one of those comfort foods we enjoy when we’re not feeling well. This is much more nutritious than the stuff you get in the can and it tastes better too!  My boys just love this soup on cold winter days. It’s nice and filling and served with sandwiches, makes a favorite lunch.

I use my nourishing chicken bone stock in this recipe, along with fresh vegetables and the meat from a pastured chicken that we get from my friend, Summer, over at Mesquite Hill Farm over in China Spring Texas. I love their chicken and eggs because not only are they pastured but they are soy free as well!  Later I think one of the most important things you can do for your health and diet is to KNOW WHERE your food comes from.  I know that is not always possible, but getting to know the people who produce your food can lead to some really wonderful friendships and can save you money as well.  Shopping directly from the farm allows you to get the best prices on fresh produce and even special prices when they have an abundance of an item.   This week, I will also be sharing my recipe for the nourishing chicken stock, as I’ll be making a batch.

Anyway, on to the Chicken & Rice Soup recipe!
[gmc_recipe 990]


Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese

My boys love macaroni and cheese so I have been on a quest for yummy, homemade, gluten-free Mac & Cheese. I grew up on those boxed mac & cheese mixes with the powdered cheese and later on the ones with the pouch of Velveeta cheese. My Mom has a special homemade bake macaroni and cheese recipe, but it was usually only served at holidays (It’s yummy though!). I think most kids love mac & cheese, I know my boys do…even my pickiest eater, Riley. I created this recipe because I wanted something healthier for my kids, yet wasn’t too complicated. It does take more time than the box, but the cheese sauce is so much healthier than the powdered stuff that I’m more than happy to spend an extra few minutes at the stove.

I have yet to find a source for grain-free macaroni.  I’ve found some grain-free pasta, but it was all stuff like spaghetti and other long thin pastas–no macaroni.  So, the best I could figure out to do was to go with a gluten-free pasta, such as rice, quinoa, or gluten-free.  At least I could go wheat/gluten-free.  Seriously…someone needs to create some grain-free macaroni—there is a market for it!  Everyone loves mac & cheese and many families no longer eat it due to the lack of options for the pasta.  Gluten-free pasta in any form (rice, quinoa or gluten free) is not cheap, you’re looking at at least $4.00 for 14-16 ounces.  Then when you add in the cost of the other ingredients, well healthy, gluten-free Mac & Cheese could no longer be considered a “cheap” lunch.  But kids (and adults) all over the U.S. crave this yummy comfort food, so sometimes you just have to spurge and even considering the cost, it’s still much cheaper than many other real food based meals.

Over the years, we’ve played around with this recipe a lot. So, we’ve created several variations which change it up and can also make it more like a full meal. Mac & cheese makes a great start for a meal, just add your choice of meat and veggies and you can make it go from a side dish to a full fledged main dish casserole. I’ve added so many different things to this recipe and nearly every one was a big hit with the family.

Some additions to make this a full meal or change it up a bit.

Add ¼ cup salsa
Add 1 cup tuna and ½ cup green peas
Add 1 cup shredded chicken and ¼ cup salsa
Add 1 cup chopped broccoli
Add 1 cup diced ham and 1 cup chopped broccoli
Add 1 cup left over taco meat and 1/4 cup salsa

[gmc_recipe 953]


Breakfast Fruit Salad

This recipe for Breakfast Fruit Salad is so easy.  I really does make a great breakfast and even lunch–especially on those sweltering hot summer days here in Texas.  Okay, it’s the middle of February and I’m only DREAMING of those summer days, as it’s gotten cold here, (well cold for Texas!).  This is a breakfast that my kids really enjoy, it’s sweet and crunchy, which makes it a good substitute for the crunchy breakfast cereal we are no longer eating while on the grain free diet.  The yogurt dressing really makes this salad so yummy!  You can add other fruit and nuts to the mix.  In the past, I’ve added walnuts (which I’ve discovered I have an allergy to) and pecans.  I’ve also added strawberries instead of the grapes.  To make it sort of like a Waldorf salad, you can even add a bit of celery.  The recipe is versatile, and I haven’t found a combination that didn’t work alright.  But it’s a healthy substitute to more processed breakfast foods.  It can also be pretty frugal depending on the fruit you use and if you use seasonal fruits on sale.  The yogurt dressing is simple and healthy.  Purchasing plain yogurt and flavoring it yourself, if MUCH more healthy than purchasing the stuff already flavored, which is full of high fructose corn syrup and other not so good for you things.  Not to mention that it really is easy!  Which reminds me, I think I’ll do a post about making homemade flavored yogurt this week!  In the meantime, enjoy this recipe!

[gmc_recipe 918]


Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed cauliflower to replace mashed potatoes? Whoda thunk it! As I’ve mentioned before, we are changing our diet for the better and one of those changes is to cut out starchy vegetables. This one is going to be a REALLY hard change for us because we’re a potato eating family. One of my family’s favorite dishes is my potato bar mashed potatoes which are really rich an delicious. So, I needed to find a substitute that my family would enjoy eating as well. While this recipe isn’t near as rich at my potato bar mashed potatoes they made a really good replacement. I will still play around more with the recipe and see if I can get it closer to the original. My kids call this mock taters and I was really encouraged by HOW good they were. The consistency was very similar to mashed potatoes and since there was absolutely none left after dinner and the boys were fighting over seconds, I’d have to say Mashed Cauliflower was a hit.

[gmc_recipe 788]


Nourishing Crockpot Rice

Nourishing crockpot rice is an easy way to cook rice.  I am forever burning rice. I hate cooking it…I really always burn it. It is so sad to admit that, but there it is. I burn rice…period. So I kind of got this idea to try cooking it in the crockpot, because I never burn anything in there. I figured I’d give it a try and the most I’d lose was two pounds of rice. So I got busy and am happy to report that it turned out fantastic!! Here’s what I did–remember, I cook the Nourishing Traditions way, so keep that in mind!

I now LOVE making rice.  While it’s not something currently on our diet (remember, we’ve gone 100% grain free for the next 4 weeks).  When we start allowing some gluten free grains back into our diet, rice will be one of them.  Even when we add it back, it will still be only an occasional indulgence. But rice is an easy and great budget stretching basic and cooking it in the crockpot makes it even easier.  I was just so easy and I DIDN’T BURN IT…LOL!

[gmc_recipe 754]


Jalapeno Sweet Potato Soup

It’s getting that time of year here in Texas where things are finally starting to cool off and I start craving soup! It’s also the time of year when sweet potatoes are in abundance and can be found at really great prices. But as I’ve stated before if my recipe for Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes, I REALLY am not a big fan of sweet potatoes.  There are really only a handful of sweet potato recipes that I like.  This recipe for Jalapeno Sweet Potato Soup is actually one of my favorite ways to each sweet potatoes.  This soup is a real favorite around here! It’s creamy, sweet and smokey with just a hint of hotness.

I first discovered this recipe at a local deli and just fell in love with it.  I was lucky enough to be able to get the recipe and have updated it to adjust it to my family’s likes and to make it a bit more healthy.  Now for people who think this is an odd combination, don’t let that stop you from trying it. It is delicious!  It’s not too spicy and the “hotness” can always be adjusted by using less jalapenos or even by using the type of jalapenos that aren’t hot.  Enjoy it, it’s a favorite around here!

[gmc_recipe 680]

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Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes

I have a real love/hate relationship with sweet potatoes.  Especially the sort of sweet potatoes I grew up being served each year for the holidays.  You know the kind–super sweet and covered with marshmallows.  Those things use to totally gross me out.  My grandmother use to make them every year and she had a rule that kids had to eat everything on your plate–period.  Every year, I had to gag those things down that even as an adult, I could not tolerate even the though of eating anything with sweet potatoes in it.  I would literally become sick at the thought.  About 12 years ago, someone talked me into trying a sweet potato french fry and I FINALLY found a sweet potato I could tolerate.

Well for the last 3 years, I’ve been asked to bring the sweet potatoes to our family Thanksgiving pot-luck.  As I have such an aversion to sweet potatoes and they were expecting something more traditional than sweet potato french fries, I had to start experimenting.  The first year, I took mashed sweet potatoes and ended up bringing home over 3/4ths of them.  They were, as my son would say–an epic failure.  So last year, I decided I would try something different.  I started off experimenting with recipes and trying them out my fellas–never expecting that I’d figure out a recipe that would finally allow me to enjoy eating sweet potatoes prepared in any other way than as french fries.  But I did!  I can’t believe it, but this is the recipe that has finally allowed me to stomach eating sweet potatoes prepared in a more traditional way.  Yay!!

[gmc_recipe 618]

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Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut

I love making lacto-fermented sauerkraut! It’s really easy and so tasty. Not to mention that it’s frugal…really frugal. Compared to purchasing even the store brand, making your own, homemade is cheaper. Also, homemade is healthier! It’s hard to find raw lacto-fermented sauerkraut in the store. What you usually find is just the kind that’s soured using vinegar that has been canned. This kind of sauerkraut doesn’t have all of those great bacteria that gives lacto-fermented sauerkraut it’s great tangy taste and increases the vitamin content of the sauerkraut.

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

I use this gallon sized kraut making jar from Cultures for Health I just LOVE this jar for many reasons.The main reason, it’s very reasonably price. It’s also SO easy to use and since starting to use it, I haven’t had any mold pop up on my sauerkraut. So far it’s made yummy sauerkraut everytime!

The recipe I used is one that I made up using several different recipes and made it according to how my family likes their sauerkraut. .

Grate the cabbage and carrots as fine as possible (I used a hand cheese grater) but a food processor would make this job a lot quicker and less hard on your fingers.

Mix 3 tbsp. Real salt into the cabbage and carrots.



Add the caraway, celery and dill seeds.

Toss all the ingredients together and then start to pack into the jar, smashing and compressing it as you go.


I use a wooden cocktail muddler to smash it down.

If the cabbage is fresh, no water will need to be added, it will make it’s own brine. If not add spring water as you go, just enough to keep the cabbage covered. Do not leave any air spaces in the cabbage.

“Now take the one gallon size zip lock type bag and put this into the jar, opening the bag up and reaching your hand inside the bag to push it to the edges of the jar. Now fill the bag about half full of water. Using your hand push and make sure the bag is tightly packed around the inside edge of the jar. The water provides the weight to press the cabbage down and keep it down and the bag helps to ensure an oxygen-less environment for the cabbage to ferment.Fermentation can only take place in the absence of oxygen. So it is important for the bag to seal all the way to the edges and for the water weight to keep the cabbage under the layer of liquid.”

The Family Homestead, “Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Screw the large cap on the jar. A small amount of water should come out of the grommet hole and if not take the cap off and refill with water until it does. The object is not to have any air n the jar. Fill the air lock with pure water to the line on the outside cylinder. Put the cap on the airlock. Push the airlock into the cap Grommet until the tapered end is flush with the top of the grommet. Set the whole jar in a bowl or a tray to capture brine that may come out.. Let it sit for 4 days at a temperature of between 60-70 degrees. After 4 days, remove the airlock and replace it with the small black plug to seal the jar for refrigeration. Contents should last for months in the refrigerator.

Everything all in the crock and sitting on our wood stove in the living room to ferment for 4 days.

Isn’t it pretty! And I can tell you, this stuff is yummy! My husband loves it!

[gmc_recipe 408]

Linking With: Titus 2sday, Making a Home, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tackle it Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Living Green Tuesday, Thankful Homemaker, Tasty Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy, Works for Me Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Homemaking Link-Up, Encourage One Another, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Wise Woman Wednesday, Healthy 2Day Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Natural Living Link-Up, Ultimate Recipe Swap