Category Archives: processed replacements

Are There Dangerous Toxins in Your Medicine Cabinet?

medications-cure-tablets-pharmacy-56612-largeThis post is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family

Acetominophen: aka Tylenol, Little Fevers Pain Reliever, or non-aspirin pain reliever/fever reducer, or other brand names or generic.

It’s a common item in medicine cabinets and purses of lots and lots of moms. We take it ourselves for headaches and cramps. We give it to our kids for fevers. The pediatricians hand out free samples every time we visit their offices.

It is often the drug of choice all around the country.

But are we too trusting when we use it?

It turns out that maybe we do need to step back and ask a few questions before deciding to keep it in our medicine chests and here’s why:

Using acetaminophen for fever in the first year of life is associated with an increase in the incidence of asthma and other allergic symptoms later in childhood.

This is because acetaminophen severely depletes antioxidants such as glutathione in the liver and other body tissues. Glutathione is used for growth, tissue repair and immune system building.

Asthma is one of many diseases influenced greatly by antioxidants. Acetaminophen is definitely not something to use if you already have asthma.

A new study just released showed acetaminophen is definitely linked with behavior issues. Women who took acetominophin during pregnancy were 29-46% more likely to have children with a wide range of behavior problems by age 7 than moms who did not take it.

Dr. Mercola calls acetaminophen one of the most dangerous medicines on the market. Even when taken at the recommended dosage for just a few weeks it can be toxic to your liver. In fact, acetaminophen is responsible for nearly half of all cases of acute liver failure each year.

What can we do to protect ourselves and our families?

It’s super important to become knowledgeable and informed about the medications we use. The Medicine Chest Renovation e-book from Vintage Remedies is a quick-start guide to help you decide what to keep and what to toss out.

Taking courses or reading books on safe alternatives to OTC drugs is a great family project. Older children and teens can learn right alongside mom about which herbs to use for which conditions, and how to make tinctures and salves and syrups at home to stock your own medicine cabinet.

Try this recipe for elderberry syrup to keep on hand for cold and flu season.

Elderberry syrup is an effective cold and flu fighter. Elderberries and elder flowers are safe for all ages with no known contraindications. You can make it yourself with this recipe reprinted from The Handbook of Vintage Remedies. At that book link there is also an alternative recipe that adds astragalus, echinacea and wild cherry to the elderberries.


Elderberry Syrup

100 g dried elderberries
1 quart cold distilled water
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup local honey

Combine berries and water in a large (cold) saucepot. If time permits, allow the berries to soak until they are soft, about 30 – 60 minutes. Place over medium heat and gradually bring to a boil. Once a rolling boil has been reached, stir frequently and continue to boil until the liquid has been reduced by half – roughly 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Strain the concentrated extract and measure the liquid. It should be roughly 2 cups. Combine with the cup and a half of honey, brown rice syrup, glycerin or simple sugar solution. (Or a blend of two or more sweeteners as I did in the ingredient list above.) Bring back to a boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes until the mixture is thoroughly combined and the syrup reaches your preferred consistency. Allow to cool slightly and pour into prepared bottles. Store in the refrigerator.

What is your favorite natural remedy? Share it with us here in the comments!

Cajun Catfish and Homemade Cajun Seasoning

Cajun-Seasoning-and-Catfish-Traditional-Cooking-School-GNOWFGLINS-main2-jpgThis post is one of my regular blogs for Traditional Cooking School:

The Acadians began as French settlers of a region called Acadia — in eastern Canada and northern Maine — but they eventually traveled down the Mississippi River in the 1750s to escape difficult British rule. Near the end of that long river, the Spanish finally welcomed them in what would become Louisiana.

The Acadians settled down and got cooking, developing some of the tastiest food anywhere. Étoufée, boiled crawfish,  gumbo filé, and fried catfish became trademark dishes for these folk, whose name was soon shortened to just Cajuns.

Cajun food focuses on local ingredients found in the bayous and river delta, and (unsurprisingly) their menus feature fish and seafood quite often. In addition to the traditional French mirepoix (diced onion, carrot and celery), the Cajuns like to add garlic, cayenne pepper, and plenty of black pepper to make zesty, full flavors.

Although their basic seasoning combination is…. (You can read the rest here)

Leave me a comment here or at Traditional Cooking School and let me know your favorite way to eat catfish!

Thai Chicken and Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized. Thank you for supporting Well Fed Family with your purchases.

thai chicken noodles spicy peanut titles 800Maybe it was because we went to a Chinese New Year parade last weekend. Or maybe because it’s getting closer to Lads to Leaders convention time when we always go out for Asian food and I’m thinking about that. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been craving spicy stir fries with cashews and peanuts. Plus my daughter loves the combination of sriracha sauce and lime. So it seemed like the right thing to do – make a big pan full of chicken and noodles with spicy peanut sauce.

There are so many delicious restaurant-style meals you can make yourself at home. Chinese and Thai food can seem intimidating, but make it once and you’ll see how it all comes together. Soon you’ll be trying all sorts of favorite take-out foods. And making it yourself means you can use better quality ingredients, no MSG, and still save money over buying it already prepared.

Mix up the sauce first so it will be all ready at the end. Get all of the vegetables, garnishes and meat chopped up and set out on plates or a cutting board. Bring the pasta water to a boil and then when you put the pasta into the water you can start cooking the chicken. That way everything will be ready at about the same time.  The secret to success with Asian style stir fries is to be prepared before you start cooking. Once it gets going there is no time to stop and chop something.

 Chicken and Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce


1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter

3 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

2 Tablespoon rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted

1 Tablespoon grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon sriracha

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

zest and juice of one lime

The rest of the dish

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

1-2 Tablespoons lard or coconut oil for frying

8 oz linguine, or gluten-free linguine or zucchini noodles

4 green onions, sliced including green part

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 medium bell pepper, julienned

1 medium carrot, julienned

1 lb boneless chicken thighs

1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts

1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped for serving


Prepare the sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients, peanut butter through lime zest and juice, in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir until the peanut butter melts and everything combines into a somewhat thick sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

Toast the sesame seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over low heat. Shake or stir the seeds until they begin to heat and become fragrant. As soon as they begin to slightly change color remove them from the heat and set aside.

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Have all of the vegetables prepared. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Heat the coconut oil or lard in a large heavy-bottom skillet or wok. Add the chicken and stir fry over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is browned on the outside and nearly done on the inside. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the bell pepper, cabbage and carrot to the pan and stir fry 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Add the green onions to the pan and continue to stir fry for another minute. Return the chicken to the pan and toss with the vegetables. When the pasta is done, drain it well and then add the drained pasta to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Pour the sauce over everything, sprinkle in the toasted sesame seeds and toss well to combine. Remove everything to a large serving platter and garnish with the chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro.

Thai Chicken and Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Cuisine: Asian
Spicy sriracha, tangy lime, creamy peanut butter and crunchy nuts combine in a fusion of flavor.
  • For the sauce
  • ¼ cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • The Remaining Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 8 oz. linguine, or gluten-free linguine or zucchini noodles
  • 4 green onions sliced, including the green part
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 medium bell pepper, julienne sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, julienne sliced
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs
  • For the garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  1. Prepare the sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients, peanut butter through zest and juice of the lime, in a small saucepan over very low heat.
  2. Stir until the peanut butter melts and everything combines into a somewhat thick sauce.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Toast the sesame seeds by placing them in a dry skillet over low heat.
  5. Shake or stir the seeds until they begin to heat and become fragrant.
  6. As soon as they begin to slightly change color remove them from the heat and set aside.
  7. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
  8. Have all of the vegetables prepared.
  9. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  10. Heat the coconut oil or lard in a large heavy-bottom skillet or wok.
  11. Add the chicken and stir fry over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is browned on the outside and nearly done on the inside.
  12. Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm.
  13. Ad the bell pepper, cabbage and carrot to the pan and stir fry 2 minutes or until crisp tender.
  14. Add the green onion and continue to stir fry for another minute.
  15. Return the chicken to the pan and toss with the vegetables.
  16. Pour the sauce over everything, sprinkle in the toasted sesame seeds and toss well to combine
  17. Remove everything to a large serving platter and garnish with the chopped peanuts and chopped cilantro.

 spicy peanut noodles watermarkWhat are your favorite take-out meals to make at home? Tell us about it in the comments. Be sure to pin this recipe for later.

The High Cost of the Value Meal

value meal titles

A few weeks ago I shared the picture below on the Well Fed Family Facebook page. It received a lot of comments ranging from those who were disgusted to those who really wanted to know how it was possible to eat well when you didn’t have a lot of money.

too poor to be healthyWhen I mentioned that I had once blogged about how if someone was willing to just cook for themselves they could eat organic potatoes and grassfed beef burgers for less than the price of a fast food meal. Several people asked if I’d repost the article. So here it is, updated with current prices and including some recipes. I’m also going to post more budget-friendly recipes here on Well Fed Family that are healthier and cheaper than eating off the $1 Menu.

The High Cost of the Value Meal

It’s been 10 years since filmmaker Morgan Spurlock released his documentary Super Size Me where he eats 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, exclusively from McDonald’s. It’s doubtful anyone really thinks they are getting a healthy meal this way, however we still choose it all too often, eyes wide open to the detriment to our health and our children’s health. Why? Because often we perceive these foods to be inexpensive, a good value for the money and time spent. Some go so far as to say they cannot afford any other kind of food; that they are victims of the food industry. I’m here to show you nothing could be further from the truth.

Is a value meal really as cheap as it seems?

Let’s look at two common meals from two familiar fast food chains. Then we’ll compare costs with what we’d spend if we prepared these meals at home. I’m using restaurant prices from Fast Food Prices and grocery prices from my own personal grocery receipts from stores here in the metro-Orlando area where I live.


chickfila 1Meal 1:
Chick-fila original 8 count nuggets plus waffle fries and a sweet tea:
Items purchased individually total $6.59, purchased as a meal combo $5.95

The Chick-fila chicken nuggets are a favorite with most of the little kids I know. It’s the same chicken recipe as the original chicken sandwich, but cut into finger food sized pieces. Reading the actual ingredients might shock a few playgroup moms to discover they are seasoned with mostly MSG (monosodium glutamate – a known neurotoxin ) and sugar plus over 15 other ingredients. By the way, if you order the sandwich instead of the nuggets you might want to know there’s no actual butter on the “buttered bun” and the pickle chips contain 9 more ingredients in addition to cucumbers including two chemical preservatives and two petroleum-based artificial colors.

The waffle fries are made with potatoes but also include GMO canola oil, TBHQ, anti-foaming agents plus a little dextrose (sugar) and some color enhancers. All total it looks like about 8 ingredients not counting the salt.

Thankfully the sweet tea is simply water, sugar and tea. whew!

Cost breakdown for Chick-fila meal:
4oz of chicken nuggets for $3.25 is $13/lb.
4 oz of waffle fries for $1.65 is $6.60/lb.
15 oz of sweet tea for $1.69 is $14.36 per gallon

Mcdonalds 1Meal 2:
McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, medium fry, medium soft drink:
Items purchased individually total $7.17 or purchased as a combo meal $6.39

The Quarter Pounder with cheese is a McDonald’s staple. I have to say the burger itself isn’t bad – 100% beef, salt and black pepper. The bun, however, has the usual suspects in any factory-produced bread, things like GMO soybean oil, yoga mats, and several other chemical conditioners and preservatives. The burger toppings add more chemical preservatives, plus a hearty serving of high fructose GMO corn syrup in the ketchup.

The fries are worse here than at Chick-fila with three kinds of GMO industrially processed oils including trans-fat filled hydrogenated soybean oil, plus the usual chemical preservatives and anti-foaming agents. Interestingly these fries are vegetarian, but they contain “natural beef flavor” made from hydrolyzed wheat (a hidden source of msg) and milk.

trivia mcdonalds fries

As for soft drink ingredients… Do I really need to tell you what’s in these? Do yourself a favor and just order water.

Cost breakdown for the McDonald’s meal:
Quarter pounder with cheese is $3.89 which is $15.56/lb
4oz fry is $1.79 or $7.16/lb
21oz soft drink is $1.49 or $9.07/gallon

Here’s the “I told you so” part:

Making chicken nuggets or hamburgers isn’t rocket science. If you can follow the directions on a box of Easy Mac, you have the cooking skills to make these things at home.

Easy Nuggets or Chicken filet:
Cut your boneless/skinless chicken breast into whatever size/shape you want, stick it in a ziplock bag along with ½ cup flour, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp black pepper and shake it up. Fry the chicken in a skillet over medium-high heat with some melted butter until it’s brown all over and done on the inside – about 8-10 minutes per side. Voila! Chicken nuggets!

Fries are super easy as well if you make them in the oven. Use one large potato for each person being served. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 8-12 wedges. Toss with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 475 degrees in a cast iron skillet for best browning and crunch, or just use any baking pan or stoneware pan. It takes about 20-30 minutes. If you want to kick up the flavor of your fries then crush a clove of garlic into a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the fries come out of the oven drizzle this garlic oil over the hot fries with a little more salt. Wow!

Sweet tea: Bring 1 quart of filtered water to a boil. Add two teabags and allow to steep for ten minutes. Sweeten to taste and serve over ice.

Hamburgers: Use 1 pound of ground chuck to make four burgers. Each burger will be ¼ pound pre-cooked weight. Mix 1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 tsp of black pepper into a pound of ground chuck. (preferably grassfed or antibiotic-free) weigh out ¼ lb of the ground beef mixture and use your hands to shape it into a pattie. My mom likes to use the plastic lid from a quart yogurt container to help make the right size and shape to fit a bun. Grill or pan fry on medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side until done to your liking.

Make your own buns with just flour, water, egg and yeast following this recipe from King Arthur Flour.

Soft drinks: like I said earlier, don’t even go there. Drink water. Learn to make kombucha or water kefir. Make your own lemonade if you want.

Ok, so what’s the bottom line on our homemade chicken sandwich meal?

Conventional boneless/skinless chicken breast is $5.49/lb. I like to buy the non-GMO verified/antibiotic-free chicken which is about $7/lb for breast meat or $5.50/lb for thighs (which I think taste better.) However if you have a little skill with a knife you can buy bone-in chicken and remove the bones yourself. This saves you money and gives you the side benefit of having bones leftover to make homemade broth (instead of buying those expensive cans of broth – more money saving!) Boning your own chicken saves you another $2-$3 per pound.

Organic russet potatoes are $1.79/lb
Tea bags are about $4 for 100.

Cost breakdown for homemade chicken nugget meal for one serving:

$1.75 for chicken meat
.45 for potatoes
.08 for teabags
$2.24 is the grand total.

This leaves you between $4-$6 less than the purchase price at the fast food restaurant. This leaves plenty of change with which to buy the extra ingredients to make it from scratch and still have some leftover money to put in the savings account. (You only use a fraction of the flour, salt or olive oil so the per-serving amount cost from those ingredients is still very small.)

Bottom line on the Quarter Pounder meal?
Grassfed beef prices are high, but going down as the demand for this healthy meat increases. Right now I can get it for $7/lb from my grocery store. (I also have access to bulk beef and can get ¼ of a whole cow for about $6/lb. meaning steaks, roasts and ground beef are all the same price. This doesn’t have bearing for this argument unless you have a deep freeze, but the fact remains that you can get good prices on this kind of high quality meat if you know how.) Regular feedlot grocery store ground beef costs even less, and is still better for you than meats processed with nitrites, msg or preservatives. I’m sticking with grassfed beef because it proves my point just fine for this argument. This means our quarter pound burger is about $1.75.

Cheese: if you own a knife you can make your own cheese slices. Buying pre-sliced cheese is a waste of money and usually you can get much higher quality cheese if you buy it in a chunk. A good grocery store brand is Cabot. 8oz for about $3 means .38cents for a 1oz slice. (btw you can get Cabot for about half that price if you have a Sam’s or Costco membership. The big warehouse membership stores often have high quality cheese, even raw cheese, for very reasonable prices.)

Soda – remember, we aren’t drinking this, but for comparison’s sake you can purchase a 2 liter of soda for $2 or less. 2 liters = roughly 64 oz. That’s about 3 cents per ounce making your grocery store soda roughly 48 cents per 16oz glass.

Cost breakdown for the hamburger meal for one serving:

burger 1.75
cheese .38
soda .48
fries .45
$3.06 is the grand total.

Making it at home saves you between $3-$4, that’s plenty of cash leftover to more than supply funds for pickles and ketchup.

Feeding a Family of four?
Using the prices on our example meals you would spend $25.56 for McDonald’s or $23.80 for Chick-fila. Food for thought – feeding a family of four from Chipotle is $26.60 even if you ordered the most expensive thing on the menu for everyone, but it is quite a bit healthier with all of the vegetables, beans and quality meat choices. Feeding this family homemade organic/antibiotic-free versions of the fast food meals would cost between $8.96-$12.24. Now tell me you don’t have enough money to eat healthy.

determination to eat well quoteSave even more money by preparing Taco Stew, Rosemary Garlic Grilled Chicken, Cheesey Parmesan Fish, or Creamy Turkey and Brown Rice Soup for your family.

Here at Well Fed Family we post recipes all the time. Frequently they are very budget friendly, because that’s how we eat in our own homes, too! Subscribe to our newsletter (use the link at the upper right of this page) and we’ll send you more recipes and tips for healthy living each month, plus you get a bonus free e-book on how to make your own homemade ice cream! Follow us on Facebook or Pinterest for even more recipes and ideas.

This blog is for informational purposes. Some links may be monetized. Thanks for supporting Well Fed Family!


Homemade Grilled Pizza

I am grateful to have the opportunity to do some writing for the wonderful GNOWFGLINS blog! This blog post is my first assignment with Wardeh and her talented team. Please stop by over there and read the post in its entirety and then please leave me a comment!

“On any given day roughly 25% of Americans are eating pizza. That’s a sizable chunk of calories for a single food category. According to one food blogger’s investigation, the ingredient lists of nearly every major pizza chain contain enough chemicals to stock a chemistry lab. Thankfully making pizza at home from scratch is easy and it’s something the whole family can do together. It’s especially fun to use your grill! You’ll not only love the amazing brick oven-crispy-chewy, full-flavored pizza, you’ll also appreciate not heating the kitchen up to 500 degrees in the summer. With these techniques, your grill, and my special Italian pizza dough and sauce recipes (some of which I learned while in Italy) you and your family will be transported across the sea to Naples, the birthplace of pizza.”    read more…..

homemade grilled pizza

homemade grilled pizza

This blog is for informational purposes only. Some links may be monetized.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, seven layer dip, and lots more yummy recipes call for taco seasoning. Too bad most of the little packets of taco seasoning have yucky stuff in them. Seriously, who puts maltodextrin in stuff on purpose? It’s a filler starch made from GMO corn, and unfortunately it’s a main ingredient in the store stuff, along with neurotoxins like MSG and autolyzed extracts.  If you’re ready to try your hand at making homemade versions of packaged foods, then taco seasoning is a good place to start.

IMG_2711Taco seasoning should simply be a mixture of common herbs and spices – you probably have most of them already in your cupboard. I have a favorite “secret” ingredient I love to add – chipotle chili powder is my favorite because it contributes a smoky flavor and a pleasant heat. Chipotle chilis are made by smoking and drying jalapenos.  I really like the Frontier Chipotle Powder a lot, but if you can’t find it I’ve seen other brands at the grocery.

Make up a batch of this taco seasoning and use it this weekend to make tacos for Cinco de Mayo. If you double or even triple this seasoning recipe you’ll have plenty left over for later. Store it in a glass lidded jar.  Use 2-3 tablespoons for each pound of ground beef in your recipes. taco seasoning 3

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Recipe type: seasoning
Cuisine: Mexican
Ditch the packets of questionable ingredients and make your own delicious taco seasoning from scratch. You control the heat by how much of the spicy ingredients you use.
  • 1 Tblsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ - ½ tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • ½ - 1 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and store the seasoning in a lidded glass jar.
  2. Use 2 Tblsp per pound of ground beef.
  3. Use more if you like things spicier.

Don’t stop with taco seasoning. Try making your own salsa with our recipe here. And see how easy it is to make homemade guacamole; just watch our video here.

Some links may be monetized. This blog is for informational purposes only.