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31 Days of Real Food

31 Days of Real Food Series

On August 26th, I made a big decision. I decided that I’m done with wishing I could go back and change things that I can’t go back and change. Instead, I’m going to change it now, so that I won’t still be wishing a year from now.

I decided to start with something that would have a big impact for my health and that of my family–our eating habits. I’ve shared a bit about this before, but I have struggled with my weight for years. In addition to that, I struggle with chronic fatigue, migraines, joint pain, back pain, vertigo, and many other health problems. Many of these problems have been shown to be improved with a better diet. My family also has some things going on that could potentially be improved with diet.

My plan was simple: eat real food. 

The implementation, however, was a bit more complicated. 

Making the switch to real food was difficult for me (still is some days!), because of food addiction, and the emotional hold food had over me.

However, it was also difficult on a practical level. Logistically, it’s harder to eat real food.  To be honest, it felt a bit overwhelming at times, which is why I wanted to write this series to help inform and encourage anyone else who has a desire to begin your own real food journey, for yourself or your family. 

When I was getting started, I wanted a sort of how-to guide. I found a lot of great info and some great websites and blogs. I spent a lot of time searching, reading, and sifting through information and tips. However, I didn’t really find a resource that answered all my questions in one place.

Because of this, I have designed this series to answer these questions and more:

  • What is “real food” and why does it matter?
  • What should I expect?
  • How can I make the journey easier?
  • What should I do before I get started?
  • What can I eat?
  • What are the worst offenders that I should stay away from?
  • How will this affect my budget?
  • Are there any storebought foods that I can still buy?
  • What staples should I keep on hand?

I hope you’ll follow along over the next 31 days for these topics and more. Along the way, I will also be sharing tips, giveaways, resources, recipes, meal plans, and more!

In full disclosure, I’m still at the beginning of the journey myself. I’d love for you to join me. It is my prayer and hope that this will be a permanent lifestyle change.

All the posts in this series

I will try and add the posts to this list as they are completed. There probably won’t be quite 31 because I’m not blogging on the weekends.


Quick & Easy Delicious Chili

Delicious Chili Recipe

Confession–I’m not so great at chili making.

I tend to avoid recipes for it because I’m so picky. So, I end up just throwing things together. It always turns out just fine, but it’s a “stressful” thing for me to make because I never write it down or use a recipe, so every time is like a surprise. I like surprises just fine sometimes, but not when it comes to my food. For my food, I prefer steady and dependable.

And when you just throw things together, that’s not always what you get. Every batch of chili I make tastes just a bit different than the one before, and some are better than others. The problem is that I can’t recreate even the good ones because I don’t really measure or write things down.

So, when I had some extra tomatoes earlier this year, and saw a bag of Mrs. Wages Chili Base sitting on the shelf at the local Amish store, I decided to take a chance.

I canned several jars of chili base, and we just recently had a chance to try it out. September is still pretty hot in Kentucky, but we have just had a small taste of fall and I am loving it!

This mix made it easy to create a good, consistent chili and the whole family loved it.

I am in KY. Where all sorts of different things just kind of converge. I’m right in the middle of the people who have spaghetti in their chili, and the people who don’t. I personally don’t like spaghetti in my chili, because I always grew up with macaroni noodles in it and that’s what I prefer. Yes, I know that noodles are noodles, but it’s different!

Prep Work

This chili does take some prep work. The good thing is, you can take a couple hours one day and can several jars of the base and they are ready and waiting to go, making a super quick and easy, hassle-free chili for when you decide to fix it.

Since I buy bulk packages of ground beef that I brown and freeze in 1 lb packages, I can save even more time (and dirty dishes) since all I have to do is grab a pack from the freezer.

Chili Recipe

Quick & Easy Delicious Chili


  • 1 pint prepared Mrs. Wages Chili Base
  • 1 pint of water (just use fresh water in the same pint jar and pour it in)
  • 1 lb ground beef, browned
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups dry macaroni
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with crackers and shredded cheese if desired


  1. Brown 1 lb ground beef in skillet.
  2. Combine all ingredients except macaroni in crockpot. Cook on low 4-6 hours. Cook and add macaroni just before serving.
  3. For a heartier chili, add less water. If you’d like a thinner chili, add a bit more water.

Note: A crockpot is not necessary for this meal. On stove top, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes or until macaroni noodles are tender.


No-Bake Granola Bites

No bake granola bites--A yummy treat and healthy, too!

I received a review copy of the Gooseberry Patch Good-For-You Everyday Meals cookbook, and I am loving the great ideas I’ve found in it so far! I shared the Banana Nut Bread Muffins a few weeks ago, and today I’m sharing these healthy no-bake granola bites.

They are a great snack–leave out the mini chocolate chips and add some extra dried cranberries for a completely real food snack. I like these for when I am having a sweet craving. They are just enough to hit the spot, but not something that will lead to a binge. And, they are a healthy treat, packed with protein and fiber.

As always, I have changed up a few ingredients based on our preferences and/or our pantry contents. And, just being real, one of my “adjustments” was because I didn’t fully read the instructions, and poured all my coconut flakes in at once before I realized I wasn’t supposed to. Most were supposed to be reserved for rolling them in as a coating. However, “ain’t nobody got time for” all that rolling each ball in coconut flakes business. So, I just put it all together and it worked out just fine.

No-Bake Granola Bites


  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (look for only peanuts, salt on the ingredients list)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients. Mix with clean hands until well combined. If mixture is too dry, add additional honey or peanut butter. If mixture is too wet, add additional oats. Form into 1-inch balls. Store in air-tight container. Easy Peasy!

Note: I put mine on a cookie sheet and put them in the refrigerator until they were chilled. I then put them in a container and stored them in the refrigerator. They are great chilled and seem to hold together better that way.

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no bake granola bites --delicious and healthy!


Delicious Blackberry Cobbler

Delicious Blackberry Cobbler

Last month, we took a family outing to a place where my husband knew of that we could safely and legally forage some blackberries. It was so fun! I remember picking lots of blackberries as a girl, and ending up with scratches all over from those briers. It’s funny how even the not-so-great parts of things can bring back fond memories.

Anyway, it was a hot day, but we ended up with lots of berries for the freezer, and some in our tummies, too. Here are my guys picking berries.


My oldest is such a steady, diligent worker. He just picked and picked without a complaint. My youngest on the other hand, well, that happy, eager smile wore off quickly for him, and he took some gentle encouragement to keep up the “hard” work of berry picking.

Sure, he enjoys the berries in his cereal and oatmeal, but I decided it was my obligation to show him just how wonderful blackberries could be.

So, after supper that night, we had this for dessert.

Blackberry Cobbler

As you can see from the photo, this is not one of those crunchy, crumbly topped cobblers. No, no. It is warm, soft and cakey, caramelized-on-top goodness.

Rich Blackberry Cobbler


  • 1 cup White Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 stick Butter, melted
  • 2 cups Blackberries, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in sugar and milk. Lastly, whisk in melted butter.
  3. Pour batter into buttered 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries over the top of the batter, evenly distributing them. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over the berries.
  4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until the top is golden.

Serve while warm…with ice cream if desired. Delicious!


The best Chocolate Chip Cookies, ever!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have to admit, I’m always a bit cynical when I see a recipe that claims to be the “best” of something. Because, well, usually it isn’t. So, I’m going to qualify my recipe with a little story.

Earlier this year, we decided to eat real food only in our household. We have since fallen off that wagon and are struggling to get back on, but that’s another post for another day.

Anyway, back before we got off track, we were about 2.5 weeks into it and I wanted a real sweet treat. And by “real” what I actually mean is fake, processed stuff that my mouth is still conditioned to prefer.

So, I came up with a bit of a compromise and created these. And WOW did they ever hit the spot! I ate one of these fresh out of the oven and it was about the best thing I ever put in my mouth.

Anyway. Best chocolate cookies ever. But, may have been colored by my desperation. However, I have since made these again, and they were still quite amazing. So, there is that.

First of all, a couple notes. I am a purist when it comes to my chocolate chip cookies, so that means no nuts! However, feel free to add them if you want. Just don’t blame me if they aren’t the best chocolate chip cookies ever, kay?

Secondly, did you know that you can make chocolate chip recipes healthier and more frugal by using less chocolate chips than called for in the recipe? It’s true, and this girl loves her chocolate. I challenge you to try it sometime. But not with this recipe, because I have already cut the chocolate chips.

I used whole wheat flour. If you usually use white and you’d like to start weaning yourself into healthier whole wheat, desserts are a good place to start–again, that is coming from a white-flour loving, picky eater. For me, the texture difference is less noticeable in desserts than in breads if you’re just starting with wheat. So, give it a shot. If you’re worried about it, you can try half white and half wheat, or just use all white and that should work fine as well.

Anyway, enough talk and here is the recipe.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

What you need:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips

What to do:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until creamy.  Add eggs and beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture mixing well after each addition. Finally, stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

I got 4.5 dozen cookies from this recipe.

Freezer Friendly

This recipe is very freezer friendly. I can fix a bake a small amount and not worry about grazing around on cookies that just happen to be ready in my kitchen. However, it also makes it easy to have a quick treat on hand. I can make just enough for our family, and all I have to do is pop them out of the freezer and into the oven (350 degrees for about 9-11 minutes). Very convenient.

I like to chill my dough and then ball out the dough with one of these little scoopers. Some people freeze them in balls, but I like to flatten mine out a bit because I feel that it helps them bake better.

Freezer Chocolate Chip Cookies


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