Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chicken in Lemon Thyme Gravy (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

Chicken in Lemon Thyme Gravy is a perfect weeknight main dish. It cooks up quick and yummy in less than 30 minutes, and the bone-broth-based gravy is loaded with nutrition.  Everyone in my family loves this recipe, with its succulent meat and flavorful gravy.

Chicken in Lemon Thyme Gravy
Serves 3-4

  1. Debone the chicken thighs. There is a simple tutorial here that shows how to remove the bones. (I save and freeze the chicken thigh bones until I have accumulated enough of them to make a pot of homemade chicken bone broth.)
  2. Cut the chicken into ~1-inch wide strips. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Whisk to combine and break up any lumps from the arrowroot.
  4. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the coconut oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet.
  5. Add the chicken strips to the hot oil, skin-side facing down. Cover with a splatter screen since the chicken skin will pop and sizzle quite a bit while it cooks. Allow the chicken to cook, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes.
  6. Scrape the skillet with a spatula to loosen up the chicken, and then use tongs to turn the chicken. If the skillet is getting very hot, reduce the heat a bit. Cook for about 2 more minutes. 
  7. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  8. Add the butter and garlic to the skillet and saute just until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Whisk the sauce into the skillet, being sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen up any tasty tidbits left from the chicken. 
  10. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for a couple minutes.
  11. Add the chicken back to the pan and stir to coat. Allow the chicken to re-warm for a minute or two. Turn off heat.
  12. Serve! Excellent accompaniments for this chicken would be mashed potatoes (recipe coming soon!), a side salad, nutrient-dense white rice, or simple buttered veggies.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

26 World Folk and Fairy Tale Picture Books

My children and I have recently finished our 5-month-long Homeschool World Trip. This started as a small idea that soon grew into a semester-long adventure into books, music, and food from around the world.  My children absolutely loved our World Trip, so much, in fact, that next semester we will be doing a similar adventure in exploring the different regions and states of the United States. In the coming months, I will be sharing our favorite books, music, and recipes from our Homeschool World Trip.

Why Folk and Fairy Tales? 

In reading our way around the world, I decided to place a special focus on reading folk and fairy tales from the different cultures we visited on our World Trip. Folk and fairy tales are valuable because:
  • they offer a unique insight into the culture of any specific place,
  • they often include moral lessons which are so important for children to integrate into their consciousness, and
  • children find them to be very engaging. 
The following are our favorite folk and fairy tales from the 20 countries we "visited" on our World Trip. These books were a pleasure for me to read aloud to my children, and were especially enjoyed by both of my children (who are currently 6 and 9 years old).


The Paper Crane tells a story of wonder when an origami crane comes to life. This story illustrates kindness being repaid.


Baboushka and the Three Kings is a Russian Christmas folktale about a peasant woman who is visited by the three kings and then sets off on a search for the Christ child which ends in her giving gifts to children along the way.


The Emperor and the Kite tells the story of a small, nearly-forgotten princess who saves her father and the kingdom. This story is inspirational in its demonstration that even the smallest can do great deeds.

Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior is a compelling tale about a young girl who saves her family by secretly taking her father's place as a warrior. Mulan becomes a great general of much acclaim, before returning to her home and family. My 9-year-old daughter was especially enamored with this book.

Indian Tales is a collection of Indian folktales which highlights the regions of India.  It includes information about each of the Indian states, followed by folktales from each region that my children found to be very engaging.

Monkey: A Trickster Tale From India is a classic tale of a monkey outwitting a crocodile. My 6-year-old son especially enjoyed this book and wanted me to read it again and again.



Middle East

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War is a beautifully-illustrated picture book that tells the oldest written story in the world (which was discovered on ancient Sumerian clay tablets only 150 years ago). My children were enthralled to hear this story of Lugalbanda's epic adventures.

Gilgamesh the King tells the beginning of the world-famous story of Gilgamesh. This book, and the two others in the series, have some of the most beautiful illustrations I've ever seen in a picture book, and my children were engrossed in the story of Gilgamesh as he changed from a lonely, mean tyrant, into a kind and beloved man.

Joseph and the Sabbath Fish is a Jewish parable that illustrates the principles of charity and giving versus greed and selfishness. This is a sweet little book that makes these lessons very accessible to kids. 


Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky is an African folktale that was fascinating to my children. This story sparked some imaginative discussions in understanding how ancient peoples crafted their myths to explain the world around them.

West Africa
Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock is a book that had both of my kids laughing hysterically. They loved hearing about Anansi the trickster spider and how he was repaid for his tricks.




The Bear and the Kingbird is a humorous tale by the Brothers Grimm. The bear insults the kingbirds, and a battle amongst all the creatures of the land and air ensues. The detailed illustrations in this book were a studied minutely by my children, giggling all the while.

Mr. Semolina Semolinus tells of princess Areti, who creates a perfect man from sugar, almonds, and semolina. When her perfect man is kidnapped by an evil queen, Areti journeys far to rescue him. This is one my children's all-time favorite stories.

Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop's Fables is a lavishly-illustrated collection of some of the most famous fables of all time.  These engaging tales illustrate life lessons so well, and had both of my children begging for more and more.

Atlantis: The Legend of a Lost City weaves the story of an island blessed by the sea god Poseidon. When the people of Atlantis lose their way and decay into bickering, treacherous people, Poseidon's wrath sinks the island to the bottom of the sea forever.  



Rapunzel is a well-known classic fairytale, yet this book by Zelinski gives it a whole new depth. The paintings in this book are gorgeous, and both of children listened with rapt attention to see what would happen with the evil sorceress and the entrapped girl.

Puss in Boots, by Perrault and Marcellino, tells of a crafty feline who rescues his owner from poverty. My kids loved this feline hero, and the book led us to interesting discussions about the propriety of the cat's actions.

South America

The Dancing Turtle tells of a flute-playing turtle who loves to dance. When turtle is captured, her only chance of escape is to convince the hunter's children to open her cage. My children were rooting for turtle, and this book led to some valuable discussion about children and their parents.

North America

The Honey Jar is a short chapter book that tells Mayan myths about the earth, sky, nature, and animals. My kids loved hearing these different perspectives on how the world came to be as it is.

The Bossy Gallito, which is written in both English and Spanish, is a fun tale about a rooster trying to make it to his uncle's wedding. Since we have hens and a rooster, any books featuring chickens are especially adored by my children. The illustrations in this book are entertaining, and my kids loved pointing out the error of the Bossy Gallito's ways. 

The Twenty-Five Mixtec Cats is a folktale that combines superstition and mysticism when a healer brings home twenty-five kittens. My kids thought this tale was quite funny and engaging.


United States
The Children's Book of America  is a great treasury of American Tall Tales, poems, and historical passages. My children especially loved the stories of Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and the Legend of the Grand Canyon.

The Story of Jumping Mouse is a Native American folktale about a mouse on a journey to a far-off land. On the way, the mouse faces many obstacles and sacrifices his own natural gifts to help others in need. My children loved hearing about the mouse's journey and his wonderful transformation at the end of the story.

The Magic Hummingbird is a Hopi folktale from our area of the United States. My daughter, especially, loves this story of the hummingbird who saves the children from starvation during the long drought.

Canada/United States
Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back is a collection of Native American tales about the thirteen moons of the year. This book took us on a beautiful journey through the seasons of the year. 


The Biggest Frog in Australia
is a folktale about a frog who drinks all the water from the land. The rest of the animals conspire to find some way to make the frog laugh and spill the water back out onto the land. My children thought this story was very funny. 

These are all of our favorite folk and fairy tales from our Homeschool World Trip. I will be sharing another list with the rest of our favorite picture books from our World Trip soon. Another excellent resource for world book recommendations is Jamie Martin's Give Your Child the World.

What are your favorite folk or fairy tale picture books?

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

Here is a round-up of recipes for Thanksgiving.  Some are from my site, and others are from around the 'net. Happy Thanksgiving!

Main Course

 Mmmm, roasted turkey is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.
image from finecooking.com

  • Slow roasted turkey - This recipe from Nourished Kitchen looks fabulous.
  • Brined turkey - My mom has based her own turkey recipe on this one from Alton Brown. She leaves out the allspice and ginger in the brine. Her turkey is moist and delicious!
  • Herb gravy - Elana uses cooked onions to thicken the gravy instead of flour, for a grain-free gravy. 

Side Dishes

 Part of what makes the Thanksgiving meal so special to me is the abundance of side dishes. 
  • Caramelized beets and carrots - This recipe is loved by both of my kids and would make a great Thanksgiving side dish. 
  • Simple buttered veggies - Broccoli, peas, or cauliflower are great this way.
  • Roasted cauliflower with garlic and lemon juice - I adore this recipe from Emeril. I cook it at a lower temperature for longer, and substitute a combination of butter and refined coconut oil for the olive oil (since I prefer not to cook with olive oil because most of its benefits are lost with heat).
  • Caramelized green beans - Caramelized green beans are a staple item at every Thanksgiving feast for my family.  For our holiday, I'll use chicken stock in this recipe.
  • Mashed butternut squash - Mashed butternut squash is a great alternative to potatoes or even sweet potatoes.  My favorite ways to season mashed butternut squash are savory (with butter, garlic, and thyme) or sweet (with ginger, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a touch of honey). 
  • Mashed potatoes - My family likes this recipe, which adds whole garlic and bay leaves to the cooking water and results in great flavor for the mashed potatoes. I double the amount of butter called for in the recipe.
  • Ginger-dill sauerkraut - Sauerkraut is a delicious, digestion-promoting ferment that pairs well with lots of foods.
  • Cranberry sauce with apples and ginger - My family has enjoyed this cranberry sauce for over 4 years now. This cranberry sauce is wonderfully tart, and spiced with ginger and orange. 
  • Cranberry cherry sauce - For something new, I will be trying this recipe from Elana this year. I'm not a fan of the flavor of stevia, so I will substitute honey as the sweetener.


Thanksgiving desserts for our family always revolve around pumpkin.  A family tradition from my own childhood is to have pumpkin pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving, and I have continued that tradition with my own children. I make homemade pumpkin puree to use in any of these recipes.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our Daily Homeschool and Housework Routine

Having routines for homeschooling and housework helps our lives run more smoothly.  Sure, there are weeks when the routine gets thrown completely out the window, but most of our weekdays follow a routine which is fairly predictable.  Using a routine helps ensure that my kids have minimal resistance to doing housework, because they know what to expect and what is expected of them daily.  Our routine also makes our exploration of academics more effective: because my children know that I am only available for academic pursuits for a set time each day, they are motivated for us to do as much as we can while I am available before I start my work hours.

It's been several years since I blogged about our homeschool routine, so I thought I'd post an update about what our days are looking like now. My kids are now 6 and 9, and what currently works as a good balance is to incorporate learning and housework both throughout the day.

Morning Routine

I let the kids sleep as late as they want to in the morning.  They are usually up and out of bed by 7:30 or 8am, and then we start our morning routine. Our morning routine is an essential part of getting our day going in the right direction. On days when we have skipped our morning routine, we seem somewhat directionless and disoriented, with more-frequent sibling squabbles and making it less likely that we will have a beautiful homeschool day.  

From start-to-finish, our morning routine takes about 60-90 minutes. I have a few different methods for ensuring that everyone stays on-task during our morning routine, but the method I use most often is putting on a music or Spanish CD after breakfast for us to listen to as we go about our routines.

  • Read-Aloud and Breakfast - We start with a read-aloud first thing in the morning, either while snuggling on the couch or while the kids are eating breakfast. (Lately, our morning read-aloud has typically been a picture book or Life of Fred). One of my children eats at a rather slow-and-steady pace, so there is usually plenty of time for me to read aloud after I have finished my own breakfast.
  • Kitchen Family Work - The kids and I work together to empty the dishwasher each morning.  One child is assigned to empty the silverware basket, and the other puts away all of the children's dishes, which are stored in a low cabinet.  I put away the remainder and empty the dish drainer. 
  • Morning Chores - We each have our own chores to do every morning.  The children alternate days on washing and loading the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. On the alternate days when they are not washing breakfast dishes, the children each do another chore, such as vacuuming the living room, scrubbing a bathroom toilet or sink, or straightening up the craft/project table. The children also feed and water the dog daily. My own morning chores include starting a load of laundry, cleaning up dog poo outside, and filling the birdfeeder.
  • Bedroom and Self Care - We each make our beds, brush our teeth, and get dressed for the day.

School Time

2-3 days per week, after our morning routine we have school time. Our school time lasts for 1-2 hours, which may not sound like much time, but we usually accomplish quite a bit in that short time.  Because we use the Leadership Education philosophy, I am focusing on nurturing my children's love of learning and I do not force the kids to participate in school activities.  However, they enjoy this part of our days, and happily choose to participate.
  • Alternate Weeks - The children have alternating weeks where they get to choose what we will do during school time.  They love this!
  • Physical Activity - Our school time often includes a short walk or bike ride, as we all feel better when we are getting plenty of physical activity.  Sometimes the physical activity will segue into an extended nature study time. 
  • Academic Resources - The children can choose from our many curriculum options. The academic resources that my children choose to use most often are:


Lunch and Free Play/Work Time

After our morning school time 2-3 days per week, we have lunch and then free play/work time.
  • Lunch - I usually make a quick lunch for the three of us around 11:30AM.  We eat together and then I clean up the dishes.  
  • Free Play for Kids - The kids have 2-3 hours of free play time. They often have long imaginative play sessions during this time. My 9-year-old also often uses some of this time to work on crafts/projects. Knowing that they have this time scheduled for free play each day makes my kids more motivated to dig into school/academic topics in the morning before I go to work in the computer room.
  • Work Time for Mom - I work for 2-3 hours on homeopathic appointments/casework, blogging, writing for Real Food and Health Magazine, or homeschool planning.When the weather and my work allow it, we will all go to the park for this time so the kids can play there while I work on my portable computer.

Away-From-Home Days

2 to 3 days per week, we have outside-the-home activities such as homeschoolers park day and book discussion group, field trips, errands, or hiking with grandma. On those days, once our morning routine is finished we head out into the world.  We usually return home in the early afternoon by around 1:30-2:30pm, just in time for our afternoon routine.

Afternoon Routine

Our afternoon routine is an essential part of our days. Without our afternoon routine, I am more likely to be grumpy and burned out in the evening, and the kids are more likely to be bickering and discontented. Because my kids and I each have some amount of introversion in our personalities, the afternoons give us time to recharge on our own. Our afternoon routine usually lasts from about 2:30-4:30pm.
  • Clean Up - Because the house is often quite messy by the time the kids are done playing for 2-3 hours, we work together to quickly get things back in order.  
  • Team Laundry - The kids and I work together to fold and put away a load of laundry. 
  • Quiet Time - We each go to a separate room for 1-2 hours.  During this time, the children play quietly, listen to audio books, read, color, or work on projects. They often meet up partway through quiet time, and are free to play together so long as they don't get too rambunctious.  My own Quiet Time includes my daily nap for 10-15 minutes and some combination of yoga, reading, studying, and internet/email usage.


Late Afternoon and Evening

Our evening routine includes dinner, free time and our bedtime routine, which ensures that we have fairly consistent bedtimes.

  • Clean Up and Chicken Chores -  The kids clean up their Quiet Time messes (minus anything they are still using). My daughter generally does her daily chicken care chores after Quiet Time, too.
  • Dinner Prep - I get to work on preparing dinner, and meanwhile the kids either play or join me in the kitchen.  I usually spend 45-90 minutes making dinner.  The kids set the table with napkins, silverware, and drinks for dinner.
  • Family Dinner - My husband returns home from work at 5:45pm and we have a family dinner together at 6pm. Afterwards, my husband usually washes the dinner dishes. 
  • Evening Free Time - Then there is free time for all, including playing, discussing, reading, creating, going for walks, etc.
  • Bedtime Routine - Around 7:45pm, we start our bedtime routine. We do a quick full-house tidying up, which ensures that the following day we will start with a fresh, reasonably tidy house. The children can have a small snack, and then brush their teeth and get their jammies on. I often practice piano or read on my own while the kids are doing their bedtime routines. If the kids finish their bedtime routines before 8:15pm, they may have a few minutes of "quiet energy burst", during which they run and jump around for the last time of the day.
  • Nightly Read-Aloud -The kids and I meet up on the couch around 8:30pm.  I give my 6-year-old son the opportunity to do some reading practice, which he chooses to do about twice a week. My 9-year-old daughter often enjoys reading aloud to us from a nature book during this time, too. Then the kids settle in to trace their penpal letters, color, sew, or draw while I read aloud. I often start with a chapter from a history or geography book, and then move onto our current chapter book.
  • Bedtime Reading - The kids and I move into their shared bedroom around 9pm. They settle under the covers and I finish reading from our current chapter book. Lights are out around 9:15pm.

Do you like having routines, or are you more of a spontaneous person?What routines that help your days run more smoothly?

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!