If you're anything like me, you might be a little bit sick of zucchini or summer squash. I have these big, beautiful zucchini plants that I was so excited about in the beginning of summer. Then, they started going wild - growing huge, huge squash constantly. I'm pretty proud of my novice green thumb, but if I eat one more piece of sautéed zucchini, I might cry. First world problems, I know. I often will turn them into zucchini fritters, but this is very labor intensive and time consuming (albeit delicious). This recipe is a very easy way to use up this last harvest of summer squashes. It is comfort food, but pretty [...]

This post contains affiliate links - thanks again for your support! If you read my initial post on sourdough, you'll know that I was actively questioning whether or not to try gluten again. After watching "Cooked" on Netflix, I was convinced to give it a go after almost 4 years of abstention. The thought of being able to consume real bread again, without consequence, was very enticing! When choosing a flour to start with, I wanted to go with something that is as far from modern wheat as possible, and it seemed like einkorn fit the bill perfectly. Einkorn is much less adulterated than modern wheat. It's genetics are much more simple, and it's lower in the gluten protein. That's good news for someone like me - as I was hopeful that sourdough fermentation would break down most, if not all, of the gluten in the flour. After doing some brand research, I decided that Jovial Foods einkorn flour was probably one of the best sources I could procure. As far as instructions go, you'll need a starter recipe which explains how to cultivate natural yeast. You'll also need a bread recipe -  I chose this one from Beets N Bones. It was very easy to follow, plus, it helps that her bread looks absolutely gorgeous. I had high hopes for mine! You'll also need some basic equipment. A digital scale (this one is inexpensive and works great), a large bowl, and a locking glass storage container. I followed the Jovial starter recipe for 5 days. You basically just combine warm water and flour in different proportions and let the mixture sit in your pantry. After a couple of days, I had bubbles! The fifth day is the first day that you are able to use the starter for bread. sourdough Now, I'm going to warn you - the bread baking process is long and tedious. On day 5, I took 1-2 tablespoons of the starter and mixed it with fresh flour and water. You need to let this mixture sit for 4-6 hours. This is called creating the "leaven." I wrapped the bowl in plastic wrap & a towel, and let it sit on the counter. IMG_2791 Meanwhile, my twins were doing this: IMG_2792 IMG_2793 After 4-6 hours have passed, you should see bubbles in the bowl. Then, you add 550 g of water to the leaven, and mix in 750 g of flour. Let it sit for 3 more hours. IMG_2807 Lastly, you add 15 g of salt and the remaining 25 g of water  - to create a very wet, sticky dough. IMG_2811 IMG_2813 This is the fun part. You get to turn the bowl and fold the dough over itself several times every 30 minutes for about 3 hours. The dough is supposed to increase in size by about 20-30%. It is incredibly sticky since Einkorn doesn't have a ton of gluten in it. Therefore, it really isn't going to knead like an all-purpose flour loaf. After this phase, I let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I set it out for an hour to lose its chill. I followed the recipe and preheated a dutch oven for 20 minutes at 475, then baked for 15 minutes lid on, and about 20-25 minutes with the lid off. I didn't score my loaf - because I'm a straight up amateur. I'm really mad that I didn't, because it would have looked so much better. IMG_2820 As you can see, it came out very dense. I knew that I was using an immature starter and that my first loaf would probably be terrible. The good thing is - it tasted pretty fantastic. It was everything I ever wanted in experiencing gluten again. It was very sour and dense, but had a great, crispy exterior.  I did try to moderate how much I ate because I didn't know what after effects it might cause. Unfortunately, after a day or so, my loaf completely fell and any air pockets were lost. I know that future attempts will probably be better if I use a more mature starter. Will I make sourdough again? Normally, if I get "glutened," I feel bloated, nauseous, and experience serious tummy troubles. I did not react to the sourdough in that way at all. I did, however, experience something that I had not felt in a long time. Since watching my carb intake and going gluten-free four years ago, I very rarely feel my blood sugar go through the roof. After eating this bread - I could almost immediately feel it - it's a high from the carbohydrate, and then a subsequent crash. It reminded me of how I felt when I used to eat a standard American diet. There is also that sense of wanting to binge on freshly baked bread. It's certainly a gateway food for me where I lose self-control. I do not feel this way when I eat quinoa, GF bread, or rice. I think I would make sourdough again, but not for everyday. Maybe once in a blue moon, if I'm hosting a gathering or something where homemade bread would be a great addition to the menu (or if I just want to impress people ;-). The thing is, maintaining a sourdough starter is a lot of work if you only plan on making bread once or twice a year. You'd have to refrigerate it and diligently refresh it once per week just to have it on hand. You could create a new starter every time, but that requires A LOT of expensive flour and a huge amount of preparation time. Not to mention, if I keep making new starters and baking bread on the 5th day, my starter will never improve and neither will my bread's quality and texture. It's almost as if you have to go all in on sourdough bread. Commit to the effort and get results, or pretty much don't do it at all. This is one of the points in "Cooked" that spoke to me so much. After going through the process of baking bread by hand, without commercial yeasts, etc., I understand that it's definitely a labor intensive commodity. One of the men featured in the series implores you to eat whatever you want - so long as you make it yourself from scratch. Think about if you had to make ice cream from scratch before you could eat it. You'd probably never eat ice cream, save for maybe a very special occasion. We are not eating foods in quantities that match the effort to take to produce them, and it's making us sick. Every night, I find it very easy to make meat and vegetables for dinner. But, bread, cookies, cakes, pies - I can't have those on the table by 5 pm every day if I'm honoring the authentic means of production. Eating simply is eating naturally; unadulterated is easiest and usually best. Treats always have a place, but only on occasions when the effort, time, and cost are worthwhile endeavors. I have to say, being gluten free for so many years, I'm pretty happy where I am. Putting so much effort into something that I don't even regularly eat is probably not worthwhile for me. Perhaps as my kids get older, it might be a great project for homeschooling because there's a ton of science and exactitude involved. I'm glad I was inspired to try it and look forward to potentially enjoying it again as a rare treat. I'd love to read your thoughts!  Have you ever made homemade bread? Do you think it was worth the effort? Are there other foods that you like to make homemade occasionally?

This post contains affiliate links - thank you for your support! One of the biggest reasons that I started a blog is because I've always loved reading them. There are several that I've been following for 7+ years. Whether it's just a glimpse into someone else's day, or a serious, well-researched opinion piece - it's free information that is up to date and right at our fingertips. I don't know about you, but I don't have a whole lot of time for reading lengthy novels or nonfiction books lately. So, I just wanted to share some of my favorite posts from the week with you! whatimreadinglatel By the way - if you like to read blogs and don't have a feedly, I highly recommend getting one! It keeps everything organized, so you don't have to have 1000 tabs open or annoying bookmarks. 1.Proteinaholic Review from Raw Food SOS Denise Minger wrote the book Death by Food Pyramid, which is an exposé on the politics and special interests groups that influence the US dietary guidelines.  In this (super lengthy) blog post she breaks down the good and the bad of the book, Proteinaholic, by Dr. Garth Davis. This book promotes a plant-based, low protein diet. Denise's rebuttal is well organized and fair. What I thought was an especially interesting point, was the comparison of the human diet to that orangutans and gorillas. Dr. Davis argues that because they are strong and eat only vegetation, humans can and should do the same thing. Denise then discusses how humans have entirely different guts, dominated by the small intestine rather than the colon, which are not designed to ferment 40+ pounds of plants per day like these herbivorous primates. If you'd like to read more about this - definitely check it out! 2. The Problem with Undereating I pretty much always like what anyone at Girls Gone Strong has to say. In this post, they discuss really low calorie diets (think 1200/day) and what you should do instead for weight loss. 3.  10 Common Primal Mistakes You Might Be Making Everyone who starts a new diet or lifestyle usually has a time where they go overboard. I know it was definitely that way for me when I started eating primal/paleo. Now, I just follow my instincts about what I think is healthy and try not to stress as much - i.e. I really don't care that I eat rice, popcorn, or quinoa. Mark Sisson discusses some great points in this post, and I'm guilty of pretty much all of them. Some of my favorites are: not eating pounds and pounds of bacon or almond flour treats just because they are "paleo," and not buying too many supplements and crazy stuff to support the lifestyle. I think there is a great internet community that supports real food.  However, sometimes people will get in partnership with companies and make you think you need to buy this collagen supplement, oil, bars or whatever - as if you're not paleo if you don't buy it! It's so not true. 4. Millenial Farmers Fight an Uphill Battle  Did you know the average age of the american farmer is 58 years old? This article discusses the younger farmers coming on to the scene (I hope to be one of them), who eschew conventional ideas of factory farming and are starting a new food movement. I particularly loved this comment at the end of the article:

"Even with all of the difficulties getting started, the risk, the time investment, change of lifestyle (I was a tech entrepreneur, and my wife an accountant), I would do it all over again. Getting up before dawn, drinking a cup of coffee as I watch the sun start to climb the hills, taking my 3 kids out before school to feed the animals, knowing that everything I do that day will have some kind of lasting effect on our goals as a family operation, is incredibly fulfilling. We are just starting out, and we have much to learn, but I'm looking forward to next 45 years of my life with even greater anticipation. How much more could you ask for."

Wow, that comment is just... everything. 5. Got Allergies? Your Gut Microbes Could Be Responsible  Great read about adding in foods that support gut microbiota diversity. I'm definitely not doing as good of a job as I should, especially since I struggle with allergies and asthma. 6. Why You Should Ditch the Classes and Pick Up Some Weights Alyssa, from Mom on the Move, started out with group fitness - but quickly realized it wasn't giving her the results she wanted. She's definitely not bashing people for getting moving (because any exercise is good!), but she is pointing out that a lot can be missing from your standard aerobics-type class. 7. 9 Tips for Helping Your Little Ones Adjust to a Time Difference With a couple of super long flights to Hawaii and back with twins, I can totally relate to her tips here. The time difference once we got to our destination was definitely less of a big deal than it was just getting through the 9 hour flights! I was lucky enough to sit next to a former OB/GYN last time who LOVED babies and didn't mind being kicked while they nursed LOL. 8. Maybe This Is The Easy Part Great post from a mommy of twins + 2. I don't know how she does it, but she has an awesome outlook on the whole situation! Thanks for reading! If you have any posts that you'd like to me to read and potentially add to the next volume, please contact me - (ashley [at] downhomeduo.com) or comment. If you have any thoughts on these posts - I would love to read them below!

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! No, this really is nothing like a real deal, but it will probably leave your body a lot happier than what you get from the drive-thru. Some of the fast-food flavors are just so comforting. I grew up on it, so it's no surprise that I sometimes get some serious cravings. For me, chicken tenders + barbecue sauce or ketchup, and any kind of "fry" will get the job done. This recipe is not rocket science or anything fancy, but it's certainly simple and quick. paleochickenandfries I love sweet potato fries and roasted brussels sprouts because they're able to get so crunchy. These take a while - about 45 minutes. Make sure you plan ahead - preheat the oven and start chopping about an hour ahead of time. A lot of people express frustration with getting sweet potatoes crispy enough. My favorite tricks to help them crisp up are: 1. don't use too much oil 2. don't crowd the pan 3. make sure they are on the bottom rack 4. absolutely do not move them around until the very end!!! Some people say to toss the sweet potatoes in a bowl with the oil. This is certainly one way to to do it...if you like making more dirty dishes. I just put the oil on the pan first and move them around in it, sprinkle a little salt, and done! I've also tried soaking them in water first and I thought they were less crispy. It's kind of a trial and error experiment. The brussels sprouts really taste best when you slice them - remove the bottom part and slice lengthwise into thirds. This will give you more surface area to get crispy. Also, don't worry about loose leaves, they end up tasting great when they crisp up! I used olive oil, but I've also successfully used lard and coconut oil. I'm not a huge coconut oil person with savory food, but if you like it, go for it! For the chicken, you'll need some chicken breasts or thighs, almond flour , eggs, and spices for the tenders. I used 3 organic chicken breasts that I cut into thirds, 1 egg, and about 1.5-2 cups of almond flour. I set up a really simple dredging station - like this: paleochicken I usually then coat all the chicken in egg + flour, heat up a skillet with butter, and add them when it's hot! If you're anything like me - you've got 2 hungry babes and a dog begging you to be done with dinner... all while getting in trouble for coming near the hot stuff 1000 times. IMG_3486 Don't turn the chicken until it's completely browned on one side, or you might lose the coating! paleochickentenders That's pretty much it! Super easy weeknight meal. Healthy, but might satisfy some of your bad cravings. Definitely toddler approved! [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:4] Let me know if you try it! What's an easy dinner you've been making lately? Is there any recipe that you've made healthier that reminds you of something unhealthy?