Homemade, Real Food, Cheesey Crackers

I love crackers. Plain and simple. Super crappy crackers from the grocery store made out of chemicals and ‘food’ have my name all over them. ‘Eat me, Courtney, eat me!! I promise you won’t regret it!!’ It’s pretty tempting. But aside from the ridiculous prices of a store cracker, the ingredients are just so obnoxious it keeps me from buying them. So what do I eat instead??

Homemade crackers!! Once you start to realize you can actually make anything you want yourself, you suddenly want to try and make everything yourself!

Crackers are way easier then you ever thought. These cheese crackers taste like the popular ‘Cheez-it’ cracker. Only better, and good for you!!

Homemade, real food, Cheesey Crackers

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4 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese
(buy a block and shred it yourself to avoid eating the sawdust they put on pre-shredded cheese! And purchase white cheese to avoid artificial colors and dyes!!)
2 tbsp. of pastured pork lard
(you can sub in butter if you don’t use lard, but I highly suggest lard!!)
3/4 organic whole wheat flour or unbleached white
2.5 tablespoons of grass-fed raw milk
(Plus extra to brush on the crackers)
Himalayan Pink Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine everything except the salt in a food processor until it forms a soft dough. You can add a little extra flour if it’s too sticky. Roll the dough out as thin as you can and cut it into small squares with a pizza cutter. Place the crackers on a cookie sheet and brush them with milk. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on each cracker and bake them for 14- 20 minutes, or until they are brown on the edges and getting crunchy.

Bam! Healthy ‘cheez-its’. Not to mention they taste way better and they are way cheaper!! My daughter loves these crackers.

Please note, unless you use artificial dyes/colors, these crackers will be a brown/tan not bright orange like the original cracker!!

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Couch to 5K- Weeks 7 thru 9

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I can’t keep up with scheduled things. I just can’t. I’ve been noticing lately I have honest to goodness memory problems and I really truly can’t remember a lot of things if I don’t write them down. Plus, its the end of summer and I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible before it gets bone numbingly cold out. So enjoy this mash-up post of the last 3 weeks!!

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Weight: 175 – down 5 pounds total.

Work-out: At this point, its mostly running, very tiny walking periods, so there isn’t much to share here.

How I’m feeling: Accomplished! And much more energetic then beforehand. However, I never really got into running. Its not something I can see myself continuing. I am just not a running type person. So while the C25K was fun, running is not my thing.  I’m going to stick with yoga, walking, squats, and other various exercises…. I’m seriously thinking about belly dancing.

Lydia from Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen joined me, as you know, on this running journey, and is hosting a giveaway as her grand finale!! Go over and enter to win =) Also see how she did! She plans to continue running up to a 10k.

Thanks for joining us!!!

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Couch to 5K Week 6!

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Weight: 175- just where I like it =)

Work-out: Week 6 is similar to week 5’s workouts. A different one every day. Day 1- 5 minute warm up walk (and 5 minute cool down walk after, same with all 3 days) followed by a 5 minute run, 3 minute walk, 8 minute run, 5 minute walk, 5 minute run, cool down walk. Day 2- two 10 minute runs with a 3 minute walk in between, Day 3- one 25 minute run.

How I’m feeling: Good! Pretty energetic and happy.

How this week’s first workout went: Well, last week ended with a 20 minute run, so this was small potatoes.

How last week went: Swimmingly. (I love that word.)

My blogger bud Lydia has an awesome post this week on creating the best playlist to run to! Definitely go check that out, whether or not you run/jog whatever, its still pretty great for making a workout playlist!!

Feel free to join in anytime!! Or let me know how you did if you’ve done it before!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

P.S. Don’t forget I’m taking a break tomorrow through the 10th for my wedding! So no new posts!! But I’ll be back the 11th!! Its difficult to blog while I’m doing wedding stuff and busy to the max and having company!! I hope to have a post out tomorrow!

Foraging Series: Part 3- Jewelweed!

Part 1- Staghorn Sumac
Part 2- Queen Anne’s Lace

The 4 main rules of foraging-

1. Make sure wherever you harvest is at minimum 100 ft. from a road cars drive on.
2. Make sure wherever your picking is public property (don’t pick on someone’s private land unless you’ve OK-ed it with the owners!)
3. Make sure where your picking is not somewhere that gets sprayed! You do not want chemicals all over your yummy wild food.
4. Give back to the earth and do your part to help keep the environment clean and healthy. Don’t take without giving back!!

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Let me enlighten you with my amazing poetry skills with my haiku about jewelweed-

I love jewelweed
Jewelweed is an awesome
Medicinal plant

Alright, so my amazing poetry skills aren’t so great, but jewelweed is!

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A jewelweed bush

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Flowers

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The side of a flower

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The leaves, and if you look closely you can see a seed pod under one of the leaves in the center of the photo. It looks like a bean pod.

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Close up of a flower head on

Jewelweed is also called spotted touch me not, touch me not and they are impatiens.

These bushes grow rampant where I live. The bushes grow extremely large and everywhere. In the woods and along the roads are the most common places for them. Its very distinct and has saw blade edged oval leaves with trumpeting flowers. The flowers can be yellow (like the ones I have pictured, these are called pale jewelweed) or light to dark orange to reddish. But aside from they will all look exactly alike. The flowers are spotted and the plant itself has knobby joints- everywhere a stem meets another stem there is a little knob. Its like knees and elbow. But plant-ish.

Aside from the medicinal benefits of this plant, the best part is the seed pods. All throughout my childhood we called these plants poppies. Not because they look like poppy flowers, because when you touch or gently squeeze the ripe seed pods they explode (in order to disperse its seeds). Its tons of fun. Look for a fat seed pod (they are ripe this time of year, so go now!!) and explode them. There is no plant out there more fun. Watch this video to see it happen =)

The jewelweed plant is natures poison Ivy (and poison oak) relief. It usually grows right near poison ivy. If you apply jewelweed lotion or salve prior to going into the woods its can actually prevent you from getting poison ivy. Don’t tell me that’s not awesome. Or if your unfortunate enough to get the stuff, soap, lotion or salve with stop the itching and heal the poison ivy. It also does wonders for just about every other rash. My daughter suddenly got a very bad diaper rash (I think it came with being sick) and my regular homemade ointment didn’t help, my plantain salve didn’t help so I tried jewelweed lotion and it cleared up in an hour!!

I’m gonna teach you how to make-

Jewelweed Infused Oil

This oil can be used as a base for soaps, salves, ointments and lotions as well as completely on its own.

You will need-

A large handful or jewelweed
Organic olive oil

Roughly chop the jewelweed (stems, leaves, flowers and all) and place them in a skillet or sauce pan. Cover them in a thin layer of olive oil (I used about a cup) and bring to a bubbling simmer. Let them simmer uncovered for an hour stirring every 10 minutes or so, you want them all to be wilted. Put everything into a mason jar and pop a lid on it. Let it rest anywhere from over night to a week then strain out all of the leaves and leaf pieces. And that’s it! Make whatever you like out of it. If you want to make a salve replace plantain oil in this Epic Healing Salve and make jewelweed salve. Or use a mixture of both! To use it on its own, just rub it on the affected area as needed.

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Cooking infused oil

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Finished, un-strained oil

How to eat Jewelweed

Here’s the deal, jewelweed really isn’t more then a trail side snack when your out walking. It may come in handy sometime though! You can eat the seeds from the seed pods. As you may notice, the seeds fly everywhere when you touch a ripe seed pod. So hold the whole seed pod in your hand to catch them. They are quite tasty!! If your free a whole afternoon in a large patch of jewelweed you can collect a bunch and put them on a salad or bread =) Yummy!

So have some fun with this amazing plant =)

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesdays!

*Disclaimer- I am not a doctor. Nor do I claim to be. Use caution when picking wild plants and DO NOT pick anything unless you are 100% certain you are picking the correct plant. If you have allergies to any of the plants I feature, do not use them. If you are worried about the medicinal effects of any of the plants featured, please consult your doctor. Do your own research before deciding what is best for you.*

Couch to 5K Week 3

Yes, yes, I know this post is late. Blogging is more of something I enjoy doing then anything else. I get paid $0.00 for doing it and I had to work all weekend, so I just didn’t get to it. Sometimes life gets in the way =)

If your just joining me, here’s a recap of why I’m doing it-

There are 3 main reasons I’m doing this.

1- We want to have another baby. But pregnancy for me was HORRIBLE. It was so bad. I got so fat, labor was ridiculous, I had so many aches and pains. I was just completely miserable. Beyond normal pregnancy pains. So I really want to get in better shape and be able to run throughout my next pregnancy to help with labor, delivery, aches and pains and general problems. Being fit can drastically reduce these problems.

2- I eat healthy but don’t really do more then walk and some morning yoga stretches. End working out. I really, really want to have more physical stamina. I’d love to go to all those fun 5K runs everyone always does.

3- I wouldn’t mind losing a few extra pounds and tighten up my butt and leg muscles. I’m totally comfortable with how my body looks, but being a little thinner would be healthier and probably more comfortable.

Week 2:

Weight: 177 lbs.

Work-out: Week 3′s workout. Brisk 5 minute warm up walk. 1.5 minutes of walking, 1.5 minutes of running/jogging, 1.5 minutes of walking, 3 minutes of jogging and 1.5 minutes of brisk walking followed by a 5 minute cool down walk.

How I’m feeling: Pretty good! I’ve been sick lately (I think its from eating kind of crappy this weekend!), and a tad behind on the workouts, but overall pretty good!

How this week’s first workout went: Long and tiring, as usual.

How last week went: I’m still behind!! I’ve been completely cleaning my house, it keeps raining and my fiancé wants to run with me now! Just a bunch of little stuff keeping me behind a bit. But I’ll finish sometime. Better slow then never =)

Be sure to go see how my blogger bud Lydia is doing!!

Check her post out here!

Feel free to join any time!!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Jackfruit!

If you remember way back 2 weeks ago, I made a post about exploring the shops of the Strip District in Pittsburgh PA. You may also remember I got a fantastic, enormous (as a matter of fact, it is the largest tree borne fruit in the world) fruit known as the jackfruit.

Use my hand as a size reference

Use my hand as a size reference

It weighed about 19 pounds, and getting it apart ain’t no easy feat!!

It took over 2 hours to clean the whole thing. But it was totally worth it! Deliciousness all around!

In order to clean it you have to cut it into big chunks. Once its in big chunks, you have to peel out the yummy, yellow fruit, which are basically seed pods. However, the fragrant pods are tangled up in sticky, sappy, totally 100% evil fibers.

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Honestly, the fibers are like sticking your hand to a leaking pine tree. The trick to navigating the jackfruit, is to oil one of your hands. The hand that’s not handling the knife. Cut with your dominant, non-oiled hand and pull apart seeds and fruit with the other. I just rubbed some coconut oil on my left hand and cut with my right. (Oh, and I oiled the knife).

After I got the hang of it, it wasn’t that bad. From the whole jackfruit I filled a gallon sized container completely to the top, almost overflowing with fruit and an overflowing quart mason jar with the seeds.

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Seeds!

Seeds!

If you want a more in depth description of how to cut it, head over here and check out this post on how to do it! It’s a great tutorial!

So what did I do with mine you ask?

I made sorbet, froze a ton for some deliciously tropical smoothies and boiled the seeds for snacking.

Let’s start with the seeds. (Which are a lot of work, as is everything with the Jackfruit it seems). Once they are all removed from the pods, rinse them off and put them in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. They are done cooking when you can easily stick a fork in them. They get similar to the texture of potatoes. The difficult part is peeling them of their tough outer skins. Most of the skins on mine split open, making it easier to peel, but not all of them. Just peel the milky white skin of the outside and enjoy the delicious insides. The thin, brown skin is edible, just so you know.

The final product will look like this:

Seeds on the right, inedible  skins on the left

Seeds on the right, inedible skins on the left

For the sorbet, I pureed 3 cups of fruit, mixed in 1/4 cup of sugar, and added enough water to make it smooth. Then I processed it in my ice cream maker for about 20 minutes and stored it in the freezer. Yummy!!

It can be stored in an airtight glass container in the freezer for a couple of months. But it can get pretty hard, so you may have to take it out of the freezer 10 minutes or so before you serve it.

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And lastly, if you want to freeze it for smoothies, here’s how. (This method actually works very well for most, or all, fruit). Chop it into small, 1/4-1 inch pieces and spread them all into an even layer on a cookie sheet and set it flat in the freezer over night.

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Transfer it to a freezer safe container and store it for 8-12 months. Just pop some out and add it to a smoothie any time you like. I think jackfruit goes wonderfully with banana, mango and pineapple.

We also made these jackfruit lime popsicles-

Yum!

Yum!

Get the recipe for them over here.

Head on over to your local Asian foods store and pick up some jackfruit!!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Couch to 5K Week 2

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Well its week 2! (Every Thursday is the start of a new week for me. Since I realized I didn’t put that in the last post.)

So its update time!

If your just reading about this for the first time,  my blogger bud, Lydia and I are doing the Couch to 5K challenge! Here’s a recap of why I’m doing it-

There are 3 main reasons I’m doing this.

1- We want to have another baby. But pregnancy for me was HORRIBLE. It was so bad. I got so fat, labor was ridiculous, I had so many aches and pains. I was just completely miserable. Beyond normal pregnancy pains. So I really want to get in better shape and be able to run throughout my next pregnancy to help with labor, delivery, aches and pains and general problems. Being fit can drastically reduce these problems.

2- I eat healthy but don’t really do more then walk and some morning yoga stretches. End working out. I really, really want to have more physical stamina. I’d love to go to all those fun 5K runs everyone always does.

3- I wouldn’t mind losing a few extra pounds and tighten up my butt and leg muscles. I’m totally comfortable with how my body looks, but being a little thinner would be healthier and probably more comfortable.

Week 2:

Weight: 178 lbs. Although I didn’t lose it from running. I think that’s just from my regular fluctuation.

Work-out: Week 2’s workout. Brisk 5 minute warm up walk. Alternate 90 seconds of running with 60 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. 5 minute cool down walk.

How I’m feeling: Oh man. Scared. Week 1 was way harder then I thought it would be! Running is tough stuff. I give all you runners props! I feel slightly better and more athletic then before, but I still feel like running was created by the devil. Bring it on week 2! I’m really looking forward to getting better at this!

How this week’s first workout went: Ugh. Enough said.

How last week went: Well, I had a really rough start and I’m a day behind. Its exhausting and my fiance was going to do it with me and bailed out last second. It was just a pain. I’m getting back on track though!

Be sure to go see how my blogger bud Lydia is doing!!

Check her post out here!

Feel free to join any time!!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Chicken Tacos with Super Spicy Tomatillo Sauce

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Yum! Like oh my goodness yum.

Me and my fiance were both sweating when we finished eating them from the tomatillo sauce.

First off, some of you may not know what a tomatillo is. Its kind of like a green tomato in a husk. Like an ear of corn and a tomato had a baby. Its a staple in Latin American cooking and is quite delicious. You peel the husk off and just eat the fruit inside. You may have to look in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store or a specialty store to find them. If your paying attention though, they are readily available.

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Tomatillo Sauce

2 lbs. Fresh tomatillos
4 Cloves of garlic
1 Bunch of fresh cilantro
1/4 of a large onion (or 1/2 a small onion)
3 Cups of water
4 large Jalapeno peppers

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Remove the outer paper from the tomatillos and wash them off. Cut everything except the cilantro into large chunks. I cut the tomatillos in half, the peppers in thirds and roughly chopped the onion. Put them all in the water and bring to a boil.

Look how deliciously fresh this looks!!

Look how deliciously fresh this looks!!

Turn it down to just below a boil and cook for half an hour. Let it cool until its manageable, add in the cilantro and blend it until its smooth. This sauce is super spicy and goes on ANYTHING! Use it as a healthy substitute for classic taco sauce, use it on chicken, beef, pork, in carnitas, on enchiladas, on pretty much anything you’d like to be spicy. Its honestly the most amazing sauce ever. Plus you can eat it hot or cold.

Beautiful green sauce!

Beautiful green sauce!

Chicken Tacos

2 Boneless chicken breasts from free range chickens
1/4 of a large onion (or half a small onion)
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Jalapeno pepper, chopped
3 Tsp. ground cumin
1 Shredded carrot
The juice from 1 lime
4 Tsp. dried cilantro or half a bunch fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. Coconut oil (to cooking in)

(Note, use organic ingredients for the best result!)
(Another note, either grate the carrots or use a vegetable peeler and peel the whole carrot into long thin strips and chop the strips so you don’t have big chunks of carrot.)

Start out by chopping up the chicken breasts into small cubes and put them in a pot in the coconut oil, jalapeno and onions. Start cooking on medium high heat.

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As its cooking add in all of the other ingredients. Continue cooking until the chicken is fully cooked and all the juice is cooked off. When the chicken is mostly cooked through start chopping it up with the spoon your cooking with. It chops easy when its cooked. And that’s it! Top with tomatillo sauce, cheese and lots of greens. I personally think arugula and spinach taste the best with tacos.

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Serve it with a delicious…

…Mason jar lemon-limade slushy

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Put the juice of one lime and one lemon in a mason jar and add 1 tablespoon of organic sugar. Add two slices of lemon and fill it the rest of the way with water. Put the lid on it and shake it vigorously until the sugar is dissolved and pop it in the freezer for 3-5 hours, or until it starts to freeze. It’ll turn itself into a slush.

Super amazing dinner =)

Enjoy!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

This post was shared on the Get Inspired Blog Hop and Tuned in Tuesday!