All posts by Melissa

Emile Noel Walnut Oil: Non-GMO Month Review and Giveaway!

By | Special Deals & Giveaways | No Comments



I’ll be honest with you all. I have NEVER tried Walnut Oil before.

Have you?

So, when I was able to do a walnut oil review for Emile Noël Artisan Oils I did what I do when I’m not familiar with something – I googled it.

I found all sorts of recipes and other suggestions as simple as drizzling over pasta along with salt, pepper and fresh parmesan.

And so I tried it that way – drizzled over Costco tortellini (don’t judge) with some salt, pepper and parmesan. Ooooh, yummy.

And then I tried it in a homemade salad dressing instead of olive oil. Wow! I loved the creamy, nutty flavor it added.

Prior to trying walnut oil for the first time, I had never heard of Emile Noël artisan oils. But, I’m a new fan. It’s a family-run oil mill founded in 1920 in the south of France.


Here is why I am a new fan of Emile Noël artisan oils:

♦ they were the first oil millers in France to press organically-farmed seeds

♦ they have ONLY ever produced and marketed organic and non-GMO products – and organic foods have higher levels of Vitamin C and E, essential fatty acids, magnesium and more! *They have also gone on to become Non-GMO Project verified. Learn more about that here.

♦ they operate an organic-sesame supply chain in the north-east of Africa (fair trade)

♦ their oils are first cold-pressed virgin oils – this retains the value of their fatty acids and their vitamins



A Variety of Oils

Emile Noël offers over 20 organic virgin vegetable oils, including blended ones:

Fair trade sesame oil

Fair trade toasted sesame oil

Sunflower oil

Hi olieic refined sunflower oil spray

Pumpkin seed oil

Fair trade hazelnut oil

Walnut oil

Macadamia nut oil

Sweet almond oil

Olive Oils – 2 types


To help celebrate non-GMO month, they are offering one lucky reader a FREE bottle of one of their oils.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.




Non-GMO Verified

Happy GMO-Free Month: Rumiano Cheese Review AND Giveaway!

By | Snacks & Appetizers, Special Deals & Giveaways | No Comments


Happy GMO-Free Month!!!

Do you try to shop GMO-Free? This is something I really am trying to focus on more and more these days.

Do you know what GMO’s are? I used to think they were a mix of 2 plants…but found out I was misinformed. That’s actually known as a hybrid. GMO’s are very different. If you aren’t familiar with GMO’s, please read a bit more about them at The Institute for Responsible Technology’s website.


To help celebrate GMO-Free month, I’m offering a giveaway from Rumiano Cheese Company!

I absolutely LOVE their cheese. When I lived in Washington state, I was first introduced to their raw milk cheddar…mmmm. And guess, what? Their cheddar is white. Did you know that’s the color of cheddar before coloring is added to make it yellow/orange?


What makes Rumiano Cheese special? Here are a few:

- they are California’s oldest family-owned cheese company

- they are the first non-GMO verified organic cheese

- their cows graze year-round and have milk rich in both Omega 3 fatty acids and beta carotene

- their cheese is rich, creamy and so flavorful

A few members of my family excitedly tried the array of cheeses you see in this picture:

rumiano cheese

Medium Cheddar – Colby – Pepper Jack – Mozzarella slices – Sharp Cheddar

My daughter gobbled down slices of the medium cheddar and wanted MORE. That girl has love cheese since the time she stated eating solid foods. My husband said “This is REALLY good cheese”. And because I like spicy things, I loved the tangy, slightly-hot bling of the Pepperjack. The Sharp Cheddar made GREAT grilled cheese sandwiches and I have yet to use the mozzarella slices, but I’m thinking they will be perfect on sprouted grain english muffins with some homemade pizza sauce.

And now here’s the good news. Rumiano Cheese Company is giving away 5 VIP certificates to one of my lucky readers!!! If you win, they will mail you the VIP certificates that you can use at any store that sells Rumiano products. You can check if you have a store near you to use the certificates at by visiting their store locator websiteEach certificate is good for $4.99 worth of products, so it’s about a $30 value!

Good luck!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Heidi's Story

Real Food Testimonies: Heidi’s story

By | Health & Wellness, Real Food Testimonies | No Comments

Today I am welcoming Heidi from The Blessed Nest as she shares her “Real Food Testimony”…

Growing up, I ate mostly down home good Midwestern foods. Meat and and potatoes, lasagnas, and casseroles, etc., but we always had a fruit or veggie with every meal. They were all cooked from scratch with love. We weren’t allowed too much sugar or pop and had more non-processed foods than not…so my eating habits were pretty good but not perfect.


When I got to college, I tried to apply what I thought were healthy eating choices when perusing the cafeteria. That ended up meaning lots of salads loaded with creamy dressings followed by frozen yogurt with multiple cereal toppings. (Who wouldn’t have frozen yogurt every night if you had a machine in your house?) Well, I gained more than the Freshman 15, but never worried about it.


The summers of my Freshman and Sophomore years of college, I worked at a camp where I continued to play hard outside but also load up on the dorm-like food, often including 2 or 3 pieces of fresh baked bread after each meal. My weight topped out at about 30 pounds higher than it is now.

My junior year of college, I started running serious distances and trained for a marathon. I lost some weight, but the hunger that running fuels, plus knowing I was burning so many calories, led me to keep eating more than I needed and whatever was convenient to eat quickly.



After college, I moved to Colorado (a state which boasts one of the leanest and healthiest populations in the country), and joined a gym. I started reading more about nutrition and added weights to my exercise routine. I cut down on the massive amounts of carbs I had been consuming and started to find more creative and healthy ways of eating. I had more energy than I had in a long time and eventually lost more weight, which brought me down to my set adult weight, a full 30 lbs less than the most I weighed in college.

I fell in love, got married and luckily my new husband had some better food habits than me. He incorporated a lot of lean meats, veggies (which I had mostly hated growing up) and less processed foods. Over time, we decided that low-fat wasn’t as important as eating real food, stopped buying anything with aspartame or food dyes and looked for products with less ingredients and ones we could read. We shopped more locally (at farmer’s markets) and started to incorporate the concept of viewing food as fuel for health instead of just as something to eat because we “like it” or not eating so “we don’t gain weight.”

We’re still on our journey, but I think we’ll always be fairly moderate when it comes to our choices. I’m not opposed to some processed foods here and there but I want to train my kids to see food as fuel as well as continue to change more and more over to that mindset for myself. Exercise continues to be very important to me, but I know that health is a combination of the food you eat and the work-outs you do, not just one or the other (let alone all the other factors like toxin exposure, stress reduction, etc).

I think it’s important to do an occasional detox/fast/whole foods cleanse when I’m seeing my eating patterns getting worse. I’m about to deliver our fourth baby, but a few weeks after delivery I’m planning a 3 week whole foods cleanse (similar to Whole30 but with a few more allowances).

Food is something that is tied to many important things in life and I always want to enjoy it, but do so responsibly, knowing my body will exhibit the choices I make. My son recently said, “I don’t think I’ll like heaven if there’s not food there.”

I feel you, buddy…but the good news is there probably is, and all our options will be good ones.


Heidi is an Adult Nurse Practitioner that works part time improving outcomes for hospitalized adult patients. There’s nothing she loves more than Jesus, her husband, and four kids (5, 4, 2, and newborn). Her hobbies are staying fit, being creative, and blogging at The Blessed Nest with a chai tea latte in hand.





Homemade Sauerkraut (using 1 head of

Quick Sauerkraut with a Head of Cabbage

By | Kitchen & Real Food How-to's, Vegetarian | No Comments

Have you ever made homemade sauerkraut?

Even if you think you don’t like it, please promise me you’ll give the homemade type a chance. It’s SO much better. Not only is the texture and flavor better, but it’s PACKED with beneficial bacteria (aka probiotics) to help your gut.

Personally, I like the flavor, color and texture of RED cabbage the best.

Plus, making sauerkraut is actually really, really easy. At the least, you just need cabbage, salt and some jars.

FIRST, you’ll want to weigh your cabbage – AFTER you take off the first couple layers of leaves AND the core. (If you need a great, inexpensive kitchen scale that weighs in ounces, pounds and kilograms AND that you can “zero out” to weigh things in a bowl, etc., I highly recommend this one that is shown in my picture):

cabbage on scale

Next, shred the cabbage in a Food Processor or chop finely with chef’s knife.

Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl and add 4 Tablespoons of salt for every 2lbs of cabbage. This one above weighed just over 6lbs, so I tripled that.

Sprinkle salt over cabbage and start kneading/squeezing cabbage with your clean, bare hands.

photo 1

Within a couple minutes, the water should be dripping out of the cabbage every time you squeeze it. Keep it up for a couple minutes until it’s pretty juicy.

Next, pack into clean mason jars – I have found several small ones work better than one large one. You’ll want to use the wide-mouth jars if possible so that you can use a smaller cup to press the sauerkraut down. The goal is to cover the top of the sauerkraut with the juice.

photo 3

Then, put lid on and store in a dark, cool place. I chose a kitchen cupboard. AND learn from my previous mistake by putting something under the sauerkraut….I had one erupt as it fermented and it makes a MESS. I simply used a pie plate this time around:

photo 2

(this is only using 1/2 the head of cabbage)


Just check the kraut every day or two, taste it with a clean fork to see if it’s at the texture you prefer – if not, squish it back down with a small cup again to get liquid covering the top layer.

Once it’s the right taste/texture, simply place in the refrigerator for long-term storage. The refrigeration will stop the fermentation process and you’ll have FRESH, tasty, probiotic-rich sauerkraut!

If you want to learn more about fermenting, I highly recommend this beautiful book full of colorful pictures and easy-to-follow directions (probably BECAUSE he has so many pictures):



What have you fermented at home?

(and yes, BEER counts!)

20 Real Food Snacks for Kids

20 Real Food Snacks for Kids

By | Kid-Friendly Ideas, Snacks & Appetizers | 3 Comments

Okay, you guys. If you have kids, then you know the TORTURE that is hungry children who need food NOW. At our home, this primarily happens after school.

I mean, when you are attempting to eat Real Food, THIS torture, this whining-crabby-I-need-food-now-complaining can about put you over the edge and into fake food world.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

While cut-up plain fresh fruits and veggies are always a great option, sometimes you need to switch things up a bit.

I asked some of my fellow Real Food bloggers to help me out with Real Food snack ideas for school and after-school and here’s what I got. I didn’t take the time to write descriptions or details for each because their pictures are AWESOME! If you see one that look good, just click on the picture and it will take you to their site and their recipe.

Who knows, you might even find a few new pages to follow!






































How about you? Do you have any Real Food Kid-friendly snacks to share?

Please comment below!



This is shared at : Real Food Wednesdays






Real Food Testimonies – Tina’s Story

By | Real Food Testimonies | No Comments


Today I’m welcoming Tina who is sharing her story in my “Real Food Testimonies” series!


Tina’s Story

Due to some medical changes in my family I started questioning what was in the food that I was putting in my family’s bodies. I started researching ingredients, additives, chemicals, nutrients, vitamins and anything else that I thought would help. The information that I started uncovering made me a bit nauseous. At that point I decided that some serious changes needed to be made in our home. From the food we ate, to the way we cleaned, to what we used on our bodies.

How She Makes it Work

With having a family of seven (my husband, myself and our five daughters) making changes to the diet is met with some resistance. There are certain foods that they still do not want to give up regardless of how bad they are for them (ahm…..Doritos – gross!) I have come to the conclusion that I am never going to get them to eat exactly how I want them to therefore I need to stress less and make the most of what I can. With the changes to our diet I focus on their three main meals a day. This way if they ‘cheat’ and eat something for a snack that I’d prefer they didn’t it’s not such a big deal to me.

I have found that the easiest way to get them to eat what/how I want them to is by having that food readily available. I try to take the time to have fruits and veggies washed, cut and easily accessible. This keeps them from grabbing chips/crackers or some other quick item. I have also eliminated buying the things that I want to deter them from the most like chips and/or pop.

Real Plans 320x267

Moving Forward

The road has been bumpy and met with some resistance, but I find it’s worth pursuing. While in the process of doing all the research and trying new things my girls have also found an appreciation for trying to remedy things naturally. They will reach for a bottle of peppermint oil for a headache rather than the Advil. They are more likely to gargle salt water, or drink tea and honey, for a sore throat rather than grab a medicine. It’s nice to know that I am making a difference even on the days I feel like everything I say is falling on deaf ears. With all the new knowledge I have now decided that I would like to go back to school for Nutritional Therapy. Nothing is better than having a child tell you “You can do it Mom, you already have us doing things right!”.



I’m Tina Johnston and I live in northern Ohio. I am wife to Chuck and Mom to my five beautiful daughters Mikayla, Rachel, Emily, Caitlin and Lauren. We also have our miniature dachshund, Bella, three crazy cats Gypsy, Mindy and Baby as well as a rabbit named Rocko and a gerbil. I like to spend my time reading, listening to music, rooting my girls on at soccer and swim, attending our church and just spending time with my family.

This post is shared at: Real Food Wednesday