All posts by Melissa

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.

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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


“Real Food for Rookies” Online Class – 25% off (limited time)!

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


Are you someone who desires to eat more Real Food but doesn’t know where to start?

Do you learn best by being shown how to do something, not just reading about it?

Do you have health problems (either small or BIG) and wonder if a change in your diet might help?

Then THIS CLASS is for you! (and it’s 25% off right now!(


My friend Kelly over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop is having an AMAZING sale for a short time on her “Real Food for Rookies” online class. BE SURE TO use coupon code 25OFFDEAL to get 25% off of her class!

Learn from the comfort of your own home with video tutorials, info, recipes and more.

What You’ll Get:

  • 12 weeks of online classes with videos, downloadable audios, and written materials.
  • LIFETIME access! Read/listen/watch at your leisure: on your break at work, while the kids are sleeping, in your pajamas, whatever! If you have a busy week, no big deal, just pick it back up on your own schedule.
  • Exclusive expert interviews with Sally Fallon Morell (President of the Weston Price Foundation), Dr. Kaayla Daniel (author of The Whole Soy Story), Jane Hersey (Director of the Feingold Association), Tom Naughton (“Fathead” filmmaker), and now one more: Jimmy Moore from the Livin LaVida Low-Carb blog!
  • BONUS: Free copy of the Kitchen Kop Real Food Ingredient Guide.

You’ll Learn How To:

  • Save time and money while serving Real Food
  • Read labels and avoid dangerous ingredients
  • Make nourishing “fast food” meals to avoid last-minute trips to the drive-thru
  • Find healthier alternatives for soda pop, refined sugars, heart-killer oils, sugar-bomb breakfast cereals, factory farmed meat and more
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods that are necessary for good health
  • Take control of your health and change your family’s future!


(and be sure to use coupon code 25OFFDEAL at check-out to get 25% off!)


Kelly has been “into” Real Food for quite some time. She trustworthy, has done her homework and desires to share her long-earned Real Food knowledge with us! This class in invaluable and is backed up with advice from Real Food experts.

Kelly had a rough couple of months (see her blog for updates) and I’d love to be able to bless her by sending some new “Real Food Rookies” her way!!!

Will you be one of them? I know you won’t be disappointed!

I’d tell you more about the class, but she’s got some great intro videos and testimonials over on her class site – go check them out!





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My Garden is Going Crazy!

By | Gardening & Sustainable Living | No Comments

Oh my word. My garden is going crazy.

This is the first year planting at our new place, although it has been my parent’s garden for the last 27 years. My dad has a local farmer put manure on it each fall (and sometimes again in the spring). That combination, along with just plain GOOD SOIL, is the perfect formula for a garden that appears to be on steroids.

I have not fertilized, composted or done anything else to it other than weeding and watering.

My tomato plant section looks like a jungle. This is what was picked the last couple days – and it’s not even 1/4 of them. There are so many that aren’t even ripe yet:



I’m going to make about 40 pints of salsa for this next year. If you need a really great salsa recipe with some simple canning instructions, check out my Canned Salsa Recipe.

I will still probably have millions of tomatoes left after that, too, so I’ll be making the Tomato Sauce and Pizza Sauce from this great book:


My week will pretty much consist of preserving various tomato things.

On another vegetable note, my 4 year old picked this GIANT of a carrot last night, too:


That carrot was HUGE. My kids had so much fun shoveling out the carrots and seeing what shape they were. Some were long and some had several “legs”.

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And yes, there are still beans growing. I’m just going to ignore them…

How about your garden? Anything going crazy???





Seed Saving – should you do it?

By | Gardening & Sustainable Living | No Comments

My sister texted me this picture yesterday and wrote “you should write a blog post on seed-saving”.

The problem is, I don’t know much about this topic. I wish I did.

Someday when I have nothing else to do, I will do all of the things I wish I could do now. (Moms, you know what I’m talking about!)

I understand that seed-saving can be an invaluable resource – such as in instances where a certain crop disease destroys all current plants. Or if a plant pest wipes out something (I’m talking wide-scale here, not just your own garden).

I don’t think most of us realize how much we depend on seeds (and the plants they grow into). Think back on what you’ve eaten so far today. How many of those things depend on some sort of seed growing into a plant/grain to produce food? What if there was a global catastrophe that wiped out the ENTIRE species of that plant?

I know those scenarios are a little far-fetched, but anything could happen, right?

In that instance, what would you do for food for your family?

I’m not a conspiracy-theorist, but I do have the desire to be more and more self-sufficient, mostly where it concerns our food.

Since I know very little about seed-saving, I went on Amazon and looked for books on the topic. I found a few – I haven’t read ANY of these but they look promising (especially the middle one):

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I have so many questions about seed-saving, like:

1) Is it hard?

2) What are the benefits?

3) How do you store the seeds until next year? (cool, dry, warm, etc?)

4) Can you continue to do it year after year with the same plants?


seeds-of-change-logo Seed Savers Exchange is another great resource if you are at least interested in using seeds that have been “saved” from previous crops and generations. Heirloom seeds are one of the many cool things they offer. Check them out!




Do you seed-save?





Why Cold Extracted Honey Is Best

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

My great-grandfather was a beekeeper. I am not a fan of bees, at least in the insect-buzzing-around-me-ready-to-sting-at-any-moment sense. My dad is allergic to them so I’ve always had this healthy fear extreme paranoia of getting stung.

For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been braving angry, buzzing bees — and the occasional angry bear — to get a taste of nature’s own sweet gold: Honey. In fact, the ancient Romans and Aztecs valued it so much that they used to pay their taxes with honey, instead of gold! So smart.

Honey is not only sought after for it’s sweet flavor and nutritional value, but recent scientific studies show that honey contains potent antimicrobials and antioxidants, provides a rich wealth of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and flavonoids — all of which speed healing and promoting overall health. It’s no wonder honey is known as a superfood!

All that, and it tastes great on toast, yogurt, ice cream, stirred into tea, and in just about everything else, too.

I’ve been shopping at Green Polka Dot Box for a while, but I’m really excited to try a product that they carry: Living Honey’s 100% Cold-Extracted Honey.

What is Cold-Extracted Honey?

So what’s the deal with cold extraction?  Isn’t one type of honey pretty much like every other type of honey? The answer is  NO WAY! To understand why cold extracted honey is better — taste-wise, nutrition-wise, and health-benefits-wise — let’s explore how honey is created.

The Bees Do it Better

When it comes to making honey, bees in a hive are grouped into different categories of worker, each with its own set of honey-related tasks. So-called foragers fly about from flower to flower, drinking nectar and storing it in their crop, also known as a honey stomach. When the foragers get back to the hive, they pass the nectar along to a processor bee, who hangs out at the front of the hive. They are so smart!

The processor bee then carries the nectar up to the top of the hive where the honeycomb sits in all of its glory. After depositing the nectar in a honeycomb cell — along with a dose of invertase, a natural enzyme — the nectar is left to ripen. During ripening process, the invertase breaks down the nectar’s original sugar content — sucrose — into glucose and fructose. The bees in the hive help the ripening process along by drying out the honey; the ingenious little creatures create drying airflow by flapping their wings.

Over time, the nectar loses almost all of its water content. No water means no chance of bacteria or other microbes like fungi growing in the honey. When it’s completely ripe, the bees create a little wax cap, sealing off the cell of the honeycomb.

Another interesting honey fact: The flowers that bees collect nectar from determines the fragrance, taste and color of the honey, from the lightest, almost white-yellow to the darkest, deepest amber. For instance, orange blossom, alfalfa, sage and clover honey tends to be light in color and taste, while honey from wildflowers, pine trees and buckwheat tends to be darker and richer. As a general rule, the deeper and darker the honey, the more antioxidants, antimicrobials and other good stuff it contains.

And speaking of all that good stuff, that’s where cold extraction comes into play.

bee Why is Cold Extracted Honey Superior?

Here’s a little known fact: 99.9% of the honey you buy at the supermarket is ruined. That’s right: Ruined.

Why? Because commercially processed honey is heated, pasteurized and filtered within an inch of its life, leaving virtually nothing behind but a sticky syrup that’s really almost no better than corn syrup. All of those amino acids, all of those B and C vitamins, all of those anti-oxidant flavenoids, carotinoids, enzymes and ascorbic acids, and all of those nutrients that the little bees worked so long and carefully to product? Gone, thanks to the heating process.

So, you’re probably asking, if honey is naturally antimicrobial, why heat it at all? The answer is simple: Money.

It all comes down to packaging costs. Cold honey is thick and rich, filled with all of the natural goodness the bees put in, so it moves very slowly — which means that bottling process moves slowly, too.

By heating the honey up to at least 130 degrees, it moves faster and can be pumped into bottles by machines, enabling processing plants to make more product quickly, thus aiding their bottom line. And buyer beware: Even products that say “Raw” on the label still usually heated up to 115 degrees, and when honey hits a temperature of 107 or above the digestive nutrients become “stressed,” which degrades the substance, causing particles to separate – and changing the taste, too.

In contrast, the cold-extraction process used by Living Honey leaves all of the natural goodness, nutrients and phytochemicals in the honey, along with all of the health-promoting properties they deliver.

Plus, Living Honey only uses acid-proof containers to store honey, as it can leach moisture, chemicals and flavors from its surroundings, contaminating the purity and adulterating the flavor. Living Honey knows that their customers tend to have discerning palates, so they make sure their honey always taste just as good as it should and contain nothing more than the nutrients nature intended. There’s just no comparison to the “honey-flavored” stuff you find at the supermarket.

It’s easy to get all of the health benefits and deliciousness of honey in this simple, addicting recipe. Simply drizzle honey over your favorite cereals or granola. Stir until small balls form, then pour in bit of milk for a fast, simple breakfast. You can also pour a bit of honey over biscuits while they’re still hot from the oven, then allow them to them sit overnight. The baked goods absorb the honey, taking in all of that sweet goodness without leaving a sticky feeling.

*** DID YOU KNOW that you can even make your own honey sports drink that delivers the electrolytes, vitamins and minerals you need to replenish your body, without all of the high fructose corn syrup and synthetic colors and flavors you’ll find in most commercial sports drinks? Simply add ¾ cup of honey to 8 cups of water, add a dash of salt and a squeeze of lime, and mix well.

How about you? Do you use honey? Do you have a favorite brand?

Me? I’m shopping for it RIGHT NOW at Green PolkaDot Box. Check them out!