504 Main by Holly Lefevre: Mind, Body, Food...A Quest for Pantry Perfection and a Homemade Ketchup Recipe!
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mind, Body, Food...A Quest for Pantry Perfection and a Homemade Ketchup Recipe!

Hey all! I am seriously dragging my feet when it
comes to posting these Healthy Happy Hour Post Updates {sorry!}.
It is so much to take in…
overhauling your entire way of thinking and eating
{because that’s the plan we are on here!}
is overwhelming, and quite frankly
I am in a BIG ‘OLE January blah mood!
I have done an overhaul before but I was 23ish and single…
that was easy-peasy, now I am doing it for 4!
OK, that was my excuse
{which I am not supposed to make any more…so sue me!}.
Now for some quick housekeeping…
Lisa Leonard Illuminate Necklace Giveaway goes on until 2/1/2010.
Click HERE to enter!
As a follow up for the Friday Follow up…
If for some reason I missed the re-follow,
please leave me a comment and let me know…
I do not want to be a slacker.

Now on to the info {drum roll please}…
If you are new or need a refresher on
the Healthy Happy Hour Posts…
There is evil lurking in my cupboards…and frig…and freezer. Yes, I am talking about all those ingredients I cannot pronounce…which ultimately means I shouldn’t be eating them. Now, I won’t lie…I have not made a complete sweep of it all. Most of it wasn’t too bad to begin with, but it is not perfect by any means. I am certainly not the picture of “pantry perfection.” This is a journey for me and for my family to get back on track. There is still evil hiding in there, but going forward I am more conscious of it. I will admit I did get a little lazy...but wholly cow! And, you know what is really scary...the evil was in places I never expected!
CASE #1…I was the BIGGEST FAN of these great little frozen minced garlic squares {store to not be named}. Seriously, I thought they were the best invention EVER! I had them stockpiled…Then when I was cooking for the healthy happy hour, I looked at the ingredients…S-U-P-R-I-S-E…it wasn’t just garlic. There were three ingredients in my garlic – NOT necessary. It must have been a sign because that was actually my last package of the garlic…this garlic is no longer welcome in my house.  I have been buying whole heads of garlic and mincing them myself and guess what…it tastes better anyway!

CASE #2…Hubby loves chicken soup. We were having a go-around about the chicken stock….the free range organic broth didn’t have the junk but the sodium {which he needs to watch} was 3 times as much. The free range reduced sodium chicken broth has some junk (MSG), but a fraction of the sodium…what is a wife to do? Solution…I cook a whole chicken at least once a week…and make my own broth! I throw the carcass {yeah, I love that word!} into a big pot, some water, some veggies, and we just boil it for a couple of hours. It is better for us, tastes better and it is like 2 for 1. I seriously, not in one trillion years would have ever thought I would do this…but it is not hard and costs less.

Fresh, frozen, or canned?: I know there are arguments for and against canned and frozen foods. I will always choose fresh if it is available, but I still, and probably always will accept frozen and canned {or better yet jarred} food into my house provided they are organic or at least not full of junk. I am not getting into the argument here over canned foods – if you don’t like it pick something else - I know some cans have BPA. You can reference my “go to” source on this one…click HERE and visit the discussion board or search for "canned food."

Now let’s chat about costs: Based on my current grocery shopping and the swaps I am making, I believe it will all be a wash…although it may not seem like it now. Case in point the double duty chicken/broth. I have priced a few things…
  • Organic butter at the grocery store it is $7.00 at Whole Foods, $4.99 (I think it was a special). I do not always buy the organic butter but I do buy the “no rbst” butter at $2.99/lb. - I can get butter at the grocery store for $2.50/lb. most of the time – so there is a little price difference.
  • I am buying bulk (and I do not mean Costco bulk)…brown rice flour, quinoa, granola, oatmeal, etc. can all be purchased in bulk…you don’t pay for the packaging (which is “green” too) and you save some cash.
  • The frozen food and the canned food for the most part was pretty comparable.
  • The one thing that is killing me is the meat….I have yet to buy an organic whole chicken…I hear they say one you go organic chicken you never go back…but that needs to be a lot of bang for my buck.
  • I go to the Farmer’s Market for produce and try to make a good list of what I really need. I also go without the kids if possible…so without kettle korn, snow cones, and a gourmet cupcake…the cost is pretty good. Now I am also fortunate to live in a place known as “The Salad Bowl of the World,” so I won’t lie…that helps! I can also drive to a local organic farm, Earthbound Farms, and shop. 
  • Shoot me an email if you want to chat about this more!
So after all of that…what the heck am I talking about? 
As I go about cleaning our pantry...
  • I am removing items that are full of chemicals, MSG, and plain old crap.
  • I will quit buying "backup/just in case" boxes of macaroni and cheese and nasty soups {I swear, I will}.
  • I will be resourceful, using what is on hand, what is in season, and what is affordably priced.
  • I will make what I can…yes, I even made my own ketchup! (see recipe below)
  • A little preparation goes a long way…I make my own tortilla chips…and the kids help. It is not that hard to cut some tortillas like a pizza {did I just say pizza?} and toss them around in some sea salt or other quality seasoning {works for pitas too}.
My buddy Kelli at Sustaining Creativity in a Busy Mom’s World posted this recipe awhile back and I was soooo intrigued...have you read the back of a ketchup bottle..ick! So, I finally did it! I made ketchup! I did make a goof on my shopping trip for a couple of the spices, so my recipe varied a little. Go visit Kelli’s post to see the original, but here is mine. By the way everyone liked it…but next time I am cutting back on the crushed red pepper for the little ones.
4 whole cloves  
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1⁄4 tsp. whole allspice
2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 cup white vinegar
1-2 Tablespoons Molasses (for sweetness and thickness)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic - can be less…I {heart} garlic!

  • Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, celery seeds, crushed red pepper, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, molasses, and onion.
  • Smash and add the garlic to the pot.
  • Cook, stirring, until onions are very soft, 40-60 minutes…watch it.
  • Remove spice bundle
  • Purée sauce in a food processor until smooth. I made sure it was really smooth!
  • Transfer ketchup to a glass jar. Set aside; let cool.
  • Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.MAKES 2 1⁄2 CUPS(The original recipe calls for this, but I did not do these last steps) Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into a qt. saucepan over medium heat; Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes; Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like. This recipe was altered from a recipe first published in Saveur in Issue #117
Ultimately it is about what works for each person/family
at a particular time and is cost effective or efficient.
Even a few changes here and there can greatly impact your health.
So, are you still here?

Do you think I am crazy?
Sound like too much work?
What are you doing to improve your health or your families health?

Happy Eating!

{Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or health professional. I am a mom on a journey and these are my steps and my opinions. I have no serious health issues so I am free to do what I feel is right. Consult a doctor if you need help...aka…don’t sue me!}


  1. We are trying to eat healthier too, but it's a struggle. Really have to change my cooking habits that I've had for 20+ years. But we are working on it.
    I grew garlic in the garden 2 years ago. Who knew that I'd have enough to last a life time :)

  2. yes. you're crazy. but in a very good way. I just checked my jarred garlic: garlic, water, citric acid. Hmmmmm. Why the acid. At least it's not MSG or modified food starch. I steer clear of that, along with any of the sugars produced by corn: syrup, mannitol, etc.

    I'll be watching your progress closely and hope to be able to imitate you someday.

  3. Just found you via SITS...what a interesting blog you have,I`m off to make a cup of coffee and then come back to read more :))

  4. Homemade ketchup, who would have thought.
    Remember the green ketchup they sold years ago? Hmmm...wonder what was in it.

  5. I love the changes you're making and you're inspiring me!!!!!!

    I've been blah, too......if you have a second, go to my blog and read 2 posts down......"Finding Strength". It's an awesome video that I pull up each time I need a boost. I bet you'll love it.

    Casey from www.thestarnesfam.com

  6. I'm "trying" to make a few changes around here as well. Due to my son's dye and corn syrup allergies, I've been a label reader for years. I make most things from scratch and freeze large batches so I don't get tempted to do the prepackaged foods or take out {not saying I never, just not often}. It is all very time consuming but very worth the effort. I wish we lived in a warmer climate so that I could shop the Farmer's Market year round.

    I've got the blahs as well. Just can't seem to get out of the funk!


  7. Helpful suggestions Holly.

    We try to buy in bulk when possible as well, but living in a non-urban area has made this a challenge.

  8. Holly...No I do not thinking you are crazy! I wish more than anything I could make healthy cooking and eating a priority. We make small baby steps every year. My most recent one was we only use organic milk and yogurt in my house. It took me a awhile to get over the $6.49 gallon of milk versus the $1.99, but I really feel like it so much better for us and we drink a lot of it. Keep these types of posts coming. I agree, that every little change here and there helps and I love the ideas!

  9. I reallllly need to clean out my pantry. I watched Dr. Oz's show yesterday and he talked all about the poisons in food...mercury, pesticides, BPA. I definitely feel the need to detox after watching that!

  10. I don't think you're crazy! If it works for you, go for it!

    Around here, I'm not doing a total overhaul. I'm all about moderation and portion control. I make most things from scratch, anyway (not ketchup, though, lol!), but I need to up our fruit and vegetable intake. I love most fruits and vegetables, but everyone else in my house is a little picky about them.

  11. I am afraid I missed some people from Friday Follow myself. It was huge. I am still catching up...

    I have a rule when shopping. If I can't pronounce it I won't buy it anymore. Also if there is more then 5-6 ingredients it's a pretty good sign it's not good for my family. I have to read everything since I have a diabetic child. I think of it as a blessing in disguise.

  12. Wow! Good for you.. I honestly don't know if I could do it or truly want to, but you sure make it sound wonderful and not too hard.

  13. I do not want anyone thinking that I think I have got this all down...I/we are a work in progress. I used to be such a good label reader, but SLIPPED BIG TIME! The kids have adjusted (they were already used to it really) the different tastes and eat a lot of veggies and different fruits (I am lucky there...have no idea how I managed that!). I am not going to tell my kids they cannot have a lollipop or a cookie either...just in moderation. I, myself, cannot live without mochas and the occasional s'more!

    I enjoy everyone's comments! Thanks for coming by!

  14. I like this post, we've been getting rid of processed foods for awhile. I think sometimes people get a little over-concerned, though. Citric acid can be lemon juice, a preservative, so it's not necessarily bad. Also, the no-growth-hormones dairy stuff is kinda tricky; the state of CA doesn't allow any traceable amounts in any dairy products, so some health companies are just overstating the obvious. I do appreciate all your info, I hope it gets more people to eat less processed, chemical foods :)

  15. I think that this is wonderful. Thanks for the reminder to buy in bulk, often I get lazy and just toss the cardboard boxes in, but I have all the plastic containers at home, so no real (good) excuse. WinCo has a large bulk area and it really does save money.

    I have been a little better about avoiding all trans fats (except in Bisquick, I can't make my hubby quit that habit) But that's just once a week or so. And so many things have MSG! My hubby gets stomach aches from it, so we have to avoid it as much as we can!

    Great post, thank you!

  16. Good for you, Holly! Your health will greatly benefit. Thanks for the ketchup recipe. Never thought about making it myself until now. That's why you're so awesome. I get so many ideas from you. Thank you!

  17. I think this is terrific..I think we can all do better..but wow when you said homeade ketchup..I was looking for the canned tomatoes..LOL..you really went all the way..Good for you..I know I will not do all of it , but I will make efforts her and there..and I enjoy what you share..very very smart and great info..you have really done a lot of work here...Thanks..!

  18. I think this is terrific..I think we can all do better..but wow when you said homeade ketchup..I was looking for the canned tomatoes..LOL..you really went all the way..Good for you..I know I will not do all of it , but I will make efforts her and there..and I enjoy what you share..very very smart and great info..you have really done a lot of work here...Thanks..!

  19. ohhh no...those little frozen garlic squares from my fav store that i won't name either were a huge help in the kitchen...of course i ran to my freezer and sure enough there were a few more ingredints in mine too...water...salt..soybean oil...lemon juice. i usually always have the fresh stuff on hand and that was my backup!

  20. wow good for u, holly! i don't think u're crazy at all:) i'll have to try this homemade ketchup recipe. awesome! thanks again for ur comment on my blog and i don't think it's terrible to buy urself a v-day gift hehe:)


  21. I like to use excuses like...I have picky eaters--which I do--but no time like the present to turn their eating habits into good ones.

  22. Good for you for trying honey! I can't seem to get on board although I need to. Thanks for the comments on my Jonestown post. I always love to see you've stopped by! Kori xoxo

  23. i just did the clean sweep in our house. it amazed me how much CRAP is in the foods i buy -- and i am pretty picky. mainly is was the canned soup and artichokes that got me. something calcium chloride. i'm pretty sure this isn't supposed to go in our bodies! thanks for the ketchup recipe. i'll have to try it.

  24. Good for you! I think more people need to follow suit! I found you on friday followers!

  25. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan changed my ly life! I will only buy organic meat, even in restaurants. In fact, I will even go to more than one grocery store, if necessary. I don't buy organic everything, not even close, but I no longer make any exceptions with the meat.

  26. Not buying back-up processed food for those "just in case" days is my big fail. I do try really hard to make food from scratch and limit the processed stuff but I just can't seem to commit to it 100%.

    Case in point: This week I've been sick with a bad cold and couldn't face making proper dinners so we dipped into the chicken nuggets and fish sticks. I know. I know. Not good. Gah. I'll keep on it.

  27. Wow! I am impressed. I have made a lot of things but never ketchup. Of course, none of my four kids will go near ketchup so we go through a bottle every few years!

  28. I use fresh garlic, and it does taste better.

    We use lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. If I can't get fresh I will by frozen. The only canned veggies we use are tomatoes.

  29. Ugh. When I think about all the things in the foods that we eat...it grosses me out. MSG especially creeps me out. It also makes me feel terrible. Good for you!

  30. I have the January Blahs as well. Im hoping an overhaul might get me up and at em. Ill definitely be looking forward to your healthy entries to help me on my way.

  31. Great post Holly! Very informative!! And thanks for the link!
    I don't know if you guys have EarthFares, but checkout their website because they often offer Pantry Makeovers...at least at ours in NC...where you take in select "regular store bought" items (ketchup, Peanut Butter, jelly, dressings, etc.) and they give you their organic brand free to try in exchange for the nasty stuff.
    I'm loving that you make your own chicken stock! Soup from bones, girl! We do that here a lot as well. Check in your area for some local farms and see if they sell whole chickens...free range, no hormones or antibiotics...ours here run about 3.50 lb for a 3-5 lb chicken. That's really the way to go!
    Way to go on all this positive change!
    Kelli @ SustainingCreativity

  32. Do I think you are nuts? For choosing to give your family healthy foods? NEVER! Good for you!

  33. Anonymous9:09 PM

    Getting healthier is always a good thing and yeah it does take more time, but it's well worth it, right? Thanks for keeping up with these posts. I am learning lots from you.

  34. Anonymous9:13 PM

    I almost always buy frozen veggies. We live in the desert and the fresh stuff sometimes isnt so fresh.

  35. Have you started taking someones ADD medicine to stay up all night to do all of this? I'm worried about you my friend. Amazing blogging abilities, writing wedding books, and all from scratch organic cooking! If you put chickens and a lamb in your back yard to collect eggs and process your own wool...I'm coming down there to take you to Hawaii with me! xoxxo Holly

  36. I like the idea of homemade ketchup. We need to change our habits but is really difficult for us.

    Hope reading your blog I get the motivation I need.

  37. I went through a period of doing this last year. And I admit I enjoyed it and the food did taste better. I hope one day to get back to it, once I figure out my balance. (Having started my own freelance business.)

  38. Holly, I'm intrigued by your healthy home made choices. But my wife is extremely picky about how her food tastes. I just know that if I tried home made ketchup, for example, I would get "the look". Maybe I'll give it a try and see what happens.

  39. Stopping by from SITS - thanks for that homemade ketchup recipe - I've been looking for one to try!

  40. Anonymous1:21 PM

    Stopping by from SITS! We are stock piling too.


Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation! I sure hope you come back for more!

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