Easy Cocoa

Cocoa is a treat for a cold day. I know a mix in hot water is a super easy choice, but for a healthier choice, I like to make my own cocoa.


5 Cups Whole Milk (An unsweetened almond milk works for a dairy free/low carb choice)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups coconut sugar (1:1 sweeteners of cane sugar are suitable too. We just use coconut sugar in our home)

1 cup Dutch processed cocoa (regular works ok, but the Dutch process will make a smoother coco because it dissolves easily)(I got my last batch from Wilbur Chocolates)


  1. In a large saucepan warm ingredients, stirring with a whisk
  2. Serve

That wasn’t too hard was it? Now for those used to the powdered mix, this is nothing to compare. This cocoa is rich and true. I even enjoy it with a splash of coffee and some home-made whipped cream on a special occasion.

Huevos Rancheros Scramble

Scrambled eggs are a favorite of mine, but they move to a higher level of favorite when salsa and cheese are added. I try to get veggies in for breakfast every day, so this scrambled egg recipe is a great way to add them in. It is also easy and quick which is important as a mommy of four.

2-3 eggs

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup salsa (sugar free in a can or home-made)

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use non-fat, but any is fine)

Add chopped cilantro if desired

  1. Scramble the eggs and put them in a bowl
  2. top the eggs with half the cheese
  3. Put the pan back on the stove and heat salsa
  4. Put warm salsa on scrambled eggs
  5. Top with remaining cheese
  6. Add yogurt and cilantro on top

Healthy Ramen Soup

I was introduced to Ramen noodles in college and although, I no longer crave them, my children occasionally enjoy a bowl on occasion. Most Ramen noodles are not know to be healthy. They contain wheat in the noodles, which is a common sensitivity and allergen. Packs of Ramen, also are high in sodium, non-food ingredients, and even can have MSG, which is safest to avoid.

I recently began purchasing Lotus Foods Organic Rice Ramen Noodles. I use the Forbidden, Millet and Rice, and Jade Pearl noodles. I cook them in my own chicken stock and add a variety of proteins or veggies.

Here is a basic recipe that I might throw together for lunch:



1 Ramen Noodle Cake

1 &1/2 cup finely chopped veggies (carrots, celery, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower…really whatever you have in the fridge-though I personally would not use beets or potatoes). I like color, so choose veggies of different colors if I can.

1 T. chopped red onion or scallion

2 cups chicken broth/stock (home-made or store bought)

1 c. protein: chopped cooked chicken, pork, or fish are best with chicken broth (if using beef, I like to use beef broth instead of chicken stock)


1/2 cup sesame seed oil

1/4 cup soy sauce (I like to use gluten free kinds)

2 t. garlic powder

1 T. ground ginger


  1. Cook broth with noodles and vegetables and meat until noodles are tender (about 5 minutes boiling)
  2. Mix sauce ingredients together and mix into soup once cooked
  3. Serve hot-can sprinkle with sesame seeds or fresh chopped cilantro

Everything-Bagel Salmon Patties

As grocery prices have gone up, canned fish has become a far more affordable option for our family than fresh or frozen fillets of fish. I keep cans of wild-caught Salmon in my cupboard for a healthy, quick meal. My salmon patties work well with roasted vegetables, rice, or my “3 can meal” go to: canned green beans, canned peaches, and canned salmon.


1 can salmon

Everything Bagel Seasoning

2 eggs

Mix the salmon with skin and bones with 2 eggs and about 2 tablespoons of everything bagel seasoning. Drop by spoonfuls into frying pan and cook each side for about 3 minutes until golden.

Serve hot with veggies.

Salmon with bones and skin is incredibly nutritious and is a great source of calcium and minerals, as well as DHA.

Bone Broth in the Pot

I don’t like to throw away poultry bones before sucking them dry of all goodness. Bone broth is incredible wholesome and so easy to make, it makes sense to cook the bones before discarding them.

  1. After a turkey or chicken has been plucked clean of meat put it in a pot.
  2. Cover the bones with water.
  3. Simmer, covered, for 12-24 hours on low on a stovetop, or in an instant pot for 2-3 hours.
  4. Cool the broth to room temperature.
  5. Strain out the bones with a colander. I usually wrap a Ziploc back around the bas of the colander to catch the broth as I strain. Then I zip up the bag and lay it flat in the freezer.
  6. The bone broth can be easily thawed by running the bag under hot water.

Uses: Soups, stews, rice, casseroles, any time a can of broth is needed. When we are struggling with illness in our home, I pull out a package of stock, add lots of garlic and some salt, keep it warm in a pot and sip on it all day.

Why make instead of buy?

1) Using the bones is not wasteful. Not being wasteful is a form of gratitude. When we are ungrateful for something, we tend to treat it with disregard, as though it is- easy come and easy go. If we appreciate something, we will not cast it aside easily. There are times in life I am unable to cook up the bones from a bird. It makes me a little sad, because I feel as though I am pouring a half gallon of amazing stock in the trash, but I also know that it is not with ingratitude that I do not cook up bones, so it is okay to move on from those sad thoughts.

2) It is in a way, free broth! One chicken, depending on its size, makes about 4-8 quarts of broth. Making one’s own broth is a sensible way to save money. A can of similar quality broth can run up three dollars and up…if it can even be found.

3) Stock made with bones contains collagen which helps nourish our body’s bones, easing and even preventing arthritis and bone loss. Collagen is good for skin, hair, and nails too. Minerals and collagen found in home-made bone stock are much higher than most store bought versions of stock. A good stock will be so think with collagen, it will gelatinize in the fridge. Very few store-bought stocks can claim that.

Honey Cough Chews

1 1/2 Cups honey

1 T. Powdered Ginger

1-2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper (This can be skipped for little ones who are sensitive to spices, but it is very helpful to relieve congestion if one can take the heat)

This is a candy making process, so I do not recommend doubling the recipe and I also recommend keeping the measurements and temperatures as precise as possible to avoid over cooking or undercooking.

  1. In a large, heavy pot, ON MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT, Cook all the ingredients to a soft crack (185F/140C on a candy thermometer) It is important to cut the heat immediately as soon as the temperature is reached. There is a fine line between making perfect candy and overcooking.
  2. Line an edged pan with parchment paper. (I use a jelly roll pan, but a 9×13 works fine too).
  3. As soon as the honey and spices have reached the 185 mark, remove from heat and dump into prepared pan.
  4. Do not touch it for a good 15 minutes. It is incredibly hot and can burn skin easily.
  5. Once the honey has cooled to where it can be touched, wash hands, but do not dry them. With wet hands, gently pick up the honey and begin to play with it…stretch, twist, pull, wrap. This is the same method used to make pulled taffy.
  6. For the next 10-15 minutes pull the honey, twist it, pull, it. Wet or oil hands as needed to prevent sticking to hands. It will start to change in color as air bubbles are put inside the honey.
  7. Once the honey is looking whitish and opaque, and cool to touch make a long rope out of it and lay it on the parchment paper.
  8. Use scissors to cut the candy into 1 1/2 inch logs.
  9. Wrap each piece in rectangles of parchment paper.
  10. These MUST be stored in an airtight container or they will get sticky. A jar or Ziploc bag work fine. They will last indefinitely, and can be kept in the family medicine cupboard to be used as needed.

Honey is a scientifically proven cough remedy. It also acts as an expectorant, so the cough is not only tamed, but the mucus is loosened and allowed to drain or be coughed up with less restriction. Honey sooths the throat. And honey has no side affects, unlike traditional cough medications.

Ginger helps ease a cough and reduces bodily-including sinus sand chest -inflammation.

Cayenne Pepper-a little spice gets the nose running right? I love cayenne pepper for its slow burning heat, and yes, it does help drainage and interestingly soothes sore throats too!

When my children were still toddlers, their pediatrician told me not to use cough syrups at all, but recommended honey whenever they got a cold. I can personally attest to the healing powers of honey. I like that I don’t have to even wait for it wo work, but feel results immediately.

I use honey a lot during illnesses. I add honey to tea, give the children honey-sticks, and even make these honey chews to help with healing and discomfort. I also make A Healing Punch to help speed up healing as noted in another post.

A Healing Punch

Vitamin C crystals (Well known to heal the body, but are quickly excreted and must be constantly taken throughout a day to be most helpful)

Baobab powder (highest antioxidant in any known fruit)(Also has potassium which helps prevent muscle cramps from fluid loss during fevers)

Matcha Tea Powder (it is like concentrated green tea, but it naturally calms the body without making it tired. Contains EGCG which prevents the growth of many viruses and bacteria)

Stevia (Since Sugar can slow down or prevent healing, to sweeten home-made drinks, I rely heavily on stevia. I buy it in powdered form, but it can be purchased in liquid as well)

D3K2 Liquid (My chiropractor hooked me on liquid D vitamins. Adding K2 to D vitamins helps in the absorbency of D. Studies show that people with low D in their systems heal slower than those who have enough D. D is important in daily life, but more important in those who are sick)

Natural Extracts (I have an inspirational lazy-susan full of natural extracts. I use them to flavor coffee, milk, and make my own cold drinks. I have found an brand called “Olive Nation” to have the best flavor for the money, but will purchase from other sellers as well. I generally stick to extracts which are water based flavors, oil based flavors work well in cooking, but don’t mix well in most drinks)

Salt (a small bit of salt helps restore electrolytes, similar to Pedialyte or Gatorade. This is especially helpful if a lot of water has been lost due to a high fever)(I like to use pink salt or sea salt, rather than an ionized salt)

Healing Punch

  • 2 teaspoons Vitamin C Crystals
  • 1 teaspoon Baobab Powder
  • 1 teaspoons matcha tea powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia (this is a lot for stevia, but vitamin C is so acidic, it is needed-more can even be added if one finds 1 t. to be too tart.)
  • 5 drops Liquid D3K2
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cherry extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups water
    ice as desired
  • 1. Mix ingredients together and sip slowly throughout a morning or afternoon. Do not guzzle down. It is actually most effective if taken in slowly as the nutrients are given time to absorb into the body, without flooding the system.
  • 2. Experimenting with different extracts is fun too.

Lentil Sausage and Pepper Stew

Stew Ingredients

  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onions finely diced
  • 5 peeled and diced cloves garlic
  • 1 peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 3 sweet peppers (any color) julienned
  • 1 medium onion, julienned
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 lb. cooked turkey sausage (Check out this amazing recipe)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt (may need more to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  1. Start by making the thickened stew, with sautéing the diced onion, garlic, and sweet potato in a saucepan or instant pot with oil.
  2. Drizzle olive oil lightly over julienned peppers and onions-roast them together in the oven at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes.
  3. Once onions, garlic and sweet potato have sautéed about three minutes, add the herbs and salt and red pepper, along with the 4 cups chicken stock. (This can be done in an instant pot or a large pot on the stove)
  4. Red lentils can be added to the soup mixture.
  5. Cook lentils in seasonings and broth for 10 minutes in an instant pot, or 20 minutes on a stovetop. The lentils will cook up and look like mush.
  6. Puree the lentil mixture until smooth.
  7. Add roasted peppers and onions and cooked turkey sausage.
  8. Serve hot with a few fresh or dried herbs sprinkled on top.

In an effort to eat more lentils on a regular basis, I created this recipe this morning. I love the Indian and Mid-eastern cuisines in which lentils are often used. However, I decided to tryout lentils with other culture’s foods to give a more versatile flair in my daily dose of lentils. I must say, this recipe is a real winner!

Spoiled to all Store bought- Turkey Sausage


  • 1 lb. ground turkey (I get them in the frozen section at Aldi for about $2)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds (I grind them in my coffee grinder)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  1. Mix ingredients together in a mixer or by hand.
  2. Shape into patties or cook up chopped

Note: This is a spicy sausage, perfect for Italian style main dishes like lasagna, rice, meatballs, soups and stews. If one wanted a sweeter breakfast style sausage various sweeteners (like maple, honey, stevia, raw sugar, brown sugar) and extracts (like liquid smoke or maple) could be used. Personally, I am happy with this sausage for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The Gift of Lasagna

white and brown dish on black ceramic plate

I think every home-maker is wise to have a great lasagna recipe in her back pocket. It is a versatile, comfort food that most people absolutely love. 

Lasagna is also a dish that freezes very well. I generally have a lasagna hanging out in my freezer. It is great to pull out on a dreary day. Lasagna is also an great food to gift a friend in need of a meal. And truly, if one has a lasagna in the freezer, it makes inviting friends over super easy since it cooks up easily and simple sides like garlic bread and salad pair so well with it. 

After many mediocre attempts at making lasagna, I tweaked my recipe to perfection. I think my family has been spoiled to all other lasagnas as a result, but in all good grace, lasagna is one of those recipes that can be altered little by little to the content of each family.

In a way, lasagna is kind of like a fingerprint of a home. We each have a slightly different version, that is personal to our taste. Maybe that is taking lasagna to an exaggerated level of importance, but oh my, I do value a good lasagna.

Oh, I should note that I never make just one lasagna. Lasagna is way too much work for only one. I always double my recipe. It is expensive, but it is not something we eat every month, so I don’t make it all the time. I usually add lasagna ingredients to my shopping list when I pull our last lasagna out of the freezer. And sometimes I spread out the ingredient purchase over the course of a month or so.

The Ellis Family Lasagna

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 jar Classico (or home-made) tomato/basil spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pkg. Barilla gluten free, ready-to-bake lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz. small curd whole milk ricotta
  • 16 oz. small curd low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded skim or whole milk mozzarella
  • 2 cups shredded parmesan (the real stuff-not the can)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Extra cheese to top(Parm, mozz, and or Cheddar)
  1. Cook up the meat and add a jar of spaghetti sauce to the meat
  2. Shred all the cheeses
  3. Mix all the shredded cheese with ricotta, cottage, and egg into a gooey mixture
  4. spread a bit of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan
  5. Place one layer of uncooked noodles on the meat mixture
  6. Spread cheese mixture edge to edge on hard noodles (I often use my hands)
  7. Spread more meat mixture on top of 1st cheese layer
  8. Add another layer of noodles
  9. Put more cheese on top of that layer of noodles
  10. Spread meat mixture on the second cheese layer (depending on how thick meat and cheese is spread, this may be about all the ingredients. I like to to eek out three layers)
  11. Layer rest of noodles on the meat mixture
  12. Spread on one more layer of cheese and then meat
  13. I like to sprinkle any extra cheese on the top. A blend of cheddar and mozz. is pretty.
  14. The lasagna can be frozen at this point or baked. DO NOT BAKE AND THEN FREEZE.
  15. Cover lasagna with a lid or with foil for the entire baking time.
  16. Bake at 350 for 1 hour (from fresh) OR Bake 350 2 hours (from frozen)
  17. Uncover and COOL 30-40 minutes-this is very important or the lasagna will fall apart if it is not given time to cool enough to set up. We have dug in too early and it is still good.
  18. Serve with garlic bread and Italian salad. Brownies make a great dessert with this meal.

Meat: I use a pound of organic/grass fed beef, but there is room for cheaper forms of beef in this recipe

Sauce: I have made my own, but lasagna is so much work to make, I am very happy with the Classico brand. It also contains no sugar which is a great bonus.

Pasta: I started using gluten free lasagna noodles seven years ago. The rice noodles are better in flavor and texture than any other noodle I have used. I like that I do not have to pre-cook them which saves me time in the process of making lasagna. Plus, it frees up my lasagna to share with my friends who cannot eat wheat, so that is an added bonus.

Cheese: I buy all my cheese in block form. It saves me a lot of money, and the cheese is creamier than the pre-shredded versions. I have a food processor and shred block after block on lasagna making day. TIP: Aldi has inexpensive triangles of parmesan. I buy several and shred them up myself.

Yes, lasagna making is a time taking, budget killing venture, but oh my is it a wonderful comfort food to have on hand. I have fallen upon lasagna time after time for a hearty meal to share with friends, brighten up a gloomy day, and gift as a meal to someone in need of cheer. Lasagna is really a perfect meal to keep on hand for such a time as this, or that.