Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Farm to Table II

Yesterday I wrote a post about getting our quarter cow, and said that the farmer we bought it from offered to have us on a pasture walk they had planned.  I jumped at the opportunity, because not only would I love to see how their cows lived, but I figured I'd learn a lot about farming that I can use down the road when Chad and I have our own farm.

The farm we bought the cow from is called Green Heron Growers, and they have a nice little farm here in Western New York close to where Chad and I live.  It was a pretty drive out to their farm.  It was kind of overcast that day, and it was sprinkling off and on, but we brought umbrellas so we wouldn't be too uncomfortable.

There were several people there already when we pulled up.  It was kind of funny, actually.  We were the only people there who didn't have their own farm, but everyone seemed so.... normal.  Not farmerish at all.  The folks that owned Green Heron Growers themselves looked like they used to be hippies, to be honest! 

Their farm is based very strongly on Joel Salatin's farm Polyface Farms, which is an intensive grazing system that promotes healthy animals, healthy land, and healthy people.  Instead of destroying the land, it improves it by adding topsoil and nutrients.  The animals eat the foods that they naturally eat in nature (GRASS!).  And because the animals are eating naturally and are happy, the meat they produce is healthier for people, too.

The farmers first showed us their baby broiler chicks that were soon to go out to the pasture.

Then we headed out to their pastures, and talked about what they're doing to improve the land.  

Even the dog likes eating the grass.
I was amazed when they told us that they actively seeded their fields with lots of legumes (clovers in this case) and lots of different kinds of grasses to provide the perfect balance for the cows to eat.  Not too much protein, not too much carbohydrate, and not grasses that were too tough to eat. 

If you looks close, there really are all kinds of different grasses and clovers in this field.  I'll never look at grass the same way again.

They took us to their chicken tractors next, but along the way, I got this shot.  The farm across the way is an organic Amish dairy farm.

The chicken tractors were really cool.  What these are are outdoor pens for their broiler chickens.  They move them twice a day, so the chickens get a fresh crop of grass and bugs, and so the field gets fresh chicken poop fertilizer all over.  The tractors also help protect the chickens from natural predators, like raccoons, skunks, and coyotes.

 While we were there, he moved it for us so we could see how excited the chickens got when they got a fresh supply of grass and bugs.

After that, we walked on down to where the cows were that day.  Along the way, I caught a couple of pictures of some Amish buggies driving by.  This isn't unique for us to see in our area.  I see Amish people all the time because there's such a large group of them around here.  But I thought it was a pretty picture.

And then, cows!

They have a herd of 37 cows, mostly mixed, but all have Red Devon in them somehow.  He said this was very important to him, because the Red Devon is an extremely docile cow, and he believes that the temperament of the cow in life has a lot to do with how it tastes later on. 

Every day, they move their herd to a new paddock, or small sectioned off pasture.  That way, the land has a chance to recover, and the cows get fresh new grass every day.  This ensures that the cows are eating the very best food every single day, just like they would do if they were in the wild.  

There was a cute little baby cow that had gotten loose from the rest of the herd, and he just kept mooing at us.  When the farmer tried to catch him, he ran around like a little kid!  It was pretty cute.

The farmers actually name each cow born on their farm, that's how much they care about them.  The little calf that got loose was Midnight. 

Then they invited us into the new paddock they were moving the cows to, so we could watch them enjoying the new grass. 

Oh my, they were so loud!  They chomped like mad!  They started out on the other side of the paddock to us, but they just kept getting close and closer and closer.

This one was just a few feet away before she realized she had to turn and go the other way!

The red devon is so docile that he managed to get quite friendly with some of the calves born on his farm.

I accidentally captured his Amish neighbor, so I put a yellow dot there to hide his face; they prefer not to be photographed.

It was a long tour.  We were out in the fields nearly 3 hours, but I learned a lot and it rekindled my passion about farming someday.  I don't think we'll have cows right away, or possibly ever, but we'll definitely be caring for some kind of animals.  Chickens at least, and possibly sheep or goats.  

On the way back to our car, I saw some free range laying chickens in their back yard.

It was really cool visiting the farm we bought our meat from.  It made me really appreciate our purchase, and cemented the idea of buying from them again.  

By the way, did you know hows have whiskers?


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farm to Table

Do you remember back in May when Chad and I bought a freezer and ordered a quarter cow on a whim?  Fun times!  Well, it's July now, and we finally got a call from the butcher last week about what kind of cuts we wanted from our cow. 

The conversation went very quickly!  I hardly knew what to say, and the lady I was talking to sounded like she was in a hurry.  All I really was able to manage to get through was that we wanted as much of it as possible to not be ground beef, that yes I wanted the tongue but no I didn't want the heart, and oh yes, could I have the suet? 

On Wednesday of last week, the farmer sent an email to the handful of people they sold some cows to, to let them know the beef was all butchered and frozen and ready to be picked up.  They also said that they were having a pasture walk on Saturday and we were all welcome to come.  That sounded so awesome!  I wanted to go and check out their farm before, but wasn't sure if I could actually face the cow that we'd soon be eating.  But since the cow was already butchered, I'd only really be facing our cow's friends and family. 

So Thursday, Chad went out to the butcher's on his lunch break and brought home this.

Totally 70s kitchen flooring. 
When he handed me the first box, the first thing I said was, "Holy cow!", which made me laugh and almost drop the box.  All together, we got 91 pounds of beef, so each box was about 40-50 pounds!

Now I'm a nerd, deep down.  I needed to know how much meat we got, what kind of cuts we got, how much we paid per pound, and if we actually saved any money going this route.  So before I carted the meat downstairs into our new freezer, I weighed and wrote down how much of each kind of meat we got.

If you're as much of a nerd as I am, you can check out my figures here.  If you're not that interested in numbers and figures, I'll just tell you here the basics. 

We paid the farmer $4.50 a pound for hanging weight of our 1/4 cow, and that included the butcher fee.  Since our quarter came out to be 135 pounds, that's $607.50.  After processing, we got about 91 pounds.  That means we paid $6.67 for the parts of the cow we actually brought home. 

Now, if I went to our local Wegmans and bought the same cuts of organic grass fed beef (although Wegmans doesn't carry organic in all the cuts we got), we would have spent $7.96 per pound.  So it actually was a good deal. We ended up filling our freezer quite well.

It wasn't just about how good of a deal we could get on meat, though.  It's about quality.  It's about knowing that the cows are very well taken care of, that they eat good natural foods, and that they're happy.  I don't know if you can actually taste a difference (some people say you can), but I liked just knowing that we got to make at least one cow happy. 

And he was pretty delicious, too.

Paired with my own homegrown veggies as a side, this was the perfect meal!

Tomorrow I'll show some awesome pictures we took on the farm that our cow came from! 

Monday, July 29, 2013


Hey guys!  I know I don't have a whole bunch of readers, but I hope that I can make even just a small impact here.  There's a cool new Kickstarter project called Carb-loaded, which is a film project about the unhealthy effects of carbs on our society.  I know there's a bunch of other low carb/paleo/primal stuff already out there, but the more we talk about this and bombard people with the science and the facts about processed carbs and the harm they do, the more our society will start changing. 

So check out the kickstarter page.  Watch the cool little video.  And if you think it's a great film, donate a little money or pass the link on to someone else. 

The Allure of Drama

Have any of you ever heard of Kimkins?  I never really did, to be honest.  I've known about low carb dieting for a long time, but I never even gave it a chance until last spring.  Until then, I was completely unaware of any of the goings-on in the LC world.  So somehow, by chance, I found myself reading about Kimkins for the very first time this weekend.  I stayed up way later than I should have last night reading about it, because it was just so fascinating.  Like a terrifying novel, only it's completely real.  All the people harmed in this story really got harmed.

It amazes me how interesting drama is.  I purposefully go out of my way to avoid drama in my personal life, and yet when I run across a story about wrong doings, mysterious happenings, and people getting lied to and hurt, I can't help wanting to stop and read everything I can about it.  I don't even read dramatic books or watch dramatic movies, and yet there I was last night, knee deep in 4-5 year old blogs, trying to read all the drama I could about this case.

For some reason, I think humans evolved to love drama.  You see it everywhere you go.  I dare you to turn on your television and try to find a show that isn't dramatic.  I've even seen shows where they try to make fishing or antiquing as dramatic as possible!  I don't know about you, but the last time I checked, the reason most people go fishing or antiquing is because it relaxes them.

There are people in my life that I know to be truly drama-addicted.  My sister, for instance, seems to be constantly in a bad situation.  She complains bitterly about how hard her life is, but she never stops to think about why she's in the place she's in.  If she did, she'd realize that almost every single bad thing in her life is self-inflicted.  I doubt she knows this is going on, but on some level, she's creating drama in her life because she's addicted to it.

Even though I know it's bad for me, I can't always stop myself from following certain real-life novels.  I find myself  attracted the whole Carbsane drama lately.  In certain ways, it reminds me a lot of Kimkins.  The situations are totally different (Kimkins was advocating extremely low calorie/low carb/low fat diets, where as Carbsane is going around bashing just about every LC/Paleo/Primal person on the internet), but the personalities of Heidi (Kimkins) and Evelyn (Carbsane) ....  they seem eerily similar.  Manipulative, secretive, uncaring about damage they're doing to the people who trust them, narcissistic, and very hateful to anyone who doesn't agree with them.

It's really sad to me that there's drama like this out in the world.  That hateful, dramatic people like Heidi and Evelyn can gather a following of trusting people who just don't question their tactics.  And even more sad is the fact that I can't peel my eyes away from the ensuing train wreck.  I find myself rooting for the "bad guys" to get caught and all the juicy details of their lies to be uncovered.  The world needs justice!

Maybe it does, but I don't think I want to be a part of that side of it.  I'm going to try letting go of the drama-filled blogs and focus more on being positive and uplifting in my own.  As it turns out, Gandhi didn't say this next quote despite the fact that everyone attributes it to him, but it's still a beautiful belief to live by:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

And I plan to.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wild Honey

I never was a fan of honey growing up.  It just had a distinct pungent flavor that I didn't enjoy.  It sure looked like I should like it, though; all golden and sticky sweet.  I thought it should taste like maple syrup.  Unfortunately, it really doesn't.

When I moved out and started taking care of my own house, I actually ended up buying a lot of honey.  Not because I liked it; it still tasted kind of yucky.  Rather, I used it in bread making, which I did a lot.  It worked very well in bread, and I liked telling myself that it didn't have any white sugar in it!

But when Chad and I went low carb, of course we stopped making bread, and the honey sat around for a long time.  Eventually I just got rid of it, because, hey, what are we going to do with it?

The thing with honey, though, is that there are some paleo people who use it and believe that it's good for them.  I'll agree that it's probably better than pure white sugar, but I'm not certain it's actually good for you. 

Well, a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law got a big jar of raw honey that her brother-in-law had gotten from bees he cared for.  And because I'm a) frugal and b) a very curious person, I asked if I could take some home with me. 

It's not much.  A little less than a cup of honey.  I wanted to make sure that if I liked it, and figured out how I could use it, I had enough for whatever I wanted to use it for, but not so much that I'd feel forced to eat a bunch of it. 

I tasted it.  It's really different from the honey I used to buy in the store.  It's sweet and mild, maybe even a little floral, with no pungent nasty flavors at all.  I can actually say I like this honey.  The problem I have now is, am I going to use it?  And if so, how?  I think if I use it in small quantities, it won't be so bad.  I was thinking I could use it to make some low carb granola, to help stick the ingredients together better.

My other thought was to use it in some of my low sugar jam making.  I have the new Preserving with Pomona's Pectin book, which is a book all about making low sugar jam and jelly.  Some of the recipes call for honey instead of sugar, and they look delicious. 

What do you guys think?  Is it something worth working into my diet in small quantities?  If you suddenly had raw local honey, how would you use it? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Favorite Breakfast Food

When I was growing up, my mom would make a special breakfast on weekends.  Instead of cold cereal, she'd fry up some eggs and bacon, have a pan full of home fries, and there would always, always be pancakes.  She'd make big stacks of them, and we'd pile them high with butter and syrup.

That was a tradition I continued having when I moved away and married Chad.  Not every weekend, but many weekends, we'd fry up the eggs, cook the vegetarian sausage, and make stacks of pancakes covered in butter and syrup.  Well, until we went low carb, anyway.  Then pancakes were strictly off limits.

I tried a few different substitute recipes.  Nothing really pleased me, though.  They were usually really grainy, bland, and fell apart easily.  When I did make some half decent pancakes, Chad didn't enjoy eating them because they didn't have syrup on them.

So you can imagine my trepidation when I saw a recipe for coconut pancakes in Dr. Fife's Cooking with Coconut Flour book.  I wanted to try it, but I knew they probably wouldn't turn out very well.  And even if they were good, Chad wouldn't like them because there was no syrup. 

Enter low sugar jam.

As soon as I made my first batch of low sugar jam (it has only 1/2 cup sugar in a batch of 6 jars), I knew this would be the perfect topping for pancakes.  That's when I decided to try the coconut flour pancakes.

Yes, hamburger and pancakes. 

And OMG, they're so good!  They taste almost exactly like real pancakes.  The only difference that I can tell that they actually fill us up instead of leaving us hungry in an hour or two the way traditional pancakes do.

They're easy to make, too, and use ingredients I always have on hand.  The cool thing about coconut flour is that, even though it's kind of pricy, you only use a little bit of it in recipes.  That's why I like using coconut flour instead of almond flour, which is not only more expensive, but you use the same quantities as you would regular flour and you can go through a $10 bag after two recipes.

Pancakes make an easy bread substitute, too.  You don't have to make a whole loaf of bread if all you want is two sandwiches.  Just make a batch of pancakes and there you go.

Chad had to show off his manly appetite by slathering butter on top of his sandwich.

And this weekend, we decided to try blueberry coconut pancakes since we still have 5 pounds of blueberries sitting in the freezer.

These were so heavenly.  No need for syrup or jam if you're using good sweet berries.  Just a little butter and they're soooo awesome.  Next time, we plan on trying raspberry pancakes since I have lots of raspberries too!

I really highly recommend the book Cooking with Coconut Flour.  I plan on writing a nice review of the book in a couple of days, but go ahead and check it out on Amazon if you can't wait.

I did contact Dr. Fife and asked if I could reproduce a couple of the recipes form his book.  He very graciously gave me permission!  I hope you'll try this pancake recipe out, and go check out Dr. Fife's Cooking with Coconut Flour.

Coconut Flour Pancakes

2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted
2 tbsp coconut milk or whole milk
1 tsp sugar*
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp sifted coconut flour
1/8 tsp baking powder

Blend together eggs, oil, coconut milk, sugar, and salt.  Combine coconut flour and baking powder and thoroughly mix into batter.  Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet.  Spoon batter onto hot skillet making pancakes about 2-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.  Batter will be thick but will flatten out when cooking.  Makes about 8 pancakes.

*I have successfully made these pancakes by substituting stevia, substituting xylitol, and leaving out the sweetener all together.

Recipe reprinted from the book "Cooking with Coconut Flour" used with permission from the author. Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Whey Protein's Dirty Little Secret

I want to like whey protein.  What isn't to like about it?  It's a good source of quick protein to help you build muscles, it makes a great addition to smoothies, and there are lots of low carb recipes that use a lot of the stuff (like cookies and fudge).

Despite how much I want to like whey protein, I don't use it and never will.  For one thing, it's really expensive.  $15-$20?  Ouch.  If all I wanted was the protein, I could get equal amounts of protein from eggs for much less money.  If I want a delicious addition to smoothies, I use full fat yogurt or cream.  And when I want to make low carb cookies, I just use almond or coconut flour.

But what turned me off from whey protein the most was when I read this article from Consumer Reports.  They tested several of the most popular brands of protein powder, and every one of them had heavy metals.  Metals that your body can't get rid of very quickly, and that can be harmful when large quantities accumulate.  There's no need for there to be so much heavy metal in whey protein powder.  It just doesn't make sense.

Well, what about other kinds of protein powder, like rice, soy, pea, or other plants?  Mark Sisson posted a while back about how plant protein powders just don't work that well.  And who knows?  They might have large quantities of heavy metals too.

And now here's the biggest secret of all about whey protein.  Do you know what it's made from?  Well yes, it's made from whey.  Whey is a byproduct of cheesemaking; when the cheese curds have formed and you strain them away, the liquid that's left is the whey.  It's still got protein in it, though.

Cheesemaking is an old art.  People have been doing it for centuries.  Back before they had the sophisticated machines to extract the protein and turn it into powder, they had another method of extracting all the protein from whey.  They boiled it a second time, this time much hotter than when they were forming cheese curds, and then they let it cool.  Then they strained it.  You know what they got when all the liquid is strained away?

Ricotta cheese.

Yes, my friends, ricotta cheese, which literally translates to "recooked".  Now it's true that it's not 100% protein, but then neither is whey protein powder.  Ricotta is more of a balanced food;  1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta has 14g of protein, 16g of fat, and 4g of carbs.  1/2 cup of part skim ricotta has 14g of protein, 10g of fat, and 6g of carbs.  You don't want to touch fat free ricotta, though.  It has only a small amount of fat, but it's still only 14g of protein, and packs on 10g of carbs.

I love ricotta cheese.  It would make a yummy addition to smoothies.  It's packed with protein.  It's great in recipes.  If you add a little salt and some Italian herbs, it makes a really yummy filling for rolled up lunch meat.  And it's a real food.  Yeah, ok, it's been processed, but all cheese is, and at least it's minimally processed (heating and then straining).  You can even make your own ricotta cheese if you want.  It's fairly easy. 

But what about protein powder?  I tried to find out how it's made, but I can't find any info through google.  Who knows; maybe it's also minimally processed.  I suspect it's not, though.  And even if it was, that doesn't make up for the fact that it's pretty darn expensive and full of heavy metals.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Temptations and Options

Friday was my mom's birthday.  It's kind of a given in my family that I'll make the cake for everyone's birthday, because I have a lot of fun decorating cakes.  And I'm pretty good at it, too.  I also like to show off.

For me, cake making day is a bad day.  Believe it or not, but making one of those cakes takes me several hours, and it ends up being an all day project.  In the process of baking, cutting, and frosting the cake, I end up eating what comes out to maybe two pieces of cake.  You have to slice the tops off the cakes to make them flat, and of course I can't just throw that away.  And you have to taste the frosting several times as you make it to make sure it's the right consistency.  Plus, licking it off is the best way to deal with it when you get some frosting on yourself.

And then of course I have to eat a piece of cake at the birthday party.   By then, I'm thoroughly disgusted with cake.

So when my mom's birthday came around again this year, I knew I needed to do something different.   Thankfully the weather was too hot to permit me to make an extravagant cake for her, which means I didn't have to eat extra cake bits or taste the frosting.  Still, I knew that by the end of the day, if I didn't do something clever, I'd be eating one of these.

Well, Chad and I had just bought a big bag of raw almonds, and I knew that Dr. Davis' Wheatbelly Cookbook had a recipe for vanilla cupcakes in it that uses almond flour.  Maybe if I made something that was decadent but low carb, I wouldn't feel the urge to eat any of mom's cupcakes.

Since I knew everyone else would also be eating ice cream, I brought along a carton of this for the two of us.

And the plan worked really well!  I resisted eating any cupcakes as I was baking them, only tasted the sugary frosting a little bit to see what it was like (I used the canned stuff; it wasn't very good, but then I'm so used to homemade buttercream), and when Chad and I went over to mom's birthday party, neither of us ate a single bad cupcake or any sugary ice cream.  I was very proud of us.

Now I'll say that Dr. Davis' vanilla cupcakes aren't going to go on my list of favorite low carb recipes.  They're really dense and doughy, have a strong taste of baking soda, and aren't quite sweet enough for my liking, but they helped me through in my time of need and they do have some potential.  I think I could easily get the recipe to be perfect if I tweak it a little bit.  Less baking soda, more eggs, maybe a little extra stevia. 

Low carb treats aren't something we eat very often, and I don't want it to become a habit for us.  But I do believe that there is a place for them, and I think that they can be used as a tool to help us stay on the right path.  There's always going to be celebrations, birthdays, get togethers, holidays, and you'll have the choice in front of you to eat sugar and carbs, or to do something different.  I don't think it's so terrible to eat those bad things once in a while; it's when you make it a habit that it becomes damaging.  But I also don't think you should indulge in something that's harmful every time there's a celebration. 

Now, I could have taken some fruit with me, and maybe some whipped cream.  That would have been nice and healthy, and I could smile smugly because I was eating something natural while everyone else was eating junk food.  But being a health snob isn't my thing, and it certainly doesn't ease my cravings for cupcakes when they're three feet away from me.  It really helped having something similar as everyone else, so I wouldn't feel like I was being deprived.

I know there would be people out there who would bash me for eating OMG fake food!  Or GASP processed food!  Or EEK artificial sweeteners!  But I'm proud of myself for thinking out the situation and creating a plan to keep me on track.  Had I not done that, I probably would have eaten 3 cupcakes even before the party started.  And isn't that more important?


Ok, time out.

I feel like I'm spending too much time defending myself from imaginary attackers.  Maybe I'm overly sensitive, or maybe I know that people can be overly critical on the internet.  But that's not the point of my blog.  I started this blog as a way to express my opinions, explore life's lessons, and maybe inspire other people to better themselves.  I can't do that if I'm preemptively defending myself.

I want to really make a point here, because I think I learned a valuable lesson.  The lesson I learned was that, in every situation, you have options in front of you.  You can choose to go down the path of least resistance and eat the cupcake, or you can make the extra effort and make your own healthy cupcake.

It does take effort.  I planned for several days for my mom's birthday, and I ended up baking for two days.  I believe it's worth it, though.

I'm tempted to go back and completely edit my post so that it's more coherent and more to the original point I was trying to make, but I want my thought process to be visible for everyone to see.  There is an undercurrent of disapproval in our low carb/paleo/primal communities for people who are too weak to give up sweets/sweeteners/fake food.  I don't disagree that we should be trying to get away from those things; sweets shouldn't be a staple in anyone's diet.  Where I disagree is when people treat others badly because they chose to use those foods as a tool on their journey to health.  No one has a right to bully someone for the choices they make when it comes to their own well being; nobody knows what's right for anyone except themselves. 

There, now I've gotten it out of my system.  Hopefully next time I can stay more on track!

Friday, July 19, 2013


I love condiments.  Don't you?  They make the world seem a little happier, and your food seem a little brighter.  Creamy mayo, tangy ketchup, smokey barbeque sauce....  What would life be like without condiments?

Well, most of us who are low carb, paleo, primal, and generally whole foods know exactly what it's like.  The only store bought condiment in my refrigerator is mustard, and I was never really a mustard fan to begin with.  But everything else in the store is loaded with crap; vegetable or seed oils, HFCS, sugar, artificial flavors, preservatives you can't pronounce.  And don't get me started on salad dressing. 

Chad and I went without condiments (except mustard) for quite a while, and salads were out of the question.  Which is sad, because I love salad.  After a couple of months of this, I finally said to myself THAT'S IT!  I'm going to make my OWN condiments!  And I did!

Today I make my own mayonnaise.  I use this recipe for regular mayo, except I use Linda's method from Linda's Low Carb for mayo, which is to put the all the ingredients except the oil into a quart mason jar, stir, pour the oil in, and then blend with an immersion blender.  Works every time! 

And when I'm feeling frugal/decadent, I use a modified version of this recipe for BACONNAISE.  Yes, baconnaise, a delicious mayonnaise created with saved bacon fat.  It's a great way to save money since the bacon grease is practically free.  But I only make baconnaise once in a while, because it's quite bacony, and you don't want to overdo that. 

Fresh hot bacon grease.

Now ketchup can be tricky.  There's such a subtle balance of sweet, tang, and spices that need to be just right.  My attempts to make it in the past have been pretty ugly, but then I came across Linda's recipe for Better "Heinz" Ketchup.  This is a winner!  You don't have to use Splenda.  I have used stevia and also xylitol.  Personally, I like it with xylitol better.  I bet honey would work well, too, if you allow that in your diet.

I've tried a few times to make barbeque sauce, but that's eluded me so far.  My next attempt is going to be Linda's Favorite BBQ Sauce recipe.  It looks like it should be very good.  I just don't know what to do about the liquid smoke; I'm not sure I want to use it.  I DO have a ton of applewood smoked sea salt I could use instead of regular salt, though, and maybe get some smoked paprika. 

What about salad dressings?  Those I make, too.  Mostly they're vinaigrettes, using whatever kind of spices or seasonings sound good when I'm making it.  We sometimes buy the Good Seasons Italian dressing mix in the store.  Even though it does have sugar in the ingredients, most of the rest of the ingredients are surprisingly not terrible.  But lately, I've been having fun making creamy dressing.  I've tried this recipe for ranch dressing, using my own olive oil mayo, and the other day, I just whipped together a Thousand Island dressing from the top of my head.  I knew it was basically mayo, ketchup, and relish.  Since I already had homemade mayo, and homemade ketchup, and I even had homemade pickles made from my own home grown beans, I thought what the heck!  And it came out so delicious!

I even used home grown lettuce for the salad.
I try not to think of my way of eating as restricting.  It's not, really.  I CHOOSE not to eat the yucky seed oils, or the HFCS, or the sugar, or nasty preservatives and colors and flavors that are in store bought condiments.  And because that's a choice I make, I get to go experiment in the kitchen.  How cool is that?