Category Archives: In the Kitchen

eBook Review: Bliss Balls for Beginners

Today I got to preview Bliss Balls For Beginners!  Luschka was so kind to share her ebook with me.

Bliss Balls for Beginners Cover Image


Luschka lives in England with her husband and two daughters.  She has been on a real food journey since her first child was born, and loves trying new recipes and flavours.  She recently started a food blog,, where she shares the recipes she uses to fill her kids lunch boxes – normally healthy, always tasty, good-for-you snacks.

ABOUT Bliss Balls For Beginners

21 fabulous recipes that can be made into gifts, lunch box snacks or treats for guests.  They are dairy-free, gluten-free, mostly sugar-free and are easy for adults and children to make using common, healthy, lovely ingredients.


I started with the Basic Bliss Ball recipe but added some extra dried fruits to it.  I’m happy to say  that these are DE-LISH!

I don’t want to spoil it for you and give away the recipe ~ that is a surprise for you to find out how easy these really are once you get the ebook.  But I do want to talk a little about some of the ingredients and their health benefits.


Medjool Dates contain vitamins A, B6, Niacin, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorus, a high amount of Potassium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Sodium.  They are rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants.

They are good for the following:

  • Constipation
  • Allergies
  • Intestinal Disorders
  • Bone Health & Strength
  • Weight Gain
  • Energy BOoster
  • Nervous System Health
  • Healthy Heart
  • Sexual Wellness
  • Night Blindness
  • Inoxication
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Cancer


One cup packed full of raisins will contain vitamins C, B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Protein.

They are good for the following:

  • Constipation
  • Weight Gain
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Acidosis
  • Bone Health
  • Eye Care
  • Dental Care

Other benefits of raisins include: promoting excretion of bile from the body, stimulates the burning of cholesterol, and the fiber content helps to sweep out toxins and harmful materials from the digestive tract.

A few of the lesser known ingredients that Luschka uses in her recipes are:

  • Cacao – this is different from cocoa.  Cacao is more bitter and considered to have a higher nutritional value.
  • Goji Berries – this is a Chinese berry full of antioxidants ad used for a variety of health benefits.
  • Maca Powder – I had no idea what this was before I read Bliss Balls for Beginners.  Apparently it’s a Peruvian root vegetable that contains vitamins B1, B2, C, E and a range of minerals that aid endurance and enhance energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory and fertility.

I seriously cannot wait to try all the other 20 recipes!  The one we made was so tasty, we finished them all off in just two days.

Bliss Balls for Beginners Cover Image


The Mindful Holidays eBundle, featuring 7 resources to boost your holiday spirit for only $9.97 ~ has ended.  However, you can still purchase the individual eBooks from the links below.

What’s in the bundle?

This sale was organized by my affiliate partners Mindful Nurturing and the Nourished Living Network.  Buying a bundle through the affiliate links in this post supports this blog.  Thank you!

Don’t forget to sign up for my Occasional Newsletter!

Disclaimer: This blog post contain affiliate links. I only team up to be an affiliate with compaies who offers products that I believe in whole-heartedly! Purchasing through an affiliate link allows me to keep blogging and sharing what I learn with you. It won’t make me rich for sure, but is a bit like buying me a cup of coffee or leaving a tip for service and is very much appreciated. Thanks for your wonderful support!


Herb of the Month Recipes: Ginger Root

{update 10/2/13:  I have no idea why the post I had scheduled didn’t go out, something went terribly wrong with Windows Live Writer and it didn’t send them out.  SO SORRY!!  I’m combining the October Herb of the Month recipes into this post so you get them all.  I WON’T be using the scheduler until I figure out what happened, whether it was my fault or a software glitch.}

{Update to the update:  I’m hearing on Twitter that something is going wrong with wordpress scheduler.  So perhaps it’s not something I did wrong, after all.  Thanks @ecokarenlee for letting me know I’m not the only one having problems with this.}

Herb of the Month: Ginger Root


Ginger Root is absolutely one of my favorite things in the kitchen.  For years now I’ve really only had one way that I used it…..Ginger Tea in the winter and especially when we are sick.  This year I’ve been working hard on changing that and adding it to our diet in other ways since it really is so healthy.

The discovery of fermented foods and beverages has really changed our lives.  I never knew I could make wonderful, and healthy, “carbonated” beverages at home.  This leads me to the first ginger recipe I want to share with you all, as well as how to use it.

Ginger Bug


2 Tbs. fresh ginger root, grated
2 Tbs. sugar (any whole-foods sugar, I like sucanat)
1/2 c. filtered water
quart or 1/2 gallon-size jar (or other similar vessel)


Bring the water to room temperature so the sugar will dissolve easily.  Mix all ingredients well, cover with a cloth napkin or paper towel and secure with a rubber band.

Approximately ever 24 hours (or just every day as you get the chance) for about a week you will need to add these ingredient again, in the amounts listed here, to the jar.  Do not discard anything, just add to it.  Give it a good stir whenever you think about it to keep it aerated.

By the end of the week, or sooner, you should notice it getting bubbly.  If not, don’t worry too much about it, your batch just may take a little longer.  The only reason to discard it and start over is if it grows anything fuzzy.  BUT that said, I ended up neglecting mine for over a week because we just got busy.  Next thing I knew it had grown a “mother” or “scoby” just as if I was brewing kombucha.  So a film developing isn’t necessarily something to be concerned with.

I’ve searched Google for info on a “scoby” growing in a ginger bug and have seen no one else talking about it.  My ginger bug has remained super healthy and OH SO delicious!  Since it’s a ferment very similar to kombucha I haven’t seen it as anything to worry about.

To Use:

One super easy way to use this is to just add some to a glass of water as you would lemon juice.  I do this quite often actually.  I get tired of plain old water.  There’s no fizz to this, but it’s delightfully gingery.  🙂

To make it into Ginger Ale, I use it in my 2nd water kefir ferment.  Make water kefir as you normally would (if you do that is) and after the initial ferment you can mix it with some of the strained ginger bug and some additional sugar.  The amounts you would use would be to your own taste preference….do you like strong ginger flavor, or mild?  Close the mixture up tight, tasting every day until the good bugs eat up enough sugar to make it as sweet as you like it and the fizziness is just how you like it.  Can take up to a week, but remember the longer it ferments the less sweet it will be.

You can also do the very same thing with kombucha.  Either way you end up with a yummy lacto-fermented ginger ale that you made yourself!  It’s really that simple.  Just a bit of babysitting for a few days.

Fermented Ginger


Ginger root, peeled & sliced
1 Tsp. Turmeric
1 Tbs. Sea Salt
Lemon juice (to cover everything), fresh


I soaked my ginger root in cold water for about 15 minutes then washed it off.  Using a spoon gently scrap the skin off.

This is really easy, so be careful not to dig in too deeply with the spoon.

The amount of ginger you use depends on the size jar you will be fermenting it in.  I used a small Pickl-It, which is nothing more than a very small Fido jar.  If you use a bigger jar then you’ll need to increase the turmeric and sea salt amounts.  My recipe used a ginger root that was about the size of my open hand.

Again, if you’ve read many of my recipes, I don’t measure precisely most of the time.  I’m a just-throw-stuff-together kind of cook.  Unless it’s baking or something that requires exact science, of course.

Next you’ll need to give the ginger a good rinsing again.  Then slice it into thin pieces and place in your jar.

I freshly squeezed about 5 lemons to get enough to the ginger root well.  In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, turmeric and sea salt until all is dissolved well.  Pour over the ginger in your jar and close it up either with an air-lock or your jar lid.

I allowed mine to ferment at room temperature for about 2 weeks.  It never really showed any signs of bubbling as a lot of ferments do, but I figured that was long enough.

To Use:

To get the benefits of the lacto-fermentation you won’t want to cook this into any dish.  You can have a slice or two with any meal ~ kind of like parsley is added to some restaurant dishes.  Or cut it up into very small bits (chop/dice) and mix it into your food on your plate into whatever foods you might normally use ginger in. 

I also fermented ginger with carrots a couple of months back if you remember this post.

Ginger Tea


Handful of sliced ginger root (no need to peel)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Nip of cayenne (yes, “nip” is an official amount)
Lemon juice
Honey to sweeten in your cup

Again, I don’t measure, I’ve just figured out over the years how strong I like this tea.  I actually have a “nip” size measuring spoon and never go above that amount for the cayenne.

Combine all ingredients, plus a splash of lemon juice (or 1/2 a lemon in it’s entirety) into a pot and fill with water.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to about medium heat, but to where it’s still boiling more than a simmer.  Boil like this for a minimum of 1/2 hour.  The longer it boils the stronger it gets. 

When I can get my hands on some lemongrass I will add a few pieces of that to the pot as well.

All through winter I keep a pot of this tea on the stove.  As I strain out a cup I add more water.  When it starts tasting weak I simply add more ingredients.  It’s kind of a perpetual tea I guess you could say.  It’s wonderful when you get sick in the winter or have a headache.


These are the recipes you were supposed to get over the course of the past week or so.  They got lost in WLW/WP limbo somehow.

Do YOU have a favorite way to use ginger that you care to share?  I would love to try a new recipe!

Don’t forget to sign up for my Occasional Newsletter!  You’ll get email only goodies from time to time as well as receive info and recipes before they are posted on the blog.  Occasionally there might even be newsletter only giveaways/news.  So don’t miss out!!  Sign up today!

Taco Seasoning Mix Recipe, Plus a Giveaway with TWO PRIZES!!!

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

I’m taking a mini-break from the Herb of the Month to share with you a seasoning mix recipe and a giveaway with TWO prizes!

We eat a lot (and I do mean a lot) of taco seasoning around here.  Up until recently I’ve been buying the large container of pre-packaged seasoning.  But then I read the label and……YUCK!!!  Do you have any idea what is in that stuff?  Take a look for yourself:

Do we really need partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide or maltodextrin in our spice mixes?  They last pretty well on their own if you know how to store them properly, without adding in preservatives!  In fact, I don’t even want corn starch, yellow corn flour or oils in my mix.  I’ll add any oil to the cooking that I decide it needs, thank you very much!  And I certainly don’t trust that these corn products aren’t GMO!

I decided to do some research to see what is normally in taco seasoning, since the label here was pretty vague as to the “spices”.  Here is what I came up with after looking at several recipes.

The Recipe


1/2 c. chili powder
2 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes
2 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. plus 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. ground cumin
3 Tbs. sea salt
3 Tbs. black pepper, ground


Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container.  Use 2 tablespoons per pound of ground beef or chicken (or whatever you’re using it in).  Adjust to your taste preferences, of course.  This recipe makes just over 3 1/2 cups of seasoning mix, since we use this a lot.

Next I had to decide on where I wanted my spices to come from so I contacted my favorite organic source: Mountain Rose Herbs!  I got in touch with Kori and she very sweetly agreed to send me all the spices needed for this recipe so I can share them with you!  THANKS, KORI!!!!

Cultivating Herbal Friendships

The first thing I noticed was how wonderful all the organic spices smell compared to the ones I would normally buy at the grocery store.  And the colors and freshness …… there really is no comparison!  Just wow!

I received all nine spices that I needed in full-size bags: 4 ounces of each spice and 8 ounces of Seasoning Salt (which was incorrectly sent, so Kori then sent me sea salt in addition).  The sea salt I received was 1 pound of fine grade and 1 pound of coarse grade.  I was not paid for this spice review and was sent the ingredients free of charge for review purposes.

In fact, I received quite a wonderful little package from Mountain Rose Herbs: a hand-written note with each shipment from Kori, a total of 4 of their adorable stickers, some product brochures, a autumn/winter catalog, and a product guide.

Not to mention their customer service is amazing!  I really have loved ordering from Mountain Rose Herbs for a couple of years now actually!  With every order I’ve received superior products and everything is organic.

Spice Storage

I like to use canning jars for storing my spices, even the ones I buy in the shaker jars get transferred over.  Have you noticed how it’s almost impossible to get the larger measuring spoons into those tiny jars the spices come in?

Normally I just label my canning jars with freezer tape.  But for this project I got in touch with Pantry Paratus!  If any of you don’t know Chaya, she’s super sweet and you should contact her just to say “hi” if nothing else!  But you owe it to yourself to check out all the wonderful products offered at Pantry Paratus!  Chaya graciously agreed to sent me a set of Shrink Sleeve Home Canning Labels to show off to you.  Now my new spices are sitting pretty on my shelf!

Other than the fact that these are just super cool, if you’re a canner they are really handy because of what’s on the back of them.  Check this out:

You can mark them with the month/year when you canned them, then note the date you opened it for use.  How cool is that?  I’ve been shrink wrap labeling jars like crazy since I got these!

The Spice Mix Comparison

I wanted to actually compare my new homemade mix to that of what is sold in stores.  So, I did a side-by-side comparison…

Can you see the difference here?  The store-bought brand really doesn’t look like it has much variety of spices in it, in my opinion.  And what are they including when they say “Spices” on their ingredient list.  I mean, I get that they might have some trade secrets out there, but sheesh ~ it’s just taco seasoning.  Inquiring minds want to know!

The Taste


Oh…sorry to yell!  teehee

Of course, we just had to take a nibble of the seasoned ground beef right out of the skillet.  (Am I the only one who can’t resist eating ground beef out of the skillet as it’s being cooked?  Seasoned or not I have to taste test every time!)  We were blown away at the depth of flavor.  From the moment you put it in your mouth until way after you swallow the bite, you can taste almost every spice individually.  The after taste is a bit peppery (as in black pepper), but not really overwhelming in my opinion.  Although my honey says we need to add less black pepper in the next batch.  I’ll cut the amount in half next time to compare and see how we like it.

Honestly, we will NEVER by pre-packaged taco seasoning again.  Or any spice mix, for that matter!  Hrmm….what to mix up next….?

Dinner #1

The first night we made tacos.

For our tacos we don’t buy the hard taco shells, we buy packages of corn tortillas and fry them ourselves.  I simply add a small amount of real butter to a griddle pan and lightly fry the tortillas.  We like a combination of corn and flour tortillas for ours, as you can see above.  The flour ones we toast slightly in a dry skillet, so they are still flexible.

Very soon I’m going to get adventurous and make my own tortillas (flour and corn) from scratch.

Cook ground beef in skillet until browned, add seasoning and about 1/4 cup or less of hot water.  Simmer for a bit to allow it to synergize and thicken up just a tad.  Layer on top of the tortillas with your choice of toppings.  We like lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, lemon juice and sour cream.

Dinner #2

Next we had chicken quesadillas with spicy rice on the side!

It was my honey’s turn to cook dinner.  He cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, then sautéed them up and added the taco seasoning just as we had in the ground beef (about 2 tablespoons per pound, adjust to your liking).  When cooking the rice he added some of the seasoning in when he added the rice to the boiling water.  He failed to remember how much he added, but I’d say just play around with it until it’s just how you like it.  No hard and fast rules in measuring for most recipes in our house. LOL!

When the chicken is done cooking, he added a layer of it on a tortilla then covered it in shredded cheese.  Top with another tortilla and toast on a skillet, flipping it until both sides of the tortilla is toasted and the cheese is melted inside.  I like to top mine with sour cream!  Honey drizzles lemon juice on his plate to let his soak in.

Both meals were DE-LISH!!!  The best damn tacos and quesadillas I’ve ever had ~ no joke!

Now that I’ve shared with you how to make your very own Taco Seasoning Mix that is so much healthier for you (I didn’t even go into all the health benefits of the individual herbs/spices themselves, that’s for another post), I want to give YOU something!

The Giveaway!!

One lucky reader of my blog will get ALL nine (9) of the spices needed to make this Taco Seasoning Mix PLUS…….a set of 36 labels from Pantry Paratus!!

The catch?  There is none, it’s just because we like you!  All you have to do to enter is go to the link below, which will take you to a Rafflecopter widget embedded in a tab on my Facebook page.

Rafflecopter Giveaway!!

Mobile friendly link:

Fill out as many of the 14 entries as you’d like.  Only three are mandatory ~ like us all on Facebook: TheHippyGardener, Mountain Rose Herbs and Pantry Paratus!  The more entries you sign up for the more chances you have to win!

I will use Rafflecopter, powered by to choose the winner, who will be announced on this blog post, on my Facebook page and will receive an email from me.  The giveaway is open to continental U.S. and Canada residents only.  This giveaway begins on Monday, September 23, 2013 and ends at 12:00 am on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.  The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 1st and will have 48 hours to respond.

Don’t forget to sign up for my Occasional Newsletter!


Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c


Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links.  I only team up be an affiliate with a company who offers products that I believe in whole-heartedly!  Purchasing through an affiliate link allows me to keep blogging and sharing what I learn with you.  It won’t make me rich for sure, but is a bit like buying me a cup of coffee or leaving a tip for service and is very much appreciated.  Thanks for your wonderful support!

I was not paid to write this review and my opinions are my own. When reviewing a product I will let you know if I purchased the item or was provided a sample from the company for review purposes. My opinion of the products I review is for information purposes only. Giveaways done via my blog are sponsored by the product company and not by TheHippyGardener unless stated otherwise. All personal information (name, shipping address, email, phone number) that may be given to me for the purpose of shipping a giveaway item will only be distributed to the company or representative shipping the item. TheHippyGardener will not retain any of your personal information.

Redmond’s Real Salt Review & Giveaway

I was recently given the opportunity to do a review on Redmond’s Real Salt.  Kimberly, over at Redmond Trading Company, was so sweet to send me not only their salt to try, but a full-size container of each of their seasonings as well.  Onion Salt, Garlic Salt and Seasoning Salt.

What is Real Salt?

Real Salt comes from an ancient sea bed in Central Utah.  It is brought to you in its natural state – without additives, chemicals or heat processing of any kind.  Real Salt’s pinkish appearance and flecks of color come from more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals.

It is harvested about 300 feet below the surface of the earth.  They follow the veins of salt and harvest it by scraping the salt off the walls of the mine using carbide-tipped equipment.

Real Salt comes in 3 grades: fine, kosher and coarse.  It has a sweet salty flavor that is very complex from all the minerals.

Is Salt Really Bad for Me?

“Salt is – and always has been – essential for optimal health.  The human body is made up of 72% salt water and 28% mineral.  We need salt and minerals to survive.  It’s no wonder why, when admitted to any hospital, you are usually hooked up to an IV, which feeds saline solution (salt water) quickly into your body.  So the question is not, “Should I be eating salt?”  but rather, “What kind of salt should I be eating?”  Because of the additives and lack of trace minerals, most salts are not good for you.” ~ Redmond Trading Company brochure.

Table salt is a manufactured form of sodium called sodium chloride.  It is created by taking natural salt and cooking it at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the unprocessed salt is heated up to this temperature, it starts to lose the majority of the important elements that naturally occur.  Store-bought iodized salts have synthetic chemicals added to them, including everything from iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents, toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum derivatives.  It is white because they actually use bleach to make it look “clean”.

Natural salts are harvested with minimal processing,  Naturally occurring salt is not white due to the mineral content.

Here is a video introduction to Real Salt.  If you have a hard time viewing it within this blog post you can view it on their site here.

My Experience

I had never been a big salt user, because white “table salt” just doesn’t cut it for me.  And I guess somewhere in my mind I had given in to the hype about salt being bad for you.

But as soon I tasted Real Salt my world changed!  I am in love with salt now and add it to nearly everything.

The Seasoning Salt is particularly fabulous on steaks!  The cool thing is with Redmond’s you don’t ever have to worry about MSG or anything refined being added to their products like in other seasoning salts.

I use the fine grade when I’m adding in salt during cooking and use the kosher salt after I’ve served up my plate.  I like to taste the salt and love the texture of the kosher.

Redmond Trading Company, the maker of Real Salt, has agreed to do a giveaway along with my review.  One lucky winner will receive an Organic Seasoning Gift Box!


Is Your Salt Real?

Sign up for my giveaway with the link below:

Rafflecopter Giveaway!
(it will open in a Facebook page)

Mobile Friendly Link to giveaway:

While I do love comments on my blog posts, any comment here will not count towards the giveaway, except for the required entry to post a comment (see widget).  Please make sure to use the Rafflecopter Widget linked above.

I will use Rafflecopter, powered by to choose the winner, who will be announced on the blog, on my Facebook page and will receive an email.  The giveaway is open to continental U.S. and Canada residents only.  This giveaway begins on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 12:00 am eastern time, and ends at 12:00 am on Tuesday, September 17, 2013.  The winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 17th and will have 48 hours to respond.




Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review and my opinions are my own.  When reviewing a product I will let you know if I purchased the item or was provided a sample from the company for review purposes.  My opinion of the products I review is for information purposes only. Giveaways done via my blog are sponsored by the product company and not by TheHippyGardener unless stated otherwise.  All personal information (name, shipping address, email, phone number) that may be given to me for the purpose of shipping a giveaway item will only be distributed to the company or representative shipping the item. TheHippyGardener will not retain any of your personal information.