Real Food Whole Life

5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate

RecipesRobyn DownsComment

Simple to make ahead, 5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate is packed with nourishing ingredients and is so delicious! 

Simple to make ahead, 5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate is packed with nourishing ingredients and is so delicious! 

Have you jumped on the Golden Milk train yet?

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, let me explain.

Golden Milk is a drink that has gained popularity in the past several years, and is made by whisking turmeric together with milk and other warming flavors, resulting in a drink that can be served hot or cold.

Since studies have shown that turmeric may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems, Golden Milk has surfaced as an amazingly tasty way to add more turmeric into your day.

Lately, I've been drinking Golden Milk as a Feel Good Effect practice (more on this practice, soon), and have fallen in love with the warming flavors of the earthy drink.

The only problem? I found rounding up the ingredients each time I wanted to make the drink a little cumbersome.

My solution? Create a make-ahead concentrate that can be whisked together once and then swirled into milk anytime the mood for Golden Milk strikes.

Simple to make ahead, 5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate is packed with nourishing ingredients and is so delicious! 

I also reduced the total number of ingredients to make the prep process as streamlined as possible. You can, of course, add whatever other ingredients you like.

Consider this a base recipe and then make it your own!

In terms of ingredients, be sure to use raw, local honey if you can find it, which is often available at most farmers markets. The remaining ingredients can be found at most grocery stores.

If you've never used turmeric, keep in mind that it stains, so wipe any spills quickly. The taste is somewhat strong, so start with just a tablespoon of the Concentrate and work your way up. 

And one more thing: don't skip the black pepper! It helps to activate the turmeric, and adds a little spicy kick to the drink.

I hope you'll try this one soon. Now, let's make some 5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate!

Simple to make ahead, 5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate is packed with nourishing ingredients and is so delicious! 

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Stir the Golden Milk Concentrate into any type of milk you prefer (e.g., almond, rice, hemp, dairy).

2 | Serve the Golden Milk warm or over ice.

3 | Add a few tablespoons of the Concentrate into your favorite smoothie.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Naturally Sweetened, Grain-Free, Vegetarian, and Paleo Friendly


Simple to make ahead, 5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate is packed with nourishing ingredients and is so delicious! 

5-Ingredient Golden Milk Concentrate

Ingredients

⅔ cup full-fat coconut milk (from a can)*

2 teaspoons turmeric

2-4 tablespoons raw honey**

⅛ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon MCT oil*** (optional)

Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (optional)

Instructions

1. Blend or whisk all the ingredients together until well combined. Store, covered, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

2. When ready to serve, whisk 3-4 tablespoons concentrate together with 1 cup milk.**** Serve warm or chilled.

Makes 1 cup concentrate.

Notes: *If the coconut cream has separated from the water, whisk everything back together prior to measuring. I prefer full-fat coconut milk for this recipe, though you can substitute lite if you prefer.

**Use maple syrup for a vegan option. Adjust the amount of honey to taste.

***MCT oil is available in most natural food stores and online

****Use any milk you like and have on hand: almond, hemp, rice, dairy, etc.

How to Create a Capsule Pantry for Simplified Cooking

Real Food Meal PlanningRobyn DownsComment

I’m out to make the capsule pantry a thing.

But before I can make it a thing, I should first explain where the inspiration comes from.

The capsule pantry takes inspiration from the capsule wardrobe.

If you’re not familiar, a capsule wardrobe is essentially a mini wardrobe, comprised of a limited number of versatile pieces that you love to wear.

One of my favorite examples of the capsule wardrobe in real life can be found in the Capsule Experiment, on the Unfancy blog.

How to Create a Capsule Pantry for Simplified Cooking realfoodwholelife.com

Here’s how Caroline, the founder of Unfancy, describes the Capsule Experiment.

“I wanted a change. I wanted to stop spending money on emotional purchases. I wanted to stop filling my closet with cheap clothes. I wanted to stop believing more stuff would bring me happiness.

So … I googled around. I searched all sorts of things like “how to find your style” and “how to curb a shopping problem” until I stumbled upon the term “capsule wardrobe.”

Coined in the 70’s by London boutique owner, Susie Faux, it’s all about dressing with a small collection of seasonally appropriate, mix-and-match clothes.

It was the change I’d been looking for.

With the help of two blogs, Be More With Less and Into Mind, I settled on a structure that worked for my lifestyle: dress with only 37 pieces of clothing for 3 months. And no shopping during those 3 months. Yikes!

But as I started living with a small, intentional wardrobe, I noticed that I felt joyful again. I saw, with fresh eyes, that happiness, contentment, and joy come from within — not from stuff or external circumstances.

I lived with a capsule for a year and blogged about it every day, sharing my struggles, my breakthrough moments, and everything in between. By 2016, my heart and habits were healthy again.”

Many who have tried capsule wardrobes have discovered the same sense of ease and liberation as Caroline.

By limiting the number of items purchased, and by having a clear sense of what to do with those pieces, the capsule wardrobe makes the process of getting dressed in the morning effortless and even joyful.

The capsule wardrobe has been such a wardrobe game changer that I think it’s time to apply the concept to cooking. 

Let’s do it, shall we?

Similar to a capsule wardrobe, a capsule pantry is made of up a limited number of versatile ingredients that you love to eat, and that can be combined into a variety of easy, delicious meals.

Want to give it a try? Let’s walk through how to create a capsule pantry of your own.

How to Create a Capsule Pantry for Simplified Cooking realfoodwholelife.com

1 | Clean it Out

The first step is clearing out and cleaning up your fridge, freezer and pantry. Here’s how.

Start with you freezer:

  • Take everything out and toss anything that’s old, unlabeled or freezer-burned.
  • Get rid of anything that’s taking up space, including the processed stuff.
  • If it has more than 5 ingredients, it’s best to toss it.

Next, move on to your fridge and pantry: 

  • Same rules apply. If it’s old or unusable, toss it.
  • If it’s processed (e.g., more than 5 ingredients, contains unrecognizable ingredients, or added sugar) let it go.
  • Half used bottles, mystery containers, ingredients that are way past their expiration date, these should go, too.

2 | Plan with Purpose

Now it’s time to restock, but this time with purpose.

The key to streamlined planning is thinking in terms of the Essential Six.

The Essential Six are the fundamental building blocks of any recipe: sauces, protein, cooked veggies, raw veggies, grains + bases, and toppings + extras. 

Thinking in terms of building blocks allows you to combine them into an infinite number different meals. Think bowls, tacos, pasta, salads, and stir-frys, just to name a few.

Using the Essential Six method allows you to efficiently shop, plan and prep, without wasted time or money. 

As an added bonus, you can create a fridge and pantry filled with ingredients that actually go together, no matter what you’re cooking. 

Plus, thinking of meals in terms of the Essential Six allows you to efficiently prep just part of a meal, without cooking the entire meals ahead. 

Ready to give it a try? Before you head to the grocery store, create a list organized by the Essential Six. You can use the planning sheets in Real Food Fix to streamline this process.

3 | Shop Intentionally 

Instead of wandering around the grocery store without a plan, use your Essential Six grocery list as a guide.

Before you put something in your cart, think about how you might use it during the week. 

Is this a protein you enjoy and know how to prepare?

Do you have items representing each Essential Six? Or have you stocked up on one category but forgotten the others?

Ask yourself these questions before checking out. Eventually thinking in terms of the Essential Six will become second nature, and creating a list will happen in a matter of minutes.

4 | Use what you have

Once you’ve unloaded your groceries, take stock of what you have and create a general plan.

Instead of creating a complicated meal plan, think instead about creating a loose map to follow, with just enough structure to guide you. 

And, instead of planning for individual recipes, think about meal types such as tacos, pasta, bowls, stir-frys, and salads. 

The planning sheets in Real Food Fix make this kind of meal mapping easy.

If it helps, place like-items together in you fridge and pantry (e.g., proteins, grains + bases) so you can create meals on the fly.

Items left at the end of the week can be frozen or used to create an “anything goes” meal using the Essential Six for structure.

Creating a capsule pantry is about streamlining meal planning + prep, knowing what you need, and using what you have.

It’s also about creating effortless meals that you actually enjoy eating.


How to Create a Capsule Pantry for Simplified Cooking realfoodwholelife.com

Thinking in terms of the Essential Six and meal types has been a game changer to create a capsule pantry in my own life as a busy working mom, and I hope that this shift in thinking can help you streamline your own process, too.

If you want to take this process next-level, and receive guidance, recipes, and planning sheets, to make it easy, Real Food Fix is for you.

Real Food Fix is your system to help you plan less, eat well, and feel good, every day. Here’s what it’s all about:

  • A streamlined, flexible process to make meal planning & prep fail-proof and fun
  • Over 50 easy-to-make, mix-and-match recipes that can be combined in a variety of ways
  • Over 30 examples of how to use the mix-and-match recipes to create real-life meals for really busy people
  • Tips for success, including how to set up your kitchen, reduce food waste, and more
  • Bonus customized plans for families, couples, and singles plus printable PDFs to stay organized

Do you have a capsule pantry? Is this something you’d like to try? Share your experiences in the comments!

Feel Good Effect: 10 Minute Daily Walk

Feel Good EffectRobyn Downs2 Comments

The Feel Good Effect is a series exploring the habits, tactics and mindsets that you can use in your real life to feel good, everyday.

How it works: Each week I adopt a new Feel Good practice and trial it in my own life for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks I share what I did, how it went, and the Feel Good Effect.

Feel Good Week 2: 10 Minute Daily Walk


Feel Good Practice 


10 minute daily walk.


Time Commitment


20 minutes, 10 minutes for the actual walk and 5 transition minutes on either side.


Set-Up


None required, though figuring out how to incorporate the walk into a daily routine increased success.


Cost 


None, though a pair of comfortable of shoes is a good idea.


Why I Tried It


Walking even 10 minutes a day has been shown to improve mood, heart health, and overall well-being

Plus, as little as 10 minutes of outdoor time has been linked with a boost in creative thinking and allowing for more graceful aging.


My Feel Good Experience


I love walking. It’s one of my favorite forms of movement, and I find it calms me down, helps me think, and lifts my mood.

I try to walk several days per week, often for several miles, but have found that both lifestyle changes and weather have decreased my walking practice over the past several months.

Between our dog passing aways a few years ago (she made sure I never missed a daily walk) and my transition to working from home, I’ve noticed a pretty significant decrease in the frequency of daily walks.

The idea of walking just 10 minutes a day, then, was really appealing, and I was looking forward to incorporating walking back into my daily routine.

To keep on track, I set a reminder timer each day, which was a good idea in theory but didn’t actually work in practice. The timer often went off when I was on a work call, in the middle of a project, or other times when I didn’t feel like stopping to walk.

An after-dinner walk proved more promising, and turned into a lovely way to connect with Elle and Andrew after a long day, provided the weather was cooperative and we ate dinner early enough to allow time for walking. 

When after-dinner walks weren’t an option, I opted for a walk after putting Elle to bed, though this required that Andrew be home, which wasn’t always possible.


Challenges


You’d think this Feel Good practice would be easy, right? I mean, it’s just 10 minutes.

Not so much.

Three things made the 10 minute daily walk more challenging than I had expected. 

First, the spring weather in Portland has been particularly rainy and cold. I’m a true Oregon girl, and usually a little rain can’t keep me down. 

But this spring it’s been extra dreary, cold, and terribly wet, conditions that made the idea of going outside--if even for a short walk--less than appealing. 

To be honest, most rainy days I really didn’t want to go outside and get cold and wet, if even for 10 minutes.

Second, I struggled with the idea that just 10 minutes would actually count for much. Isn’t that interesting? At times this “not enough” mentality made getting out for the walk less than appealing.

Finally, finding a consistent time to walk was a bit tricky. Like many new routines, I found I was more likely to stick to the practice if I did it at the same time each day.


Feel Good Effect


I’ll admit that sticking to 10 minutes every single day didn’t quite work out, and I skipped 2 days within the 2 week cycle. 

That said, every time I completed a short walk I felt such a positive effect. The combination of fresh air and movement did wonders to lift my spirits and my mood.

Taking short walks also served as a reminder that movement does not have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Even a tiny effort every day can lead to feeling good.

Also, the walks that included my family turned out to be really special. It reminded me that even a few focused minutes outside together can allow for connection and discussions that aren’t always possible amidst the distractions and everyday chores of the home rhythm.

Overall Feel Good Effect: Medium-High

Is walking a daily Feel Good practice for you? How do you incorporate it into your routine? What positive effects have you experienced as a result?

Friday Night Oven Fries

RecipesRobyn Downs2 Comments

3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.

3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.

Do you have a favorite Friday night tradition?

I love a good Friday night tradition, whether it's pizza night, takeout from your favorite spot, or dinner at home with your family.

Our Friday night routine used to be homemade pizza, but since we identified both gluten and dairy issues amongst various family members, pizza is unfortunately out.

We still want something fun and low-maintenance, though (I am so not in the mood to cook on Friday night), so we've come up with a simple dinner that's easy to throw together with ingredients we have in the pantry and freezer.

These days our go-to Friday night dinner is a bunless or lettuce wrapped grass-fed burger, topped with sautéed onions, homemade sauerkraut, and avocado, with a giant pile of Friday Night Oven Fries served alongside.

It's a menu everyone in the family loves, and one that Andrew can whip up so that I get a night off from cooking. Love that!

I share our Friday night ritual on Instagram Stories from time to time, and have received tons of requests for this simple recipe. So in response to those requests, today I'm happy to share!

It's honestly more of a method than an actual recipe, but I have provided tips for slicing the perfect fries, as well as troubleshooting tips to ensure properly golden and crispy fries every time.

I hope you enjoy these, whether it's Friday night or not. Now, let's make some Friday Night Oven Fries!

3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.
3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.
3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.
3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Use the fries for a twist on Loaded Sweet Potato Fries.

2 | Add a sprinkle of dried herbs along with the salt to add a little extra flavor.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Grain-Free and Paleo


3 simple ingredients combine in these crunchy, crispy, golden-brown Friday Night Oven Fries.

Friday Night Oven Fries

Ingredients

3 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 350F.

2. Slice each potato the long way into very thin, ¼ inch planks.

3. Slice each plank into very thin, ¼ inch fries.

4. Place the fries on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to combine.

5. Spread the fries evenly on the baking sheet, making sure each fry makes contact with the sheet, avoiding any overlap.

6. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip, then bake an additional 10-20 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Sprinkle with additional salt to taste if desired, then serve hot.

Makes 3-5 servings.

Troubleshooting:

  • If your fries aren't getting crispy, make sure your oven is properly preheated to 350F.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan! It may be tempting, but avoid the temptation. Make sure each fry is making contact with the pan, and not overlapping with any other fry. Use 2 pans if necessary.
  • Don't flip the fries until they easily release from the pan. If they stick when you try to flip, let them bake a bit longer, then try again.

2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies

RecipesRobyn Downs2 Comments

With just 2 simple ingredients, 2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies are a fun treat to make at home!

With just 2 simple ingredients, 2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies are a fun treat to make at home!

Who knew gummies were so easy to make at home?

I know I didn't. But after a few trial runs, I found that they are both incredibly simple to make and even more fun to eat.

To make these simple gummies you'll just need some 100% fruit juice and powdered gelatin (I like this brand, and this one, but any brand will work). 

Once you've gathered your ingredients, the process couldn't be easier. Simply heat the juice until warm (but not boiling), whisk in the gelatin, pour into molds, and refrigerate. 

Once chilled, the final result resembles a very firm Jello (remember those Jello gigglers?), and since they contain both protein from the gelatin and just natural sugar from the fruit juice, they make the perfect little treat anytime.

I love experimenting with different fruit juice flavors and colors to mix things up, and inviting Elle to help with the process.

She loves selecting the juices, whisking the ingredients together, and is thrilled when we pop the chilled gummies out of the molds.

And of course, eating the final product. I have to admit, I love these too, and find they make the perfect after dinner treat.

I hope you'll try these soon. Now, let's make some 2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies!

With just 2 simple ingredients, 2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies are a fun treat to make at home!

RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS


1 | Use any fruit juice you like to make these gummies fun flavors and colors. Just be sure to avoid pineapple, kiwi, or papaya, as they won't gel properly.

2 | Add a few tablespoons of honey or maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter gummy.


THIS RECIPE IS . . .


Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, Naturally Sweetened, and Paleo Friendly


With just 2 simple ingredients, 2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies are a fun treat to make at home!

2-Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies

Ingredients

1 cup 100% fruit juice*

2 tablespoons gelatin**

Instructions

1. In a small pan, heat the juice until very warm but not boiling.

2. Turn off the heat and whisk in the gelatin until smooth.

3. Allow to cool slightly, then pour into silicone molds.

4. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until set.

5. Serve or store, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

**Most 100% fruit juices or nectars will work here. I used white grape juice with a few drops of raspberry juice add for color, nectarine nectar, and concord grape juice. Pineapple, kiwi, and papaya will not work for this recipe.

**I used this grass-fed gelatin for this recipe, but any unflavored gelatin will work.

Any silicone mold will work for these gummies. I used this bunny shaped mold to make the gummies pictured.

Feel Good Effect: 3 Grateful Things

Feel Good EffectRobyn Downs4 Comments

The Feel Good Effect is a series exploring the habits, tactics and mindsets that you can use in your real life to feel good, everyday.

How it works: Each week I adopt a new Feel Good practice and trial it in my own life for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks I share what I did, how it went, and the Feel Good Effect.

Feel Good Week 1: 3 Grateful Things


Feel Good Practice

Write down 3 things I’m grateful for each day.


Time Commitment

3-5 minutes each day.


Set-Up 

Minimal. Just a designated place to record the list each day.


Cost

Nothing, as long as the list is recorded electronically or in a currently owned journal. 

Otherwise, between $8 to $20 if purchasing a designated gratitude journal.


Why I Tried It

We all have good things and bad things that happen in our lives. 

Gratitude amplifies our enjoyment and appreciation of the good, which research has shown to not only improve mood, but to also improve overall life satisfaction. 

It turns out that when we intentionally recognize and think about all of the good things (and good people) in our life it actually makes our life better. 


My Feel Good Experience

I knew I could create a document on my computer or note on my phone to create a gratitude list, but as I spend too much time on devices as it is, I decided to place an order for a blank paged journal

When the journal arrived I cracked it open and stared at the blank pages. 

There’s something both inspiring and intimidating about all that blank space, so I decided to write in the dates for the next two weeks, leaving space for 3 grateful things under each date.

Having the dates written in gave me a little more structure, and served as a prompt so that I didn’t forget to write 3 things each day.

Originally I set out to write the 3 things each morning, but this practice proved to be more challenging than I thought. 

First I placed the journal next to my bed, in the hopes that I’d jot down my grateful list upon waking. Um, that definitely did not happen.

After multiple days of forgetting to write the list until the last possible moment, I scheduled time at the beginning of my work day. 

I found that adding the gratitude list into my morning work flow made it easier to remember.

At first writing 3 things seemed daunting, as if I had to reflect on the deepest gifts of my life. 

To take the pressure off, I decided to focus instead on the tiny details of everyday life, the things that add goodness but that can be taken for granted or missed in the daily grind.

3 Grateful Things.jpg

3 Grateful Things: The List

March 25

Dry shampoo

Streaming music while working

Hot shower

March 26

Homemade pancakes

Husband who makes homemade pancakes

Hot tea

March 27

Elle laughing in her sleep in the morning 

Light coming through the window filtered by bamboo leaves

Fresh blueberries

March 28

Indoor heat

Grandma and Elle art time

Cozy, soft, comfortable bed

March 29

Husband who gets up first to make coffee

Warm, cozy jacket

Health insurance

March 30

B12 injections

Elle holding my hand on the way into school

Internet at home

March 31

Flexible work hours so I can pick Elle up from school

Fresh, clean water

Talking to my lifelong best friend about life and kids and everything else

April 1

Views of the river with the sun sparkling off the surface

Strong legs to walk and hike with

Indoor plumbing

April 2

The sun!

Family hikes

Hard cider

April 3

Working from home

Listening to my favorite podcasts

Family dinner

April 4

Living so close to my mom and dad

Elle’s school (and that she likes going to school in the morning)

My laptop

April 5

Living in Portland

Having a washer and dryer at home

My slow cooker (and having dinner waiting at the end of the day)

April 6

Our car 

Bedtime snuggles with Elle

Blooming daffodils


Challenges

Even though writing 3 grateful things each day only takes a few minutes, creating space to make it a daily habit was a bit challenging. 

Thinking of new things each day was also challenging at first. I could think of the big things: family, health, etc., but thinking beyond the large categories was difficult at first.

I found that focusing on the small details of life make thinking of grateful things so much easier.


Feel Good Effect

I noticed a Feel Good Effect in just 2 weeks of writing 3 grateful things. Specifically, I noticed that within just a few days my mind started noticing grateful things throughout the day. 

Instead of focusing on the typical complaints and negativity that sometimes creeps in, I found that I was finding dozens of little grateful things throughout the day, which really helped me feel good each day.

I should note here that during this 2 week period I received some news from my doctor that was rather upsetting, and spent a few days in a dark mood.

Despite the negative feelings I experienced during this time, finding things to be grateful helped lift my spirits (if ever so slightly) and helped me keep some perspective on all the good in my life.

Overall Feel Good Effect: High

Is gratitude journaling a daily Feel Good practice for you? How do you incorporate it into your routine? What positive effects have you experienced as a result?