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Posts tagged ‘beans’

This guest post has some really neat ideas for inexpensive crafts for kids. I look forward to trying some of them with my kids once we get moved and settled!

Crafting with kids isn’t always easy or cheap, but you can make some things without a lot of hassle. Here are five fun ideas that the whole family can do, no matter what age the kids are. From tots to preteens, kids can make fun crafts without breaking your budget.

  1. Story Time – Making a story book is as easy as one, two, three. First, get together some sturdy paper. Construction paper or thick computer paper works best. Second, punch holes in one side and thread yarn through to bind the pages into a book. Third, let the kids write and illiterate their own stories. Anything from true life events to twisted fairy tales to simple picture books will all give children the opportunity to be creative, be artistic, and practice their writing skills.
  2. Wind Music – Wind chimes are a fun and easy craft that kids can do with things they find around the house. If your children are collectors, they will have a blast turning their collection into a work of art. All you need is some string, thread, or fishing line, some things that jangle, and a central bar.
  3. Box of Treasures– Another great craft for kid collectors is the treasure box. All you need is a box with a lid. Let the kids go crazy decorating it, including glitter, fake jewels and maybe some macaroni, and they will have a box fit for a king or queen. (Photo courtesy of MorgueFile)

    Photo courtesy of MorgueFile

  4. Imagination Box – Speaking of boxes, any large cardboard box can be turned into a playhouse. Simply cut in doors and windows and have the kids paint or color on shutters, handles, even kitchen appliances. Best of all, when it falls apart there is no replacement cost. Just a blank slate to start afresh.
  5. Musical Instruments–Kids love to make noise, but no one said it had to be proper instruments they played on. Beyond banging on your pots and pans, have kids create tambourines out of paper plates glued together with beans inside, or maracas with sealed toilet paper rolls and rice. Even ‘rain sticks’ can be made from paper towel rolls and beans or rice.

Kids’ crafts don’t have to be hard, expensive, or messy. Remember to keep it simple and fun and kids will be sure to love it. There are many more ideas for kids’ crafts out there. Take a minute to see what ideas you can uncover that your kids will enjoy for years to come.


Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to become a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at]

I can almost hear you saying, “What is yuca?” (pronounced YOU-kuh). It is a very interesting root found in many tropical countries, from Africa to the Carribbean, Central and South America, many South Pacific islands, and parts of Asia. I learned to like it when my husband introduced me to it while we were living in Texas.

It is a very starchy, fibrous root with a kind of bark-like skin and white flesh. It cooks similar to a potato, but it is a bit drier and has a rather bland flavor. You may have heard of its other name, cassava, as it is called in many English speaking countries, such as Jamaca. It is also the root from which tapioca is made.

The other night, my husband found this site that talks about many of the properties of yuca, and we were surprised to find that it is a good source of calcium, as well as anti-inflammatory.

My son is allergic to potatoes, which makes buying gluten-free mixes and products virtually impossible. However, tapioca flour and starch can substitute very well for potato flour and starch in GF recipes, and he is not allergic to it at all.

In Texas, we used to buy it for about $1 a pound. Not terribly cheap, but still affordable. We had to remove the skin and the ends, and I learned the hard way to chop it open in the store to check for pure white flesh (instead of flesh with gray lines in it). Sometimes I would find a lot that was good, and then I would skin it all and freeze whatever we didn’t plan on using in the next few days. It could be taken from the freezer and put directly into hot water to cook, and it tasted almost the same as fresh.

Then we moved to Oregon, and the yuca here is almost $3 a pound. So we never buy it. Not to mention that I doubt it will be good quality up here. But my husband found frozen shredded yuca at a Philippino market for about $1.25 per 1 lb bag. He used about two pounds to make a yuca casserole for Christmas dinner (yuca on top and bottom with seasoned veggie burger filling), but it’s a bit expensive to use for the family on a regular basis, and takes a bit of work. However, we discovered that if we took some of the yuca (which is so finely shredded that it is more like a thick batter than anything else), added some salt, and pan fried it in small patties, Manny would devour them. He’s been known to eat more than half a pound of it at one sitting!

Lately poor Manny, who is definitely allergic to eggs, milk, and all nuts and seeds except flax and hemp, has become more and more sensitive to beans. I can’t just feed him grains–most of them aren’t a complete protein, and even if they were, the quality of protein isn’t enough for a growing child. He won’t eat greens (and with the limited amount of food he can eat, it’s next to impossible to hide greens in anything), so using greens to supplement his protein isn’t really a viable option. So we decided to try a little turkey. Daddy bought some at the health food store today. He chopped it fine, mixed it with the yuca, made the patties, and cooked them with a little palm oil (which oxidizes slower than olive oil, is flavorless, and healthier than canola oil). We started with about 2 ounces of turkey and half a pound of yuca. I’m not sure how many patties he ate, but there were only 2 two-inch patties left when he was full.

Turkey isn’t something we’ll give him every day. What we bought today cost over $2, and I’m not positive it was organic  or free range (it didn’t say it was; he bought it pre-cooked and sliced in the deli, not raw). I can buy similar turkey from Azure Standard, only it IS organic and free-range, and costs over $6 for each 6-oz package (just under $6 each if I buy a 10-pack). I figure buying it pre-cooked is better, so I don’t have to deal with raw meat in my kitchen (a friend made that suggestion, and I totally agree with her!).

As a third-generation vegetarian, feeding meat to one of my kids is something I really hesitate to do. But we don’t seem to have a lot of options right now. I really hope that he will outgrow many of his allergies eventually, and in the mean time he really needs to avoid anything that makes him more itchy. If giving him a little turkey now and again will make that easier, then so be it.

Now if we could just move to a tropical country where yuca and other non-potato roots are staples in the diet… Hey, there’s no law that says I can’t wish, is there? :)

This is the blender I use.

It’s not even noon yet as I sit down to write this, and I have already used my blender three times. I use it more than any given pot or pan, more than the toaster, more than just about anything else. Granted, if my son weren’t allergic to so many things, requiring me to make things for him, I would probably not use it quite as often. But I use it almost every day.

And today happens to be one of those days when I use it extra.

Let’s see… I started out by blending up some black beans I had cooked for Manny, right before I poured them into ice cube trays to freeze for later.

Then I blended the quinoa I had cooked for Manny’s breakfast. Because he doesn’t chew stuff much yet, I find it better to grind his grains. Most of them I grind before cooking, but since quinoa needs to be rinsed, it’s easier to blend it up afterwards.

A little later, I used the blender to make teff milk, which is very similar to the rice milk I demonstrated on YouTube, except that I use a little less teff than rice (otherwise it gets too thick), and I only cook it for 1 hour instead of 2 1/2, because the grains are so tiny.

When I finish with this post, I will make cashew cheese for haystacks.

After lunch, I will make nut milk with the nuts that are soaking on the window sill right now.

So that makes five times today that my blender is getting used. I honestly don’t know how I could live without one! Anyone want to get me a VitaMix for Christmas? Or my birthday? Or just because? Anyone? 😉

But seriously, please share how you use your blender–if you have one. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have you noticed that food prices have been going up? Even with all the bulk buying that I do, it seems that it is getting harder and harder to stay within my budget. Some months I have to supplement a few dollars of my personal money to get us through the month–or ask my husband for a little of his.

There are certain meals that are rather popular in our family, but some of those are a little pricier than others. For instance, we all like scrambled tofu on sweet potatoes, but sweet potatoes are not cheap. I almost always buy them for my son, who is on such a limited diet that I get him whatever he can eat even if it’s not exactly cheap (and since he’s little, he doesn’t require large quantities, thank goodness!), but for the rest of us, I change things around.

So instead of tofu over sweet potatoes, I’ll cook some cornmeal the night before and put it into a glass bread pan. In the morning, I slice and bake. Voila! Baked cornmeal!

Another favorite meal is seasoned oven fries dipped in sunflower seed sour cream mixed with avocado. When avocados get too expensive, I use tomatoes and cilantro instead (if my daughter liked spicy hot, I’d throw in a serrano pepper, but she doesn’t yet). When I run out of red potatoes (the best kind for oven fries) and money is short, I cook a pot of savory oatmeal. That is, I use a powdered chicken or beef style powdered broth to make it savory, then pour the plain sour cream over it, and add some onion rings. These onion rings are sauted in little oil with a couple dashes of salt and a quirt of lemon juice. My daughter does not like onions, but she loves this style, because the lemon juice takes the oniony taste right out. She calls them worms. That makes a rather tasty and nutritious breakfast that sticks a little longer than the oatmeal/milk/fruit breakfast that most Americans eat. Of course, we still eat some fruit if we have it, just not in the oatmeal.

When I get tired of regular lentils, I grab some spices and change the flavor. Add curry powder, cumin, tumeric, and ginger powder to the fresh onions and garlic and celery that I would normally put in a pot of lentils, and suddenly they are Indian style lentils! I like to put some extra cayenne pepper on mine, especially on a cold day (of which Oregon has had a lot this summer). Serve over rice. I especially like to do this with red lentils, though it will work for just about any kind of lentil.

When I decide I can’t afford to buy tofu and I’m too busy or lazy to make it (right now I have a good excuse–my tofu mold is an hour’s drive away and I don’t have a car), I make a soy souffle. This I serve over millet or quinoa or buckwheat or whatever whole grain I feel like cooking up (those 3 are our favorites for eating with souffle, though I suppose you could use rice or Bulgar wheat too).

We like to eat eggplant sliced and breaded with pasta, but I only buy it once or twice a month. Pasta alone does not satisfy my husband–he needs more protein. So I found a delicious recipe for Italian white beans. My slow cooker is about 10 feet away from my tofu mold, so I just cook the white beans in my pressure cooker, add extra water and all the other ingredients, and cook on low for about half an hour or until my husband gets home. He is picky about white beans, but loves this style. I use dried tomatoes I get in a bin at the grocery store instead of the ones canned in oil, because they’re cheaper, so I find that soaking them in hot water for a while while the beans cook helps (and I can add the water to the beans too). I also use manzanilla olives instead of the olives they call for (because that’s usually what I have on hand, other than regular black olives, which would add nothing to the flavor!). Rice pasta (since I’m trying to avoid wheat) with a cheap pasta sauce doctored a little (usually extra onions and dried basil, maybe some mushrooms or olives if I feel like it) and these beans makes a complete meal.

In my quest to find a substitute for wheat bread, I discovered this tasty recipe for 100% rye bread. I use carob powder instead of espresso powder, but other than that, I follow the recipe to a T. It looks like a lot of work, but actually, you only have to stir it for about 3 minutes, then turn it into an oiled mixing bowl and let it rise twice before transferring it to a greased bread pan to rise again, then bake it. It actually rises quite nicely, and the flavor is, well, if you like rye bread, you’ll love this! It holds together well enough to work for sandwiches, and it rises enough to not be too heavy (for me, anyhow). Sure, it’s not gluten free, but I don’t seem to be bothered by gluten. Just wheat. Hasn’t stopped me from eating it entirely, but I do best if I eat it no more than once a week (of course, if I stopped eating it completely, I’d probably do even better, but I’m doing well enough to be content for the moment). I buy organic rye flour in the 10-pound bag, so it’s actually really good bread. And even though rye flour is not as cheap as wheat, homemade rye bread is cheaper than a good loaf of whole wheat–or rye bread, for that matter!

Well, I think the souffle we’re having for tomorrow’s breakfast has cooled enough. That means I need to get off, go brush my teeth, and hit the sack. I hope you enjoyed my musings, and hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas on how you can save money when the end of the month hits again in a few weeks and there seems to be more month than food-budget money. If you’re in the habit of buying cheap food in bulk, you’ll be sure to make it!

The recipe I am sharing for you was inspired by the Spicy Blackeyed Peas recipe I found on It is somewhat different–much less spicy–which is why I’m sharing the whole recipe with you here:

Soak 1 1/4 cups dry black eyed peas overnight (or a few hours), then drain, rinse, and pressure cook them for 1 minute (in my pressure cooker–they are all different; alternately, you could simmer them for 20-30 minutes). Once they are ready, add:

1/2 an onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, smashed
1-2 tsp of cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder (I like more, but my husband doesn’t)
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
salt and Bragg’s aminos to taste

Cook until the onion is soft and the flavors have blended. Then add:

2 tsp lemon juice

Serve hot. We usually serve these with cornbread. I also like to serve a side of kale cooked with cabbage, a little Bragg’s aminos, and a dash or two of lemon juice. Absolutely delicious!

Check back every Monday for more of my delicious Vegan Recipes, or just subscribe to the blog so you will never miss a post! Next week, Breaded Eggplant.

Connie @ is doing a link-up today. Head on over there and check out her demonstration and the other links!

Disclaimer: This method of canning beans is not conventional. Normally you would soak the beans and parboil them for 30 minutes first. However, I found this link had an easier way to do them, so I tried it. It worked. So I thought to myself, if I can can salsa in a waterbath canner with onion and garlic and other seasonings, why can’t I can beans in a pressure cooker with the seasonings in them already? If you want to follow my method, be sure you are familiar with canning. I am not giving every single step clearly in this demonstration, and if you are not familiar with pressure canning, you could make a fatal mistake. And please understand that this is not a recommended method; try it at your own risk.

I start out by putting 1 to 1 1/4 cup of beans in each jar. I used only 1 cup for the black and pinto beans, but 1 1/4 cup for the black-eyed peas. One cup is never quite enough for a meal of those:

Top them off with water and let them sit overnight. Actually, these sat almost 24 hours, because the black beans take longer to swell up. The next morning:

Preparations included 4 quarts of water (which proved about a cup short), 1 can of tomato sauce for the pinto beans (I put about 8 oz. with each batch, because my husband doesn’t like them without tomato), 3 quarts of water in the pressure canner, and water to soften the rubber on the lids:

While the water was heating, I rinsed the beans, pouring off the soak water and filling them 3 times with hot water (to heat them). I left the last rinse in the jars until I was ready to add the seasonings, and added hot water around them to keep them warm:

Here is what I put in: cumin, chili powder, onion, and garlic in all 3 kinds. The Braggs went in the pinto beans and black-eyed peas:

Dumped out the water, started adding the seasonings:

Believe it or not, a little Manzanilla olive water is my secret to delicious pinto beans!

After adding the rest of the seasonings, I put in boiling hot water:

Lids and rings:

Oops! Someone likes cameras!

In the pot, making sure they don’t touch each other or the sides:

I put the lid on and let it vent for 10 minutes, then put the weight on and brought it up to 11 lb pressure. Okay, so I missed 11 lb and it got to 13, but it came down after that. Never went below 11 lb for the duration–90 minutes:

Then I took them out and let them cool. Don’t they look lovely?

I’m not worried, because they will probably all be eaten before the month is out. Now I need to can some lentils… if I can find the time!