Thursday, May 30, 2013

What is the Recipe for a Simple, Healthy, Meal? Simplified Pantry of Course! - A Review

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If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that we have been blessed with two autistic children. Our third son is equally unique. He was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer when he was 15 months old. He is cancer free but now has an artificial left eye. Because of our children's unique health problems, we try to be very healthy eaters. Unfortunately, it can be very expensive to eat healthy. We have tried many of the special healthy diets that are recommended - no food coloring, no preservatives, etc. etc. We have even thought about gluten free diets, but whenever we've read up on it, it always seemed very expensive. Most programs suggest throwing almost everything out in your cabinet and buying expensive "healthier" replacements - something that we couldn't afford on our meager budget. 

When I found out we would be reviewing Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free by Simplified Pantry I was very excited. When I looked at their website and saw that one of the reasons why this plan was written was for "Those wanting to test out a gluten and dairy free diet for health reasons, but who would rather not invest in a whole new set of ingredients and cooking skills", I knew that this was for us! 

So what makes this plan different than any other plans that we have tried? Well, let me tell you why Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free is a "recipe" for success. Now, I'll bet you didn't know that I really enjoy cooking. Before marriage I could barely boil water or put a TV dinner in the oven. Since marriage, however, Sarah has taught me to cook and I have learned to follow recipes to a "T". Let me warn you, though, that when I cook, I tend to wander and talk so much that it is hard to follow what I am talking about. So, since this review is patterned like a recipe I may do the same thing. Just wade through the babble and I think you should get the main points.

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Two tablespoons of No unusual or expensive ingredients - Do you remember what attracted me to Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free in the first place? The statement that you don't have to clean out and restock your pantry or buy a lot of special stuff? Well, they are true to their word. The recipes use commonly found things that you can find in your grocery stores anyway. Unless you are talking about Tamari sauce, which, by the way, is a substitute for Soy Sauce which is a lot more salty and doesn't contain any gluten. Anyway, I had never heard of Tamari sauce before and found it difficult to find in the grocery but...oops...there you go...I was babbling again.

Anyway, as I said in my introduction, many gluten free/dairy free programs can be quite expensive, but I found that I had most of the ingredients included here already in my cabinet. What I didn't have was fairly easy to find and inexpensive to buy at the grocery store. That was very palatable to me!

One ounce of Ease of use - I probably should have put this as my first point, but Simplified Pantry came about when a young mother had her third child. She said that she no longer could remember ingredients to recipes and what she was supposed to purchase at the grocery store. Her children and other things took up too much time for her to recall the complicated recipes and ingredients that she had been using. She realized that she need to pare things down in her kitchen to make that part of life simpler. So, she developed simple recipes that use simple ingredients that can be altered to make several different dishes. Boy I wish I would have thought about that. Don't you think that would be a neat idea for other things in life as well? I could create a chore chart where a few different...oops...I digress again.

Anyway, it really is neat to look at this ebook. It is fascinating to read. The author, Mystie, Winckler, starts off with her story and then the idea behind Simplified Pantry. She then goes on to explain why her family started on the journey of  a gluten free/dairy free diet. Then come the recipes! (I'm going to switch to a new point now, because these recipes are delicious, but they are also easy to use which is the point that you are reading right now but I will be quiet because I am babbling again.)

Three cups of Delicious - Who would have thought that gluten free/dairy free eating could be delicious? My concept of a special diet like this always included boring and untasty food. I remember hearing about rice cakes and other untasty sounding things...oops...digressing again...back on topic! 

These recipes, however are very delicious and very easy to make. We found that many of the things that we were already enjoying were included. All we had to do is tweak a few things to make them healthier for our family. And, do you remember me saying that the author developed a basic recipe with basic ingredients that could be altered to make several different dishes? That was fascinating to me! 

Let me give you an example. We eat a lot of chicken around our house. I won't tell you why because I would be babbling again so I'll just mouth! Anyway, one of the first recipes that caught my attention was "Slow-Cooker, No-Defrost Chicken Pieces". I liked the fact that the author has thought of everything. Even how most people (including me) hate when they forget to take something out of the freezer to defrost. With this group of recipes you don't have to defrost, just throw the chicken into the slow-cooker, add the ingredients and go about your business!

All of the recipes start out with one basic process and sometimes some basic ingredients. They then go on to explain how you can alter that recipe to make several different things. Can you imagine that out of the "Slow-Cooker, No-Defrost Chicken Pieces" recipe you can make Orange Honey Chicken, Fruited Chicken (Including Cranberry Chicken which is one of our favorites), Teriyaki Chicken, Peanut Butter Chicken, Margarita Chicken, and Taco Chicken? All of the recipes are like that but usually with more dishes that you can choose from. 

And don't think that this plan just uses chicken! There are recipes for pork, beef and fish as well. There are soups, stews, side dishes, desserts, salads, main dishes...everything you can think of! And we need everything you can think of around our house. I mean, with three growing boys each with different tastes it is hard to please everyone. John Allen likes...oops...mouth. I think you get the point. 

We love this cookbook! It contains  many of the recipes that we already love, but makes them healthier, cheaper and easier to make. We haven't used the recipes long enough to find out if a gluten-free/dairy-free diet has helped the kids (we have cheated somewhat anyway), but I really like it that we are all eating healthier (and that it is cheaper and easier).

A teaspoon of Inexpensive - Last but not least in any "cookbook" of ours is how expensive it is. I think that you'll find the price for Simplified Dinners Gluten Free/Dairy Free to be very palatable. The cost is only $12.95! Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Don't worry if you aren't in to gluten free/dairy free diets. There is an ebook cookbook that is patterned just the same as the cookbook I described above, but with no dietary restrictions - just healthy, inexpensive, easy recipes. But wait! If you use the code TOS2013 at checkout, you can save 30% on anything on the Simplified Pantry website! The code only works until June 3rd so act quickly.

Speaking of everything on the website. Other folks from the TOS Review Crew reviewed other items such as Simplified Dinners and Paperless Home Organization. You can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Cooking!

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