Top Ten Reader Favorites from 2015

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I still can’t believe the new year is here. I’m not sure I’m ready to embrace it! But I have my theme and I must move forward. Before we move on, I want to celebrate some of my reader favorites from this past year! This blog has grown quite a bit and I am always blown away at the positive response I get from my lovely readers. So, a big THANK YOU to you for joining me in this journey!

Here’s the count-down to Never Lacking Zeal’s reader favorites:

How to make garlic oil

10: How to Make Garlic Oil – With its high nutritive benefits, garlic is one of the best things you can have in your kitchen. This simple garlic oil is great to have on hand this time of year to boost your immune system and ward off infections.

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9: 5 Reasons You Need Epsom Salt in Your Life – Plus a recipe for a relaxing foot soak! Epsom salt has some really amazing health benefits. Read the list to find out more.

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8: The Benefits of Baltic Amber – Is Amber all it’s cracked up to be? Although Baltic amber is often just looked upon as a hookey hippie necklace, there are some proven benefits that can make positive changes in your body. I don’t think we could have made it through teething without it.

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7: DIY Sore Muscle Rub – Don’t forget to pack this in your gym bag. Sore Muscle Rub uses natural ingredients to help your body fight the inflammation caused by a tough work out. You can make your own Muscle Rub or buy some from my soap shop, Southern Vines Soap Company.

benefits of cedarwood eo

6: The Benefits of Cedarwood Essential Oil – If you’ve never smelled Cedarwood, you are missing out! One of my favorite essential oils to diffuse in my home and has quite a few benefits for the body too.

DIY Flea and Tick Repellent Dog Shampoo

5: DIY Dog Shampoo – Let’s not forget about our furry friends when it comes to switching to green household products. This shampoo will clean your pooch and help repel fleas and ticks. Make sure to whip up a batch before the Spring hits.

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4: DIY Liquid Shampoo – Although I’ve switched to using Herbal Shampoo Bars, you can’t go wrong with a wonderfully scented liquid shampoo. This combination of liquid castile soap, coconut milk, and essential oils will leave your hair nourished and smelling great.

DIY Static Stopper

3: DIY Static Stopper Spray – The dry season has recently hit at my house with the increased cold and use of the central heat. With it comes the static on my clothes and hair. And it drives me nuts! Thankfully, there’s no more craziness with this quick recipe.

DIY dry shampoo

2: DIY Dry Shampoo – I LOVE this recipe and so do my readers! So easy to make. And I use it almost every day (when I don’t shower).

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1: 12 Ways to Use Grapefruit Essential Oil – This quick list has gone viral on Pinterest! Grapefruit essential oil is a mom’s best friend. Go read it to find out why it’s so amazing.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. I love writing and I have some really amazing stuff for you this coming year. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to live a simple natural life.

What is your favorite post from this past year?


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The Best Kept Secret to Quick Meal Planning

Best Kept Secret to Quick Meal Planning

The baby is napping, you finally got a shower, the house has been straightened up a tad, you have twenty minutes (give or take) to sit down and make a meal plan before the rest of the day’s activities get going.

How can that possibly be done in twenty minutes?!

I want to let you in on a secret…

If you are anything like me, you have limited time to sit down uninterrupted and map out the week’s meals. Doing anything that requires thinking, writing, or typing means I have to wait until little man is asleep. And since I’m usually doing blog work when he’s napping, my meal planning time is even more limited!

I must make a meal plan. I want to ensure that I’m feeding my family quality food but I know that if I don’t have a plan I reach for the less healthy options that are lurking in our pantry. This seems to be the case for a lot of families. Whether you are busy working, tending to little ones, or have a full schedule of extra-curricular activities, you know the challenge!

You probably know half of the secret to getting a meal plan together: get organized. There are various ways to do so, but I prefer a binder. Well, I don’t really like binders, but it does work better than any other organizational method I’ve tried. Once you have your recipes organized you are much better prepared to quickly make a meal plan.

The one thing that has saved me so much time in cutting my meal planning into an efficient twenty minutes is a Top 30 Meal list. What goes on this list, you ask? The thirty favorite meals that your family loves. Revolutionary, I know!

Here is an example of what our list looks like:

My Top 20 Meal list

Before you start wondering how a list like this will help, think about this: you know your family loves these meals, and you are familiar with the preparation and ingredients. All you need to do to make a quick meal plan is sit down with your list, think about your week’s schedule, and map out meals for each day. Quick and simple!

This has changed my meal planning efficiency by leaps and bounds. I often choose one or two meals that are not on the list to give us some variety. But to have a selection of favorites already written down that I can glance at? Ultimate time saver!

Using a Top 30 Meal list is the best kept secret that I have found in saving time in my meal planning. I am able to successfully feed my family healthy real food without stressing out about it.

You can finally save time with your meal planning and succeed at getting real food on the table by simply creating a similar list. I have more details on how to organize your recipes and make your Top 30 Meal list in my new eBook Planning with Purpose.

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Included in Planning with Purpose is a ready to go Top 30 Meal list. It’s blank, of course, so you can add in your family’s favorite meals. But it’s neatly arranged and ready to print for you to start filling out and streamlining your meal planning session!

This resource will help you save time (and money) in the kitchen. As with most areas of life, there is no better way to efficiency than by planning! You don’t need to struggle any longer in figuring out how to get a meal plan together, create a kitchen inventory, organize your recipes, and still have time for your family. The answer is here.

Now that you know the best kept secret to meal planning…go forth and succeed!

 

This post may be shared at these blogs.


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Butternut Beef Wraps

 

butternut beef wraps

Do you ever just throw something together in the kitchen and it turns out amazing?

Like knock your socks off amazing?

Yeah, that happened. I was struggling with what to have for lunch. I often just grab some leftovers or graze on random things throughout the day. But there were no leftovers and I didn’t have any grazing foods around. Everything in the fridge and cabinet needed actual cooking. Ugh. Sometimes real food takes some work.

I sat the baby in his chair and started whipping something up. I had some butternut squash and some kale that needed eating. So I started chopping tossed those two items in some olive oil and stuck them in the oven.

My mother says I’m “protein sensitive”. Meaning I need to eat some protein at every meal or I just don’t feel well. Thankfully I had some ground beef in the fridge. I cooked it up on the stove.

What to do with roasted veggies, ground beef, and a need to make it interesting? I threw it all together and added some Sunrise Spice. Only one of THE BEST spice mixes by Melissa Joulwan, author of Well Fed and Well Fed 2, my favorite cook books (affiliate links). It still seemed incomplete.

Looking around my fridge, I pulled out some romaine lettuce. Perfect for wraps. Meal created.

If you are looking for a savory, filling, and scrumptious meal, this is the way to go. It works great as a lunch if you have some time to prepare it, or it would be an excellent dinner. I would even eat it for breakfast! I’m sure my husband would love it. He’s easy to feed!

It’s also free of anything that might be an allergen or cause sensitivity. Paleo all the way! Below is the complete recipe for your cooking pleasure. I changed up a couple of things from what I did initially to make it flow smoother and to give you the best flavor. Enjoy!

Butternut Beef Wraps

Butternut Beef Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Sunrise Spice
  • several leaves of romaine lettuce

Instructions

  1. *Prep Sunrise Spice ahead of time
  2. Turn oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place butternut squash in a single layer on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until soft.
  4. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and onion in a skillet. Once the meat is no longer pink, add kale and cook until slightly wilted. Add Sunrise Spice.
  5. Once the butternut squash is finished roasting, add to the ground beef mixture.
  6. Serve in lettuce wraps.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2014/10/16/butternut-beef-wraps/

This post is shared on the Homestead Barn Hop, Weekend Potluck,  Wellness Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesdays, and Mealplan Mondays.


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Mix Your Own Taco Seasoning

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One of our favorite go-to meals is taco salad. It’s very simple to put together. I can easily brown up some meat, chop up a few veggies, whip up some dressing, and get it on the table in twenty minutes. I love it for nights that I get home late because of running errands after work. Or nights that I run and just want to get dinner done with quickly.

My version of taco salad does not contain any chips or cheese or sour cream. I do a Paleo version with just the veggies, meat, and dressing. And I make my own seasoning. As a fan of homemade mixes and seasonings that are free of strange chemicals, I love this mix. It really tastes amazing too. I’ve had store-bought taco seasoning once since I started making my own and I can tell a big difference. The flavors in the homemade mix are so REAL ! I thought I would share it so others can enjoy the benefits of tasty tacos and taco salads. It works great on beef or chicken. I’ve even added it to leftover roast that I shredded and turned it into a new meal.

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a spice jar and shake to mix.
  2. Use 1-2 Tbsp spice mix per pound of meat. More or less depending on your spice preference.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2013/05/03/mix-your-own-taco-seasoning/

 

Now in a matter of five minutes, with ingredients that you have on hand, you can make this delicious taco seasoning mix!! I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!


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