Simple, Versatile Pesto

I’ve loved pesto since the first time I tasted it.  As the years have gone by I’ve made quite a few versions of my own.  I’ve made traditional pesto.  I’ve made red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.  And I’ve made very simple pesto.

pesto pasta

I’ve added new ingredients.  I’ve taken things out when I had various dietary restrictions.  And I finally settled on my base pesto recipe that only takes about 2 minutes to make.  I’ve removed the allergens (dairy and nuts) as well so just about anybody can eat it.

Pesto is so versatile.  You can use whatever greens you have fresh or frozen.  And you can use it in so many dishes.  Here are a few ways to use pesto.

  • Pizza sauce – Replace your usual tomato sauce with pesto and top with chicken and vegetables.  With all the flavor from the pesto you can even skip the cheese and make a delicious dairy free pizza.
  • Salad dressing – Store-bought dressings are almost always made with unhealthy vegetable oils.  Whip up a batch of pesto and you’ve got easy, flavorful dressing on hand for the whole week.
  • Rice – Rice can get pretty boring.  Liven it up with a few spoonfuls of pesto.  Add a little parmesan cheese and cooked chicken and you’ve got a whole meal!
  • Vegetable topping – Mix pesto into a bowl of roasted vegetables or pureed squash or pumpkin.
  • Quiche – Spread a layer of pesto on a pie crust.  Top it with a mixture of eggs, milk and cheese and bake.
  • Snack – Need a quick bite of something healthy in-between meals?  Try a spoon or two of pesto.  You’ll get easy to digest nutrients and healthy fat.
  • Baby food – Who says baby’s need bland food?  Let your little one try some.  No need to chew
  • Bread – Make your favorite yeast bread dough.  Roll it out.  Spread pesto on top.  Roll the dough into a loaf and bake.  You’ll have a homemade bread with pesto swirled throughout.
  • Pasta – Cook some pasta, drain most of the liquid, stir in pesto.  Top it with cheese and/or add cooked chicken or bacon if desired.  Or mix the pesto into your favorite alfredo sauce to make pesto-fredo pasta.
  • Panini – Use pesto as the dressing on a Panini.
  • Soup – Mix pesto into a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup, squash soup or white chili.  It’s a great twist on your favorite soups.
  • Dip – Dip raw vegetables into plain pesto.  Or you can mix pesto with hummus to make a “pummus” dip.

Do you like pesto?  What is your favorite way to use it?

pesto pizza

Simple, Versatile Pesto
Makes 2½ cups
  • 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh peas, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, basil or any other green/herb you like (you can use a combination as well)
  • ½ - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (you can replace some of it with water for a ighter version or to make it have a more neutral flavor)
  • unrefined sea salt and garlic powder to taste
Method of Preparation
  1. Blend greens, ½ cup olive oil, salt and garlic powder in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Add extra olive oil or water to reach desired consistency.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste.


Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Infertility – Letting Go Of The Shame

A trip to the mall.  A stop at the grocery store.  A dinner out.  Simple, every day tasks.

Unless you struggle with infertility.

Then these “simple” activities can turn into painful and challenging events.  And sometimes even make you feel shameful.

I’m not just saying this as someone who has heard a lot about infertility or has friends that have dealt with it.

photo credit:

photo credit:

I’ve been thereReally been there.  I’ve had to say no to invites from friends that were expecting because I just couldn’t be around them.  I’ve had to try to put a smile on my face while listening to someone talk about how they were upset that they found out they got pregnant again without trying.  I’ve had to excuse myself from conversations about how overjoyed someone is to be done having kids.

In addition to the hurt I’ve also felt the shame.  The shame of being different and feeling like I don’t fit in.  The shame of having a body that doesn’t work right.  The shame of not feeling like a true woman.

But there is one more aspect of my struggle with infertility that has made me feel the most shame.  The path I chose to deal with it.

In 2006 I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist.  It led me down a path of a variety of fertility drugs and treatments.  After various attempts and a diagnosis of both male and female factor infertility, my husband and I proceeded with in-vitro fertilization.

We were very blessed that I got pregnant on the first try.  And now I have a beautiful, smart, creative little girl who just turned 5.

But the journey was far from over.  In early 2010 I was first starting to learn about real food and natural health…while in the midst of trying for another child.  I had already been through two failed attempts via IVF.  And was in the middle of a third.

As I learned more and more about real food I became more and more hopeful.  Maybe I could heal my body and restore my fertility without all of the medications and procedures.  Maybe.

photo credit:

photo credit:

I went on to do 3 more IVF transfers.  And after a lot of heart-break and physical endurance I now have a wonderful son who is just about to turn 2.

I was overjoyed when I got to this point.  I was opening up and sharing my story in hopes of giving others hope.  But I didn’t expect what came from sharing my story…more shame.

In the world of real food and natural health, saying that you conceived via IVF is kind of like saying you feed your kids fast food and candy bars every day for lunch.  I got some nasty remarks and questions.  How could I promote a natural lifestyle and support “unnatural” fertility treatments at the same time?

I’ve thought and prayed about it a lot.  I’ve felt the shame…and I’ve let go of the shame.

Although I fully support natural means of improving fertility and health,  I also know that this was my path.  I started my journey with infertility before I even knew what real food was.  I’ve also learned that real food doesn’t always work.  It really can help most of the time.  But sometimes no matter how hard you try there are things that you can’t change.

No matter how many raw egg yolks and plates of liver I eat, no matter how much raw milk I drink, no matter how many detox baths I take, no matter how many supplements or vitamins or herbs I take, no matter how much yoga I do or how much sleep I get…my fertility status will not likely change.

I have a condition called polyfollicular ovaries.  And to this day I’ve never heard of any real food remedy for it.  I’ve never found any research that explains what causes this or how to treat it (aside from working around it with IVF).  I don’t know what hormones control it.  The only solution I know of is time…some day when my egg supply diminishes my body will hopefully work normally.  It could be tomorrow.  It could be when I’m 45.

But I still deserve to be a mother.  God created my children and gave them to me.  Not a doctor.  Not a pill.

I don’t know what is going on inside my body.  But I do know that I don’t have to be ashamed.  This is the way God made me.  I didn’t cause this.  I’m not eating the wrong food.  I’m not lacking in effort to give my body the nourishment it needs.  I am fully supportive of natural fertility, health and healing.  I strive each day to keep my own family healthy.

But I also know that sometimes things don’t go the way we would like.  And sometimes we have to let go of our ideal situation.

If you’ve struggled with infertility please don’t be ashamed.  You are still just as complete and worthy as any other woman.  No matter what road you’ve been down know that you are right where you need to be.  Be kind to yourself.  Accept yourself.  Let go of the shame.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Get informed.  Be aware.  Never be ashamed or make anyone else feel ashamed.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Save The Color For the Eggs. Your Kids Will Thank You.

You may not be able to tell by looking out your window, but it is finally spring!  And Easter is only a few days away.

Time for Easter eggs, baskets full of candy, bright colors – signs of new life.  But if life is what you’re concerned with you might want to take a second look at all those colors.

photo credit

photo credit

Colored food and candy is appealing, especially to small children.  We eat first with our eyes.  So naturally kids will be excited by a basket full of brightly colored treats.

A few jellybeans.  A handful of colored chocolates.  A marshmallow chick.  Innocent fun.  An ok treat here and there.  Right?

Not really.  Artificial coloring is very harmful…for everyone.

Even if you avoid the obvious brightly colored candies you still might be getting more artificial coloring in your diet than you think.  Crackers, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, chips, cereal, jello, sweetened beverages, yogurt, ice cream, ketchup, fruit skins, meats.  The list goes on and on.  It is even in products such as toothpaste, shampoos and medicine.

A small amount of food dye can have a big impact.  Depending on the color and variety it can cause many kinds of tumors and cancer.  It can also cause damage to a growing child’s brain and lower IQ.

One of the biggest side effects of artificial coloring is hyperactivity and inattentiveness.  Does your child have some ADD/ADHD symptoms?  Are you struggling with behavioral/obedience problems?  Before you try to get a diagnosis start with your family’s diet.

I have experienced this first hand with my daughter.  After trial and error we discovered that she has a very strong reaction to any kind of food coloring.  It makes a huge impact on her behavior.

Do you feel bad taking away these “treats” from your child?  Try to look at the situation differently.  We have adopted a strict no food coloring policy for our kids.  It might be hard to say no to a few gummies or a sucker.  But this is the best “treat” we can give them…being able to feel good and have control over their minds and bodies.

photo credit

photo credit

My daughter is very smart, creative and funny.  I love allowing her to think clearly and let her true personality shine.  It’s heartbreaking when she can’t do that, when she seems out of control or in a fog.  And by allowing her to consume foods with artificial coloring I am taking away that freedom.  Not much of a treat is it?

The first step in tackling this problem is reading all food labels carefully and checking for harmful substances.  You might be surprised what you find.  Take a look at this list of ingredients.  Can you tell what this is?

“Skim milk, sugar, strawberry puree, whey, contains less than 2% of sodium tripolyphosphate, modified food starch, pasteurized milk and cream, sodium citrate, salt, artificial color, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and calcium propionate as preservatives, carrageenan, citric acid, cheese culture, sodium phosphate, natural flavor, artificial flavor, red 40, carob bean gum, vitamin a palmitate”

These are the ingredients in strawberry cream cheese.  Artificial color and red 40.  No thank you.

In addition to dyes and colors check for sodium benzoate.  It has the same effect on your health.

Once you eliminate foods with artificial coloring and dyes you can move on to making your own goodies.  Use real food to color your food.  Want to make something pink?  Use strawberry juice or jam.  How about green?  Try avocado.  Have fun experimenting with foods like blueberries, beets and carrots to add color to your baked goods.

Or better yet…leave out the color.  Who said mint ice cream should be green?  It’s actually white or yellow (depending on whether or not you add egg yolks).  If you really want colorful food reach for fruits and vegetables.  And leave the treats their true color.  Don’t worry, they’ll still taste great even if they aren’t neon colored.

photo credit

photo credit

Check those Easter baskets and your cupboards.  Get rid of anything that contains artificial colors or dyes.  You’re giving your family a wonderful gift and a fresh start by keeping these harmful substances out of their diet.  Save the artificial coloring for the Easter eggs.  Just be sure not to eat them.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Think Spring, Plan Your Pantry

If you’re anything like me, by the time February draws to a close you are so ready for spring!  But most of the time it still seems so far away.  The ground is likely covered with snow.  Everything is wet and sloppy.  The sun likes to hide.

You’re still eating lots of winter comfort foods and living off your freezer stock from last year.


As March approaches I’m anxious for fresh foods.  While they aren’t quite available yet, it’s time to start thinking about them.

Now is the perfect time to plan how you want to stock your pantry and freezer during the spring, summer and fall.  Doing so can save you money and keep your family well fed.

Maybe you already have a good inventory of what you preserved last year.  That is a great start.  Even if you don’t you can still start planning for the coming produce season now.

Here are general guidelines of when some produce is available in the area and some ideas of ways to preserve it.  Make a list of the ones you want, find recipes, put the plans in your calendar so you know when you’ll have to do it and stock up on all of your supplies.

When spring does finally decide to show up you’ll be ready to stock your pantry for a full year of healthy food.

Produce Season:

  • Early – mid June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus
  • Mid – late June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus, sugar snap peas, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry
  • Early – mid July: strawberry, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, apricot, peach, cherry, nectarine
  • Mid – late July: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, peach, nectarine, corn, plum, melon
  • Early – mid August: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon
  • Mid – late August: zucchini, summer squash, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon, apples, pears,  cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Mid – late September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid October: apples, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage

Preserving Ideas:

  • Berries: jam, jelly, pancake/ice cream topping, frozen, pie, fruit leather, dried, relish/salsa, baked goods
  • Stone fruits: jam, jelly, frozen, canned, pie, dried, fruit butter
  • Zucchini/summer squash: salsa, tomato sauce, frozen, sweet bread
  • Apples/pears: canned, pies, sauce, butter
  • Tomatoes/peppers/onions: pasta sauce, chili sauce, salsa
  • Squash: bake and freeze
  • Corn/broccoli/cauliflower/peppers: frozen

apple butter


Apple Butter

makes 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 pts.

  • 4 1/2 qts. apples, peeled, cored and sliced (16-17 LARGE apples)
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 qt. apple cider
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
Cook apples with water until soft (5-10 min.).  Press through sieve or food mill on the finest setting.  Add the cider and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Cook on low until thick (about 3 hours).  Add spices.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

A “Hot” Breakfast For a Cold Morning

It’s January in Michigan.  Which means it’s cold (most of the time).  You wake up and drag yourself out from under a pile of warm blankets.  You shower and dress quickly to avoid getting chilled.

You clutch a big mug of hot coffee or tea to warm your hands while you think about breakfast.  Some of your staples don’t sound so great – smoothies, cold cereal, fresh fruit.  You want something hot and steamy to start the day.

So you reach for…ice cream?  That’s right.  Ice cream for breakfast can really warm you up!  Plus it can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories all day long.

It may sound crazy, but starting your day with a good mix of starch, sugar, salt and saturated fat will help raise your body temperature and metabolism.  As long as you don’t wash it down with a lot of fluid.

Ice cream is just one example of a warming breakfast.  You could also choose things like pancakes with butter and syrup, crackers with cheese, salty fried potatoes or sweet bread with butter and salt.  Any combination of starch, sugar and salt that you enjoy will work.

An important factor to remember is to not drink a big glass of water, tea, coffee or soda with it.  Save your fluids for later in the day.  Drinking too much may overhydrate your body and flush out your vitamins and minerals.  Your cellular fluid and mineral levels will be out of balance.

You’ve kicked off your day with a breakfast that gets your body burning.  Now you can gradually eat lighter and add more fluids as the day goes on.  Try some protein and vegetables for lunch, including at least some starch and salt still.  Then pile on the vegetables for dinner.  Maybe a little fruit for a bedtime snack.

Just keep in mind that if you start to get cold you should grab a small snack that contains starch, sugar and salt.  And if you’re getting really hot add some extra fluids.

Think it sounds crazy to drink less and eat more sweets and salt in the morning?  Give it a try.  See if it gets you warm on a cold winter day.  Try ice cream for breakfast paired with something salty.  Or better yet, salt your ice cream!  Your family won’t mind helping you with the experiment.

Plain vanilla ice cream is always great.  You can eat it as is or add your favorite toppings.  Don’t forget a sprinkle of unrefined sea salt.  It will help bring out the sweetness in the ice cream.

Do you have a hard time getting warm in the winter?  Have you ever tried ice cream or another dessert for breakfast?  Choose your favorite salty sweet combination and see if it helps you get warm.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream


3 cups cream (preferably raw)

3 – 5 egg yolks

1 – 2 tsp. organic vanilla

1/2 cup sweetener of choice or combination of sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, cane sugar)

pinch sea salt

Method of Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Adjust sweetener to taste (make it a little overly sweet…the flavor will go down when processed).  Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.  Store in a freezer safe container in freezer.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes before scooping.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Chestnut Pancakes and Maple-Pecan Syrup

By now, many of us are listening to Christmas music in our cars, at work, and in the comfort of our homes.  One of the most well-known Christmas songs and a favorite among many is “The Christmas Song”, or subtitled “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open-Fire”. You know…

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos…

This song was written in 1944, and while the lyrics play out for many of us of caroling and dressing up warm,  there is one line that is hard to relate to. “Chestnut roasting on an open fire.” We didn’t exactly roast nuts at our house during Christmas. For over 25 years I have never tasted a roasted chestnut until recently my curiosity got the best of me.

The Christmas Chestnut

Long ago, during the months of November and December, pushcarts full of a variety of nuts filled the streets of cities. Seasonal nuts were precious and looked upon as a ‘treat’ or a luxury to have with meals. People fled to these pushcarts to buy a bag of nuts and saved them to be eaten only on Christmas.

The most popular nut was often the prized chestnut.

Chestnuts were typically served after the Christmas dinner as the final course. Often times, the nut was roasted in an open fire so the sweet aroma filled the house. The roasted nut would then be served with a fig or orange for a special Christmas dessert.

Nutrient Composition

Chestnuts are rather unique in their macronutrient make-up. They are high in carbohydrates and very low in fat, unlike all other nuts. In 100 grams of chestnuts you’ll find 53 grams of carbohydrates. Of those 53 grams, 11 come from simple sugars, 5 from fiber and the remaining 37 grams is starch. That makes them slightly sweet, especially when roasted.

Each nut is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Take vitamin C for example, every 100 grams of chestnuts provides 43 mg of vitamin C (72 % of DRI).

Many cultures around the world eat chestnuts as part of their daily diet since their starchy composition is similar to that of corn, plantain, and sweet potato. The nut can even be turned into flour and used for baking. After roasting, the nut is often added to stuffing and salads to embellish the taste.

Chestnut Pancakes and Maple Pecan Syrup

A favorite of mine is using roasted chestnuts to make Christmas pancakes. These pancakes will keep the family full throughout the morning while presents are being unwrapped and friends and family come over to visit.


2 cups roasted chestnuts
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup almond milk
3 tablespoon maple syrup, or 1 teaspoon liquid stevia

Maple Pecan Syrup

3/4 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


In a blender combine all the pancake ingredients. Puree until the batter is smooth and thick.

On a hot non-stick griddle, measure out 1/4 cup of pancake batter per pancake. Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, wash out the blender and make the maple pecan syrup.

In the blender, combine all the maple syrup ingredients and pulse several times until desired texture is reached. Transfer the syrup to a saucepan and gently warm up the syrup over medium-heat.

Drizzle the warm syrup over the pancakes and enjoy.

Will you be eating chestnuts this year?

Inside the lunchbox {11.7.12}

healthy school lunches

My son currently goes to a full day homeschool program once per week, which means that he needs to bring a lunch. On his way home the very first day he was already commenting that “Other kids had COOKIES Mom!”

Since cookies are a rare treat in our house, it was a bit of a surprise for him and has lead to only a couple of discussions on why we don’t eat a lot of sugary products.

And since I about go out of my mind when my kids are hopped up on sweets, it’s not something I want to make his teacher go through either!

We’re also gluten free, so no sandwiches – sometimes we have to get a bit creative. Another issue we seem to be having is that I grocery shop after I drop him off on Wednesdays… Tuesday nights when we pack his lunch the fridge is a bit empty.

This week we packed yogurt (usually I don’t buy small containers, but it was a special treat), cheese stick, carrots, grapes, a pancake sandwich, and an Honest Kids drink.

What do you pack in your kids lunchbox? (or what do you serve for lunch at home?)

All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Four Flavors of Fall

The Spring of 2012 made history here in West Michigan. We had five days in March with temperatures reaching 80 degrees or higher. While many of us didn’t complain and enjoyed the brief heat wave by getting a head start on the yard work, this type of weather was bad news for many farmers whose apple, cherry, peach trees began to blossom far too early. Typically, fruit trees in Michigan don’t blossom until early May. The warm March weather followed by a cold, frost-filled Spring resulted in the largest fruit crop loss since 1947 – from SouthWest Michigan all the way to Traverse City.

Fall is now upon us now and some of the most popular seasonal crops are in short supply. Many orchards are shipping in produce across the United States to make up for the loss, while others are picking what is left in their orchards and selling them as ‘pre-picked’. Apples, cherries, peaches and pears were perhaps the hardest hit, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy them. There are still plenty of local farms and orchards with late-blossoming varieties hoping you’ll stop by this year to taste their Fall flavors.


west michigan apples


Believe it or not, Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the U.S. after New York and Washington. Most of those are grown right here in West Michigan and are a local symbol that Fall has arrived. The Michigan apple crop loss this season is expected to have a 110 million dollar impact, but it’s not all bad news.

Many Macintosh, Gala, and HoneyCrisp trees survived the frost and are still producing fruit this year at many local orchards. These neighborhood farms would love to sell you pre-picked apples.
Sietsema Orchards and Cider Mill
8540 2 Mile Rd, Ada, MI 49301
Phone: 616-676-5584

Moelker Orchards Farm Market
9265 Kenowa Ave. SW Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Phone: 616-453-2585

Wells Orchards
0-8993 Kenowa Ave. S.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Phone: 616-453-5919



Bright orange pumpkins are perhaps the most visible symbol of Fall-time festivities. Pick up a small pumpkin for baking and use the larger varieties to welcome Halloween guests to your porch.

Pumpkins and other winter squashes are plentiful and currently in season, so find a local patch and pick a few. Keep in mind pumpkins are considered a super food rich in carotenes that covert to vitamin A inside the body.
Klackle Orchards
11466 W Carson City Rd, Greenville, MI 48838
Phone: 616-754-8632

Ed Dunneback & Girls
3025 6 Mile Rd Grand, Rapids, MI 49544
Phone: 616-784-0058

Fruit Ridge Hayrides
11966 Fruit Ridge NW, Kent City, 49330
Phone: 616-887-5052



Apples may be the quintessential autumn fruit, but pears can be just as delicious. Pears ripen in throughout September and can help turn ordinary dishes into extraordinary ones. The bell-shaped fruit is a more delicate traveler, but don’t let that stop you from picking some up from your local fruit farmer.

The most popular variety, Bartlett pears, were hardest hit this Spring, others like Bosc are beginning to ripen and available from these two local orchards.
Moelker Orchards Farm Market
9265 Kenowa Ave. SW Grand Rapids, MI 49544
Phone: 616-453-2585

Wells Orchards
0-8993 Kenowa Ave. S.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Phone: 616-453-5919


Most people think of raspberries as a summer-time treat, but everbearing types produce until the first frost. Why not visit a U-pick patch to stock up on raspberries and freeze them for the winter months?


Post Farms
9849 Myers Lake Avenue Ne, Rockford, MI 49341
Phone: 616-874-7569

Sandy Bottom Berries
11555 Sandy Bottom Road, Rockford, MI  49341
Phone: 616-225-9376

De Lange’s Redberry Farm
5723 Port Sheldon, Hudsonville, MI
Phone: 616-875-6026


Take some time in the next month to experience West Michigan by supporting our local farms and orchards. Remember to always call ahead of time for hours and to get a an update on what’s currently available.

Many of the orchards listed above also have family activities like hay rides and corn mazes. Even if you end up bringing home less fruit this season, take the time to enjoy the fresh air and wonderful Fall flavors.

Back to School…Back to Broth

It’s September.  The weather is starting to get cooler, fall produce is at the market and school has started.  This means lots of fun and excitement.  But it also means the start of colds, the flu and lots of germs.

There are many precautions you can take to stay healthy of course, and one of the best ways is to nourish your body with bone broth.

bone broth and immune support

Bone broth is full of vitamins and minerals, it helps with digestion and promotes healing in the gut, and it is one of the most nourishing foods you can eat.

It is best to get broth in your diet daily, but that can sometimes be a challenge – especially when it comes to kids.  But it can be done, even without eating soup seven days a week, although you could.  It makes a great quick prep breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Eight easy and delicious ways to incorporate broth into your meals every day.

  • Smoothies – Add some unflavored broth into your favorite smoothie.
  • Gravy – Simmer vegetables and/or meat in broth until it reduces and thickens.
  • Sweet and sour sauce – Make meatballs or stir fry by simmering your meat/vegetables in a combination of broth and honey until it reduces.
  • Rice/Noodles/Grains – Cook rice or whole wheat noodles or other grains (quinoa, couscous, etc.) in broth instead of water.  The grains will absorb the broth.
  • Beverage – Simply put warm, seasoned broth in a cup and drink it.  Kids will enjoy this if they get to use a straw.  It makes a great replacement for a cup of tea or coffee once in a while.  Or drink it at the start of your meal to aid in digestion.
  • Scrambled eggs – Use broth instead of milk when making scrambled eggs.
  • Vegetable puree – Puree vegetables like squash, pumpkin or peas with broth for a nutritious side dish, sauce or baby food.
  • Soups/stews – Use lots of bone broth for homemade soups and stews.  Simply add whatever meat and/or vegetables you like and simmer.  You can puree the soup to make a thick stew.

Making broth is quite simple.  Just simmer bones (with or without meat) on the stove or slow cooker for about 24 hours.  You can add vegetables and seasoning as well.  Then strain the liquid out.

You are left with beautiful broth full of gelatin, vitamins and minerals.  For extra nutrients be sure to use a variety of parts of the animal, including things like feet, necks, etc.

Store broth in the refrigerator for up to a week or keep it in the freezer.

While it may be convenient to buy pre-made stock, it’s not equivalent to homemade stock.  It does not have the same nourishing properties.  And most of the store-bought stocks contain MSG and other chemicals and fillers.

You can also use good quality gelatin to get some of the same benefits as stock or broth.

Don’t let the start of school and fall activities be the end of your family’s health.  Start consuming broth at least a few times a week to make sure you’re getting the nutrients and protection you need.

Do you regularly make broth? If so, what are your favorite ways of using it?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

How To Start Planning For Next Year’s Preservation

Fresh produce is available all summer long.  Many hours are spent in the kitchen chopping, cooking, freezing, canning and drying to preserve the bounty for the rest of the year.  The fall will still bring a few fresh foods like squash, pumpkin, apples and pears.  But now that summer is winding down, prime season for a lot of produce is over.

It is tempting to sit back, take a deep breath and consider your summer produce preservation task over.  But before you do there is one more thing to consider.  Taking inventory and planning for next year!

It may seem early to start planning for next summer, but a little work now will really pay off for years to come.  Here are a few simple steps to make each season of preservation a success.

  1. Keep a record.  Make a spreadsheet and keep track of what produce you buy throughout the summer.  Be sure to note the quantity, cost and date of purchase.  Next summer you’ll know about when to expect and prepare for each type of produce and roughly how much it will cost.
  2. Make a list of your favorite recipes and pantry staples.  Do you make a lot of smoothies with frozen fruit?  Do you use a lot of jam?  Do you eat a lot of salsa?  Figure out what you’ll want available all year in your pantry and freezer.  Then you won’t forget anything.  And with a record of when all of the produce is available you’ll know exactly when you need to be ready to make it.
  3. Check your stock from last year.  Did you clear your freezer stock of fruits and vegetables last year?  Are your pantry shelves still overflowing with canned goods?  Assess how much you used to get an idea for how much you’ll want to make next year.  It’s easy to check your freezer stock if you keep a good record all year.
  4. Take inventory of this year.  Before using any of your freshly preserved foods take inventory of everything you have just preserved and made.
  5. Take inventory again next summer.  At the beginning of next summer take inventory again and see what’s left.  Did you make way too many pickles?  Did you run out of corn half way through winter?  The start of the next preservation season is a great time to assess.

Combine all of these steps to come up with a summer preservation plan.  The first year or two will take some work.  But after that you’ll have a running list of how much you need to preserve, when the produce will be ready, about how much it will cost and any necessary recipes and equipment (jars, lids, freezer bags or containers, etc.).

You can tweak the plan every year to meet the needs of your growing (or shrinking) family, the state of the crops (there probably won’t be as much peach, pear and apple canning this year!) and your schedule (a long summer vacation could mean you miss out on a particular fruit or vegetable).  Then enjoy a perfectly stocked freezer and pantry all year long.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.