Book Review: The Grain-Free Family Table

When I came across Carrie Vitt’s website, Deliciously Organic, the first week we were on our Whole 30 diet it was a life saver. We literally would have been eating baked chicken and steamed veggies every night if it wasn’t for her Paleo meal plan option. Worth every penny of that monthly fee of $6.

Today her second cookbook released, The Grain-Free Family Table and I am thrilled to be sharing it with you here.

First and foremost, my favorite part is the beginning of the book. If you are unfamiliar with Carrie Vitt, a visit to the dentist in 2008 turned her world upside down and left her with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease. Unwilling to accept the doctors conclusion that she would be on medication for the rest of her life, she set out to heal herself using a grain-free diet, whole food supplements and cleanses. In the cookbook she goes into specifics about her dental visit, how she felt afterwards, her symptoms that left her house bound for months on end with no hope in site, her final diagnosis and her path to healing. As we work our way towards a total healing for Kingston, it has been such an encouragement to read her story and know we are on the right path to accomplish that. God created our bodies to heal and every story that I read like this lets me know that although it takes a lot of work and time, opting out of surgery is the right choice for us.

Living grain-free is a big jump for most of us and when we first started this journey at the end of September I was overwhelmed and not sure what was left to cook with or how to convert a traditional recipe into a grain-free dish. I am so glad I have this cookbook now, all-in-one place I can find all the grains to avoid and sneaky places they add it. At a glance I can see the types of flours that are healthy to cook with and why fats aren’t all bad. I learned that lard is actually a good thing. Yes you read that right, lard has gotten a lot of unjustified bad press all these years. Lookout, it’s staging a comeback folks.

Other things you’ll find are helpful tips on kitchen equipment, how to get your kiddos to embrace grain-free, and a super helpful conversion chart for converting your old favorite recipes.

As I flipped through the book, I couldn’t believe how delicious everything looked. I mean I know it’s a cookbook so everything is staged to look perfect, but those grain-free biscuits from the Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie were calling this biscuit-loving girl’s name. Hmm. Let me tell you, they were not exactly like a “regular” biscuit (most likely the cook and not the recipe :) ), but this dish did not disappoint.

In every recipe there are the regular grain-free directions and ingredients, then at the bottom there are directions on what to substitute if you are Paleo or dairy-free. Which is great since we are also dairy-free at the moment. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cashew milk ready (there is a recipe at the back of the cookbook) so I subbed in coconut cream for the main chicken part. This did give the overall dish a little coconut flavor, but everyone of us still enjoyed it. Yep, even the kids, K asked for seconds. We’ll definitely be making this, and the grain-free biscuits on their own, again.

Another recipe we tried is the Cauliflower and Bacon Hash. It’s in the breakfast section, but we like breakfast for dinner once a week and this was our go to this week. A simple twist on eggs and hashbrowns, this dish calls for 4 ingredients and is pretty quick to whip up. We used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon since I’m not a bacon eater and everyone scarfed this up too. The leftovers heated up well a few days later too.

Along the same lines is her Cauliflower “Fried Rice” recipe. This is in the cookbook, but we actually made it a few weeks ago when it was on one of our meal plans. In place of rice you use cauliflower cut to the size of rice pieces (in a food processor or we used our Vitamix and we used Coconut Aminos (her recipe calls for tamari sauce). This recipe was such a hit with the kids they each asked for seconds and then thirds. My kids aren’t picky eaters, but they don’t often ask for seconds let alone thirds.

There are so many recipes I can’t wait to try! I would highly recommend this cookbook or her meal plans if you are new to a grain-free lifestyle or even looking for a change to your regular diet. Click here to pick up your own copy of  The Grain-Free Family Table and check out her meal plans here.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary cookbook to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

Samaritan Ministries

Mid-July we took the plunge and signed up for Samaritan Ministries. We sent off our application and money and waited for that approval phone call to come. July 23rd our phone rang. As soon as we hung up with SM, we were back on the phone calling to cancel our health insurance.

If you have never heard of SM it is not health insurance. It’s a “biblical, non-insurance approach to health care needs”. Here’s what that means. Instead of sending our money off every month to a large company that most likely spends it on over employing incompetent employees and finding ways to weasel out of covering bills they are supposed to pay, we are now sending our money directly to different people each month to share their medical bills. (Can you tell I’ve had good experiences with insurance companies in the past 😉 )

Here’s the break down:

For our family of 4 (or your family of 3, 6, 9, 12, I didn’t see anywhere a limit on how many kids you could have, but don’t hold me to this) our monthly share is $405 (and that number won’t increase until all members, 33k+, vote to approve an increase.). Every month SM sends out a statement with where we will send our money that month. One month we might send $405 to Sally Jo in TX for her shoulder surgery. The next month we may send our $405 to Ramon in MN for his broken foot. Each month we send our money to another member in need to help share the burden of their medical costs. We know exactly where our money is going and exactly how it is helping other people. We can include letters of encouragement and pray for people all over the country that we’ve never even met. Can your insurance do that?

Doctor bills under $300 are your responsibility, but for sharable needs over $300, members across the country send their monthly share to help you pay those bills. You are responsible for the first $300 of a sharable need, but if you have more than three sharable needs in a 12 month period, the $300 is also shared for all needs after, making it a total of $900 maximum out of pocket for the year.

If your bill was $700 with no discounts, then you would be responsible for the first $300 and SM would share the remaining $400. On the contrary, if your bill was $700, but you received a discount of $300 from your medical provider, making your final bill $400, then SM considers the $300 discount as if you paid the first $300 and shares the whole $400 balance with members even though you didn’t technically pay the additional $300 out of your pocket. I hope that makes sense the way I wrote it.

Another pro of this model of health care sharing is that when you have doctor appointment you are considered self pay. If you’ve never been self pay at a doctor appointment before, it’s pretty amazing. Not only do you know exactly how much your appointment is going to cost before your appointment, (how many times have you been told that they don’t know exactly how much your appointment will cost until it goes through insurance, but it will be roughly anywhere between $200 and $10,000?) but you get a self pay discount.

Example: I was making an appointment to have an ultrasound at a hospital a few years ago and I asked for a price quote. I was told it would be anywhere from $800 – $1,100. I choked and then said, “for self-pay?”, “oh no, you receive a 75% discount for self pay”. You know how much I actually paid when I went in, $125. Seems hospitals like not having to go through insurance either. Hello less staff, less paperwork, less headaches.

Now granted hospitals are typically much higher in the discount giving department. Most doctor offices are in the 10-25% range. But with this model, we get to shop around and pick who we want to use. We don’t have to settle for a doctor we might not like as much only because he accepts our insurance and the other doctor doesn’t.

We have a couple friends who have been using SM and rave about how the process is easy and they can’t imagine ever having to use traditional insurance again. They are who introduced us to this company and why we are now members.

Speaking of friends referring friends, they also have a pretty awesome referral bonus. If you sign up and list us as who referred you, we will get a large credit on our account after you are a member for 3 months. So make sure to tell them we sent you. 😉

These are just the highlights too. We’re excited to be using them now! Check them out and see what you think.

Update 10/8/14: This month our “share” was reduced by 10% because more money was sent in then needs published last month. Now that for sure never happens with insurance!

Update 12/12/14: Our monthly shares were reduced in November and December too. Amazing!