Culturing for Science Class: Kombucha & the Fungi Kingdom

Kombucha, SCOBY, Culturing, Fungi Kingdom, Taxonomy

In science, my children have been studying taxonomy recently.  We read about the Animal, Plant, and Protista kingdoms.  As we reached the Fungi kingdom, I realized that I have an example of a yeast fungus right inside one of my kitchen cabinets – a kombucha SCOBY.

Here is the link to read the rest of this post that I wrote for the Homeschooling with Heart blog.

How to Make a Homemade Shamrock Shake


Each March, as we prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I remember those yummy, bright green Shamrock Shakes that I used to look forward to as a child.  The thing is, now that I eat a much more natural diet, they just don’t taste quite so good to me anymore.  Also, since my children have food sensitivities, they would bounce off the walls if they drank something that was so obviously artificially colored.  So, a couple of years ago, I started looking for a recipe to make my own.

This is how we make ours:

  • 4 cups of all natural vanilla ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1½ cups whole milk (you could substitute any milk that you prefer)
  • Optional:
    • For green color, add 1 cup of spinach, kale, or peppermint leaves
    • For a sweeter shake, add 1 tablespoon of sugar

Blend well and top with whipped cream.  Serves: 3-4

The original recipe that I found calls for a tablespoon of sugar, but I didn’t add any sugar this time.  My family’s feedback was that it wasn’t necessary.  I also used some peppermint leaves that I had saved from my peppermint plant and frozen last summer, but I ended up adding spinach, too, in order to get the light, mint green color that I was looking for.  You honestly cannot taste the spinach and the benefit of using it is that it adds some nutrition.

This milkshake is dye free and Feingold friendly, although the use of peppermint and spinach make this a Stage 2 recipe.

I hope you enjoy making and drinking your own Shamrock Shake as much as we do.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Strawberry Pound Cake (Feingold Friendly Recipe)

strawberry cake

A few years ago, my son asked me to make a strawberry cake for his birthday.  Unfortunately, every recipe that I could find at the time included strawberry-flavored gelatin mix.  Since I presumed that most of those mixes would include red dye #40, I found another way to give him a strawberry cake which would go along with the diet we follow, called the Feingold Diet.

When my eldest child was diagnosed with ADHD, a specialist that I took her to recommended that I put her on it.  All artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners are eliminated, along with the chemical preservatives BHA, BHT and TBHQ.  In the first stage of the diet, some natural foods called salicylates are also cut out and slowly reintroduced to test for a reaction.  Since this recipe contains strawberries, which are a salicylate, it would be considered a stage two recipe.

My son loved this cake so much that he requests it for his birthday every year now.  I start with my grandmother’s pound cake recipe, which can be made in two loaf pans or as a 9×13 sheet cake.

Mama Jeane’s Pound Cake:

  • 3 sticks of butter (at room temperature)
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans or 1 sheet cake pan (I like to use coconut oil for this).  Cream butter and sugar with a mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift flour with baking powder and salt.  Add to cream mixture; alternate with buttermilk.  Add vanilla.  Bake 1½ hours.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Next, I make a strawberry glaze, which I pour on top of the cake:

Strawberry Glaze:

  • 7 – 8 fresh strawberries
  • 1½ cups of 10x confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of softened butter

Cream butter with one cup of sugar.  Puree strawberries in a food processor.  Add puree to cream mixture.  Gradually mix in remaining sugar.  Drizzle over cooled cake.

Since we don’t eat artificial colors, I usually make a simple butter icing or chocolate icing, so this was a nice change of pace and splash of color.  I added some Doctor Who characters because he loves the show.  The second time I made this, we sliced some fresh strawberries and decorated the cake with them.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!