Category Archives: Health

Kora’s Blueberry Muffins taste delicious


When I had the chance to hang out with my two-year-old niece Kora last week, one of the first things we did that morning was make muffins. I just can’t say enough about getting kids involved with the cooking. The kitchen is a great place to talk to kids about what is healthy. And it is good for children to see where food comes from and that there are many options available for making food. Food is much more than processed junk out of a box. When my nieces ask for fruit snacks, my new answer is “Ok here is some fruit what kind do you want?” It is fruit and it is a snack. How did we get to a place where fruit snacks are handed out everywhere and they are brightly packaged and many times very sneaky in their marketing tactics. I believed for many years, fruit snacks were a healthy snack. Well, obviously I was not reading the ingredients back then, I was just going off the name. The fact the name has fruit in it makes us think it is healthy. So even when the package says,”100% real fruit juice” Fat Free,” “Gluten Free” or “All Natural” do not be fooled. When we turn over the package and look at ingredients it is startling. Most brands have at least two or three artificial colors, sugar (and sometimes more than one kind of sugar) and when I was reading labels for this blog post I also came across some brands that had artificial sweeteners in them. And yes, there are some organic fruit snack brands that do not have artificial colors and other harmful ingredients. However, I recommend these only as a special treat. They are still packaged and processed with lots of sugar and they can be an expensive snack. When time allows, choose real, whole food for your kids.

It is important for kids to be involved with making healthy, real food.  Both of my nieces really enjoy helping in the kitchen. When they come to visit me cooking is always one of the fun things we do together. The recipe I had decided to make was blueberry muffins.


I started off asking Kora if she likes blueberries. She said yes but I was not sure I believed her because she can be a pretty picky eater. So I took the blueberries out of the freezer and gave her a couple to eat. She ate them and said yes I like them. I told her we were going to put the yummy blueberries in the muffins we were making.

My teaching background of course always shows through in the kitchen too. We talk about what color the blueberries are and we count how many eggs are in the recipe. Cooking is a great opportunity for learning about counting and measuring. We even practice words in Spanish while we are making the muffins. Kora’s first job was to put the silicon muffin cups onto the cookie sheet. We counted them in both English and Spanish when she got them on the tray.



This is a new recipe I put together. I wanted a muffin recipe that used applesauce because I still have some unsweetened applesauce in my freezer that my sister and I (with Chloe and Kora’s help) made last summer. I was really curious to see if Kora would eat the muffins once they were baked. Trust me, I had nothing to worry about. She loved them and wanted to eat only muffins for lunch. I really think when kids are actively involved in food preparation they are more likely to eat what is on the table because they had a part in making it. OK, so I was not super surprised when my two-year-old niece liked the muffins because she helped make them (when kids help prepare food they are always more excited to eat it) but when my husband asked on Sunday morning if we had any blueberry muffins left, I knew they must be good! We both really like them and in fact, I made another batch this week. If we don’t eat them fast enough I will freeze the extras.


Kora’s Blueberry Muffins

2 ½ cups almond flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

3 eggs

2 tbsp. organic, unrefined coconut oil

1 tsp. organic apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. pure vanilla

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen will work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a glass bowl, mix the flour and baking soda. Melt coconut oil. Then mix in the eggs, applesauce, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and vinegar. When mixed well stir in blueberries. Put in muffin tins and bake 15 to 19 minutes until a nice golden brown color. If you are using muffin tins without paper liners be sure to grease the pan with coconut oil.

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Holistic pregnancy coach offering class in Worthington

When I met Sandra Fraser Maurer and her husband in my store back in August, they had only been in town for a few days and my health food store was one of their first stops. I could tell right away they were cool people who care about healthy food and healthy living. I will not forget the day Sandra told me she was a doula. To be honest, I had no idea what it was. I actually went on the Internet and looked it up so I knew what she was talking about. Yes, I feel silly now (but hey, cut me some slack I have never given birth) and to be honest doulas are not something you hear a lot about in these parts. That is why I am excited to write this blog post.


In Sandra’s words “a doula offers physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy and birth.” To learn more check out her website Whole Beginnings Doula Services. It is so much more than these few words on paper.

Being a holistic pregnancy coach/doula was not always in Sandra’s plan. In college she majored in art therapy and she worked in that field for a year and was very stressed out. She decided to try being a nanny. “I loved it. I spent a lot of time with moms and I heard a lot of birth stories,” she remembered. “One woman was a women’s health practitioner and she had lots of books and I became so interested in the birthing process.” During her five years as a nanny, she also became a certified yoga instructor.

“We moved to Worthington in the middle of my morning sickness,” said Sandra. Now Sandra and Bryan are the parents of a baby girl, Fiona, who was born in March.


In honor of Mother’s Day, Sandra will be offering a free class at Schafer’s Health & Gifts on Monday, May 12 at 5:30 p.m. Click here to register for the class. “I want to connect with women locally who might want guidance through pregnancy and birth,” Sandra said. “I want to be a resource for moms because they are a big part of the community and the world. Mothers can change the world if they feel their motherhood journey is being honored and well treated.”


This class is for you if: you are an expectant mama, you are considering or planning on expanding your family, you want to do everything you can to create the joyful pregnancy, birth and postpartum you deserve, you are just starting to learn about holistic nutrition, you already love nutrition and health and want to learn how to start to apply that to motherhood or if you work with mamas-to-be and want to know how to help them more.

All women who attend the class will be able to take home Five Keys to Nourishing Your ‘Mama Spirit’ in pregnancy, Mama Nutrition Inventory and Mama Nurturing Inventory. Sandra is generously providing these at no charge to everyone who attends the class at Schafer’s. The regular price for these resources is $97.

Sandra hopes the local class will connect women who are pregnant or new moms. “Everyone can read books about pregnancy and birth but having a mentor and other women to connect with through it is important,” she said.

As I said earlier, I am not a mom and have never went through the experience of pregnancy and birth but I have learned so much from Sandra about supporting women in pregnancy and especially post-partum! I am so grateful to my sister and brother-in-law who have allowed me to witness the birth of each of my nieces! It is truly the most amazing, miraculous thing I have ever been a part of. What a blessing to see one of God’s new creations enter the world. What I have learned from Sandra and her blog posts is valuable information and I hope I can use it to be more supportive of new moms.

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Zingers make drinking water fun and flavorful

Remember when I wrote a blog post at the beginning of this year called, “New Year: A time to make healthy changes.” There is a lot of great information packed into that one post (for those of you who are new to my blog and want some tips for getting healthier you can click here to read it). The very first tip I wrote about was drink plenty of water! Again, I just can’t tell you how important it is to drink a sufficient amount of water on a daily basis.


One of my favorite new water bottles is the Zing Anything Citrus Zinger. This bottle makes it easy to add real fruit flavors to your water and enjoy the flavor all day long! It is so simple! I received a Citrus Zinger bottle as a gift in October while I was in Texas and as soon as I saw it I knew it was something I wanted to order for The Daily Apple Worthington and The Daily Apple Storm Lake! What a genius idea to flavor water naturally! Yes, I know a lot of people think they do not like plain water. Trust me, I hear this every day! It is important that we realize here that not all water is created equal. So many people grab zero calorie drinks marketed as flavored, healthy waters. What many people do not realize is these waters are loaded with icky chemicals and artificial sweeteners. So before you grab for a flavored water, be sure to read the label and find out what your are really ingesting.

Here’s an idea—make your own flavored water and it will be cheaper in the long run and much healthier! And using a reusable bottle is much better for our Earth (with Earth Day just around the corner what better time to start using a reusable water bottle).


Zing Anything makes two styles of bottles to infuse water. The first one I owned is the Citrus Zinger. This bottle works great for lemons, limes, oranges, cucumbers and even more. It is easy to juice the fruit in the bottom. This bottle has a lid that screws off to open and drink out of. I have come to like the Aqua Zinger bottle a lot because it has a straw in it and so it is easier to drink on the run or at work near the computer. This bottle has a different style of grinder. It works better for berries. For great recipes from Zing Anything click here.

The bottle that makes me the most excited is the brand new bottle designed for kids! (We actually had moms asking for a kid’s version of the Citrus Zinger even before the company released the kid’s zinger).  It is smaller and with a straw so it is perfect for teaching kids to drink water. Adding fruit to the bottom makes it fun for kids and it shows them ways to incorporate fruit into their diets.


Zing Anything bottles are so easy to get excited about and I am so happy that this company has given me two products to give away! Be Real blog is now just over three months old and I think it is a great time for a giveaway. We are giving away an Aqua Zinger and a Citrus Zinger. And this contest has now ended. Congratulations to Michelle and Terri who were the lucky winners.


Here’s to lots and lots of ‘zinging’ healthy water!




A new way to make pork



We all know it can be scary to try a new recipe that we have never made before. It is always an adventure to see how something will turn out. For the first time in awhile, we (ok, mostly my husband) made a brand new recipe that we had never made before and it exceeded all of our expectations.

I have to admit when Doug first told me about the recipe over the phone I was not sure what to think. But I loved that it was a new recipe and it had good ingredients. And as soon as the cooking was under way, it smelled delicious!


 We used a dry red wine from one of our favorite local wineries, Calico Skies Winery in Inwood, Iowa. The American Chambourcin is a nice dry red that is packed with flavor from the oak barrels it is aged in. If you are ever in the Inwood area definitely check out this winery owned by Will and Ashlee. They are such nice people and they have a beautiful business!

With our pork chops we had Haricot Vert green beans (French green beans) cooked in bacon grease (keepin’ with the pork theme) with fresh garlic. They tasted delicious with the pork meal. We will definitely make this recipe again. It tastes so different than any way I have had pork. The flavors were awesome!


Pepper and onion pork chops

4 boneless pork chops

1.5 tablespoons tomato paste

1 red onion

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 red peppers, cut into slices

4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup dry red wine

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet heat olive oil. Put chops in skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side (until browned). Remove from skillet. Add tomato paste to skillet and stir for about 20 seconds. Add onions and peppers to skillet and season with garlic salt. Cook stirring occasionally  until vegetables start to cook, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.

Add wine and bring to a boil, stir in any brown bits in the skillet. Then put the pork chops back in the skillet, covering them with liquid. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook about 5 minutes and then turn chops over and cook another 4 minutes or so. Remove chops from skillet and let them sit for 4 minutes.


My aunt’s incredible weight loss journey


This is a blog post I have wanted to write for a while and after just spending a week with 10 of my family members, including my aunt Jolene, in the Dominican Republic now seems like a great time to tell her life-changing weight loss journey. The photo above is a photo of us taken just a few weeks ago in the Dominican. Even when we were on a relaxing tropical vacation hundreds of miles from home Jolene was disciplined and I was inspired watching her dedication to her new lifestyle changes.

You see between May 15, 2012, and Sept. 16, 2013, Jolene lost more than 139 pounds and what I love most about her story is she has done it right—by exercising and radically changing the foods she eats.


“I had been a gym member at Anytime Fitness in Mt. Pleasant since it opened and I went faithfully in the beginning and then I quit going and for 1½ years I did not go,” recalls Jolene. “Then they had an offer for personal training get five sessions for the price of three and I decided I needed to start going to the gym or quit my membership.”

And she credits her personal trainer Carlos for changing her life. “It took him three months to convince me I needed to change my diet. He kept telling me diet was 70 percent and exercise the other 30 percent to lose weight.”

During those first three months, Jolene trained twice a week with Carlos and went to the gym other times but she did not want to quit eating the carb-laden, processed foods (especially ice cream) that made up the biggest part of her daily diet. When she realized the exercise alone was not helping her drop weight she started to try a few of the recipe ideas that Carlos gave her.

“I thought I will try it and see and I can always go back to cheating at what I eat like I did every other time I tried to diet,” Jolene remembered. “The minute I started eating the way he told me to the pounds started falling off.”

“I used to drink diet soda all the time,” Jolene explained. “I went cold turkey on pop and started drinking lots of water. I drink between 100-120 ounces per day.”

Jolene, who was a picky eater when it came to healthy choices like vegetables, has learned to like many foods that she used to despise. “It’s like you always say Amanda you have to try things 10 times or so before you acquire a taste for it,” she said. “As I started eating more vegetables and incorporating more into my diet my palette changed.”

Over the years, Jolene has tried nearly everything available on the market to help with her weight loss but time after time she did not get the results she desired and they left her feeling disappointed and like a failure. She is adamant in letting people know diets don’t work. “It’s a lifestyle change. You can’t look at it as diet. You have to make lifestyle changes,” she said. “You have to be ready and dedicated and determined. No one can make you do it until you are absolutely ready in your mind.”


Every morning on our vacation, Jolene got up and ran on the beach and one morning Jolene and my cousin Emily and I did boot camp on the beach. Wow, these girls are in good shape and pushed me to work hard (and thanks to Carlos for providing Jolene with the “boot camp” work out). This dedication is definitely a lifestyle change and as we all know change is never easy. Exercise has now become a part of Jolene’s daily routine. She continues to go to the gym five days a week. She works on endurance and strength and is training to participate in a Mudderella event this spring and she plans to participate in some more 5Ks. And there might even be a 10K in her future. Time will tell!

When people ask Jolene how she eats she describes it as clean eating. She tries to avoid processed foods most of the time. Meats and vegetables are the bulk of what she eats. In the summer she grows her own garden and eats and preserves the produce from that. When vegetables are not in season she buys fresh or frozen ones at the grocery store. She avoids canned vegetables because of the extra sodium they contain.

For others looking to lose weight Jolene offers these words of encouragement, “Take it one day at a time, making small changes that you can do for a lifetime.”

Not only does my aunt look completely different on the outside, but she has seen many other benefits from losing the weight. She is no longer on blood pressure medicine and is no longer pre-diabetic. And she has the same warm, caring spirit she has always had but she is more outgoing and willing to try new things. Just a few years ago, Jolene would never have agreed to go on a tropical vacation. It is exciting to see her have a new outlook on this adventure we call life

After vacation Jolene knows without a doubt she will keep this weight off. On vacation, she ate more carbs than she does on a regular basis and she noticed a big difference in how she felt. “I had that miserable feeling like I had all the time before I started eating clean,” she said. “To be honest, Saturday when I got home I was ready, really ready to get back to eating healthy. I don’t want to feel tired and miserable all of the time anymore.”



Reading your way to better health


When we decided at the end of last year to host a book club at my store, The Daily Apple, I had no idea it would be so eye-opening and so much fun! When we chose the book, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter I had not read the book and I had no idea how much I would love this book.

I always enjoy reading a good book about health but this one tops the list for importance of subject matter and proper research. Dr. Perlmutter clearly shows us how what we are eating is affecting not only our brains but our daily health. For those of you who want research and in-depth information on how the body works, this book is for you.

Early on in the book club, we were discussing changing how we eat. And one of my favorite comments from the group was when a woman said, “Well I figure whatever I have been doing is not working so why would I not try this approach.” This is such a powerful statement. So many times we go throughout our health journeys not feeling well. We try everything we can to improve our health and nothing works. We exercise more, we take pills to help us feel better, we try everything we possibly can but often fail to take a look at the food we are eating! We make hundreds of excuses why we cannot change what we eat.

Every week I was inspired and encouraged from the people in the group! It is so fun to learn alongside of people who are positive, difference makers. The people who attended the book club were determined to make changes and slowly work on improving health. These women were genuine, real, honest and positive! It was so refreshing to see a group of positive people come together and then notice how healthier eating improves the way we feel.

Dr. Perlmutter teaches us to look at what we have been taught about healthy eating and then ask ourselves if it has really been working. He dispels the myth that fat is bad. He makes a strong argument that our bodies (and especially our brains) need fat.

This book gives eye-opening, heart-wrenching stories of how healthy food can improve serious health conditions. Chapter 6 was one of my favorite because he talks about other health conditions that grain free diets can help with…things like Tourette’s, autism, anxiety, depression and more. I got really emotional when I turned the pages of this chapter. And my hope is this book will help open our eyes to how the foods we eat affect how our bodies behave.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and give it a read. And even if you don’t want all of the research and scientific explanations, you can skim through that part and still get the point of the book. I am excited to announce we are having another book club at Schafer’s Health & Gifts in Worthington, MN, on Tuesday, March 4. If you are in the area, I encourage you to attend. I am sure we will have a great group of people who want to take small steps to improve their health. And hey, even if you do not live around Worthington, you can participate in the book club through our Facebook event- where we will share ideas, recipes and more.


Fresh food delivered locally


When I met Freya Thurmer last year summer at the Worthington Farmers Market, I could tell she had a real passion for fresh, local food! We instantly connected in talking about locally grown, whole food. When I met her husband Tim, a week or so later, it was obvious they both have a passion for growing quality food. They had some of the best salad greens and kale I have ever tasted and for the first time in my life I tried a lemon cucumber. It was so delicious and even better it was grown just down the road near Jackson, MN.


Recently on a cold winter day, when Freya told me about their new endeavor 10 Acres Flat, I was ecstatic! Aww, the thought of fresh, local produce in the dead of winter is such a pleasant thought. I am so excited that we now have a farm share program in the local area. On the 10 Acres Flat website, the Thurmer’s describe their business as follows, “A farm share is also commonly known as community-supported or community-shared agriculture (CSA). When you buy a subscription from 10 Acres Flat it’s just like a subscription to the Sunday Times or Newsweek, but instead of receiving a magazine each week, you receive a box (share) of locally grown fruits, vegetables and other fresh farm goods (eggs, dairy products, meat, etc.).”


We took time Tuesday, to enjoy a cup of coffee at the local coffeehouse (BenLee’s in Worthington) and talk about local food and the Thurmers “Midwest Farm Revival.” The time went way too fast.

Freya relocated all the way from the mountains of Idaho to the prairie of Jackson, MN, for love. She previously taught agriculture and FFA and managed the University of Idaho’s organic farm. The Thurmer’s currently live on Tim’s family Century farm in southwest Minnesota.

“I love growing food. Everybody wants to do something they love and I am lucky enough to be able to do it,” she said. “It is important for me and my family to get food grown locally because it’s more nutritious, it tastes better and it supports the local economy.”

Being a part of a CSA, gives people the opportunity to experience varieties of fresh produce they have never tried before (kind of like the lemon cucumbers I fell in love with at the farmers market last year). Freya talked of tomatoes as being a good example of a crop that offers a wide variety. There are many heirloom varieties and a small scale farm can produce more options.


“What I like about a CSA is developing relationships with people. You get to know the people eating your food and you have a greater sense of ownership of what you are putting in to your body,” Freya explained.

“Personally I feel the issues we see in children like ADD/ADHD is attributed to diet. The amount of sugar and processed foods in our diets have led to attention disorders and food allergies. The way we process the food and what is in it is making us very unhealthy. Why would you choose a food item with artificial dyes and preservatives when you can get food without it?”

Not only does Freya plan to supply people with quality, local food, she also plans to give people helpful information about the food they are eating. She will provide recipes for specific foods that are being delivered and she will also give instructions on how to preserve foods to store throughout the year. In the future she also plans to offer canning and food preservation classes at the Thurmer farm.

The Thurmers have committed to delivering farm shares to customers from Fairmont to Worthington. People interested in purchasing a farm share can check out 10 Acres Flat website or Facebook page. It is easy to get signed up and be sure not to miss the out on this great opportunity to get a variety of locally produced goods delivered for about 20 weeks May through October. Now remember, if you are interested contact them while there are still shares available. They need to know who wants to buy a share (or a half share) so they can plant the right amount of produce. So let them know soon because planting season is just around the corner!

First try at homemade taco seasoning is a keeper!


Well, for the first time in my life on Sunday, I made homemade taco seasoning. Again, I ask myself why have I not been doing this all along. It is less expensive and free of unhealthy ingredients like MSG, autolyzed yeast and all of the other preservatives that are in the pre-packaged mixes. This was a fun kitchen experience and I actually had to pay close attention and write down what I was doing.


You see, I have never been one to follow recipes and oftentimes in the kitchen I do not use a recipe, I just put things together. Usually I have pretty good results but sometimes I fail miserably. Like last week, when I added too much stevia to my homemade chocolate. The whole batch tasted terrible. But now that I am writing this blog, I have to pay attention to the details…like how much of each spice I used…I have to be honest I was nervous to make the seasoning because my husband is pretty picky and I am not sure he is sold on my whole idea to not buy packaged seasonings anymore. But when we were at the grocery store Sunday he agreed to not buy a seasoning packet and he said I could try making it.

Oh no pressure at all. First off, I opened my spice cupboard and grabbed all of the spices I thought would be good in taco seasoning. I sat all of the bottles out on the counter and grabbed a measuring spoon and then the fun began. Below is the recipe and I can tell you it was well received. In fact, Doug (knowing how I cook) said I sure hope you wrote that down so we can make it again.  Whew! What a relief. Even though I wrote down the recipe I am pretty sure I will not make it exactly the same next time. Would be good to try a bit more oregano and more cayenne for heat. If you decide to make homemade taco seasoning (or maybe you already have an awesome recipe) let me know how you adjust the recipe. I would love to hear from you!


Homemade taco seasoning

1 tbsp. chili powder

1.5 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne

Mix together well. Use at least 2 tbsp. per 1 pound of meat. Add seasoning mix and 1/2 cup water to meat when it is fully cooked. Let simmer 15 minutes or so.



No noodle chicken soup

When the weather forecast was predicting a blizzard for today it put me in the mood for a healthy, warm soup. I decided this morning to make chicken soup without noodles. I was in the mood for something really healthy without the extra carbs. And I thought this would be a great way to use some of the homemade chicken broth I made recently.


This soup was easy to put together and the flavor was really good. I enjoyed the taste of the herbs in the chicken broth. I like the richer flavor in the homemade broth and I feel good eating it knowing it is loaded with nutrients. I had a bowl for supper, put a couple bowls in the refrigerator for lunches this week and I had a couple bowls left to freeze for future meals.


No noodle chicken soup

2 chicken breasts, cubed

6 cups of homemade chicken broth (click on this link for recipe)

1 tbsp. oil (I used avocado)

1 tsp. garlic salt

2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

3 or 4 carrots, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/2 onion, diced


Cook chicken on medium heat in a pan with oil. Pour about a half cup of chicken broth into soup pot and add all vegetables and garlic salt. Saute for about 5 to 7 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the rest of the chicken broth and cooked chicken to soup pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes on low to medium heat.


Homemade chicken broth: Easy to make & healthier

I was so excited a few weeks ago when I made homemade chicken broth for the first time! It was SO EASY to make and it tastes delicious. It makes me so happy to have 16 cups of broth in the freezer for use in future recipes. No more store bought cans or containers of chicken broth at the Tate house. It really is so easy to make and very inexpensive and remember you will not have MSG, yeast extract or any other icky fillers in your final product. It will be loaded with flavor and all real ingredients. This is a recipe I really just threw together. I used whatever I thought would be good. But, I did write down what I was doing so I could share it here. It tasted really good. You could seriously just throw some chicken and vegetables in this broth and it would be a delicious soup.

So finally, here is the recipe for those of you who have been asking. Let me know if you give it a try. Or who has been doing this for a long time? With how easy it is to make, I hope more of us can get back to making our own, real food. It feels so good to put the leftover chicken bones to use instead of just discarding them and bone broths are loaded with lots of great nutrients. For more information on the benefits of bone broth check out this article by Dr. Amy Meyers. She also has her own variation of a recipe in the article. There really is no science to making bone broth you can create your own anyway you choose. And also, you can make beef broth the same way. So let’s start putting bones to good use and make a healthy broth!


Homemade Chicken Broth

Bones of 1 chicken

16 cups of water

2 tbsp. Real Salt

2 tbsp. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Cloves of one garlic

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. celery salt

2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. thyme

Put all ingredients in crock pot for at least 9 hours and up to 24 hours on low. Let cool. Can be used right away or put in the freezer for future recipes.