When The Unexpected Happens {an explanation of my absence}

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We were finally getting into a groove, I was comfortable with cooking clean, nutritious and gluten free meals that my family actually liked. Weekly visits to my chiropractor were significantly helping my digestive system and managing my endometriosis pain.  I was busily planning for homeschooling 1st grade to my daughter, planning fun preschool crafts and projects for my son and training my baby to take a long nap so we could accomplish school in peace. Then it happened. Of course, I should have guessed that because I was getting comfortable with our new routine that a huge curve ball would be thrown into my court. Last month, I found out I was pregnant with our 4th baby.

 

This came as a HUGE surprise. We always wanted four babies, but right now, seriously? My baby just turned one! I will admit, I was completely overwhelmed and felt scared. You see, my pregnancies have typically been very rough. Morning sickness that lasts all day and night for weeks on end, cysts that rupture, babies that want to be born early causing me to go on bed rest, along with all the other joys of pregnancy 🙂 I did not know how I was going to keep our “routine” that we had worked so hard to perfect while growing another baby inside me.

 

Here I am, five weeks later, and we are still “making it”….barely. Morning sickness has been extreme, thus my non-posting for a long time. Cooking has been non-exsistant. But, we have survived. My husband has stepped up so much by slowing down his work schedule so he can be available to help, take- out has been frequent, my six year old daughter has been amazing and served me in so many ways. She helps with breakfast and lunch, changes the occasion diaper when I cannot handle the smells and managed to maintain a happy heart. I love my family.

 

As scared as I am with the thought of managing four babies under six, I cannot help but be humbled and grateful for the opportunity to raise four little people, MY little people. Doctors told me when I was younger that I would never have children. Here I am, pregnant with a healthy fourth baby and we have had no help, beside a surgery to clean out some endometriosis 7 years ago.

 

I am almost nearing the end of my first trimester and I am hoping to be back to posting and cooking soon. For now, it will still be sporadic. We just finished our first week of homeschooling and I am trying to figure out a new normal for our family during this season.

 

I will leave you with an introduction to my new favorite non-GMO company, The Ginger People. They make a variety of different products and some of them have become genuine life savers for me! I encourage you to find their products in your nearest health food store and give them a try! Here is a little more about them:

“Established in 1984, The Ginger People® began its mission to produce the world’s finest range of ginger products and ingredients. Why? Herbalists have used ginger for thousands of years to restore vital energy, stimulate circulation and relieve countless maladies including nausea, headaches and arthritis. Modern science backs what the ancients have known for centuries: Ginger is one of nature’s most powerful herbal remedies. Add in ginger’s versatile flavor and culinary prowess, and it’s clear why we’re passionate about this venerable spice.”

 

Thank you for understanding my absence, you are all the best! I have continued to gain more readers and encouragement from you, even with the lack of posting or new recipes. I love blogging about our journey and hearing from you! Thank you for supporting me.

Day Forty Nine. Revenge Of The Sugar Demon.

Day Forty Nine.

 

Can I just say living with small children in a world surrounded by sugary treats, packaged in boxes plastered with their favorite TV and movie characters is SO HARD. Not to mention all the super cute birthday parties they go to with cakes, cupcakes, cookies and candy all begging for them to consume them…in large quantities. Drive through fast food chains with bright colored signs and the most fun looking playgrounds conveniently placed right in the front of the store, and do not forget all those toys they “give” you in a kids meal. Marketing to kids does not stop there. It continues to toothpaste, soaps, lotions and even medication. My kids are bombarded daily with reminders that we “eat differently” now and it has been a source of constant discussion to “why” we cannot eat this or buy that. Topping the list off my son, poor thing, for the time being has to eat a gluten free diet. This causes even more questioning to why Sissy gets to eat that sandwich bread and he has to eat the grainy, smaller gluten free piece.

 

You might think I am complaining, I am not, really. I am just even more aware recently to how addicting processed foods can become, not only with the way they taste, but also with the novelty of their favorite characters being on them. If Cinderella and Spiderman like fruit snacks then they must be good for you and you better believe your kids will beg just to hold that box. We have been on a journey to eat no processed foods or foods containing GMO’s over the last few months. It has been hard, but oh so good. However, recently I have found myself “slacking” when we are out. Letting my kids eat a piece of candy at a birthday party or giving them a cookie while in Publix (my friend just started a blog and she has a hilarious post about Publix here). I have become lazy and it is paying, the sugar demon has emerged and it.is.nasty.

 

One taste of processed sugar after several months of eating a clean diet and now my kids are begging constantly for sugar. It is crazy how quickly your body remembers the pleasures of processed sugary treats and once you eat one you cannot stop. Your body only craves more and more. It is a vicious cycle.

 

One addiction for this Mommy is in the form of drinks. I know, you are never supposed to drink your calories. I love coffee, specifically Starbucks. Their drinks are so bad for you and I know that, but for some reason (sugar demon?) I keep wanting to go back for more. Do you find this is the same for you? Maybe it isn’t Starbucks, but some other guilty pleasure? Please tell me it is not just me 🙂

 

Here is a healthier recipe for one of my favorite cold drinks at Starbucks: Sweetened Iced Passion Tea Lemonade.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Tazo Passion tea bags
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 c. raw sugar
  • Lots of water and ice

Preparation:

  1. Boil a full tea kettle of water
  2. Place 3 tea bags in a large, 1/2 gallon pitcher
  3. When the water has boiled pour over tea bags and let it steep for 5 minutes
  4. Remove tea bags and stir in sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. Add cold water to fill the pitcher
  6. Serve over ice and a slice of lemon

Have a happy and healthy Memorial Day!

 

 

Day Forty Two. Missing Out On Life.

Day Forty Two.

 

So you are not going to give your kids goldfish ever again? What about birthday cake and ice cream when invited to a friends birthday party? How can you survive without “I don’t want to cook – let’s grab a pizza night”? Or an afternoon pick-me-up drive through Starbucks, or popcorn at the movies…? These are all questions I am frequently asked when people read my blog or hear about our journey.

 

I would like to take the time answer these questions for you. Maybe you have already heard my answer, but maybe you are new and have had the same questions. It is very tough to gage these questions when asked. I do not want to come across as a snob, or “my kids are healthier than your kids” in any way. This is purely a choice our family has made for US and I believe each family should choose what they feel will best serve their individual family/family members. If you want to know more about our choice I encourage you to look back at the beginning of our journey and learn more about our decision. For now, let me get to answering the questions for you.

 

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Question #1: So you are not going to give your kids goldfish ever again?

Answer: Honestly, they will probably have goldfish at some point again during their life. For example, my kids go to a class at our church on Sunday mornings and they frequently serve goldfish. I do try and pack a separate gluten-free, healthy snack. However, there are those mornings when I am very rushed for time, you know those mornings, so sometimes I might not get to packing a separate snack. My son will have to wait (bless his heart) because of his gluten allergy, but my daughter will most likely eat goldfish that day. Will I buy them for a snack in our home? No. When we are at home I will keep the snacking to non-gmo popcorn, fruit and veggies and the like.

 

cake and ice creamQuestion #2: What about birthday cake and ice cream when invited to a friends birthday party?

Answer: Having two children with several friends it seems there is always a party to attend. I am not going to pack them a separate snack and tell them they cannot eat cake and ice cream. However, my son will have to avoid cake. I do encourage them to make healthier choices and eat more fruit first and maybe a very small piece of cake or ice cream for the “taste”. Teaching them restraint and portion control, I think, is a good lesson they can learn at this young age. I am not telling them “you will be fat if you eat this” I simply tell them that a bunch of sugar is not good for us. Fruit will make us healthy and strong and it still tastes very yummy. We will see what I make when the party is in OUR home this summer 🙂

 

pizzaQuestion #3: How can you survive without “I don’t want to cook – let’s grab a pizza night”?

Answer: This has happened already on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, with my son having a gluten allergy it really helps that decision. Whole Foods does make a good pizza (gluten) and then Amy’s organics has a decent frozen gluten-free pizza. Thankfully, to a three year old he could care less – pizza is pizza!

 

Starbucks_1Question #4: What about an afternoon pick-me-up drive through Starbucks?

Answer: Starbucks offers an organic soy milk latte for an extra charge. So, if you have to indulge and yes, there are times where caffeine is a “have to” in my books…then I do grab a organic soy latte with no added sugar. I try to avoid drinking a lot of soy because it bothers me, but on occasion it works!

 

800px-PopcornQuestion #5: What about popcorn at the movies?

Answer: This is one where I will say, “nope, never, not going to happen”. Not only because popcorn is genetically modified but it is also crazy overloaded on sodium and calories. I remember one time I took my daughter to a movie when she was two. We got a popcorn to split and when the movie was over we walked out into the light I was shocked, her lips were huge! They were completely white and swollen. I got scared, but some other mom told me, ‘oh yea, she just had too much sodium and not enough water and she is dehydrated.’ Seriously, over popcorn!? So yes, my answer is now B.Y.O.P, bring your own popcorn! Costco sells a big bag of non-gmo popcorn (Boom Chicka Pop) it is awesome and cheap!

 

Bottom line is this. When we are at home I will purchase non-gmo and as organic as possible. We will not have processed snacks and our foods will be (for the most part) made from scratch. When we go out I want to be free enough to let my kids have a “normal” life. I do not want to tell them “you cannot have that because it is so bad for you” (unless it is gluten for my son)…I hope that with all our healthy eating at home and the education they are learning from cooking whole foods it will enable them to make better food choices when out. I already can see their taste buds changing for certain foods, choosing cucumbers and grape tomatoes over chips. But I have to be honest, kids are kids. They still want candy and goldfish and I can’t blame them, that stuff is pretty tasty. I am training and teaching them about food and what is “good” and “bad” for you and leading them to make good choices in their life. Are my kids missing out on life because of our food choices? I do not think so, I’d like to think I am giving them life by teaching them these lessons.

 

I hope that helps you. We tend to stay home more often just because it helps us avoid being in situations like this, but they do happen and life goes on. Do not fret over it. 🙂

 

Do not forget to enter our Conscious Box 3-month subscription giveaway! Contest ends on FRIDAY! Go here for rules and to enter!! Good luck! 🙂

 

*Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Day Twenty Nine. Super-Hero Powers Conquer Toddler Endoscopy.

Day Twenty Nine.

It is late. I still have not posted my “Know Your Ingredients” for today (I will post that tomorrow)…I am more than a few days behind on posting about the procedure… I have been overwhelmed with Doctors visits, calling for appointments, setting up babysitters, homeschooling, preparing nutritious meals, blah-blah-blah…you get the point.  I am a Mom to 3 small children 🙂

Let me back up a couple days. Thursday night was the “night before” the big Endoscopy. How in the world do you prepare a 3 year old for an Endoscopy…??? I submit to you a get super hero power party. It was a brilliant plan that worked perfectly. We picked his favorite super hero, The Hulk, and planned a little party for dinner to get him strong and brave for the Doctor’s appointment. He picked what he thought would make him strong for dinner and dessert. He picked chili, baked potato’s (with a little coaxing) and finally for dessert, chocolate cake with chocolate covered strawberries. Love his taste in dessert. We had balloons, specials presents for the morning of the appointment and cake with candles. Yes, we had to have candle because apparently we had to sing him happy birthday, who knows, but he got whatever he wanted! 🙂

He was to stop eating at midnight until after his appointment, which was not until 11:00am the next day! We planned a family movie night and stayed up late so I could stuff him with more snacks. I did not want a hungry child crying the next morning. I prepped him with talk of a “super hero cape” he would wear, the hospital gown, no eating or drinking in the morning so the Doctor could use his super-hero powers to see through his stomach. Yes, that logic works for a 3 year old, he thought it was awesome. And we even got a Hulk tattoo for his arm where the IV would go.

The morning of the Endoscopy went well. He complained a few times of being hungry, but we had plenty of distractions in the form of new toys, coloring books and actually buying iPad games instead of always only getting the free ones. We went to the Doctor and brought along his Build-A-Bear dressed in his super-hero costume, Batman. *Cute note: he named his bear Peanut Butter Chocolate Batman – all his favorites.* He jumped up into the bed, changed into his super-hero cape and threw his hands behind is head and was relaxed. The Doctors and Nurses kept laughing at how cool and collected he was. He was helping ME be more relaxed by how calm he was taking it. When he woke up he didn’t remember anything., an answer to prayer! He was a little groggy and whiny for about 10 minutes, but then he perked back up to his normal self and was staaaaarving 🙂

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We will not know any results from the test until later this week. Initial results looked good. No cancer, no ulcers. Because we had him on a gluten-free diet for over a month the Celiacs Disease was done by biopsy. The Doctor was not very happy that he had been gluten-free for so long because it could throw the test….oh well.

I know some people would question why we would put our 3 year old through such a traumatic test. The only answer I can tell you is because I felt that it was necessary for OUR family. It was a decision that did not go by without a lot of prayer, time, research and consideration. I actually scheduled this test 2 other times and cancelled because I just felt it wasn’t the right time. So it was not a flippant decision. I am not saying it is the right choice for everyone, it was just right for us.

So now we wait for results. I am anxious to know, but feel at peace that whatever it may be we can handle it.

I posted the recipes for our get super-hero power party already. Here are the links:

Beef and Black Bean Chili

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Death By Chocolate Flourless Cake

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Day Twenty Eight. Endoscopies, Flourless Chocolate Cake and Chili. Oh My!

Day Twenty Eight.

The big day. I am dreading it with everything. Thinking about the endoscopy makes my heart skip. Will he remember it? Will it cause him pain? Are we making the right choice? All these things are racing through my head. As a parent you never want to see your child hooked up to IV’s and in a hospital bed, never. You never want to cause un-necessary trauma and pain to your child. But at the same time, you hate seeing them in pain. You cannot stand to see them struggle and look to you to help, but be helpless. You see where we are torn?

I know I set out for this 60-day challenge to heal our bodies naturally…and I still intend on sticking to the plan. After everything I have learned I am even more certain we are in the situation because of what I have fed our family. But, after a lot of thought we felt it necessary to go through with the endoscopy just to make sure we are not missing anything big. I truly feel the way we have been eating has changed a lot and I love what it is teaching my kids about food and where it comes from and how to grow it. That being said, we should have some sort of results fairly quickly. We are going today, 11:00am. It has been a long journey and I feel anxious. I know this is not the “end” but it is the “end” of a lot of questioning. I am excited about that.

To prepare our 3 year old for the endoscopy he was not allowed to eat anything after midnight and nothing to eat or drink after 7:00am. His test is not until 11:00am, ha! That is a long, long time for a 3 year old boy to wait to eat or drink anything. He is usually the first one awake, 6:30am, by my bed…”Mom, get up. I am staaaaarving.”  Oh this will be fun. Very fun. Why do they make the appointments so late for little kids!?

We prepped him last night with a “party”. The party was a Hulk party. The goal was to get Bradley nice and strong before his big Doctors appointment. He requested chocolate cake with chocolate covered strawberries. I was impressed with his palate. My boy loves him some chocolate 🙂 I found an uh-mazing recipe for a flourless chocolate cake. Even if you are not gluten-free you must try this. So we had baked potato’s with chili and the flourless chocolate cake. We all stayed up late and watched a movie and ate lots of popcorn and grapes (trying to stuff him silly so he wouldn’t wake up staaaarving).

I will post tomorrow with the results of the endoscopy. For now, here are the recipes for my chili and the flourless chocolate cake.

Beef and Black Bean Chili

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Ingredients:

  • 1.3 lbs. organic grass fed beef (we got it at Costco)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic dark red kidney beans, keep the juice.
  • 1 28oz can organic fire roasted tomato’s (I used Muir Glen)
  • 3 t. paprika
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Brown the ground beef in a medium skillet. Remove excess fat and set aside. In the same pan sauté onion until soft, add the garlic and cook additional minute. Add the beans, tomatoes and spices and stir. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then stir in the beef. Let it simmer for 30 minutes up to 4 hours. You could also put this all in the crockpot and let it cook all day.

Death By Chocolate Flourless Cake

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Taken from: Gluten Free Cooking.About.Com

This easy recipe for flourless chocolate cake with silky chocolate glaze is a decadent finale to any special celebration.

This recipe is an adaptation of Flourless Chocolate Cake by Linda Larsen, About.com Guide to Busy Cooks. This version is smaller than most flourless chocolate cake recipes but don’t let the diminutive size fool you, one small wedge delivers a big dose of buttery rich chocolate flavor!

If you have a 7-inch tart pan with crimped edges and a removable bottom the cake bakes up with fanciful fluted edges and is easy to remove from the pan after baking.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 1-ounce squares coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For Glaze:
  • 2 1-ounce squares coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate squares
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon milk OR light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Agave syrup OR honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°FSpray a 7-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. If you don’t have a tart pan, use a 6 to 7-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray the paper.

  1. Melt 6 ounces of chopped chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.
  2. Add sugar and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook while stirring for about one minute, until sugar starts to dissolve.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. The mixture will look smooth and glossy.
  4. Use a mesh hand sieve to sift cocoa into mixture. This prevents lumps. Whisk until the cake batter is smooth.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes. The center of the cake should be just firm to the touch, but be careful to not overbake the cake or it will be dry.
  6. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake on a plate.
  7. To prepare the glaze, melt 2 ounces of chopped chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in the same saucepan you used to make the cake. When melted and smooth, remove the pan from heat. Add milk and Agave syrup OR honey and vanilla and stir until smooth and glossy. Let the glaze cool for about 3 minutes before pouring it on the cake.
  8. Pour all of the glaze in the middle of the cake. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the cake, allowing the glaze to evenly run down the sides of the cake.

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The green specs are little green sprinkles because we had to “hulkify” the cake 🙂