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.

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Ezekiel Blueberry Muffins.

I will be the first to admit, Ezekiel 4:9 cereal is not the tastiest of cereals. It needs “help” in order for the kids to even bring a spoon full to their mouth. I wanted to attempt soaking the cereal and using that as a base for a muffin. Last night, after doing lots of research on gluten free baking I came up with these. Now, I am no expert on gluten free baking, I am very much a novice when it comes to this department. I am trying to make gluten free easier, cheaper and more accessible to everyone. I have always been intimidated by all the different flours and unusual ingredients, like xanthan gum, so my recipes are basic and use common ingredients you would typically have in your home.

I am not sure if you know much about sprouted grains. They are awesome. I am attempting to eat them and give them to my son to see if they bother his stomach. Since he was not officially diagnosed with Celiacs Disease we have the ability to play around with ingredients like this. Here is a good description of sprouted grains and their benefits from Food For Life’s website (they make Ezekiel 4:9).

“…More and more people are finding out that the only way to unlock the vital benefits we expect from grains is to sprout them first. Here are some benefits you’ll get from sprouted grains:

  • Increased Digestibility – Sprouting breaks down starches in grains into simple sugars so your body can digest them easily.
  • Increased Absorption of Minerals – Sprouting breaks down enzyme inhibitors, so your body can more easily adsorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
  • Increased Antioxidants – Sprouting releases more antioxidants that are naturally stored in the grains and seeds.
  • Increased Vitamin C – Sprouting produces vitamin C.
  • Increased Vitamin B – Sprouting increases the vitamin B2, B5 & B6

In addition to all the vital benefits you’ll receive from sprouted foods, we at Food for Life, craft our food to promise you even more integrity.

  • We use only freshly sprouted certified organic live grains.
  • Our products are kosher.
  • We use absolutely no flour. Studies have shown that grinding grains into flour increases the surface area upon which enzymes in the body can work to more. quickly convert starch into glucose.
  • We don’t use any genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)
  • We don’t use refined sugars. When sugar is refined and processed there are many harmful ingredients that are added to the sugar as a result. Instead, we use malted barley, a natural sweetener produced from sprouted barley, which is basically a carbohydrate comprised mostly of complex carbohydrates rather than the “sugar” carbohydrates.
  • We don’t use anything artificial – no preservatives or shortenings.
  • We use a unique slow-bake process to preserve the natural fiber and bran benefits of grains.

I hope you venture out and purchase this cereal and try these unique muffins. My kids gave them 2 big thumbs up! I will warn you they are not super sweet. I enjoy the natural sweetness from the blueberries coming through without an overpowering sugary sweet. I topped the kids with raw honey.

Ezekiel Blueberry Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 2 c. Ezekiel 4:9 cereal
  • 1 1/4 c. whole organic milk
  • 2 1/2 T. vinegar
  • 1 organic egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/4 c. packed organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. raw sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. orange juice
  • 1 c. + 2 T. All Purpose GF Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 T. organic baking powder
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh blueberries

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Soak cereal with milk and vinegar for 5 minutes or until the cereal is soft. Stir to make sure it all gets covered
  3. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla and orange juice, mix well
  4. Slowly add the all purpose flour and blueberries and stir just until incorporated
  5. Pour into greased muffin tins all the way to the top. It will be very runny. Mine made 15 muffins
  6. Bake for 20 minutes

Summer Eats. Poor Man’s Crab Cake {Tuna Cakes}

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My Husband and I absolutely love a good crab cake. You know, the kind that has huge chunks of meat and is not overloaded with breading or overpowering flavors. It is simple, fresh and full of natural flavors. Ah, so good. Well, unfortunately we cannot afford to eat them all that often because a good crab meat is so expensive. I was craving crab cakes on our tuna budget the other day so I had to come up with something to satisfy that craving. This is how my “Poor Man’s Crab Cake” came to be…I hope you try it and are just as pleasantly surprised by it’s flavor. My husband even made the comment that these could fool you to thinking you are really biting into a crab cake!

 

The most important ingredient in this is getting the right tuna. The tuna I used is from Costco, if you have a Costco near you please go by yourself this little treasure. The brand is Wild Planet. It is 100% pole and troll caught wild albacore tuna. It is NOT in water or oil, just the natural tuna juices, which is one reason this tuna is so good. The label reads perfectly so I will just quote it for you:

You’ve never tasted tuna like this before! We hand-cut and pack delicious, premium tuna steaks in a micro-cannery process. All the Omega 3 oils are retained and no liquid is added; please don’t drain. We selected smaller albacore which accumulate less mercury than the larger albacore typically used by conventional tuna companies. Wild Plant packs 100% pure tuna! No water, oil or fillers added. No BPA used in can lining.”

The label is not misleading by any means, what they say is what you get with this little can. It truly is a tuna “steak” and comes in one nice big piece, this makes it perfect for cutting bigger chunks for the tuna cake recipe. It is around $10.00-$11.00 for 6/5oz cans. Although when I bought it Costco had a coupon making them only $9.00! Gotta love Costco.

Here is what the packaging looks like:

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Poor Man’s Crab Cake {Tuna Cakes}

Makes 6-8 cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans 10oz Wild Planet tuna (not drained)
  • 1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. mayonaise (*see note at bottom on organic mayo tips)
  • 2 T. parsley, chopped
  • 1 sprig green onion, chopped
  • 1 t. old bay
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • organic olive or grape seed oil, for frying
  • 1 lemon, for squeezing on cakes after they are finished
  • Tomato, lettuce and raw cheddar cheese for the toppings

Preparation:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Form the cakes to your desired size
  3. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium/high heat
  4. Add your cakes to the pan, I fit 8 in a pan
  5. Sprinkle more old bay on them before flipping
  6. Fry until brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side
  7. Serve warm on a toasted bun, I found some really yummy cheddar buns at the store

**Tips for buying mayo:

Your typical store bought, white and creamy mayo is full of GMO’s. I have to admit, it is really yummy and finding a good alternative won’t happen. Although there are some options out there. You can find this brand:

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Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Mayonnaise at most health food stores and it is a decent alternative.

 

 

Or I have found some recipes for making your own. Here is one that I have not tried, but it looks pretty good! Here is a video tutorial on the recipe via Girl Meets Nourishmenthttp://girlmeetsnourishment.com/gmnwordpress1/how-to-make-lacto-fermented-mayo/

 

 

 

Day Fifty Three. Comfort Foods {Savory Meatloaf}

Day Fifty Three.

 

I will be the first to admit I love food. Food is comforting to me and even more than just eating it, cooking it. I can zone everything out and cook or bake and my world is just fine. For instance, tonight my husband was home early from work and I was in the “cooking zone”. I was busy making meatloaf, honey glazed carrots and buttery mashed potatoes. The littles (3 of them and a dog) were all running around screaming, wrestling and well, just being the noisy kids they are. Me, I was in my kitchen, cooking and not really hearing the loud-chaotic household. My Husband looked like a poor deer in headlights. Obviously he was not feeling my zone.

 

Comfort is something we all crave. The last few months I have felt fairly uncomfortable in my kitchen. Learning the art of cooking gluten free, and believe me it IS an art, knowing my “new” ingredients, understanding healthy cooking, it has been a huge learning curve and it has been a long time since I could get in that “cooking zone”.  Tonight was complete kitchen bliss. Topped off with every one, including the baby, gobbling it up and asking for seconds. That does any cook a world of good. Doesn’t it?

 

I hope that my posts encourage you to jump all in and start the healthy real food lifestyle. It DOES seem impossible at first, it IS overwhelming and it IS a budget increase. BUT the benefits have far outweighed all the cons and you DO adjust, taste buds DO change and you WILL find ways to make your dollar go further.

 

Here is the recipe for my Mom’s meatloaf. She has made this for our family for years and it one of those things that when I make it and start to smell it baking in the oven my heart is warmed and a smile inevitably comes to my face. It reminds me of “home” and good times as a child around the dinner table with my family. I hope the smell of this meatloaf becomes a familiar one for my children and in the future it brings them the same feelings. Do you have a comfort food that does that for you?

 

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Savory Meatloaf {Gluten Free Version}

Ingredients

Meatloaf:

  • 2/3 c. dry bread crumbs, I crumbled up gluten free sandwich bread
  • 1/2 c. organic whole milk
  • 1 1/2 lbs organic ground beef
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  • 1/4 c. onion, finely diced
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 t. sage, I did not have sage so I used 1/2 t. fresh oregano 

Piquant Sauce:

  • 3 T. organic brown sugar
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. organic ketchup
  • 1 t. dry mustard

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Soak break crumbs in milk, for around 5 minutes
  3. Mix the meat, eggs, onion and seasonings. I like to use my hands to get a good consistency
  4. Mix in the soaked bread crumbs
  5. Form the meat into a loaf and and place in a greased 13×9 pan
  6. Spread the piquant sauce over the top
  7. Bake for 1 hour or until desired doneness.

The “Art” Of Health {updated budget & a new business}

Summer. Relaxing days spent outdoors blowing bubbles and lounging by the pool while the children swim happily. No fighting, everyone can swim without some sort of floatation device needing to be blown up. They can go potty alone, feed themselves and always keep a tidy room oh and no schedules, homework or field trips. What a dream. I don’t know why I wake up most days and think this is reality? We lead a very busy life, probably more busy than most and the last two years has been insane.

 

My Husband and his Brother have been tirelessly working hours on end, after their normal day job, creating an iPhone app. The last two years I have given up my Husband to pursue his dream, creating something with his brother for the iPhone. The day has finally arrived, the app is FINISHED and releasing in the iTunes store TODAY. I could not be more proud of them and I must say the app is really awesome. Here is a little bit about the company:

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 8.50.37 PM is an iPhone app that enables artists to share original art with their community and locals to find and buy art. A wall often exists between regular people and the art world. Artists, whether hobbyist or professional, have no simple way to make their art accessible, and everyone else has no simple way to connect with local artists and purchase their work. Finestra changes all that by giving people a chance to preview art on their own wall while hearing the artists themselves tell the story behind the art. Potential buyers can email an artist to set up an appointment or get directions to see the art in person right away. Artists use the app to easily capture, manage, and promote their work professionally, or on a casual basis. Art surrounds us, and Finestra connects us through art to restore the role of artists in our communities and re-imagine our living spaces.

You can watch a 1 min promo video: 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/61433410″>Finestra Art App</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user16940238″>Finestra Art App</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It would be really awesome if you could go like them on FB: Finestra! Also, if you have an iPhone go download the app and check it out and request your city! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

Thank you for letting me go outside my normal posting to brag on my Hubby. Now back to foodie talk 🙂 The last 4 months has been a time of learning and figuring out “what works” for our family. Thankfully we have finally gotten into a pretty nice groove and I have tailored down our budget A LOT!

After the great purge of GMO’s from our house we were left pretty bare. I had to do a lot of stocking up on normal everyday items that I threw away. It was an expensive first few weeks! Thankfully I have figured things out and I have barely stepped foot into Whole Foods in 3 months! Crazy. I hear from several people that “it was just too expensive”. I get that. It IS expensive. But, you have to weigh the pro’s and con’s of cheap food now… potential health problems in the future or a little more expensive food now and great health later.

 

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Here is the break down of a general week in food for us. First, I get this really amazing farmer’s market basket every week that consists of local produce. I get a large basket and I typically add on 18 organic farm fresh eggs. It generally costs me around $30 dollars a week for everything you see pictured above. I also get my local raw honey from here for a great price! Do you have a local farmers market or farm share near you that you love? I would highly suggest looking into it if you do not know.

I do the rest of my shopping at Publix and Costco. Publix is generally just for spices, organic chicken, milk and gluten free items. Costco is awesome for frozen organic veggies, snacks and organic beef! We spend around $90.00-$100.00 a week in these places, sometimes it is less depending on what toiletries we need. So, in a month we generally spend $490.00 on groceries and toiletries.

I will do a much more detailed post in the future, but for now I need to help my Husband finish the last touches for our app release party here tomorrow night.