odds & ends

January 27, 2014

it’s been a while, so here are a few “highlights” of life lately …

:: we are on day 15 of the Whole30. we did it last january and maddie and i particularly felt a great readiness to do it again. it has been a challenge some days; easier others. hubby and i were having crazy energy crashes during the afternoons which weren’t pleasant! – but getting more manageable. truthfully, the challenge is a different and more difficult one for me this time (aside from the logistical burden of cooking from scratch 3 meals a day for everyone, growing super weary of savory food for all meals even though it is *delish, longing for something sweet, the boys asking for various off-limits items, etc): i am not losing weight the way i normally do. the few times  in the past that i’ve implemented a plan with the goal of losing weight, i see results fairly quick. last whole30, i was down 5 lbs on the 4th day (and 15 lbs after 30 days). motivating! this time, 5 lbs as of *today. not so motivating (but thankfully i took some measurements and have lost 2.5 inches from my waist which feels good). and yet here’s what i know: this is a longer play. i am closer to my regular weight and not carrying as much extra as i was last year. my body has gone through crazy physical changes in the past 2 years with 2 pregnancies and 2 csections. i know intuitively that this time around, this is more of a slow & steady … diligently making good decisions, day in and day out, moving toward the goal of being healthy and strong. so i’m doing it! i haven’t cheated – not one morsel or nugget – so only protein, veggies, fruit, some oils and nuts … for 15 days. 15 to go! and then, moderation. most of all, i am missing my cream in my coffee. coconut cream is ok but just not the same.

:: for certain, one of our primary goals in this elimination diet is to find healing for josiah’s skin. i took him to a naturopath last month which felt helpful and good … a good step of many. so it is deeply discouraging that his skin is worse, and in a severe flare right now … so much so that he can’t sleep well and the past 3 nights has been up most of the night w/hubby or i, miserable itching and raw. (he had been doing SO great w/sleep, for the past few months. ahh.).  again and always, it feels like we are trying everything. and still, the answer – the trigger – is elusive. the other day i had an ah-ha moment: what if it is coconut?? i use coconut oil in *everything and even more on this diet … so i cut it out totally. and just last night, someone suggested perhaps it is *fructose … so all those apples and pears … ?! LORD, please heal our boy.

:: this is a tiring, relentless season of parenting. and yet, i hate being a complainer – both to others, and in my own head. i was talking with a friend about this yesterday – about being *real in how we share life (ie social media) without sounding uber negative. i think social media can also tend to the other direction: sharing only the glowing superlatives about our days and our lives, mistakenly leaving an impression of blissful living. there’s got to be a happy medium. so for me, for today, my happy medium is right here and the words i am sharing. the truth is that parenting these boys – ages 16 & 33 months – is intense. i have literally zero breaks, round-the-clock. and i don’t believe i *deserve breaks necessarily but just that none exist. i have a baby on or near me including pretty much every time i use the restroom. and really the most intense part is the way THEY interact: without boundary, restraint, understanding, control … and thus in constant perpetual motion and inevitable conflict. this is a season of hands on, eyes-always-on training and intervening and directing. EVERY second. caleb is toddling grabbing instigating in all his chubby deliciousness. josiah is possessive of his toys, impulsive in his movements (hitting kicking). they are moving appropriately through age-appropriate learning and training and AND it’s wild and crazy around here.

add to that? i have a teenage daughter for whom i am (attempting to) homeschool *well, as she works through an academically challenging classical education.  i fail constantly in maintaining the patience and grace that i am desperate to share. i know that i cannot share and “produce” something that isn’t being generated within me; i cannot strive harder or more to be more or different. what i can do is be so saturated both in GOD’s Word and His grace in my life, that i pour this forth in my parenting. i see evidence of His incredible work; ways that He has changed and softened, and i am desperate for more.

wow, how is that for some uplifting updates!? LOL. just keeping it real. all is well and good and up and down and OH! that reminds me of this, the most totally awesome article that resonates SO much for me.

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thursday afternoon we were preparing for some special company to fly in and i decided it was most imperative to bake a little something delicious. 🙂 i surveyed ingredients i had on hand and decided to do something with oatmeal and raisins. i glanced through my trusty “better homes and gardens” cookbook (thanks, liz!) and found their recipe for oatmeal cookies.

i made several changes and adaptations and came up with these – honestly, some of the most delectable nuggets of goodness *ever*. one caveat: i used real sugar. i haven’t bought regular ol’ white sugar in a couple years but had some on hand from some holiday baking (that i didn’t end up doing! ha). and, i didn’t have honey on hand which is my typical and only sweetener; so, these are free of many things but full of sugar. which is either fabulous or terrible. or maybe just fine 🙂

:: oatmeal raisin cookies ::

3/4 c coconut oil

1 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

heaping spoonful ground flax in 1/4 c warm water (egg substitute)

1 3/4 c gluten free flour (i used bob’s red mill)

2 c oats

1 c raisins

melt coconut oil, and then add sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. mix together. (i melted the oil in a 2 cup glass measuring cup, then added the above ingredients to the measuring cup. once it was all mixed, i poured in a larger bowl).

add “eggs” – ground flax that has soaked in the warm water a few minutes. next, add flour and stir. finally, add oats and raisins.

drop in heaping spoonfuls on cookie sheet; bake at 375 for 9 minutes, and you’ll get this:

 

oatmeal1

 

 

here is where it gets interesting! these were beyond amazing and delicious, but they would *not come up off the cookie sheet!! the recipe had said to use an ungreased cookie sheet so i did and oh boy, never has anything stuck so bad. so after scraping off yummy cookie crumbles, i changed things up: i got a round pyrex and put a huge spoonful of coconut oil in it. i put that in the oven to melt the oil for a minute, then took it out of the oven and put the remaining dough in the pyrex.

i cooked this for 10 minutes and out came this:

 

oatmeal

and really?? this was even better. moist, crumbly and incredible. we were all pretty stoked. 🙂 enjoy!

i was in the mood for some muffins the other day and put this creation in the oven before the kids were up! (well, before josiah and maddie … caleb joined me in the kitchen 🙂 )

i modified an old recipe i had made up several years ago and they turned out *really* good!  moist, just sweet enough and topped with a little crumbly goodness.

gf blueberry crumble muffins

2 c bob’s red mill all purpose baking flour, gluten free

2 tsp xanthum gum

2 tsp baking powder

cinnamon

combine these dry ingredients in a bowl. in a separate bowl, combine:

1/2 c applesauce

about 1/4 c honey

egg substitute (1 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp each oil and water – mix)

about 1/4 c coconut milk

2 tsp coconut oil, melted

combine wet & dry ingredients and then add a handful of frozen blueberries. fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.

for topping:

melt 1/4 c coconut oil, pour in some honey, a handful of oats and some cinnamon .. mix together. put a dollop on the top of each muffin.

bake for 15 minutes at 375.

muffin

my dear friend shawnna continues to inspire and encourage me along this real food, real health journey … and one area that she has generously shared her wisdom and resources has been with herbal teas.  it is mind-boggling, really, to consider all that’s available for health and healing that can be brewed and enjoyed. i am just scratching the surface!

i made this latest concoction after reading this article, which reminded me about the importance of magnesium. shawnna pointed me back to horsetail and oat straw, and i remembered that i had both in my pantry.

here are pictures of both the oat straw and horsetail …

literally like big weed tubes

literally like big weed tubes

looks like

looks like dried grass

here’s what i did …

in a large glass (gallon? half gallon?) mason jar, i put about a handful of both horsetail and oat straw.

** added boiling water to fill the jar and let it steep for probably an hour

** drained the tea in to another jar and added probably a tablespoon of raw honey

** added 1/2 can full fat coconut milk and some cinnamon

that’s it! i refrigerated it and it’s so good … slightly sweet, nutty, and refreshing ( a bit like horchata?). i love knowing that we are drinking so much goodness!

this dinner tasted so totally deliciously amazing to me tonight that i have to write it down, so i won’t forget it!

this afternoon, i faced the familiar question: what to do with these chicken breasts for dinner??

here’s what i came up with, and will *absolutely* be making again:

lime, cilantro & sun-dried tomato chicken 

2 defrosted boneless skinless chicken breasts

limes

1/2 bunch cilantro

about 1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes in oil

coconut oil

real salt

extra virgin olive oil

***

i started by chopping the chicken breasts in pieces. i heated a lot of coconut oil in a pan, then added the chicken … covering with a generous amount of real salt. while the chicken cooked, i put the cilantro and the juice from about 6 limes in my ninja blender. the limes were disappointing, with very little juice, so i ended up adding juice from half a lemon. i blended this, and then added some olive oil, until it became a little more creamy.

when the chicken seemed close to cooked through, i added the sun-dried tomatoes (making sure lots of the oil from the jar poured out as well) plus the cilantro/lime mix, to the pan. i cooked this on low, covered, for about 20 minutes.

***

i had prepared brown rice for my family and decided to make myself a salad (not eating very much rice). i decided to make a dressing that matched the chicken flavor, so in the same ninja blender i added the other 1/2 of the bunch of cilantro, a generous spoonful of sour cream, real salt, the other half of the lemon juice, and some olive oil. i blended this and poured over a chopped green salad, with the chicken on the side.

OH MY WORD! Lime-y cilantro salty tangy bliss! and everyone here loved it. 🙂

here’s a terrible picture – i am definitely no food photographer – but i like to have some kind of visual to remember:

cilantro lime chicken

we did it!! 30 days of no sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, bread/rice/pasta, processed anything.

it was difficult, wonderful, and extremely valuable.

sometimes … beautiful insights, connections and habits come from taking the right step – which could never have been predicted or anticipated.

i knew this cleanse was *that* step for our family, and indeed … what it has produced and inspired is not what i expected.

i want to preface by sharing that i’ve had this word – organize – on the forefront of my mind as i’ve thought about 2013. it doesn’t sound very spiritual but something within me has gravitated to that word as my word for this year. organize … my home, our schedule, some habits, some messes. it’s time.

i had no idea that this cleanse would move me beautifully and firmly in that direction! i tend to have a rhythm vs a tight schedule when it comes to our days at home; an order or sequence (roughly!) of events but no set times, really. i tend toward flexibility and spontaneity. but i am finding that a tighter schedule and more structure really brings a freedom and peace of mind!

:: this cleanse created this focus on mealtimes; in the absence of mindless snacking, there was an intention about eating. we were hungry and ready!  i had to PLAN and put in time preparing every meal. so about the second week, mealtimes crystallized: 12noon for lunch, and 6pm for dinner. those hard-stops then helped inform the schedule for the morning and created sort of a domino effect. and it felt GOOD. i want to press forward with this for our family.

:: necessity inspired me to become even more creative in the kitchen! from ideas to satisfy our sweet tooth, main dishes trying to mix up the meat & veggie combo, and the endless pursuit of a breakfast that was something other than sausage/turkey bacon (chop and saute sweet potatoes and apples in coconut oil with cinnamon!) … we tried new things this month. in fact, that is something maddie shared as her highlight of this cleanse: she tried and enjoyed new things. yes!

:: i had hoped for a clearing of skin issues for my babies … really suspecting foods as a trigger … but if anything, their skin worsened this month. very discouraging and yet helpful, knowing that we *completely* eliminated nearly every trigger that could be eaten. now to figure out other triggers … !

:: i lost 15 lbs! and 2 days post-cleanse, i was down 17 lbs. losing this postpartum weight was and continues to be a primary goal for me, so i am stoked!

:: as for the effects you sometimes hear about, the clear-headedness, extra energy, etc … ya, those didn’t happen so much. lol. i DO feel more clear, and for sure there were days of great energy. but i can’t say that i have this profound, overwhelming sense of feeling GOLD (which is how i felt after doing 9 day isagenix cleanses). of course, this may have to do with the reality of having TWO BABIES and sleepless nights!! LOL.

i do feel better. some aches and pains have lifted. i feel stronger.

:: another emerging habit: daily walks in the afternoons.  i have come to really look forward to these each afternoon, which is awesome!! i pack the babies in the double stroller and take an invigorating walk through our neighborhood. we had several afternoons of beautiful sunshine which was awesome; there have been some drizzly cold afternoons that made the walk impossible. but most afternoons, i did it … and it felt GREAT.

:: there is nothing like the sense of empowerment from exercising will power and self control.  i think this may be the biggest takeaway for our girl: knowing she can do it!! she can set her mind to a seemingly impossible task (no sugar for 30 days, are you kidding?!) and she DID it. with literally NO COMPLAINTS. focused. and she beamed with satisfaction upon completion.

:: the first several days were really difficult but never excruciating. honestly, my biggest craving this month was my {favorite} hazelnut breve from dutch bros. i missed that! fast food didn’t even sound good to us, which was great (still doesn’t).  i was pleasantly surprised how much i liked real coconut milk (from the can) in my coffee, with a dash of stevia. yum.

:: satiation definitely is happening much sooner when eating; our stomachs have shrunk? for sure, we are all satisfied with  much less.

:: i feel a serious sense of having reset the metabolic picture for my body; the “nutritional reset” you hear about happened for sure. i am fine with feeling a little hungry. most nights, i went to sleep slightly hungry and i was ok! i don’t have to respond to the slightest twinge of hunger with food, immediately. food has lost some control, if that makes sense.

:: as day 30 approached, i felt some angst about the big question: what next?? what to reintroduce and bring back to our meals? my tentative plan is to bring back brown rice, soaked whole grain bread, cream for coffee, cheese (yes!!), oats/whole grain breakfast cereal, rice pasta.  i won’t be buying any refined sugar or white flour. we will have one cheat day a week. i will severely limit my brown rice/rice pasta/whole grain bread, until i’ve lost the rest of the weight i need to lose. i will continue to focus on creating meals for my family around good protein, veggies and fruits (+ rice, quinoa, etc for them).

:: real, whole foods will continue to be the norm.

{doing this cleanse with a few dear friends and their families was invaluable!! we kept each other accountable, we shared words of encouragement and recipes … it was the best! i love you ladies!!!}

date mounds

January 23, 2013

date mounds

i made up this little creation this afternoon for josiah, who can’t have the tahini in our tahini date mounds.  i think they turned out really good!! josiah happily ate 2 when he woke from his nap.

date mounds

in food processor, blend …

handful of pitted dates (maybe a dozen)

about 1/2 c raisins

about 1/2 unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 c melted coconut oil

about 1/8 c freshly ground flax

generous shakes of cinnamon

1/2 apple, chopped

**in recent batches, i’ve omitted the apples. in addition to the ground flax, i’ve been grinding chia seeds – about 1/8 cup. i’ve also been adding organic raw pumpkin seeds – a handful. so good!!

blend, then form in to balls and freeze. mine were solid but soft after blending; freezing made them very firm. i will store in a bag in the refrigerator.