Friday, February 18, 2011

Prayers for E!

Hello everyone!  I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weather!  I want to share a story with you.  Wednesday morning, I was viewing the post on one of the blogs that I read.  The blog is normally about food and all it's yummy goodness but Wednesday was a little different.  She was sharing with us the story I am about to share with you.

A local mom, by the name of Elizabeth, is in need of many prayers.  She is a stay at home mom of 3 beautiful children, one of which she and her husband adopted!  Though I didn't know her personally at the time, I was just heartsick for this family.  E had been feeling bloated and had some stomach pain on the weekend which was serious enough to go to the hospital on Monday.  Later that week, she found herself in surgery undergoing a complete hysterectomy.  After surgery she learned she had ovarian cancer.  Talk about scary!  Nobody is exempt from disease, not even the young and vibrant!  I continued to read and found that Elizabeth is just that ~young, vibrant and full of life!  She is a wonderful Christian wife and mama as you can see from her blog and is so positive and determined about her upcoming fight.  She continues to praise the Lord with everything she has.  Elizabeth and her family have a very long road ahead of them and the blog world is trying to help spread the word for this wonderful family and ignite the power of prayer!  So, I contacted Elizabeth and asked if it would be ok for me to share her story with you.  Can you ever have too many prayers?  Absolutely not!  I am asking that you be in prayer for this family as they take on this cancer!  If you would like to follow along with them please visit Elizabeth's blog.  Her family has also set up a blog in order to help forward the prayers and give updates.  As a stay at home mom of little ones myself, I can only imagine the things racing through E's mind.  They will incur many expenses so if you would like to help financially, the family would greatly appreciate any donation!  You can also donate through the family blog but your greatest contribution is that of prayer! 

If you would like to learn more about ovarian cancer and how you can help others afflicted with this disease please visit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance website.  Thank you all so much! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baby Steps!

"Baby steps to the door, baby steps through the office..."  Hehe!  I think about this clip a lot these days!  Probably because I've seen 'What About Bob' way to many times but it's become sort of my motto!  It is so easy to get overwhelmed when you are making changes to your lifestyle especially when these changes are not considered the norm in standard society.  I have to constantly remind myself that it's ok to take one step at a time.  "Baby steps to natural living, baby steps to natural living!"  Otherwise I get really overwhelmed and my head starts spinning!  I am sure many of you are feeling or have felt the same way!  I am constantly researching about the foods we eat or need to eat, what is the best way to cure sickness naturally, how do we detox from heavy metals, how do I get my ovaries to work without medication, what kind of natural personal care products are out there, can I make some of these products myself, is our drinking water safe, the list goes on and on!!!!  I found myself in one of these frenzies earlier today!

I have not been doing much research in the way of natural hair and body care.  I felt overwhelmed by it.  I was pregnant and researching home/natural birth in the midst of our big diet change which also required research and it was just that 'one more thing' I couldn't handle.  Maybe it's not the best way to do things but I have to feel ready to make any kind of change or I am just going to get overwhelmed again and probably not stick with it.   I rely on my gut feelings a lot.  I pray that God will give me the guidance and tools that I need to make the best decisions for us and when I get a strong feeling one way or another I feel like that is God telling me what needs to come next!  I try to go with it!  He speaks to you, you know!  So, I am finally ready to start getting into more natural products for hair care, body care and the like.  I want to use shampoos (or other ways of cleaning our hair), moisturizers, deodorants, toothpaste, etc. that are not toxic to our bodies!  So many of these products have terrible, terrible ingredients that are just poisoning us.  Today, I looked into making our own deodorant  while reading another friend's blog!  I'm pretty excited about it and I already have everything to make it except for Vitamin E oil.  I may try it without and see what happens!  While reading the same blog, I came across this post about using vinegar and baking soda to clean your hair!!!!!  Be still my heart!  Distilled Vinegar and me, we're buds!  Why I didn't know you could use it to clean your hair is beyond me, but I can't say I'm surprised.  Vinegar does everything.  It wouldn't phase me at all if mine sprouted legs and started cleaning the floor for me! ;-)  You can use apple cider vinegar as well, some prefer the smell over distilled!  I am very excited to try it.  I plan on looking into it more as well as what styling products to use.  My hair is not the 'wash and go' type but maybe this 'no shampoo' thing will fix that?  Hmmmm  Anyway, I was inspired to start looking for other daily items that could use a natural replacement and I became overwhelmed by all of the information!  Baby steps!  I am going to start with the hair and underarms and go from there!  Whew!  I decided to tell you all about my little adventure because I thought maybe some of you would be feeling the same way about changes you may be making or may want to make. 

Some of you may be embarking on a fitness journey, changing your diet, or trying to use more natural products and whole foods in your lives as well.  Nine months ago I was just beginning all of this and looking back it is really awesome how much we have accomplished in such a short time!  Baby steps WILL get you there, wherever there is!  Here is a little snippet of the things we have done to make our lives richer since May of 2010!

We make our own laundry detergent
We stopped consuming dairy products (with the exception of goat cheese occasionally)
We no longer eat meat
We use cloth diapers
We had the most wonderful homebirth

I finally conquered breastfeeding with the help of some amazing people!
We decided that vaccines are not for us or our children
We consume mostly fruits and vegetables as well as other whole foods!!!

Gluten is history!
We are healthier, happier, feel better and we have and continue to learn so much!

You CAN do anything you really want to do!!!!

Is there something that has been overwhelming you lately?  How do you plan to conquer it??

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chickpea Corn Chili

Good Morning!  I finally got around to making our chili last night!  If you've been following along with us, you know that chili was on our menu about 2 weeks ago.  Yeah, uh....I never made it!  The past two weeks I have had plans to make this chili every morning when I get up and every night goes by without it.  Oh well, last night was the night!  Hooray!  It's incredibly easy and Kyle thought it was good enough to share the recipe with you all, so here it goes! 

Chickpea Corn Chili:
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 can light red kidney beans
1 32 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
3 Tbs Chili Powder
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 cup corn (I used frozen, you could add more if you like!)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1 good swirl of honey (sorry, I honestly didn't measure that one.  I just added it until the chili had a good salty/sweet thing going ~it wasn't much though, maybe a couple of teaspoons?)

*Stir all ingredients together in a chili pot and simmer on the stove until beans are tender and chili is heated through.  Busy Moms:   chili is ultra freezable!  Just let it cool and place in a freezable container with a lid.  When ready to eat chili, place the container in a bowl of warm water to loosen then empty contents into a sauce pan.  Heat on low to medium until warm enough to eat!!  I find that chili flavors always taste better a day or two later!  The flavors get stronger!  Yum, yum!!!

There are a few things I would like to discuss regarding canned ingredients!  You should always rinse your canned beans to reduce sodium and get the no sodium added beans if possible.  Another thing about canned foods is that they are often processed in the same facility or on the same equipment as wheat and other allergens such as dairy, eggs, tree nuts and soy.  This is not good.  Most of the time this information will be listed on the side of the can but if it is not listed, do not assume that it is safe.  You should really call the company first to double check.  Some people are not sensitive to things made in the same facility as other allergens but most will be sensitive to items made on the same equipment.  I am very sensitive to both.  You can rinse canned items like beans and take a chance on them but I know I can't after trial and error.  In this case, the best thing to do is to get dry beans.  They may still be processed in the same facility or on the same equipment as allergens but if you rinse then soak them, you stand a better chance of reducing contamination.  Unfortunately I bought all of our canned ingredients prior to learning I have celiac disease so I could not eat the chili!  Next time, I will get dry beans and substitute 1 cup of soaked dry beans for each of the canned beans.  They are generally cheaper anyway!!!
Happy eating!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pizza Pizza!

Do you remember those 'Little Caesars' commercials with the little guy that always said, "Pizza! Pizza!"  I really liked those commercials when I was little, thought they were funny! :-)  We looooooove pizza!  Last week we had some extremely yummy gluten free vegetarian pizza!  (I know....last week.  I'm a little late but it's been crazy busy and tiring around here!  Better late than never right?)  My baby girl gobbled her pizza up, she just loved it!  I was so excited about that because a lot of people think we can't eat things like pizza, but we can!  We just have to be aware of ingredients and get creative!  Usually these converted recipes taste better than the originals, especially when they don't hurt us!!!!!!  I bought a packaged pizza dough mix so it's not the healthiest of doughs.  Mostly it's just starch with seasoning so I will definitely be making some buckwheat pizza crust in the future!  This one was tasty though!
I started with this mix.  It's just tapioca flour, tapioca starch and some seasoning.  I was happy with it because the price was good and, as you can see, it was also yeast, dairy and soy free in addition to being gluten free!  Score!  I will be able to recreate it without the packaged mix in the future but we are still new to gluten free and experimenting with different flours/starches for breads and other baked goods.  It was easier to go this route for now!  To prepare the dough, the package calls for 2Tbs oil, 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, 4 or more Tbs milk, and 2 eggs.  Well...we don't eat those things!!!  So, I used 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan and 2 flax eggs.  Flax eggs are 1Tbs of flax seed or meal in 3Tbs of liquid.  I used flax meal in water.  I also substituted almond milk for cow milk!  No big deal!  Nutritional yeast has a dense, nutty and cheesy flavor.  I think it's really good!  It is also a great source of protein and vitamin B12! 
The nutritional yeast gave it a yellow color and you can see the oregano in the dough as well!  It was really good even before I baked it!  I love that part about vegan baking, I can taste whatever I want without the risk of salmonella!!!!  Sometimes I have the intention of making vegan cookies and I end up just eating the batter!  :-)  Anyway, I just mixed all of the ingredients in a bowl and kneaded the dough until I could press it out.  It ended up taking about 8 Tbs of milk.  I was dissapointed in the size of the dough.  I don't know why I thought it would be bigger but it really was only enough to feed my daughter and me.  My husband had to make his own pizza later! LOL  I will double it next time!  I should have partially baked the crust before adding the sauce and toppings because the final product was a bit doughy in the center, so if you make this you should definitely put it in the oven for about 8 minutes before adding toppings!

Of course I added a small clove of minced garlic and a handful of chopped spinach to my sauce!  My sauce did have some added sugar and salt.  If you don't want that, you can try to find some plain tomato sauce or you can take a can of tomato paste, a can of crushed or diced tomatoes and whatever seasonings you like and throw it in the blender to make your own sauce!  After I added the sauce it was time for the veggies.  We had black olives (my daughter's favorite), spinach, sliced cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, artichoke, and one crumbled goat cheese medallion. 

The pizza went into the 375* oven for about 25 minutes.  Had I partially baked the dough, it would have taken less time.  Supremely yummy!!!!  I can't wait to make it again.  Next time I am going to make a nut cheese to add instead of the goat cheese and I will make sure to pre-bake the dough!!!

Mostly devoured!

My little boy was having a 'photo shoot' during all of this baking time!  His dad was taking his 16 week photos and of course my baby girl decided she would ham it up too!  Cuties!

We're big Ohio State fans around here!

He has the cutest little grin!

She wanted to take the pictures herself!!

Beautiful little goober!!

Until next time! :-)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Health Food or Healthy Food??

Sorry about the wait!  This post is mostly going to be about how to get more vegetables and whole foods in your diet and help get your 'meat and potatoes' guys to be good with it!  See this post if you are interested in getting more produce in your diet and this post for ideas on eating it!!!  If you read the post entitled 'Secrets!' you will remember that people are often afraid of words and change!  Guys are no exception!  Men have just as much emotional attachment to food as women.  When you express to a man who typically eats what the standard American eats that you are going to overhaul (or any other synonym) their diet, a wall goes up.  In my experience and that of others I know, men can get defensive about their food.  I don't mean this in a disrespectful way at all, we women do it too but it is often different for a male because he isn't the one who controls the food bought at the store or what is cooked.  That presents a certain vulnerability along with the general fear everyone has when it comes to changing your diet.  He hears the words 'eat healthier' or 'changing our diet' and he immediately thinks you are taking away all of the delicious food that he loves and replacing it with disgusting, tasteless, cardboard food.  Can you blame him?  Isn't that what we are conditioned to think eating healthy is supposed to be like?  Isn't health food supposed to taste like cardboard?  Aren't we supposed to hate it?  The answer is NO!!!!!  There is a difference between so-called 'health food' and actual 'healthy food!'  Knowing what I do now, I am astonished at what I used to consider healthy!  The more I continue to learn, the more I wonder why this information is still absent mainstream, though it is getting better!  When you eat food in, or as close to, it's natural state as possible it tastes better and is better for you!  Win-win-win right? (hehe love that Michael Scott!)  Whole foods are far different than 'health foods!'  Boca Burgers, Crystal Light, Splenda, Power Bars, Slim Fast, Tofu, Whole Grain White Bread (what is that!?),  'Low fat', 'Fat Free', 'Sugar Free'.....NOTSOMUCH!!!!!!  You're going to be eating as much food as possible in the state it was meant to be eaten!  Not all of this altered, enriched, modified junk I will henceforth refer to as 'Plastic!'  I am a firm believer in educating yourself about what goes into your body so please see the post 'Making Changes' for a list of books that I recommend, though that is nowhere near a comprehensive list!  There are so many great and informative books out there!  Let's get to the food!!!!!

Your loved ones will be more willing to try these new and healthier foods if you don't present them as a replacement for foods that they already love!  You're adding tons of great foods to your repertoire!  Show them how much food they've been missing! When you introduce something that is new or different make sure to have a meal that has already been tested and approved for the following day or as a side dish.  If you change everything all at once you are going to have a mutiny on your hands and a mutinous first mate going through food withdrawal is bad news!!!  As I mentioned in a previous post, it is a good idea to make the really big changes one at a time.  If you are giving up cows milk for instance, find other foods that are delicious and enjoyable to replace it.  Soon it won't be missed, and this is coming from a former milk addict!  When it was just my husband and me, we went through 4-5 gallons of milk a week! 

In my experience men seem to have a certain attachment to meat, especially red meat.  I don't know if I will ever understand this, but it's true!  Try to aim for at least two meatless meals a week and make sure they are not too exotic to start out!  Make a meatless chili, soup or lasagna for instance.  If he knows there are 5 days left in the week that he can have some kind of meat product, you may not have as much opposition to try your new meatless meal!  If he absolutely won't go for it, try making more dishes with white meat chicken.  Instead of doing separate meals for your family, try making a meatless meal for you and the kids and add chicken just to your husband's meal as in this fabulous chili! 

This sounds sneaky but really it's ok!!  (whispers) Don't tell him what's in it!  Or more importantly, don't tell him what isn't!!!  Of course I don't recommend you try and put all kinds of things you know he hates in his meal.  There is a difference between the things he doesn't think he will like and the things he actually really dislikes.  If he really and truly hates onions, don't add them!  If he thinks he hates onions but has never really tried them, go for it!  Get it?  There is something else that you should know!  Our taste buds need to detox (for lack of a better word!)  Once you start giving them foods that aren't plastic they really open up.  It's like your taste buds have had this massive sinus infection for years and then one day everything just clears out and food will have SO much flavor!  It will taste so much better and you will wonder why you ever ate that other 'stuff' before!  I promise!  So if something doesn't go well the first time, maybe make a few alterations and try again later!  Everyone's tastes are different and not every new meal you try is going to be fabulous, there will be some you just won't like.  But isn't that true with all foods?  Trust me though, there are SOOOOOO many that you will absolutely love!

If you think it would help him to be involved in the choosing process, let him help you!  This goes for kids too!  Go through recipes together!  My husband loooooves food pictures, so in the beginning if I wanted to try something new and the recipe had a great picture with it.....he was game! (I think we are all that way!)  It's actually a lot of fun looking for new recipes!

I always look for places I can hide vegetables!  Tomato sauce is a great way to add veggies without opposition!  Try something like this!  You can have raw tacos and set up a buffet.  Let everyone pick what they want to add to their tacos!  Start with the lettuce wraps (sprouted multi grain tortillas or corn if you are gluten free will work also!) then add the 'meat'.  Have bowls with sliced avocado (leave a pit in the bowl to prevent browning), olives, tomatoes, peppers, shredded goat cheddar or any other toppings you would like sitting out buffet style!  They'll love it!  You can do the same with pizza!  Make a great pizza crust for each person in the family.  You can use something like this if you are gluten free!  Partially bake the dough (I hate the word 'crust') and let everyone add the toppings they want before baking it again!  We had this little beauty on Sunday!
Gluten free veggie pizza!  I want some now actually!!!!  Start with things like this.  Everyone loves pizza right?  You can also do other things that sound appealing.  Humans have a strong language affiliation so words like Chili Cheese Dip make our mouths water.  Nobody will even care that it isn't 'traditional' chili dip!  It's DELICIOUS!

If the idea of the collard wraps turns them off, just slice up the vegetables and go to town without the wraps!  You will quickly have many new favorites!  I know we do!!!!!

As far as packaged products go, please get in the habit of reading labels!  Not just reading them but understanding the ingredients!  Don't buy something if you don't know what's in it!  We have grown up thinking that if something is packaged that it's fine.  A company wouldn't want to put anything in our food that would harm us, so who cares if you can't pronounce anything on the label?  NO!  We need to stop thinking this way!  If you aren't sure what it is, don't buy it!  Try to stick to my favorite rule:  Packaged products should contain 5 or less readable ingredients!  It isn't always easy and sometimes I cave and buy some things that don't fit this description, but I do try really hard!  I find that the products that do fit this bill actually taste better anyway!  Start ridding your pantry of refined sugars, sweeteners, and flours!  Use real foods in your baked goods and recipes....pure maple syrup, raw agave nectar, raw honey and cane sugar are great!  Use whole or multigrain flour, breads and pastas if you aren't gluten free.  If you are gluten free, there are lots of other options made with gluten free grains!  You don't have to eat white rice everything!  Use brown rice breads and pastas.  Plenty of other grains like quinoa, amaranth, wild rice and corn make fantastic side dishes and pasta noodles! 

Here are lots more recipes and ideas to get you going....

I've mentioned her before but Angela of Oh She Glows is a genius!  Check out everything she has in her recipes section!
Sweet Potato Fries  when I make these I use only almond butter and they are delish!  My little girl loves them!

Mexican Tortilla Pie

Creamy Alfredo and Shells  I love the nut-based pasta sauces!  Obviously some of these recipes need to be converted to gluten free, but it's usually quite simple to do this!

Mandarin, Pecan, Almond and Cranberry Salad

Those are just a few from her site!

Gena of Choosing Raw has a fantastic recipe for kale salad.  It is soooooooo good and goes with any meal!
Massaged Kale Salad
About 3-4 generous cups washed and chopped kale
¼ avocado
2 tbsp olive oil (or as needed)
1 lemon
1 small tomato, chopped
½ large carrot, grated
Sea salt
Pour 2 tbsp (more if needed) olive oil over kale, and sprinkle with
sea salt as desired. With clean hands, “massage” the kale so that all
of the oil is coating it and it begins to “wilt.” Throw in the avocado
and massage it, too, so that the whole bowl of kale becomes well
coated with oil and avocado. Sprinkle on lemon juice as desired (I
like a lot), and throw in tomato, carrots, and any other veggies you
desire! Top with nutritional yeast or sesame seeds if you like. I
modify this salad a lot, but it’s a crucial staple in my diet.

Try making some mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes!  You could always add a cheezy sauce to them if eating the mash as is seems unappealing!

Yummy potato and greens salad!

Hummus is a great dip for veggies!  You can make lots of variations to this basic recipe as well!  Try this Red Pepper version!

Here is a great recipe for some veggie lasagna from 'The Raw Food Detox Diet'
-12 spelt or whole grain lasagna noodles cooked al dente (we use GF lasagna noodles!!!)
-25 ounces organic pasta sauce!
-4-6 ounces raw goat cheddar, shredded (optional)
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-1 zucchini, thinly sliced
-1 eggplant, thinly sliced
-10 fresh spinach leaves ( I use baby spinach so I end up with a lot more than 10 leaves!)
-3/4 cup packed fresh basil (I personally do not love basil so this is omitted for us!)

*Preheat oven to 350.  In a large baking dish, layer lasagna, sauce, some cheese (if using), garlic, vegetables, and basil.  Repeat as necessary and top with goat cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes. 

This freezes really well!  (you know how I feel about freezable meals!!!)  Just thaw and bake uncovered! 

There are so many great recipes out there!  Before long you will have many favorites and even make your own tasty creations!  The library is a fantastic resource as well!  Lots of vegan, vegetarian and raw food books are just waiting for you to peruse them!  Go eat your veggies!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Learn from my mistakes!!!

Good Morning....well as I am typing this it is morning, we will see if it gets to you when it is still considered morning! LOL  I have been MIA recently because I have been feeling just awful!  I found the culprit however, a bag of spirulina that I recently purchased is contaminated with gluten!!!  On top of that I also had some buttermilk which was in a gluten free flour mixture!  OY!  I always, always read my labels.  I was just so excited to find some gluten free flour mix and I was so tired because my son is still an up-all-night kind of dude.  This led to me being lazy and assuming that it would also be dairy free.  Not true.  My poor baby has had a very upset tummy the past couple of days and it's all my fault.  I feel just terrible about it.  My stomach hurts too, but who cares about that when the baby is upset.  Poor thing.  I think it should be out of his system today though!  I bet you are still asking yourself, "Why does a micro-green alga (spirulina) contain gluten?"  Spirulina is gluten free but like so many other foods can be contaminated before we ingest it. 

In the health food store where I purchase my spirulina, they have 'bulk bins.'  The bulk bins contain a variety of herbs, spices, soup mixes and super foods.  Here's the kicker so pay close attention if you are thinking about going gluten free or are new to it:  Most bulk spices contain gluten in the form of an anti-caking agent, most soup mixes have the same and some are riddled with barley and rye.  Barley and rye have gluten as does wheat.  When the same scoop is used for all items purchased from said bulk bins, you have cross contamination!  The scoop is supposed to be wiped clean between bins but wiping is different than washing!  The likelihood of this scoop actually being wiped off between each and every item is not good anyway.  Thankfully, I was able to figure this out but not until after I had been sick ALL week and my son's rash had resurfaced.  I called the store and I can get prepackaged bags of spirulina that are bagged using a dedicated scoop in order to avoid this happening again.  If your store does not have this option, you should ask for a new, clean scoop to be used in a container that has yet to be used.  Perhaps, suggest to the store that they have such an option ready for people with celiac disease!  Be gentle with them though!  Most people are unaware that cross contamination is even an issue nor do people realize all the places where gluten could be hiding!  Please learn from my mistakes; read ALL labels and beware of the possibility of cross contamination!!! AND GET 'THE G FREE DIET!' ASAP!!!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Good Afternoon!  I have lots of yummy recipes and (hopefully helpful) tips to help you introduce healthier foods to your family!   First, I must let you in on a couple of secrets!!! 

Secret Number 1People are scared of words!  Have you ever noticed that the very mention of something 'healthy', 'vegetarian', 'vegan', 'new' or 'natural' scares the pants off of people?  In our society today, we are conditioned to think that any of those words equate to 'bad', 'scary', 'gross', 'weird' or the big one 'CHANGE!'  People hate change, it's scary to them.  It makes them feel out of control and vulnerable because it is different!  This is not a bad thing, it just means we need to hold their hands a little bit!  When you first present a new and healthy recipe, do it just as you would with any other recipe!  If they go into it thinking it's going to taste bad, then it will so don't make a big deal out of any component that someone might think odd or scary!

Secret Number 2:  Introduce the sweet stuff first!  I know, sneaky right?  Not really!  It makes sense to try the desserts first.  It helps people to know that those words don't have to be scary and that real food tastes great!  Desserts are supposed to be delicious even if they are new or different.  It's another word association thing.  When a dessert type food can also be used as a snack or meal, it's a BIG hit!  For instance; smoothies, puddings and energy bars!

So, let's EAT!!!

One of the easiest ways to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet is to introduce green smoothies!!!  The best time for a green smoothie is in the morning!  Generally people love smoothies, especially kids!  Greens are really important to your diet and this is one of the best ways to get them!  Basically you just throw whatever combination of fruits you want in the blender then add leafy green vegetables to the top, they should ideally be about half the blender!  Add water as necessary! Using frozen fruits will allow you to omit ice and use less water!  When you are first starting with smoothies, you may find you need some added flavor.  You can try raw agave nectar, raw honey or pure maple syrup (which actually does not make it taste like a waffle!)  Bananas and pineapple add a good deal of sweetness as well!  Spinach is virtually undetectable and a great 'green starter!'  If you are worried your kids or significant other will be afraid of the color, there are a few things you could try!  A lot of kids will really get into things if they think it is fun!  You can try calling it a 'Monster Smoothie' and play some sort of monster game or watch something like Monsters Inc.   A friend of mine had a great idea as well!  She let her daughter pick out what she wanted in her smoothie and throw everything in the blender herself!  Kids like to be involved in the kitchen!  If the color is still off-putting, you can disguise the greens with darker fruits!  Anything with blueberries, raspberries or cherries will generally hide the green color!  This is a good recipe of disguise!  If you are one who likes 'tried and tested' recipes like me.....
Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Bomb

Lots of recipes in the 'smoothie' section!

Green Monster  (there's a good story with this one, you should read it!!!)

Chocolate Cherry Bomb with Almond Milk

There are so many delicious foods in their natural state!  We just have to find out how to use them......which is funny because really this is the way food should be eaten!

Chocolate Pudding:
1 avocado
1/2 banana
1/4 cup cocoa powder (or cacao powder if you are going completely raw with this!)
1/4 cup raw honey
1 tsp alcohol free vanilla extract
*combine all ingredients in food processor until smooth!  ~this is sooooo rich and sooooo delicious!  I serve it with strawberries because it takes some of the 'rich' out! 

Banana Soft Serve!  This has endless possibilities!  You can add cacao nibs or dairy free dark chocolate chips/pieces, peanut butter, almond butter, strawberries, nuts....I mean really, YUM!

Raw Fruit Cobbler ~she uses peaches here, but you could use anything....apples would be sooooo good!

Oh She Glows has so many recipes it's ridiculous!  She is amazing!  Just pick a section and start drooling!  If you are gluten free like us, check Love Veggies and Yoga!  ~I think she might have a chocolate addiction...maybe?!

The idea is to start cooking and 'uncooking' with real ingredients.  No more refined sugars, flours and artificial stuff.  Yuck!  Let's eat REAL FOOD please!!!! 

It is so nice to have snacks on hand!  Healthy snacks are even better!

Raw Almond Butter Cookies  These are seriously delicious but I don't consider them cookies!  I refrigerate them rolled into balls!

Try your hand with homemade 'Lara Bars'  There are so many options with this one!  Last night we made blueberry-lemon Lara Bars and they were so good!  You can basically use whatever combo you want!  FYI: If you live around here, Kroger has organic medjool dates for 5.99 a pound!  The other stores are at least 2 dollars more per pound, so I recommend Kroger!

These sound delicious! 

I am certainly not saying that these are the only foods you should eat!  I just want to give you some of the recipes that got us started and that everyone will love!  When it comes to kids....keep trying!  They may not like something at first but they may loooove it later!  You know your kids best and there is a fine line between being stubborn and really and truly disliking something!  For instance, my daughter just doesn't like juice or smoothies of any kind.  She isn't even 2 yet so I have hope that she will change her mind eventually.  She does eat rather than drink her fruit, so I don't push too hard at the moment!  When it comes to greens, I just blend some spinach or spirulina in with her almond milk.  At first I had to disguise the color in a dark sippy cup but now she doesn't care what color it is because it tastes good!  Baby steps my friends, baby steps!  She, like a lot of toddlers, has a hard time with something new.  We just keep trying and most of the time she will come around!  If I know she is being stubborn....well that's a different story!  In that case, she doesn't get a choice!  It may sound cruel, but I am not denying her food or trying to give her something she doesn't like.  They are just trying to see if you will give in! 
Little Lady "Pasta?"
Mommy "No, you need to eat your's breakfast!"
Little Lady "Pasta!"
Mommy "Blueberries"
Little Lady "Want pasta!"
Mommy "Blueberries, banana or strawberries."
Little Lady "Ok, bluebears!"

I am sure you have had similar conversations! LOL  I hope this is going to get you started and help you to be creative!  I will put together lots of yummy dinner ideas that even your meat and potatoes guy will love along with some great veggie recipes your kids will love too!  Until then........have a fantabulous day!

Bottomless Pit!

I told you guys that I have been a bottomless pit lately!  It's crazy!  I have added lots more food to my daily regimen and thought I would share it with you!  I need lots of fluids to keep up my milk supply so I like my juices and smoothies a LOT!  They are one-handed meals and contribute to hydration!  Little tasty multi-taskers, love that!  My morning pretty much consists of liquid meals!  It's the busiest part of my day so I find myself doing things one-handed a lot and this includes eating.  It's also when I feel really thirsty (probably because I am too lazy to get up and eat or drink anything in the middle of the night, even though my son still nurses quite a lot then!) 

Green Juice!!!!!!!!!!  I have never been a coffee drinker, caffeine and I do not get along.....and now that I know most coffees also contain gluten....well, you get the picture!  However, if I do not get my green juice in the out!  I would imagine that is what it feels like for coffee drinkers when they don't have their morning coffee?  I don't know?  For the record, I LOOOOOOVE Kale in my juice!  Even for beginners I think it has the best flavor!  It makes for a deeper lemonade and it is quite refreshing!  Another benefit to our teeth have become really white?!?  I would imagine that it's the juice and the strawberries on top of the fact that I don't drink pop, wine or coffee but I'll take it! :-)
*My typical juice:
1 peeled lemon
2 green apples
5 stalks Kale
2 stalks celery

Green Smoothie!!!!!  Not always green in color! ;-)  This is the Chocolate Cherry Bomb!  Yum!  I don't like my smoothies too sweet, so I didn't add any kind of sweetening ingredient a la honey, agave or stevia but I suppose you could! 
* 1 Cup water
   1 Tbs raw chocolate protein powder
   1-2 cups frozen cherries
   Giant handful of spinach or one stalk of Kale (off the stalk)
~blend until smooth and add water if necessary.  Serves 1

Chocolate Banana Smoothie!!!!!!!!!!  This one is really filling because of the almond milk and almond butter, especially if my green smoothie for the day doesn't contain protein powder!  I've been drinking the whole pitcher again, like I did when I was pregnant! YUM!  If my other smoothies don't have spirulina, then I add it to this one!  Now that bananas are back in our lives I will alternate this smoothie with the Smooth Mama from 'Raw Food Detox Diet!'

Smooth Mama!
1 Cup Almond Milk or water
1 banana
1tsp spirulina powder
3 ice cubes
generous handful  walnuts
*blend until smooth.  1 serving!

Carrot Juice!!!!!!!!!  That is a 24 oz mason jar!  The juice keeps really well in the fridge until I'm ready for it around noon, as long as I store it in this!  I originally came upon this jar because my mama made us some salsa!  Usually I return them so we can eventually have more salsa.........but mom, if you're reading this........can I keep this one?  Pleeeeeease!?!  ;-)  

Notice how I have already had roughly 4 servings of raw vegetables!  It's usually only around noon by the time I finish my carrot juice and not one of my veggie servings has tasted like raw broccoli!  (not that I dislike raw broccoli!)

Today, the little lady and I devoured some kale chips!  I have been wanting them for a while but the kale always makes it to the juicer too fast!  This week I bought more kale than usual so I could actually have some for chips!!!!  Finally,

Typically, I use this recipe but omit the pepper and sub tamari for the soy sauce!  These were just coated in some leftover rawfredo to which I added sundried tomatoes!  I prefer the original chips but the toddler loooooooved these!!!!!!!!  We were also fortunate enough to have eggplant chips today!!!!  I made my Marinated A&E Salad the other day and just dehydrated the leftover eggplant slices!  Pretty yummy!  My recent 'chicken adventure' left me really wanting some raw snacks this week!  I have also had two Lara Bars today!  Normally I don't have them everyday and especially not two a day!  Today however, my kids were keeping me really busy when I was also ready for some food.  No time to chop veggies meant two Laras down the hatch!  I would usually have a big salad with avocado and other vegetables or breakfast cookie dough cereal!  I always drink water with the meals and snacks that I eat in the afternoon and evening.  This week I bought the food I needed to make myself more lunches, I am getting tired of my salad and I don't want that to happen because I really like it!  I will be making these lovely collard wraps complete with the dip!  I like the dip warm ~who wants to eat cold chili dip?  So I put it in a shallow dish of hot water while I chop the veggies for the wraps!  We do add the raw goat cheddar to our wraps just like the recipe and it really makes a big difference so if you don't eat any animal products, you should spread a nut cheese on the collard leaves before rolling them up! 

I will also have raw tacos again for lunch before the week is out! (are you really surprised?)  They are sooooo good and incredibly easy to make!  Recently my daughter has even taken a liking to them!!! 

After lunch and's dinner time!  I have been so excited for dinner the last couple of weeks.  It has been soooooo cold and I really hate the cold.  I think that is why I have been wanting so many cooked foods for our suppers!  By the end of the day, I just want something hot to eat!  These are our meals this week!  I think I am going to try and double some of the recipes so I have some to freeze!  I like having extra meals in the freezer in case I don't feel like cooking one night or I don't have time!!!
Chili - I make a good vegan chili!  It's exceptionally easy and doesn't really have a recipe.  I just throw a bunch of chili powder, sea salt, garlic, beans, corn and tomatoes together.  It's yummy!  I am definitely going to be freezing some of this!

Coco Quinoa - I changed the name of this recipe.  It's actually called, 'gluten free, vegan one-pot mac n cheese' but it tastes nothing like mac n cheese!  It is really good though!  I will add a few sundried tomatoes and a little bit of agave nectar.  It has this sweet and salty thing going!  I like that!

Vegan Stuffed Peppers -  My version of the linked recipe also has mushrooms and LOTS more nutritional yeast!  I add about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, a handful of mushrooms and the entire can of tomato paste!  I like the deeper flavors!  I also don't put the roasted red pepper in my mixture, I just make it without and then stuff the peppers!  This really is a meal all on it's own.  The originaly recipe has steamed collards and sweet corn alongside.  We have done it that way before and it is good, but I won't this time!  The stuffing freezes well too!

Salsa Al Pomodoro Maccheroni - per Kyle's request!!!  I will be making extra to freeze.  I think I am also going to put some in smaller containers that he can take to work!  'Salsa Al Pomodoro' is Italian for tomato sauce.  Did I tell you that?  I am such a dork!  Hehe, I was trying to be fancy!

Baked Sweet Potatoes - We eat these a lot.  They are so good and really easy.  Kyle likes his sweet and I like mine salty! 

The sweet version.  He puts dairy free butter, organic brown sugar and cinnamon on his potato.  If you are going to make it healthier......I would put pure maple syrup on it rather than the brown sugar!

The salty version!  I just add a dash of sea salt, spinach and some goat cheese.  The spinach gets nice and wilty if the potato is fresh from the oven!  YUM YUM

The other nights we are either going to have leftovers or I am going to 'wing it' with the things we already have in the house!  I didn't feel like planning anything else ~totally not like me, but I went with it! ;-) 

Have a blessed day and stay warm and safe if you are in the midwest!  Yucky weather!