Tuesday, March 27, 2012

12 Days of Easter

Today marks the 12th day until Easter!  Don't get me wrong....I love bunnies and flowers and spring as much as the next person but Easter is not about spring or bunnies or flowers or eggs or cute little dresses, suits and baskets full of goodies.  Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead just as He said He would!  Becoming a mom made me realize just how important traditions like this can be and how easy a child's mind is influenced.  I've been searching for things we can do to make Easter more about the resurrection than about spring and pinterest has definitely been helpful with that!  This is the first year my daughter is really into anything more than a quick story or color sheet so I needed something more than we have done previously.  (she's 3)  I really love the ideas this mom has for teaching her children about Resurrection Sunday and we're going to be lightly adapting this for our little family!  I'm very excited! 

Basically, she has twelve different stories and little activities or figures that go along with each day until Resurrection Sunday.  It's very similar to an advent calendar before Christmas and that's part of why I liked this idea!  Our kids did great with the advent calendar and scripture reading for Christmas this past year and I think they'll be really into this as well!  I am taking the idea of the 'Easter basket' and using that for our daily trinkets and such that the kids will have to discover.  I have a small basket that I will hide with each day's activity/trinket/toy/book etc. and they will have to find it.  We'll talk about the items they have found and have our corresponding Bible lesson.  I've been able to go through the house and adapt the original ideas so I don't have to buy anything this year.  We may have a few songs and some videos as well.  My kids thoroughly enjoy a good song and dance session!  We do tons of baking around here already so I'm not worried in the least about them getting the whole cookie/candy experience that goes along with most holidays.  They won't be missing anything!  We don't eat eggs though so I'm not into the whole eggdying-egg hiding-egg-stravaganza.  We also try our best to limit plastics in the house so for that reason combined with us being egg free peeps, we won't be using plastic eggs either.  There is one section on the blog where she suggests using a plastic egg as a representation of the empty tomb which is a good idea but I'm just going to leave the basket empty and make them find it still.  I may leave some toilet paper or cloth strips to symbolize Jesus having been there at one point but that He is no longer there.  I don't know, we'll see.  Anyhow, I wanted to share with you the things we have decided to make a tradition for our family starting this year and I hope you find some things to use for your family traditions as well.  Here is our first day in the countdown to Easter:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekly Menu 3/25/12

Well, hello again!  I am a bit late in getting a weekly menu....or as it has been known around here for the last couple of weeks, 'great ideas for food that never actually get made!'  Sigh.  I am just not hungry.  That's pretty much it.  On top of not really being hungry, there are lots of foods that are turning me off right now.  Big announcement:  We're having another little BOY!  We're very excited to welcome another little man around here.  Though, I can truly say now that being pregnant with boys is much harder than being pregnant with girls.  I had a great experience with my daughter, after the first trimester of course.  My first son was a different story.  I was sick in more ways than one because I had not yet discovered the whole Celiac Disease thing but still, I was not into food and so many things made me sick the entire time!  This little guy seems to be doing the same thing.  I'll be 17 weeks this week and I am not feeling the second trimester buzz.  I suppose there's still hope but at least I know our little man is healthy and I'll be loving food again as soon as he's born if nothing else! ;-)  It does make finding things to eat a bit difficult though.  I'll plan everything out and, at the time, it sounds delicious.  As soon as I get the groceries home and try making something.....total gag!  I've forced myself to eat way too many things recently in order to not waste food but NO MORE I TELL YOU!  I can't stand it.  The more I force myself to eat, the worse it gets.  For now, I'll still plan things out but probably less than 7 meals that way I have room for those spur of the moment things I actually do feel like eating.  That all being said....here is the dealio for this week:

Menu for the week of March 25, 2012:

Zucchini-carrot pancakes and roasted red-skin potatoes.  You will probably notice that these were on last week's menu.  That's because I never made them.  Most of the things if not all that we are eating this week will be from last week or the week before.  I realize that's kinda boring for you folks but I'm doing what I can.  We did actually make these tonight and they were delicious!  The kids loved them and it was a great way to sneak in some veggies.  We never have leftover pancakes around here unless I make a second batch specifically to freeze but the recipe does say she freezes leftovers successfully.  That is always good info in my book.

Black Bean Beet Burgers

Quinoa Stuffed Artichokes

Lentil Meatballs

Macaroni Bake and Garlic Bread  (this bread is wonderful, I'll slice and put garlicky fixins on it before putting under the broiler for garlic toast) ~This is one I'll make out of the leftover sauce from the experimental pizza rolls I mentioned last week.  They were ok.  My son loved them but my daughter didn't like the Italian seasoning I added to the bread so she wouldn't eat it.  My husband and I ate them but both agreed that the other pizza items we've made were much better.  The calzones would make great pizza sticks as well as pizza pockets in fun shapes for the kids so we'll stick with that.  The dough also freezes well so I usually cut a few extra in the shape of a heart for my daughter and then freeze them unbaked.  We bake them at 350 for about ten minutes when we're ready to eat them. (they're small)  It's something even grandma can come over and put in the oven for them and they'll actually eat it.  Plus, pizza in fun shapes is.....well.....fun!
With added toppings after baking!

In other news, we made a wonderful cheezecake last night!  It was pretty incredible!  I didn't add the blueberry topping because I'm lazy but it was delicious without and delicious with dairy free chocolate chips added!  This was actually my first attempt at eating vegan soy free cheesecake as well as making it....it will NOT be my last!  We halved the recipe and froze three little individual cakes to eat throughout the week.  So adorable!

Right out of the freezer and...
onto my plate!!!  (I added some chocolate chips after the photo)

À bientôt! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekly Menu 3/18/2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  We started our morning introducing the kids to some traditional Irish music, watched the Veggie Tales video for St. Patrick's Day, colored shamrocks and talked about it's three leaves representing the Holy Trinity!  It was fun!  I felt like we needed something special for breakfast so I whipped up some cinnamon rolls!!!  It's quite exciting to say 'whipped up' when referring to anything made from scratch without gluten, eggs or dairy!  Usually, those recipes take quite some time and this one really was quite simple.  They were also fantabulous which means they will go in our permanent recipe file.  The only complaint I have....they have more of a biscuit texture than a smooth bread texture but the taste was amazing and they were much easier than other from scratch gluten free cinnamon roll recipes so it's all good! 

Glorious cinnamon-caramel deliciousness!  I subbed coconut sugar for granulated and sorghum glour for sweet rice in the recipe.  These rolls also call for cloves which were an amazing addition!  They tasted and smelled so old-fashioned....love!

The flash made them look orange but they baked up much better than our last cinnamon roll attempt!

This is my favorite picture!  The kids were patiently waiting there cinnamon treats.  This is after I frosted them with some homemade vegan buttercream!  YUM! I had intentions of dying the frosting green but decided against it.  My little girl kept coming in the kitchen and asking if the 'rollers' were done yet!  So cute!

On to the menu for this week.....I'm feeling not so lovely in the food department again.  It was never really stellar as far as eats go but it was getting better.  Weeks 12 and 13 were pretty good but 14 was terrible and so far, 15 isn't treating me so hot either.  I did make most of the things on last week's list but I didn't make any extra snacks and a couple of the meals were replaced with fend-for-yourself fare.  The Tahini Soup from last week was the weirdest soup I have ever had in my life.  I'll not make it again.  Tahini belongs in dressings and sauces but definitely not soup!  It wasn't gross, just odd.  I did make some cheesy chickpea crackers to go with the soup though.  They were a big hit, tasted a lot like cheez-its.  This week, I have a few things that I currently think sound really good so I'm gonna go with it as well as some items that might just trick the kids into eating the veggies they are currently striking.  We'll see....

Menu for the week of March 18, 2012:

1. Quinoa Stuffed Artichokes ~When I was in labor with my son (the first time ~I had a good practice run before the real thing) my husband and I went to the Cheesecake Factory and had this grilled artichoke that was amazing.  I've been wanting it ever since the whole neighborhood has been on this grilling frenzy and it's all I can smell!  These aren't grilled, but they'll do nicely! 

2.  Roasted Red Pepper Mac N Cheese ~this is the original recipe our raw cheez sauce came from and I'd like to have it this way.  I think it looks really delicious. 

3.  Lentil Meatballs ~I'll be serving these with pasta sauce but without pasta.  I have no idea what else I'll serve with this or with most of the meals we are having this week but at least we'll have the main part....  *Oh...and the comment section for this recipe said the 'Meatballs' were mushy so I am going to process them less which will give them better texture and bake instead of fry. 

5.  Pizza with sliced eggplant, tomato, olive oil and garlic

7.  This is going to sound awful but...Pizza Rolls.  It sounds awful for two reasons.  One, because we are already having pizza this week and two, because it sound like we're eating those terrible microwaveable things I used to eat in high school.  EW!  Actually, my mom will be watching the kids for a significant period of time one day this week and I need to make sure they have enough food to eat while I am gone.  I decided it would be fun for them to eat an allergy friendly version of the linked recipe!  The ingredients are all completely different anyway and it really won't be like they are eating pizza twice in a week.  I am taking the recipe for the cinnamon rolls I mentioned earlier and altering the dough to make it savory.  I'll add some italian seasonings and some salt then I'll fill the inside with veggie-fied pasta sauce and daiya cheese before rolling it up.  Bake and serve!  Should be pretty good!  (I'll add chopped olives, mushrooms, shallot, pepper, and greens to jarred pasta sauce)  I will also be making hummus, pre chopping vegetables for dipping, some kind of cracker, peanut butter balls, and a caramel sauce for green apples.  That way, they have plenty of food before I go and some of those things, I can take with me as well.  Win-win! 

We'll see what actually gets done this week....though I have no choice but to make the pizza rolls and the other treats for when my mom is watching my kids.  Therefore if it's a succes, I shall post the results and how to make them!  Hope you all have a great week and a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Weekly Menu 3/11/12

Hi there!  I hope you are enjoying the weekly menu posts and perhaps getting some new ideas for your meals as well.  You don't have to be gluten free or vegetarian to enjoy these meals and everyone needs more veggies and less gluten in their lives anyway!  Maybe some of these ideas will help you embrace meatless Monday or give you some additional idea for branching out in your food lives?  Either way, I am enjoying typing the posts and coming up with the recipes!  Plus, now I have all my menus saved and if I ever feel a lack in creativity or time...I can just pick from one that is already done!  Love it!  Once again, I lack pictures.  But who cares because the linked recipes have marvelous pictures and I'll too be busy cooking and eating (as you will, I'm sure) to bother with pictures! 

Some of the recipes on our list this week, were inspired by the upcoming weather forecast!  It appears as though we are going to have (we'll see but here's hoping!) quite a few days in the 60s and even one in the 70's!!!!!!!!!  I realize it's not the tropics but it ain't snow plowin' weather neither! ;-)  I am a summer girl and even though being pregnant in the summer isn't always grand, I am still looking forward to it! So, some of these recipes are summer inspired!!!!  Some are rainy weather recipes but still they will all be fabulous.  Hope you love them!

Weekly Menu for the week of March 11, 2012:

1.  Black Bean and Guacamole Burritos!  (if you actually click on the link....this picture just screamed, "SUMMER!" at me!)  We bought some brown rice tortillas when they were on sale and have a stock pile in the freezer to use for this recipe.  Sadly, I do not own any type of grill whether indoor OR out but I'll see what I can redneck rig for these tasty guys! 

2.  Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Nuts and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.  This salad has gorgeous color and I love candied nuts in a good salad as does my husband.  This will probably be reserved for our 70's day!  Can't wait!

3.  Sundried Tomato Pesto!  I've had a craving for this and we will be having it next week!  I don't even care what we serve with it....could be pasta, maybe baked potatoes or some homemade gluten free bread?  I don't care...I just want the peso!  (just omit the cheese)

4.  'Salmon' Patties and Apple Fries!  I'm really excited about this one!  :-)  My husband always, always wants some kind of fry when we have any type of burger and I wanted something different than the usual sweet potato or russet potato.  We'll be using apples!  Yum!  (I am probably not going to use all of the spices in the recipe)

5.  Maple Baked Beans, Mac and Cheese and either steamed broccoli or asparagus.  I'm loving asparagus right now and so is my toddler so we've been eating it a lot!  We'll see what happens this week though.  I feel like we eat a lot of macaroni and cheese but the recipes are rarely the same and I like to try them all plus, it's good!  P.S.  My husband is going to try pressure cooking our beans for the first time!  If this is a success...I will be very, very excited!

6.  Waffles and roasted red skin potatoes with chives.  Again...we love eating breakfast for dinner and having this waffle recipe for dinner one night means I'll have enough left to freeze for breakfasts also.  Can't lose, less work!

7.  Tahini Soup and steamed zucchini.  This soup will be one of our rainy day dishes and I loooove steamed zucchini with chives.  I don't add anything but chives to sliced zucchini and it's really delicious...no idea why but it's really good!  Of course, we will be subbing gluten free/vegan noodles for the egg noodles in this recipe. 

As for snacks and lunches this week?  I don't know.  I never had the chance to make beet chips or the coleslaw from last week so I'll probably make those but everything else is up in the air.  I did make some sunbutter form last week's menu and it was delicious!  I've been eating it by the spoonful with Enjoy Life chocolate chips!  In case you were wondering, our grocery list looks like this:

-almond milk (at least one unsweetened)
-black beans
-avocado (5-7 depending on how many I have left from the week before.  My son eats them for lunch)
-dried cranberries
-salad greens
-red skin potatoes
-carrots (for juicing, eating and to use the pulp for salmon patties)
-dulse flakes
-raisins (Kroger has an organic bag of raisins at a decent price and we use them for everything from cereal to random snacks plus they are in the coleslaw)
-lemons (juice, dressings and addition to water)
-apples (bagged organic apples for juice, fries, eating, etc)
-raw cashews (I'm out :-( )
-pasta for pesto and tahini soup
-zucchini (2 ought to do it)
-greens for juice (probably celery, romaine, cucumber and dandelion greens or swiss chard)
-strawberries, grapes or some other snacking fruit for the kids.  I just get whatever is on sale unless there is a special request. 

We typically try to keep it under $100 per week.  I'm hoping we'll be able to do even less when we have a garden but we'll see....until then, I think this is pretty reasonable for mostly raw, gluten free, veggie people.  We actually budget more for our food but I like to see if I can keep it under $100 and usually I can if I meal plan.  We feel like fueling our bodies with real, healthy food is far more important than spending that money on other things like cable, texting, eating out, etc.  It's really important for us to have healthy food to nourish our bodies and keep them functioning properly.  We feel better when we eat this way and for us it's, "Pay for real food now, or pay the medical bills later!"  (paraphrasing something I saw on pinterest but I loved it!)  Because we do budget extra for our food, we can then buy the things like acai powder, raw cacao, spirulina, Vega protein powder (which I still only buy when it's on sale!  Last week, I had a coupon AND it was on sale for 35 dollars when it's normally 75 so I got it for 30!!!)  and other super foods or extras that we want.  Keeping the budget down for the weekly menus really helps and we know we have that cushion if we really need it!  For instance, I was craving some gogi berries and I do need the protein and iron so we were able to get some even though they don't come cheap!  If we weren't mindful of what we spend regularly and if we didn't cut back on other things, we wouldn't be able to get things like that.  Food is our medicine!  :-)  Have a great day!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weekly Menu 3/4/12

Hello again!  I started planning this menu last Thursday and didn't finish it until this morning.  It wasn't hard to put together and there are actually two less dinners than normal but I just couldn't decide on what I wanted.  I always ask my husband for imput and rarely does he think of anything.  Sometimes he wants something specific but most often he just tells me to make whatever and he'll eat it.  He does often put in his request for desserts but this week he didn't care what we were eating as long as there was going to be food.  I do care but I couldn't think of anything that sounded super yummy.  Thus, it took me three days to finish the list!  Oh well, it's done and it turned out pretty good. We're having some of our favorites with a couple of new things that are sure to become favorites and I'm pretty happy with it.  I only planned five dinners though.  I just couldn't think of anything else so I'm banking on leftovers for a couple of days.  I am making a casserole one night and chili another and those things typically do yield leftovers.  If not, we'll have something random from around the house.  I also planned some snacks and lunches which I have been trying to do more so we have a bigger variety of interesting things to eat during the day as well.  Here goes....

Menu for the week of March 4, 2012:

1.  Spring rolls and raw teriyaki sauce from 'The Raw Food Detox Diet.'  I have some rice wraps in the cabinet that I'll use for these and I am altering the inside to include avocado in addition to cabbage, carrots and peppers.  The sauce is a really simple blend with ginger, lemon juice, maple syrup, and soy sauce (use g-free).  We use Bragg's Liquid Amino's when we use soy sauce.  I also make a ginger-scallion sauce that is AMAZING.  It's just ginger, Bragg's, maple syrup, a little bit of brown sugar or molasses, chopped chives or green onion, and tahini (though you could also use almond butter).  I whip it up every time we have a stir fry or some kind of Asian inspired meal.  We will be having some rice with this dish as well because I think my daughter will want some and I need the extra protein. 

2. Raw Food Detox Diet 'Lasagna.'  I have made this lasagna before and it's quite tasty but I am changing the way the recipe is put together simply because I am lazy.  I already have brown rice penne so I am going to use that on the bottom instead of lasagna noodles and layer with thinly sliced medallions of zucchini and eggplant instead of long, thin strips because it's easier to cut.  It will end up being more of a casserole.  This dish also has spinach, goat cheese and pasta sauce. 

3.  Sweet Potato Lentil Chili and chickpea flatbread (also known as socca). 

4. Pumpkin Pancakes and breakfast potatoes.  I added this recipe to our list just this morning!  We made pancakes and they were fantastic.  Really, really fantastic!  I added chocolate chips as a surprise for the kids and it was a major success!  We were surprised how fluffy these pancakes were and decided to have Brinner one day this week as well!
Pumpkin-chocolate chip pancakes!  YUM!  These would be really easy to make ahead and freeze too!

5.  This dish is a little something I like to call 'Megan's Falafel's!'  My friend Megan gave me the recipe and I have no idea where it came from, she can't remember where she first saw it and I've never been able to pull it up on the internet.  Therefore, 'Megan's Falafel's' were born! ;-)  These are really easy to make and taste really good.  They also refrigerate well for the next day so it's a win-win.  I'll give you the recipe below and if this recipe is originally yours, feel free to claim it!  Random and funny:  Kyle doesn't like to call these falafels because it sounds too much like waffles and he thinks they should taste like waffles.  Sigh.  So....we have to call them hush puppies which in turn makes the little lady think it's more fun to eat them.  I don't care, as long as they are eating!!! 

Recipe for Megan's Falafel's:
-1 can garbanzo beans (or the equivalent of dry, cooked)
-1/4 onion or 1 small shallot
-1/4 cup cilantro or parsley (we always use cilantro)
-1 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp coriander
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-organic/non-gmo cornmeal
*preheat oven to 425.  Mix all ingredients together in food processor, form into balls, roll in cornmeal, brown if desired and bake for 10 minutes!  DONE! 
*serve over a bed of salad greens, tomato, avocado and quinoa flatbread with tahini-lime dressing!  We use our standard tahini dressing since we usually have some on hand or just mix a little tahini with lime juice and sea salt ~call it a day! 

I'm glad to finally have this recipe on the computer because I just have it on a really old piece of paper stretching the top margin of what used to be a former weekly menu.  I have to dig it out every time I make these! haha

I told you I also have some lunches and snacks on the list this week and they are as follows:

Lunches/Snacks week of March 4, 2012:

1. Romaine Wraps.  Another recipe from Raw Food Detox Diet.  It's just almond butter, raw honey and lettuce all wrapped up together but it sounds good and I think my little girl will eat it but I'm going to use sunbutter. 

2.  Raw Coleslaw.  We're using Natalia Rose's recipes a lot this week, another from the aforementioned book!  I will have lots of cabbage leftover from the spring rolls so I'll use it in this recipe and make some Liquid Gold Dressing, also from the book, to go with it.  My husband can take this to work and we can munch on it throughout the day here at home.

3.  Apple-Raisin Dream.  Natalia Rose again, surprise!  The dressing recipe above makes a lot and this salad, though the ingredients are completely different, uses the same dressing so I won't waste any.  This is another lunch/snack item that we can eat at home and my husband can take to work. 

4.  I'll be making coconut butter to add to smoothies, top pancakes and waffles and just eat with a spoon.

5.  Salt and Vinegar Beet Chips.  I have tried beet chips before and I did not like them but I have read that if you soak them in salt and vinegar first it almost pickles them and they make a great chip after that!  We will be using the dehydrator but you could use the oven also.  I currently have Kale Chips in the dehydrator which will give the kids something to munch tomorrow and Monday as well.  I'm staying away from Kale right now because of my gallbladder.  The cabbage family is really hard on my gallbladder right now and kale is the worst of them for me (sad day!)  plus we are already having cabbage for the coleslaw and spring rolls so I'm taking a couple of chances there and I don't want to take any more.  I can't promise I won't have a couple and chase them with some milk thistle though! ;-)