Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Healthy Fried Chicken and Mashed Cauliflower (sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free • gaps)

This is a meal that we make often Everyone in the family loves it. The mashed cauliflower is one of my daughter's favorites and it was a great food for her to start feeding herself with a spoon and now she's a pro with it. It's very easy to throw together quickly with ingredients that I almost always have on hand. It works great to take for lunch to work the next day too.

You can go HERE to see my recipe for Healthy Fried Fish. This chicken is pretty much made in the exact same way. I first pound out my chicken with a mallot, rinse, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. I then add garlic pepper, onion salt, marjoram, italian seasonings (whatever you want really) to the coconut flour mixture. This recipe is so easy and versatile, it can be used with so many different proteins.

I have seen lots of different recipes floating around online for mashed cauliflower, or "caulitators" as they are sometimes called. My husband thinks that calling them that is deceptive because they have nothing to do with mashed potatoes, which he is a huge fan of. I agree, but mostly because I think they are so yummy, and they don't really need to be compared to mashed potatoes anyway. These don't taste like potatoes, although the texture and look are similar. Over the years, I have come up with a recipe that goes over well with pretty much anyone who tries them. Most people downright love them. I often get requests for it at family gatherings because they are always a huge hit with the kids (even the picky ones that won't eat cauliflower normally)!

For an updated (and better in my opionion) version go HERE.

Mashed Cauliflower
sugar free • gluten free • low carb

  • 2 Large Heads of Cauliflower
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder (or more)
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder (or more)
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 C Fresh Grated Cheese of Choice for topping (I like extra sharp white cheddar or sometimes mozzarella, anything is good)
The amounts for seasonings are just estimates. I just take everything and dump it in, to be honest, but this should be pretty close and you can play around with what you like)

  1. Steam Cauliflower (either in a steamer or on the stove in a large stock pot with about an inch of simmering water on the bottom of the pot) for about 25-30 minutes until they are VERY soft. You can steam them for less time, they won't be mixed up as smoothly later, which is still yummy, and will retain more nutritional value.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Drain water in a strainer over the sink, shake to release as much water as you can.
  4. Place in large mixing bowl with cream cheese, butter and seasonings and mix until very well combined with a hand mixer. It should resemble mashed potatoes. Taste it and see if you need more seasonings and add accordingly. I use alot of garlic!
  5. Place in an 8x8 glass baking dish and top with fresh grated cheese. I mix up the cheese depending on what we have, but I think a strong cheddar is my favorite. Don't add too much or it will cool and be too thick and gooey when its done cooking.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  7. Serve and Enjoy!
This was added to the Pennywise Platter Thursdays and Food Renegade

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My New Camera

I am LOVING my new camera. I have alot to learn and it's a bit overwhelming, but so much fun and very exciting. I am not sure when I am going to find the time to master this thing, but I am sure gonna try!

It just came in the mail today and here's some shots of me playing around with it a little.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I woke up this morning to a really sweet card from my hubby. He even wrote a heartfelt message in it.... shucks!

I made us cheeseburgers (one of his faves) and broccoli (one of the munchkin's faves) for dinner. For dessert, I made Chocolate Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream. I searched online for a yummy recipe that Joe and I both would love and once I found this one, I new it was the one! I substituted the almond milk for whole milk, used stevia extract powder instead of the drops, and powdered erythritol in the cupcakes instead of granulated. I made these changes, because that's what I already had on hand. Other then that, I followed it exactly, and it was amazing. Next time I might add just a wee bit more stevia powder, but I'd rather have a little less then too much on the first try. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Carolyn for posting such an amazing recipe! I was so excited when I found her site, because she uses alot of the same ingredients that I do in her stuff and I can easily pick out something to try and be ready to go without even needing to go to the store.

Saturday is the night we are going to celebrate Valentine's day. My sister is going to watch the munchkin while we head out to dinner and a movie. Ya know, your classic "date night". I am really looking forward to it. We do not get to go out by ourselves very often at all. Infact, this will be one of our first real dates since before the munchkin was born. Wow!

Joe had class tonight, so he had to leave around 6:00. We were hoping they would let his class out early for the holiday, but no such luck. Me and the munchkin hung out and had lots of fun though and my mom even came by for a little visit. After Joe got home, we finally ate our cupcakes. It was a really nice valentine's day treat, as I usually don't get to enjoy too many decadent desserts. Joe spent most the evening downstairs in his office doing paperwork and I made food for lunches for me and the munchkin. We also had some major family drama unfolding, so my mom and I spent alot of time talking about that while I made food. Not exactly a romantic valentine's day, but atleast we have saturday night to look forward to.

It seems like we are both always so busy. Joe works full time and is going to school Mon - Wed in the evenings. The other nights he is really busy with school assignments and paperwork (there's a ton) for his job. Most of the other things are left to me. We are both working hard and taking things day by day. I know that one day it will all pay off and it will all be worth it, but sometimes I really miss him and us having more time to spend with each other.

Most of all, I am just so proud of him. He made the decision a while back that he wanted to go back to school to get a nursing degree. As soon as he told me, it just made sense and it felt right. He is so good with people and is really good at making people feel comfortable and at ease. So far he is loving his classes and really enjoying being back at school. He has gotten an A in every class so far! I am so excited for him to be able to switch careers to something that will be much more fun and fulfilling for him.

He is such an amazing husband, an amazing father and a wonderful friend. In my opinion, he's the best valentine ever!

I hope everyone had a wonderful valentine's day!

Cheesecake Muffins With Fruit Topping (sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

I recently posted a recipe for mini cheesecake muffins. The recipe was given to me by my sister, who had gotten it from her neighbor. They were yummy, but I couldn't help buy play around with it and change things up a bit. I wanted them bigger, the original ones would shrink down really small and were very dense. I also wanted a yummy topping. After a couple of tries, and quite a few changes, this is what I have come up with. I love these little muffins, they are so good. They have been a big hit with my taste testers and no one can tell they are sugar free. They really taste just like little cheesecakes... mmmmmmm!

Letting them cool slowly, in steps, will help to keep the muffins from sinking down too far, although they will sink a little.

Cheesecake Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins

  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp baking powder (made with 2 parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp + 1/4 tsp pure stevia extract powder

  1. Set oven to 325.
  2. Bring cream cheese to room temperature (If I don't have time to wait, I will put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes at 50% power).
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with a hand mixer until well blended.
  4. Place batter into muffin pan using paper muffin cups or a greased silicone muffin pan.
  5. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes.
  6. Turn off oven, but leave door closed for 20 minutes.
  7. Crack oven door and leave muffins in there for another 40 minutes.
  8. Put in refrigerator overnight. They are MUCH better the next day.
  9. Top with fruit spread (My favorite is Trader Joe's Organic Blueberry Fruit Spread).

The muffins sink in a little in the middle, leaving the perfect little spot for a topping. You could also try fresh fruit or chocolate.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mornings with the Munchkin and a 17 Month Update

Joe and I take turns on the weekend sleeping in and getting up with the munchkin. Usually I sleep in on Saturdays and get up early on Sundays. We switched this weekend because he was up extra late last night hanging out with a friend. I love having one morning each week that I get to sleep in. I can't really sleep in that late anymore anyway, but it's nice to have the choice. It's also nice to just lay there and relax and know that you don't have to do anything at all if you don't want to.

As nice as that is, I think I like getting up with the munchkin early and having that time to ourselves just as much, if not more. I don't even get to see her in the mornings during the week, as I am out the door before she is even awake and Joe brings her to the sitter. I am so excited each day around 4:00 when I go to pick her up and she runs to me, arms stretched out, yelling Momma! Momma!! It's one of my most favorite things. So having that one morning a week that I wake up with her and we just hang out and do whatever we want, is really special to me and I try to cherish it. Even if I have a million things I need to do, and it is sometimes tempting to get some chores done while she plays around me, I usually just let it all wait.

Today, for some reason, just seemed extra special to me. She was in such an amazing mood today (to be honest she is usually pretty happy most of the time, but today it was even more so). We went to the store to get a birthday present for my grandpa and any time we walked passed a person she looked at them and shouted "whee"! She had everyone cracking up. When we were in the dressing room (ofcourse I had to try on some clothes while we were there), she started singing to me "rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah", you know from Lady Gaga, Bad Romance. I am not sure why she likes to sing that, I don't really ever listen to Lada Gaga. And she just kept lauging and making faces at me while I was trying on clothes. She was just being so much fun!

I just can't believe she is 17 months old now!

The last couple of weeks, her vocabulary and ability to express her wants, needs and thoughts to me has really exploded. She'll repeat just about anything you say to her now, and what is amazing is that all of a sudden she understands so much more of what she is saying. Instead of signing the words "done" and "more" while we are eating, she is saying the words instead. She tells me when she wants her cup, which sounds more like "cuck". She keeps surprising me with all the words she knows and things she recognizes and can say all of a sudden. She can point out most of her body parts when you ask her where they are and tell you what sounds some animals make. In the morning, when I bring her in the kitchen for her breakfast, she sees her plate and exclaims "eggs"! with a huge smile on her face. She loves eggs so much (which is awesome, because personally, I like to eat eggs just about every morning in some form or another).

She is such a good eater. She will eat just about anything I give to her. So far, she hasn't been a fan of green peppers, but really that's about it. Her favorite proteins are eggs, salmon, tilapia, black beans, cottage cheese and stuffed mushrooms with beef and cheese. Her favorite vegetables are broccoli, sweet potatoes, caulitators (mashed cauliflower), green beans, peas and avacodo. She will eat any fruit with gusto. Her absolute favorites are blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, any kind of melon and mangos. She loves blueberry flax muffins. She goes crazy over cheese of any kind. Cheese was actually one of her first words. Sometimes, she will stand in front of the fridge and say "cheese"! I love that she is at that age where she can pretty much just eat whatever I am making for dinner. Some things are still a little harder for her (since she still only has 4.5 teeth!), but I just cut most things up really small for her still.

She actually likes going to bed. She takes a nap at 1:00 (for 2-3 hrs) each day and goes to bed at 8:00pm. Each evening around 8:00, I ask her if she's ready to go "night night" and she runs to the kitchen cabinet where I keep her binkys and points up to it. I hand her a binky and she runs to her room, she climbs into the glider and picks out a book from a little basket on the table next to the glider for me to read to her. Sometimes, during the book, she turns her head up to me and puckers her face up to say she wants a kiss. Then after the book is over I lay her down in the crib and she snuggles up with her blanket. I usually rub her back for a couple of seconds and run my fingers through her hair. Then I say "night night" and leave the room. Most nights we don't hear a peep from her till 7:30 or 8:00am the next morning. I have no idea how we got so lucky. I don't know how long it will last either, but for now I am truly enjoying it!

And she's so sweet. She loves giving hugs. If you ask her for one, she wraps her arms around your neck and squeezes really hard. She tries to help us with anything she can. She will hand me all the laundry out of the basket when I am putting it in the washing machine, or hand me dishes out of the dishwasher when I am putting them away. Yesterday, some jackets fell off the kitchen chair and she picked them up and carried them to me one by one, all of her own accord.

Sometimes I look at her and just can't believe what a big girl she is all of a sudden. Time is just flying by and it seems she was just a little baby not that long ago. I guess it really wasn't that long ago, they just get big so fast! I just know it's all going to go by so quickly. She'll be starting school before I know it, and I am trying so hard to take one day at a time and really pay attention to what is going on and to try to really enjoy it while it's here.

Joe and I have been talking about when we might want to start trying for our next (and most likely final) child. We have decided to enjoy this summer with the munchkin and put things off till the end of the summer. We originally were going to start trying at the beginning of June, but I just want some more time with just her. We are planning a little vacation to Lake Michigan the beginning of June with my sister Amy and her family, and hopefully we can do alot more fun stuff with her this summer.

Right now she is taking a nap and I can't wait for her to wake up and play. She has been sleeping for 3 hours already!

Strawberry Smoothies (sugar free • gluten free • low carb)

I have been on a smoothie kick for quite a while now. They taste delicious, are easy to throw together and you can make them chock-full of nutrition. I like to add homemade whey to mine to add more protein and nutrients, but they are just as delicious without. I mix it all up in my ninja, but any blender that blends ice really well will work.

The recipe below is just a basic strawberry one, but you can use anything you want. Blueberries or bananas are great in with the strawberry, or you can make a tropical one with mangos and pineapple, the possiblities are pretty much endless. I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel here, most people know how to make smoothies, but I wanted to share my favorite combination .... Soooo good!!

Strawberry Smoothies
Makes 2 Servings

2 C strawberries
1 C plain whole milk yogurt
1 Tb homemade whey, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp pure stevia extract powder (or some other sweetener of your choice, or none at all)
2-3 C ice

Mix all ingredients in a blenda. Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise and Homemade Whey (sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free • gaps)

I wish I had figured out how to make homemade mayonnaise a long time ago. I started fooling around with it a couple of months ago after I finally gave up and realized that you just can’t buy commercial ranch dressing or mayo without it having soybean oil as the number one ingredient in most of them!! The ones I did find, had some other ingredients I didn’t want either. Now that I know how easy it is, I will never go back!

I tried a few recipes I found online, but wasn’t too impressed with the results. Then after I received my copy of the book Nourishing Traditions, I tried out the recipe in there. It was perfect for me as is, and I have had great results every time. I make a double batch at a time and use it as a base for other things as well, like ranch dressing and tarter sauce which have turned out really good too using this mayo. You can make all kinds of things with it. I also make whey, so the mayo will keep for several months. If you don’t use whey, it will last for about 2 weeks. I’ll tell you how to make whey at the end, it’s really easy too!

I gather all my ingredients, leaving out the oil, and put them in my Ninja. You should be able to use any food processor, but the ninja works really good. I may or may not rave about the ninja alot... but I seriously use it almost every day for all sorts of things. It has replaced a few other kitchen gadgets and works great for all kinds of things. It’s my favorite kitchen appliance by far. You can whip up guac in minutes or lots of other dips. I make smoothies, sauces.... I could go on and on.... oh how I love my ninja...

Also, alot of people put their ingredients in a smaller container and use an immersion blender, which supposedly works really well too. I’ve never tried it though, because I like making a double batch so I need more room to mix it up.

When making your own mayo, you HAVE to use good quality pastured eggs. These are going in your mayo raw and you will be eating it raw. It’s not safe to consume otherwise. If you can find a local farmer, then great (I can’t get any more till March), but there is one brand around my house, Vital Farms, that they sell at Whole Foods that is real pastured eggs. Plus I just love this company. They have taken good old fashioned egg producing to a large scale level without compromising their hens or food safety and making really good eggs available to more people in less rural areas. I think that’s awesome! Plus you can see and taste the difference. The yolks are so deep colored and vibrant. I only use these eggs for making mayonnaise or anything where they will be eaten raw, and for breakfast. I use regular organic, cage free eggs that I buy from costco for all of my other baking and cooking. I go through way too many eggs. The pastured eggs are more expensive and I am on a budget!

I blend all of the ingredients (aside from the oil) in the ninja till really well mixed up. Then, while the ninja is running, I flip open the little spout lid and I SLOWLY add in my sunflower oil with a dropper. The recipe calls for olive oil or sunflower or a combination of both. I actually used 3/4 C sunflower oil and 1/4 C olive oil. I have tried it with straight olive oil and the taste was way too strong for me. Joe wouldn’t even eat it. He was then upset there wasn’t any Hidden Valley in the house and said I ruined his salads! He has been much happier since I started using more of the sunflower oil. You have to add it really really slowly or it won’t stay together when you are done. I start out one drip at a time, then can start adding it faster as I go. This is what it looks like when I am all done.

Here’s the original recipe from Nourishing Traditions

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-type mustard (click her for GAPS friendly recipe)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whey, optional
  • 3/4 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil or expeller pressed sunflower oil or a combination (I use 3/4 C sunflower oil and 1/4 C olive oil)
  • generous pinch Sea Salt
Homemade mayonnaise imparts valuable enzymes, particularly lipase, to sandwiches, tuna salad, chicken salads and many other dishes and is very easy to make in a food processor. The addition of whey will help your mayonnaise last longer, adds enzymes and increases nutrient content. Use sunflower oil if you find that olive oil gives too strong a taste. Homemade mayonnaise will be slightly more liquid than sore-bought versions.

In your food processor, place egg, egg yolk, mustard, salt, honey and lemon juice and optional whey. Process until well blended, about 30 seconds. Using the attachment that allows you to add liquids drop by drop, add olive oil and/or sunflower oil with the motor running. Taste and check seasoning. You may want to add more salt and lemon juice. If you have added whey, let the mayonnaise sit at room temperature, well covered, for 7 hours before refrigerating. With whey added, mayonnaise will keep several months and will become firmer with time. Without whey, mayonnaise will keep for about 2 weeks.

So there ya have it!!

And what do you do with those leftover egg whites? I put them individually in ice trays in the freezer and use them for other recipes that call for egg whites.

Homemade Whey

There are a few different ways to make whey. I have only made mine one way, so I will share that with you. I start with some really good whole milk yogurt. Look at the ingredients, try to find one with nothing in it except milk and cream. Even if it's organic, they still sometimes put some funky stuff in there. I use the Kalona Super Natural Brand whole milk yogurt (5%!). Its so good in smoothies too!

Speaking of the Kalona Super Natural Brand, if you can get your hands on their whole milk cottage cheese... wow! I was never a freak about cottage cheese until I had this stuff.

I bought some cheese cloth from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I dumped my yogurt into the cheese cloth and hung it above a bowl. I tie it to my wine glass rack under my kitchen cabinet. You could tie it to the handle of your kitchen cabinet door too. Mine don’t have any handles. It hangs there for about 24 hrs while all of the whey drips out of it into the bowl. Then I store the whey in a mason jar in the fridge for several months. I use it in my mayo, but I also add it to smoothies and other foods to add more nutritional value. You can also use it to make lots of other condiments to not only preserve their shelf life, but add nutrition. What’s left in the cheesecloth is cream cheese! You can use it however you want. I recently made an amazing cheese ball with it and took it to a party for an appetizer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mini Cheesecake Muffins

My sister tried these at a party the other day and shared the recipe with me. You can whip them up and have them in the oven in just a couple of minutes and be on your way. They taste like cheesecake and they are oooooh sooooo good!!

2 8oz packages cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 C sweetener of choice (I used 1/2 C Erythritol and 1/8 tsp pure stevia extract powder)
1 Tb cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix it all together, Put it in muffin pan in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes (or when they are not as shiny on the top) then turn the oven off, crack the door open, and let it cool in the oven for about an hour.

They bake up, then shrink back down once you turn the oven off. They only end up being about a 1/2 " to 3/4" tall, but they are sure tasty!

Love these!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ~ Buddha

The quote in my title really resonates with me and where I find myself today. The subject of this post has been a long time coming and I could never articulate how important of a role it has come to play in my life.

After the birth of my daughter I started becoming more concerned about my diet and nutrition. I had always tried to eat healthy and had always tried to keep weight off. It was something that was always a work in progress for me, actually, and I was always jealous of other people that could eat whatever they wanted and never seem to gain any weight. I wish I had been more concerned while pregnant, but unfortunately I wasn't. I do feel more confident going into our next pregnancy. After gaining 70 lbs while I was pregnant and only losing 45 after delivery, eating healthy and 5 months of breastfeeding, I knew something had to be done. Even more important to me, I was starting to worry about what I was going to feed the munchkin to give her the best start in life.

So I started making little basic changes. Eating even more fruits and veggies, cooking more from scratch. I think the most significant thing that sticks out to me, the turning point to the complete overhaul in our family's diet, was when I started to look up ideas to get more protein into the munchkin's diet. I had been reading some ideas on websites about giving babies tofu. It was soft and plain and could be easily mixed with other foods. I had tried tofu before and had always been turned off by it, but I thought if I could mix it with other yummy stuff, this could be an option. Since I wasn't very familiar with tofu, other then that it was a product of soy, I started to do some research. My findings were disturbing to say the least. To be honest, they kinda scared the shit out of me.

I am not going to go into a lot of detail here about soy, other then that it is truly toxic for your body on many levels and particular on the bodies of children. You don't have to take my word for it, simply google "dangers of soy" and you will come up with all the information you need. Just a little research on the FDA's database of trials and studies of soy will show you the disturbing results and all of the studies that warn about its dangerous effects on the body.

Here's a list of studies that have been going on since the 1930s

I could give you links to hundreds of articles, with plenty of references and researched information with lots of stats and studies to back up this info, but if you really cared enough you could find it for yourself pretty easily. I will give you one link that sums it up pretty good, along with references and then you can decide for yourself. This explains how and why it has infiltrated our market so aggressively and how it is has been passed off as edible health food.

Soy Dangers

It took me a few months of digging and research to finally believe it. It wasn't any easy pill to swallow. I loved edamame. I had even given it to the munchkin a couple of times. I went through every item in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and threw out any item that had soy or a bi-product of soy in it. I couldn't believe how much stuff I had to throw out. This shit was every where. I was pissed to say the least, that this crap was being passed off as a health food and was being eaten in such large masses by unsuspecting people.

Luckily organic fermented soy is somewhat okay, as in miso soup and soy sauce (what would I dip my sushi in?!) and might actually have health benefits. Fermenting the soy changes the composition of it. Organic insures it is not made from GMOs.

My anger and the shock of what I had been learning really got me to thinking. What else were we eating that I wasn't aware of? Were there other things in our diet that were really bad for us. This started my quest to learn as much as I could, good and bad, about food and it's effects on our bodies, both emotionally and physically. I wanted to be educated and provide my family with food that was good for us, food that would make us feel good and live longer, healthier lives. After over a year of pretty intense research on the subject (seriously, almost all of my free time has been spent on this, I became pretty obsessed), I feel confident in my knowledge and where this path has lead me to today. There is still so much to learn and find out, and I get really excited about new discoveries every day. It's not just the food that I am so interested in, but the science behind how it effects our bodies and what happens to it once it gets past our mouths.

I also have to remind myself, almost every day, that not everyone is as passionate about this subject as I am. I too, was once much less concerned, and I have to try to keep that in mind. I sometimes catch myself going on too much about something (like the dangers of soy) and have to tell myself to shut up. Just because you care, doesn't mean they do. But the problem is, I care about them, and I sometimes just can't help myself. But I really don't want to be that person who is always talking about something no one wants to hear about. So for the most part, I keep to myself unless it happens to come up in conversation or someone wants to talk about it.

I don't want my blog to turn into a "food and nutrition blog". I just want to add to what it already is. My blog is a story about my family and our lives. Its a place where I can go to share my thoughts and ideas. A place I can blow off steam or share my passion about a particular subject. I would be absolutely thrilled if some of the information I relay about this could help someone else, but whether it does or not, it is such a huge part of my life now, that it will naturally become a part of my blog as well.

It's not just cooking healthy, but cooking in general that I have really come to love, even more then ever before. I spend so much time in the kitchen now, trying new recipes and experimenting with old ones, that I have more fun with it and have alot more confidence. I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, but now it's with a purpose. I feel what I am doing in the kitchen is having a huge impact on the livelihoods of my family and my daughter's future. I really do feel that what we eat on a daily basis is that important! I can't help but take great pride in that and to feel accomplished when I am done preparing a meal.

“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.”
~ Earl Nightingale

I have cut out processed foods, refined sugars and flours, and preservatives. We are eating real, whole foods and I have never felt better in my life. I buy mostly organic, to avoid the toxins from foods sprayed with pesticides, and have recently started buying 100% grassfed beef from a local source. Basically, if it doesn't grow from the ground, come from an animal, or have ingredients in it that are man-made or chemically concocted in a lab, I most likely will not eat it. To some, it might seem extreme (at first), but I know it is making a huge difference in our lives and our health. I see proof of it over and over.

We simply eat more simply. That's the simplest way to put it.

Here is a great overview:
Nutritional Guidelines

I am not, however, a total nazi about it that I will never eat anything with preservatives in it or won't eat at a restaurant. I just do what I can, when I can, and don't worry about it when I can't. I still go out to eat on occassion and have dinner with friends or go to parties and eat whatever is on the spread. I pretty much go with the 80/20 rule. I don't want to have lot of posts similar to this one, I just wanted to put this out there. I know it will turn some people off and that really sucks, because I hope that I won't be judged negatively for it. It's something I have become kind of accustomed to though, it's really strange and I am not really sure why it happens. Just bringing a healthy appetizer to a party, has gotten me some really odd reactions, but there's really not much I can do about it. I am grateful for my amazing, wonderful friends that do share in this same passion, along with the ones that don't and have atleast humored me.

So there you have it. An overview of my journey and how I got to where I am now. I still want my blog to be about me, whatever that may entail, about my family (especially the munchkin) and about whatever I feel like sharing, I don't want it to take a new direction, but I do want to share more about what I have learned and some good recipe concoctions. I hope others will take from it what they will and maybe even be inspired to do some research of their own. I want to be all preachy about what people should or shouldn't be eating. To each his own. I just wanted to give a basic background of where all these new recipes and ideas are coming from and also to explain why I have been so MIA for a while.

Although eating really healthy and following my new guidelines would have eventually gotten me to my weight-loss goals, it doesn't explain how it came off so quickly. My current eating habits will keep my weight from going back up, but I did get some help. In July of last year, my sister told me that she was going to do the Homeopathic HCG diet and gave me a brief overview of what all that entailed. To be honest it didn't sound healthy. I started to research it heavily because I was worried about my sister. The more I read, the more I understood it, and the better it sounded. I did 3 rounds of the diet between July 2010 and January 2011, taking a few months off inbetween around events and holidays. I lost 45 lbs total between the hcg diet and my new eating habits.  Knowing what I know now, however, I would NOT recommend the HCG diet as a healthy way to lose weight.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Healthy Fried Fish (Low carb and gluten free, GAPS)

Much to my hubby's delight, I have been making fried chicken lately. It's actually healthy and good for you and it's something that we both love and are on bored with. That doesn't usually happen with many things with the word "fried" in it. That is, until I discovered coconut oil. I have been using it for a while now and wish I had discovered this stuff 10 years ago. Not only is it sooo good for you, with a long list of health benefits, it also has a much higher smoking point then most oils on the market that turn into trans fats at a much lower temp then you would think (or want to think). It can also help with weight management, as it actually speeds up your metabolism when you include it in your diet regularly.

This particular article, I have bookmarked and re-read and go over sometimes. It not only discusses coconut oil but saturated fats in general and why they are so good for you and why we NEED them. It also gives lots of great info on what fats to avoid and why. If you can get past all the technical mumbo jumbo and just get the basics from the article, it is a huge eye opener and really expanded upon what I had been learning, and really made me feel good about our family's food choices. It's a long article, but very well worth the read.

Coconut Oil and Its Virtues

For some "lighter" reading, here's a couple of articles about coconut oil that might be interesting to you:
Coconut Oil Burns Fat
Coconut oil can help your thryroid

So backed to the fried chicken. Basically, I started breading the chicken in coconut flour and frying it on the stove top in coconut oil. As Joe put it, "It tastes just like fried chicken!" This is especially exciting for him, as he pretty much grew up on fried chicken and I have never made it for him once until I started using coconut oil.

Over the weekend, I decided to mix it up a little by using some of the fresh tilapia I had picked up at Whole Foods. I changed up the seasonings a little bit and it was delicious. It got everyone's seal of approval. Especially the munchkin's! She couldn't shovel it into her face fast enough. As soon as she took her first bite, she smiled real big and looked at us and said "MMMMMMMM"!

I set up my assembly line. First we have our tilapia filets, rinsed, dried and seasoned with salt and pepper. In the next bowl, I scrambled up a couple of eggs. Then the final bowl, I have my coconut flour seasoned with some garlic powder, tarragon, onion powder and paprika... you can really use whatever you want.

I heat up my pan to just a little above medium and add in a few tablespoons of coconut oil. This stuff is outrageous at the stores locally. I order mine online for a much better price. I get the 54 oz tub and it lasts a LONG time. I use it almost every day for all kinds of things. I use it to grease my cake and muffin pans too. I also order my coconut flour from the same company. One bag goes a long way. I have some delicious baked goods recipes that I use this stuff for. Like these Banana nut muffins. Yummo!!

Salt and pepper the fish.

Dip it in your eggs.

Turn it around all over in your coconut flour mix until evenly coated.

Fry 'em up in your pan! I usually cook them until they are evenly browned all over. It doesn't take too long to cook, usually once it has browned and looks a little crispy its done, maybe about 15 minutes.

I usually have to not only flip them, but rotate them as well so they get brown on both halves, not just the half sitting towards the middle. I also leave out my tub of coconut oil and keep adding more as the fish soak it up and it gets dry in there.

And this is what they look like when they are done. Seriously, they were fantastic! What I love about using the coconut flour/oil combo is that it doesn't impart a strong coconut flavor like you would maybe think, just a hint of it. And it is wonderful.

I was not exaggerating. She was seriously shoveling this into her mouth!

We just picked up some pastured pork chops from a local farmer and we are going to try them out breaded in the coconut flour and fried in the coconut oil too. This recipe is so versatile, it could be used for lots of different proteins, like shrimp and even veggies, tempura style!

Superbowl Sunday

For Superbowl Sunday we had some friends over to watch the game. Ofcourse, being the sports fan that I am, I didn't even know who was playing until that day. But for me, it's not about the game. I just love getting together with my peeps and eating up some yummy food!

I made some homemade crackers (I subbed olive oil for the yucky canolo oil) and served them with cheese slices, Cremini mushrooms stuffed with grassfed beef and aged english cheddar, Dip consisting of cheese, rotel and pork sausage (the hubs nicknamed this crack dip years ago and that is now what everyone calls it), and ofcourse the Cake Pops. Everyone else brought food too, so we had quite a spread. Before everyone arrived I grabbed a photo of Joe and myself. I hardly have any pics of the two of us together. I need to work on that.

And ofcourse I had to take a pic of the munchkin too, who now says "cheese" really loud when she sees a camera and smiles really big. She's so awesome.

My girl Anna came over early. This was nice, we could sit and chat while I got the food ready and before everyone else arrived. She also helped entertain the munchkin for me.

A few of my girls, Anna, Brenda and Amber chatting around the table.

We welcomed everyone to bring their children, but only one playmate showed up. Rhys and the munchkin get along really well. He doesn't even mind all her girly toys and playing tea party with her.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Healthy Cake Pops? No Way! (sugar free • gluten free • low carb • dairy free)

Healthy Cake Pops?! Is that even possible? Are they actually any good? I was on a quest to find out... and it turns out that you can, in fact, make cake pops that are not only healthy and nutritious for you, but delicious too!

I initially decided to make these for our superbowl party with my friend Gina's son in mind. He has food allergies and I wanted him to be able to eat the dessert that all of the other kids were eating too. He can't have gluten or dairy and I also wanted to make them sugar free, without the use of any "fake sugars" or highly processed alternatives either. I knew this wasn't going to be easy, but I figured there had to be a way.

My sister makes traditional cake pops often and they are always a huge hit. All she does is make a boxed cake, crumble it up, mix in icing with the already baked cake, roll into balls and coat them with different flavors of candy coating. They are yummy and everyone raves about them. Plus, they are super cute to boot!

I wanted to try to take that idea and make it healthy and safe for my gluten-free, dairy-free little friend. Ofcourse, there are no recipes out there for this, that I could find. So I had to kinda wing it. I might make some adjustments in the future to play around with it a little more, but I was pretty happy with the results and everyone who tried them at the party really like them as well. No one could believe they were actually good for you!

I started by making a chocolate cake with almond flour, some baking soda, sea salt, eggs, vanilla extract, unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened apple sauce and a little pure stevia extract powder. I was pretty excited when it came out of the oven actually resembling a chocolate cake! You can see some tiny apple chunks in it. I only had chunky applesauce on hand, which I tried to mash up further but obviously not enough. Next time I would definitely use a more creamy applesauce. It was a last minute decision to add it in, and I had to work with what I had.

After I took the first pic, my camera flaked out on me. It started (sorta) working again the next day. So the rest of the pics are taken with my blackberry. Sorry for the crappiness! I am working on getting a new camera for Valentine's Day. I have been drooling over a particular one and am long overdue.... wish me luck!

After I baked the cake and let it cool completely, I added in some rasberry fruit spread (instead of the icing my sister usually uses) and mashed it all around. I got this idea from a recipe from Elana's Pantry. I also used her chocolate cake recipe for inspiration, but she uses agave nectar, which is actually worse for you then high fructose corn syrup, so I had to change things up quite a bit. If you have been using this in an attempt to be healthy, please do some research and consider another alternative. Agave nectar is really no good for you at all.

I love the Trader Joe brand fruit spreads. They are delicious and are only sweetened with fruit juice. I love them in the morning with breakfast on some toast or a muffin!

Once the fruit spread was mixed throughout, I rolled little 1" balls in my hands and placed them on parchment paper to cool in the freezer for a couple of hours while I ran some errands.

After I got back, I melted down a chocolate baking bar and added a little vanilla and stevia. I used a Sunspire organic unsweetened baking bar that I found at Whole Foods. There was nothing icky added to this bad boy when it was made, nothing but pure unsweetened chocolate. I then stuck the lollipop sticks into the balls and dipped them into the melted chocolate. I stuck each one in a styrofoam block to cool. They didn't take long, as the frozen cake balls cooled the melted chocolate pretty quickly.

Here are the lollipop sticks and treat bags I used to assemble the cake pops.

After they cooled, I pulled a treat bag over the top and tied it with a ribbon. I think strings would work better, but I already had the ribbons on hand.

Here is the full recipe. If you try them out, please let me know!

Healthy Chocolate Cake Pops
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free
Makes about 50 Cake Pops

Special Equipment Needed:

Lollipop Sticks
Styrofoam blocks
Small Treat bags
Ribbon or String

For Chocolate Cake Insides:
  • 4 cups almond flour (not almond meal)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cup applesauce
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder
  • 1 C Raspberry Fruit Spread, no sugar added (for after the cake is baked)
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Grease a 13x9-inch cake pan with coconut oil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and stevia with a large whisk.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract with large whisk.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour Batter into cake pan.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool completely before moving on to the next step.
  9. Crumble cake in large bowl and mix/mash in raspberry fruit spread until well combine.
  10. Roll mixture into 1" balls and place on a tray covered in parchment paper.
  11. Set cake balls in Freezer for atleast 1 hour.

Chocolate Candy Coating
  • 2 (4oz) unsweetened 100% Cacao chocolate baking bar
  • pure stevia extract powder, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Melt Chocolate in a small sauce pan over very low heat.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and stevia to taste. Start with a very small amount of stevia, taste, then add more if needed.
  3. Once melted and mixed together, insert lollipop sticks into cake balls and dip into melted chocolate.
  4. Insert into a styrofoam block until cooled.

Final Assembly
Once the cake pops have cooled completely and candy coating has hardened, place a treat bag over each pop and tie with a ribbon. Store them in the refrigerater until ready to serve.


I have added this recipe to the Monday Mania Carnival. You can check out lots of other whole foods recipes there too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Photo Update of the Munchkin and A few Other pics for fun... Oh and a Video...

I haven't posted any pics in a long time, so I am throwing up a few from the last couple of months.

Crayons at the sitters house. I leave my camera in her diaper bag and sometimes I get surprise pics on it!

Snuggling up with the grinch...

Checking out the tree with dad...

All ready for the snow...

Running around in the snow. This didn't last too long, it was way too cold and windy!

Sharing Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans with her cousin...

Michele, myself and Amy at Erin's Christmas party...

Me and Michele...


Cutie Pie!

Joe and I on Christmas Eve...

The Munchkin on Christmas Eve. She managed to find something to stir...

Christmas Morning!!

She loved her new Doggy book. One of her first words were "goggy".

My little niece Q.

She was obsessed with this shower scrubber...

My parents with all of their grandchildren. They had all girls and their girls had All girls (s0 far)!

The Munchkin with her grandpa...

Snuggling on the couch...

We got her this Rody horse for Christmas and she just finally started riding on it and enjoying it the other day. She can't quite get off of it on her own yet because his tail gets in her way, so she just rides on it for a while and then says "down" when she's ready to get off.

Today I am working on a gluten free, dairy free, sugar free cake.... I'll let you know how it goes!