My First Gluten Free Thanksgiving

And it was downright delicious.

We were created to eat!
The eating experience is as much a part of living as breathing.
The natural cycle is to eat, become satisfied, take a break—then eat to get satisfied again.
There’s no getting past it.
We are wired to get satisfied from food
~Trim Healthy Mama, p37~

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I love to eat.
And in my very honest moments, I have to admit that giving up food and wine felt like more than I could manage.
What I eat and what I drink are little moments of joy throughout the day—the things I think about, plan around, daydream about.
No one changes their life until the pain level is unmanageable, and in all sorts of ways for me, the pain level had reached the unmanageable point. …
I felt like I wasn’t living in the same world everyone else was living in.
It was like choosing to live with the volume turned all the way down, or going to the beach but not being able to put my feet in the ocean.
My senses were starving. …
There has to be a way to live with health and maturity and intention while still honoring the part of me that loves to eat, that sees food as a way to nurture and nourish both my body and my spirit.
~Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine, p137~

Keeping our home, Together

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Do not sigh while you are washing the dishes. Do not have a pity party, and do not teach your children to act this way, because they will learn from your example. If you work cheerfully and use the time well, you will teach them to enjoy their work too!
~Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics, pg215~

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Some find the idea of working with children impossible. This is a wrong perspective to have. Children do not need constant entertainment and play. They need to be learning from you. Even on big project days, they can and should be learning from you. With the right attitude from you, they will learn that work is satisfying and fun. You just need to plan carefully to make the process conducive to learning and fun.
~Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics, pg291~

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Managing the kitchen well makes everyone’s time in the kitchen more productive and enjoyable. When the kitchen is well-kept, creativity flourishes.
~Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics, pg282~

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Lower your expectations and realize that as long as we all choose to walk around clothed, the laundry will never really be finished. If we live fully in a home, there will be messes. Why does that surprise us and make us feel guilty? As long as we eat, walk, and need places to sit down, the kitchen sink will have a few dirty dishes in it and the living room will never be clutter-free for long.
~Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place, p50~

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Recipes

It is rare these days that I find recipes for sweetish things that I love and can eat. No gluten, no sugar, no oats, no rye or malt or barley.
So here are a few new finds that I am really enjoying. I should figure out how to replace the maple syrup with medjool dates… but I haven’t yet. I am cheating on my sugar free aspect a little with a wee bit of maple syrup. Sue me. 😉

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Breakfast Bars

  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup unsalted nuts
  • ¼ cup raisins (and/or other sugar free dried fruit)
  1. In a small bowl, combine almond flour, salt and baking soda
  2. In a large bowl, combine oil, maple and vanilla
  3. Stir dry ingredients into wet
  4. Mix in coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts and fruits
  5. Grease an 8×8 inch baking dish
  6. Press the dough into the baking dish, wetting your hands with water to help pat the dough down evenly
  7. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes
  8. Cool bars in pan for 2 hours, then serve

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Gluten Free & Grain Free Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nut butter (I actually used sunbutter)
  • 2 medium sized bananas (The more ripe, the sweeter!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut, raisins, seeds or nuts, dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, and/or anything else you can think of.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor.
  3. Blend until well mixed.
  4. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin. You can also use a mini muffin tin to make 24 mini muffins.
  5. Add additional toppings of your choice to each muffin and lightly stir into each cup
  6. Cook time: 15 minutes for full size muffins and 10 minutes for mini muffins.
  7. Reheat in a toaster oven for about 4 minutes at 350 degrees F, or eat at room temperature.

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And I made this cobbler for a Sabbath meal with friends, where the hubby is gluten free. I couldn’t eat it because of the sugar (I could probably have figured out a way to make it without sugar, but I didn’t bother… not worth it for a fruit dessert I wouldn’t have loved much anyway!), but he said it was probably the best gluten free dessert he’s had. 🙂 I could easily make this vegan by using coconut oil instead of butter, and almond milk instead of dairy milk. But I didn’t and it was delicious! Of course. Nothing is better than butter in dessert!!

Gluten-Free Peach Cobbler

1 stick of butter, melted
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour mix
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. each cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
2 cups chopped peaches (or any other kind of berries/fruit)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 3-quart baking dish with butter.  Whisk together flour, 1 cup sugar, and baking powder. Stir in milk, vanilla and then the melted butter. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the fruit evenly over the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over top. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until golden.

More of this!

Can I ever be fed, and need no more food?
Can I ever sleep and need no more rest?
Can I ever feel my wife beside me as we watch
living, eternal, laughing things we were used to create,
and not want to see them again tomorrow?

~N.D. Wilson, Death by Living, p61~

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My Diet & Me

I realized this morning that I don’t think I ever officially “came out” on my blog here.

I am now “one of THOSE PEOPLE” on a crazy food diet.

Yep. Hello. That’s me over there in the gluten free section at the health food store, scouring ingredient labels for any type of sugar or sweetener. And while I have not quite cut out dairy (I just don’t know if I can do it, because I just don’t know if it would make a difference that would actually make the sacrifice worth it for me at this point in my story), I have spent the last nine weeks diligently watching what food goes into my body.

No gluten. Which is super duper easy these days because it’s such a stinkin fad that there are gluten free replacement options for pretty much anything you could possibly desire to make or eat.

No sugar. And by “sugar” I mean any type of sweetener that is not inherently in whole fruits and vegetables that I’m consuming.
My one cheat on this is a teaspoon of natural maple syrup in my morning coffee. And even that, I’m thinking I may need to cut.

The rest of my family is not on the food restrictions that I am. This, of course, has pros and cons associated with it. Main pro being that I can still cook whatever I want to for them, and I don’t have to deal with fussy little people missing amazing things like graham crackers, brown sugar on oatmeal, lemonade, or Sabbath ice cream. Main con being that I still have to see and smell and serve some pretty enticing things, and I can’t so much as nibble a tiny taste of them.

The gluten and sugar are the two main contingents that I have been focused on eliminating, but to the best of my ability, I have been aiming for a diet that holds to the anti inflammatory diet. And if you know me, you know I am soooooooo not a diet person. This is NOT MY GIG! 🙂
But my immune system is askew. I have immunological problems lurking beneath the surface that are not responding to treatments. My body is suffering. My heart is breaking. My family is effected. My future dreams are on hold, at the very least.

So while I have yet, nine weeks into this thing, to see or feel or notice any difference whatsoever… on bloodwork, on how I feel, on how I look… I am praying that God would use this small offering to bring blessing, relief, progress, healing, fruitfulness.
Would you pray for God to bless this offering with me?

And while I mostly rely on my own creativity to pull together foods and snacks from what I find in my fridge and pantry, and enjoy browsing Deliciously Ella and Wholefood Simply for additional ideas, if anyone else glances around here with bright ideas, I would love more recipes and ideas. Comment or link away!

New Recipes

I am now cultivating a new habit in the kitchen! Due to the alarming rate at which my family consumes yogurt, I am now making our own yogurt! I can make 4 quarts + 1 pint for $3. Nothing wrong with that, especially when it is so easy to do!! I am so thankful that I can do this, in order to bless my family and be wise with what God has given us. I have habitually spent around $1.50 per day on yogurt, and while that meant it came in handy little serving-sized-packages where we had access to as many as six flavors in the fridge at a time, that just really adds up quickly and somehow when I figured out it doesn’t have to be that expensive, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried this before! We like to just stir a little spoonful of homemade jam into our fresh yogurt; right now I only have strawberry and peach jams (just didn’t get around to making any other kinds this last summer), but I’ve found that applesauce or honey also make good yogurt flavoring additions.

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The other thing I recently tried (for Steven’s birthday, which happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year) was a layered sweet potato cheesecake. Completely delicious, and worth adding to the books to do again sometime. The only alteration I made (if I remember correctly) was that instead of a completely graham cracker crust, I did half pretzels and half graham crackers. Oh wait, one more addition: I added some cinnamon and nutmeg to the sour cream topping to spice it up. 🙂

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Autumn Baking

Anyone who knows me knows (or should know!) that I love baking. It could be considered a passion, or perhaps sometimes even border on a crutch. When I’m happy, when I’m stressed, when I’m nesting, when I’m ministering… I bake. Thankfully, I am also finding that my children love baking too, so it is something we get to do together. In addition, it seems that just about everyone I meet is easily blessed by baked things! Breads, scones, cookies, pastries, desserts… you name it, I have not yet found that an offering of baked things turned down or unappreciated.

I love to bake, and I love to bless people. Combining these things is even more fun! God is kind to make that combination possible, and to make it so full of joy.

Lately, with temperatures dropping, I have been taking advantage of using the oven to warm up the center of our home. Our freezer is full. I’ve been taking goods to people in need (and to people not in particular need). I also got to bake desserts for a recent baptism feast and host a company dessert & wine party. I’ve shared slices of spiced cake or crumbly scones alongside piping hot cups of tea to ladies who stop by for a visit. Asher has even discovered the glories of things made with leaven and expresses his delight in the flapping of arms and loud vocal exclamations. Gabriel has learned that everything from mixing ingredients to smelling goodness oozing from the oven to admiring the visual appeal to devouring the finished product with our tongues & teeth & tastebuds can be positively exhilarating.

And for tonight’s dinner menu? I will be trying my hand at an American comfort food: chicken and waffles. It may sound odd, but trust me ~ it is exquisite when done right! Fried chicken that will be moist but not over-oily and waffles made with yeast & buttermilk… topped either with maple syrup or a spicy gravy (or a combination!)… Oh boy. Y’all should join our table tonight. Better yet: try it out for yourselves and see how much blessing you can heap upon those around your table.

Aaaaahhhh, the glories and warmth and blessing and sweetness of baked things!

It reminds me that it’s just one more way I can be a tiny image-bearer, imitating some of the good things our Father does and will do! It reminds me of His glorious feast yet to come, and makes my mouth water for the glory of things yet to come!

Isaiah 25:6

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

Valentine Goodness

Valentine’s Day morning included lots of cuddling and floor-playtime.

As part of his special Valentine’s lunch, Gabriel got to paint bread before eating it. 🙂 Also known as cheap entertainment that lasts 15+ minutes, brought to you by mixing two drops of red food coloring into a couple tablespoons of water.

While my parents took four of their grandchildren out on a Valentine’s date, Steven cooked dinner for me. Grilled steak topped with a garlic, mushroom, and red wine sauce. Israeli couscous, sweet corn, and chianti wine accompanied the deliciousness. Wow. Yum. My husby is a true gourmet!

And I spent a lot of time in the kitchen yesterday too. First I made another type of gourmet popcorn. Cinnamon Cookie Crunch Popcorn. Super tasty. Another winner. I plan on tweaking it a bit and trying Cookies And Cream Popcorn soon. (Yes, I’m on a gourmet popcorn kick…)

But what took the majority of my Valentine’s Day was dessert. While Steven does dinner, I provide the dessert. And this year I tried my hand at a crepe cake. Wow. So much work, largely because it takes a long time to make 40+ crepes with only one small skillet! I made chocolate crepes, cream custard for the filling, and chocolate ganache to top it. It may be a heart attack waiting to happen, but it’s downright incredible. A true hit.

Bagels

We love bagels, but they’re one of those rare treats in our home. It’s probably a good thing that we don’t have a Noah’s Bagels in our town. 🙂 But the bagel-bug bit me recently, so I decided to make them myself! Oh boy. Delicious. And while they may have been a little bit time-consuming, they were super simple and well worth it. I made a small batch, and did a few plain, a few poppyseed, and a few cinnamon-sugar. I highly recommend trying these. They are chewy and spot-on. Slather on the cream cheese and you’ve got yourself the most mouth-watering bagel treats you could imagine.

BAGELS

Ingredients

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1.25 – 1.5 cups warm water
  • poppy seeds, sesame seeds or any other toppings

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except toppings) in a bowl. You want to incorporate all the flour, but your dough will be stiff. Only add the water as needed until the flour is incorporated.
  2. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth, either in a mixer or by hand.
  3. Cut the dough into 8 balls and let it sit, covered, for about 15 minutes. While this is happening, get a large pot of water boiling (enough so that the bagels won’t touch the bottom while being boiled), with a couple tablespoons of baking soda in the water.
  4. Take each dough ball and roll it into a foot long snake using your hands. Keeping your hand in the middle of the dough snake and use your other hand to bring the two ends together such that the dough is fully wrapped around your hand. Rotate the dough around so that the part where the two ends come together is under your palm. Press down to make the ends come together. (If this doesn’t work, you can also flatten one end, place the other end in it, and then wrap the dough around it to encase one end of the dough in the other.)
  5. You should now have eight balls of dough with a circle in them. Let them rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 while you wait, and grease a cookie sheet  so that the bagels don’t stick to it.
  6. Once your water is at a persistent boil, place a few bagels in the water (you don’t want them crowded). Boil on each side for about 1 minute.
  7. Take the bagels out of the water (use a spatula or something, as they are obviously very hot.) If you are using poppy seed, sesame seed or any other topping, sprinkle some onto the bagel on each side. Alternatively, you can lay some on a plate and press the bagel into it.
  8. Once all the bagels have been boiled, place them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes on each side.  If your bagels are too puffy after the first side cooks, flip them over so that the cooked side is pointing up, and flatten them using the head of a spatula.
  9. Let the bagels cool, and enjoy with cream cheese or your other favorite spreads/toppings.

Baking Bread with my Big Boy

I know this articleis going around a lot online (at least in the reformed community) right now, and I’ve heard that people are specifically tweeting, facebooking, and blogging this quote from it:

A friend of mine, a homeschool mom, just passed away of cancer. In the week before she died, I asked her if she had any regrets in her life. She told me she wished she had baked less bread – she said if she had it to do over again she would buy bread and spend more time with her children.

But pardon me, if I may: one thing that I will not say on my death bed is that I wish I would have baked less bread. One of the best memories I can give my child(ren) is the gift of cooking & baking alongside me. (Perhaps that was this woman’s downfall? Shoving her kids aside and separating spending time with her children from doing other work? I don’t know, I can’t say, just reading between the lines in this out-of-context quote. And yes, I did read the entire article: and no, I did not very much like it.) Sharing in work and play and joy together. Learning and talking and laughing. Dumping in fluffy flour, making messes, punching down squishy dough, cleaning the messes & washing the dishes together while listening to music, watching the dough rise and being amazed at how it grows, smelling the deliciousness of baking all the way from the backyard where we took a soccer break, slathering on the butter when the bread was still steaming, and biting into the warm & crunchy goodness. So I just want to offer my perspective here. If there is one thing I am attempting to do more in my motherhood, it is include my child(ren) more in “my” world. If I were to die tomorrow, I would be so incredibly thankful that I have taken the time to (among other things) cook and bake from scratch, and include my child(ren) in the process, because it is life-changing and joy-giving for all of us ~ not because it is part of what will sanctify myself or my children, because the method makes no difference, but because it is such a beautiful opportunity to work together, rejoice together, and share together in some of God’s goodness.

I’ve got photo evidence of my big boy’s bread-baking joy for you. Wish you could hear his glee, feel the freshly ground grain in between your fingers, smell the rich bread, and share a crusty loaf with us. It’s like God’s goodness for all of my senses right here, right now. We’re loving it; and Gabriel especially loves his own little miniature round loaves. 🙂