Gluten and Dairy-Free Weekly Menu

My family has gone through many, many, MANY menus over the years! Almost every 6 months we change the menu…but it’s always been a weekly plan. The reason for this is that we enjoy eating the same things over and over- and a week between each meal seems to be just the right amount of time. Also, it’s kind of hard to think of more than 7 meals at a time that everyone likes. So recently, as you know, my family has started a gluten and dairy-free journey into health. We are all “O” blood types, which just happen to not tolerate gluten and dairy. So this whole time, we’ve been feeding ourselves gluten and dairy galore without knowing it! Now there has to be some major changes. So I wrote out this menu that I will share (with some collaboration from my family : ) I’m actually feeling kind of bittersweet about it- because I know that eating well will gain us some immense benefits…but on the other hand, there goes all the enjoyable meals we’ve had and in comes spinach and kale. Yay! (I’m trying to make myself love this diet.) Like any diet, you know it’s good for you, but it’s hard to accept it. But I’m trying. Now note that this menu has NO gluten, but we may have dairy in some of the salad dressings and maybe butter on some of the veggies. We’re trying to give ourselves a little leeway on the dairy, because really- a little dairy makes all that tasty spinach taste so much better : )

Sunday: Pot roast w/ sweet potatoes (potatoes aren’t good for our blood type but we do splurge on Thursday)

Monday– Rice and sausage/ stirfry/ chicken and rice with broccili

Tuesday– Soups: Chili, vegetable beef, chicken noodle

Wednesday– Taco dip/ Mexicali hamburger cabbage casserole

Thursday– Potato dish: Shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak w/beef

Friday– Vegetarian quiche with eggs, broccoli, and spinach

Saturday– Maid rites in lettuce wraps (this is pretty much just hamburger in lettuce)

Side dishes: coleslaw, carrot slaw, Quinoa, broccoli salad, tossed salad, kale chips, cooked green beans, broccoli, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes

Happy New Year!

I’m so thankful to have begun a new year- especially since so often I just take it for granted that I’m alive. To have started 2015 is just such a blessing and right now I’m praying that I’ll use it in the best way I can. I would like to encourage everyone out there to make their hopes come true this year. I know that sounds like a Disney line, but seriously, if you have always wanted to do something, and that certain something is worth while…why not do it? If you’ve always wanted to eat healthier and feel better, why wait another year? It’s so important to realize that each year is short- time will keep on moving, and it doesn’t care. So make goals that are doable, and then actually do them. At the beginning of 2016, you can look back and feel good that you did the right thing…and no one should make you regret that. Cheers to a new start!

Christmas Recovery

I am currently trying to recover from a whirlwind of eating, presents, fun, and festivities. I’m so glad we have Christmas- it’s like seriously one of the most wonderful times of the year! I hope everyone had an AMAZING day! New Years’ is coming soon and my sister and I are planning some more healthy snacks to uphold us through the long night : ) Some good healthy snack ideas are the protein bars I’ve mentioned on here before, maybe some sweet potato fries, and some good old gluten-free chex mix. Here are some pictures of our Christmas goodies.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my followers and readers! I hope this Christmas is everything you’ve been waiting for…and that in the midst of gifts, lights, treats, and excitement, you never forget about Jesus. I know it’s so hard when you see presents piled under the tree or cookie plates heaped high…but just as our devotion was this morning, for Christians, Christmas is only an affirmation of everything we believe. We know that when all the presents grow old or break, Jesus is still with us. Here is a prayer for Christmas by Scotty Smith:

Dear Lord Jesus, whether or not you entered our world anywhere close to our December 25th is irrelevant. That you were born—that you actually came from eternity into time and space—not as a metaphor or myth, fable or tale—but as our Savior, that’s what matters.We sing to you on this day with all the humility and felicity we can muster, “Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” We praise, bless, and adore you.
Luke took great care to detail the history of your birth; but it’s the quietness of your birth that is noteworthy. Any other king would’ve come with great fanfare and a royal entourage. But you came into our world in utter stillness and profound weakness. “No room in the inn” wasn’t an insult to you; it was your choice, your plan, the way of the gospel.
For you didn’t consider your equality with God something to be protected or hoarded. Rather, you made yourself “nothing,” becoming one of us—tabernacling among as God in the flesh, the Servant of the Lord. And with measureless humility and joy, you died in our place upon the cross.

    “Mild he lays his glory by. Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see. Hail, the incarnate Deity, pleased, as man, with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel!  Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Hallelujah, so many times over.

     We long for the Day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that you are Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It’s going to be a loud and large Day; but on this Christmas Eve, we humble ourselves, in quietness and stillness, gratefulness and peace. Thank you for coming to us, Lord Jesus—thank you for saving us from our sins. So very Amen we pray, in your great and gracious name. 

Wishing you all a very merry and blessed Christmas!

Holiday Treats

Tonight we are officially starting our Christmas baking, and I thought I should share some of our favorite recipes as well as some new ones. As I’ve said before, we’re trying to keep it healthy this year, but still good. I find that just making something together is fun, no matter what it is. (Okay, it does help to have a sort of nice goal, haha.) First are our favorite “Peanut Blossoms” recipe:

Peanut Blossoms

48 Hershey’s kisses
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 TB. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Granulated sugar

Directions:
Heat oven to 375. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate piece into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Makes: about 4 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

The 2nd recipe is a HEALTHY recipe that my sister found- note: we have not tried this recipe yet. So you may not want to try it until you hear my review, or you may be daring and say “I’m just going to make them anyways!” Either way, they sound good, and I’m hoping they will be : )

Pumpkin Pie Spice Bliss Balls

1 cup fresh Medjool Dates
1 cup Walnuts
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Extra coconut for rolling in

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Roll into small balls and then dust in shredded coconut. Makes: About 15 balls. Enjoy!

The Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Mission

I apologize for not posting in a while, but I just now realized I never published this post ; )
I know that for a lot of people, enjoying food is a big deal. And going on a restrictive diet doesn’t sound like much fun then! Lol, I didn’t think so either. But I would like to tell everyone out there that you gain SO much more by eating well and limiting the gluten and dairy in your diet. You don’t have to eat stewed kale and grainy drinks- you can actually love what you eat! And the very best part is that you feel better after eating. My younger sister has been going through some real digestive issues and has decided that going gluten-free and dairy-free for a while is a good idea. So she’s started making some really good meals for our family that don’t have these two components. I was sick for a while with some digestive stomach flu (something different than my sister) and so once I got better it felt great to eat good nourishing food. Although pretty much anything tastes good after not eating for two days, haha. So anyways, I am going to share the recipe for protein bars that my sister found and made for us today. They were extremely good! Here is her blog address where she is posting more recipes: http://emmegblog.blogspot.com/ As Christmas approaches, I know it may not seem like a great idea to start a diet now- but really, it’s the best time. Christmas is when you eat all the junk food, you gain pounds, feel depressed, and spend weeks afterward working it off and regretting what you ate. So why not just control everything in reach? We’re making some very nutritious cookies for Christmas- full of fiber, protein, and very little sugar (we usually substitute honey).

My final note: Challenge yourself and let this be the Christmas you feel good about all the way through and even afterwards.

Do It Yourself – Homemade Protein Bars

Makes approx. 16 bars (or 1 big bar :).  Depends how big you make ‘em!)
Ingredients:
Base:
2 cups nuts or seeds (almonds, sunflowerpumpkin, or macadamia.  Mixing several kinds is fine too.  Soak and dry these if at all possible.)
½ cup flax meal (flax seeds ground in a blender or spice grinder) (alternatively, use rice bran or protein powder)
½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened and organic if possible)
½ cup seed or nut butter (again, made from soaked and dried nuts is preferable)
3/8 teaspoon salt (I use RealSalt)
½ cup coconut oil (or alternative solid fat.  Use cocoa butter or butter for a more warm weather-stable bar)
2 Tbsp liquid sweetener –  use 1/32 tsp of stevia extract (read my post on stevia here.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Topping:
Top with either my Homemade Chocolate / Carob Bar or melted Homemade Chocolate / Carob Chips (1 cup of chips per bar recipe)
Method
1.  Place nuts or seeds, flax meal, coconut, seed or nut butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
2.  Process until the nuts or seeds are ground into a coarse meal
3.  Melt coconut oil over low heat.  If the temperature of your home is around 76 degrees, you can skip this step and add the oil directly to the food processor as it will be soft enough to process easily.
4.  Add coconut oil, sweeteners and vanilla to processor bowl and process until well combined to form a thick, yet crunchy paste.
5.  Press the mixture into an 8×8 square pan (you can be quite flexible here.  A 9×9 will work just fine.  A larger pan will produce thin bars, while a smaller pan will yield thicker ones.)
6.  Place in refrigerator to chill.
7.  While bars are chilling, prepare Homemade Chocolate / Carob Bar, but don’t harden it.
8.  Top bars with the Homemade Bar.  Alternatively, use your own or my Homemade Chocolate / Carob Chips before melting, or melt and top with those.
9.  Place back in refrigerator to chill (if you can wait that long :-)!)
10.  Cut into squares and serve.
11.  Store in refrigerator.
*I also have used xylitol and erythritol.  Here’s where to buy xylitol and erythritol.
Variations and Notes:
  • Use vegetable glycerine for a low carb version.  If you don’t need low carb, use Sucanat or honey for more natural options.  If  you don’t use glycerine, then 1 scoop stevia extract is a good choice.*)
  • Substitute up to the total amount of the flax meal with the same amount of rice protein for an extra punch of protein.  Nutribiotic makes a great brand from non-GMO brown rice.  You could also use some of this great grass-fed gelatin to firm up the bars and give more protein.
  • Rice bran is a great nutrient-boosting alternative to the flax meal as well.
  • Want to use stevia?  Try my DIY Liquid Stevia Drops recipe.
And enjoy! : )

 

A Healthy Happy Christmas

Christmas-43

I know the title sounds pretty cheesy, but I really do mean it. I was just thinking about what most people look forward to at Christmas (including me)…and this is what I see: food, fun, family, and presents. Yep, that’s about it. So what is it that’s missing? Well I would say first that we’re missing the point. In perspective, think about it like this. If you organized a birthday party for someone and then forgot to (or simply didn’t) invite the birthday person, what is wrong with that picture? You eat his/her cake, you open his/her presents, and you enjoy it. That’s what’s wrong! We’re having a birthday party for Jesus every Christmas, yet I confess, I rarely honor Him and realize that He’s everything beautiful about Christmas. So after this little speech, I want to zero in on the “eating” party right now. Everyone hates feeling full and tired at Christmas. It’s absolutely no fun at all. So how can you have fun and eat at the same time? The answer comes in 3 ways:

1. Moderation. Just whatever you do, don’t go overboard- don’t eat ALL the fudge or candy. And as I’m going to stress as much as possible, normal Christmas treats are fine, and that’s where moderation comes in. The KEY to eating is moderation- that’s why I hate it when people go totally off of a certain food (unless they’re intolerant or have a particular reason) but taking out all of one food doesn’t help anyone. And almost anybody would tell you that if you’re on a diet, you should have a “fun” day once a week and eat the things you miss. That’s moderation.

2. Improvise. Add some healthy aspects to an unhealthy cookie. For example, tomorrow my family is putting up our tree. We usually have plates of treats sitting around and it’s very tempting. But tomorrow we’re just making some chili as our main dish, and then some improvised Ohio buckeyes. I’ll post the recipe this weekend- but for the most part it’s cream cheese, peanut butter, raisins, chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut flakes. And we’re going to make them into balls, freeze them for awhile and then dip them in melted chocolate. Yum! So see- all the ingredients are organic and we’ve suddenly made a VERY sugary treat into something we feel good about eating.

3. Do more than eat. I know that sounds weird, but really- there’s more to Christmas than food and just because eating tons of food (especially sugar) is the norm now, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Be unique. Instead of eating cookies, play a game while sipping tea. Or turn on some music while decorating the tree and eating healthy soup. Who knows, you might even start to enjoy it : )