Super snacks for women

Woman running a marathon and looking very happy
Much of my adult life has included easy and convenient grab and go snacks such as cheese sticks, a small container of yogurt, cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola, and more cheese and more yogurt.For me, fruit and dairy were automatic go to for a filling snack.  Though they are good choices, these days my body isn’t tolerating fruit or dairy at all due to the sugars.  Initially I was a big hangry (yes, hangry….you know, hungry AND angry) about it, because isn’t fruit supposed to be so good for us?  Yes, but when our body becomes so challenged with immune issues, the fructose can be a bit much.

Dairy and I have long since had a hit or miss relationship, so I always appreciate the confirmation of Nutrition Response Testing to give myself the current What’s So on what should/shouldn’t be going into my body.

For the past 8 weeks of having no dairy, fruit or grains in my diet to support my health, I’ve created some super easy nutrient dense snacks that have become my new go to’s.  There are also many a resource online when it comes to repatterning your brain to eating a grain-free diet.  What I have found interesting is that I actually eat less than ever before because I’m not hungry and don’t have any cravings.  When I do get hungry it’s because it’s time to eat, not because my brain is doing a sugar dance.

3 Easy Super Snacks for Women

  • Grain Free Granola-served either with full fat coconut milk and a hint of liquid vanilla stevia, or alone.  This granola gets clumpy so you can easily grab a bite.  This vanilla one is a favorite of mine.
  • Turkey Cucumber Wraps are another new favorite.  I slice a cucumber into quarters and wrap each piece with a thin slice of roasted turkey breast, such as Applegate Farms. Yum!
  • Lettuce wraps are an easy way to fill up with a lot of flavor, textures and protein.  We put everything from tuna or egg salad to salami or sliced chicken breast in a big piece of bibb or romaine lettuce with sprouts, cucumber, mayo, mustard or hummus and sunflower seeds for a hearty snack or light meal.  I find if I want to make a meal out of it, making 3 of them fills me up, and 1 is the perfect quick snack.

The third piece is to start getting that snack food doesn’t mean packaged, refined and processed foods. We can do some work ahead of time (which is really no different from the time it takes to pull off the road to grab something while on your way somewhere).  It’s like getting that breakfast food doesn’t have to be a bowl of cereal, a pancake or a Pop-tart, as dinner re-heated from last night would suit just fine.

Keep in mind your goal is to fuel your body with a variety of color (your carbs), a protein and a healthy fat.  It helps to meal plan and grocery shop with those three categories in mind.  You’ll never go wrong or worry about having the wrong food in your refrigerator when using this as a guideline.



The common housewife’s guide to making mozzarella

by contributing writer Natasha

Cheesemaking used to scare me. Then I lived in a foreign country where cheese was not readily available. It’s really true that necessity is the mother of invention. Did you know that powdered whole milk can be reconstituted and made into cheese? It’s not as smooth as cheese made from fresh raw milk, but it is very doable. And when you haven’t eaten any cheese in three months, it’s even delicious!

When we moved home and bought dairy cows, I made my first batch of mozzarella with fresh milk straight from the tank. Um, yum, y’all. Seriously.

I’m not a fantastic cook, nor am I good at following directions (there may be a correlation there) but even I can handle this simple cheese. The biggest thing to remember is that cheesemaking is not a science (no matter what the books tell you!) it’s an adventure. And as long as you stick to the ingredients given, you can’t mess it up too bad. Even if your mozzarella turns out crumbly, lasagna is very forgiving.

The common housewife's guide to making mozzarellaMozzarella is a great starter cheese because the ingredients are minimal, and the directions simple. You’ll need:

The best milk to use is unpasteurized raw milk but any milk will do. The only kind that doesn’t work is milk that has been UHT (Ultra-High Pasteurized) to extend its shelf-life.

Fun trivia: Mozzarella was originally made from Water Buffalo milk in southern Italy.

For rennet, your best bet is to order cheesemaking rennet online. Unless you have a cheesemaking store in your town, you’ll probably only find “Junket Rennet” which is not strong enough to congeal the curds. If Junket is the only available rennet, use 1-2 whole tablets instead of 1/4. Liquid rennet  is easier to measure but doesn’t last as long. Tablets can be stored in the freezer and retain their strength for years.

Fun trivia: Legend says rennet was first discovered by an ancient traveler who used a re-purposed calf stomach as a flask for his milk. When he went to get a drink, the liquid had formed curds. Today some rennet is still made from the lining of calf stomachs, but it is more popular to use the vegetable alternative.

Citric Acid can be found at any grocery store in either powder or tablet form. It is basically concentrated citrus. Most cheeses use either citric acid, lemon juice, or vinegar to help curdle the milk.

I use Real Salt in all my cooking, but any salt will do.

The tools needed for mozzarella are also simple:

  • large stockpot
  • cooking thermometer
  • slotted spoon
  • knife
  • colander
  • microwaveable bowl

Ready to make cheese?

Step One: Measure 1 cup water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid. Measure 1/4 cup water separately and dissolve the rennet into it. (easy so far, eh?)

Step Two: Pour milk into stockpot and add the cup of water/citric acid solution. Mix thoroughly and turn on medium heat. You’re shooting for 90 degrees, which doesn’t take too long, so keep an eye out! Stir enough to keep the milk from sticking. The milk may begin to curdle. No worries.

cheesemaking 2

Step Three: Once you have the milk at 90 degrees, remove it from the heat and stir in the rennet solution. Keep stirring for thirty seconds. When your thirty second are up, stop the milk from moving, cover and set a timer for five minutes. Don’t touch the pan. You’re letting the rennet do it’s job.

cheesemaking

Step Four: When your five minutes are up, uncover and look at your milk. If the rennet did its job correctly, the milk should have formed into a soft jelly-like substance that is slightly separated from the whey (the whey is the watery substance around it). If the milk is still liquid, cover and leave it an additional 5 minutes. If it still has not set, your rennet may not have been strong enough. You can still use the milk, just heat it back up to 90 degrees and add new rennet. (Yes, I know this from experience!) When it is set, take your knife and softly cut the curds, making sure you slice to the bottom of the pan. Cut a grid-like pattern.

Cheesemaking 4

Step Five: Heat the curds to 105 degrees. Stir gently if needed. The curds will be loose and soft. Treat them nicely!

Step Six: Using your slotted spoon, lift the curds gently and place them in the colander. Spin the colander, allowing the whey to finish draining off.

Cheesemaking 6

Step Seven: Place your curds in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. If you have an especially strong microwave, you might want to start with 30 seconds.

cheesemaking

Step Eight: Carefully (it’ll be hot!) knead the cheese, adding your teaspoon of salt and mixing it through. Knead very gently and do not over-knead. The more you mess with the cheese, the tougher it will get (though still yummy, I promise!). If your cheese is very stretchy, it’s done. Form it into a ball, pat it gently, and tell yourself good job. If it isn’t stretchy yet, return it to the microwave for 30 second increments until it stretches easily. Form it into a ball, let it cool, and cut yourself a slice.

cheesemaking

And all that leftover whey? Don’t throw it away! It’s perfect to stick in smoothies, bread, or soups.

Troubleshooting: There are two common complaints when making mozzarella cheese. The first is that the cheese turns out crumbly instead of smooth. This can be caused by using pasteurized milk, or from using too much citric acid which can make the curds separate too quickly. The cheese is still perfectly edible. If it’s not pretty, just shred it up and use it as normal.

The second is that the cheese turns out tough and slightly yellow. This is caused by too much rennet, microwaving it too long, or from over-kneading the cheese. It’s still super yummy. No worries. Melt it on your pizza and enjoy.

Cheesemaking isn't a science, it's an adventure!

 

Have you ever made cheese? What are your best tips?



The small joys-making the best of living with Hashimoto’s

When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I was relieved. I finally had answers to what was going on with my body.

For those that aren’t familiar with Hashimoto’s, it’s an autoimmune condition that swings between hyper and hypothyroidism. It’s a roller coaster of symptoms and emotions. You never know how you are going to feel each day.

My goal has been to heal and to get into remission. However, during the process I have had to learn to find the small joys to get through each day, making the best of living with Hashimoto’s.

living with hashimotos

This has proven to be a more difficult task than I would have guessed. Yes, on good days, I am up and running with the best of them. It’s the bad days that I struggle. I struggle with frustration about how I can be fine when I wake but after breakfast have symptoms so severe I want to curl up and hide from the rest of the world. This really isn’t an option for me and I’d dare to say most people living with an autoimmune disorder.

I’ve realized that even on bad days, there are so many joys around me. Looking at each of them helps take the focus on what I can’t do or what went wrong. It allows me to look at the blessings that surround me and allows me to be thankful.

I’ve stopped beating myself up for the things I didn’t accomplish.
I’ve started looking at what I did get done.

I no longer blame myself for what my body is doing.
I look at how my body is healing instead.

I don’t get upset with people who ‘don’t get it”.
I’m thankful for the people who love and support me each day.

Each day really has become a gift to me. It’s another day to live life and look for the joys around me. Before I roll out of bed I thank God for another day as there is no promise for tomorrow.

Some days it’s easy and others days it is a struggle to look at the good. But, all it takes now is to see a colorful sunset or the opening bloom of a flower to make me stop and think about how blessed I am. The little gifts around me in a not so perfect body.

I don’t plan on living the rest of my life with Hashimoto’s. However, I pray that I can keep the same attitude of finding the joy in each day as I move forward  in healing.

Living with an autoimmune disorder is a struggle, what helps you get through the tough days?

 

 



When the words won’t come (and a rainbow baby birth story)

I’m sure many of you long time readers have noticed my absence over the last year, and especially over the last few months. Although I do write, I hardly consider myself a writer, and yet writing is where I find my greatest healing.

Many of you also know that I got pregnant late last summer, after a miscarriage and two more years of infertility. And with my pregnancy it seemed that I just couldn’t get my thoughts out. I tried many times, but it all came out jumbled, barely making sense to even me. I choose not to write about my children and pregnancy here on my blog as I know how very hurtful it can be to hear pregnancy updates when you want nothing more than a baby of your own. I also make this choice because women who are hurting can sometimes say very hurtful things (I know I’ve said things I shouldn’t), and opening up about my children often times brings about hurtful comments directed toward me.

I stopped writing, even for myself in my journals, which saddens me because I so wanted to make sure I remembered every moment of this pregnancy.

I still don’t know what to write or where to start, but I know that making myself put words to screen is important. I have to start somewhere.

One of our most difficult battles is between what we know and what we feel.

 

I’m in this weird place where infertility and loss are still deeply etched into my heart. The pain is still fresh, though far from new.

Yet I am ever so grateful that our little boy is here, finally here. The gratefulness I feel each day is often overwhelming. His sweet little head has caught more of my tears than I can count. Tears of joy and love for this new little soul. Tears of sorrow as I remember our little one I wasn’t given the opportunity to care for.

These conflicting emotions making it difficult for me to know how I feel, let alone write it down.

There is this saying in the babyloss community that “After every storm there is a rainbow of hope”, and before I share a bit of my pregnancy and birth story, I want you to know, the baby isn’t always the rainbow. You can find healing and your rainbow of hope without a “rainbow baby”.

This pregnancy was the hardest by far, both emotionally and physically. I was put on progesterone immediately after a positive pregnancy test, more for “insurance” that my levels wouldn’t drop since we didn’t know the cause of my miscarriage. (Though I’m fairly certain it wasn’t due to low progesterone.) Having the progesterone as backup lessened my anxiety a bit and I am grateful that it was available for me. The downfall was that the high levels of progesterone also triggered migraines that rendered me almost useless, laying in bed, at least twice each week for 18 weeks. The nausea was far worse this pregnancy as well and for weeks I maintained a mostly vegan diet and left much of the cooking up to Todd.

rainbow baby pregnancy

 

I was so thankful for my contributors during this time as I had little time to write while spending most days laying on the couch. I was also thankful for friends that knew what I was going through during this pregnancy as they had been there before.

Soon after our holiday break however I began to experience symphasis pubic dysfunction which is, if I may add, horribly painful. Progressively getting worse, even with weekly chiropractic adjustments and medical massage every few weeks, it became difficult to walk, sleep, stand, or sit in the same place. I was truly amazed at how chronic pain was affecting every aspect of my life! I could barely cook, clean, or even put my kids to bed as the stairs bothered me so much.

But I was surrounded (both virtually and in ‘real life’) by supportive friends. The culmination of this support in the way of a Blessingway.

blessingway food

 

 

blessingway bracelet

 

Blessingway henna

And then on April 17th, two weeks before my estimated due date, it became time for our little guy to be born.

the birth of my rainbow baby

 

My water broke early in the morning on the 16th yet I had no contractions all day long. Labor didn’t start until after midnight on the 17th, with active labor beginning within an hour of the first contraction. I was surprised at the pain this time as my previous birth went so smoothly and I was able to focus and relax during each contraction. I was expecting another peaceful birth, especially since we had planned on having him at home, but the pain sometimes seemed more than I could manage and I knew I was fighting with my self, both mentally and physically. Within a couple of hours Todd called the midwife, even though I thought I still had plenty of time left. It’s a good thing he did because an hour later when she got there we knew baby was coming soon.

The contractions were coming one right after the other with little to no break in between so I went into the birthing tub… which slowed them right down. Heh. Looking back I think that he would have been born sooner had I not gotten in the water (my midwife agreed!), and yet I also think it was helpful as I worked through a lot of the emotional aspects of birthing a baby after loss.

I had spent so much time during my pregnancy just trying to make it through the pregnancy that I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the actual birth. This time I knew how quickly pregnancy could go wrong, how quickly devastation could come in and take everything away. I needed that extra time to process.

In the end, with help from my midwife, and the worst labor pains I’ve had, I was finally able to pull my baby up out of the water and hold him in my arms. My baby was finally here.

birth of a rainbow baby

 

 

encapsulated placenta

 

rainbow baby

He’s currently growing big, and faster than our other two grew! Only two months old and long enough for 6 months clothes. These newborn days are both difficult and fantastic all in one moment. We are learning how to be a family of five, I’m learning how to leave the house with more kids than I have hands.

I also wonder how I live in this moment yet still honor the struggle of my heart and the baby I never held but for a short time in my womb?

How do I work to enjoy the hard parts of parenting and never take it for granted?

And how can I claim struggles of infertility when my arms hold three and others struggle for one?

This dance of emotions is confusing at best.

 

I truly love this space I’ve created online and the community that has become of it. I can’t ever imagine not writing here. Though after having planned on only taking a few weeks off of all my admin and editor responsibilities, I’ve realized that even that has been too much for me right now. Women take a maternity leave for a reason.

post partum

As you may remember, I have dealt with adrenal fatigue, finally beginning to see some healing before I conceived last summer. I’m finding that I need to spend more time relaxing (read: napping!) and enjoying and less time on the computer right now. I need to make my health the prime focus in this season as I continue to deal with a few post partum issues (joint pain and plantar fasciitis) so that I can later continue to pursue my passions (like blogging!). My plan for now is to take July off from any blog responsibilities, checking email only weekly and maybe sending out a quick letter to subscribers every couple of weeks.

It may seem like blog suicide, but since Google killed half my traffic in January and Facebook only shows my updates to a few hundred instead of the 10k + that like the page, I’m thinking it can’t get much worse!

In the meantime, I have a few more contributor posts to publish, and you can always follow me on Instagram or subscribe to my personal account on Facebook. (I don’t accept friend requests, but you can follow my public posts)

I plan on catching up on my to-read book pile and spending some time outside and at the beach! I pray you have a fantastic summer. 

 



Summer Berry Harvest : How to use local U-Picks to your advantage!

Summer Berry Harvest :: How to use local U-Picks to your advantage!
(Written by contributor, Renee)

This is the time of year that people just crave fresh produce. I love eating seasonal. When summer hits, my body hasn’t had fresh strawberries, blueberries, cherries, or raspberries since the previous summer, and I just savor them more. I enjoy them to the fullest!

Summer Berry Harvest :: How to use local U-Picks to your advantage!
If you are so blessed to live in an area where farmers open their fields up to let you pick your own produce, take advantage! The prices per pound are drastically cheaper than what you are going to find at the store – and even the farmer’s market. And the experience is one you will look forward to every year. If you are unsure of any U-Pick farms in your area, I found THIS site quite helpful in locating the ones around me.

Summer Berry Harvest :: How to use local U-Picks to your advantage!
Here are some ways to take advantage of your local U-Pick season:

    1. Resist the urge to go on the first day of picking. The picking will be easier and more abundant about a week or so into the picking season for most things. In my experience the only exception would be cherries, whose season is only about a week anyway so go as soon as those are ready!
    2. Plan on going first thing in the morning, especially if you live somewhere very warm. This is not only to ensure you don’t overheat, but you will avoid all the late morning and afternoon bug pests. And especially with something like strawberries and cherries that get picked over very fast, you will be getting the best of the best.
    3. Bring your own containers. When I go in, I’m going for a haul. I’m talking 40 pounds of strawberries. 60-70 pounds of blueberries. I don’t want little pint containers. I want buckets that I can easily carry, and that hold a lot without damaging the fruit. Big plastic buckets, old plastic ice cream containers, etc work well. Some U-Picks offer decent containers you can borrow. Just check if there is a limit or a price on them.
    4. Plan to go on a day when you have time to tend to your haul right after picking. You don’t want to go picking and then let it sit in your garage or home for the next day or so until you can get to it. You want to come home right away, get them washed up, and prep them for what you plan to use them for. A simple wash I like to do is just plug up your sink and start filling with water. Add in a few big shakes of baking soda and vinegar with a squeeze of a full lemon and swish it around.
    5. Freeze, freeze, freeze! Do you know how much frozen fruit costs at the store? A lot! Get that fruit up on some baking sheets after you wash them, and freeze them flat. Once frozen you can dump them into plastic freezer bags and stack them up in your deep freezer. Use them for your smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or baking. You will never have to buy another freezer bag of fruit!
    6. Dehydrate! Wash up part of your haul and get them right onto your dehydrator trays to go for a few hours. Store the dried berries in airtight containers to add to your granola, oatmeal, yogurt, or trailmixes. If you don’t have a dehydrator do them on the lowest setting in your oven. I only recently got a dehydrator and have done them in the oven for years.
    7. Jam! I’m actually not much of a jam maker, although last year I did make blueberry jam for the first time and it was the most amazing thing I ever tasted! Hit up Google – there are many recipes using natural pectin, or even no pectin, and all using either very low if any sugar or natural sweeteners like honey.
    8. Eat them fresh. There is just nothing like fresh picked fruit. You can make your fruit last longer by giving them a quick baking soda and vinegar bath. Eat up all you want while they are in season! That is what they are there for! Stock your body up on the antioxidants so you have a storehouse once the long winter sets in.

So tell me! What do you go picking this time of year?



Three natural tips to overcome insomnia

This is a Type-A Parent paid post to discuss sleep issues, and to share a new insomnia resource from the National Sleep Foundation.

dealing with insomnia

There’s no sugar-coating it, insomnia stinks.

Through my life I’ve had plenty of nights here and there where I didn’t sleep well. Usually it had to do with something I ate or drank, sometimes due a stressful situation, and other times due to taking a nap during the day. So when I dealt with chronic insomnia I didn’t really know what to do.

Of course the worst part was that I was completely fatigued and had major brain fog during the day so I had a hard time following through on any treatment protocol I thought of.

It began with my miscarriage almost three years ago. At first I couldn’t fall asleep (which is very common due to emotional and physical stress as well as the hormonal changes) and within a month or so I was also waking up each night only a couple of hours after I had fallen asleep. This went on for a year and a half, five hours of sleep was a good night. I was a walking zombie during the day and it was affecting just about every part of my life! I was grumpy to those I loved, scatterbrained and forgetful, and so consumed and overwhelmed with my own life I was a horrible friend.

Over the course of about two months, following the tips below, I was finally able to sleep again, getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night.

1. Get tested

I always knew that some nutrients are associated with a good nights sleep, but I figured that wasn’t my problem as I ate quite a healthy diet. But in my quest to figure out why I always felt so horrible my doctor ran a myriad of tests. Come to find out, I was deficient in both Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D and began supplementing right away.

It wasn’t a quick fix, but within the first week I began to remember my dreams again, something I hadn’t done since my miscarriage. I also felt like the sleep I was getting was a better quality, deeper sleep. So if you’re dealing with insomnia, make sure to check with your doctor and get tested for common nutrient deficiencies.

We also found through testing that my thyroid was running on the slow side and my adrenals weren’t functioning very well at all.

If you have chronic stress in your life, it’s probable that you might be dealing with adrenal fatigue, with insomnia being one of the major symptoms.

2. Go to sleep earlier

Going to bed early has been a difficult thing to do in many seasons of my life, whether it’s dealing with a baby/young child or staying up late to work and write. I was really good at trying to squeeze in a few extra hours to my day and after bedtime seemed like a great way to do it. Especially when I was most likely dealing with minor adrenal fatigue in the beginning and my second wind (boost of cortisol) hit me around 11pm. All of a sudden I had plenty of energy, a clear mind, and a quiet house.

I knew that going to bed earlier was probably going to be helpful, but I began to experience that 11pm wakeup, even when I went to bed 30-60 minutes earlier. What I found was that I needed to be in a deep sleep by that time for my adrenals to chill out and rest as well. So we began going to bed by 9:30pm most nights and that seemed to take care of my inability to fall asleep as well as waking up soon after I fell asleep.

3. Cutting back on night snacks

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone, but I began to sleep so much better after giving up my nighttime snacks! Granted, I still snack at night sometimes, but when I was still dealing with middle of the night waking (I woke around 2am and couldn’t sleep again until 4am) it was immensely helpful to not snack at all, especially anything heavy or in mass quantities.

I do know that the body works to repair and detoxify at night and when it’s busy digesting it may not function as well as it needs to in other areas. My body may have needed that time of rest so that it could fully heal. So for a couple of months I made sure I ate dinner before 5:30 to make sure digestion was well on its way before I fell asleep.

 

Of course, there were other things I did as well, like:

  • cut out caffeine
  • light exercise in the morning when possible
  • no napping after 11am
  • no sweets after lunch
  • limited my schedule to allow for extra rest for my adrenals

I still have nights of insomnia, but instead of every night, it’s only once or twice a month. I finally feel good and can think a lot more clearly!

How have you dealt with insomnia?

natural tips for insomnia
Be sure to check out a new resource from the National Sleep Foundation at sleepfoundation.org/insomnia – a good place to start if you think you have insomnia or aren’t sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation is your trusted resource for everything sleep – understanding how sleep works & why it’s important, learning healthy habits, creating a relaxing bedroom & bedtime routine, & finding solutions to your sleep issues.



Gluten-free rhubarb pie

(Written by contributor, Jessica)

Well, it is finally spring! It seemed to take extra long for this past winter to end.

I have been patiently, well really not so patiently, waiting for warmer weather that would start to bring in local produce. One of our first crops in my garden is rhubarb.

rhubarb pie

I remember when I was little I thought rhubarb was the most disgusting thing ever. That is, until I had a really awesome rhubarb pie!

Most rhubarb pies have had an ‘eggy’ feel and I just can’t stand eggy! This recipe is just right.

It is also not overly sweet and combined with the tart rhubarb, it is just right.

If you need a pie crust recipe, check out this one I posted earlier. It is gluten-free but you can also sub cup for cup white flour if you are not a gluten-free family. I am a big fan of the Namaste gluten-free flour blend, I can get it at Costco. And, as much as I love Bob’s Red Mill products, I do not enjoy the gluten-free flour mix for a pie crust.

gluten free rhubarb pie

Rhubarb Pie :Recipe:
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 

Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp. of gluten free flour*
  • 1½ cup evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 2 Pie Crust

Instructions
  1. Stir flour and sugar together.
  2. Add egg and beat thoroughly.
  3. Fold in rhubarb
  4. Pour into pie crust and top with other pie crust.
  5. Pinch together edges and put a few slits in the crust to allow pie to breath.
  6. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes
  7. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and cook for 50-60 more minutes. (If you didn’t use my gluten free pie recipe your pie may be done sooner as butter crusts take longer to brown)
  8. * I use a gluten free flour mix but rice flour with xantham gum works just fine.

Another really helpful tip I always follow when baking a pie is that I line my oven with foil or bake on a baking sheet. It never fails, that when I forget to do this, my pie leaks all over my oven. I have much better things to do than clean my oven, so I opt for foil!

I’d love to hear from you, what are your favorite ways to use rhubarb? 



Gluten free pie crust

(Written by contributor, Jessica)

Homemade pie crust…those words make people cringe. I. have. been. there.

I’m in the kitchen, covered with flour and a pile of dough that was supposed to be a crust. There is nothing more frustrating than disasters in the kitchen.

gluten free pie crust

And, agh, pie wasn’t even worth my time. It’s never been a favorite of mine. I am a dessert kind of girl but other than a mandatory slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, I could pass it up.

Until I had a pie crust made with butter….oh.my! Total bliss! I have never had a pie melt in mouth like that.

It takes a bit of time and patience but once you get the process down, pie crust isn’t so intimidating.

Gluten Free Pie Crust :recipe:
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 

Gluten Free Pie Crust
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups of gluten free flour mix
  • 2 tbsp. of evaporated cane juice crystals (This is optional)
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 sticks of COLD butter
  • 6 tbsp. of very COLD water

Instructions
  1. Mix salt, flour and sugar
  2. Cut butter into flour until mixture is course.
  3. Slowly add cold water, a little at a time until the dough pulls together
  4. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your counter and your rolling pin.
  5. Cut dough in half and roll out one crust at a time.

A few helpful hints: 

Make sure your butter and water are COLD! If they are room temperature, it’s hard to get the right consistency and then it’s easy add too much water.

Add the water a bit at a time because the amount used is never quite the same, depending on the temperature and weather.

If your dough get a bit too warm, put in the refrigerator to cool off a bit before rolling out.

When rolling, keep your pin covered in flour.

To pick the dough up after rolled out, gently roll it over your pin and then unroll over your pie plate.

You can use a food processor, it makes it easy to see when you’ve add enough water if you pour it in while the mixer is mixing because you can see it pull together. However, the pie crust will not be as flaky.

gluten free pie crust

Once you have the pie crust in the plate and ready to go, place the pie in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking. It makes for a more flaky crust. (This is a tip from my Grandma.)

While this may seem like a lot to remember, once you get going, I think you’ll find it easy. And pie crust is forgiving!! I have had many a pies pieced together looking kind of funky…but, if your pie tastes good, believe me, nobody will care! ;)

What are your favorite tips for making a good pie crust? 



My favorite gluten free muffin recipe (no eggs either!)

NaturalFertility

Enjoy a morning brunch with muffins on the porch, while the weather is warm. Also, great for travelling and easy to pack.

I was super excited when I discovered that I could use Chia Seeds as a replacement for Eggs. I love eggs but often times recipes can call for up to 4 eggs in one dish and this can often feel like far too many eggs for one sitting. (yes, I have been known to eat an entire batch of muffins in one day!)

I have always had a problem with Chia Seeds. Though I know they are super nutritious and have heaps of Omega 3 in them, which helps with inflammation and pain (if you have Endometriosis,then this is a really good thing!), the trouble was that I didn’t like the texture of them. They turn into a “gooiey” kind of consistency. It is this same “goieyness” which makes them fabulous for the digestive lining but personally I just struggle with it. With these muffins, at least you don’t physically feel that “gooieyness” on your tongue and it is this same texture and ability of Chia Seeds which allows our muffins to hold together.

I have also been Gluten Free for about 3 years now and it was imperative that the muffins had no gluten and even better, preferably no grains at all. I have found an unbelievable about of relief within my own healing journey with endometriosis and the removal of gluten. Gluten created such a huge amount of inflammation and digestive issues for me, that I used to have a tummy that looked like I was 3months pregnant. I used to believe it was just because I suffered from Endometriosis but the reality is, that my tummy is now completely flat – no bloating or inflammation thank you! I know there is a huge correlation with Endometriosis and eating gluten, so if you are still eating it and you suffer with bloating or Endometriosis, then it is a great idea to cut it out.

The rest of these ingredients are common things you would find in your home. I asked my husband, who was also a chef for 20years, to help me create these muffins. He is very fussy about what he eats and even if it is super healthy, he won’t eat it if it doesn’t taste good. So, the fact that he absolutely loved these, is a sheer indicator as to how good they are.

Hope you enjoy them and add them into your day.

My Favourite Gluten Free Muffin Recipe – No Eggs either!
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch
Serves: 12 Muffins
 

This is super easy to make – just need some waiting time for the Chia Seeds to do their thing :) Also, easy to find most of the ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 4 Ripe Bananas (the riper the better – they become sweeter with age)
  • ¼ of a cup of Chia Seeds
  • 1teaspoon of Vanilla Essence
  • ⅓ cup Coconut Oil
  • 11/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • ½ cup Coconut Flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • Coconut Flakes for decoration
  • *Optional Walnuts and/or extra honey if your Bananas are not quite ripe enough. I would usually add about ½ cup of Walnuts and maybe 3-4 Tablespoon of Honey.

Instructions
  1. Get your ¼ cup of Chia Seeds and fill the rest of the cup with water. Stir in the Chia Seeds so they are not just floating on the top. The idea is to get the Chia Seeds to absorb the water. This makes them lovely and sticky, giving the same binding texture as eggs. This should take around 15minutes – you may want to leave and come back to making the recipe after it is ready.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the cinnamon, coconut flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Mush your Bananas with a fork or a Potato Masher. Add the Chia Seeds, Coconut Oil and Vanilla Essence. *If you live in a colder climate, melt your Coconut Oil first by placing the container in a little hot water for a few minutes.
  4. Mix everything together. Since there is no gluten or eggs in this recipe we don’t need to stick with the traditional way of beating in one “egg” at a time but can just mix it all in really well. If you are adding in Walnuts, you should ideally pre-roast them in a pan, on the stove (no oil) for a few minutes. This just takes the bitterness out of the nuts. Add them in at this stage of the recipe.
  5. Prepare your Muffin Tray by rubbing in additional Coconut Oil and ensuring it is well lubricated to avoid sticking.
  6. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased muffin tin. (coconut butter or butter work great)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned.



Baby Steps to Going Gluten Free

I look at the two top reasons why, in my practice, women take on a gluten free lifestyle.  They have either realized an intolerance exists and are eager to shed the layers of inflammation, chronic pain, excess weight, acne, depression or infertility, OR, they have read a compelling article, blog post or book giving them studies and reasons why a lifestyle free of gluten is a good shift to make.

There have also been women who call me with this request, “Can you help me figure out my food thing?”.

To which I reply, “Your food thing?”

And then I hear, “Yes, my food thing.”

Upon further conversation we find that these women are making lifestyle changes left and right that aren’t rendering results worth staying committed to.  What I find is they go dairy free because a friend is doing it or they go gluten free because their mother suggests it.  A few days or weeks in they decide eliminating dairy isn’t working so they reintroduce dairy and cut sugar.  This is crazy making.

One recommendation I give to women like the above is to see a holistic practitioner who does food sensitivity testing so they have data to back up of “what’s so” with their body.  I also recommend she choose ONE THING and stick to it.  Sticktoitiveness is one thing missing in our culture of healthy lifestyle change.

 Gluten Free loaf of breads on display in a health food shop.

Some things may change right off the bat, folks, such as more energy and better sleep, and, they may not.  Change takes time.  Have you ever seen a caterpillar turn into a butterfly with the snap of a finger?  It’s the same with celebrities.  We think their fame happens over night, and that’s just not the case.

When taking on lifestyle change, going cold turkey is fine for some and others find baby steps are the path to take.

3 Different Baby Steps to Going Gluten Free

1-Begin with allowing one serving per day of gluten.

You quickly realize just how much gluten you are getting on a daily basis when you have cereal and/or toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, crackers as a snack and pasta for dinner.

Choose one time to have your gluten containing food during the day.  Maybe you have toast for breakfast, a slice of turkey wrapped around a cheese stick with veggies for lunch and rice pasta for dinner.   Or a smoothie for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and bun-less burger for dinner.

2-Substitute for Gluten Free Products

I’m not a huge fan of bringing in a substitution for everything gluten in our lives.  It’s just not a healthy way to go, AND, you have to start somewhere.  Simply eliminating the gluten from the beginning is a step in the right direction, however, when replaced with gluten free high starch replacement foods, you’ll likely find yourself with the same complains and concerns in a short period of time.

Perhaps you replace your morning Brownberry Bread with an Udi’s Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin bread, enjoy a salad for lunch and grilled chicken breast with asparagus and sweet potatoes for dinner.

If pasta is your thing a few times per week, use a quinoa/brown rice pasta as a substitute.

Initially if grabbing a bag of gluten free cookie mix meets the needs for the office day goodie tray you are responsible for on Fridays, then do it, however, because of the sugar content, you might want to bring a bag of apples next time or find a healthy gluten free cookbook that introduces you to cleaner baking and cooking such as Nourishing Meals by Tom Malterre.

3-Start with One Meal per Week

Another way to slowly change over to gluten free eating is to take one meal at a time, one week at a time.

For the first week tackle breakfast.  You can have gluten free oatmeal, scrambled eggs, smoothies, egg bakes, sausage, gluten free granola and even gluten free waffles for your morning meal.  Continue eating your lunch, dinner and snacks as usual as:

a) get familiar with eating breakfast every day and reap the myriad of health benefits that comes from that, and

b) get more comfortable with broadening your horizon with the morning meal.

Now that you’ve tackled breakfast, continue your successful work there and add your mid morning snack.  Great and easy ideas for this include nuts/seeds/dried fruit, veggies and hummus, apples and nut butter or cheese and gluten free crackers.

Once you’ve accomplished that for a week, include lunch.  You’ll soon realize you get full off a small scoop of tuna salad without the bread and fresh vegetables with an orange, or the salad bar, a stir fry or a simple yogurt and berries bowl.

You’ll continue this to include a mid afternoon snack, then move on to tackling dinner. After 5-6 weeks you will have shifted from a diet that contains gluten, likely at every stinkin’ meal, to a lifestyle of gluten free eating.

 
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