New Year, New Beginnings.

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So it has been since October since I wrote anything!! Sometimes life just gets in the way. But, with a new year comes new beginnings. New gardens, new recipes, new ideas with vlogging, new surprises. I’m excited for what the new year is going to bring.

So what has been happening on our little homestead these past few months? Well, we have downsized a lot in the house. It feels so cleansing to donate or sell off things you are not using. We have also added things that were “wants” to our home. For example, Zach bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer to help with our food prep. Let me tell you what a time saver this has been. I keep it right on my counter and use it often. We also got new appliances. I have washed dishes by hand for 6 people for a year and I must say, I will NEVER take a dishwasher for granted again!! We also got a new stove and refrigerator. We moved our fridge that was in our kitchen downstairs for extra storage because someone got membership to Costco!! Yes, this girl! I never realized how inefficient our stove was until we got a new one. Plus, it’s finally nice to have all 4 burners working!

Our journey to going completely gluten free became real about a month ago. Zach was the first to show signs of having issues years ago. I fed him gluten free, but the rest ate wheat. I wasn’t ready to give it up because it’s convenient. Then it was me with the issues with my foot which radiated up into my leg. So I quit gluten, but honestly would cheat every now and then. But when it started to effect my two daughters, I knew I needed to make a change. We started to notice my daughter was having bowel problems and would daily find herself in the bathroom sick. She also was tired all the time (probably because she wasn’t absorbing enough vitamins and minerals from her food). Our other daughter started to experience itching after she would eat gluten. It would get so bad she would cry and scratch her skin open. So we cut out gluten and you know what happened? The bowel problems went away and the itching stopped. They were more alert and active. So, was it gluten that was doing that to my girls? Well, to see if it as really the gluten, I gave them gluten again to see. Sure enough, the bowel problems came back, and the itching came back. But this time, my daughter was not only itchy but she actually broke out in a rash! I told my husband that was the straw that broke the camels back. We cut out wheat that day from everyone’s diet and haven’t looked back. After a good cry on how the heck I was going to do this with 6 people, let along with children who I swear invented the goldfish cracker, I wiped the tears and began baking. Because as a mother who wants what is best for my family and their health, I knew gluten was not one of them.

So that leads me to our garden. We got the new Baker’s Creek Seed Catalog. We will be placing our order within the next week. Our oldest daughter has shown a huge interest in saving and growing seeds. So this year she will be in charge of that.

The chickens are well and we will be adding a few more to our laying hens this spring. We have meat birds we are raising in the garage right now as we speak. Some may say that it is cruel to raise them in the garage and not on pasture. Trust me, if we had the means  we would do the same. But with limited space, this is the best we can do. They have a lot of room to run around and two huge windows that give them light. We keep heat lamps in there to keep them warm. They are happy! We also added to rabbits to the mix. We are excited for the compost for the garden!

As for surprises this year? Well, we will have to wait and see……

Fire Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa.

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With an abundance of peppers coming into the garden, I wanted to make something for dinner with them. Traditionally, I usually make stuffed peppers with brown rice but I wanted to try something a little different. The meal itself is simple, just a few things here and there, but the taste packs a punch. Here is how I made them.

Fire Roasted Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa

1 Can of organic fire roasted tomatoes

1 Lb grass fed hamburger

4 Cups of cooked quinoa

3 Peppers sliced in half

Garlic

Real salt

Onion powder

Celery Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Directions: Cooked hamburger in a little olive oil and spices until brown. Set aside. Cook quinoa using package instructions (double). Slice pepper and place into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Place in baking dish. When quinoa is cooked, add ground hamburger and mix. Stuff peppers with quinoa mixture. Spoon roasted tomatoes on top. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve. Enjoy!!

Cucumber Salad


Summer would not be complete without this dish. This is a great way to find something quick and easy as a side for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! They have many recipes out there, but I make mine super easy because sometimes you just don’t have time! Here is how I make mine:

Cucumber Salad

3 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

2 Tomatoes seeded and chopped

1 Small red onion sliced thin

1/2 Bottle of Italian dressing

Directions: Wash your cucumbers and tomatoes. Peel off some of the peel so it makes strips of green. Slice thin and place in bowl. Cut tomatoes. Take as many seeds out as you can. Chop and put in bowl. Slice onion thin and add to bowl. Pour dressing on top. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve and enjoy!

You can also use white vinegar and honey instead of dressing. I have made them both ways. Honestly, I just mix vinegar and honey together until it tastes good! No recipe for that!! I didn’t want to use up all my honey since the budget only allowed for a little jar of honey this week.

Enjoy!

Banana Ice Cream

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Who wants to come home from running and eat ice cream? I do!! But, I don’t want to ruin everything I worked so hard for. Enter…..Banana Ice Cream!! This is a great alternative to having ice cream. It’s so delicious that my younger kids don’t even know the difference!! Plus, since we have some allergies to dairy in the family, no one feels left out. Here is how to make it:

Banana Ice Cream

5-6 Frozen bananas

1 Tsp of vanilla or maple syrup

Toppings of choice

Directions: Add bananas and vanilla or maple syrup to blender. Blend until it starts to have a whipped look. Place in ice cream cups. Add toppings and serve. Enjoy!!

This is a sure Picky Eater Approval!!

The Green Banana Mango Smoothie

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This smoothie is insanely delicious!! It reminds me of the green tea frappuccino from Starbucks except less calories and no refined sugar. I don’t have a fancy name for it. I just love it and drink it often. I made it here with just coconut water, but I also love it with milk which gives it a lighter green color.

Here is the recipe:

The Green Banana Mango Smoothie

1 Frozen banana

1 Handful of mango (frozen is the best)

1 Scoop of Green Vibrance

Coconut water or Milk

Directions: Add banana, mango, green vibrance, and water or milk to a blender. Mix until you have the consistency you like. You may need to add more or less liquid depending on your liking. Enjoy!!

Picky Eater Approved!!!

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Smoothie

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This smoothie is perfect for any chocolate craving!! It’s packed full of intense flavor leaving your taste buds satisfied. This is also great for people who are trying to eliminate sweets from their diet but are having a hard time. This will help you feel full, and honestly once your try it you say “sweets who”? See for yourself:

 

Dark Chocolate Smoothie

1 Frozen banana

1 Heaping Tbsp of nut butter (we use sunflower)

1 Tsp of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate

Milk( Allergies? Any kind works great)

Directions: Add all ingredients to blender. Add as much milk as you like to get it to the consistency of your liking. Serve. Enjoy.

This definitely has the Picky Eater Approval!! My kids don’t even miss chocolate after having this recipe!!

Triple Berry Smoothie

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Here is a smoothie that can use up the berries in your garden. It’s packed full of vitamins especially vitamin C, which makes it perfect in the winter time as well. The combination of the three berries make this truly one to keep in your recipe rotation. Here is how to make it:

Triple Berry Smoothie

1 Frozen banana

Blackberries

Raspberries

Blueberries

Coconut water

Milk

Directions: Add banana, berries (choose to use as much as you want of each), 1/3 cup coconut water, milk (until desired texture). Blend. Serve.

This refreshing drink makes such a great add-on to any meal or snack!! Picky Eater Approved!!

 

Butter Pecan Smoothie

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I had to share one of my favorite smoothie recipes with you. When it’s a hot summer day and you want something delicious but you don’t want to reach for ice cream, candy, chocolate, etc, this is a perfect way to have the best of both worlds. Its buttery flavor from the pecans mixed with the rich flavor from the milk makes this a recipe one you’ll enjoy over and over.

This healthy smoothie has 3 ingredients and is really easy to make:

Butter Pecan Smoothie

1 Frozen banana

1 Tbsp ground pecans

Milk

Directions: Add all ingredients to blender until smooth. Add as much milk depending on what consistency you’d like it. Pour into a beautiful glass, put your feet up, and know that this amazing smoothie is healthy!! Enjoy!

Picky Eater Approved!!

Farmers Sweet Potato Hash

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Even though it’s summer where we are, I had to share one of my favorite recipes for fall. This is a perfect meal anytime of the year and super easy to make. It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is approved by my picky eater Sarah who doesn’t even like sweet potatoes!! It also is gluten free!! I used kale from our garden and eggs from our chickens to make this meal. Here is the recipe:

Farmers Sweet Potato Hash

1 Large sweet potato (cute with skins on and diced)

4 Leaves of kale (stemmed and chopped)

2 Cloves garlic (peeled and diced)

3 Eggs

Real salt

Pepper

Cumin

Avocado oil (or olive)

 

Directions: Place diced sweet potatoes into cast iron skillet with oil. Cover and let cook until fork tender. Add spices. Stir. Next add kale and garlic. Cover and let kale wilt down. Last, make a well in the center and add eggs. Scramble in center until cooked. Once cooked, fold into sweet potatoes. Serve. 

This recipe is great the next day too. You can also add different things to change it up like: onions, peppers, chili powder to add a kick, cinnamon, bacon, etc. The cumin gives it a great smokey flavor. Leave the skins on for extra nutrition.

Add this one to your recipe box, it’s sure to be a family favorite!!

 

Gluten Free Recipes for Real People.

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So my last blog post talked about how I healed a chronic foot issue with cutting out gluten. Some of you may not be familiar about what that exactly is. Let me give you a little background.

Gluten is a bunch of different proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and oat. It is what helps give that chewy texture in breads, dough, etc. Great for bread. Not your body. But why?

See, when we eat products with gluten in them, it causes the immune system to think the components in gluten are a foreign substance and tries to kick it out of your system. “But I don’t break out in a rash or anything”. Yes, that may be so, but it’s what is going on in the inside that really matters. Your body becomes inflamed trying to build up antibodies to fight off this “foreign substance”. You become bloated, tired, itchy, weak. You may even have foggy brain….and no it’s not because you didn’t have that morning coffee!! It’s that delicious bagel you had. Or that”muti grain” sandwich you had at lunch. It doesn’t matter how they word it. Fancy gluten is still gluten. Trust me friends, I miss gluten. I am the carb queen. Bagels were my best friend…that was until they stabbed me in the back, or should I say foot.

Gluten can cause or worsen the symptoms of: Celiac, Autoimmune Disorders, IBS, Asthma, Anxiety, Depression, Arthritis, Unexplained Weight Gain and Loss, Foggy Brain, and the list goes on and on. I needed to come up with new ideas of things to eat. I would search the internet for things to make but they were a little too fancy for this busy gal, or they were desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of desserts, but I need real food folks. So here are some real ideas, for real people, on real budgets. I noticed when I starved my body of gluten (I also cut out sugar but kept raw honey and maple syrup on the list) I felt amazing. I felt like I could make it through the day without a nap. I also wasn’t starving all the time and my portions were smaller. I slimmed down (this was something I wasn’t looking to do, but hey, always a bonus)!! Here are some ideas to help you get started:

ALWAYS DRINK WATER!! Throw some lemon in there in the morning too. I got myself a cute glass container that is only my glass and I keep it with me at all time. Also herbal teas.

Breakfast

  • 2 eggs with pastured butter, onions and peppers, fruit on the side
  • gluten-free oatmeal with walnuts & bananas, or raisins & cinnamon
  • smoothies: banana, raw milk, pecans, or banana, dark cocoa powder (no sugar added) and sunflower or peanut butter (again no sugar added) or anything you want
  • cheese omelet with mushrooms and onion, sautéed veggies
  • banana and pistachios (if I’m going running in the morning)
  • eggs with sliced tomato and fresh grated cheese
  • grass-fed yogurt plain with raisins, sliced almonds for crunch, and drizzled raw honey
  • gluten-free pancakes (using cassava flour)

Lunch

Snacks

  • smoothie
  • cheese, nuts, fruit
  • fruits/veggies (pair with cheese)
  • popcorn (on the stove not the microwave) and pastured butter
  • raisins and nuts (usually a quick walk by and throw in my mouth)
  • tea (I LOVE red raspberry leaf tea)
  • rice cakes plain lightly salted if I’m in a hurry

Dinner

  • MON: Fish, brown rice, veggies
  • TUE: Taco Tues! I do use organic tortilla chips or shells for this and all the fixings. I make homemade guacamole.
  • WED: Spaghetti night! I use brown rice pasta for the kiddos and for the grown ups I use spaghetti squash. I fry up grass-fed hamburger (1lb) and mix in spaghetti sauce. Assemble in spaghetti squash and top with fresh parmesan.
  • THUR: Grass fed burgers with a veggie side (no buns we use lettuce)
  • FRI: Pizza! Yes, you can even make gluten-free pizza. I use cassava flour.
  • SAT: We’ve been grilling so whatever we have on hand
  • SUN: Crock pot something or breakfast for dinner

I save money because I buy whole foods at local places in my area. Most of our food is organic. I have made a few exceptions, but we mainly try to stick to whole, raw, grass-fed and organic. If you look, you will see that I reuse a lot of things throughout the week. I don’t have time to be all foo foo with food. I’m a simple gal. My big splurge is always a milkshake usually on a Friday night after the kids go to bed so I don’t have to hide and eat it in the bathroom. Don’t judge, you know what I’m talking about!!

Don’t be fooled with organic and gluten-free products. Most times, it’s probably a safer bet sticking with the gluten product because of all the stuff they stick in the gluten free product. Try making stuff from scratch. It also takes some time for your palate to train itself to like the “new food” as well. I usually say 2 weeks. Before you know it, you won’t be looking back!!