Sunday, November 30, 2014


It's been a very long week... and it is Thanksgiving... and I got blasted at work yesterday by a couple of tough cases which aren't resolved.

And all I want to do is practice yoga. All the time. Sun salutations, moon salutations, arm balances, meditation, relaxation, twists (yes! mostly twists), hip openers, standing balances... the list goes on.

And then I realized that yoga isn't just asanas/postures. I knew this. I have been told this. We learned it in class but apparently I have to really come to the realization on my own.  It is eight limbs with the meditation and postures being just two of the eight.

Why do I feel like yoga postures are what I need? Funny, that is the second limb, Niyama or self observation.

Is it because I am looking for sense withdraw (Pratyahara) or Dharana (Concentration) or do I think that it might help me attain a level of Samadhi (state of joy and peace)?

I don't even know today. All I know is that doing Camel pose where my heart and throat chakra are wide open is not pleasant and Warrior II when I am strong and Tree where I am balance and grounded with my branches low feels perfect.

Maybe it is time to move to Tibet.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Messy, Happy Home

Last night, I went to bed and rolled over on a football. This morning I got out of the shower and stepped on a Monster Truck. I found a Hot Wheel in my work bag, a truck cab and trailer in the lazy susan, a Lego guy in my shoe, and a tiny sock in the wine rack.

There is a piece of me that misses a clean, organized home. When I was in PT school, I would clean my apartment each weekend. I would put everything away in its place and I would dust, vacuum, and scrub. Did I mention, I did that every weekend? I would clean out my fridge and wipe out my cabinets. It was a beautiful thing. I also lived alone.

Time lapse to today, a husband, two dogs, two children, and a full time job later.

The kitchen floor needs scrubbed, the cabinets and walls and appliances in the kitchen need wiped down. No matter how often I clean the bathroom it seems to need it again IMMEDIATELY. There seems to always be piles of laundry on the couch ready to fold an put away and piles of stuff on the kitchen counter where it is left for days. And the toys... they are everywhere. Despite my husband's valiant effort to corral them to the basement, they are everywhere.  Some days, it makes me crazy but I know it is all about perspective.

The surfaces in the kitchen need to be washed because I love to cook for my family, every day. E often asks to help and somehow ingredients end up everywhere. The memories of him learning to measure, pour, stir, "spin", and create is worth the splatter spots on the tile.

Making hummus - 3 years old

The bathroom needs to be cleaned... again... because I have a 4 year old who is learning to be more independent with toileting, teeth brushing and hand washing. The confidence he is learning is more important that the impeccably clean sink, toilet, and mirror. I also have two boys who love to play in the tub. They make the dinosaurs jump and the monster trucks crash and the water splash everywhere. The giggles and wet smiles are more important that the spotless floor.

The laundry is in piles and baskets in the family room because the boys love to pull it all out and hide in it. Watching M pull out article after article of clothing and laugh and laugh is more important than wrinkle free, folded laundry.

And the toys, the toys that are seriously everywhere. My kids play hard, just like kids everywhere. No matter how many bins, boxes, tubs or totes I label, everything is out at once and it is all played with together. The boys are developing imagination, independent play skills, creativity, sharing and social skills. We are blessed to be able to provide them with a variety of toys with which to do this. Apparently, they prefer to have them all out at once.  These opportunities for creative play and learning are worth the injuries inflicted on the adults in the house when we step on a Lego guy or a Hot Wheel in the middle of the night.

Playing trucks - 8 months

My house is a mess. My kids are happy. I am good with that. I do, however, plan on a good scrub down in the future, say... 14 or 15 years?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A big 4 year old

My oldest turns 4 tomorrow. We had his party tonight at Grammy and Pop's house. Firetrucks was the name of the game. We had firetruck plates, napkins, cups, center pieces, table cloth, and balloons. The birthday boy had a fire hat and of course there was a fire truck cake. Well, there was supposed to be a fire truck cake.

This little boy teaches me BIG lessons over and over and today was no exception. I had to work Saturday and so I didn't have a chance to get to the grocery store and then get the cakes made a day early like I prefer to do. I knew when I started the project Sunday morning that it was going to be a push to get it done. That and there were some things that I had never tried before in the world of cake decorating (and that I won't be doing again).

I was mortified at the results. It was a big pile of slimy pink frosting with white accents piped on carefully that had since slid down the sides. The lights were crooked. The ladder was off center. It was hose-less. A Pinterest fail of epic proportions. My heart sank. I just wanted him to have a cool fire truck cake and this was certainly not it. That, and selfishly, I didn't want this to be the cake that my family talked about 15 years from now. "Remember the year of the horrible, pink, vegan fire truck cake?" Sigh.

With that in the front of my mind, I raced over to the grocery store and bought chocolate sandwich cookies for the wheels, two little cartons of ice cream and sorbet, and a giant chocolate chip cookie cake with the words Happy Birthday Emmett in white frosting. A back up plan.

I got home put the wheels on and slid the cake back in the fridge to try and prevent further deterioration and melting. E and his dad came inside after playing football in the yard. He asked about his firetruck cake. I opened the refrigerator door and let him look inside. His reaction was the last thing I expected. "Mom! It's my fire truck cake! For my fire party at Grammy's. Wow! Mom, great job!" Cue the heart melting and the eyes welling up. He didn't care that it wasn't perfect. What he saw was a truck, a red firetruck, with red and yellow gumdrop lights, a white ladder, cookie wheels, and it was just for him, in honor of HIS birthday. He knew in his 3 year old way, that I had been working on it all morning and afternoon and he loved it. He loved it because it was from me to him. At that reaction, I immediately felt worse. Was it, in fact, sad that he thought it was "perfect"?

We loaded up the car with everything one might need for a party, including a perfect looking chocolate chip birthday cookie with calligraphy and a heap of homemade vanilla cake with pinkish frosting and candy accents in a semi square shape. I carried the truck cake on my lap on the cake board and my husband turned the air conditioner up to keep it from melting. We got to Grammy's and I apologized profusely for the cake that I quickly slid into their fridge. After dinner, Emmett put 4 candles in it wherever he chose, blew them out as we snaped a few million pictures of him and we cut it up and ate it with ice cream. It really tasted just fine. I knew the cake and frosting would taste okay. No other mention of it was made and the party continued until it was time to pack up and head home for bathes.

The next day (his actual birthday) I told him that we would cut into the cookie with his name on it. He thought that was pretty great because, really, who would complain about two birthdays? After dinner, I gave him his slice and he took one bite and pushed the plate away. "Mom, this is terrible." He hated the cookie and the frosting. A three year old not eating a chocolate chip cookie, with frosting!? Well, honestly, he was right. It tasted like cardboard with white Crisco flavored frosting. Yuck, but.... it looked great. Yeah, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the lesson there. Appearances can be deceiving and food made with love really is superior. Pretty sure the 18 year old kid in the grocery store bakery did not bake love into the cookie or add it to the frosting scraped out of the 10 gallon bucket. I loved Emmett with every bit of me as I measured flour, sugar, and baking powder and mixed, poured, baked, frosted and decorated. An entire Sunday to make something that only he could truly appreciate. (Oh, and apparently Kona, our dog, was also quite appreciative as she managed to snag several tastes and ruin two attempts. Sigh, I digress.)

So the three year old in the house, once again, teaches his mother a valuable lesson in giving, receiving, and seeing through eyes filled with love and understanding.

Happy Birthday Emmett!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday Intention - Love

Image from:

Each morning I meditate on my intention for the day. Some mornings I lay in Savasana in my living room with toys strewn around, some mornings it is a moving meditation on a run. Thursdays I practice at a yoga studio with a great teacher. Its a hot, power yoga class and I always feel so zen afterwards.  Throughout my practice I focus on my intention. I let that intention come to me and then I feel it. If it feels forced, I acknowledge it and let it pass by and wait for the next one. If it feels easy and "right", I embrace it and focus my breath into it. I never talk about this with anyone. Not because I am embarrassed or at a loss for words or feel it doesn't need to be shared, but because words couldn't do it justice.

Throughout the day, I try and bring the energy from that intention into my body with my breath and then let it shine out, quietly. It could be patience, gratitude, calmness, harmony, peace, happiness, purpose, understanding, forgiveness, compassion, beauty, or stillness, but today without a doubt, it is LOVE. It is 7:30 am. I don't yet have an idea why it is love that stuck this morning. Love for family. Love for community. Love for ideas and passions and intentions. Love for patients. Love for the earth and, without a doubt, love for yourself. Acknowledgment of this love that flows through each of us. We all have the capacity to love, and be loved, if we allow it. For some people, love explodes out of them with every movement they make. They shine. They are vibrant, passionate beings who couldn't harness that loving energy if they tried. For others, it seems to seep out in tiny droplets and maybe, just maybe, if you brush by them on the street, one of those droplets will end up on your sleeve and you will sense it.

So today, I will think, act, and be love. I will let my intention guide my actions. No matter the circumstance, I will surround others with love. I will love myself, all of myself, both gifts and perceived imperfections. I will hope that someone will feel a small piece of that and share it with someone else, allowing the ripple effect to continue.

Your intention today does not have to be Love. It could be anything but it should be something. It is up to us to make the world a better place. Just think what could happen! It would be simply amazing.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Wow. Seriously. Just... wow.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars


  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/4 cup refined Coconut Oil, measured in melted form
  • 1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 full sheets)  (Trader Joe's brand for dairy free)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter (I used half Jif creamy natural and half homemade because that is what I had in the cupboard.)
  • Scant 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (Enjoy Life brand for dairy and gluten free)


  1. Line a 8x8 square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the melted Earth Balance, coconut oil, graham cracker crumbs, and powdered sugar together until combined. 
  3. Pop 3/4 cup of measured peanut butter in the microwave to soften. 
  4. Stir in peanut butter and salt. 
  5. Spread into prepared baking pan.
  6. In a small bowl, microwave chocolate until melted.
  7. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter and stir until smooth.
  8. Spread over peanut butter layer.
  9. Chill until completely firm, at least 3 hours.
  10.  Bars stay fresh stored in the refrigerator.  
  11. Serve chilled.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Very Happy Party

July 2014
Aug 2013
Today is my littlest one's first birthday. We made it to one. Phew. He is wonderful. He adores his big brother, wants to be on the move always, still has the cutest toothless grin, sucks the third and fourth fingers of his right hand, and LOVES to eat. He has a short fuse, loves to cuddle with his momma and carries his little cream colored lamb everywhere. We decided to have a quiet little get together for his birthday, well, as quiet as it can be with a very excited three year old and a tired, 12 month old, birthday boy. We had blue and white and green table settings and a sweet little lamb cake that I made for him.

I found a tutorial for a Fluffy Lamb Cake at Handmade Charlotte. The cake was a guest post from Lyndsay at Coco Cake Land. Check out both of their blogs for cute cakes and DIY projects. I made some adaptations to this cake. For one, both the cake and frosting are vegan and turned out great! Also, I chose to tone down the amount of icing on the cake with less piping as my kids are small and less sugar is always good. 
Lamby Cake
Dairy Free Vanilla Birthday Cake 
with Coconut Oil Vanilla "Buttercream" Frosting
For the Cake:
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups cold water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together water, oil, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and combine with whisk. Do not overmix.
  6. Immediately pour into prepared pans and place into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the Frosting (made enough to frost the entire cake as well as pipe with some leftover)

  • 6 cups confectioner's sugar 
  • 2/3 cup refined coconut oil  - solid form 
  • 5 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread (I used whipped)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 6 teaspoons vanilla unsweetended almond milk(or any non-dairy milk)
  1.  Whip the coconut oil and Earth Balance until it forms peaks. 
  2.  Slowly pour in sugar and beat until creamy. Repeat.
  3.  Add milk a teaspoon at a time to desired consistency.
  4.  Add vanilla extract and whip.
To make the Lamb
  1. Bake your cakes accord­ing to the recipe instruc­tions. Let cakes cool com­pletely on wire racks in their pans.
  2. Make your but­ter­cream accord­ing to recipe instruc­tions.
  3. Place a dollop of but­ter­cream on a cake plate to hold the cake to the plate.
  4. Remove one of the cake layers from the cake pan. Use a ser­rated knife to slice the top of your cake so the top is level.
  5. Place the cake cut-side-up on the cake plate.
  6. Using an off­set spat­ula or but­ter knife, spread an equal layer of but­ter­cream on top.
  7. Remove the sec­ond cake layer from your cake pan. Level the second cake layer as you did with the first layer. Place the sec­ond cake layer cut-side-down onto the first frosted layer. 
  8. Frost­ the top and sides of the cake.
  9. Gently use your bench scraper against the side of the cake to scrape all the way around to smooth out the frost­ing.
  10. Use a pip­ing bag and a star tip with a cou­pler and plastic ring, pipe little rosette dabs around the outside edge of the cake.
  11. Fill in the top third with more dabs of piped frosting.
To make the ears
Shape two pieces of white fon­dant into ears. I tinted a little bit of white fondant into pink with the all natural red food coloring and kneaded it in until it was evenly distributed. I found that it took a little more coloring than typical food dyes. Out of the pink fondant, make two small tri­an­gles to put in the middle of the ears. Stick them on with a drop of water. Place each ear onto a toothpick. Gen­tly push the other end of the toothpick into the sides of the cake for his sweet little ears.

To make the nose and mouth
Use the pink fon­dant to make a lit­tle tri­an­gle and then rolled a small piece of fondant between my hands and shaped. Place on top of the cake and gently press down.
To make the eyes
Tint a little bit of white fondant into blue with the all natural food coloring and kneaded it in until evenly distributed. Roll in between your hands, as you did with the mouth, until it is even. Shape it into lines for the eyes. Place on top of the cake and gently press down.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Homemade Dairy-free, Soy Free Nutella

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Nutella. Nice. This means gluten-free and MSPI safe. Whoo hoo! It does not, however, mean sugar free or healthy. I suppose everyone has those moments. I used to love Nutella. I stopped buying it when I started on the MSPI diet and then when we continued with the dairy free eating, Nutella was crossed off of the list. Until now...

Homemade Nutella
2 cups hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar or coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tbsp coconut oil melted
Dash Himalayan sea salt
1 cup good quality dark chocolate
1 1/2 tbsp raw honey
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch them closely so they don't burn.
3. Remove from the oven and place into a dish towel. Rub them together until the brown skin starts to come off.
4. Once mostly removed, place the hazelnuts in the food processor (I used my vitamix) and process until it becomes a smooth butter
5. Add in oil, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, and salt
7. Blend for another 2-3 minutes until smooth
8. Melt chocolate on the stove or in the microwave; pour into the food processor, along with the honey, and blend until smooth
9. Store in an air-tight container for a week or two. I prefer to keep mine in the cupboard at room temp.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Father's Day Bike Dinner

Well, clearly I am behind schedule on this post. I know, I know, Father's Day is in June. It is now the end of July. Time just seems to slip away.

One night in June, Emmett wore his new goggles for dinner, gotta love three year olds. Later he asked me if we could wear our bike helmets at the table sometime. Why the heck not?!

So for Father's Day, we had a bike dinner.

We wore bike helmets...


Drank out of bike bottles...


Ate "stop lights" made out of a green grape, a piece of pineapple and a bit of red pepper. (Watermelon would have worked too but I didn't have any.)

And E decorated pizzas with the ingredients to resemble bike wheels with spokes (kind of).
(Cauliflower crust on the right, normal wheat crust on the left, both plant based. Vegan cheese can be used, I typically don't put any cheese on them and just took the cheese off of my pieces. This was a rare occasion as I was using up things in our freezer. )

M wore his helmet for just long enough for a photo and then got to ride in the seat on the back of his dad's bike for the first time! He giggled for the first 2 blocks.

 As it was a bit chaotic due to the excitement, the photos are of poor quality. We did have fun though!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Photo Realization

I recently had someone tell me that a person shouldn't live their life behind their camera (or camera phone). That life is to be lived and experienced in real time and not through a lens. I suppose there is something to be said for that but I choose to document our adventures as well. I love to capture the boys smiles and explorations and awe and I enjoy looking back at the photos later and choosing the "best" ones to use on the fridge and at my desk at work.

As we were on our trip this last weekend, I took lots of pictures of my boys doing all sorts of "boy" things at the lake.
As I was looking at the photos that my mom and aunt sent me (including some of myself and one of the boys) I noticed that there are very few other photos over the last few years of me with them as they are growing.

 There is the obligatory, awful photo from the hospital, status post c-section. 

There are a couple of me holding each of them as older babies and a few others here and there.

One thing that I realized, is that mother's don't end up in the photos with their children as often as they should. Maybe that is why many old (and new) photographs of mothers and babes are so touching. There are quite of few of my husband with them. I am always taking pictures of them doing things that surprise me or make me smile. The photos of myself with them are much fewer and far between.

So, moms... time to get out from behind the camera and make a dash for the other side of the lens. You are beautiful, even with wild hair, no makeup, and slimy Cheerio goo on your shirt. Capture moments with your kids. It is crazy how fast those moments come and go. My kids are still little but I already find myself looking back through photos of them, remembering how they felt in my arms as tiny babes, and wishing there were more photos of the two of us together.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bacon Flavored Coconut - Vegan alternative

 I don't miss meat. I don't even miss cheese, which was a surprise. I do, however, miss BLTs. Especially in the summer with a big piece of juicy watermelon and an ear of locally grown corn. Yum. I have been trying out some bacon alternatives to see if there is something that will make for a great sandwich. Last year I tried a marinaded tempeh which I thought was pretty good. My husband choked it down with a fake smile, gritted teeth,  and no complaints, but it was clearly not a favorite of his. Last week I thought maybe roasted mushrooms in a marinade would work well. However, between the dog and two small boys I got distracted and they burned. Laughably, this probably made them taste quite similar to the turkey bacon we used to eat because I inevitable burned that each time as well. So... last night I tried coconut flakes. There are some recipes out there using coconut flakes to mimic bacon in recipes. I liked the combination of seasonings I had used for the mushrooms so I based mine on that. They turned out great. Obviously, the goal is not a bacon replica. It is to find a substitute that has some similar characteristics (touch of hickory, salty, and a little crunch). They worked well on the sandwich, with the exception of not staying put as well as a longer piece of bacon and I ate them on a salad the next day for lunch and they were even better. I am seeing them turning up in soups and salads in the future. Yum. 


Coconut "Bacon"


  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 4 tablespoon Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 4 cups large flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3.  Pour in flaked coconut.
  4. Stir or toss to coat the coconut in the liquid mixture. 
  5. Once the coconut is evenly coated, pour it onto a parchment lined baking sheet 
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes so it cooks evenly. It WILL burn if you’re not careful, so make sure to stir!
  7. For storage, place in glass storage container with lid and refrigerate.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Bars

These Oatmeal Raisin Bars turned out so well that they are definitely worth sharing.  A great treat for a potluck, an after school snack, or a picnic. Yum. I discovered, as well, that people don't even know they are vegan. Now, that is the ultimate compliment on a baked good.

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bars
Yields 12 servings

for the bars
 1 1/2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder + 2 teaspoons (divided)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted Earth Balance
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sunflower sunflower seed oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins

for the glaze
confectioners sugar
Vanilla Almond Milk
Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance or Coconut Oil


For the bars:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).  Line an 8 inch X 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper so that it overlaps the sides and set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl stir together the oats, flour, baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and salt.
3. In a small bowl mix the  2 Tablespoons water, 1 Tablespoon sunflower sunflower seed oil, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and let sit.
4. In a large mixing bowl (or standing mixer) cream the Earth Balance and 1/4 cup coconut oil for about 3 minutes on medium speed.  Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about another 3 minutes.
5. Add the sunflower seed oil mixture and vanilla and beat, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure it is completely combined.
6. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in the raisins.
7. Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are brown and the middle is light  brown and set.  A toothpick will not come out clean from these bars as they will still be a bit moist in the middle.
8. Let cool completely. (This was the hardest part.)

For the glaze: 
1. Place the Earth Balance (or coconut oil) and about 1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar in a bowl.  Using a hand mixer, mix a bit and then pour in almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired drizzling consistency is reached. You may need to add a bit more confectioners sugar, it's ok to play with the proportions.
2. Remove the bars from the pan to a cutting board.  Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the top and let sit until glaze has crusted over.
3.  Cut into bars and serve.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Green Lentil Borscht

We had a fantastic meal tonight. The flavors were perfect. I started with a recipe but then ventured outside of it as I usually do. The result was magnificent. And very red. Very, very red. In fact, Patrick said that this would be an excellent plant based meal to take to a Husker tail-gate. It was that red. :)

This recipe is oil free, sugar free, dairy free, nut free, gluten free, soy free, and totally plant based. Whoo hoo! That makes it a "safe" option for vegans, vegetarians, MSPI mommas and people who are gluten intolerant. Perfect.

Green Lentil Borscht
made 8 1/2 servings (1 cup)

Vegetable broth
1 medium onion (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
3 medium beets (peeled and chopped)
5 small red potatoes (cleaned and chopped with skin on)
15-20 baby carrots (cleaned and chopped)
2-3 vegetable bullion cubes
3 bay leaves
2 cups cooked lentils
2 tsp dried dill
1 can diced tomato 
1 1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the vegetable broth in a large soup kettle or sauce pan over medium high heat.
2. Saute the onion until translucent.
3. Add the garlic and saute for one minute more.
4. Add the potato, carrots, and beets, 6 cups of water, bay leaves and bullion. Stir to combine.
5. Cook until the beets are tender, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occassionally.
6. Once the beets are tender, add lentils, tomatoes, and dill and cook 10-15 minutes more or until heated through.
7. Just before serving add the apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.
8. Adjust the herbs to taste and remove the bay leaves.
9. Serve topped with a nut based cream sauce.

NOTE: You could certainly use uncooked lentils in this recipe as well. Add them in at step 4 with the root vegetables. They should take about the same time to cook as the beets. I used precooked lentils because I typically cook a large quantity of lentils or black beans at one time and freeze them in portions so I have them ready to go into recipes. Lentils have a 1:2 1/2 or 3 cup ratio so use approximately 1 cup dry lentils for similar proportions above.

 My 3 year old insisted that his truck needed to be part of the photo shoot. I think it is a nice touch, don't you?

Dairy free "sour cream"

This nut based "cream" sauce mimics sour cream quite well. I serve it with tacos, soups, as the base for dips, in wraps and burritos and anywhere else sour cream is called for. The trick is to plan ahead in order to allow time to soak the cashews as well as to use a good blender to get the creamy consistency. Neglecting either of these will still give you a good tasting condiment but will most likely result in a different texture.

Dairy Free "Sour Cream"

1 cup cashews (presoaked for at least 4 hours)
Juice of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt or to taste
1/4 cup water

1. Process cashews, lemon juice and salt until well combined.
2. Add water little by little and process until desired consistency.
3. Continue to blend until lite and fluffy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp - Gluten Free and Plant Based

I've never been much of a rhubarb fan. I think it had something to do with the look of warm, mushy, stringy "celery"-looking stuff in a dessert.  I don't like pie and so rhubarb pie was always off the radar. We had rhubarb growing on the side of our house when we moved in. That first year I just ignored it and at the end of the year my husband cut it down to the ground for winter and I didn't think about it again. Last year I was pregnant and the food I usually like didn't even sound good, let alone rhubarb. This year, Patrick decided it needed to be put to good use. He does not have the aversion that I have apparently. I really didn't have any recipes for rhubarb and so I pieced together other "crisp" recipes I have used in the past.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

  • 1 pint of strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
  • 2 cups rhubarb, in 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 3/4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup oat flour (can use regular flour if you don't need gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oats
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 5 tbsp melted coconut oil, more if necessary 
  • Slivered Almonds (optional) 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place strawberries, rhubarb, and 1/2 cup of sugar in an 8x8-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and orange juice and combine with the fruit in the baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl stir together flour, remaining 1/4 cup white sugar, brown sugar, salt and oats. Start by adding 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil and work into crumbs by hand until you achieve course crumbly mixture. Add more melted coconut oil as needed, one tablespoon at a time for desired consistency.
  4. Spread the crumb over the fruit mix and sprinkle sliced almonds on top (optional). Bake for 1 hour until bubbly and golden brown.
  5. Serve warm with coconut cream or dairy free ice cream


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strawberry Chia Energy Bars

I could use some convection over tips. Do you prop the door of the oven open? Or close it so the convection fan kicks on?  I ended up using a combination of the two. I couldn't find any instructions on this anywhere. The thought was that with the door open, the moisture could escape and the temperature could be a bit lower so as to be more like a dehydrator. Isn't that what the fan on the convection oven is for? Who knows, anywho, this open/closed method seemed to work well for me. I am going to try another flavor this weekend, more of a Hawaiian coconut, pineapple. Yum!

Just some of the delicious reasons for using some of the ingredients in this snack...

Pumpkin seeds have lots of antioxidants, vitamin E, phosphorus, copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium.  The oils in these little guys may even help to regulate insulin. (Very preliminary but so cool.) They also have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Can't beat that.

Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins E and B1 as well as copper. Vitamin E helps protect your cells against free radicals, chemicals that oxidize and damage your proteins, cell membranes and DNA. This vitamin also promotes healthy circulation by helping you make red blood cells. An ounce of hulled sunflower seeds contains 10 milligrams of vitamin E! That is two-thirds of your recommended daily intake of the nutrient.

Sesame seeds also have loads of zinc which decreases the risk for osteoporosis, phytoserols that may enhance the immune response, sesamin which provides liver protection, as well as copper, anti-inflammatory, and anti oxidants.

Chia seeds are a hot topic right now. These odd little seeds are full of fiber, calcium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Another great thing about chia seeds is their ability to absorb up to 12x their weight. This means that once ingested, they can draw out toxins in your body. Pretty cool, huh?

Flax seeds also contain Omega-3s. I have been hearing about a study (yes that is a link to Yahoo news but the actually article from Neurology is cited at the bottom of the link) where Omega-3 fatty acids were shown to possibly reduce age related brain shrinkage, especially in women. Shoot, I am all for that. Flax seeds are antioxidant power houses with ounce for ounce, more antioxidants than blueberries. This has been correlated to a reduction in insulin resistance.

As my mom said, when I told her about the above health benefits, "Whew! That is lots of good health." Ha. 

So try these out and be on the look out for the next variety. I already have several more ideas.

Strawberry Chia Energy Bars 

  • 2 cups Fresh Strawberries, topped and hulled
  • 19 Medjool Dates, pitted (about 2 cups)
  • ¼  cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • ¼  cup Sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup Flax Seeds
  • ½ cup Sesame Seeds
  • ⅛ cup Chia Seeds
  • Sea Salt, optional to taste
  1. Place strawberries and dates in the food processor. Pulse into a slightly chunky mixture, not completely smooth.
  2. Pour fruit puree into a bowl and using a wooden spoon, gently mix in all remaining ingredients. Salt to taste.
  3. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The mixture should be about ⅛” thick.
  4. Place in convection oven at 170 deg F for about 6 hours. (This was the lowest my oven would go.) 
  5. After about 4-5 hours, when the top is no longer sticky to the touch and the bottom can easily peel off the parchment, flip the mixture over so the top is now the bottom. This will help evenly dehydrate both sides. I found the best way to do this was to place a new piece of parchment on top of the bars and flip the whole thing. I then peeled the old layer of paper off the top.
  6. The bars are done when they have a fruit leather texture, not completely crispy.
  7. Cut into bars using a pizza cutter.
  8. Can be stored 6 months – 9 months in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Tired Momma's Thoughts

I've come to decide that being a mom means spending an exorbitant amount of time anticipating the needs of others. If/then thoughts...

If we get stranded in the car in the snowstorm, then we will need everyone's winter boots, coats, hats, and mittens.

If we are going to travel the hour to and from Grandma's, then we need to time it so child B will sleep in the car and child A will not sleep in the car.

If I can get the first load of laundry in now, then I will not have to try to do it while balancing a baby in one arm and managing a "helpful" 3 year old under my feet.

If, during nap time, I squeeze the lemon, mince the garlic, roast the red pepper, and measure out the salt and tahini into a bowl for the hummus and put it in the fridge, then when Child B is awake I can use the food processor and all the tasks requiring two hands have already been done.

If the baby spits up on me at church, then I will need an extra shirt in order not to smell like rotten milk... again.

If it is 40 degrees and raining outside, then I will make a dinner that is a bit more labor intensive, but if it is 75 and sunny outside then I will use a default meal because Child A will want to play outside and requires supervision.

If I go to the grocery store at 7 am on Friday, then I could drop the groceries off before work and I wouldn't have to drag kids to the store on Saturday.

If we are going out of town tomorrow morning, then tonight I need to make sure to get the diaper and snack bags ready, and my pump, and any hostess gifts/food, and Child B's bottles,  and the kitchen sink. Mainly, because I can help Child A get dressed, clean up the spilled cereal, change a major diaper blow out and get the dog fed but I cannot, for some reason, pack up the car at the same time.

If I can get a snack into Child A at 2:45 pm, then he will not be so grumpy by 5:00 pm when he requires dinner 10 minutes ago.

If we are going to go out to dinner, then... forget it, that one is way too much work.

And on and on and on. It can be mentally exhausting. To try and stay ahead of the game in order to keep things running smoothly. I don't remember doing as much of that B.C. (before children). Probably because I didn't. 

I like routine. I like organization. I dislike clutter and chaos and craziness. My kids have helped me see that although planning can be helpful (someone has to do it) things just don't always go as as we thought they might. And that is okay too. These boys almost always surprise me with how resilient they are to life's obstacles. It is me, not them that gets hung up on the schedule. I hope they hang on to that as they grow. A fantastic life skill that would serve them well.