Preparing for Dedication

The fall and winter is usually when Paul and I travel the most for work.  He is a graphic designer by day, but plays guitar in a band at night.  That really is a side project and he isn't gone all the time doing it, but he travels and practices and takes time to write so it still takes up his time and energy.  I travel when I speak at conferences and retreats and have been writing a lot more these days.   He will be gone 1-2 weekends per month and I will be gone 1-2 per month.  We always make sure we are home as a whole family at least one weekend a month together for these winter months of crazy.

People always say that it sounds incredibly hard and busy.  We understand it is a bit busier than usual, but really, how we approach it makes all the difference.  We try very hard to look at our priorities and make room only for the things we won't compromise on, faith, family, fun and structure.  We withdraw from everything else during those times to protect our family.  We don't schedule dinners, parties, classes, or kickball or extra circular activities.  We take the things we usually do and replace then with travel.  So during the week, we don't do anything else.  Whenever we are home, spending time together as a married couple and family is our top priority.  That's probably why people think we are so busy, because we are either traveling or hiding for months, and then in the spring, we come out to play.

Paul and I both feel called to our family, our marriage and to our ministries.  We in no way want one of these aspects of our life to allow the other to suffer.  And we deeply believe that if God has called to us these aspects of our life, then if we seek him continuously and ask for his guidance he will provide a way.  So we pray and talk and schedule and find a way for each of these aspects of our heart and lives to empower the other, not destroy it.  We want healthy rhythms and routine for the kids.  We want and need time together to keep our marriage strong.  We see how our whole family flourishes in our regular life schedule of slower paced living.

I have learned how to prepare for this season of our lives each year. On New Year's we open our schedule and we look over the next six months.  We discuss priorities, time as a family, what we will cut out of the schedule and what we need to keep to stay healthy.  We discuss sitters, schedules, merchandise, food, family chores, the whole bit.  So I have learned how to prepare the house.  Get things in order.  I have learned to love friends through emails and phone calls while being in the airport since I don't see much of them.  I have learned to make lists of financial items that need to be taken care of during the week when I am home.  I have not mastered the birthday thing and remembering and sending cards.  I am horrible at that, and not sure its in my DNA to be that girl that will send you a card to arrive on your actual birthday.  That just seems way too hard.  I have though learned how to organize multiple sitters and a network of people to take care of the kids.  (And this is just all the house/family stuff, I didn't list all the business arrangements that need to take place, writing and preparing speeches, and ordering and organizing merchandise to sell.  Preparation in of itself is a part time job.)

The last two years I have needed to include food preparation into this list which is an enormous task.  I can't leave money for the sitter to buy pizza or McDonald's   I can't let Paul make the kids PB&J for lunch.  I need lists of the "DO NOT EAT" foods.  Lists of the "APPROPRIATE SNACKS".  Most of the time, I need all  the food prepared so that our friends and family watching the kids feel comfortable and confident in their ability to love them and take care of them.  I want to bless them as much of a stress free weekend as I can.  So that now includes lists and lists of food, days of cooking and freezing food, and organizing the menu and vitamins that each kid takes.  Then I think about myself.  What am I going to eat?  I usually take some hard boiled eggs, Larabars, apples and almonds and scones.  I am happy to eat salad for the weekend and know that usually in the green room are veggies and fruit.

But on Thursday what I wasn't expecting and totally forgot was that Paul was now on our diet.  It was Thursday morning and Little and I came home from dropping the boys off at school.  We were going to paint nails, read books and play a game while we waited for the new stove to arrive. (which it didn't and we are hoping comes Monday!)  But then my mind drifted to the fact that Paul was going to be leaving for his Chicago weekend gig at 5am the next morning.  He would be gone all weekend.  Then it hit me, what's he going to eat?  Oh shoot!  So I looked at Little and we struck a deal.  Cook one thing for Daddy and do one thing for her.  What was tricky about this is that Paul may be on our all natural diet, but me and the kids can be fine eating snacks and bird like food for a few days.  We are happy being granola, seed, nut and fruit and veggie people.  Paul needs meat.  Paul need substance.  How the heck am I supposed to do that?  So I did the only thing that made sense to me. I prepared food that he could take, but if he gave me the look of, "am I really supposed to eat that?" then I had it already prepared for the kids.  To me it felt like a win/win.

So this is what I sent with Paul to help fill in his gaps of meals, and hopefully when in a pinch, make a  meal in and of itself.  My goal was that he wouldn't hate the diet so much that he wouldn't want to do it anymore.  The challenge was great, but I have already heard from him that he is doing well, and every time he eats the food I prepared for him, he knows how much I love and support him.  And that's the goal right?  Take care of our loved ones.  Support them in their dreams and dedication to being the best they can be?  He wants to eat healthy, take care of  himself for me and the kids, rid himself of some chronic issues.  How can I not do everything in my power to help him in that. I can either be apart of his downfall, or his success.  I am his wife.  I want him to succeed.

So I sent him with:

I made our coffee cake which I get from  Its really delicious and sent Paul with three HUGE pieces, one for each morning he was gone.

Paul has eaten Larabars before and I believe his response was, "It tastes like chalk.  I can't believe you eat this."  Welcome to the diet!  So I splurged and bought a bunch of different kinds of bars for him to try.  His homework was if he didn't like it, put the rest of the bar in a baggie and bring it home so the kids could eat for a snack, they are too expensive to throw away, seriously.  And if he liked it, he needed to keep the wrapper so I knew which ones to get him next time he traveled out of town.  And yes you will see Enjoy Life candy bars in there.  I figured, he would be watching everyone else eating oreo's in the green room, if he felt like something sweet, then he had something on hand.

Hard boiled eggs are a great snack in this house.  One splurge item we use is smoked salt.  It it just to die for and we can't eggs any other way.  We are adding it to pop corn and roasted veggies, its just too good not to.  We get ours from here.  It takes our usually every day very plain food, to a whole new wonderful place of goodness.

I found this box of a cookie mix, so I decided to cook them up and had Paul try them.  He loved them, which is a huge test in this house.  So I sent him with some, ate quite a few myself and then each kid got two in their lunch the next day.  Yes, cause I ate that many if you must know.  The cookie mix was Pure Elizabeth.  Don't remember where it came from, but I will keep my eye out for it now.

I was a little surprised that Paul wanted to take the Quinoa and bean salad with walnuts in it.  I thought this was pushing his limits, but he actually really likes it, and its ALL protein   So I am hoping this big batch will help with the hunger over the weekend.

These scones are really very British and not sweet at all.  But they work great dipped in coffee or slathered with a nut butter or jam.  So that is what I sent with Paul, scones for a lunch with a can of our homemade strawberry/apple jam made this past fall.

Here is the jam and the cashew ranch dressing that I sent with him.  I figured, most of the time salad is your only option, so I wanted him to have dressing that he enjoys.

I am not gonna lie, I never thought I would see the day that meat and potato man would take a suitcase of granola, hippy, authentic real  food with him.  He had bamboo silverware and everything.  He was so happy to have food to eat, and I was so happy that was willing to pack a whole other suitcase of food.

Weekend one is a success!  Now in two weeks we will both be gone, so I guess its back to the kitchen to start preparing food for five people, two who will be gone and three that will have sitters.  I should start now so I will be done in time.

But in true confession, every minute in the kitchen is worth it.  It is worth it that my husband is happier with himself and his body and his attitude.  It is worth it for my sons ability to have friends, and interact in a healthy way with others.  That he has stayed of meds because of the food he eats.  The absence of my depression makes every moment in the kitchen worth it.  To pursue our dreams.  To use our God given gifts to bless others.  To have joy in our home.  You will probably find my body dead in the kitchen when I go, but yes it is worth. every. single. second. for the life we have.  The good things are absolutely worth the work.

Hearty Gluten Free Granola

This recipe started from one of my favorite cookbooks called, Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.

It's not that sweet, but it hits the spot.  I have taken their basic recipe and added a little here and changed a thing or two there.  We eat it as a snack, but mostly we use it as our cereal.  When you can't have Gluten/Dairy/Corn/Soy/Sugar, cereal is around $6 a box.  We just can't do that.  Plus the bonus is that when you make your own cereal, you control what goes in it, and you keep the preservatives out.

Again, the way I approach recipes is to look at them like a base.  Here is your granola base, but think about what you like to eat, what your family likes to eat.  If you won't eat raisins, don't put them in.  On the other side of that coin however, is the idea to try to stretch your tastes, include items that you know are good for you, but you wouldn't normally eat.


Preheat oven to 300 degree's
3 cups GF oats
1 cup GF flour blend, (I really like to use Coconut flour for its added sweetness)
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
Handful of Chia seeds or hemp seeds
Mix together in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center then add:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 milk
1/2 cup nuts or dried fruit (raisns, walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, cashews, almonds, chopped dates, etc.)
Mix well and pour into a cake pan.  Place on middle rack in oven for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

* Adding the coconut sugar the first few times you make this will help in the transition of flavors.  Once you start enjoying homemade granola cereal, you can leave out the added sugar.

I always like to double this recipe because my kids like eating it so much, doubling up just means I have to make it less. Saving time and energy in the kitchen means to have more time and energy for my family.  So make it once, if you like it, always double it so you have it on hand.  Store in airtight jars or containers.

We love eating this with almond milk in the morning, or in the evening as a snack.


Guidelines for the Joy Free diet

Sorry, this didn't post when I wanted it to.  If you have been waiting, I apologize for the wait.  If you don't care, glad to know I didn't disappoint you.

So if you would like to look at where our story started, and why we changed our diet, scroll down this page and look under the heading, "Life with food issues." There are lots of posts taking you more in depth, but  I won't rehash them here.

I will tell you up front that by changing our very normal American eating habits, we have kept one child, potentially two off medicine for ADHD, sensory issues and possibly emotional unbalance.  The other positive side effect is my mood swings, seasonal depression, lethargic behavior, frequent headaches and sporadic stomach aches have all gone away.  Also gone are the dark circles under my eyes, and the small red bumps on all of our arms.  In place of all that is missing is my constant enjoyment of my life, my kids, and my husband.  I have the energy to invest in my children's education, the organization of my home, my book and future speaking career.  With my new found energy, I have the will and commitment to getting up early, doing a light workout and spending amble time in prayer or reading the Bible.  This is most likely my greatest bonus.  For all the times I have longed, willed myself to get up, set my alarm and went back to bed, I now have the energy and focus to get up, and invest in my life this way.  I can't even find the words to express to you what this has meant to my sanity, my influence on my children, my relationship with the Lord, my husband.  It is deeply creeping into all of my dark places and replacing it with light.  All because I have the energy to get up and claim that gift every morning.

If we look at our life like a circle, I think a lot of us divide the circle up into a pie.  We cut a piece out and work on it.  We know and understand that our life has lost of different areas and we play lots of different roles (the pieces of the pie) so we approach our betterment like compartments.  In the new year we pick the piece of pie we want to work on and focus on it.  I want to craft more.  I want to serve more.  I want to eat healthier, or exercise more.  I want to go to church, or be in the word more.  I want to spend more time with my kids, or my friends.  I want to find a new job.  The list goes on.  But if we look at it as a wheel, then you can enter the circle at any point. But wherever you enter this cycle, you move forward and you touch each and every piece because you move fluidly through it.  It is a rhythm that is never ending, it is always moving, and it is whole.  Some would call it a holistic approach.  When you change one aspect of the cycle, that change effects all other aspects of your life.

This is what changing our diet has done for me.  It was entering the cycle at one point, but watching how it infected and changed all areas of my life.  Wow, let's get down to business now, and the whole point of this blog, to share with you our family guidelines.

So what exactly don't we eat in our house?  OK, here goes the list:
White Potatoes
Shell fish

So when most people look at this list, they first wonder why.  Why can't you eat so many of these things?  Tomorrow I hope to provide you with some research into the big triggers.  The small items are personal to some of my children's body.

So what do we eat?  Easy;

Any vegetable
Any fruit
All nuts (but no peanuts) and seeds
Fish (with the exception of shellfish)

This may not sound like a lot to you, but you really can do so much with these items, including baking.  With these restrictions, here is generally what our week looks like, food wise.

Breakfast:  Eggs in any form, scrambled, omelets, fried over spinach, baked with veggies.  During the week we limit ourselves to either eggs or oatmeal with a smoothie.  We eat GF oats, even though Oats are naturally GF, they are highly contaminated, so we just eliminate the  possibility and eat GF.  This makes mornings simple during the week and then the kids and I bake something yummy for the weekend mornings.  We either have coffee cake or muffin mush or scones and fruit or pancakes or french toast.  It makes those weekend items more special and we do it together.

Lunch: We have a variety of whatever is easiest that day.  Green Salad, egg salad, pasta salad, muffins with nut butter and Jelly, rice cakes with nut butter and jelly, soup, left overs, buttered noodles, veggies and hummus, a huge bowl of fruit salad with chips, rice chips with guacamole.  See there are lots of options.

Snacks: my kids take either a piece of fruit, a homemade larabar, or veggies for snacks.  When I am really tired and we have them on hand, they get a little bag of chips, but those are expensive so that is a treat.  Sometimes, they just opt out of a snack and wait till they get home.  Sometimes they take two honey sticks with them as a fun little treat.

Dinner: Again, here we have a wide range of ways to cook chicken, rice and veggies, we have sweet potato burgers, we have Stir Fry's, soups, salads, baked potatoes, hamburgers, risotto's in all flavors, homemade gnocchi, BBQ chicken, fried rice, Mexican rice, Lasagna.  I don't know, we just eat whatever we have in the house.

Desserts: Baked fruit, cake, pies, fudge, cookies.  All just like you, expect I make them all, without sugar, so my kids don't go crazy, we don't grave sugar, and they don't need treats all the time.

Our general rule is that we get one treat a day if mom or the kids remember.  But they have to remember at lunch time, because we don't have treats after dinner.  I figure your body has less time to burn it off before bed time, so its lunch time or no time. We have a treat maybe three times a week.

Another general rule for us to make breakfast and lunch vegetarian.  We allow 3-4 dinners a week to have meat.  I can talk about meat in another blog, but one I know to be sure, our bodies weren't created to take in the amount of meat we do.  We get lots of protein in our nuts, smoothies, veggies, and beans, so don't worry about us.

We also try very hard to include vegetables at every meal, yes even breakfast.  Find me one medically trained person who says we don't need to eat more vegetables.  The health benefits of this are incredible.  So even though they don't like it all the time, my kids know they have to eat them.  They don't have a choice.

We try to meal plan, but I'm not perfect at it.  We eat better when I do.  When I am too tired to cook, we have a bowl of GF pasta with garlic butter sauce.  That's our go to meal.  When Paul cooks, its chili or hot dogs.  Hot dogs without port or sugar or corn or nitrates cost about $6.99 for 7, so we buy them when they are on sale and stick them in the freezer.   They are our in a tight pinch, we really need something treat.  A lot of food that are convenience for others are very expensive for us, so those are extra special treat items here.

What I like about this, is my kids eat incredibly well because they don't know another way.  They also aren't offered a ton of options all the time that allows them to be picky.  They don't get special things to eat all the time, so they remain special and unexpected.

So that is where we are at.  And yes, I do make my own Ranch dressing, soy sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, caramel, hot chocolate, milk and nut butters.  If we didn't add sugar and corn syrup to everything, I wouldn't have to.   I will get you those recipes though, I promise.

Anyway, those are our guidelines by which we live.  Trying to find a balance between what all the experts say is the right way to eat, we are finding a good happy middle.

Good luck finding your happy place and way of eating that supports and takes care of your health.

The Food Journal Project

So I confessed much to you yesterday and it feels good to be starting a brand new day.  My rhythm, however, is that I can have much success with my first few days/weeks, and then I falter.

Since I have laid my insecurity and weakness bare to you, I can also tell you that my husband, who is the biggest Texas meat and potato lovin man I have ever met, has started on our diet as of Jan. 1.

Here is a photo of my handsome man and me at Christmas just a couple weeks ago by our tree.

We have had over a year and half of changing our mindset around food.  Always striving to be healthy eaters, it was a whole new idea and hard concept to wrap our head around what gluten/wheat, casein and sugar does to our bodies.  We watched in awed silence as our son came back to us, but even more so, after months of being on the diet, we would watch the transformation happen right before our eyes as his whole personality changed when Big would eat something off his "Stay away from" list.  Big was the reason we started the diet, but we have seen the immense benefit to all of our health by eating the way we do.  All except Paul.  We have spent many hours talking about the changes in me when I adhere to our "joy free" diet.  We both experience how I speak more gently, I have more patience with the kids, I don't seem so down all the time and struggle to be motivated.  I'm not so easily angered and my emotions don't swing so much.  I am not as easily offended, and I find joy in so many more things.  I actually enjoy so much more of my life, and the kids sense it too, and it improves their behavior as well.

I had told Paul once that I would love for him to try being on board with our lifestyle for a few months.  Paul also struggles with many of the same things I do, being lethargic, mood swings, discontentment, depression, anger, sugar cravings, you name it. I was curious to see, since all of our children have issues with food, as do I, would Paul find the same kind of freedom and joy that we have?   I had this dream of wondering to what extent our home could experience peace and joy if we all fueled our body the way it needed.  If our bodies weren't at war with itself, then they would have time to heal themselves and there would be more time for joy and understanding.  I know that this many sound crazy to you, but even after one week of cutting gluten/dairy/sugar our of our diet, I have experienced already a change in my behavior and attitude.  This is not to say that I don't get frustrated, or that Paul and I didn't have a small fight last night.  What I am saying is the way I handle myself, feel about myself and others is completely different.

I say all of that to say this, our eating and food lifestyle over the next month or so will become my blogging project.  Though I am not an expert by any means, many have come to me seeking advice, recipes, tips, information, websites, and resources.  So even though I have always blogged about many different things, and most likely, there will still be a fun and  random post thrown in, my focus for the next month will be sharing with you what I have learned in regards to food and resources.  I will share our menus, recipes, websites, tips and encouragement.  I will be forthcoming and honest about where we are at as a family, and keep you posted on our progress.

Before I move on tomorrow with more specifics, I need to make one thing abundantly clear.  Food is not my salvation, nor the way in which I fulfill living in the fruits of the Spirit.  I deeply believe that God is the one who heals our bodies.  He is the one who gives knowledge and insight and wisdom in how to take care of ourselves.  What I also believe is that he knows our bodies better than we do.  We knows what it takes to fuel it, make it work, but more than just make our bodies exists, he knows how to make us thrive.  Eating an all natural, no processed diet gives us the ability to receive all these gifts.  To live in a way where we are more open to his leading.

I have more thoughts on that later, but I just wanted to give you an insight in what I will be blogging about over the next month.  I am not your expert, but I am your doorway into resources that can help.

Please feel free to ask questions, correct me, or share what you know.  I want this to be a place where people can find good, truthful information about how we take care of our bodies and thrive in our lives.  Please join me this month and be encouraged.  We can all start over.

Confessions of a food addict

I have to say up front that I have an eating dysfunction.  This is different than an eating disorder.  A disorder is a disease that you can't stop yourself.  You need intervention and outside help.  I may see the line, but I never cross it.  I just like to get real close, let it control me for awhile, then step in and reclaim my life.  But I have been on this crazy roller coaster, my whole life and I need to call it like I see it and own it.

I use food as my reward, my consolation prize, to fill time, because I had a bad day, because I can, because I did stuff for everyone else today and eating this cake is for me, because I am sad, I am lonely, I am anxious, I am happy, I am angry, I am depressed.  It has become my habit to eat when the kids are sleeping in the afternoon and at bed time.  I eat when I am alone, and when I am at a party because I will start my diet tomorrow and I never get to eat this kind of fun food.  I eat because I am in front of the TV and because I worked out, now I can have a treat.  I eat to reward myself and to punish myself.  I keep eating once I have fallen of the band wagon, because well, I am already off the band wagon.  Sometimes I eat till I hurt because then maybe I'll stop, because I can't stop on my own.  I will eat the whole box of cookies because you can't leave any in there, because then I'll just eat them tomorrow and I am starting a new diet tomorrow, so I'll eat them all today.  I'll eat after dieting for 4 day's because I DIETED FOR FOUR DAYS!

Food has become my response to everything.  It is my idol.  It is what I think about all the time.  Trying to avoid it or overcome it or resist it.

When I say this, I can already hear the comments, "It's that way for everyone.  You aren't the only one.  So many people struggle with the same thing.  It's normal."  Even if all those things are true, I don't want that to be my normal!  First of all, having idols is against God's design for our lives.  It's actually the first of the big 10, "Have no other God's before me."

I say this to you because over the last year and half, as my family has radically changed their diet, I told you that I was committed to our healthy eating lifestyle.  I made the change because I believe in supporting our children.  I have also come to realize much about the food we consume, and have come to understand that this is truly the way we were intended to fuel our bodies.  We really shouldn't be eating any other way.  I didn't want my children to feel alone, and so I made the change.  Things went really well for the first few months, and then I started to struggle.

Because I am a normal human being with struggles and emotional baggage and I'm not perfect.  I can't  tell you how many diets, or new eating plans I have lived through.  The hard thing with this was it was supposed to be a forever change.  Then life happened and my coping mechanism is to eat donuts from the store when I  go grocery shopping.  My poor eating habits have years and years of deep rooted patterns.  I can't just erase them because I want to.

One thing I have realized is that once you cheat, the promise is broken and it becomes insanely easy to cheat again.  Then add to that, friends and family, all meaning well, saying "well, you can have the Lasagna  it's just your kids that can't really eat it.  Well, you can eat this cake, this cheese, this, fill in the blank,"  It's all the encouragement a food addict needs to fall or stay off the band wagon.

And so it has been a long year and half.  It has been far from perfect and has had many ups and downs.  It has had its success' and it's tragic failures.  I will go a month or two at a time and then hit my emotional wall and fall.  My biggest struggle has been feeling like a fake, a liar and a cheater.  I have felt this way with my children and also with you, our support system, because I haven't been totally, truly honest.  I am sorry for that.  I am sorry for deceiving you and keeping my struggle from you.

You may think this post is unnecessary, but I have voluntarily invited you into our lives and I have intentionally led you to believe one thing, while living a different way.  I am telling you now because I want to be done with the lie, the lie of omission.  I want to invite you into my struggle to pray for me and encourage me.

I am also inviting you into this because now that I have exposed myself, I am asking for help.  I don't want to cheat anymore.  I want you to offer me things I shouldn't eat, but I need you not to.  I desire with my whole heart to eat this way for good, from this point on.  I wish I could explain to you the difference I see in myself when I eat a vegetarian, all natural diet.  My ability to love my family, my patience level, my understanding increases and my anger, depression and frustration and lethargic behavior greatly decreases.  It feels like by just changing my diet, I possess the potential to be the person I dream I can be.  I want the best version of myself for me, my husband and my family.  I deeply, desperately want this to be a lifestyle change and never go back.

Another little tid bit for you is that Paul has committed to eating according to the diet till April 15.  This is a whole family affair now and we need you.  We are five days in and having wonderful success.  Yeah, yeah, I know, it's only five days, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Thank you for listening.  Thank you for walking with us.  Thank you for believing in us.  Thank you for praying for us.  We need you.

Update:  I thought I should let you all know that my issue with food can't just be solved by changing my diet with will power.  I believe in the Spirit of God being able to transform my heart and my habits.  A friend of mine and I are starting a wonderful God centered food redemption program called, "Thin Within".  This is a program that focuses on God being the center of your life and when tempted with food you turn to God for help and strength and wisdom.  This is truly the only way to find freedom.

Homemade Halloween

I am sure there are multiple blogs out there addressing Halloween with food allergies.  Let me throw my hat in the ring so you can have some recipes before the big day.

We love Halloween.  We love the fun of it and not the scare of it.  We get excited for carving pumpkins, being out past dark, and wearing the cream of the crop costume that Dad makes. (Yes, he is the captain of that ship in this house, and rightfully so.  He never ceases to amaze me with the way his brain works and how he finds tools around the house to make our kids dreams come true.)

We love to celebrate the innocence of Halloween.  The part that all of us remember, the sweet, innocent magic of it.  Dressing up and somehow allowing the night to transform you into a real pirate, a princess, a superhero,or a cowboy.  For one night, you really believe you are what your costume says you are and you travel the night hunting for treats.  I love it!

But how do you create the holiday for kids with allergies?  If you just have a gluten or dairy issue, there is still candy for the taking on the Halloween.  Sure you have to dig out the stuff you can't eat, and trade for the stuff you can eat.  But what do you do when sugar is your trigger? 

That my friends leaves you with an empty Halloween bucket.

Last year we made it happen, but I think we are going to do even better this year.  I have 18 months under my belt now and a wide range of resources.  So I would like to share with you what I have found to save you the time of digging around.

A few thoughts:

My children are in school and this adds an extra level of struggle.  Their friends will be coming to school with brightly colored wrapped candy, Carmel apples, and fun drinks.  I don't care how fun you make the veggies look, they aren't stupid.  They know the difference.  We don't always play the competing game, but Halloween is kind of like the Superbowl, and that means, I need to make sure my kids are satisfied so they aren't beyond tempted to throw all the hard work out the window and go crazy with the candy.

You may think this is overboard, and that's alright, maybe it is, but I want the day to be special for my kids too, instead of a day filled with rejection and feeling like they are missing out, because frankly, they would be.

So each meal is a very basic meal, just with a special spooky name, or a little twist thrown in.

Breakfast: Sweet potato pancakes, but I will put blueberries for eyes, strawberries for noses and apple wedges cut out like teeth.  Viola, pumpkin pancakes.  I will most likely serve them a smoothie and throw in extra spinach to turn it a gooey green color for a  "monster ooze" brew.  (See what a silly name can do for making something special?)

Lunch: (the trickiest) Hot Dog monsters: I will cut the bottoms into strips like an octopus and attach olives for eyes.  A trick I learned is cooking the hot dog first at home, then filling your kids thermos with hot water for a couple minutes.  Pour out the water, insert hot food and it will stay warm till lunch time.  Great right?!
I will include green grapes with a little sign that says Goblin eye balls.
Black bean chips are just a great dark creepy color.
And each kid will get a spider egg.  Thank you Martha Stewart! (dyed in blackberries of course!)
Then for a treat, I plan on making these cookies.

Project lunch a success!  (I hope.)

Snack: I think making these fun apple slices with pine nuts will be great!  Thank you pinterest!

When they come home from school I want to have Carmel apples waiting for them.  We haven't had a Carmel apple in over a year, but thank you to my friend Kristy and the book, "Eat like a dinosaur" we have a Carmel recipe that is sugar free!  I have attached it at the end.

We will then get ready by watching "Its a great pumpkin Charlie Brown" while I make supper.

Supper: Spaghetti, or also will be called "The brain".  I also saw this idea on pinterest that I thought was cool, so we will have that to enjoy as well.

We plan on transforming into Thor, a Ninja, and a pink pirate, (don't ask me, I'm still working on that one) then out for trick or treating.  The kids and I had a big talk and they still want to go.  So we will collect treats for about an hour, then come home where a "safe" treat bag waits for us.  The kids decorated their treat bag tonight, I thought they did a great job.

Today I stopped at The Paper Depot on Lyndale by the Farmers market and collected a bunch of small bags and boxes so that I can fill them with safe candy that I am currently making.  I will also include fun Halloween pencils, small boxes of raisins, erasers, a Chinese yo-yo, and another fun little game that I can find in the Target dollar section.

For their treats, I plan on making fudge. (included below)
I will also use Enjoy Life Brand chocolate and dip apples in that as a treat.
I will make these cookies.
Another version of peanut butter cups.
And then there is a brand of gummy worms and jelly beans that I for the life of me can't remember but will collect tomorrow so I will update then. 

That pretty much covers it I think.  Dad will get to pick out his favorite candy that he wants to keep and then my kids get to share the rest of the candy with their friends at school.

It's taking me a week to prepare, but I love the magic of childhood and don't think it's that fair that a food issue would keep a child from something so special. 

So, though none of these recipes are mine, I hope it will lead you to some amazing women who are doing a lot of work creating good, all natural treats, and hopefully maybe a blog or two you didn't know was around.


Caramel Sauce
½ cup honey
½ cup maple syrup
½ tsp baking soda

Warm large sauce pan over medium heat, add honey and maple syrup to warm pan-mixture should gently bubble, but if it begins to immediately boil and brown it has burned and you should start over.
Once gentle bubbles begin to form, turn heat to medium low; have little hands continuously stir to prevent burning.
Mixture will bubble and potentially expand over edge of pot, if that happens, remove from heat and stir and return to heat once bubbles subside.
Once sauce has thickened and the color has darkened (about 10) remove from heat to add baking soda.
Whisk in baking soda thoroughly and continue to stir as it starts to expand and bubble; return to medium heat for 2-3 min. Whisk constantly until sauce has become a thick, rich, bubbly sauce that does not reduce when moved off of heat.
Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally-sauce will reincorporate to a thick caramel consistency.
Serve and use warmed (heat in microwave or on stove top)
Store in an airtight container for several months in refrigerator.

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cocoa
1/3 cup honey
Dash of salt
Teaspoon of vanilla
Put all ingredients in food processor, blend, put in plastic wrapped pan and place in fridge.

A proud mama

It often feels like the things worth fighting for are made up of long roads of small constant battles, big changes, emotional roller coasters, all with little reward along the way.

We all have things that we want to fight for, that we believe in, that we desire for our life.  Sometimes we let those dreams or ideals or goals go because we look at the road and we don't think we can do it.  We grow weary just looking at the obstacles right in front of us.  Surviving that road makes us exhausted just thinking about it.

If I had a penny for every time I heard, "I don't know how you do it", I could pay off my last student loan.  I hear that comment about our diet every time someone asks why we aren't eating with the rest of the group.

I remember sitting in the nutritionists office that very first time when we were going through Big's blood test.  She told me that we would have to start a Gluten Free/Dairy Free diet.  I understood that what she was telling me was a very big deal and it would change the way we do things, but I didn't understand the extent or depth of that change.  I didn't understand the way it would radically change our lives, for the better.

I was home in MI for two weeks, and most people there we hadn't seen in a year.  Last year at this time we were still figuring out the diet, our house had just been hit by a tornado and we were all a little dazed and confused.  Now here we were, a year later, and I could fill the pages of a book with all the observations people were giving me about my children.

When we live day in and day out it can often be hard to see the benefits of the choices we make.  I wish I could express to you the joy, satisfaction, and pride that I had for my children.  Everywhere we went, all the people we saw, my kids were full of joy, manners, politeness, energy, and helpfulness.  I got to experience them for the first time like everyone else was.  I was able to see what they see, instead of the day to day grind of life, little bickering moments and meltdowns and great expectations.

I used to live in a world where our bad days/moments far outweighed the good.  My world was dominated by correction and discipline, explanations and talking down the over emotional child.  Please don't misunderstand me, those things still exist, but they now exsist within the boundaries of children who can mostly control themselves.  Children who have multiple good days with the bad thrown in.  Children who share with the occasional fight.  Children who follow the rules with the occasional defiance.

It feels like what having children should be, a joy.  I stepped back and really observed my children so I could see what they would see. 

Last year I wanted to take my mom out for dinner, but Big couldn't handle it.  He always struggled with me leaving.  He would cry and throw out all the things that make mothers feel guilty leaving.  And I did, and he came with us.  This year, mom and I wanted to sneak out so that the kids wouldn't be upset.  We ended up having devotions together and giving the kids breakfast.  When it was time for girl day, Big told us to have a great time and kissed me goodbye.  Whenever he was told it was time for bed, he would go and get ready.  In the morning, it was never a reminder of what he needed to do before he could play.  He was Papa's big helper with the boat.  He was always helping with the smaller kids.  He was full of joy and gentleness and kindness and goofiness.  When he didn't agree with a decision, he told me he didn't like it, then it was over.

One morning I went for a run and he cried because I didn't take him with me.  When we talked about it when I got home, I told him, running was mommy time.  He looked at me with clear eyes and said, "Oh, just like when I need my alone time and I go downstairs to the pull up bar?  I get it.  You just needed alone time.  I am sorry I got mad.  I understand.  Will you forgive me?" 

Wait?!  What?!  No big fight, no long explanation, no more tears and fighting that I left him behind?  It was just over.  He understood.  He figured it out himself.

A parent has immensee pride when others enjoy them as much as they do.  When other people consider your children a joy to be around.

In the last four years, before I would go home to visit my folks, I would always say, "Dad, I am so tired.  I need your help.  I don't know what to do and I dont' know how to get my kids to listen.  I need you to be the heavy.  I need your help because they are out of control."  True statement.  You can ask my parents.  I would go home, guilty, exhausted and out options.  I felt like I crawled home needing bandaged up and my kids needing boot camp.

This year it was just a fun trip home.  It was a joy to bring my kids and they weren't the reason I was tired.  No discipline needed.  No help required, (except for the fact that it is always way easier to raise kids with a fleet of people).

My children can be who they were created to be.  Seeing their real personalities and hearts come through all the time instead of occasionally is a huge reward for homemade cooking.

This was hands down my favorite trip home.  It was easy, relaxing and just so much fun.  It was fun because my kids were so much fun.  We enjoyed a trip together instead of me sleeping while my parents dealt with the kids.  I hate that phrase, but that is how we existed because we knew no other way.

We know differently now, and I will never go back.  I stand behind our diet more now than ever.  For all the work it is, the reward of my children having the life they were meant to have is worth every dish I have to wash, and that is saying something.

If the idea of this diet is tinkering around in the back of your mind, don't ignore it, explore it.

What to say?

My life has been radically changed by food.  An entire truth that I based my life on turned out to be a lie.  We ate whole wheat because it is good for you.  We drank milk because it's good for your bones.  That was a truth my whole life.  Then everything got turned upside down.  The more I read, the more I understood about wheat and gluten and genetic engineering.  The more I read, the more I found out that what we were drinking is a far cry from milk anymore once you factor in all the processing and chemicals.  I now also understand that we as Americans consume more dairy than anyone other race or country.  We also loose the enzymes that process milk after the age of four.  We really shouldn't be drinking it like we do, and if we were worried about calcium, than all we have to do is eat our vegetables.  We get plenty from veggies.

But that isn't what this is about.  Sorry, it's hard not to get distracted on this topic.  The point is that I understand that it's hard to wrap your mind around a new concept of looking at food.  Especially when it will challenge all that you know to be true.  Take my word for it, there is nothing scarier than realizing that you have not only lived, but chosen intentionally, spoken about and tried to empower your children to live a certain way and then you find out its all a lie.  It is almost like the ground beneath you literally gets taken away.  All the boundaries you lived in are torn down and you are standing in the middle of nowhere and you don't know which way is up or down or right or left.  You don't know where you are or where you are going, and you don't know how to get to the place you know you're supposed to be but still don't understand what that place is.  Confused yet?  You should be.  I was for months.  I still feel a little lost sometimes.

We have all heard the saying, "You are what you eat".  I think we all live in this general idea that doughnuts are bad for you, you should stop at one piece of cake and make sure you eat vegetables at dinner.  But what happens when it goes deeper.  When you realize that even in the things that you think are good for you, they layer in toxic ingredients.

I would say that I believed that I could tell a general difference in my kids when they had sugar.  They had more energy and the giggles came out 10 fold.  What I didn't realize was how intricately woven what they ate truly did effect how they behaved.  There is no way around it.   What you put in your body directly effects how you feel, how you  respond to people, how you behave, and your emotional response to life and circumstances.  My husband would kill me and then make fun of me for life if I put vegetable oil in our car to make it run.  It doesn't run on vegetable oil, even though I wish it did.  We need good old fashion gasoline. If we put vegetable oil in our car, it wouldn't run.  It wouldn't work.  We wouldn't be able to drive anywhere because our car doesn't have the right fuel.  Just like our car, our body needs certain food to run, to walk, to live, to love, to be free, to be whole, to be healthy, to be healed.  It's hard to communicate sometimes what we have learned about food and how it effects us.

It's hard not to be angry at how poisoned our food has become.  It's hard to feel confident in what we now know is true, but others look at you like you are crazy.  It's tricky navigating your way through food issues and what newspapers say, doctors, nutritionists, and then there is the internet.    All these things that I feel make it hard sometimes to talk with others about the diet.  I don't ever want to offend anyone by the way we eat.  I don't want others to look at us and assume we are snobs about our food.  I don't wan to talk about why we eat what we eat and have my listener think I judge them for how they eat.  But in the same breath, knowing what I know, it is hard to not want to share about how much better the quality of our life has become because we changed our diet.  Why wouldn't I want others to experience the joy we have found?  But how do I do that?

I don't know.

I don't know much...but I know I love you.

Heh, sorry, its late and I'm tired and that music lyric is funny to me.

So I guess in the end, thank you for letting me process our food issues here.  Thank you for walking along with us while we figure it out.  And I'll say it again, if anything that I say here resonates in your heart, pray over that.  Pay attention to it.  Your conscious is trying to tell you something.  Be patient.  We are each on a journey that looks different from one another.  Mine conscious was trying to speak to me for a couple years before I listened.  I lost those years with Big fighting, crying, frustrated, fighting, working on guilt.  We still fight and cry here, but real conversations happen afterwards where we get to pray together because my son can concentrate on me now.  He can focus and hear me.  We have our life back and I will never stop appreciating that.

Fried eggs over fresh greens

Trying to cut down on the amount of carbs I am eating and at the same time teach Big how to cook, I thought I would include our favorite recipe that we indulge in almost every day here. We eat eggs or oatmeal every morning during the week and only bake on the weekends. I usually make scrambled eggs or frittata or egg scramble with veggies. However, Big's favorite eggs to eat are fried eggs. I thought this was the perfect thing to start teaching him. It teaches him lessons on the stove, cleaning cast iron, and how to season and handle eggs. So we have been working on this a few times, and Big knows that he can not under any circumstances work the stove without an adult, but with me, he is doing great and doing it all on his own. So how do you eat fried eggs? He likes them with just salt and pepper, but recently he is enjoying my salad. Fried eggs over a bed of spinach or greens, topped with avocado, salsa and blueberries for fun. When we have extra, we throw black beans on there or corn or fresh pepper from the garden, whatever we have on hand. For a quick lunch though, fry the eggs and put them on the greens and voila, wonderful lunch!

I am sorry for those of you who are vegan, maybe you could just use Tofu, but since we are soy free here, we love our eggs.

Fried Eggs over fresh greens 

2-3 eggs
coconut oil for cooking
Bed of greens
Avocado or Guacamole
Salsa Sea Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: peppers, onions, tomato, broccoli, hot sauce, black beans, corn

Heat pan on med-low heat. Add Tablespoon of Coconut oil and heat through. Crack 2-3 eggs over pan and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook eggs to over easy, med, or hard depending on your liking. I like a runny yoke to act as my dressing.

Cube up your avocado and dice the rest of your vegetables.

Wash greens and lay on plate.

Dish eggs on top of greens and then top with your variety of veggies and guac, and salsa.

Dig in.

Berries, bread, and coffee

Fresh homemade morning

Today started with having my in-laws in town.  It was so wonderful to start the day with them in the house.  Sharing stories and doing life.  It was a quick visit, but always so wonderful to see them.

Since we are heading out on Friday, the goal for all of our meals is to eat through our food so as not to waste it.  Since I am a sucker for cheap food when I can find it, I scored big at Aldi this week, but noticed that we are only about a day away from most of our fruit going bad.

This morning started with smelling coffee brewing while we cut fresh fruit to munch on.  Nothing beats fresh berries and fruit as a morning snack.

While we munched, the kids helped me make squash bread. I have a recipe for Zucchini bread but didn't have zucchini left over from the Lasagna I made last night, but I did had steamed acorn squash and it was sitting in my fridge earlier this week so I used that.  I needed to use it before it went bad, so we turned it into bread.  This bread tastes nothing squash and everything like soft, moist goodness.  I love the crunch of the nuts, but you can easily leave them out.  The Sorghum flour adds to the sweetness, but you can switch it out with an all purpose GF flour.  Coming from someone who has experimented with switching out flours and thinking they are interchangeable, take my word for it, not all flours are created equal.  You could use almond flour or sweet rice flour, but I would stay away from any kind of bean flour.  If you want your kids to eat squash, use the best tasting kind of flour to help balance out the flavor.  Here is a quick couple photo's.

I'll be honest, the bread was so good, we ate the whole thing fresh out of the oven and didn't use any nut butter or jam.  Just soft, moist bread warm from the oven.  It truly lasted about 15 min and then it was all gone. We don't get a lot of bread in this house, so when we do, we go all out.

Coffee and bread this morning was just what I needed to start my day right.

Big really wanted to make a smoothie, so we let him be the chef on that front.  He didn't want any liquid or health benefits, just fruit.  ONLY fruit.  So we scooped fruit from our fruit bowl and he wanted to add a peach a plum and an apple.  So all in all, I think the smoothie included peach, plum, apple, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwi.  It was Delicious!  That kid is onto something.  I always try to sneak in a veggie or some other health benefit and he went straight to the good stuff.  I'll let him cook more often I think.

After we feasted on brunch we went out to tend the garden.  This is when we got to pick our first produce of the season!  It was very exciting.  We planted late, and last year not at all, so this was a very, very big deal.  I let middle pick it and then we all took a turn to smell our fresh beautiful green pepper.  The smell was so potent.  We decided then we would marinate chicken and have baked chicken on a bed of spinach and strawberries and blueberries that night for supper with strips of our beautiful green pepper.

So today was filled with homemade goodness, a trip to our favorite children's bookstore and a game of Sorry where everyone was in a good mood and not one kid minded loosing. (a rare moment mind you).

Enjoy the recipe!

My version of a Zucchini Bread Recipe

I didn't have zucchini but had lots of squash frozen in one cup increments.  Here is my final version of a recipe that I altered.

Gluten/dairy/corn/sugar free Squash Bread

Preheat 350 degrees

1 cup cooked and mashed squash (or 1 cup of zucchini or pumpkin or banana.  Use whatever you have on hand.)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (sometimes called tapioca flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of Chia seeds or flax seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup honey or agave or pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 egg whites or egg replacer (1/4 cup liquid)
1/4 cup coconut milk (or rice or almond if you don't have coconut)

1/3 cup nuts optional

Wisk together sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, chia seeds, xanthan gum, sea salt, nuts if using, and cinnamon.

Add oil, lemon juice, egg white, coconut milk and honey.  Beat to combine and continue to beat on medium high until batter is smooth.

Add in squash or banana, or pumpkin or zucchini.

Scoop and scrape the batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle nuts on top if using.

Bake for one hour, or till tooth pick comes out clean.

Candida and me

I apologize now for all of my random thoughts from my previous post.  Like I said, I have a lot in my head, and a lot on my plate and sometimes it comes out all jumbled and I forget to complete full thoughts or give you a better understanding of what I'm doing in this diet, or what's going on.

A short while back, maybe a couple months ago, I went to see Dawn at New Dawn Health, the woman we go and see for Big.  This was kind of my "spa day".  For months I had changed my diet at first for my son and then to be healthier, but I was curious.  What was going on inside my body?  So when I had the chance to do something just for me, I went to go see Dawn and get tested.  I have struggled with headaches and lots of random stomach pains, so I knew there was something going on.

Now I understand that to some, seeing a naturalist is a bit out there on the crazy scale and maybe you have lost respect for me.  But really, if I was living my life to please you, it would look different and I wouldn't be happy.  I believe that all people are made up of blood, bones and muscle and energy. (And your soul and spirit and finger nails and what not) I believe that you can find out what's going on inside your body by looking at and testing the blood, urine and energy of a human.  Yes even your energy.  Every living thing has energy.  Ever walk into a room and feel immediately the tension that comes from two people, or the chemistry?  Remember when you were that person who had tension or chemistry with someone else?  It's all apart of our energy.  You might call it a vibe.

Well when Paul and I got Big tested and we heard the results, we were not immediately convinced.  In fact, we weren't convinced at all.  But we had no other choice.  There were no other options on the table at that time and continuing to live as we were was most definitely NOT an option.  So we changed the diet in hopes to see a difference.  We didn't start as believers, but we were willing to try to see if something would change.  We wanted to be proved wrong.  At some point in your life you are faced with a choice and when you choose, you have to jump and see what happens.  So we jumped on board with the diet waiting to see what would happen.

It was so amazing to see what changing a diet did for our son.

So, back to Candida.  I was told when I went to see Dawn that there was a strong vein of Candida in my system.  Not really knowing at all what that means, I saw my high chemical levels, and told her I was interested in detoxing.  So about two months ago, I did a two week detox.  It was a version of the Candida diet and lots of pills to pull the chemicals and Candida out.

I stuck to my diet for 1 week and 6 1/2 days.  The last day of the diet/detox was a really fun wonderful photo shoot where Paul and I got to be a bride and groom.  If that sounds fun, they also had cake.  A big beautiful wonderful delicious looking cake.  My emotional laps is always this, "I've been so good for two weeks and the diet is over in a couple hours anyway.  This is award winning cake!  It would be OK to eat a piece.  A couple hours won't make a difference."  I have a tendency to reward my good behavior with food.  And so I did.

The thing with Candida is that if it isn't completely killed off, it comes back with a vengeance.  The yeast does this because for the last couple weeks I was starving it.  Well, my system only registered that it needed more sugar.  The other thing with Candida is that you can't just enjoy one carb/starch/sugar item.  You CRAVE, you NEED, you HAVE to have more.  So I couldn't stop at one piece of cake, I had four.  Yeah you heard me right.  And thus started my downfall and spiral into a highly toxic diet again.

So I have been doing some reading and lots of research and now have a much deeper, well rounded understanding of Candida and what it takes to get rid of it. (much like I was eating Cashews and carrots and mushrooms on the previous detox and those items aren't allowed.  To be honest, nothing but veggies are allowed the first week.  whew.)  And its not a two week diet, this is looking more like a couple months of hard discipline ahead of me.

People want to know if I've gotten officially tested and the answer is no, if you mean. do I have a blood test by an official doctor.  However, I can see signs and symptoms and I do believe Dawn.  I also am highly addicted to sugar and carbs.

So, the reason I brought up Big before is I am starting this new diet to see if it works.  I am fascinated to know if I can live life without sugar cravings.  I want to know if when I have a cookie, I'm not obsessing about how to get another one or feeling guilty that I had the first one.  I want to know if I can say no to sugar with confidence and not regret.  I would love to know if I can survive nap time without a carb/sugar snack.  I want to know if its possible to not plan grocery shopping runs around my cravings/need for chocolate.  Cause if I plan it right, the kids won't be with me and I can buy whatever treat I want.  I don't want to live like that anymore.

I also want to see if its possible to live without all these crutches.  I want to be free from all those things and more.  I want to see what happens to my body if I eat carb/sugar free for a couple months.  (even on our gluten/dairy/sugar/soy/port/potato you can still have sweets and carbs.)  I am so curious to see what happens to my skin, to my attitude, to my anger, to my motivation, to...frankly... all of it.

I have often wondered at highly disciplined people in regards to food.  I feel like they would be unhappy resisting temptation all the time.  But most of the time they look really happy and satisfied.  I want to know if that is real and if it can be real for me.  I have never fully lived life without wanting, craving, needing highly sugary food.  I can only survive for a short time and then I cave.

I am curious.

Does this work?  Can I be free?  And when I mean free, can I enjoy a treat in a couple months and leave it at that.  How much mental space can I free up by not thinking about food all the time?  Can you live life apart from sugar?

I don't know.  But as far as I can tell, this detox and diet are my best chance at finding out.  So I am embarking on this journey.

For the last week I have starved off fruit, coffee, alcohol, all carbs and all sugar even natural.  If I'm not making it, I'm not eating it.  Tomorrow I start the detox drinks and the diet gets even more intense for about nine days and then eases back to where I am now for a couple months.

Whew.  I know it will be hard, but if I take the next couple months and compare it to the rest of my life.  It kind of feels worth it.  I know its worth it.

A fallen time

So admitting this means I have to admit defeat.  It means that I have to confess to not being stronger than I think I am.  Confessing this means I am human.  In being human, I fall, I make mistakes, I look at what I do and feel ashamed, and then just like any fallen person, I have to choose.  Do better, or continue in my sulking and sinning.

This weekend I broke the diet and broke it hard.  Sorry to all of you out there who had better faith in me.  I realize why I did it now, and I have noticed a books worth of repercussions.

This weekend we had strong weather advisory.  There was a strong tornado path that was coming and going from Friday - Sunday.  The thing is, Paul was gone till Sunday at a gig.  Chad our renter was gone most of the weekend at a wedding, and Jeromy, our saving grace last time was with Paul at the gig.  So all my people were out.  It was just me and the kids.  What I realized as I watched my son grow more and more anxious at the wind, that I too was very anxious.  I always masked my nerves by associating them with the kiddos.  What I needed to admit myself was that the tornado left a long impression on me as well.

The thing about me and stress is that we have a complicated relationship.  When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I eat.  That is my M.O.  I eat.  But to make sure that no one can see that flaw in my D.N.A. I secretly eat.  If no one sees you, than it doesn't happen right?   For some reason I suppose my ability to eat whatever I wanted made me feel like I could control one thing in my life.  Which is kind of ridiculous if you think about it, since it really means that the cravings actually have control over you.

I couldn't believe my lack of control.  I couldn't believe how easily I fell.  The wind and the storms made me nervous.  The fact that my security team wasn't here totally unnerved me.  I wasn't sure what I would do without those three men here, and it would just be me and the kids if something happened.  And so I ate to relieve the stress. (And when I mean eat, I mean ice cream, cookies, hamburgers, etc. When I binge, I do it all out.)

This is what eating terribly for a weekend revealed to me:

1. It is almost impossible to eat healthy when you are eating processed sugary foods.  Who the heck wants salad and asparagus when you can eat a burger and fries and it tastes SO good?  There is no room for eating healthy when you are graving grease and sugar.

2. I was having these flash backs to my previous life when I would do is obsess over food.  I understand that I am always thinking or buying or preparing food, but I don't obsess over it.  I don't crave it.  I don't feel guilt over it.  I don't calculate it.  On our allergen free diet, I enjoy food.  I eat a wide range of food.  I always feel satisfied, but never over indulged.  I never feel guilty.  I have freedom from the pains of food, from the dysfunction of food.  But binging this past weekend, it threw me right back to all those unhealthy places.  I would eat cereal and then I couldn't get enough.  After I ate icecream I just kept thinking, when could I get my hands on another treat?  I felt like I walked right back into prison.  My mind and body wasn't free from cravings or addiction to sugar anymore.  I let it own me.  I couldn't say no to processed sugary food.  And my body felt gross.  I felt so gross, bloated, heavy, guilty, all of it.  Eating process food only made me want more of the processed food and none of the healthy food.

3. I couldn't believe my emotional response to food.  I have often talked about how Big's response to food has been all emotional and behavioral.  It reshaped my understanding of food's role in our life. Now, I was watching myself firsthand and paying very close attention to my behavior and emotional response.  It floored me.  Eating unhealthy processed food, along with gluten/dairy/sugar/soy I became more on edge than I usually am with my kids.  Where I was able to easily get out of bed before and embrace my day, I had to drag myself out of bed.  I didn't have any energy.  I was lethargic, slow, empty, and kind of depressed.  My energy zapped, my taste for fatty food the only thing in my mind.  I was sitting and watching TV at night and not doing anything.  I was ready terrible fiction and it was consuming my time.  I was getting swallowed by own lethargic self.  I had no motivation.  I didn't care about much.  I was cranky and angry with the kids.  I was more my old self than I have been in over a year.  I couldn't believe how much eating my old way effected me.  Effected my behavior.  Effected my emotions.

4. When I am eating healthy I have the capability to choose.  Even in a quick moment, I know I have a choice in my behavior.  This is what I keep explaining about Big, so I don't know why I was so surprised to see it in myself.  I would pray and pray for the patience to deal with my kids.  To help them, to parent them, to train them and guide them.  God has shown me much in what it means to be a healthy parent.  It was astounding to me though to realize how much food effected my mood.  Eating a ton of processed food took away my ability to choose.  I would INSTANTLY react.  There was no second for a quick choice.  My emotions were directed by the sugar and fat I was putting in my body.  It was almost an out of body experience.  I watched myself loose control.  Get frustrated easy.  Go right to directing behavior instead of encouraging character in my kids.  When I live on our new diet, I have been amazed at how God freed me from instant reaction.  I have this capability to choose in a second how I want to respond.  I am not as stressed out or filled with anxiety.

5. I realize that many people see our life and think it is overwhelming.  They come to think we live in this food prison not getting to enjoy all the things they get to enjoy.  Not getting the convenience of processed food.  But I have to say.  When you see our life and it looks like there are bars in the way, I think you are looking from the inside out, not the other way around.  My life may look high maintenance in regards to food and you may feel sorry for us, but don't.  This past weekend has taught me in spades that I will do the hard work and get the sugar out of my system again because I don't want to live in this space anymore.  I feel like I openly walked into this prison of addiction and guilt and I want out.  I want my brain back.  I want my energy back.  I want my evenings of getting real rest, quality time with my spouse and the attention to work on projects back.  I want my life back.  I want a deeper, richer life that is free from guilt, shame and addiction.  I have had a taste of my old life, and I hated it.

I hate that I fell.  Clearly I have some deep rooted habits that still need to be worked through emotionally and spiritually, but I'm getting back on track.  Wish me luck, detoxing and clearing sugar addiction out of your system is hard work, but like I said, I want my life back.

And selfishly, I want to fit in my pants better again.  Man I forgot how easy it is to gain weight when you eat like crap!

Cough medicine and Pineapple salsa

I haven't updated about Big lately and I wanted to do so. Here is a fun picture of him helping me in the kitchen when he was 5. I love that face.

So many of you have been following our journey and I haven't done a really great job keeping you updated.

It's hard in some cases because Big doesn't really have any physical reaction in your traditional sense. There are no rashes, no throwing up, headaches, stomach aches, discoloration of skin. Nothing. Our only indicator is his behavior.

Now let's be honest, we have all paid at least a minimal amount of attention to our poop, so we know that the food we digest takes time to work its way through our system. That being said, his behavioral response is the same way that it happens anywhere from a few hours to two days after he's eaten something and can last up for up to four days till it's all out of his system. Food takes time to be digested and effect your systems.

This makes paying attention to his food, his behavior, his sleep, his transitions every day, all day exhausting.

For the last month or so I have been cautious to write anything because something deep down in my gut has been telling me that something, albeit very small, but still something is off.

If you get discouraged by the use of my vague description words, I apologize. I try so hard to find words that describe what happens when food effects my son. The words I keep coming back to are:

Hard. Constant. Fight. Push.

When something is off with Big, I can tell because his pushing back and fighting me is constant. However, it is often small things that, when, you pull that specific instance out on its own, it's no big deal. But you put it right next to every behavior he has and they are all the same, you start to wonder. When these questions/statements start coming up continually through the day

"Big, can you hear me? I have asked you four times to ________. Let's take off the angry face. Please stop your whining. Don't argue. Stop yelling. Watch your ton of voice. Sharing is a way that we show love to others."

All of these statements are things a parent says countless times during the day. My life is no exception. HOWEVER, a healthy, normal child should be able to listen at some point. A normal, healthy child should be able to make a wise choice at least once during the day. When Big is in his heightened state, any ability to make a good choice, to control his voice, to show kindness, to understand his emotions, is impossible.

The last month has shown small indications of these behaviors. However the last month has also been either mom, dad or the whole family gone every weekend. It’s been the same meal over and over again. It has been the loss of our Sabbath because we have been gone. All family time is shopping for food, preparing food, or packing or unpacking, so there have been late nights and less intentional time. All of these factors have been the reason I understand Big’s behavior to be the way it is. These are legitimate reasons.

However, something has felt off. Just a little something, but something all the same.

This is what I have learned over the last month:

  1. All natural Pineapple Salsa from Trader Joe’s still has sugar in it. I didn’t realize that until we had eaten Mexican Lasagna two days in a row and I prepared it for their sitter.
  2. Their All natural cough medicine from the Co-op that has lists of names I can’t pronounce still uses Soy and Gluten. But you have to research the names in order to find that out. I’ll be honest, due to the constant checking labels, there are times where I just take names “all natural” for granted, especially if it comes from the Co-op where things feel the most natural and best for you. I still take those labels for face value, and you can’t. YOU CAN’T. You have to be diligent in checking and looking and researching. It is tiring, that’s why I let this one slide, and I now know different.
  3. Sweet Potato fries from Trader Joe’s also have sugar in them.
  4. When using different salsa and stopping the cough medicine I have seen changes in Big. We are still dealing with our transition out of a crazy schedule into normal routine, but he has the ability to cope. He didn’t before. We don’t have to remind him to do things 20 times before he does it. I can’t tell you what that means! On the right diet, Big has the mental capability to hear me, to listen, and to respond. He still gets cranky. He still doesn’t like to share most of the time. He still whines. BUT, he has moments of making good choices. He hears me and will get his shoes on and get dressed without it being a fight. Without complaining.
  5. Its hard to post this because he/we are still human. I like to have a couple weeks go by with this “regular” behavior so I know it’s not a fluke. I can tell it’s not a fluke because he hugs me again. He will look me in the eye. He can remember the rules and do chores without me needing to ask.
  6. I know some of you might not agree with me that food plays this huge important role in our lives and behaviors, but there is NO way you will ever convince me of that. I see constantly with myself and my children the way food has changed our lives. The right kind of food. I have also seen other parents start to monitor their child’s intake of sugar and then they are amazed at the difference. It often doesn’t take much, but even small changes can make the world of difference.

For your sake, I would love to figure out a way to communicate more effectively the change I see take place in my children when they eat right. Food not only fuels them, but gives them the opportunity to live life. I see Big’s relationship with his siblings and with me struggle. I see our whole family hurt. I see that Big wants to choose different, but its almost like he can’t. Food takes over and takes away his ability to make healthy choices.

I understand. I GET IT. Food is only piece. Schedule, parenting, discipline, school, family, emotions, it all plays a part in our choices. I GET IT!

But why don’t ever give any thought to food being a piece of that puzzle? And if we are looking for a way to help our children be the best version’s of themselves, than why don’t we look at just one piece of the puzzle and make some changes to that one piece.

I bet you would be surprised, just as we were, to see how strong a role food plays in your ability to live life to the fullest.

So, Big is doing great. We continue to discover all sorts of new things to create a healthy, satisfied family and life.

Thanks for walking with us.

If you have other insights, I would love to know about them. We continue to learn and grow and share as we go along.

A year of learning

I have confessed to my husband and received his forgiveness. If you know us, you know this is not unusual.

Tonight's dinner did not go as expected. (Leave it to my kids to eat a pretty terrible meal anyway praising me for loving them and cooking so they can eat. I sometimes worry about their culinary palate; eating off the floor, out of the dirty kitchen sink and from the garbage. You can judge me now, I deserve it.)

However, because it was far from tasty, that left my husband with nothing to eat. In our house we have primarily moved to all fresh fruit and veggies and ingredients to make food, but not convenient food that is just on hand to snack on. I was on my way to the store anyway to wrap up my out of town grocery list to make my children their meals before I leave on Thursday. Before I left, Paul and I discussed the food in the house and how it is difficult for him because he doesn't want to be a burden on me.

He proceeded to tell me that he feels guilty eating the organic naturally raised beef or chicken knowing how expensive it is and that our kids need it and he doesn't want to take it from them. He NEVER complains about a meal, but I know he doesn't enjoy them all. He always eats what is in front of him because he knows I have spent time researching it, making sure our children can eat it, shopping for it, preparing it, and then I will clean up all the dishes that I used to cook it. He continually supports me focusing on the kids and steps to the sidelines.

This evening though I realized just how much I have stopped thinking about my husband and his needs and wants in regard to food. When I was at the store this evening I realized that I haven't even put him on my radar in almost a year. For almost a year, I haven't thought about that he probably misses some of his favorite snacks and canned food. I made a choice for him by not getting it because I knew what was better for him. And in truth, that is not my choice to make for him.

After I grabbed the last few items I needed to make the meals for the kids for the weekend, I literally had to stop in the middle of the store and think, "What does Paul like to eat?" So I went to the cracker isles. Oh the cracker isle how I have missed you. I picked him up a box of Sundried tomato Wheat thins, one of his favorite with cheese and summer sausage. After that, I went and grabbed a whole stash of his favorite Campbells soup so that he had ready meals whenever he fancied them. On my way to the canned soups, I passed those pre-made pasta side dishes that you throw in a pan for five minutes and its done. He enjoys those and they were 10 for $10.

I had this flashback to my coupon days. To looking at food as a game. How much could I get for as little as possible, with some fresh fruit and veggies thrown in. As I put those 10 packets of Paul's easy side pasta into the cart I was struck with how far my ideas and opinions and knowledge of food has come and how much I left my husbands wishes or desires to the wayside for his better health and that of our kids.

What I realized is that I was choosing for it to be too complicated, (thinking about two very different diets, desire, and wishes for food) and thus never bought him any snacks that he loves or can enjoy. The man works so hard for us and I had taken away all of his joy in food.

So I have confessed that I had forgotten him, that his wishes or wants in regard to food hadn't even crossed my mind. I was so caught up in making food that was what my children needed and wanted that I didn't even think about Paul. But that will all be different now.

Paul and I sat down and made a list of items that he would like to have around the house again. Foods that are easy for him to eat and don't require a lot of attention by me. Even in the midst of forgetting him for a year, his greatest desire is to make it the easiest on me.

I am a lucky gal, the least I can do is buy the man his favorite crackers. It's funny, it doesn't sound that hard, but somehow, I just stopped thinking of him.

Easter Candy

I'm not gonna lie, going to the grocery store last night kind of sucked. As soon as I walked in the door, there they were, lining the aisle.

Chocolate bunnies.

Chocolate eggs.


Jelly Beans.

Now, I have two very honest responses.

The first is my emotional memory response. I see that and I think Easter! What is Easter with a Chocolate bunny in your basket? I think about some of my favorite things to eat that only come out at Easter like Cadbury Eggs, or those malt eggs that you can lick and then put on like lipstick or facepaint. My cousins and I had hours of entertainment with that one at Easter growing up. My grandma used to put together an Easter tray instead of an Easter basket. That means she would purchase one bag of EVERY kind of Easter candy and pour it out on her largest platter dressed with green grass. And in the midst of that sugar coma stood the priced treat. Standing guard over all the small treats towered the Easter bunny. The whole day was spent visiting the Easter platter and picking out your favorite treats. But you had to get their early, cause everyone liked the same things, and usually the last candy left was jellybeans. I LOVED this tradition growing up.

I stood there for a second staring at the candy aisles and I thought, oh man this is our first joy free Easter. I made Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas work, but how in the name of all that is good can I recreate a bunny? My gut told me Easter was ruined and my children would live in want and feeling jipped forever every time Easter came around. I was sad and a little depressed.

Now I know that we have been living joy free for awhile, and the cravings are getting smaller, but I haven't suffered memory loss. Just because I don't crave a chocolate bunny and the other part of my mind understand how bad it is for you, I still remember how good they taste. I still remember the joy of biting into a cadbury egg and how absolutely delightful it felt to have yummy chocolate and liquid goodness melt in my mouth. Those memories ring in loud and clear when I walk the aisles of the store.

This too must be mourned.

The other part of Easter I remember is how I ended up eating half of my kids Easter candy. I remember going to the grocery store for our weekly list, but always sneaking a bag of my favorite candy to munch on while no one was looking. I remember the more candy I ate, the more I craved. I remember feeling a slave to the sugar. I remember feeling gross after eating so much candy and chocolate. I remember the countless Easters that I didn't fit in my dress because of my addiction. I remember starting to hate Easter. I remember fearing it because I wasn't strong enough to handle it. I remember guilt. Constant guilt and disappointment in myself for not being stronger. I remember needing to start over. Everyday saying, "tomorrow will be better."

So as I had my moment of mourning, I realized I was thankful, grateful and excited too. For all the things that will be missed, there are greater ideals and principles that can be embraced . On top of all my personal baggage with food I remember the gift I am giving my children as well. The gift of health. The gift of an Easter not based on the chocolate bunny. The gift of the real meaning of Easter.

So what will Easter look like for us?

Dying Easter eggs and going on an egg hunt.

Every year on Saturday before Easter morning we do an evening devotion where we are mixing together a special cookie that sits in the oven overnight. It is a hands on activity that incorporates all aspects of the Easter story and then the kids have a treat to eat the next day. I will have to do a run through to make sure we can make it allergen free.

Easter morning means a special breakfast of fruit filled crepes and fancy Easter clothes to be worn at church. It means coming home to an egg hunt and finding Easter baskets with a couple small allergen free candies, stickers, a new book and maybe a new drawing pad. Nothing more. It means sitting down as a family and enjoying our Easter dinner. It means taking a walk together. It means doing a family devotion with family snuggle time. It means togetherness remembering the gift of life we have thanks to the sacrifice of our savior and healer The Messiah.

No Easter candy tray with the protective Easter bunny keeping watch. No sugar induced melt downs. No fights on what candy we didn't want and did want. No hoarding candy or secret eating. No extra pounds and sluggish behavior.

Easter this year will be healthier and hopefully happier than years previous.

I may need to send Paul to the grocery store though for the next month. This maybe my hardest challenge yet. I do love Easter candy.

Food issues in unexpected places

Yesterday I wrote about the difficulty to live in a place of not knowing and reevaluating behaviors all the time. (I think this hits all parents.)

There was an afternoon where we had company over and Big had an episode. It was a strong flashback to days gone by, memories I would like to trade, and my responses being so far below appropriate. I was trying so hard to keep my cool, but really, really struggling. I went upstairs where our friend lives and asked him to come downstairs and take care of the kids while I found my control. I needed a couple moments to find God’s peace, seek His guidance and find my composure. I started to weep and in frustration ask “Why?” What did he eat? Would he lie about it if I asked him about school? And God quietly spoke to me, “Sometimes the why doesn’t matter or what he ate doesn’t matter. He will eat things that will hurt him. That is a fact. Things that will make him angry and loose all control. We have to teach him how to handle himself and find control even in these situations. We have to learn how to deal with it, regardless.” So from that day, we have tried to live that way.

However, I have also learned that when my gut is speaking to me, I need to listen. Sometimes the why or what does matter because the answer brings freedom and understanding and a healthier way of living.

Which brings about another story.

It was days before Christmas and small behaviors started to come out again. Constant pushing the boundaries and rules. Constant disagreement. Constant arguing. No threshold for sharing or speaking politely. Angry at the world for every little thing that doesn’t go his way. The key word here is CONSTANT.

I need you to understand that I have a strong idea of sin and knowing that it is apart of our life. Knowing that that we naturally have these tendencies, these reactions, these behaviors. They are very normal. But when my nice boy never shows up, and then, Big is distant and irritated all the time, my gut tells me something is off.

This is what it was like before Christmas. His behavior was different than if he ate something, but at the same time, something was off. Paul and I could both tell, but we had no idea where to start figuring it out. We felt lost. I don’t like asking big about what he ate every time something feels off. I don’t want it to be an excuse for him. So we patiently wait and watch and pray.

I was deeply sadden this time because we were heading down to Texas for Christmas where my mother-in-law spent the last couple weeks shopping and preparing special meals for us, and instead of taking our healed son to be with her at Christmas, we were bringing our enhanced son.

(We have started talking about Big’s responses in this way because his feelings and reactions are normal, but they come out in the most extreme way when he is filling his body with toxins. So he isn’t really crazy, his emotions, responses, lack of control are enhanced. More extreme. Get it?)

He was HIGHLY distracted on the plane. He couldn’t focus. He was angry that we weren’t going to Denver. He was on edge and distant and frustrated with us.

Christmas got a little better and then we came home. Things were starting to feel off again. Then when I was away in Baltimore speaking with my friend Henry Graf I was talking to Paul. He told me our contractor was over working and cleaning up the mess upstairs from the repairs he did to the ceiling. Then it hit me. Henry’s wife got very sick when she visited this summer because she slept next to an open piece of drywall, and she is highly allergic to wheat. Drywall has a large wheat component.

The whole ceiling upstairs was getting ripped down and rebuilt. Dust was everywhere. He wasn’t eating anything but his body was absorbing the toxins.

It is fascinating to me the body’s response to food and toxins.

Yes, we need to move forward from the reason for the behavior and work on our responses to the world and what is happening. We can try to control our behavior and responses. However, we can’t tune out completely because something might be truly be hurting you. When Big is getting filled with toxins, its like he is living half a life. He has hardly any joy, he fights with his friends and can’t focus on school. Everything we do as a family is filled with stress. So yes, I always want to keep my eyes open so that maybe I can notice if something is wrong and I can help him to the best of my ability.

I don’t know where you stand on the issue and frankly it doesn’t matter. But just as I never saw my son through the eyes of someone else who could notice behaviors, I encourage any parent who might have some doubts to pray over the situation. Teaching our kids how to control themselves is a critical life skill, however, there might be something real going on that is keeping your child from embracing their real self. I am not saying that every temper tantrum is cause for pills or a gluten free diet. Big still has temper tantrums. He’s an opinionated strong willed six year old that lives in a sinful world. It happens. But never underestimate your sixth sense, your gut. It’s always right.

So if you didn’t know…Drywall has wheat in it.

They need to work more upstairs next week to fix the mistakes they made. We are getting our insurance company to put us up in a hotel due to our issue. I sure hope that works.

And if you think I’m making this up, it has been unbelievable the difference in both my sons the last week once the cleaning company came. We knew something was up, but we couldn’t figure it out. Another lesson learned in our adventure.

The spectrum

I’ve heard it twice now.

The spectrum.

People refer to this when they are talking about Autism.

It’s the Autism spectrum.

This means that there are all levels and all reflections of this issue and each has its name from classic Autism to Aspergers to ADD and ADHD to Sensory disorders.

I wouldn’t have put my son on this level. In fact I wasn’t looking, wasn’t paying attention and it was even suggested to be by a friend. I was thrown off and put off that someone would think something was wrong with my son.

He was just an active boy.

He has always been full of energy.

He was curious and asked tons of questions.

He gets angry because he’s tired.

He pushes all my buttons because he’s my kid.

He questions all my decisions because we taught him to have a voice.

He yells and screams because he learned it from us.

He cries a lot because he is very sensitive and emotional.

He can’t hear me because he’s focusing.

He couldn’t do martial arts because it was new to him and he’s just young.

I had a reason for each behavior. Please hear me that I’m not saying that any of these above reasons weren’t or aren’t true. My point is I wasn’t looking for a diagnosis for my son. I wasn’t looking for medical clues to his behavior. I was just looking at my son.

If he were tested, he may fall into one of these categories. I’m not confident in that statement, but when I know how he responds to eating food he shouldn’t, I can see many of these qualities in him. The only thing we know for sure according to doctors is that he has leaky gut. What I know in my gut is that he would be on the spectrum.

When I knew that he was probably on the spectrum, I all of a sudden saw him different. Almost like there was something wrong with him. He “had” something. Please forgive this statement because I don’t look at other children that way, I never have, but when it’s your own child, I think this is a natural first reaction.

I was looking at him as a kid “with” something instead of just my kid. I hated this even more.

I find I am talking about this in past and present tense because it was something I felt, but still experience as it sneaks up on me. It sneaks up on me because I don’t know how to live in this space of just looking at my son for who he is, and yet keeping half an eye open to his behavior and trying to figure it out or navigate my way through more issues. (I don’t assume that even though we have come this far, that we are quite done yet. The body is complicated and fascinating.)

How do just look at my son and not his behavior when he is always behaving? Behaving good, behaving badly, behaving badly, behaving tired, behaving with a giving spirit, behaving with a sad spirit, behaving cranky. I have to look at the behavior but not make it about food or his brain, or his stomach all the time.

I don’t know how to do this.

I don’t know how to look at him and not his issue.

I don’t know how to look at his issues and separate it from him.

Most of the time I just feel exhausted as we navigate our way through food issues. And even while we navigate through one child, there is still the other one who has severe wheat and peanut issues. It presents itself on his skin and in his behavior.

I don’t know how to do this. How to figure out what’s going on with my child and help him along the way.

I hope I get better at this.

Squash Bread

Rarely can I find a recipe that fits all of our requirements, dietary restrictions and personal taste included, so I often look at something and think, how can I make this that fits our needs? I am also always looking for ways to use up ingredients that I only partially used in another recipe.

On Thanksgiving I made this delicious Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread. We all loved it. Well, I don't have zucchini in my house right now, but I do have half a steamed butternut squash.

Last week we had butternut squash risotto, one of my favorite meals of all time. I only use half the squash to make it last longer, and my kids are more prone to eat it if the ratio is half risotto to half or less squash. Instead of baking the other half of the squash, my really smart friend Kristy Grannis recommended cutting it into bite size pieces, adding just a thin layer of water on the bottom of the sauce pan and steaming the squash. The water in the bottom of the pan can be the liquid to mash the squash and you throw no water away. No vitamins or minerals wasted. How smart is she? I like her. Thank you Kristy.

So I took this great recipe from The Gluten Free Goddess and adapted to my needs and to the ingredients on hand. Here is our recipe:

Squash Bread

Mix dry ingredients together
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
2 tablespoons cinnamon (I always increase this in my recipes.)

Add in the following and mix together
3/4 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave)
1/3 cup light olive oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 egg whites
1/4 cup rice/almond/coconut/soy milk (I use whatever I have on hand)

1/3 cup walnuts (I like them for their nutritional value) Omit if you can't have them, or add raisns.
small handful of Enjoy Life chocolate chips to sprinkle on top (incentive for my kids to eat it, though they liked the flavor anyway.)

Put in a bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Here's our new version of an old favorite that is Gluten/dairy/sugar free. It tastes great and my kids love it. I doubled the recipe to use up all the squash and we are freezing some for after the holidays.

So here is another way to use up your squash from your garden. My kids won't eat squash soup yet, so I'm trying to be creative. Here they get squash and walnuts plus no sugar. Bonus on lots of levels.


I hope your little helper is as cute as this one.


So I realize now, a little late I guess, that this entire year will be a year of firsts. Mostly what that means for my traditional heavy heart is that for each season and holiday, I need to mourn what was, and replace it with what is.

Things continue to catch me off guard.

For example, Candy canes. I love having candy canes in the house to give to guests when they come over. My kids loved them! I won't have them in the house anymore because it feels a little cruel.

My husband grew up eating cream puffs on the morning of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was fun to complain about how much work they were, but it also became our tradition.

Ginger bread houses. So fun to make and lick your fingers free of the icing that drizzles on your hands instead of staying on the house. Plus that candy that fell on the floor totally fall into the five second rule.

Christmas cookies, Christmas cookies, Christmas cookies. I know there are cookies we can eat, but there are special cookies that you grow up with, that when a cookie tray doesn't have them, you have a little void in your heart.

Then there are the Christmas cookie exchange parties. Why would I go and bring home a plate of cookies we can't eat?

We handled Halloween and for the first time, I didn't add five pounds to my healthy frame. I thought, we can do this. This is getting easier.

But the truth is, I have 32 years of history under my belt. I have 32 years of habits, patterns, traditions, expectations, and desires.

If I can acknowledge that each season will have a piece of mourning to it, I think it might be easier to handle. I need to allow myself the experience of letting it go so that I can embrace what it is now. And the truth is, the way it is now is SO much better for us.

Truth be told, almost none of the things listed above are good for you, and there are alternatives to almost each of them. But before I could just go to the store and buy whatever I needed. Now its a different story.

We have the opportunity to rewrite history. To create new habits and patterns and traditions, and hopefully the mourning will pass. And I will have less weight and guilt over food after these holidays which would be a first in forever!

Milk, school and crazy

Big's first week of school he came home so excited that his school offered Rice Milk. He loved that he could have milk with his friends.

Mom sense 1 went off. *weird that a school offers rice milk, huh, but it's a trend setting school in the city where all sorts of opportunities are offered. Maybe it is true.

Big was really sensitive about not getting enough play time after he came home from school. He was really whiny! Really, really, whiny. He would throw a fit and say he hated that he didn't have enough time to play.

Mom sense 2 went off. *Completely understandable watching my son adjust to his new schedule, and he doesn't have as much time play, but man is he whinny. Really, really whinny.

Big took a shower and I came to inspect the job not done. His hair was clearly not washed and I asked him to rewash it. He yelled at me that he wasn't lying and why don't I ever believe him. I'm so rude to not believe him when he is telling the truth. He was so upset it drove him to yells and tears. He wouldn't rewash his hair, so I did it for him. We had a not so nice moment, and I was frustrated by his response.

Mom sense 3 went off. *Being a person who struggled with lying before, I get how frustrating it is to tell someone something and have them not believe you because you past has influenced the present. It's frustrating and the consequence to one very bad choice of sins to commit. I get it. But tears? Really? When you get to play in the water some more, you really have to cry over that? It felt a little too much to me and there was no distracting him in it.

For a whole week Big was really struggling with the morning get ready check list and his responsiblities after school. Very easy, normal kid things. However, when I would remind him of his responsiblities of emptying out his backpack, putting his lunch bag away, taking off his uniform, he was distant, frustrated and had his walls up. He told me being home was no fun and he didn't like responsiblities, even though I have seen him thrive doing it at school.

Mom sense 4 went off. *Everything was starting to feel broken. Adjusting to a new schedule, dad has a new job, life has changed and we are starting to realize that its for good, but all this disconnect felt wrong. I understand that my children have their own life, needs, desires, joys, hurts, but I didn't feel like our relationship should be so strained so early as we navigate being a bigger more responsible kid as a kindergardener.

Then I volunteered to read for Big's class two weeks ago in the morning during teacher prep time. I watched my son put a clothes pin in his pocket on the board. I asked the music teacher what that meant. She explained to me that one pin was for hot lunch and one was for milk. I told her we didn't do any, so he shouldn't be putting a pin in his slot. She told me that if the pin was there, he would recieve it and our account would be charged. There was some more conversation about it and I was left slightly confused. I emailed the teacher, who only speaks Chinese in front of the students so email is the only way to communicate. I asked her to explain the system to me, and told her that beyond Big bringing his own snack, he couldn't have milk. It makes him sick.

*Yes I do define being emotionally and mentally out of control as being sick. His body can't handle it. It makes him crazy and steals our son replacing him with someone else.

The teacher than explained to me that at snack time they always offer milk, and Big has always raised his hand, so he has recieved it. For two and half weeks, he has had a glass of milk every day.

Ahhhhhhh.....and that explains alot.

I remember one morning specifically, I was taking Big to school and we had a fight. I hate fighting, even more fighting and then taking my son to school to be with other people for the whole day. I was loosing my day to make it right. To have good time with him and repair what was broken. And it was broken. There was yelling, words exchanged that shouldn't be on both ends. Frustration, hurt and pain was our morning, and now I was saying goodbye for the day. He would be left with brokeness for the day instead of love and encouragement.

Oh how I hated this! It felt so wrong and I didn't know what to do. In the evenings when we had time together, there would be good moments, but mostly he was just frustrated by all he had to do, or we were never doing the thing he wanted and so he was upset. Everything started to feel like a battle again. Every word, every action, every activity, every direction. All of it felt hard.

I talked to Big and his teacher and explained that he couldn't have milk. I told Big that his teacher didn't understand anything about Rice milk and I would send some to school with him, but he can't have the school's milk. I had all the players in the game on board now.

It took one week to get it out of his system. Then we had this weekend. My son woke up and offered to help make breakfast. I only asked once for him to get dressed. The shower senerio repeated itself and even though he was annoyed with me for the hair issue, I suggested that we experiment. If he rewashes his hair we'll see if it smells like shampoo and if it does that we know he didn't wash it before. I told him I'll sing the ABC's and when I'm done he can be done. He looked at me, said he was annoyed and then said, I can beat you before you're done. The challenge was on. This felt good. This felt right. This felt like my son. He could communicate what he was thinking. He could be annoyed but still play a game with me.

And there was no fight.

There was no challenge.

It was not hard.

I'm not saying that he is perfect. FAR from it. He is still emotional. He is still independant and has hard time focusing on projects he doesn't want to do. He is a normal kid with his own thoughts and emotions.

However, I still can't believe how much food affects him and his behavior. I can't believe how much it breaks us. How it keeps Big from being himself.

For about two weeks, one week for sure, our whole system felt broken. It felt off, and way to hard, but mostly just broken.

Once we knew he had milk and we fixed it, I just kept thinking about all the families who live in this broken place. A place where everything is hard. At every turn you are faced with a challenge. Being with your child is no longer a joy. You start to blame yourself for all thier outbursts, or worse, you start to blame them. A place where the only times you have together are difficult ones and it broke my heart.

I now stand as a big believer that the food we eat has drastically changed and in my very humble opionion it is effecting not just us but especially our next generation. I struggle with my anger and frustration at the food industry for all the way they changed the things we put in our body. You tell me why sugar needs to be in lunch meat? Tell me why yogurt needs to be neon bright?

I'll table this for now, but one of my greatest heartaches right now is watching children and families living in brokeness due to the food that we consume. The anger, guilt, shame, frustration, disappointement that is happeneing because children are being imprisioned by the food they eat.

My greatest joy though is watching moms facing this choice and choosing to try eating allergen free and experiencing thier kids being freed from thier prison. It is hard to do, but I can't stress enough....

It is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, worth it. (did I get enough so's in there? I hope so.)

*Let's throw a disclaimer in there for good measure. I understand with my whole heart that there are other real issues that can effect kids and families. That life circumstances still highly effect families even on a healthy diet. I understand that kids, and adults, can't respond in a healthy way every time something frustrating happens. What I am saying is that I think what we eat and put in our bodies deserves a credible place in the solution to solving all the brokeness. It is ligitimate and a very real thing to change your diet to effect your mood and happiness.

Trust me.