Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Preparedness

As the Halloween Holiday is fast approaching I have gone back and forth about the topic of my post because I don’t want to come off in the wrong way.  Let me preface this post by saying I LOVE Halloween.  I always have.  I love to have an “excuse” to dress up and dress my kids up and make costumes and have a “reason” (but honestly, do we really need a reason?) to party and celebrate with friends and family.  When hubby and I were newly weds, we would hold a yearly Halloween party in our tiny apartment just because I wanted an excuse to get all dressed up and eat treats with the people we love in our lives (besides the fact that I felt like the bigger holidays belonged to our parents….if you know what I mean).  Anyhow, so once I had a kid I was even more excited about Halloween.  If you want to know a funny story, I convinced my husband after a couple of years of marriage that if he ever wanted kids, I needed to have a sewing machine specifically so that I could make costumes for them at Halloween.  The really funny part about that story is that I actually didn’t know how to sew more than a straight seam at the point that we bought that machine but I figured that if you can read, you can learn any skill.  I since learned that the patience to rip out seams is a much more important skill when it comes to sewing than reading….but that’s another story because I digress.

November pics 2010 043

Halloween 2010

Once I became a mom, I fully embraced the whole concept of making cute costumes for my child and later children to create Halloween memories.  Another thing that I embraced along with the dressing up is to “inspect the candy” just as my parents used to (which many parents, myself included, may or may not use as a ruse to get a few of their favorites).  It’s funny because before I started educating myself on what gluten free, artificial dyes, GMO’s…exactly were and how they can effect children, the thing that I was most scared of was a wrapper that looked tampered with.  I was more afraid of my neighbors than the noxious ingredients that were actually purposefully put inside the candy my children were eating.


Halloween 2013


So last year, I was so overwhelmed about the whole gluten free thing that I have to admit I kind of freaked out.   Luckily, a friend posted the gluten free candy list which basically was a sanity saver.  I felt reassured that my daughter could have certain things and be fine.  Of course, I had also read this article about sugar so I didn’t want my kids to have too much sugar.  Plus with the fact that basically all corn, and beet sugar (which is what most candy is made of) is pretty much GMO, I wasn’t super thrilled to let my kids even have more than a couple of treats period.  So I did a couple of things that I never did in recent years, but they worked out so well, I totally plan on doing them again this year.

1.  I bought toys and stickers to pass out to the neighborhood kids.  I did it for multiple reasons, but the bonus reason is that because it can’t go bad and I still have half of what I bought for last year so guess what kids?!   You’re getting the same thing this year if your coming to my house again (cue evil laughter).  Another bonus is that this year there is the Teal Pumpkin Project going on to help kids with food allergies so if you have non-food items and have a teal pumpkin out, you could be making some child’s night!

2.  I played banker and bought my kids candy from them.  We weighed their candy and offered a certain price per pound.  I let it be their choice, but when they weighed (no pun intended) the option of eating four pounds each of candy verses having more money then they usually are willing to earn doing extra chores in a month, they were simply delighted with the opportunity to sell us their loot. Hubby took the candy to his work….and then I took my kids on a special shopping trip to spend their cash.  This actually worked better than I thought it would.  It’s funny because we were in the car the other day and they both were talking about what the price per pound should be this year (my kids think inflation should take place annually apparently) so that they can get certain toys that they have their sights set on.  This was also a nice way for my kids to kind of stave off the desire for new toys until Christmas since they have beginning of the year birthdays, they have a loooong wait from their birthdays to Christmas.

3.  I bought some “healthy” junk food….if you can call it that.  There actually are a few places that you can get a sweet little treat at a reasonable price.  Amazon is a good source as well as Sprouts and farmers markets who have honey sticks and organic lollipops, and you can get  Unreal Candy that is super yummy and GMO free, or go to the Natural Candy Store to find all kinds of confections.

I’m excited for Halloween this year, because I feel like I know what my game plan is and yes, even though we will all eat a little bit of junk, we will be able to combat that with our knowledge because knowledge is power.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Homemade Cheesy Noodles

I’ll confess that since we went off of eating gluten, some meals seem especially tricky to plan for. Especially lunch. My kids are still kids and still enjoy having fun “kid” food.  I need to give props to them for being such good sports all the time and being okay with not having the same foods we used to have all the time.  When I was growing up, lunch was either a sandwich, top roman, soup from a can, or mac and cheese (if I was lucky, I got leftovers from dinner the night before which with seven of us kids, rarely happened).  That thought process, was pretty much how I planned lunch until this past year.  So now that I have been trying to think out of the box (and the can) because of my daughter’s trouble with gluten, I have come up with a few ideas that are super easy as well as very fast to make for lunches.  This is my four-year-old daughter’s most favorite lunch and she begs for almost every. single. day. If you try it, let me know what you think of this recipe. Also, if you have any tips and ideas for what you serve for lunch each day, I would love to hear!

GF Cheesy Noodles

GF Homemade Cheesy Noodles


6 oz Rice elbow noodles

2 Tablespoons butter

1/8 cup arrowroot powder

1 cup milk (almond, rice, cows, goat…whatever suits your fancy)

1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt

1/8 – 1/4 tsp pepper

a dash of garlic powder

a dash of onion powder

a pinch of nutmeg

4-6 oz Cheddar cheese (Usually I do cheddar though works just as well with parmesan)

Directions: Get two saucepans.  Fill one saucepan with 2 quarts water to boil. Grate cheese and set aside. Gather other Ingredients. Place other saucepan on stove, place 2 Tablespoons of butter, place on medium heat.  When butter is melted, quickly whisk in arrowroot powder.  When combined, pour in milk.  Whisk until combined.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and nutmeg.  Whisk again.  With a wooden spoon, stir in cheese.  When cheese is melted and well combined, set aside.  Add noodles to boiling water in other pan.  When noodles are to the desired texture, drain noodles (I actually pour cool water over mine because I have two little girls at this point pulling on my legs and dancing around in excitement that I am making cheesy noodles…plus I think it makes the texture less starchy).  Add noodles to the cheese mixture and fold with the wooden spoon until combined.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

One of the least expensive meals there is…


About two weeks ago, my sister and I were talking on the phone about the cost of food, feeding a family with three hungry, growing children and of course about real food.  I had been researching the average cost of food per person per month in the United States after reading a few articles on how to eat as cheaply as possible.  As most financial articles will point out, groceries are the one expense in our daily lives that we have the most control of.  I will agree to them to a point.  However, if you have a child who has certain dietary restrictions, your control becomes more limited.  For over the last year, I have been trying to figure out what the most healthy, cost effective meals I can make that are gluten free.  I had a head slamming moment when my sister pointed out that the family favorite of “Root Mousse” was the cheapest meal that she made for her family.  It does take a little time, unless you have a pressure cooker, but it works really well if you have other things to do and just want to leave it on the stove and check it every so often. I feel ashamed that I hadn’t even made root mousse in about a year…This was a recipe that my Swedish grandfather would make for the family though I hear the most authentic version calls for turnips (which are not in season right now) and I have never had it with them.

I had friends coming the next evening who would have a baby in tow so I figured that now was just as good a time as any to recreate one of my favorite childhood foods.  Now this recipe calls for bacon, but vegetarians and vegans can just omit that ingredient if they like (do they make vegan bacon?)


Root Mousse

6 Carrots, peeled, and chopped

6 Potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup Milk (any type, cows, rice, almond…)

2 Tablespoons Butter (seriously, only real butter will do)

salt and pepper to taste (I usually use about a teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-1/2 a teaspoon pepper)

Bacon, cooked, drained on paper towels and then cut into small pieces.

Directions: Prepare bacon if using.  Boil carrots, in water, until soft (depending on how small you cut them, this can take a couple of hours to 30 minutes.  If you have a pressure canner, once it comes to pressure, time it for 8 minutes and then remove from heat).  Boil potatoes in water in a pot for 20 minutes.  Drain carrots and potatoes and place in a large bowl.  Mash with a potato masher after it is all mashed you can puree some of the mixture with an immersion blender if a creamier texture is desired.  Then add butter and mix in until all melted.  Stir in milk and salt and pepper. Fold in bacon.

Variation: My grandma used to put cheese slices on top of this when I was little and would visit at her house so that would be another way to add some extra protein.

This is good as a leftover, when you need comfort food, for a secondary baby food, or just because you’re hungry.  We love it.


Baby Approved.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Guarding your body; ingredients to avoid putting into your body

In the last year or so, I have a lot of friends who have asked me “what I do” to keep my family eating healthy food that I feel good about.  I have to say, when I first became a mom I felt like eating organically was just too daunting eating healthy seemed so expensive. So, I did the “best” I could to limit the sugar and be “reasonable” about what my kids ate. (Translation: I selectively picked and chose what “I” felt was reasonable and made me feel comfortable and didn’t seem “too far” out there).   Which looked something like this: Honey nut cheerios with milk and maybe a yogurt for breakfast, a bag of goldfish for a mid-day snack, PB&J for lunch with apple slices and maybe a cheese stick and a Capri sun.  A mid-day (running errands) snack would have been fruit snacks and then we would have a sensible dinner in the evening maybe pasta with garlic bread and a salad and broccoli for dinner.  We would have dessert every couple of days and I felt like we were doing really well and eating quite healthy as a family.  We seldom drank carbonation and we limited our sugar intake.  Well then, because of my little girl and her struggles, in the last year, I have completely changed our habits and started being much more discerning about what I was going to let into my family’s food.

To be perfectly honest, this has not been easy, but as I have educated myself as to what I need to avoid and why I need to avoid certain things, it has all started to get easier and easier.  After the initial shock of what was actually in certain foods, I have gotten into a groove of what I can prepare and serve my family.  Even though it is daunting and may even be more expensive, I have found that the trade-offs are so worth it.  My family has been healthier, happier, and we have much more energy on a given day than before.

Funny Reminders Ecard: If you think eating healthy is expensive, just wait till you see the medical bills from eating cheap crappy food. 

I am sure you have seen this meme floating around. 

This post is one of a few posts that I am writing to answer the “what do you do?” question that my friends keep asking me.  This part is a list of the most prevalent things that I have chosen avoid.  So if you will, the list of don’ts.  I promise to follow-up with a list of do’s.  I really hate to start with a “negative” list but since I like bad news first, I think this may be the best approach.  I realize that this list may seem daunting, but just give yourself a break and take baby steps.  As I started this “food journey” myself, I began avoid the foods in the first category for a while and then when that became easier  is when I moved to the next category.  Because of the nature of the “food industry” and the nature of modern life, it has not been possible to avoid every single item on the list at all times.  The most important thing to remember is my favorite mantra “I am doing the best that I can”. 

Recently, we went on a vacation to visit my family for my baby brother’s wedding.  Because of the nature of the beast, we couldn’t avoid all “bad” ingredients but we did the best that we could. If you get creative you can avoid a lot of bad food situations and actually even save a bit of money.  For instance, there was a continental breakfast served each morning at our hotel, well we brought gluten-free granola, some fruit and almond milk in or cooler and every morning, we had a smoothie or granola with milk for breakfast.  The hotel often had hard-boiled eggs available as well as fruit so we had pretty healthy breakfasts each morning with just a little extra preparation.  When it came to eating out, if the place offered gluten-free options, we took that as “good enough” for the time being and didn’t worry too much about “other” ingredients that may or may not be in our food.  We did the best that we could in the situation offered.  Of course, I splurged and had the Italian cream soda as well as the spumoni ice cream (and later paid for it) but I didn’t beat myself up over it.  Eating healthy is very important, but I feel that as long as you are trying 90%  of the time the rest is not going to make as huge of an impact.  Mind you, this is just my opinion.

Okay so here is what  I “Do” in order to avoid hidden dangers in our food.

The most important advice I have is to READ.  Read everything.  The “food” industry is sneaking added ingredients into foods left and right.  Cheapening products to make more money and/or to make their foods more addictive.  Did you know that there is sugar in some salt? I had no idea until this morning. Pick up every single package before you stick it into your cart and find out what exactly is in it.  You will be surprised about what really is in your food.  If it doesn’t get in your cart, it won’t get into your home, and if it doesn’t get into your home, it is much less likely to get into your body.  Don’t get overwhelmed by all the information.  Just take baby steps and remember, inch by inch, life’s a synch.  I have added links to many, many articles giving more information as to why many of the ingredients listed should be avoided if you would like to read further on any one item.

1. Avoid GMOs as much as possible

2. Buy organically when it is on the dirty dozen list

3. Check for added filler ingredients

Extra credit: Make sure your meat, poultry and eggs are a healthy source of protein; fed healthily, and free of hormones.

I mustach you to gaurd your body

Step #1 Avoid GMO foods

Please buy these organically or don’t eat them.

Companies that sell GMO’s have fought tooth and nail against labeling but you can avoid GMO’s by avoiding any of these products unless they are organically grown.  Sadly, GMO’s are lurking in so many things that this is the biggest most difficult step to make.  However, if you do eliminate them from your diet, many of the other ingredients from step #3 will already be cut down so much you will not have to pay quiet as much attention to ingredients as you would otherwise have to.  Now, remember that anything that does not say it is organically grown on this is most probably is GMO because, thanks to the “food industry” and all the billions of dollars they have paid to block labeling in the USA you can pretty much bet that anything with these ingredients that is not marked organic is GMO.  They also are doing all they can to stop people from letting others know about the dangers of their products so if you start doing searches on these things and find A LOT of broken links, do not be surprised.  Those with the gold make the rules.

So, take my advice and just eliminate anything that may be GMO from your lives to make sure.  If every single person in the US did this for just two days, the industry would have to change their stance on labeling.  You have power and it is in how you spend things.  Grocery stores and other businesses pay BIG bucks to figure out what consumers want and how to get you to buy stuff.  If we all refused to buy crap, they  would stop selling crap.  It’s really as simple as that.


soy—I actually always try to avoid this ingredient and this is why. Besides that soy is not healthy.



sugar beets






Step #2 Buy Dirty Dozen Foods Organically

If you go to the environmental working group’s website, you can find out all kinds of fantastic information about food.  The dirty dozen is a list of the foods that have the most traces of pesticides in them when grown conventionally.  If you buy these things try to buy the organic choices of them to lower your exposure to pesticides which are endocrine inhibitors.  Here is the 2013 List of the Dirty Dozen:



Cherry tomatoes



Hot Peppers






Sweet Bell Peppers

Kale/Collard Greens

Summer Squash +


Step #3 Avoid Added ingredients

One article I read said that there are over 200 hundred “additives” that the FDA allows into the food in the US that are banned around the world.  If you think that the FDA is looking out for you and your family by limiting “bad” chemicals into the market, you may want to reconsider that thought.  How many times have you seen those commercials advertising that if you or one of your family members has had adverse affects from taking one drug or another that was prescribe and might I mention, FDA-approved, and that you can get legal compensation because of a lawsuit against the company; you might want to think again about the safety of FDA approved anything.  If you don’t know what it is, just do your body a favor and put it down.  Here are a few of the things that I avoid as added ingredients:

Artificial Colorings such as red 40 

Artificial Flavorings

Natural Flavorings—just because it says “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe”.

Aluminum—a chemical added in most salt and baking powders and is linked to Alzheimer's disease and is NOT found naturally in your body.  So yeah, you may not want to put it into your body.

Aspartame—also known as bacteria feces…yes as in poop

cellulose—another word for woodchips.  This is actually not digestible but it is used to make items like good old grated and that flakey parmesan cheese anti-caking.  Personally, I’d rather have “cakey” cheese than constipation.

other “Strange ingredientsBHT, MSG, Carageegan, ADA (This is the foam in yoga mats).


For Extra Credit

These next few things are changes that we have been slowly trying to implement but they are the most expensive changes we are making:

Conventional Beef that is given the growth hormone rBGH. Instead opt for grass-fed which by the way, tastes sooo much better, it’s not even funny.

Eggs from GMO/soy fed chickens

Do not buy nitrate and nitrite anything—there is a reason why some people call Hot Dog’s “Cancer Dogs”.  Nitrate and nitrite free bacon is super duper yummy though a lot more expensive than other bacon but I feel it is worth the money.

Dairy Products that do not say rBHG free.  Milk products, yogurt, butter, milk, cream, cheese etc

Soy fed Chicken-

Okay, we’re done with the lists.  There are trade-offs to eating healthier—but none that are not worth it.  My children have been happier, healthier and more obedient because their bodies and minds are not having to filter through the garbage.  There are many articles that I have read like this one that tell you what you will have to “give up” in order to avoid unhealthy ingredients and the way they are formulated is to make you feel hopeless.  People who feel hopeless can not change. Because what do we do if we can’t cope with something that is wrong? We continue doing whatever it is we always did.  In other words, we feel helpless and shrug our shoulders and say to ourselves, “Well, that’s too hard,” and then we give up and move on.  And then the companies who are putting garbage on the market win because we feel powerless against them.

Poor health costs a LOT more than eating healthy.  Being sick hampers happiness, work, and relationships just to name a few.  My kids and I used to catch every little germ that came our way. I also would wake up most mornings feeling terrible and not wanting to cook so I would eat the first thing that came my way—usually a brownie or some candy.  It was once I purged my home from ingredients and started taking this process of “eliminating” step by step, that I started finally, finally feeling better.  I hope you will experiment with these steps and find that they benefit your lives for good and for the good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cauliflower coming out of our ears


So my Mr. is a huge fan of Bountiful Baskets.  He is happy to wake up at 6 a.m. (which is our volunteer time) every other Saturday in order to volunteer because he can get the extras that no one else wants and/or any fun extras as a thank-you for volunteering.  I personally have mixed emotions.  I know that quite a few people I have these same feelings about bountiful baskets because #1 you could end up with some fruit/vegetable that you don’t know what to do with (or what in the world it is) or #2 the food sometimes goes bad sooner than anticipated.  I usually don’t have a problem with #1. Generally, I can find some way to cook and try any of the new fruits/vegetables that I have received just by doing an online search of recipes. is a great source to find new recipes for some odd ingredient that you have hanging around and want to use and are not quite sure how to use (and each recipe includes ratings and reviews so you can get an idea if it will be worth your time to make).  For example, I made a fennel soup recently that was on there and it was sooo delicious that my three-year-old burst into tears when we finished it off at the table that night and she wanted to have some for lunch the next day.

Reason #2, on the other hand, has sometimes posed a problem. My solution to this is to a). make Mr. write a list when he comes home of all of the things he received.  Then b.) (since I am busy teaching Saturday mornings) it is his “job” to prepare whatever he can so that it does not go bad or it’s more easily usable.  For example, he chops up onions, peppers, and celery and places them on cookie sheets in the freezer to “flash freeze” later in the afternoon, we just pop them in a freezer bag to be used whenever we need those ingredients.  I personally hate to chop so this is a great thing for me.  Then later, I take the list and make a “plan” according to when the other things need to be used by.  This has really helped us to not waste our produce so it has made me less reluctant to use bountiful baskets.

One Saturday morning Mr. came home with six, I kid you not, six heads of cauliflower.  He said some people didn’t want them so he took them.  I was a little upset because what do you do with six heads of cauliflower?  This was the whole reason those people didn’t want them…didn’t he realize that?  Then I remembered this book we have, Deceptive Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld who suggests you add puréed vegetables into your picky family member’s food.  It is great because it tells you the best way to steam/cook your given veggie so that you can puree it and use it later.  So, I asked my husband to at least steam and puree four of the cauliflowers.  He did and then brought six more cauliflowers home the next bountiful basket Saturday. I had a LOT of pureed cauliflower.

I created this recipe out of sheer craving something creamy and yummy to eat.  The only form of dairy my three-year-old can have is in the form of cheese.  Luckily, cream cheese is tolerated at our house too. I tried (unsuccessfully) to make a cauliflower cream soup with multiple things, mashed potatoes (too starchy tasting), coconut milk (weird flavors) and goats milk (which sends shivers up my spine just thinking of it it was so ghastly).

Finally, one day when I was sadly very low on ingredients as well as time, I threw this together and stuck it in the crockpot and low and behold that evening the most delicious concoction had been produced!  It was so good, the next day at lunch, my 3-year-old was stealing spoonful's out of my bowl.  In the last two weeks I have made this three times.  Now I need to buy a ton more cauliflower so because I  have sad, oh such sad children now that I can’t make this soup on a whim anymore because I am out of pureed cauliflower.

  cauliflower cream cheese soup

Crockpot Cauliflower  Cream Cheese Soup

4-6 cups pureed cauliflower

2 onions chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Turmeric(optional)

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Pepper

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups of water

Directions: In a medium pan, sauté onions with butter.  When soft, add garlic, turmeric if desired, salt and pepper.  Add cream cheese and water and stir until combined to create a sauce.  Put cauliflower in slow-cooker (frozen works just fine) and pour sauce into pot and stir.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4.  Garnish with parsley and bacon if desired.