So, between moving into a new house, and having a baby two weeks later, I’ve been struggling to get back to a place where I feel organized and calm. It’s been more like treading water around here lately. And I’m tired of it. I seem to have several plates spinning at once, and I’d like to be able to stop feeling like that. I’m sure many can relate. The first thing I’m doing, is dusting off my household notebook, and making it the center of my organization. This morning, I sat on the front porch with the family working and playing around me, and made a list of all the areas of my life I’d like to organize. I’ll come back and edit this post with a list of those things when I can get to it (I’m currently sitting here bouncing a sleeping baby and telling Wildflower how to spell her name). The first place I’m organizing is one that I’ve long been hiding from: the budget. I’ll explain more about the budget in the next post.
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It seems that I took the internal gesture of winter too literally, and moved quite inward this winter. The good news is that spring is here, the time when all those seeds I was incubating will bear fruit. So, stick around, I plan on sharing my grain free/primal/Passover dessert with you, my garden- it’s bigger this year! My homemade set of Resurrection eggs, (Can you tell we did spring holidays in a big way this year?) and some stuff that’s been sitting in my “draft” folder for months.
I am slowly changing my diet over to grain free foods, and I’m doing really well with dinners. I do ok with breakfast too, as long as I have cheese to put on my eggs, and lunches as long as I have leftovers from the night before. (Otherwise, I tend to grilled cheese. This is a process.) The best advice I got when I was learning about going grain free is to take it one meal at a time. Get dinners down first, then move on to lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc. So that’s how I’m doing things, and it’s working out MUCH better than my original attempt to just cut everything out cold turkey.
My biggest problem so far was when Christmastime came around. Christmas cookies are a BIG part of celebrating around here. I have a list of cookies and candies I make ONLY at Christmastime, and I wait all year to make them. It doesn’t feel like Christmas til I make them. However, this year, I decided to cut out half the sugar called for in every recipe. The overarching flavor of the cookies was suddenly not sweet- though they were still sweet- but wheat. I don’t really like the flavor of wheat. I was going to share these cookies with our neighbors, but they tasted so – WRONG to me, that I couldn’t bear to do it. So, I didn’t, and we ended up eating most of them. And I suffered for it, headaches, digestive distress, and moodiness, and guilt and self flagellation for knowing better. I mean, honestly. Of course, all these recipes have been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, to me. And I’ve decided that it’s time to retire these recipes that have actually started to take away from my enjoyment of the holidays. And others, not to retire, but to make over. In the case of the first on the list to go, there is cherry winks. I love them, but they can’t be fixed. It’s not simply a matter of switching flours, unfortunately. They have dates- ok… and corn flakes. I’m sure you’ve read the study of the rats that fared better on the cardboard box the flakes came in than the cereal itself? (Edit: while briefly searching for the study, I couldn’t find it, and it appears to be an urban legend- must search out the truth!- Either way, corn flakes and all other processes cereals are junk.) And the final nail in the coffin of this recipe- maraschino cherries. My fingers were stained with red 40 when I was done with these cookies. I’m sure if I tried, I could add dates and dried real cherries to the cookie, and use something like almond slices to make them crunchy like corn flakes, but honestly, they wouldn’t be the same cookie. So, this was the last year for cherry winks. Good bye cookie, I love you, and will always treasure the card with my grandmother’s handwriting on it, but you have been retired.
Speaking to my husband, the only cookie I make that he cares about are the sugar cut out cookies. And I’ve found a good substitute for those. As well as the frosting to go on top, and sprinkles without artificial dyes. This is my daughter’s favorite part of cookie making as well- cutting out, decorating and eating the cut out cookies. The particular cookie types don’t hold the same meaning to anyone but me, and I’m ready to make new traditions and memories. So, we will do these.
The other one we will retire this year are the potato candy. This is a potato, peeled, boiled, and mashed, mixed with powdered sugar until it becomes thick and pasty- and you have NO idea how MUCH sugar that takes! Then rolled out and spread with peanut butter, topped with coconut. It’s delicious, but pretty much pure sugar. To replace these there are any number of candies made with nourishing coconut oil. We also make fudge every year, and I can easily healthify this with any number of coconut oil fudge recipes out there.
One I make that I particularly love is called “Secret Kiss Cookies”. These are a walnut shortbread wrapped around a Hershey’s Kiss. I’m pretty sure I can alter a grainfree shortbread recipe and use better chocolate to continue this tradition.
One tradition we DON’T have is gingerbread, but it’s very Christmassy, and I think it will make a charming addition to our cookie repertoire. This year, I found one made with almond flour that we tried to make a gingerbread house with, but it wasn’t firm enough to work as a house. Gingerbread babies from now on! I’m sure my kids won’t mind.
So here’s the OLD cookie list(if it’s hyperlinked, it’s hyperlinked to a new, grain free recipe:
Cherry Winks There’s just no hope for this one, too bad…
Secret Kiss Cookies (I’m thinking of using this shortbread recipe to alter it to work)
Truffles (Honestly, I just use cream, and the best quality chocolate I can find, and dont’ worry about the sugar content- I consider this a “sensible indulgence”)
Rum Balls- these have no alternative yet, but I’m not ready to give them up. I won’t make them this year, but when I do, they’ll need to have the correct chocolate/ cinnamon flavor.
Peppermint Bark- I think I might just try to get candy canes without red 40, and ignore the sugar for all the small amount there would be per piece. Either that, or make these peppermint patties.
Sesame Cheese Crackers- I need to experiment with grain free cracker recipes, but this sesame cracker looks promising (just thinking of adding sharp cheddar to it…)
Peanut Butter Blossoms- instead of this, I think I’ll make these, but instead of cups, as buckeyes!
Here’s the gingerbread men recipe I used. I like the molasses flavor!
And for simpler ideas, this nature’s candy box is nice.
Whew! I”m all finished, and I feel so much better about the Christmas treat situation in this house! 🙂
Kids progress through a predictable pattern when it comes to art. It goes, roughly: scribbles (up and down, side to side), scribbles (circles and spirals), scribbles (mandalas), and finally, the humanoid! This is kind of a circle that represents a head with limbs extending from it. It can have a face, sometimes just two circles for eyes. But it represents the switch from putting crayon to paper to learn the process to making representational art. It normally happens around the age of 3, and Wilflower will be 5 next month. So, I was kind of getting worried, and I felt rather guilty (I don’t do enough art with her, she’s stunted creatively, she watches too much TV, I should start a family drawing time like Soulemama!), but she just out of the blue started to make these, and like the kid who talks late but busts out these complete sentences, she just kept drawing! So, I wanted to share.
Here is her first humanoid- she said it was a boy mermaid:
A bit later, she drew Lola, from Charlie and Lola:
For reference, this is what Lola looks like:
And finally- we were recently gifted with one of those gourmet gift baskets that come through the mail. As a thank you to the sender, she drew the family enjoying lollipops (though no lollipops were in the gift basket…)
More proof my little girl isn’t so little anymore. *Sigh…*
I have a goal of making our family’s Christmas stockings myself, but from the beginning, people kept giving them to us! With names monogrammed onto them! But, no one yet has given us one for Squishy, so I took my chance, and whipped one up for her. Literally. I didn’t think I’d finish it so fast, but once I had the vision for how it was to look, it was easy to put together. I used my own stocking for a template- my stocking is the smallest of the three we already had. Has anyone else noticed that stockings seem to keep getting larger and larger every year? What is up with that? So, I used my medium sized stocking, and cut out two pieces of felt. I had some red and white checkered material that was already hemmed, though I’m not sure what it was for- it was too large for a napkin or placemat, too small for a runner or tablecloth. But it was perfect the cuff of the stocking. So, I sewed that around the top, and embroidered Squishy’s name onto a piece of unbleached muslin, and then sewed that onto the cuff of the stocking. I wanted a homespun primitive look, which I think I accomplished well. Almost too well. I messed up the pinking around the name, and so it’s not the rectangle I wanted. But it’s done for this year. And I can change it next year if it’s really bothering me. What do you think?
Next on the list is my husband, who has the largest stocking, but also doesn’t have his name on it. I have some manly red and green wool, and if I have some navy blue fabric, I might be able to get his done this year too!
Note: Yesterday, I titled this blog post ‘eating primal/paleo”, but I realized that this is inaccurate, as I have a gigantic potato pictured down below there. Lol! (Potatoes aren’t paleo.) So, I changed the title, as I haven’t fully adapted the Primal label yet, and it’s rather an “in progress” goal.
I have been attempting to eat more primally, which means cutting out grains and sugar. It also means cutting out legumes, but I haven’t done that yet, nor do I feel compelled to at this time. The hardest part is menu planning. I used to have a pretty good grip on menu planning. A well rounded dinner would look like : meat main dish, veggie side, starch. That was for a simple dinner, the kind we usually have around here. So, I knew that if I could make a formula out of a grain free meal, it would make meal planning much easier for me. I have been checking The Garden of Eating out of the library constantly for almost a year now (I think I’ll have to give it back soon, boo hoo, I can’t afford my own copy, it runs about $35! ) However, it is TOTALLY worth the price! It has menu plans, suggested menus, shopping and prep tips, and the “why” behind going grain and dairy free (we also aren’t dairy free, one thing at a time, please). After careful rereading of the first section with all the “how-to”s it actually has formulas for the meals in the book, but I’ve kind of invented my own as I do my menu planning. I only menu plan for dinners at this time. Lunches, snacks, and breakfasts kind of elude me, even before my diet change. But I hope to get skilled enough that I can menu plan them too.
Anyway, on to the dinners. Instead of meat, veggie, starch, I do: meat, green vegetable, starchy vegetable (like squash or yams, not white potatoes or corn, which is actually a grain and not a vegetable). My non primal husband would appreciate a grain as well, and I may add in a side of kasha, rice, or quinoa when I get this basic system down more. It would mean more meat and veggies for me, as well as more carbs for him as he processes them better than I do, and needs more energy than I do. He’s a runner.
Since we’ve had a rash of really delicious and satisfying dinners around here, I thought I’d list some of them.
Turkey Florentine: leftover Thanksgiving turkey breast, cooked in tomato sauce with spinach (green veggie) and topped with cheese (raw cheddar) and baked til melty. I could have added another veggie to this, and probably should have, but I didn’t get the zuchhini thawed in time. If I’d thought of it, I might have added some of our lactofermented green beans.
Pot roast with roasted shallots, potatoes, and carrots. This is a one pot meal, and it’s really delicious too. Leftovers turned into pot roast soup for dinner the next day, with plenty of nourishing bone broth to drink.
Meatless meals also work this way. I recently had a zucchini frittata and a starchy dish (I can’t remember what it was, sorry!) (Egg instead of meat, green veggie, starchy veg).
And I don’t’ normally do raw salads, but I had a refreshing and warming salad from Garden of Eating with leftover turkey, sweet potatoes, and some salad greens and radishes. In the summer, this formula will change to a large raw salad like this, with the protein on top (especially good for lunches), or a grilled meat, with a starchy veg side and a green salad. But in the winter, I don’t do raw salad, they’re too cooling for me.
Breakfasts are kind of grab your own around here. Hubby eats the same thing every day: bowl of oatmeal, egg, and bowl of yogurt and berries. Wildflower eats a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and honey. A big bowl of grain is a big nono for me. I eat eggs, greens, and fruit usually. Sometimes I skip the fruit.
A typical breakfast for me would be scrambled eggs and spinach, topped with raw cheese or feta cheese. The other day I had two eggs poached in bone broth, over some steamed broccoli. My fruit lately has been a citrus of some kind- clementine or tangerine, or a hot cup of apple cider. And often a cup of hot herbal tea as well.
I think I’ll post a roundup later of some grain/sugar free Christmas treats. In the interest of full disclosure, I have fallen off the grain/sugar free wagon with the Christmas cookies. Tradition runs strong. But I’m making some changes. I’ll post about that later. Hope this helps you simplify your menu planning if you’re trying to go primal, or gluten free, or just trying to eat more veggies.