Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gluten-free Berry Crisp and the Amazing Cross Family

I feel like shouting from the rooftops....yesterday was the first Costco trip I didn't buy diapers or pull-ups in.....years!!  Day 5 of "nowears" and we are going strong.  And that's all I'll say about that, because I know you're not here to read about potty training, just had to share.  :)

Other than the run of the mill, deciding which half marathon to run next, dealing with a certain preschooler crashing face-first off her bike into the curb, making dessert for MOPS, and getting a little substitute teaching time in last week, I haven't been up to too much.  So, in the meantime I'll share with you what is on my heart.

I have been attending MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) since Grace was a baby.  I have met some amazing women and have watched faith in action through this program.  Some of the speakers we have had have been so motivating and inspiring, I have been left feeling in complete awe and in appreciation of their work, dedication to their passion, and above all commitment to being a good mom and caring for their family.  One such speaker, who also happened to be another MOPS mom in my group, was Amie Cross, who spoke last year about her family and their upcoming missions trip to South Sudan.  At the time of her presentation I remember thinking, "Wow, this woman is amazing.  Her husband is going to be building water purification systems and teaching water purification techniques to the Sudanese people in their area while she cooks, cleans, home schools and cares for her four young children, all the while 'dealing with' the elements and realities of living in an extremely different environment." Wow, right?  I remember thinking I don't think I would have the courage to do what she is doing.  I mean, what if something happened?

Well, something has happened, and I would like to ask you to pray for this dear family.  For days, Amie and the children have, one by one, been affected by a severe intestinal illness.  After several days of sickness, the family was fortunately able to get from their small village to Nairobi and has begun receiving medical help (no easy task, nor an inexpensive one...think about riding in the bed of a pickup on dirt roads, waiting for the airport to open in order to get to a plane which was out of fuel and needed to get to another airport to refuel....yes, these things really did happen, all the while with puke and fevers and all around miserable achey bodies).  As I type, they are awaiting test results so that a correct course of treatment can be determined.

The Cross Family has been blessed by both a physical and prayerful support system.  Please join me in making that support system stronger.  Here is a link to their facebook page, where the family is able to periodically post updates, as well as to their blog, http://gospelwater.net, which will no doubt leave you feeling inspired and uplifted by the work that they are doing (and will give you a good laugh at some of their experiences!).

I am so reminded of the fear and stress I felt just a couple of short months ago when Emma had spent days vomiting and become so severely dehydrated that she had to be hospitalized for three days.  It was a scary time, and we were only minutes from the help that we needed.  I simply cannot imagine the emotional roller coaster this family has been on for the past few days.  Thank you for keeping them in your thoughts.

Now, about that dessert I mentioned for MOPS.  I'm on week 2 of no refined sugar, so was slightly disappointed when I realized I was to provide a dessert for this morning's meeting.  But, I came up with something that must have been good, because there was just enough for Grace and Emma to finish off a couple bites each when we got home.

Gluten-Free Berry Crisp
3 cups berries (I used my Costco mix of blueberries, rasberries, and blackberries)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup Sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/4 cup Spectrum shortening

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Toss the berries with the honey.  Sprinkle with the cornstarch and gently incorporate.
3.  Grease an 8 by 8 baking dish.  Transfer the berries to the dish.
4.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Melt the shortening and add it to the dry mix.  Mix until you have a large crumb.  Sprinkle over the berries.
5.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up.  

I did steps 1-4 last night then put it in the oven this morning.  Again, it was delicious!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cocoa Oatmeal Muffins and Shopping Excursions

I'm cozied up on the couch with layers of sweaters, cozy socks, fleece blankets and slippers.  It's April, but it feels like October!  What is up with our weather?!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  Nothing irritates me more than listening to Seattle folks complain about the weather - I mean, really?  If you don't like the rain, move to California, that's what I say.  But last night we had rain pelting the windows, accompanied by majorly high gusts of wind.  Today it's about 45 degrees.  This is a little bit crazy!  But this is also what cute rainboots and weatherproof jackets are for, as well as heated seats in my rockin minivan.  And since I just got home from a little shopping excursion, am peeled out of my wet layers and all thawed and snuggled into my dry, cozy attire, I'm going to enjoy the warmth of my fleece and fireplace just a little bit, even if it is mid-April!

Speaking of shopping...there's not many things I dread more than attempting shopping with my kids.  I say attempt because it's never quite successful.  Someone usually ends up hiding in the underwear racks or wearing fancy fedoras around the store or wiping chocolate grime on a beautiful beige cashmere sweater.  Once Grace came face to face with a fur vest and screamed bloody murder, "Why is that dog hanging on a clothes rack?"  Then there's the trying-on process.  I went to Nordstrom Rack a couple of weeks ago and took my girls in the changing room with me, because what else was I going to do with them?  I steered them to the full length mirror where they proceeded to make funny faces, kisses, etc at themselves. Well, I got about halfway done before their little eyes tired of themselves and instead were glued on me as I changed clothes.  In our house, there really is no privacy, my kids bust into any given room at any given moment, so bare skin is certainly something they're used to seeing.  Maybe it's that we were outside of the house that threw them off.  At any rate, they started yelling at the top of their lungs, "Mommy's naked, Mommy's naked, I see her nowears, I see her nowears (that's Emma-speak for underwear).  Then Emma darted off beneath the changing room door and into the next room where a sweet little lady was also naked down to her nowears.  All the while every other woman in the room was laughing so hard they were crying.  I had no idea we could be so entertaining.  

So, this morning I spent a whole two hours of shopping bliss by myself.  No stress to get home for lunch or naptime, so worries about dressing room debacles, and no missing children in lingerie departments.  I was so happy to come home with my treasures, but when I did I realized I was famished.  We're a little low on edibles at the moment, and I was certainly not in the mood to rush back out for grocery shopping.  So, I settled on these muffins that I made yesterday.  No refined sugar, high in fiber and nutrients from oats, pumpkin, and bananas.  And they are full of chocolate - yes please!

I adapted this from Sugar Free Mom, who I follow on Facebook and Pinterest.  She has some really tasty recipes that are all made without refined sugar.  

Cocoa Oatmeal Muffins

1 ½ teaspoon egg replacer + 2 tablespoons rice milk (equal to one egg)
1 mashed banana
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 ½ cups water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups gluten free oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sucanat
1 cup chocolate chips

1.    Preheat oven to 350.  Generously grease muffin tin.
2.    Whisk egg replacer with banana, pumpkin, water, and vanilla. 
3.    Add remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly.
4.    Pour mixture into muffin tins and bake for about 30 minutes (20 for mini muffins)

These taste great when served warm, I’m talking melt-in-your-mouth ooey gooey goodness.  My kids ate three each right out of the oven.  Then three later after dinner.  Not a bad dessert when you factor in the sugar content, or should I say factor out?!   And they were minis, by the way.  My girls are birds!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins, Minus all that Sugar!

I have to admit I was a little unsure of when I would have the time this weekend to post anything.  However, I found a few spare moments before our babysitter is to arrive and my husband whisks me off on a date, so here we are.

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy, but when is life NOT busy?!  Emma had her surgery which went well, but it definitely took her a week or so to get back to "normal."  She seems like her self now, and that is awesome.  So, that has been my main focus, and the blog took a back burner.  I won't apologize for that, but I am happy to be posting something new!

My newest venture....I have decided to kick sugar...well, as much as I can.  I never used to have the sweet tooth that I have since going gluten-free.  It seems like the success of a lot of recipes I have tried depends on sugar.  And the bottom line is, we are eating too much of it!  The more sugar I eat, the more I want.  And it's just so bad for you, in so many ways.  So, I made a delicious cake for an auction using up all of the tiny white granules from my pantry on Friday, and I've resolved to buy no more (unless someone wants me to make something for them!).  I do, however, have agave nectar, honey, and maple syrup.  I know these are still sources of sugar, but how does one (especially one with little kids) eliminate this stuff all together?!  I think these are a little healthier....right??

Well, here's a scrumptious blueberry muffin recipe using agave nectar.  Moist, sweet yet tart, and overall pretty much heavenly.  Better yet, the kids love, and that's what matters in the end!  This is a great basic recipe to have, you can substitute the berries for anything.

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins (Refined sugar, dairy-free too!)
2 cups Basic Gluten Free Flour Blend
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup melted Spectrum shortening
3 teaspoons egg replacer + 4 tablespoons rice milk
¾ cup rice milk
¾ cup applesauce
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup berries

1.    Preheat oven to 350.  Grease or line a muffin tin.
2.    Mix together the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
3.    In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg replacer with the rice milk.  Add the remaining wet ingredients.  Blend on medium-low about 1 minute.
4.    Gradually add the flour.  Blend on medium-high speed about 2 minutes, until the batter is smooth.
5.    Mix in the berries by hand.  Spoon the batter evenly into the cups of the muffin tin. 
6.    Bake at 350 for 24-28 minutes (if baking mini muffins, 12-16 minutes)