Monday, October 29, 2012

Going for a cleaner life

Here lately I have been trying to cook cleaner for my family. By that I mean the types of foods we eat :)
Nothing really to drastic , just some minor changes here and there to foods that we use only on an ALMOST daily basis  or ones that I find myself buying every time a do a major commissary shopping trip, which is every two weeks.
As well as the amount of fast food that we consume and where we consume it from.

Did not want to send the family into "food shock".

It all started when I came across this website Deliciously organic , by fellow military wife Carrie Vitt, and this site 100 Days of real food.

These wives/mothers have seen how the world around us has changed and how those changes have effected not only the quality of the foods that we eat ,but also our health.
And they chose to do something about it, starting small , but still starting.

These ladies inspired me and made me take a REALLY hard look at what and how my own family eats.
From the convenient, pre-packaged foods to the , sometimes 3x weekly , drive thru meals , that were not only taking its toll on our health, but also on our "quality " of family time.

When you are eating you are not really thinking about what it is that you are putting into your body.
I mean who REALLY thinks about where the chicken they are eating came from, what the canned/bottled fruit contains other than fruit or how that sports drink you are guzzling down after that hard workout really does more bad than good for you in the over all big picture and what is really inside of that burger from XYZ burger place  really made of. ( I know I did not and still don't at times).

But , when it comes to my health and the health of my family I decided it was time I did.

So I set out to see where I could incorporate minor changes, but changes non the less. That would not cause my family to revolt against me :) or drive them to want to flog me.

I started with something simple, whip cream, I do not really buy tub whip cream very often unless I am making a fruit salad, but I do buy canned whip cream often. Plus it is only one ingredient, if you don't add "flavoring".

main ingredient is the canned coconut milk

  The kids like it on their waffles, smoothies,  pudding, fruit and of course who does not like whip cream on their ice cream :)

You have to place the can in the frig for at least 24 hrs to help firm the cream that is on top .
After you open the can you need to separate the thick cream from the coconut milk. Leaving only the milk in the can and placing the cream in a mixing bowl.
milk in can and cream in bowl
 It was fun trying to see if I could get ALL of the cream out of the can, as you can see I did not do to bad of a job , if I have to say so myself:)

Once you have the cream in the bowl add ":flavoring" if you choose.
I chose cinnamon and vanilla for my first time out.
the cream with my "flavoring" of choice
I did not measure the amount of cinnamon or vanilla, it was done to taste.

Then you mix with a hand-mixer, using the whisk attachment, until the cream becomes firm or whipped looking. You can not over mix it, but it takes about 3-5min for it to become a good whip cream texture.
Gabriel is  mixing it for me
the finish product
a closer pix of the "whip cream"

Afterwards I placed it in a storage bowl and it kept for a week, well more like the kids at it all in a week :)

a home made banana split topped with home made whip cream
Riding on a "high" after having made the whip cream I decided I wanted to tackle something a little harder,but still stick with only one ingredient, so I chose to make peanut butter.

( if you get a chance read what your average store bought PB is made of even the Natural ones, it might surprise you)
Instead of buying a bag of peanuts and de-shelling them I chose to just buy a jar of peanuts.
the jar of peanuts and my food processor

This was a hard change for Sasha and I , we both LOVE PB, well she likes it I LOVE IT , but hey who is keeping notes :).

I had placed all the peanuts in my food processor and when I went to turn it on , nothing, I think I blew the motor awhile back and did not realize it.

all ready
So I had to transfer all the peanuts to my blender.

ready, again:)
Once transferred the process of making the peanut butter was so simple and quick.
I just put my blender on the cream setting and let it run its course.

bottom is creaming
The peanuts go through 3 stages total .

right before it reaches creamy state
It takes about 5m to make the peanut butter, but it is SO worth it. I have never stated anything like it before.
 ( Ian decided to play with my shoes when I was making the peanut butter:)
Ian in my shoes

the finished peanut butter
Now the problem I have is staying on top of making it. It seems that between baking with it, and eating it , it goes pretty fast :)

These are just a few simple, baby steps that I have taken in helping my family eat cleaner,so far.

It really does not seem like a HUGE step in the grand scheme of things, but to me a baby step is better than no steps at all :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pear and Ginger Muffins made GF style

After having posted about some Fall recipes that I had found and wanted to try , I found myself having some "free" time ( as if there is such a thing when you have a 20m old and homeschool two older kiddos :) and so I decided that I would try my hand at giving a gluten filled recipe a GF "face lift". :0)

There are so many recipes that Lori , from, has posted on her site that it was REALLY hard for me to choose just ONE and not stay in my kitchen ALL day long and bake, but I did finally decided on one recipe and it was;

 Pear and Ginger Muffins

The recipe was really well written and the direction were SUPER EASY to follow and the best part is that I already had everything I need so there was no last minute trip to the commissary for missing "items".

the ingredients  

The best part about baking for me is that no matter what I am making there is always someone in the house that is willing to lend a helping hand and this time it was Sasha.
my "helper" of the day
Once Sasha was finished cutting up the pears , I was able to take over the counter and "get to" mixing.
There really weren't to many ingredients that I needed to alter to make this GF, other an I used an AP GF flour, 3 eggs and 2 TBS of honey, everything else I was able to follow the recipe to a T.
my wet and dry bowls
As an after thought, after the wet and dry ingredients were combined, I decided to toss in a cup full of chocolate chips.
my after thought
all mixed and ready for the muffin pan
I could not find all my re-useable muffin liners, so I went "bare" when baking these.
I also have been reading a lot about "real" foods here lately so I decided I wanted to try topping one batch with raw cane sugar and the other with the brown sugar the recipe called for.
first batch ready for the oven
( I accidentally deleted the picture of the 1st batch fresh from the oven :( But, let me assure you it was a pretty light golden brown color and tasted yummy.

second batch ready for baking
The second batch , which had the brown sugar, came out all nice and caramel brown looking on top, but there was a just a hint of a sweeter taste to the top than the batch with the cane sugar.

second batch fresh from the oven

Over all I was greatly impressed with both batches. I liked, okay more like loved, both equally.
And the added chocolate chips just enhanced the flavor of the pears in a very nice way.

Can not wait to make these again, and they actually freeze very well and taste just as good 4 days later. ;-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bullied enough, yet???


I do not understand bullying. Nor do I understand the parents of the child who is doing the bullying.

I know that we all like to think that our child would or could NEVER do such a horrific thing, BUT if you are given evidence time and time again and choose to do nothing about it then , to me, your are just as guilty of committing the act, too.

Statistics show that 1 in 7 kids are either a bully or are being bullied.
·    "  Research over the past decade suggests that, among US middle school students, approx 7.5% -13% bullied others, 10.6%-20.7% were victimized; and 1-13% engaged in both bullying/victimization (Batsche&Knoff, 1994; Cunningham, 2007; Dema2002). Ray & Maloecki, 2003; Kauffman, 1998: Nansel et. Al., 2001; Seals & Young, 2003; Unnever, 2005; Wenxin, 2002), Based on review of the bullying/victimization literature, it is clear that these are relatively common phenomena for middle school students. "

And when asked , teachers typically underestimate the levels of bullying and victimization in their schools.

 "In a study conducted by the Secret Service and the US Department of Education, researchers noted that 71% of the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others prior to the incident  "​Bullying_​Facts.doc

Kids who are bullied can experience depression, anxiety and health issues , as well as negative feelings about their physical appearance.

As if it is not hard enough to be a teen, when you throw in bulling and adults who choose to not listen or act, it is no wonder that children who are bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-bullied children.

So I ask what are we, as parents supposed to do?

We send our children out into the world, whether it be to school , church, etc. , where we put our faith and trust into the adult that is there to lead/guide them, only to find out that the entrusted adult is turning a blind eye/ear to what our children are saying to them.

 We tell our children to "turn the other cheek", that "two wrongs don't make a right", to " walk away", but what kind of message are we ultimately sending to our children when the bullying continues , time and time again, and you have done what you, as the parent feel is right, and still nothing is done about it?

We tell our children to " stay in a group" setting, to surround yourself with trusted friends, but what happens when those people just stand by and watch it all take place and say nothing at all?

You reach out to the the teacher to explain the situation and nothing is done, or worse yet you advise the parents and STILL nothing is done, but to increase the amount of bulling your child endures.

We can equip  our children with all the knowledge and advice that we are parents have, but what if that is not enough?

Is there more that we could/should be doing? And if so what? 

Is there a piece to the puzzle that we are missing, that will help us put an end to this?

If so I would like to know!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welcome Fall, I think??

The weather here in Central Louisiana has been acting like a TEASE here lately. It has been playing with my inner child, offering me a brief glimpse of Autumn weather and then taking it away, and leaving me only wanting more.

 Showing me what it is like to leave your windows open all day, only to wake up at 0300 to close them because your freezing, but not quite to the point where you are ready to even consider putting the flannel sheets on the bed.
But, then making me close up the house the next day because of 90F temps.

It has planted the seed of Fall dressing in my head; jeans, scarfs, deck shoes, loafers or even Keds, and cute shirts that only the thought of FALL brings to mind.
Then it erases it just as fast when I have to pull a pair of shorts out of the drawer and reach for the ponytail holder to complete my "look" for the day.

But, the worst of it is the NEED to bake,and I am not talking about just any sort of baking , OH NO, but the FALL inspired baking.
The sort of baking that leaves your house smelling like an apple orchard, or a fresh pear or even a pumpkin patch in late afternoon when all the pumpkins have been sitting under that Autumn sun all day.

And it is this need that sent me to the internet yesterday in search of Fall inspired recipes only to come across this site, where I found such recipes as;
pear and ginger muffins
baked pumpkin pie oatmeal
pumpkin coffee cake
apple cider brread
and a few others that I pinned last night as I was putting Ian to bed, that I will be revamping and baking , GF style, over the next few weeks ( and posting pix of course :)

So if FALL has been TEASING you , I say go WITH IT!!
Close up those windows, crank up the A/C, put on those jeans and BAKE till your heart is content and your house smells like FALL :)