Thursday, February 28, 2013

Embrace Your Place

Is there something that God is calling you to do, but you think doesn't quite "fit" you right now?

Then watch this video and learn that "there's only one love language, sweetheart..."

Or are you, like me, going through a time of obscurity and anonymity?

Then watch this video and learn why everything hinges on whether you "embrace your place."

This video floored me. I will be thinking about it for months, and by the power of the Holy Spirit I will be acting on it too. Please, take the time to hear these anointed words.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Egg Salad on French Bread

It snowed a lot of inches here today, so it was the perfect day to have egg salad.

Egg salad makes me think of outdoor fun. Growing up, we had egg salad sandwiches for picnics. We had them at the beach. We had them in the boat when we went fishing or skiing. And we had them for lunch when we went downhill skiing. And egg salad is another one of those foods that my mom just makes the best.

But for some reason, the ski trips stick out to me the most. When I think of eating egg salad, I go back to the days of sitting in a crowded ski chalet in my snowpants and big klunky ski boots. My cheeks are bright red and freezing cold, but the rest of me is warm from a full day of invigorating runs down the mountain. And I am inhaling an egg salad sandwich.

So today when my guys came in from building their igloo,

with their snowpants on and bright red cheeks,

they got hot chocolate...

...and they got egg salad.

It just made sense.

This is my mom's egg salad recipe, of course.

6 large eggs
3/4 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped dill pickles

Put the eggs in a deep saucepan and cover them with water, to 1 1/2 inches above the eggs. Bring to a rolling boil and cover. Remove from heat and keep covered for 29 minutes. Drain water, and fill pan with very cold water, continually changing the water as it warms. Chill eggs in the fridge. Peel eggs under cold, running water. Chop them both ways in an egg slicer and dump into a bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

We ate ours on gluten-free, sugar-free, yeast-free french bread tonight.

I was eager to try a recipe using psyllium seed husks as a binder in something and this recipe does it. You put just three tablespoons of these tiny husks into a cup of liquid and they turn it to a gelatin-like substance really quickly. It's so weird. How God created the chemistry of everything just amazes me. After letting the psyllium husks sit in the almond milk for just five minutes, it was solid gel. I dumped in the applesauce and oil and they just sat on top of the mixture until I stirred them in. So cool!

Here's how I made the french bread:

1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp psyllium husks
1 tbsp canola oil, plus extra
1 tbsp applesauce
1 c sweet rice flour
1/4 c amaranth flour
1/4 c teff flour
1/4 c quinoa flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Stir almond milk and vinegar in a two-cup glass container. After a minute, stir in the psyllium and let it sit for five minutes. Then stir in the oil and applesauce. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the wet mixture. Mix on medium-low speed with a dough hook, until the dough forms into one big ball. Form into the shape of french bread, about eight inches long, and place on a baking sheet. Brush the loaf with oil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

I hope you all enjoyed your snowy day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Chicken Strips

My friend Sarah introduced me to Barbara's Bakery products and we really like them. I used Barbara's Cornflakes (which are certified organic and sweetened with fruit juice) to make these chicken strips. They worked and tasted great.

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c butter, melted
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c cornflake crumbs

Preheat oven to 425. Cut chicken into diagonal 1 1/2" strips. Process cornflakes down to one cup, then mix in paprika, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken in the butter, then the dry mixture, then arrange in a sprayed 9x13" glass pan. Bake 15 minutes. Flip the strips and bake another 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Serves four.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Purple Protein Smoothies

Sugar in the morning is the worst thing for people who have diabetes or hypoglycemia. This includes natural sugar that comes from fruit or fruit juices. I learned this from my doctor, who told me to save fruit for later in the afternoon or evening, and to only eat fruit with other food. So I like to make these Purple Smoothies to have with lunch or with an afternoon snack, such as a handful of almonds. This recipe makes three small smoothies, perfect for our family. If you want to use it as your breakfast, it would serve two.

1 c frozen strawberries
1 c frozen blueberries
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp protein powder
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tsp flaxseed meal
12 oz almond milk

Put everything in your blender or smoothie maker.

Blend until smooth. 

Serves 2-3.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chicken Fajita Paella

This does not qualify as real paella because I cook the rice separately, it's not a fajita because there is no tortilla involved, and we eat it with lots of extra stuff. It's mostly something I just made up with some stuff I had and we liked it. But there is rice, and there is fajita seasoning, and when it's done it resembles paella. So I call it Chicken Fajita Paella, and you can call it that if you want to.

3 c uncooked brown rice, cooked
10 oz canned chicken
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 c chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp dried cilantro leaves
1 tsp Penzey's fajita seasoning
1 tsp salt
olive oil
1 can black beans, drained
1 head of lettuce, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a frying pan or wok, saute onion and garlic in some olive oil until tender. 
Add green pepper, chicken, lime juice, cilantro, fajita seasoning, salt, and beans. 
Cook until heated through.


Stir the mixture into your rice. 

Serve the "paella" on a bed of lettuce, topped with cheese and sour cream. Serves six.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Poppyseed Love Cake With Raspberry Frosting

I am going to be honest about this cake. Sometimes gluten-free baking gives you flavor confusion and you can't decide whether something tastes good or bad. For the first four (or so) pieces that I had, I was still trying to decide if I liked the flavor. For the last four (or so) pieces that I had, I was fairly certain that, yes, the bean flour flavor in this cake is standing out too much... but maybe if I added lemon to it next time it could taste good.

When the cake was gone, and I realized that I had eaten probably eight pieces total (more or less), I thought, "I must have liked it!"

Flavor confusion aside, the loveliest thing about this cake is that Z helped me make it for Valentine's Day.

We took it to a Valentine's party to share with friends, and then we brought some home for Shane. I didn't think I liked it at first taste, and was surprised that some people really liked it, especially the light flavor of the frosting. The cake recipe came from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Cookbook, and I did not add the freshly-squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest for which the recipe called. The cake was dense, yet moist, but that garbanzo-fava flour does have its own taste to it and it kind of stands out if you don't add flavor to it. So, that was a big "duh" on my part. I made it into a triple-layer cake and frosted it with Raspberry Ricotta Frosting (also from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Cookbook). The raspberry flavor was extremely light, and that helped the garbanzo-fava flavor in the cake to dominate even more.

However. We kept eating it. So, it couldn't have been that bad. As with other things I've baked with this flour mix, the taste isn't a bad one... just so different than the wheat flour flavors I grew up with. I like to think that my taste buds are gaining perspective.

Still, next time I would add more lemon flavor to the cake and more raspberry to the frosting, for sure!

Mixing up the batter

Filling the cake pans

Fresh out of the oven


Cooling the cakes

Z mixing up the frosting

Light pink frosting

Making it pretty


Did I mention there is ricotta cheese in both the cake and the frosting?!

Love :)


"My mom makes the best ________ [fill in the blank]." 

My mom makes the best guacamole. Maybe I think that because it's the first guacamole I ever tried, and it just stuck with me. Or maybe it really just is the best. :)

Guacamole is good and good for you. I like to seize every opportunity to consume it, whether at a Mexican restaurant or a party or just ask a snack at home. It's so easy to make. Here is my mom's recipe.

4 ripe avocados
2-3 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1/4 c lime juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Mash the avocados with a pastry blender or fork. Mix in the other ingredients. Leave a couple avocado pits in the guacamole to keep it fresher. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentine's Day

I was looking through 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter in the Bible), and reading all those beautiful descriptions of love. When I thought about some of the descriptions, Shane automatically came to mind. I can confidently say these things about him: 

Shane is patient, Shane is kind. 

Shane does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud.  

Shane is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs.  

Shane does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  

Shane always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Notice that I did not list all of the descriptions of love that are listed in 1 Corinthians 13. Just the ones that stood out to me which I have truly recognized and experienced coming from Shane. But what a gift to be able to say any of these things about another human being! 

As I receive God's love this Valentine's Day, I am receiving the gift he has given me in my husband. Not a perfect lover, but perfect for me. The kind of love that Shane shows me is less than perfect, yet it is the strong, steady, faithful kind of love that perseveres through high waters. I am blessed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


For anyone who deals with hypoglycemia, diabetes, or chronic fatigue... or for anyone who just never wants to... I suggest eliminating the cereal boxes in your house. (Even the "healthy" ones).

"Start your day with a substantial breakfast."

It's one of those things you hear in school growing up but never heeded it at home so it was never very important. Until your doctor tells you why it really is and then you try it...

Protein-packed, sugar-free, nutrient-filled breakfasts have done wonders for my mornings. For my whole day, actually. Thankfully my husband has stepped up to the breakfast plate in order to help get me going in the mornings. He frequently scrambles eggs or makes oatmeal for us. He loves to make pancakes so I am even teaching him how to make gluten-free, sugar-free, healthier pancakes from scratch!

Granola is what I eat when everyone else is having cereal. I make a version of this granola every couple weeks or so. It such a good go-to breakfast, snack, or topping. It's really good with almond milk poured over it. I always bring some with me when I travel. I like the subtly sweet flavor, and if I eat it for breakfast it does a good job fueling my morning until lunch, unlike plain old oatmeal. Z has recently discovered that he likes it, too, so I will have to start making more of it. If you have never taken the time to make homemade granola, try it! Your body will thank you.

4 c gluten-free oats
1 c sliced almonds
3/4 c sunflower seeds
3/4 c pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1/2 c flaxseed meal
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c + 2 tbsp palm sugar, divided
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce, divided
1/4 c + 2 tbsp agave nectar, divided
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, flax, and salt. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the oil, 1/4 c palm sugar, and 2 tbsp applesauce; microwave 30 seconds and stir to dissolve sugar, then stir in 1/4 c agave and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix until all the oats and nuts are coated. Spread granola evenly onto a baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Mix remaining 2 tbsp each of sugar, applesauce, and agave. Drizzle over granola, stir well, and press firmly into pan. Bake another 30-35 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove and let cool completely. Break into bite-size pieces and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Accepting God's Call to Wife

A conversation between Shane and me from just last night...

Me: Did you know I graduated second in my class in college?

Shane: No.

Me: Well, I did.

Shane: Really? Wow.

Me: Yeah. Maybe I should get a career instead of just doing this housewife thing.

Shane: Maybe.

Me: I am really smart, you know.

Shane: I know you are.

Me: I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

Shane: I know you can.

Me: I strive for excellence in everything I do.

Shane: I know you do.

Me: Well, except being a wife... I have not figured that one out yet.

Shane: Yeah. True.

Me: That is the one thing I am bad at... yet that is the situation God has put me in.

Shane: I bet you could do it if you set your mind to it, though.

Me: (laughing)

Shane: Valentine's Day is coming up. That would be a good time to start...

Me: (laughing more)

Shane: You should try it. I bet you could be an excellent wife.

Isn't it funny how the uncomfortable things... the foreign things... the most unappealing things... are often the things God calls you to focus on? To let him speak to you about? I would much rather focus on something that comes naturally and easy to me. And yet God has called me not to use my smarts, but to use my heart. Not to lead, but to follow. He wants me to learn more about this wife thing because it is important to him.

This makes me squirm. I try to look away and ignore God about how I'm doing as Shane's wife, but God keeps bringing it to the surface where I can see its importance from his perspective. I try to think of something better to do, something with a bigger purpose... and there sits that big hairy guy, just waiting to be loved on. What's a girl with a 4.0 GPA to do?! I mean, come on. I am special, right?!

But, from a biblical perspective, I know that being a great wife is something God is calling me to do -- precisely because it doesn't come easy for me. I really am not very good at it. To be blunt, taking care of another adult human being feels awkward. Mothering comes a lot easier for me than wifing. But that doesn't mean it's wrong for me to become a better, more dedicated wife. Or even that God has some grander purpose in mind for my life. The place where I am weakest is the place where God can best show his strength.

Women, this world trains us to value big achievements more than little services. If God has put you in a marriage or given you a child, let me just say it... it is no small thing. Nobody says this anymore, but families are at the very heart of God and building up his Kingdom, and your most menial work as a wife is more important than you realize. Stick it out with me and don't run from it. Or if you've started running from it, turn around and come home. It's never too late to accept what could be God's biggest accomplishment in your heart and in the lives of those around you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Just A Minute...

When I am in good health I get busy catching up. And when I get busy, so many things can just swallow me up. I have to remind myself to just pace myself. Go slow. Sit down and take a break. To not fear the next time period of flat-on-my-back-helpless. To let God be responsible for the To-Do List and to do what is needful.

As a mother this pacing oneself is so important. Going slow enough that I don't have to screech to a halting, "WHAT?" when he needs me. Slow enough that I will be able to calmly apply the brakes and stop long enough not just to answer his question or look at his Lego tower, but to engage in it. To joyfully engage in him.

This includes limiting screen time, and always being available to look up from the screens, but even more than that... to put the screens away. Dear Mom on the iPhone was such a great reminder for me today. Moms, if you carry a phone or a computer, you should read this.

Because these moments are fleeting and I don't get to decide when they happen. So I won't blink. If I am able to be vertical, my kid is more important than my phone or computer.

That's what I say when I am down. But busyness comes and soon enough I find myself saying, "Just a minute. Just a MINUTE. JUST A MINUTE!" But those minutes keep adding up...

It's hard to focus in this world of screens. Screens are a constant temptation for so many forms of instant gratification. May we all make minute-by-minute choices to put the screens away, and to put people -- real life ones -- first.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Almond Dill Chicken Casserole

Toasted almonds give this colorful, flavorful casserole a tasty crunch.

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped broccoli
1 c shredded mozzerella cheese
1/2 c diced red pepper
2/3 c mayonnaise
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 c slivered almonds, toasted

Toast your almonds in a small skillet over low heat. Turn them and toast them slowly so they don't burn. Cook the chicken in a pan on the stove with a little oil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Spread mixture into a greased casserole and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Recently I began making my own sugar-free, soy-free mayo. This recipe is also egg free, mainly because I didn't want to hassle with raw eggs. I adapted my mayonnaise from the recipe at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom. With a few changes to fit our needs and taste, I like what we ended up with. I preferred not to use olive oil because the taste was so strong, and little to no salt. This mayonnaise works on sandwiches, in casseroles, and most commonly in my apple salad lunches.

1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp agave nectar
2 tsp white rice flour
1 tsp arrowroot starch
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Put everything into a mini food processor and pulse until the mixture emulsifies and thickens. Store in the fridge for up to one week. Makes a half-cup.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chocolate Teff Cake

Having always had a major sweet tooth (ask anyone in my family), being sugar-free is a huge feat for me. On top of consuming all the sugar already in processed meal foods, I am the kind of person who would eat peanut butter chocolate bars for breakfast because they had oatmeal in them.

However, I am also the kind of person who enjoys a challenge...

So finding a way to cook and bake without sugar -- and still eat sweets -- is totally up my alley!

For my birthday I made this chocolate teff cake from my Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Cookbook. Teff flour is packed with nutrients (a bonus). I made this as a layer cake by doubling the recipe and making two 10-inch round cakes. The cake is sweetened with applesauce, liquid stevia, and coconut palm sugar. You would never know there is no refined sugar in it. And, this cake is gluten-free, unlike the last chocolate cake I made.

First, I enjoyed a piece with my guys...

Then, I had my friends Kelly and Angela over for cake...

Then I took some to my sister's and had some more cake with them (because it had been her birthday in January too and she just had a baby, so she really needed a piece of this)...

Then we enjoyed the rest of the cake whenever we possibly could, until it was all gone. :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sunbutter Cups

My #1 favorite candy is the classic Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. So of course I had to make these! I found them at the Spunky Coconut. I already knew I liked Sunbutter, a sunflower seed alternative to peanut butter, because I had used it on one of the elimination diets. (And I happen to be avoiding peanuts again at the moment, so this was a great time to make them.) The only thing I did differently from the Spunky Coconut recipe is that I used homemade chocolate chips instead of Chocolove.

2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c liquified coconut oil
1/2 c agave nectar
1 c sunbutter
1/8 tsp vanilla liquid stevia
1/2 tsp salt

Melt chocolate chips to a fudgy consistency. 

Spoon a couple teaspoons of chocolate into 24 mini paper cups in a mini-muffin tin. 

Mold the chocolate up the sides of the cups.

Add agave to liquified coconut oil, then pour into a mini food processor. 

Add sunbutter, stevia, and salt. 

Pulse until mixed.

Fill each cup to the top and freeze until solid.

Keep these in the freezer and enjoy about 15 minutes after taking them out.