Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Parmesan "Cheese"

This Parmesan substitute has a salty flavor and the texture is just like the canned dairy version. I used this "cheese" in a creamy slaw salad dressing and it tasted great. The ingredients are nutritional yeast flakes, sea salt, and walnuts (recipe from the Go Dairy Free cookbook).

It was interesting to read up on nutritional yeast. I try to avoid yeast when possible, because I know that yeast overgrowth is very common and can cause major fatigue. (This is another good reason to avoid sugar, because yeast thrives on sugar.) But nutritional yeast is different from baker's yeast and brewer's yeast because it has essentially been "deactivated" in processing, and therefore cannot grow or cause candida. In addition, nutritional yeast has tons of vitamins and minerals!

So, back to the walnuts, salt, and nutritional yeast. You just run them all through a food processor until it looks like this:

It will be interesting to find out how this healthy substitute might work in place of Parmesan in other things like cheesy casseroles or sprinkled over spaghetti with meat sauce.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Parmayo Fish

Another fish recipe that masks fishy flavor, courtesy of Julie again. I believe I got these fish recipes from her a couple years ago when my doctor was teaching me how to get more protein without eating something like 27 foods (elimination diet)...

Through this health journey, it has amazed me how God has provided so many little things that have helped me in some small way (like recipes) through so many people. It just goes to show you that when God takes you through a valley, he doesn't just leave you there to fend for yourself. He really does equip you with every little thing you need for each step!

That is how I have made big lifestyle changes, in this case big diet changes. One step at a time. One recipe at a time. One new cooking skill learned. One nutrition fact learned. I am a work in progress, but I am also so thankful to be at a point where I know deep down that I wouldn't want to go back to the old eating/cooking habits. In fact, I think that would be really difficult!

Now, about this fish. I don't remember what Julie calls this, but I named it "parmayo fish" because of the parmesan cheese and mayonnaise. If you are trying to lose weight, I don't know how "good for you" this fish would be. When you slather any food with cheese, butter, and mayo... it will taste great, but it sort of defeats the purpose of "healthy." For my diet purposes, however, fat is okay in moderation. You can always use oil instead of butter and mayo, or less of them, or cut them out altogether if you are going for weight loss.

But for people like me who want foods with a low-glycemic index and free from several common ingredients... do me a favor and indulge yourself here. :)

1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c butter, softened
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 lbs fish fillets (I use Alaskan pollock)
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp celery salt

Preheat oven's broiler. Line a broiling pan with foil. In a small bowl, mix cheese, butter, mayo, and lemon juice. Mix in the seasonings and set aside. Arrange the fillets on the pan. Broil a few inches from the heat (second rack from the top for me) for three minutes. Drain the fish juice off the pan. Flip the fillets and broil two minutes. Cover with the cheese mixture and broil two more minutes, until the topping is browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Pancakes are an important part of Shane's diet. He grew up having them every Saturday morning, so it is imperative that we somehow get to eat them once a week. And now that I always have a big container of gluten-free flour on hand and ready to go, we can eat them together!

Look at how pillowy these are. Like IHOP. Soooo good with real maple syrup drizzled over them...

The pancake recipe I use is from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free cookbook.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Nut-Crusted Fish

This recipe was given to me by my friend Julie, who says she likes fish that doesn't taste fishy. I must say, this fish doesn't necessarily look fishy, either. The coating disguises it quite well. Your kids might even think these are chicken strips by the looks of them, right?

Nope. Nothing fishy going on here at all. :)

I have adapted this recipe to make it gluten-free and sugar-free. We love it!

2 c Barbara's cornflakes
1/4 c cashews
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb fish fillets (about 8 -- I like to use Alaskan pollock)

Preheat oven to 375. Pulse the corn flakes in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add everything (except the fish) and pulse again, until finely ground and mixed. Dump the mixture into a resealable plastic bag. Shake the fillets around in the bag, and press to adhere the mixture to the fish. Place fillets on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over the top. Roast about 15 minutes, until flesh is opaque. Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Minty Cream Cheese Cut-out Cookies

Christmastime was too busy for blogging, but I have been meaning to write about all the delicious sweets we made. Look at this plate of gluten-free, sugar-free goodness.

Mom made spritz cookies, I made minty-cream cheese cut-outs, peanut butter brownies, and gingerbread, and Kelly made roasted almond caramels.

Who says you've gotta have white flour and sugar to have a sweet Christmas?!

And now for the recipe... It took me a few tries to get this one right. :)

8 oz package cream cheese
3/4 c butter
1 c powdered coconut sugar
1 1/4 c Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 c sweet rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp mint extract
16 drops green food coloring

Soften cream cheese and butter in the microwave. Add powdered coconut sugar and beat with electric mixer on medium speed. Add mint extract and green food coloring; mix until well-blended. Add the flours and baking soda; continue to mix with (a) dough hook(s). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough out to 1/8-inch on a lightly-floured surface; cut cookies out with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place cookies on cookie sheets and bake at 325 for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes three dozen.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meat Loaf

Grandma Pokey makes the best meat loaf. This my version of her recipe, made gluten-free and refined sugar-free. You will love this meat loaf, I promise.

2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1 c old-fashioned, gluten-free, rolled oats
1/2 c ketchup
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp cayenne seasoning
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 c ketchup + 1/2 c palm sugar = sauce

Mush up all ingredients, except the sauce, in a big mixing bowl. 

Shane does this for me if he happens to be around -- my hands freeze doing this! 
Doesn't seem to bother him. :)

Press mixture firmly and evenly into a sprayed 9x5" loaf pan. 

Bake at 350 for one hour. 

Remove from oven and drain off the excess grease. 

Pour sauce over the top and bake another 15 minutes. 

Slice and serve.

NOTE: Depending on the ketchup you use (mine is homemade and very thick), you may need to mix 1/4 cup of water into the sauce.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lasagna in a Slow Cooker

This slow cooker lasagna from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free cookbook is a much healthier alternative to the kind I usually make. For starters it's gluten-free and sugar-free, but it also uses ground turkey instead of ground beef, and it has spinach. Oh, and less cheese. :) But there is still cheese -- and it still managed to fill us up!

You will need brown rice pasta for this meal. It's nice that you don't have to cook the noodles before assembling the lasagna. Saves a step.

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey
8 oz tomato sauce, divided
28 oz petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
3/4 tsp pepper, divided
2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
9 brown rice lasagna noodles
2 c part-skim shredded mozzerella cheese
1/4 c water

Spray the insert of a 5-6 quart slow cooker. 

Spread 2 tbsp of tomato sauce in the bottom of the crock. 

Heat oil in large nonstick pan over medium heat. 

Saute onion for three minutes; add garlic for one minute. 

Add turkey and brown at medium-high. 

Add to cooked turkey: remaining tomato sauce, tomatoes with juice, 
1 tsp salt, basil, oregano, parsley, and 1/2 tsp pepper. 

Stir till heated through.

Squeeze the spinach dry and stir it into the ricotta in a medium bowl; 
season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Arrange one layer of noodles in the bottom of the insert, breaking noodles as needed. 

Spread one third of the meat mixture over the noodles, 
and one third of the ricotta mixture over the meat. 

Add two more layers of noodles, meat, cheese.

Sprinkle mozzerella over the top. 

Pour the water around the edge of the slow cooker. 

Cover and cook on low for 3-5 hours, till cooked through and noodles are tender. 

The lasagna keeps nicely on the warm setting for one hour, if needed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Preschool 2012-2013

We used the ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum this year. I would definitely recommend this program. Two thumbs up from us! Z learned how to write his name, address, and phone number. He learned how to dial and answer the phone and call 911. We did many gross motor and fine motor activities. Some favorites were the memory obstacle course, the memory verse maze, the letter formation maze, and finding "buried treasure" in play-doh. I don't have pictures of everything we did, but I tried to include as many as I could in this post!

Here is the best part. I started each day reading a Psalm or the weekly Bible story with my little guy. He learned so many Bible stories and lessons and "Bible time" is just part of our routine. I loved that character formation was a big part of this program, and it is interwoven into the crafts, games, and songs. It was good for ME to learn easy, clear definitions of self-control, patience, and kindness. As I look back over the past school year, the thing that really stands out to me about ABCJLM is the focus on character traits. Three- and four-year-olds are learning character at this age anyway -- for better or for worse. It's a pivotal, foundational time for character. This gave us great opportunities to talk about character qualities, how we struggle with them, and pray together for help with them. There are so many situations that naturally come up when you are four years old that are blatantly about character. What choice are you going to make right now? A good one or a bad one? These situations are so simple that this age is the perfect time to put a name on these choices. Example: Are we going to use self-control and choose not to whine? Let's look at how Jesus used self-control when faced with temptation. Are we going to obey dad right away, with a happy heart? Let's look at what happened when Jonah disobeyed God. You get the idea. We are always growing in character, but preschool is the perfect time to talk about it plainly because the character choices that preschoolers face are so uncomplicated.

I liked that the activities were not too long/complicated and we could move at Z's pace. We could take breaks whenever we wanted to just play, visit friends, eat, or do housework.

One of my favorite aspects of ABCJLM was the way you teach writing. Before learning the skill of holding and writing with a pencil, the letter and number formations are taught with tactile sandpaper letters they can trace with their finger. And they are taught in a sequence of how the characters are built. So instead of alphabetical order, the first letter taught is lowercase "l" and all the "straight line characters." Then they learn angled line characters, circle characters, bubble characters, and so on. This made it not overwhelming to learn new characters, because Z was just building on what he already knew.

The following are photos of a lot of (but not all of) what Z did and made. They are not in chronological order, and some are not right-side-up. :-) This is for our personal keepsake, for anyone considering the ABCJLM curriculum, or for anyone wanting preschool ideas. Enjoy. :-)

Made a Ten Commandment Train for memorization

Ten Commandment Train

Ten Commandment Train

Learning the Calendar, days of the week, months of the year

Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz stick puppets
Learning about Goodness
(We had a Bible story theme for each week.
By the end of the week, Z was able to tell me the story.)

Jesus and Peter walking on the water stick puppet
Learning Faith and Trust

Binoculars for keeping our eyes on Jesus
Learning Faith and Trust

Boat - learning opposites sink and float

Connect the Dots

Sheep for playing "Find the Lost Sheep"
Learning about Forgiveness

Joseph Forgives His Brothers
Learning that sins are bad choices and make our hearts dirty.
But when we ask Jesus to Forgive us, he takes the sins away
and makes our hearts clean!

Puffy Ball Jar
Rewarding good choices
(We also use an "If-Then" Picture Chart for bad choice consequences)

Naaman is Healed
Learning Thankfulness

Story of the Ten Lepers
The thankful one stood out to Jesus

Thankful Watch
Learning to be Thankful at all times

The week of Thanksgiving we used this box to
physically place things we are thankful for inside.
At the end of the day we would thank God for those things
as we emptied the box.

Hand-and-Foot turkey

Drawing our family several times
(those are teeth, if you're wondering)
Fine Motor

The "manna" was all over the living room floor
when Z came down in the morning.
He got to collect enough for the day and put it in his basket.
Learning Self-Control and that God provides food.

Temptations of Jesus chart
Cutting and pasting, sequencing
Learning Self-Control

"Waffle" :)

Painting with Q-tips
Fine Motor

Parable of the Talents
Learning to be Responsible with what God gives us

The Widow's Offering
Learning about Giving

The Lord is my Shepherd
Learning about Gentleness from Jesus

Psalm 23
Learning to be a sheep and trust our Gentle Shepherd

Jesus Heals the Lame Man who was lowered through the roof
Learning to be Kind to our friends

Cain and Abel
Learning about Peace

Field trip to "A Day Out with Thomas"
Dictated and "wrote" a story about it.

Learning about Love

Robot - cutting shapes and gluing
Fine Motor

Connect the Dots
Fine Motor
Learning about Love

Little King Josiah story
Learning to be Attentive

Cutting lines and shapes
Fine Motor

Tactile letters and numbers for finger-tracing
Learning letter formations
Loved this part. So easy to remember.
We also used these with the Memory Maze.
I did the work of making them from sandpaper,
but glad I did because they made learning the formations so easy.

Learning to write with letter formations
Start on green dots
Stop on red dots
We used all of these with page protectors and dry erase markers.

Learning to write with letter formations
Start on green dots
Stop on red dots
Trace and copy

Learning to write with letter formations
Start on green dots
Stop on red dots
Trace and copy

Learning to write with number formations
Start on green dots
Stop on red dots
Trace and copy

Letter of the Week / Phonics


Blue, Brown, Black

(marker, cotton)

(construction paper)

(crayon, stickers)


Green and Gold Glitter Glue

(hole punch)


Jelly Beans

(construction paper, marker, string)


(stickers, obviously)


Orange, CheeriOs

Pink, Purple, Peach Paint


Rainbow, Red Rectangles
(construction paper)


(those colored foam sheets you can cut)

(paper, glue)

(paper, glue)

Wiry Wiggly Worms
(pipe cleaners, tape)

Painting over white Xs so they show up
(white crayon, paint)
I know this is lame, but Z thinks it's SO funny that X is for "X." :)

Yellow Yarn

(construction paper)

Number posters

Learning the Seasons
A great visual for learning the cycle
and key attributes of each.
I printed off the trees, snowflakes, leaves, and apples.
Z cut them out and pasted additional pictures from magazines.
He did a "seasons presentation" several times with it.

Drawing and painting shapes
Fine Motor
Visual perception

Spring Garden
Cutting and pasting
Fine motor

Weekly Memory Verses that correlate with the Bible story/character trait
We reviewed and briefly talked about these each day after Bible time.

Memory Verse Maze
The rule is you can't go off of the yarn.
You follow the yarn until you come to a verse.
You have to say the verse from memory before you can move on to the next verse.
Memory verses were boring until this. Z LOVED this.
We also used this with the sandpaper letters
for memorizing the letter and number formations.

Memory Verse Maze

U.S. Map Floor Puzzle
I'm including this because Z just loves it and has to do it at least once a day.

Making music
He likes to play the bongos while I play piano
and sing the song/hymn of the week.

Building stuff

Learning to read
We started this in February in addition to ABCJLM and it has been just right.
It makes sense, it's easy, and it works.
My kid can read!

Learning to count to 100;
stars for each of the 100 Reading Lessons

Lots of books.
I appreciated the book of the week suggestions from ABCJLM.

Star = symbol of God's Promise to Abraham:
As many descendants as stars in the sky.
Learning about Patience

Joseph in Jail
Learning to be Patient

Our "textbooks"
The Bible, The Beginner's Bible, Big Thoughts for Little People,
Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, The Jesus Storybook Bible

Helping Hand Poster
Learning about Jesus the Servant-King
Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
Whenever we caught each other serving, we gave that person a sticker

Jonah and the big fish puppet
Learning about Obedience

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Fire Painting
Learning to trust and Obey God no matter what,
because God is always able to save us.

Wocket Pocket
From the book "There's A Wocket in My Pocket"

Using words to express feelings

Visual perception - left to right

Color tracking, Copying, Visual perception

Learning food groups, Painting with vegetables, Easter eggs

Painting with watercolors
Fine Motor

Learning about Honesty and that we can't hide anything from God.
The paint covers up the word "lie" in white crayon, which was supposed to show through the paint but it didn't.
This photo is sideways but instead it looked like there was a cross in the middle when it was right-side-up.
God's grace covers even lying, right? ;)

We did other activities and learned about other things too like responsibilities around the home, mazes, crafts, careers, field trips, left and right, opposites, tying shoelaces, memorized the books of the Bible, lots of gross motor activities and playing outside with Daddy, Operation Christmas Child, etc. I will add to this post as we finish up the year.