Monday, April 21, 2014

Food Lessons

* This blog post is too long -- as all of mine always are.     

So a month and a half ago I told you we were removing gluten from our girls diet, on top of their other allergies.
     My girls have a number of allergies. The biggest being dairy. So anything that was ever once cow milk (or goat, or other animals) is out -- like cheese, yogurt and the like. As well as any food that has any amount of milk derivatives in it. Such as gold fish cracker. Down to things with milk listed as the last ingredient. They can’t even touch milk products without getting hives, and potentially worse.
      We also need to avoid peanuts, all tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, peas, navy beans, lima beans (last three are related to peanuts and so some people allergic to peanuts can be allergic to other legumes -- news to me when we found out), kiwi fruit, and we have to go very light on soy. (So no soy milk, or yogurts, etc for us.)
     So I felt very emotional about removing gluten when it first came up,  it seemed like too much food taken away. I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to talk about food on the blog, because it was all so overwhelming. I mean seriously, with all the food controversy their is out there these days, its like nonstop failing in someone’s eyes no matter how you eat. Add in limitations excluding you from eating “the right way” in many instances, and I just didn’t know if I wanted my thought on the internet. But I’m starting to feel pretty stable about it all, so hence this post.

     Anyway a month and a half ago, we had just found out a couple people in Blake’s family have celiac disease and after thinking it through, I felt my best choice is to just take gluten out for us.
     Blake just got his blood test done last week to see if he has it or not, and we are waiting on results. But he’s decided that regardless of the results, he wants to cut out gluten and see how he feels. (Since you may not have celiac disease, but can still be intolerant of gluten.) So, bye-bye wheat, barley and rye. (AKA normal baked goods.)

My oldest is going to be four this June, and I’ve not gotten used to cooking for all these allowances. At the point  of finding out about gluten, I had been trying to just get by and eat what I can, while giving her what she can have. When all this hit the fan, I thought,  “No more struggling this way, I’m gonna get good at this. I’m only going to eat what she can eat, and I am gonna figure this stuff out. I’m gonna make it normal for us."

So, at first I just used up what was left of our cheese and things. Then I gave away a bunch of flour and stuff with wheat to some friends. And eventually I started just working with what was left (and some new things I had to hunt down.)
I have “cheated” on my own diet when we are out, because I know I’m not allergic to the stuff. So my body isn’t dairy or gluten free right now. But my life kinda is. I keep meaning to bite the bullet and actually remove it 100% from my diet and just see if anything changes for me. (It wouldn’t take much more from me -- just some restraint when out of the house.) Maybe now I’ll do it.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve learned in a month and a half of all this stuff.

1) Baking gluten free hasn’t been bad. (But I haven’t done it a lot -- I don’t bake a lot in general)

(No picture but) I baked a cake for my mom’s birthday out of a box of gluten free flour and followed a recipe that I totally tweaked for our allergies. I couldn’t believe it was actually good since I changed so many things about it. But it was. Most of us had seconds.

Then for the rest of the March birthdays I found a box of allergy free chocolate cake mix (super easy, just add water and oil) (Found it at Meijer) and made cupcakes. I also made the frosting from soy free vegan margarine. (Earth Balance)
Those turned out awesome. Supremely yummy.

Since we had so many parties to go to, I froze them and saved them to bring for the girls when cake time came.

Toothpick, then saran wrap, and freeze bag. Worked great.
(Once thawed the texture was off from original, but the girls didn’t notice.)

2) When removing Dairy from my own diet, the first thing I had to figure out was coffee. I thought I was gonna go black. And I could have. But it tastes better with cream. And It also feels better inside my stomach -- less acidy.
I gave coconut milk a try and I actually really liked it.
Well, the first day I didn’t. I was used to drinking my coffee a certain color from the right amount of half and half. So I tried to get that color with coconut milk -- not a good idea. Coconut milk has coconut oil in it, and with a lot of coconut milk in my coffee there was a swamp of oil floating on top that I’d have to slurp through. That was gross.
But when I decided it could look much darker than I was used to, I found that it tastes great. 
I just use a heaping teaspoon (actual use, not a measuring one) of it and its perfect for me.

This stuff looks more like yogurt than liquid. Initually I thought I’d keep it in a pitcher, but it doesn’t pour at all, it scoops. So now I keep it in this pyrex container and it sits nicely on the top shelf of my fridge door. (Where most people keep butter)

About a week after I did this milk switch, Ruby came into the room holding my almost empty cup of coffee, drinking it. I was ecstatic that I had switched. If it had been cow milk, we would have been Benadryling her and staring at her for like an hour worried and feeling super guilty. The switch is SO worth it for me.

3) Breakfast.
I’ve still been eating eggs myself, but my girls cannot eat them.
(That’s the one allergen I plan on keeping around because they can handle eggs in baked goods.)
They love hashbrowns, but I wanted to figure out another breakfasty option. I tell you what, breakfast with out eggs, dairy, and wheat is crazy hard to come up with.  And I know there are no rules about what you can eat for breakfast -- but seriously, sometimes you want breakfast food for breakfast!

Enter my new fav breakfast:

Oatmeal with some honey and sun butter stirred in.
This is really delicious. Very creamy and comforting. It’s got some sugar going on since the sun butter has some sugar in it, plus the honey -- but its at a level I’m cool with. I don’t think it’s excessive. And it’s real foods.
I love it.  Blake’s never tried it. Jasmine wants nothing to do with it. And Ruby is obsessed with it. And that is nearly always the story of food in our house.
(For those new to my blog, perhaps you know me in person, I use blog names for my girls on here. My oldest I call Jasmine, my youngest, Ruby.)

4) Sardines are yummy.
I mentioned missing frozen pizza saving dinner on Facebook and my Grandma, who grew up in the mountains of Montana, said when they had no time for dinner they had tea and sardines on crackers. I thought, “Why not? At least taste them.” I grabbed a tin of them (boneless and skinless -- gotta start somewhere) and opened them up. 
I was shocked when Jasmine agreed to taste it, and I had to restrain my happy dance when she told me it was good and ate the rest of the tin. (You can't let on you like that she likes it. Poker face all the way.)

Yum! Sardines.

I like mine in a salad. The olive oil on them is enough to make a dressing for me.

5) This lead me to figuring out something I’m almost embarrassed over.
Let me explain:
I’m obsessed with tacos. Obsessed!
The obsession came quickly after having Ruby because I can throw them together in 2 mins and eat them just as fast. (Mom of two littles coping skills at their finest.)
But my tacos consisted of meat, cheese and hot sauce. Now I can’t have cheese and I was missing it so bad! A taco with just meat is lame. I had lots of suggestions on what to put on there. I tried lots of stuff. Found some that were ok.
But I missed something SO obvious! 
And when I had that salad I figured it out.
Like real lettuce -- not iceberg. Yummy lettuce.
Meat, lettuce and corn tortilla. It gives a new dimension of fresh and texture. My life is made again. (And its healthier now. Sweet accidental joy.) 

I’ve even tried just cold veggie tacos with a dash of gluten free soy sauce.

6) I had a week there where I became obsessed with a blog I found on accident.
I’ve been watching Mad Men again. (I love looking at the sets -- and I love that my house could have been it’s set.) Which got me thinking about food now vs food then.  Mainly that now pinterest has everyone looking like they need to have photograph-ably culinary creations from around the world --- ones no one’s ever heard of before but feel like they should have been born knowing how to cook it. But back then everyone ate meatloaf. (I think? I wasn’t there.) Like simple simple stuff.
So I googled up this website which is just fun -- a time line of “normal foods” through American history. (This is cool on lots of thought levels.)

I was wowed by the 1940’s because of WWII and rationing. I was majorly impressed by the stamina that took from the mommas of the day. And somehow in their lack, I found courage for my “lack.” (I say “lack” because we can still clearly over eat on the foods we are allowed -- there is no real lack -- just limitations on variety.)

The idea that they had to think through all the rationing and how to afford their food while doing it, while their whole world was turned upside down by war was just awe-inspiring to me.
While I was looking through what they ate it became clear to me that everything they ate was extremely healthy because the unhealthy items were not even really allowed to be eaten very much -- they were rationed. The recipes were also working out well for me since most the foods we can’t eat were rationed for them.
Example of health and making do, and that intersecting with my life: while margarine isn’t “clean eating” -- it is the only way we can have “butter” -- so the fact that margarine was around for them during WWII, but milk and butter were rationed -- it’s all working out in my head as helpful. Their isn’t tons of margin in in there recipes, but its there -- and that’s kinda how our life is gonna be. And while some people wouldn’t let margin cross their clean lips, I’m gonna play the cards I’m dealt as best as I can.
Anyway -- in the 1940s you pretty much couldn’t over eat because there wasn’t a lot of food -- unless it came from your own garden. Sounds smart to me.

I just got enthralled by it all - just a big confidence booster for me.

I ended up finding this blog where a lady used 1940s rationing and recipes to lose I think 80lbs.
She was posting her foods on her blog. And while the pics aren’t pinterest stunning, I was pinning them like crazy because they might really make dinner for my family.

I saved ones I thought we could make work on pinterest here.

These recipes use TONS of potatoes -- cheap and in supply. But score for me -- everyone in my family loves potatoes and no one is allergic to them!

In their spirit of "waste not want not” I was shown not to just throw out potato skins -- turn them into crispies. Just kinda smear some olive oil and salt (and I threw a bit of garlic powder too) on them and bake at 350 for a long time (took maybe 40 mins?) -- just check on them and stir them every 15-20 mins or so -- check more towards the end.

Ruby and I loved them. Healthy cheap potato chips.

7) One of my favorite thing is just baking a whole chicken and kale chips. 

Both these things seem fancy and are delicious but both are so easy, and healthy.
Put some butter (or Earth Balance) on the chicken, add salt and seasonings of your choice bake at 350 for 2 hours.
You can eat it for dinner and turn the left overs into other meals. I often bake two chickens at once so I can shred one up and freeze it for easy meals.

Kale chips -- my girls LOVE them. (And they even convinced a very suspicious young friend that they are great while playing together the other day. Give them a try, they sell themselves.) And there is nothing that makes me feel more like super mom than watching my girls eat green stuff. (I don’t usually feel like super mom, often the opposite -- especially when it comes to food -- so kale chips are a day maker for me.)

I found a bag of pre-chopped Kale that was essentially the same price as the regular ones (chopping is often what keeps me from making these -- feels like I don’t have time with the kids pulling on my legs -- therefore this discovery is awesome) -- so all I have to do is wash, throw some olive oil on and salt and bake at 350 till crunchy -- like 30 - 40 mins. (Stir at least once) 
I used to worry about overcrowding them in the pan -- but I don’t anymore -- I throw a ton in and stir -- works out every time.

I saw this on pinterest a long time ago -- but didn’t have time with moving and the renovating to try it.

It works awesome.

Basically you just write down all the foods you normally eat, and ones you plan to try, one per small post it. Save it on your ideas page.

When you go to meal plan, take the note and stick it on the day you want to eat it.
Plan made.

What made this FANTASTIC for me is, even thought in this post I sound like I have this all figured out. I DO NOT. And I may sound emotionally sound -- sometimes I am. But food planning pulls up every bad emotion I have about food (for myself and for my family’s food allergies) so I have a terrible time meal planning anymore.

So what did I do last week? I handed Blake the book said “Pick seven meals and seven sides out of these and put them on the day you want to eat them.” BAM. 5 mins later meal planning done. Now I just make a grocery list (which is non emotional for me.) And life is figured out for a week.

I actaully stuck to cooking them. (For the win.) But I shouldn’t have said pick 7 because there was too much left overs so I only cooked like every other day (the meals that would have gone bad first.) So its a work in progress. I was just THRILLED to have a menuplan made so fast, without heartache. FANTASTIC.

If you wanna try this awesome thing out, you can find the full explanation of the planner and the printables on the original creator’s blog here.

     So that’s what I’ve been learning.
     Gluten free hasn’t been hard since we’d already been used to removing most packaged things because of milk. To be honest, I think I’ve liked almost every gluten free version of something better than the “normal” version -- GF stuff usually has a denser, richer texture.

     I still can’t really feel normal hosting food guests. But I think that’s right around the corner. (Corner being a month or two out -- guessing.)

     I am seriously really glad I did this. The peace that comes from knowing there isn’t anything they can get into while I’m not looking is something amazing. I didn’t even know how good it would be -- because I had never experienced it. It’s like feeling normal, instead of fight or flight all day every day.
Plus, someday I’m gonna be good at this…my kids will feel normal. SO worth it.


     The next three weeks are about to be a new adventure in food, because I wanted to try the 21 Day Fix workout/ food plan. To kinda make up for almost 2 years (WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT 2 YEARS!?) (Since Ruby was born) of food sins. (After my VBAC I choose to live off sugar -- now its time to cut it out.) I’m still always floating about 5 pounds over my pre-Ruby-pregnancy-weight -- but I think I’ve lost all my muscle and turned into mush. So today is day 1 of this plan -- work out to come tonight (little nervous) and Day 21 is mother’s day  (total accident -- guess I won’t be having mother’s day cake?) but at least I’ll be feeling like a hot momma on mother’s day. (lol. True? No idea. Hoping so.)
    I honestly suspect this to both help and hinder my regular food planning stuff -- but I think it will be more helpful than hurtful. Hurtful only in the way of it being kinda intense on the planning side -- not really real life- like. Especially for the girls -- whom I will kinda be falling back on my old ways of “eat these super basic non-meal-foods -- but that’s what they love anyway -- the are tiny kids! They aren’t gonna notice. But helpful because I can totally tailor it to our food issues no problem -- and last night while I was prepping food I felt like I already picked up some potential life savers in the kitchen for us. So I’m excited.

     So that’s my {food} story as of today. :)
Hope somehow reading this wasn’t a waste of time for you. ;) I have no idea who this might apply to at all. But I write it anyway, just because it’s my life and this my my blog. (I have to remind myself that often -- its just a blog, just stuff that happens to me.)


  1. Have you heard of the GAPS diet? It's a food and probiotic based protocol for healing the body of allergies. It's just an idea I wanted to pass your way. This is the book that the diet is based from
    Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride, and here is a website with more information:
    I have no experience with GAPS, but I have read many many stories of people having success with it, including reducing and healing autism in their children. I hope this helps.

    1. Thanks Grace. I have heard and read a decent amount about GAPS. I gave it some very serious thought, and for a while considered doing it. But after a few conversations with people who’ve been there, mixed with the way my kids eat (insanely picky) I’m leaving it off the table for the time being. I may revisit it later on.

  2. Food has gotten SUPER complicated lately and I agree everyone has their opinions (too many maybe) but at the same time I've been struggling with all the headspace it takes. And you clearly have to consider much more than me. It seems to have become an idol and what if someone who was vegan suddenly had to cut out nuts? That is a huge source for them and potentially consider meat? I don't know it just seems to much and it's a privilege that we even have the option to "choose".

    But my mother would be proud...she LOVES sardines and eats them all of the time. And she has oatmeal for breakfast almost everyday :-)

    1. I takes up SO much headspace it’s ridiculous! And heart space in the process. I’m hoping after I get used to everything my head will be clear again -- I don’t like it this way.

      I do feel very, very privileged all the time since entering this world -- I’m really seeing how bless I am to have a rather large amount of options inside my limited eating world -- its kinda crazy when I’m walking through the store and skipping entire isle after isle and still have tons to pick from. I keep being so grateful that we are going through this now when allergies have become something provided for, instead of when no one had really heard of them.

      Sounds like your mom and I should eat together. :) I was shocked at how yummy I thought Sardines are -- I was expecting to throw them away -- but instead I’ve bought more!

  3. Just discovered your blog - I'm in Australia and due to have my 2nd daughter in 9 weeks. Your VBAC story was what got me hooked. The birth of my 19 month old daughter was nearly exactly the same as your first (induction due to baby in bad position resulting in c-sec), I'm going through the same mental 'healing' from c-sec and studying my butt off in hope for a VBAC this time round.
    My daughter has Milk/Soy protein Intolerance (had to eliminate all traces of both from my diet to BF her) and I've been gluten free for 9years. Everything I cook in my house is Gluten/Soy/Dairy free and I'm refined sugar-free (most of the time...)
    Anyway - just wanted to say that I'm enjoying your blog - and finding an astounding amount on here that I relate to! Paleo recipes are very helpful. And I've found replacing 'toxic' oils in found margarine with un-refined coconut oil to be a big help also. Other things we can't live without include home-made hummus and banana 'ice-cream' (frozen banana blended with a splash of rice milk - AMAZING).
    Good luck with the gluten free transition - it's very worth it.

    1. Oh wow, we DO have a lot in common. (I was just eating some homemade black bean hummus for part of my lunch today. And that banana icecream was my go to while pregnant and running from sugar like the plague! :) ) All the best to you in your upcoming birth! For me seeing a chiropractor was a MAJOR component in my VBAC. I (likely overly, and annoyingly) recommend it to everyone, it made such a big difference. If you ever wanted to contact me with questions or just for some emotional support, you are welcome to email me at

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