Today–12/9/13

Dusk is falling.  It’s one of those snowy dusks, which translates into everything just turning blue.  It’s really pretty.  Especially when viewed while drinking a dairy-free o.k.-sugar mocha.  Yes, I have FINALLY cracked the code and found out how to make a (see above).  Maybe I’ll tell you sometime.

Now I am (should be making) dinner.  And I should be posting about our lovely Thanksgiving (and my first 5k!) and our Winter trip to Branson (we got snowed in), but instead I feel like just posting what’s up.

Today I gave Lucy a shave.  May seem like an odd thing to do, what with the cold weather and all, but she was in desperate need.  So I gave her a good shave.  She still isn’t talking to me.  And by that I mean that when I call her, she doesn’t come, since I called her when we were cutting her hair, and she resents that.  Or thinks that I still have the clippers hidden somewhere.

I also baked a pumpkin that I had, cause it needed to be cooked so it didn’t rot.  Last time I cooked a pumpkin, Lucy helped herself to some, and it turns out she LOVES pumpkin.  And I found out that pumpkin is good for dogs.  So this time around I gave her some.  She wants more.  But man was she begging while I was working on it.  Those little puppy eyes.  Oh-so-cute!

So now I am cleaning up the kitchen and prepping dinner (fish).  And rocking out to music.  Everything’s better when done to music.

And my mocha’s cold now.  Oh well.  Still tastes good.

Off to dance and cook,
Allison

One Year

Today is the one-year anniversary of me being grain-free.  Back when I first started, I called it Primal.  But more on that in a minute.

I didn’t know what it was going to be like when I started.  I know this is crazy to say, because it seems obvious.  But when I started, it seemed crazy to me.  Even though I was doing it, I had NO IDEA what it would look like.

The first day of being Primal, I thought I was going to die.

Not really.

It turns out I had picked a really bad day to start, as it was a meal day at church that week.  I started the day with a smoothie, brought some carrot sticks to church with me, and then the only grain-free dishes at the meal were salads.  NO PROTEIN!  Man, I went home HUNGRY!

(Should I be worried that I can recall what I ate exactly one year ago?  You know, I won’t worry about it.)

For the first month is was difficult, and it was something I really had to think about.  I ate a lot of ground beef.  And a small amount of really dark chocolate.

The first time that I went “off” and had grain was one night when we went out for pizza.  I could have just ordered a salad, but I really wanted pizza.  So I ate the pizza.  That night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and didn’t fall back asleep for 2 hours.  I believe I had a mild stomach ache.  And I actually had to go look for my peppermint oil.

And that’s when I realized all of the symptoms that I had been having that had disappeared.

I was happier.  I slept whole nights.  I didn’t have nearly the number of stomach aches/upsets that I used to have.  I rarely, if ever, woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick.  I had forgotten the last place I had had my peppermint oil, since I hadn’t needed to use it in so long.  Previously I had always known where it was.  It had practically permanent residence in my room.  If it wasn’t there, it was in my purse.  Now it has taken up permanent residence in the basement.

Over the next few months I had times where I ate more grain, and times where I ate less grain.  I ate a lot of grain and other bad stuff in December.

So I decided to cut out all dairy, bad fats, seeds, nuts, nightshades, and berries (to aid digestion), in addition to being strictly grain-free and soy-free.  It was hard.  Very hard.  Although I felt better in some respects, I started eating more, and more often.  I gained the smallish amount of weight that I had lost.  I couldn’t go without snacking.

I only did that for three weeks before I started eating nuts, seeds, nightshades, and berries again.  It took me awhile to reteach my body not to crave food when I wasn’t hungry.

During this whole time I also struggle with the terms Primal and Paleo.

First of all, I wasn’t strictly either.

Second of all, I don’t agree with the philosophy behind either.

So I stopped saying Paleo/Primal (except, maybe, in regards to classifying and finding recipes) and started saying grain-free, and even gluten-free.

(I had really resisted the gluten-free label for awhile, since there is a difference between gluten-free and the way I eat.)

I try to be grain-free most of the time, and I have made it a goal to be gluten-free for six solid months.

Now I am contemplating going completely dairy-free for awhile.  I am still struggling with some eczema, and believe that the dairy may be the root of the problem.

But I am so thankful for the healing that the Lord has provided through being grain-free.

Love,
Allison

Learning

I am really enjoying listening to the Healthy Life Summit!  The talks that I have listened to have been AWESOME, and I look forward to listening to more.

Check it out here.

Healthy Life Summit 2013

NOTE:  Please use discretion when listening to things.  This may not be appropriate for all ages.  If you are under your parent’s authority, please make sure that they are O.K. with you listening to this before you do.  Don’t just listen to it because I recommend it.

I’m lovin’ it!

Snow and Paleo Biscuits

Here is another “mixed” post – food and something else.  Funny how that happens.  But I guess that is the way my life is.  🙂

I saw a recipe for Paleo biscuits a few months ago.  I was intrigued.  But 6 egg whites?  I really don’t like using only half of the egg.

I was reminded of these last week when I made some regular biscuits.  And today I tried them.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

They have a different texture, and a different flavor than regular biscuits, but I still really enjoyed them.  It was lovely to have something to spread butter and jam on again.  Mmmm…

When I had the dough all mixed up, I didn’t think that it would work.  It didn’t really stick together.  Even when I scooped it into the muffin pans and tried to press them together, they still crumbled.  But once they were baked, they stuck together fairly well.  As my family can attest, they were a bit crumbly, so I just spread the butter and jam on top instead of putting it inside.  (They were enjoying watching me eat one at dinner, as I tried as hard as I could to have it crumble only into my mouth.)

Here is where you can find the recipe.  I might try to add some salt next time, but I am not sure how that will alter how they rise.  Note:  I am not familiar with this website, and do not claim to know or endorse the other content on this site.  Over and out.

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Yep.  Pretty good.

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See?  All gone.  🙂

It snowed on Saturday.  A good, thick snow.  Lovely.

But, as usually happens here in the Midwest, the temperature rose to 50*F, and it was melting.  *Sniff*  I like the snow.

Anyways, I was able to take a few photos of it before it totally melted away.

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Deep, Dark Fudge

So I did end up making fudge.

I had found a recipe, and was meaning to follow it.  But as I was looking at it, I thought that the sugar would be unnecessary.  Chocolate chips are pretty sweet already!  And plus, I like dark chocolate.

Then, when I was stirring the chocolaty mixture, I decided to add some cocoa powder, to make it extra dark.  And it made it extra good!

I am really pleased with how this fudge turned out:  fudgy (a good thing in fudge), deep, dark, and evil (my favorite term for great desserts, especially if they include dark chocolate).  I hope you enjoy!

 

Fudge

1 (13.6 oz.) can coconut milk (I used full fat)
3 c. dark chocolate chips (mine were 60%)
1-2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, or more to taste (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the coconut milk and chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until melted.  Add the cocoa powder, and stir until mixed in.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour into a 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate overnight, or until hardened.

Remove from the fridge, and, using the parchment paper, take the fudge out of the pan.  Remove the parchment paper and slice the fudge into small-ish pieces.  Store in the refrigerator.

 

The fudge it a little on the soft side, but everyone loved it.  Meiling kept declaring that it was good, even though she hasn’t had any yet.

Well, That’s Just What Happens

I was hoping/planning to post a great post about the new year, and new stuff in the new year.

But that just isn’t going to happen.

Today, at least.

So you are going to just get this (whatever “this” turns out to be).

After reading a Paleo cookbook, I decided that I should go on a short-term stricter diet.  It consists of this:  no grain, legumes, nuts, seeds, nightshades, and eggs.  Oh, and low sugar.  And good oils.

(And all that jazz.)

I started yesterday.  January 1st, right?  Great time to start these things.

But.

I am craving sweet.

Let me rephrase.

I am REALLY WANTING something chocolaty/sweet.

REALLY BAD.

Well, I was just plain wanting something chocolaty, like a chocolate pudding.  But I don’t have any avocados.  So I was looking online for a coconut milk based chocolate pudding that doesn’t have eggs.

And I looked, and looked.  But I didn’t see one.

So I started scrolling through LOTS of amazing-looking dessert recipes.

Looking at all that dessert (and thinking about it, too) made me want it even MORE.

That’s how I ended up at the above state.  (REALLY WANTING something sugary/chocolaty.)

That’s what I get for looking at all those dessert pictures and recipes.

I guess that’s just what happens.

And the only thing that I found that is semi-fast, is all of the above free, and that I have the ingredients for, is chocolate fudge.

(My brother Drake just went over to get a drink, and picked up the tall orange cup that is often his.  He asked whose it was, but no one answered that it was theirs.  Right after he had taken a mouthful, Noah pipes up.

“Oh.  That one’s mine.”

Drake immediately spat the water out and dumped the cup,  and then grabbed his own.

It was really funny.  Truly.  You would have had to been here, though.)

So I want to make chocolate fudge.  And I want to eat it, too.

But the chocolate chips that I have aren’t exactly paleo.  Basically, they are not great.  They have whey.

BUT I REALLY WANT SOME CHOCOLATE!  And not plain chocolate.  A CHOCOLATE DESSERT!

And now let’s mix in complication #2.

My family has been passing around the flu.

Drake just got over it, Noah has it now, and two others may be coming down with it (not including me).

And I should be trying to NOT get it.

I am still thinking about bending the rules on my diet to take some Master Tonic (it has peppers – nightshades).  And I know that the sugar will weaken my immune response.  And I am still fighting to get over a cold.

Life can be a bit difficult, and crazy.

 

I think I am going to go make me some fudge.

 

Love,
Allison

Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

I should be blogging about our recent lovely trip to Branson.  We had a great time – seeing several shows and just hanging out (and we bought POP-TARTS!  I LOVE Pop-Tarts!).

But.

(Isn’t it interesting what a big difference that one little word makes?)

I cooked a lot of food this afternoon.  French Onion Soup.  Chicken Marsala. And Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes.

I have recently gotten several Paleo cookbooks from the library and have had fun perusing them.  When I saw a recipe for Avocado Mocha Frosting in The Food Lovers Make It Paleo, I decided I needed to make it (as well as something the put the frosting on).

So I made the frosting, as well as their chocolate cupcakes.  I am SO HAPPY with how they turned out.  Mom thought they were a bit dense, and Drake wasn’t a big fan of the frosting, but I liked them.  I will probably make a different frosting next time, as the coffee flavor isn’t that strong.  It also tastes like the avocado pudding, so to me it tastes like pudding.  I’ll try a butter-based frosting next time (I think).  Or something slightly different.

But I love them.  And I would recommend the recipe.

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Two Paleo Tortilla Recipes, Compared

I learned something the other day.

I learned that you can TOTALLY eat enchiladas without tortillas.

I had this little mental glitch that I needed to have tortillas to make enchiladas.  When I first went grain-free, enchiladas were one of the things that I thought I was really going to miss. 

I haven’t thought about it too much since.

But when I saw a recipe in Paleo Comfort Foods for coconut flour tortillas, I had to try it.

And I did.

I wasn’t impressed.  The tortillas ripped and crumpled really easily, and they were difficult to manage.  They also had a very egg-y taste.

So I tried to make these almond flour tortillas.

And they were a little stiff.  A little thick.  They would be PERFECT if you were going for a tamale-like breading.

So when I made my enchiladas, I layered part of the meat between two of the almond flour tortillas, and I put the rest of the meat between pieces of the coconut flour tortillas.

And I ended up just picking the tortillas out and eating the meat.

I might try to make tortillas once more, seeing if a mixture of flours and starches works better.

But now that I know I don’t need the tortillas, I think I can do without.

You learn things every day.

🙂

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My tortillas

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The almond flour tortillas

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The coconut flour tortillas

Ever Onward,
Allison

P.S.  It looks like others have made the coconut flour tortilla recipe with success.  Hmmm…:)

Last-Minute Munchies, Milky Way Bars, and Ramblings

I had a bad case of last-minute munchies this evening (actually, I am still dealing with that, since my satisfaction is still in the oven).  I had made some grain-filled chocolate cookies the other day for a party we were going to, and we came home with quite a few left over.  The rest of my family have been eating them, and I wanted a cookie, but didn’t want to subject myself (or my family) to me, post-grain consumption.  It’s not pretty.

(I have been cheating a bit lately, having grain here, sugar there.  This is probably the reason for the bad cravings I have been dealing with.  I need to be better and stick with my grain-free and low-sugar stuff.)

So I wanted a cookie.  An easy cookie, that I could throw together in a few minutes and eat a few minutes later.  I pulled up this recipe that I had seen a few days ago, and decided to give it a spin.  I used butter instead of macadamia nut oil, and honey.  We’ll see how they turn out.  They have been baking for at least 10 minutes (quite a bit longer than the recipe directs).

I know I said I would post about the Milky Way Bars, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to start the bars until almost dinner time on Thursday, so I didn’t post, since they were only 2/3rds of the way done.

Here’s the run down of what I did:

I found this recipe for “Silky Way Bars,” just a homemade version of Milky Ways.  I used it as my basis for creating the bars.  I then found this recipe for marshmallows and marshmallow cream.  I made it according to the directions, except that I used coconut sugar instead of stevia, and I didn’t use marshmallow flavoring oil. (I also forgot to add the vanilla, but I would definitely add that next time.  This is a common occurrence with me.)  Once it was whipped, I added the 12 oz. of melted chocolate chips.  I then poured this mixture into a well-greased 8×8 pan (next time I will just line the pan with parchment paper – this will make the removal of the bars just that much easier).  Then I put it into the fridge until it was solid.

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All hardened, and ready for the next layer

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They are quite firm, and very fun to poke

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It seemed to pull away from the sides quite easily

Meanwhile, I whipped up a half-batch of the same caramel that I used for the Twix bars (leave a comment if you need the recipe).  Actually, I whipped up two half-batches because I burned the first batch.  I only cooked it until it registered 238*F, instead of 248*F, because it heat up too fast after that.  This resulted in runnier caramel, but not that bad.  Again, add this to your pan of marshmallow/chocolate mixture, and put back into the fridge until hardened (for me, this was overnight). 

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With the hardened caramel

The next day I sliced the bars, then stuck them back into the fridge to harden for awhile. 

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All sliced

Later in the day, I melted and tempered some chocolate. (Tempering is awesome, as it makes the finished product not as prone to melt.  Usually home-dipped chocolate things melt as soon as you touch them.  If you temper the chocolate, they don’t melt as easily.  It isn’t that difficult to do, but does require patience and a good food thermometer.)  The next step was eating all the melted chocolate with a spoon dipping the bars and sticking them in the freezer to cool.  Ta da!

(Again, I didn’t take a picture of the finished product.  They looked basically the same as the Twix bars, and you can see a picture of them here.)

My review:  I thought they were pretty good, but the marshmallow part was way too rubbery for my taste.  If I make them again, I will only use 2 packages of plain gelatin in the marshmallow cream instead of 3.  I took them to church, and a whole bunch of people tried them, and they all liked them.  So whatever you want – just the way they are, they are about the consistency of a regular marshmallow, maybe a bit firmer.  If you want them a bit softer, try only 2 packages of gelatin – and let me know how it turns out!

 

As for the chocolate chip cookies that I just made – I am not impressed.  I baked them for about 13 minutes or so, but they were still raw in the center.  They have an almond-flour flavor, which may not bother everyone, but it does bother me.  I’ll have to figure out a good chocolate chip cookie recipe.  (We have an AMAZING regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, if I do say so myself, which we got from ATK, which I should be able to make to being grain-free.)

 

I need to take a break from making desserts – I have been getting a bit crazy with them lately.  I am going to try to make more savory dishes (basically, anything that isn’t dessert).  Mom picked up a few paleo cookbooks for me at the library, and I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes.  Wow, some of the recipes are SO creative! 

 

On a completely different note: I am so happy – our Cowgirl Dirt order came today (well, most of it did – one thing was backordered).  I chose a few new eye shadow samples, and I am enjoying one right now, and looking forward to the others.  I also just tried their mascara, and I LOVE IT.

Have a lovely evening!

~Allison

A Fun Breakfast and Today’s Walk

I have had a bit of inspiration for a yummy breakfast dish, and on Sunday I finally had all the pieces together, so I made it.  It consisted of a piece of warmed ham, sautéed spinach, and a poached egg, then drizzled drenched with some hollandaise sauce.  It was yummy!  I might have to make one tomorrow for breakfast.  We’ll see how much time I have…

Here is a link to the hollandaise sauce recipe I used.  I think I halved it.  This recipe is great, as it is made in a blender, and is so quick to throw together!  Just what we all need – hollandaise sauce at the touch of a few buttons!

Now for the photos! (Yes, I *actually* remembered to take a picture of my food before I ate it all!  I could have a serious gallery of empty plate photos if I took one each time I didn’t remember to take a picture before my food was gone.)

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LOTS of hollandaise sauce!

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The lovely colors

 

I took some photos on my walks today.  I took my two youngest siblings on a walk first (on this walk I took my camera with my macro lens.)  Then I went up to the pasture-behind-the-pond by myself, bringing normal lens.  I also brought my hymnal and psalter.  Yesterday I discovered that the pasture-behind-the-pond is an ideal spot to sing.  It is so open and peaceful, it is a joy to lift up one’s voice there.  You can hear it echo just a little, and you are secluded enough that you can sing at the top of your lungs and not be worried about anyone being too near.

I am hoping to start taking walks every day.  I will try not to post too many photos of my walks here, but if it snows, you know there will have to be lots of photos!  (I LOVE snow.)

So first, the photos of my walk with Meiling and Noah.

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My favorite trees are the out-of-focus blob in the background 🙂

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Who knew weeds could be so much fun?

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An old grave – I am not sure, as the stone is very worn, but I think it said 1836.

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Now the photos I took on my walk.

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A girl needs her chocolate, right?

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The pasture-behind-the-pond

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My hymnbook

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Heading home

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In my science book I was reading about astronomy, namely, the Milky Way galaxy.  Now every time I read “Milky Way,” you know what I though of?  Milky way candy bars, of course!  (Why do I seem to have this special ability to wrap food into anything?!?)  So, since my success with the Twix bars, I decided it would be fun to try to make Milky Way candy bars!  I am hoping to make them tomorrow.  Be sure to come back tomorrow evening – if I do make them, I will be sure to post pictures!  Oh, and they will be grain-free, made with coconut sugar, and all that good stuff.  🙂  It should be SO FUN!  (I am really excited, if you can’t tell!  :))

Looking forward to some Milky Way bars,

Allison

P.S.  Thank you for reading.  🙂