Gluten-free/Paleo · Uncategorized

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the past three weeks I’ve been trying to eat a Gluten-Free/Paleo diet. It’s been nice as I’ve been able to notice a difference in aches and pains. I’ve also been working hard to kick processed foods out of my digestive system.

One thing I’ve missed in my journey to Gluten-Free eating is baked goods. I’m a huge fan of bread, cookies, cake, and basically anything you can make with flour. Bread is difficult, but I’ve been able to abstain. My biggest issue (especially as we approach the holiday season) is desserts. I have been trying to minimize my sugar intake and even when I do eat sweets I’ve tried to make sure that the source of sugar is natural and not artificial.

This weekend I completed my first baking project with almond flour and it was a success! Being gluten-free/Paleo doesn’t mean that you have to forego delicious food. It just takes a little more effort and intentionality, but you can still enjoy your food.

Thanks to Elana Amsterdam at Elana’s Pantry I was able to remake a favorite. I followed the recipe below from her website and poured a glass of almond milk to drink along with my cookie. My whole family enjoyed the cookies.

**One note on the recipe, I would recommend using the EXACT ingredients that Elana uses to create the recipe. You can click on the links below for more information on those ingredients. I was unable to find her exact almond flour and so mine had a slightly different texture. It didn’t change the taste, but I would still recommend for you to use the EXACT ingredients.

Ingredients: 

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, combine almond flour, salt, and baking soda
  2. Pulse in butter, vanilla, and maple syrup until dough forms
  3. Remove blade from processor and stir in chocolate chips by hand
  4. Scoop dough one level tablespoon at a time onto a parchment lined baking sheet
  5. Press balls of dough down gently
  6. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes
  7. Cool for 15 minutes (do not handle prior or cookies will break)
  8. Serve

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The Ameri Brit Mom

Menu

One Pot Quinoa Salad

I’ve really been putting in an effort to eat healthier lately. Over the summer I lived a fairly active lifestyle, but my meal options were sometimes quite a pitfall. There were many days that I traded my healthy home cooked meals for a plate of nachos or pizza because they were convenient while we were out and about. Don’t get me started on the amount of fried or greasy foods I consumed while in England. So I am heading back to the healthy basics. I have reread one of my first (and most read) posts from all the way back in February. The post is entitled, No More Fast Food and it discusses why I am taking a stand against fast food and what alternatives I am choosing for my health and my family.

In an effort to get myself off on the right start I am hoping to go on a Clean Eating diet for a couple weeks. I’ve downloaded a list of ingredients that are okay to consume while on this diet and I realize it is really not that difficult. The main foods left off this list are those that are processed, packaged, or contain harmful chemicals for the body. This weekend I plan to go more in depth about this diet so that you can see some of the specifics a little better, but for now I am going to give you a Clean Eating recipe for one-pot Quinoa Salad. This dish is best served warm, however, if you should choose to you may refrigerate it after cooking and eat it chilled. It makes a brilliant lunch item for back-to-school or office lunch packers. So here is a look at this delicious and healthy recipe.

(Also, recipe credit goes to my amazingly creative and beautiful sister, Morgan 🙂 )

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One Pot Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

1 Tb EVOO

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green or red bell pepper

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

1 cup vegetable broth, or reduced sodium chicken broth

1 (15oz) can of black beans

1 tomato, chopped

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Recipe:

  1. Heat EVOO in a large skillet. Add garlic and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for approximately one minute                                                     IMG_1377
  2. Stir in quinoa, broth, beans, tomoato, corn, and seasonings. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and smmer until quinoa is cooked through, about twenty minutes. IMG_1378
  3. Serve immediately

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Yields: 4-8 servings depending on serving size

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This meal is so delicious and very filling. I made a pot and put the leftovers in the refrigerator to pack for lunches this week. My sister is going on a vegan/organic foods kick and so I stole this recipe from her. She’s pretty awesome. Let me know if you have any recipe suggestions for someone who is trying to cut out processed and unhealthy food from my diet.

Health

Essential Oils Party

This weekend has been nothing if not a whirlwind. I was constantly moving from one event to the next without much downtime between. So, to spend the better part of my Sunday afternoon at home is a blissfully welcomed activity. I’ve been off my writing game for a few days so I feel like it is high time to update you on some of the things going on in my life.

Among other things I spent my Saturday doing some Essential Oils mixology with good friends from my church cLife group. My friend has really been educating me on the benefits of Essential Oils and through her I’ve been able to purchase many oils at whole-sale prices. I originally posted about my journey into Essential Oils in March and if you’d like to read that post it is here.

Slowly but surely I have been building up my collection to include: Lavender, OnGuard, Balance, Lemon, Peppermint, Grapefruit, Geranium, and an OnGuard Cleaner Concentrate. At the party I made a few purchases including my new lifesaver: a compact traveling oil carrier which holds eight small sample-sized bottles. I loaded that thing up with some of my favorite oils and others that I would like to try. It’s been such a pain to store oils for traveling before I made this purchase. If I knew I would need an oil I would wrap up the bottle and stick it in my purse hoping that it would not spill all over the contents therein. Now, I can keep all of the oils with me at all times, because you never know when you are going to need a little oil. This was $6.50 well spent!

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I also made my first ever bottle of homemade bug spray using essential oils and other organic ingredients. (Recipe below)

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Essential Oils Bug Spray (4oz):

*As always you want to make sure that you store your essential oils in a glass container as the potency of the oil can eat away at plastic and man-made materials.

10 drops Terra Shield

10 drops Purify

10 drops Cedarwood

10 drops Peppermint

1 Tb Witch Hazel

Fill to the top with water

Now, I’m ready and armed for the upcoming graduation parties and Memorial Day Grill-outs. Bring it on Mother Nature 🙂

The last  time I posted about Essential Oils I gave a list of some ways that I’m using Essential Oils in my home and with my family. Here are some ways I’ve been using oils recently:

1. Grapefruit and Geranium: As many of you are aware due to my recent posts I’ve been struggling with gall bladder issues lately. My good friend had some extra Grapefruit and Geranium oils and brought them to me. Geranium supports the overall digestive health, but the Grapefruit oil is specifically used for breaking up gall stones. I had a few episodes while passing gall stones a few weeks ago and so I would place a little bit of oil on my skin around the locale of the gall bladder. At my ultrasound appointment last week the doctor reported that the swelling of my gall bladder had gone down and I had no more stones visible. I am so grateful!

2. Peppermint: Peppermint is one of those oils that has many uses. It can help with headaches, body aches and pains, energy, and insect repellents (especially spiders!) Most recently my husband has been asking for Peppermint when he gets headaches. At first, he thought I was crazy replacing many of our medicine cabinet staples with oils, but he has really seen results. Even just today he was beginning to feel a headache coming on so he went straight for my carrier and rubbed a little bit of the oil on his temples. I sometimes put a little bit (less than a drop) in my coffee in the morning since it is an invigorating oil. For the same reason I sometimes put a drop in the bottom of a hot shower which creates a Peppermint mist throughout the room flooding the shower with the beautiful aroma and energy. I could go on and on with uses for Peppermint.

3. Lavender and Balance: As I mentioned in a previous post I use both of these oils with my anxiety. Lately, I have been facing some major anxiety. Anxiety is something I am dealing with on multiple levels as far as how it is affecting me mentally and physically. In order to avoid medicating myself for my anxiety I have been using Lavender and Balance daily. If I miss a day of using these oils it is evident in my mood and behavior. Yes, a big part of my anxiety is triumphed by prayer, but I use these oil blends to help with the physical effects as well. A couple of times a day I rub Lavender on my chest. When we have anxiety we often feel that anxiety manifest itself in certain parts of our bodies. Lately, I have experienced anxiety so strong that it has led to chest pain and the Lavender works as a calming agent which also helps me to relax my chest muscles. I use Balance on the back of my neck and shoulders to help relax those muscles as well. I have a CAT scan this week to look into the chest pains and make sure there is nothing beyond anxiety as the cause. I am almost certain that my recent illness coupled with the end of the school year have just caused me to subconsciously stress myself out. The oils have helped my muscles to relax and prayer and wisdom from friends have helped with the mental aspect of anxiety.

A couple more things I learned at this Mixology party:

1. Not every person will react the same to each oil. One oil that helps me deal with headaches and tension may not work for someone else. You find what works best for you by trial and error.

2. Less is more. Whether you use a dime sized drop or three drops on your temple you will get the same results. The oils are potent and you should save your oils and your money and use the least amount possible.

3. Oils can be used to treat both physical and emotional symptoms. Every oil has a few physical ailments that it can treat, but it also has some emotional symptoms it can heal and help you work through.

4. Always dilute oils when putting them on children. Oils can be diluted with water, lotions, and other carrier oils like Grape seed Oil and Fractionated Coconut Oil.

So what’s next for me?

My family’s next oil investment is a diffuser for our home. So far we have been able to mask the method of diffusing through using hot showers filled with oils and putting oils on the air filter, but as the summer months approach neither of these methods are going to be quite as effective. I’m in the market for a diffuser and would love some help in deciding on the best size and brand. Please comment below with some advice.

Thanks for letting me talk your ear off about oils. I get excited as I learn more and start seeing results. If you have questions about Essential Oils I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I can help you find them. Please comment below with questions.

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Menu · Organization

No More Fast Food!

One of our hardest obstacles since we began our journey of marriage is to remain disciplined in our spending habits. It’s sad to actually admit to this, but one of our weaknesses is to give in to the cheap, quick fast food meal when we are on the go. My husband is a high school basketball coach and so especially in the winter we spend several nights a week in a crunch to scavenge for food in the time between school and games. Needless to say that it is during basketball season that I become besties with my 4 quart- Crock Pot. However, it is still a struggle for us to maintain a healthy habit of eating at home every night. Not to mention that in my short five mile commute to work I pass four fast food restaurants. I am not claiming to have conquered this weakness, but I have learned a few tricks to skip the fatty, oily, drive-thrus so I thought I may share some of those tips. Feel free to comment and share some of your own tips for being a working mother on a budget and pressed for time when it comes to cooking healthy meals for your family.

1. Plan ahead: Looking back at the early stages of our marriage it is obvious that it was so much easier to choose a drive-thru option when I wasn’t well organized and had not planned meals ahead of time. Back then, if I was going to cook that also meant I was going to have to go to the grocery store. When pressed for time that was usually not an option and so a meal on the go was the only justifiable choice. I have luckily since caught on to some pretty easy meal planning habits. I keep a journal of the meals I plan to make and I tend to plan in two week increments so that one trip to the grocery store can replenish the necessities for at least the next two weeks and I can save the time it used to take me daily to run to the store for one or two small items.

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2. Create themed cooking nights: One fun and easy way to make meal planning go quicker is to create themes in your meal planning. An example might be our family’s “Meatless Mondays”. I have a set of recipes that I keep in my recipe box that are good Monday recipes as they lack meat. I’ve also heard about and experienced other theme nights like: Pasta night, Soup nights, Taco night, and Chinese night. Using themes on a weekly or rotating basis can make meal planning and organizing easier and makes you less likely to throw up your arms in surrender to the golden arches.

3. Crock-pot: It has been my routine over the past two years to become quite acquainted with my Crock-pot. I try to make 1-2 meals a week in the Crock-pot. When planning I always look at our family schedule to see which days will be busiest and choose to make those nights Crock-pot meal nights. Many Crock-pot recipes can be made in advance and frozen so that when the day of chaos arrives all you have to do is thaw the pre-frozen meal and put it in the pot. I am blessed to have a baby-sitter who comes to my house so we have an understanding that a couple of times a week she may need to plug in my Crock-pot and occasionally stir the contents. This works out well. It is virtually a stress-free dinner on my end. I do the prep ahead of time and I strategically plan the meal to be done at exactly the time I know we will be available to eat that night. There is no waiting for water to boil or the oven to pre-heat. Plus, so many of the Crock-pot recipes out there are healthy and delicious. It’s like a 2 for 1. I get the satisfaction of serving my family a home-cooked meal and it is generally pretty healthy and packed with vegetables and protein.

Many of my favorite Crockpot recipes come from this book. I purchased it 2 years ago on Amazon.

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4. Don’t be afraid of left overs: This option is a little easier if you have a smaller family, but one thing I usually do is I double the serving amount of most dinners so that there will be leftovers galore. My husband and I both pack our lunches at school (we are too afraid of the cafeteria food) and so I like to be sure that just about every night I will be making enough to supply our lunches for the next day. Additionally, I tend to pick one meal a week (usually a soup or a pasta because it isn’t as expensive) and I double that recipe. This way we not only have enough for lunches the next day, but that there may be extra left overs for another dinner. This idea is optimal on days where one of us is working later than the other like parent teacher conference nights…or double header basketball games 😦 It has taken me a long time and I’m still not totally sold on the idea of serving leftovers as a dinner meal, but it beats the alternative of hopping in the car to waste some money on clogged arteries and soda.

5. Know what’s for dinner: Lastly, one way I’ve stayed on top of meal planning is checking every night before I go to bed what the meal will be the following day. I don’t do this because I’m obsessed with eating (although that isn’t too much of a stretch), but that way I can plan ahead in my mind how I will accomplish meal prep and know whether or not something needs to thaw overnight. I’ve all too often been the victim of good intentions and planned my meals in advance, but once the week gets started I don’t stay on top of it. I succumb to my busy schedule and rush home after work to prepare a meal that I can’t recall until I check my journal. This is dangerous because so often I would come home to a menu that required a pre-thawed chicken or prep that I didn’t have time to complete. That’s when I ended up defeated… when I failed to know what’s for dinner. And defeat always landed me in a long drive-thru line. Every night after completing the clean-up of that meal I try to verbalize with my husband what to expect tomorrow. It’s a good reminder.

I’m still in the market for a good app for my iphone to help keep meal planning organized and streamlined. I’ve tried several apps, but nothing that I’m totally impressed with so until the day I find an app to save my sanity these are a few ways that I try to stay on top of healthy meal prep and avoid the toxicity of regular fast food habits. I am resolving to completely cut out fast food from the diet of myself and my family. I’m setting realistic goals, but my ultimate goal is to cut it out completely. But phase 1 is 6 months no fast-food. I’ll keep you updated on how we’re doing. Please feel free to share tips that work for your family!