Author: Kristy

Quick and Simple Strudel Topping

Quick and Simple Strudel Topping

This quick, easy to do strudel topping is a magical accompaniment to many classics: cheesecake desserts, muffins, pumpkin pie custard, yogurt, whipped cream and berries…the possibilities are limited only to your imagination!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown swerve/sugar
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Combine in food processor and pulse until smooth. Sprinkle on desired dessert and enjoy!

Crockpot Pumpkin Custard for Thanksgiving

Crockpot Pumpkin Custard for Thanksgiving

I loooooooove pumpkin pie. Seriously. It evokes fond memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases from years past, always at my grandma’s house.

Honestly, though, sometimes I don’t feel like baking a pie. It’s easier to put it all in a crockpot, add some toppings, and be done with it. Plus, with the addition of an easy strudel and whipped cream or yogurt, I don’t even miss out on the pie! I won’t lie and say that it’s as good as pie, because let’s be honest, nothing is as good as pie, but it’s very close.  

It’s also nice to have the oven free to prepare other dishes. I don’t know about you, but my family always has a ton of dishes waiting in line to go in the oven.

I use a small crockpot for this. If you want to serve this for a large gathering, simply double the recipe. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 6 eggs
  • 8 tbsp avocado oil, or melted coconut oil, butter, ghee, other cooking fat of choice
  • 1 cup granulated sweetener (stevia, erythritol, monkfruit) 
  • 4 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tbsp molasses 
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla or maple extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or 1 tbsp cinnamon + 1/8 tsp allspice + 1/8 tsp nutmeg 

Directions:

  1. Grease crockpot.
  2. Whisk or blend eggs until thick and foamy.
  3. Beat in sweetener.
  4. Add vanilla/maple extract and pumpkin puree and beat. 
  5. Add coconut flour, spices, salt, and oil. Beat until well mixed.
  6. Optional: At this stage my kids are starting to get mad and impatient that they can’t eat it for hours. Scoop a small amount into a microwave safe container (such as these silicon ramekins) and microwave for 1 minute and serve to the impatient ones. 
  7. Pour mixture into crockpot and wiggle a little to distribute evenly. Insert a paper towel underneath the lid to collect condensation. Set crockpot on low.
  8. Cook 2:30-3:00 hours. Mine usually takes 3xaround 2 hours and 40 minutes.
  9. Serve with this strudel, this whipped cream, a dollop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt, or kefir. 

I know my spice blend isn’t technically pumpkin spice, but I prefer it in some ways. I like the cinnamon to be prominent and here’s some heresy for you: I don’t really like the overpowering notes of ginger or clove in some traditional pumpkin spice mixes.

Polarizing Scrambled Egg Breakfast (gluten and grain free)

Polarizing Scrambled Egg Breakfast (gluten and grain free)

Eggs are a wonderful beginning to the day, and with sausage doubly so! But all ya’ll who like runny eggs, ew. Milk in eggs? That’s just wrong. I used to wonder why I hated eggs as a kid. It’s because they had copious amounts of milk poured in and were a runny, goopy mess. With age comes wisdom, I guess.

These are the eggs that you need to jazz up your breakfast routine. You’ll thank me later.

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 eggs
  • 1/4 lb sausage
  • 1/2-1 onion, diced (I prefer red)
  • Sliced mushroom (optional)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-4 tbsp cooking fat
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Throw onions, mushrooms, and sausage into a pan. Fry on high heat until sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are caramelizing.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add red pepper flakes and eggs. Mix.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring until the eggs start to turn golden brown. Remove from heat, salt, and serve.
Remember to Love

Remember to Love

Valentine’s day is fast approaching, and a lot of us have LOVE on our minds because of it. Many of us have a spouse, partner, child, parent, friend, classmate or coworker in mind to share the spirit of the holiday with–which is wonderful(obviously). Love is wonderful.

Don’t forget, though, to show love to everyone else that you meet. We’re all brothers and sisters, after all–we’re all here, in this same brief moment in time on this same planet earth together. And we all get this one chance. One chance to smile at the stranger as you walk by. One chance to say hi. One day, one time, one life to see the beauty of every single moment and every single person and live in it.

What is life without light, without sharing love and hope?

In the words of the Beatles, “All you need is love.” Or the Youngbloods:

“Come on, people now,

Smile on your brother

Everybody get together

Try to love one another right now.”

Seriously, take a step back outside of yourself and look at the big picture here. What the heck are we doing here on this big, beautiful planet besides destroying itself and each other? Why have we chosen destruction of ourselves and one another? And, perhaps most importantly, what is it all going to lead to–what’s going to happen to everything and everyone around us continuing down this path?

That’s just insanity. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Electing a president isn’t the answer. Drawing illusory lines, putting up walls, running away, not the answer. Only One thing will rectify the chaos.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

This year, 2020, year of clarity, perfect vision, dig deep inside and find your light. Find your fountain of neverending love. We all have it. Love yourself, love your family, love thy enemy. Love thy neighbor as thyself–there’s no difference except for the flesh and blood that you perceive.

Follow the light within, it will not lead you astray.

Lemon Cheesecake Waffles

Lemon Cheesecake Waffles

I’m on a huge waffle kick, and today I was gifted cream cheese. What better than some fluffy, uplifting waffles?

Something magical about the combination of ingredients make the texture of this beautiful creation fluffy and airy, while still being solidly waffle. A light brush of butter and done!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2-4 drops lemon extract
  • 1 squirt lemon juice
  • Dash of salt
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • Squirt of stevia

Directions:

  1.  Soften cream cheese in microwave, about 30 seconds.
  2.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3.  Make into waffles or delicious pancakes!
Too Much Stuff

Too Much Stuff

There’s no other way to say it, my kids have too much stuff. Books, stuffed animals, clothes, and electronic toys are frequently everywhere. They like to make messes, but when they get bored with what they’re playing with in five minutes they’re rarely willing to pick it up. It’s a constant source of tension for us.

I don’t think any mom wants to admit that their children might have too much stuff. We want them to have everything, right? All the fun toys, learning materials, and warm and comfy clothes and shoes are so tempting!

I was recently confronted with this issue in a way that I couldn’t ignore. On a 3 hour drive to go camping my girls cried for toys and tv for about an hour. I must admit that we discussed a portable DVD player during this time, desperate for backseat contentedness. Once we got there their moods improved only marginally–they were bored. A lot of the day was filled with complaining and testing my patience until bedtime. The next morning, however, they began to settle down. They found leaves to run around in and collect, sticks to stack, and large rocks (dinosaur bones). Madilyn found a little metal nut and labeled it “robot finger” and spent the rest of the trip doing everything, including sleeping, with her robot friend. On the trip home they played with straws, pretending that they were musical instruments, and their socks, using them as mittens, bags, and “dinosaur eggs”. There was no whining on the drive home except to express disappointment that we were going home and not back to the campsite.

How can I ignore the message here? I was disappointed in myself for even considering the DVD player, when clearly they need less media and electronics, not more! Research even demonstrates this. Kiddos need activities and experiences over objects.

We have an overabundance of loving and well meaning friends and family, myself included, that like to get new stuff for the girls on a regular basis. While it’s something that I struggle to keep up with, we generally counteract the overcrowding in a few ways:

1. Toy Tub Rotation

Sometimes I just throw toys in tubs, leave one out, and put the rest away. Once they seem bored the tub can be swapped for another one.

2. Zebra Boxes 

I haven’t done a zebra box in a while, but it’s a great motivational tool for getting children to help clean up or cooperate. You can read more about it here.

3. Toy Auction

When things just get too out of hand I will pick up everything and hold a toy auction. Little buyers get a set amount of coins–in our case they’re poker chips from a thrift store–to buy their belongings back with. I usually do about 5 book coins (although their books are kept close by anyway, because reading), 1 large toy coin, 2 or 3 small toy coins, and 1 coin for building blocks or puzzles.

4. Disappearing and Reappearing Toys

Occasionally one of my kids will ask where a certain toy that they haven’t seen in a while is. This is when I pull out what they’re missing. They usually play with it for a day or two before getting bored, and I can put it away again.

5. Sticker/stamp Chart

I’ve written about the stamp chart before. This is such a great way to get kids engaged in keeping their belongings tidy(ish) and rewarding them for helping.

6. Toy Culling

Rarely I get so overwhelmed that I qill do a culling of toys. Anything they don’t play with, refuse to pick up, or volunteer to get rid of is donated. I did this in July, and the girls were actually so overwhelmed with clutter at that time that they helped decide what to get rid of.

7. TV Time

I’m really bad with the TV. I’ll leave it on when they ask and turn it on to try and bore them to sleep. I have to have some kind of controls in place to stop myself from thos, because I have definitely noticed that the less screen time they have, the happier they are and more imaginative they play. There are soem great learning shows for kids, but I still feel interactive play and outside exploration is better.

For now, our system is that they can watch as much TV on Friday as they do worksheets/workbooks. Today it was 40 minutes. They actually got bored very quickly and left before the time was up anyway. Still a work in progress.

Pumpkin and Nut Porridge for Fall

Pumpkin and Nut Porridge for Fall

Some mornings I feel like making something a little different for the kids. They will only eat eggs for so many days in a row, and I like experimenting on them. 🙂 This porridge is quick and easy, with only a minimal amount of work required.

If you have leftover pumpkin, it’s so great to freeze in small containers or an ice cube tray for later. I’ve been keeping it around in cubes for fall.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped or ground
  • 1/4 cup almond meal or flour
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup almond (or other) milk
  • 7-10 stevia drops
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or alternative (I use Lakanto Maple Flavored Syrup)

Directions:

1. In a small pot combine almond flour, pumpkin, pecans, and almond milk and simmer.

2. Add stevia drops, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir and allow to simmer for another minute.

3. Stir in maple syrup. Remove from heat.

Serve with whipped cream or a drizzle of kefir for a hearty, fall inspired breakfast or satisfying dessert.

Primary Color Blending Sludge

Primary Color Blending Sludge

I can’t think of an eloquent word for the consistency that this creates. Paste? Slop? Sludge? It’s gooey and colorful and a little bit gross, which I think makes it perfect for young kids, always happy to stick their hands in goop.

This little activity is super simple and great entertainment for the kids. It’s messy, it’s fun, and my kids always love some good quality sensory play. As an added benefit, you can choose to do primary colors as an educational example of color blending.

A word of warning: this is an outdoor activity! Make sure that you immediately wash vinegar off of wood. I am a little embarrassed to admit that by letting my children do this inside on our table, I accidentally ruined the table by rushing them off to the bathtub rather than cleaning up first. On the bright side, it was a very old, beat up table, so now I get to learn how to fix it.

Supplies:

Baking soda

Water

Food coloring or watercolors (food coloring may stain hands)

Bowls and utensils for mixing

(Optional) squirt bottles with vinegar water–careful where you do this!

Steps:

1. In your bowls, add a cup or so of baking soda. You may use as many bowls/colors as you like.

2. Add water until it turns into a pasty consistency and stir together.

3. Add food coloring and stir.

4. Separate colors into containers. I did some stripes of color in a large Tupperware container for each kid.

 

5. Give them their squirt bottles and watch them have fun.

Dairy-free Low Carb Cloud Bread

Dairy-free Low Carb Cloud Bread

I really love dairy. I think I’ve probably said this before. What’s not to love? It’s a delicious food group. Unfortunately, my body does not love it back. I constantly flip flop back and forth between eating wonderful, cheesy and cream-based concoctions, but when I’m honest with myself there’s no denying that my body is happier during those periods of exclusion.

So once again, here I am in grain free, dairy free, soy free land. Hey, I guess it could be worse–it could be the AIP diet again. Life is SO hard without eggs and nuts.

Here’s something I wondered this morning at breakfast: what’s one to do if they just want a simple, old fashioned sandwich while trying to eat keto(ish) and yet they’re avoiding these problem foods? I really just wanted a breakfast sandwich tbh. My husband says gross, but my mouth (and kids) say yum. Bacon, eggs, and turkey stacked into something simple and magical.

Here’s the dairy-free magic, ya’ll. It’s carbier than the dairy version, but no offense, cream cheese cloud bread, this tastes much better and somehow less eggy.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, eggs and yolks separated
  • Dash of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Separate egg yolks and whites into different bowls.
  2. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat until white, frothy, and retains shape/peaks. I think of it as a meringue bread.
  3. Add spices, almond flour, and almond milk to the egg yolks. Beat into a liquid.
  4. Fold the egg yolks into the egg whites.
  5. Spoon onto parchment paper about an inch thing. I just make small circles 2 or 3 inches wide, about sandwich size.
  6.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

These should be stored in the refrigerator. When you want to reheat them, just pop them in a warm oven for a few minutes.

Series: Natural Sugars (Part 2)

Series: Natural Sugars (Part 2)

This week we’re going to take a look at a ton of natural sugar alternatives. These substances are caloric and contain sugar in natural forms.

Natural sugar options can be complicated. On one hand, they’re sugar, and sugar is sugar no matter where it’s coming from, but on the other hand, some of them have benefits. Let’s take a look.

Honey, raw honey, hackberries, pomegranate, and Texas persimmons.

Honey

Most of us know of honey’s antimicrobial properties. It’s therapeutic uses are enough for me to keep a large jar of raw honey in my pantry. Raw honey has antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes that processed honey doesn’t. Raw honey also has a much lower glycemic index than processed–30ish vs 75ish–and tastes much better (that’s just my opinion).

When someone has a sore throat in our house, they either get hot tea with honey in it or a special slushie with honey. It can be used for other purposes, too. I’ll be honest (and gross), I’ve even used manuka honey for a drawing salve for staph with good results.

Maple syrup

Most of us can agree that maple syrup is delicious. I haven’t had it in a while, but it’s one of my favorite sugars flavor-wise. It’s got a moderate glycemic index, mid 50s. Nutritionally it’s got a few minerals. I usually steer clear of it, mostly because I still have lots of weight to lose and health to gain. If I were in great shape and super healthy, though, I would probably keep a bottle around.

Coconut sugar/Palm sugar

These seem to be pretty popular in the Paleo stratosphere. The GI is fairly low, 30s-40s, and the nutritional value is decent. Honestly, though, I tried it a few times and just wasn’t into it. I’m not even really sure why, but I certainly don’t think I’m missing out by avoiding a sugar that I didn’t enjoy using.

Molasses

Molasses is the byproduct of extracting plain white table sugar from sugar cane. The good thing about this is that molasses contains all the nutritional value that table sugar doesn’t, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper and zinc. The flavor of molasses is pleasant, both complex and earthy. We keep a bottle of it around for homemade BBQ sauce, pulled pork,  and other various recipes. We don’t use it often, but when you need it there’s not really anything great to substitute for it.

Agave nectar 

Okay, here it is: agave nectar is AWFUL! I remember the “health” world going crazy for it a while back, which is just nuts. It’s got nothing going for it nutritionally, the natural glycemic index of it is midline 50s, and processing techniques increase that. It’s 85% fructose–that’s higher than corn syrup, for goodness sake! Agave nectar is a prime example of the fact that not everything touted as “natural” is better or healthier. Like, honestly, there’s no reason to ever eat this stuff, it’s going straight to your liver.

Fruits

Oh, man, fruits are so tough. On one hand, they’re delicious, but on the other, they’re sugar. I know that when I’m eating fruit I want more fruit (sugar addiction and craving cycles!) and my kids are the same way. Honestly, I let my kids have fruit about once a week. Usually we stick to whatever we can get high nutritional value from, such as berries. Dates have a great nutritional profile, too. We have been foraging for wild Texas persimmons and hackberries lately, which is great fun and the kids really enjoy getting to eat what they collect. I’m all about that nature stuff, y’know.

Yacon syrup

Yacon is a little known, fairly new thing. It doesn’t raise blood glucose, but contains fructose. Supposedly it tastes similar to caramel. The nutritional profile is supposedly pretty good. There’s not a whole lot out there about it yet. When I lose a bit of weight I’ll have to give it a taste–the fructose is obviously not ideal, but it’s low enough that I would consider trying it once.