Gluten Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

 

GF Blueberry banana muffins

So it’s been a while. Please forgive me…I’ll post an official update in a few days (I think) For the meantime, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen and it’s going very well. Enjoy these little munchies, guilt free, on me. LOVE

 Ingredients

2 Ripe bananas

1 T vanilla extract (This CAN contain gluten)

3 Pastured Eggs

¼ cup maple syrup, honey or organic sugar (If you use sugar, the batter will be VERY dry)

¼ Cup (4 oz) melted (and cooled) butter or Coconut oil (dairy free)

½ teas unrefined seat salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 ½ Cups almond flour

2 cups gluten free baking mix with coconut flour. (or sub in 1 ½ cups of straight coconut flour)

1 ½ cups frozen and defrosted blueberries or freshly washed and dried blues.

 

 Mix first 5 ingredients together well. Add salt and baking soda and mix, and then add in the flours, incorporating well after each cup. Make sure not to over mix, but incorporated ingredients well. It will be a stiff batter. If you want them fluffier, add another egg.

Carefully mix in blueberries, trying really hard not to smash them.

Scoop into lined muffin cups or heavily sprayed muffin tins. (DON’T USE PAM!) Bake for 15 minutes for mini muffins, or 20 minutes for regular muffins.

Makes 24 mini’s AND 12 reg size muffins.

Or 24 regular muffins.

 Store at room temp 2 days (YEAH right!) Or refrigerate for longer storage. Freeze really well, warm slightly before serving.

SO good with a pat of pastured butter or a sprinkle of raw sugar on top before baking.

The Prettiest Poison

 

As I walk down the isles of the supermarket I take note of the shelves, fully stocked neatly in rows, colorful boxes, bottles and packages all so well designed. Eye catching – using words like “diet”, “light”, “natural”, and “healthy”, yet when I pick up the items to read the ingredients I find a myriad multi syllabic words that I struggle to pronounce and would need a doctorate in biochemical engineering to decipher. 

“Pretty poison” are the two words that pop into my head when staring at supermarket shelves these days. My perspective on grocery shopping has shifted drastically in the last few years. 

Here in America, eating has become a war on health, obesity and our wallets. Most of us grew up with our parents cooking but also incorporating packaged foods into the mix to save time. They bought them at the local shop and we assumed, as they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that they were safe and good for us. After all that was the purpose of the FDA – to keep us safe and healthy…. Right? We didn’t think all that much about what we ate, other than it was recommended to eat 3 meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner and that within those meals we should use the food pyramid as a guide as to how many servings of what we should consume. It was straightforward and easy. 

These days, so many chemicals, preservatives, colors and additives have been added that a good portion of the “food” we eat, is not actually food. Added to that, even the actual food portion we consume and recognize and easily pronounce isn’t what it used to be. It is over processed and depleted of vitamins and nutrients. And with the introduction of genetically modified foods (GMO) on a base DNA level, even corn isn’t really corn any more. Our animals are fed mutated grains, hormones and antibiotics which when we consume their meat, milk or eggs are passed along to us. This has lead to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria as well as many health problems.

There is little doubt that the health of this country is going down hill at a rapid rate. 

Some of the most common additives found in food these days:

HFCS – High fructose corn syrup. Much of the HFCS contains mercury, a deadly metal when consumed in high doses. It is added to everything from cereal bars, to ketchup to (surprisingly) even things like egg and chicken salad! Why on earth those would need to be “sweetened” is beyond me. HFCS limits your body’s ability to produce insulin making it difficult to metabolize food and hindering appetite control. It also increases the risk of diabetes, tooth decay, raises triglycerides, raises risk for heart attack, can contribute to anemia and poor immunity overall. It is now sometimes labeled as corn sugar, in a lame attempt to make you think it’s a different compound. *the same thing was done with Rape Seed Oil (which is toxic), when it was renamed as Canola oil. 

Artificial sweeteners – Aspartame, NutraSweet, equal, and others are often labeled as “sugar free” or “diet”. They are known carcinogens. They can erode intelligence and effect short-term memory and can lead to a wide array of super fun ailments such as 
brain tumors, diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures. It should also be noted that they do quite the opposite of what they advertise. These items may be low or no calorie, but your body still reads it as sugar, and it causes you to gain, not lose weight.

MSG (mono sodium glutamate) – is an amino acid/flavor enhancer. It is an exotoxin – which means it over excites the cells to the point of damage or death. Consumption results in adverse side effects, which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG affects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengaged the "I'm full" function that explain the effects of weight gain.

Trans Fat – Trans fat is found in fried foods, processed foods, margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils. It is used to extend the shelf life of food. It is among the most dangerous things you can eat. It can lead to increased LDL cholesterol levels contributing to heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, inflammation, diabetes and other health issues.

Sodium Sulfate/Sodium Nitrate – are used in coloring and flavoring bacon, ham, hotdogs, luncheon meats, and also in other processed foods. This ingredient, which sounds harmless, is actually highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system. There, it forms a variety of nitrosamine compounds that enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc with a number of internal organs: the liver and pancreas in particular.

Food Dyes – Food dyes are found in everything from soda, candy, sports drinks to meats and salad dressings. They have been linked to behavioral problems in kids and a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have also linked them to cancer. It is interesting to note that the FDA allows a certain amount of mercury and arsenic in these dyes when at any level, they are toxic.

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)
Banned in Norway, Finland and France. May cause chromosomal damage

Red dye # 3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)
Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)
Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage. This is derived from coal tar. Coal most definitely not edible. 

Green #3 
This dye is not permitted in the European Union due to animal studies showing Fast Green to be a possible carcinogen that can cause DNA level structural damage.
BHT and BHA – Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants, which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.

Potassium Bromate – An additive used to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls, potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals. Even small amounts in bread can create problems for humans.

And one of my personal favorites

TBHQ – Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (there is a fun one to pronounce), As a food additive. Consuming TBHQ can cause variable toxicity and in high doses can be fatal. It can lead to a variety of negative symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), delirium and collapse. In toxicity studies, long-term, high-dose TBHQ administration in lab animals showed a tendency for them to develop cancerous precursors in the stomach, as well as causing DNA damage. I discovered this little beauty reading a Reeses’ Peanut butter Cup wrapper. It is also found in chicken nuggets and many other pre packaged foods. 

The only solution is to stop eating pre-packaged foods. Or at the very least – limit the part they play in your diet. Preservatives are meant to extend the life of the food… ironically, they can drastically shorten yours.

Choose instead organic vegetables and fruits (which can be identified by the # on the sticker – if it starts with a 9 it is organic.) Nuts, seeds, berries – choose raw milk from a local store or farmer, where the animals are treated humanely and fed whole non-GMO grains, drink lots of clean pure water – spring water or reverse osmosis filtered to remove the chemicals, impurities and fluoride – a gallon a day is recommended. The more raw food the better as cooking actually kills the living enzymes your body needs to sustain itself. Meats ideally should be grass fed and farm raised. Or if you are willing, give up meat all together. Juicing is another wonderful way to get healthy. Juicers are inexpensive and easy to use (though I will say very messy to clean up!). The amount of nutrients you can get from just one glass of juice is equal to 2 big salad bowls full of fruits and veggies without all the fibrous parts that fill you up. Stores like Whole Foods, Farmers markets, and local health food stores are wonderful sources. The best would be to grow your own garden, if you are able.

Health is a choice. The FDA along with companies like Monsanto who produce GMO crops have declared a war on the American people, and their weapon is food. Arm yourselves by being informed consumers. Take back your bodies, minds and health. It is your inalienable right to be healthy and happy.

Peanut Chicken Soba Sauté

Made this tonight, and even though I desperately need to post a life update more than a recipe for a meal, this one needs celebrating. It was AWESOME. ’nuff said.

Peanut chicken, greens, and soba sauté.

Sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T smooth peanut butter (I used our homemade that’s a little sweet because of the honey I add)
2 T tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teas arrowroot powder (could use cornstarch, but I don’t cook with that anymore, use your judgment…1 teas?)
Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Rest of Ingredients
2 T peanut oil, sesame oil or unflavored coconut oil
4 cups broccoli florets (or more!)
1 red bell pepper sliced or chopped, your preference.
4-5 cups of kale (or other green such as chard or spinach)
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 green onions diced
2 cups of cooked, diced chicken (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)

Preparation

Heat over medium high heat the oil in large sauté pan or wok. Add chopped broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped bell pepper and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and green onions to the center of the pan and stir, cooking until fragrant 30 seconds or so. Add kale and a splash of water, cover and steam for a 2 more minutes, uncover and let water evaporate then toss in diced chicken and sauce over everything and stir in and only cook until the chicken is heated through.

Serve over cooked soba noodles or brown rice if you prefer.

Note: This does not make a saucy stir fry, so you may want to toss your noodles in some oil and soy sauce, or cook your rice in a little extra water or broth if you prefer it saucier.

In reflection, this is great because it’s not sweet, and doesn’t have an overly powerful peanut flavor. I hope you enjoy this as much as my kids, the engineer and I did!

Cheers!

Hearty Chicken and Rosemary Stew

CDCB

 

It may be April here in California but it’s still rainy and cold frequently. This stew is the perfect spring comfort food. Not heavy with dairy, but sturdy enough to feed the hungriest teenager. (mental note for ten years from now!)  Enjoy this with healthy, homemade drop biscuits and a salad. Challenge yourself to see how many vegetables you can eat in one meal! Using homemade chicken broth is amazing in this recipe, and I don’t recommend skimping on the white wine. It really does add a wonderful depth to the stew that is missing if you leave it out. (Ask me how I know?!) I always have fresh rosemary from my garden, so I’ve never tried using dried, but if you substitute it, remember that dried herbs are more potent, so use less. Enjoy!

Prep 20 min
Cook 1.5- 2 hrs
Yield 8 servings
1 pound of Yukon gold potatoes
1 large onion
3 carrots
8 oz mushrooms
2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs (don’t use breasts, will dry out)
1 T fresh Rosemary
3-4 Garlic cloves
1 1/2 teas real salt
1/2 teas pepper
15 ounces chicken broth/stock
1/2 cup (4 oz) chardonnay or other white wine. (If you don’t have this you can add more broth, but your flavor will not be as deep)
1/4 cup (2 oz) tomato paste
2 T Cornstarch or 1 T arrowroot powder
Zest of one lemon and 1/2 cup chopped parsley for garnish
Coarsely chop all veggies as well as slice or cube the meat and trim fat. Toss in a large covered baking dish. Add herbs, salt, garlic and pepper and toss with meat and veggies. Whisk cornstarch or arrowroot powder with broth, tomato paste and wine together and pour over top of other ingredients. Mix well, cover and bake for 45 minutes. Stir and bake for another 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Zest lemon and chop parsley and sprinkle on top and let cool.
Stay tuned for a crockpot version of this. Not that cooking something for 1.5 hours makes it more difficult, but setting this at noon to eat around 6 is often times an easier task for a stay and home mom!

Increasing Nutrition Through Recipe Changes

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So we are on a quest to eat more nutritionally as a family and yet the task can appear rather daunting. Well, Id like to tell you that you don’t have to change everything in order to create or adapt healthy recipes. Who wants to throw out all your family favorite recipes that have been passed down? Or those favorite comfort foods that make your family feel so satisfied and rejuvenated? I don’t know a mom alive who would spend countless hours in the kitchen reinventing the recipe “Wheel”. A few changes here and there (baby steps people!) will go a long way in the kitchen.

Today, I would like to offer a resource of ideas for helping you adapt your favorite recipes to make them healthier. While some of my recipes are loaded with sugar and say regular ol’ “flour” practically every recipe on this site has been a family favorite for quite some time, and have only been adapted in the past few years to replace the ingredients with more real whole food alternatives. The flavors may have changed slightly, but overall, choosing to use real food ingredients only increases the flavor and intensity of each recipe.

I have provided here for you a simple chart to convert those standard ingredients in your everyday recipes to real, whole food ingredients. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this list. Maybe start with one thing a week, or however fast you feel like working through it. Perhaps many of you will find things on this list you are already doing, such as the use of EVOO, or coconut oil…maybe some of you have been gluten free for some time now, and white flour is already gone from your thought process. Good for you! It’s all about baby steps!

 
Sweeteners
Learn about these healthy sweeteners here.
White sugar: Replace with equal amounts of rapadura or sucanat (both of which are whole cane unrefined sugars), or 1/3 less of raw honey or pure maple syrup (Vermont or Canadian sources). You can run rapadura/sucanat through the blender to get a less grainy texture, a perfect alternative for powdered sugar.
Brown sugar: Replace with equal amounts of sucanat or rapadura which have an excellent darker texture and tone similar to brown sugar. If you desire that wetter texture of brown sugar, simply add a Tablespoon of blackstrap molasses to the sucanat or rapadura.
Powered Sugar: replace with powdered sucanat/rapadura, or a dash of stevia.
 
Grains
White Rice: While I recently read a post about how white rice is really just fine for us, many of you have already replaced it with brown riceBasmati brown rice is very similar in texture to white rice. Brown rice takes a longer time to cook so make sure to check the packaging. I usually use 1 cup brown rice to 2 cups water.
White Flour: The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension recommends the following for substituting flour when baking.
1 cup of white, all-purpose flour for baking can be substituted with the following:
• 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs; (Just make sure they are whole wheat)
• 7/8 to 1 cup corn meal; I’ve never tried this.
• 1/2 cup cornstarch plus 1/2 cup rye, potato or rice flour (sift together 6 times, use with 2 tsp baking powder per cup in quick breads as wheat flour allergy substitute);
• 5/8 cup potato flour;
• 7/8 cup rice flour;
• 1 1/3 cups rolled oats;
• 1 1/4 cups rye flour;
• 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour.
If you are new to using whole wheat, try using half and half with unbleached white flour (choice unbleached to avoid the dying process), and gradually increase the whole wheat content until you can make it 100% whole wheat. Sourdough options are my favorite for getting a light fluffy texture and delicious results even when using whole wheat.
Bread products: Try to find sprouted whole wheat options (Dave’s Killer Bread, Food for Life or Alvarado Street Bakery are all good sprouted bread companies) & or make sure to check labels that they are made from 100% whole wheat without the addition of high fructose corn syrup or enriched wheat flours.
Pastas: Your best option is brown rice pastas (Trader Joe’s and Tinkyada are great brands), as they are both gluten free and low in phytates. You can get most varieties of pasta in brown rice varieties now.
Lindsey over at Passionate homemaking has a great post about using more  variety in your grain choices here.
 
Dairy
Generally, choose organic whole milk alternatives for any recipe calling for low-fat, non-fat, or skim. Whole milk is essential for getting quality fats from dairy products. Low or non-fat alternatives have been processed and are very difficult for the body to digest. If you have access to raw milk, this is your best option. Otherwise, choose organic whole milk cultured dairy products. Substitute them for equal portions in recipes. Other good alternatives include coconut milk, hemp milk, or organic milk based products.
Margarine: Replace with real butter made from whole milk.
Buttermilk: Replace equally with cultured kefir or yogurt. (Coconut milk kefir is a good choice as well.) You can also make your own milk kefir.
 
Oils
Your best choices here are olive oil, coconut oil, or butter. Read more about healthy oils from my friends site. Choice cold-pressed unrefined options. I use these three oils exclusively in all my cooking and baking.
Canola/vegetable oil: replace with olive oil for salad dressings, melted coconut oil for baking, and melted butter or coconut oil for sauteeing. Real butter can be used for baking or sauteeing. I recently saw organic canola oil on a shelf at an unnamed healthy foods store, and after researching the processing of canola (ie, rape seed oil) there is no way this product should be considered organic…
Crisco/Shortening: replace with palm oil, coconut oil, or butter in their solid state.
 
Meat/Eggs
Look for pastured grass fed varieties for best nutritional value. These are animals raised on pasture that are fed a variety of greens rather than corn products. Wild fish products are preferred to farm raised. Find local sources here. If you are in the Northern California area like I am, go here! It’s the best.
 
Canned Goods
The main concern with condensed soup is the MSG content. Either just eliminate these recipes altogether or replace with the following options:
Condensed Soup (Mushroom, Chicken, etc): replace with this easy homemade version or with cultured sour cream (as used in my enchilada recipe which originally called for cream of mushroom soup).
To learn what canned food brands do not have BPA in the lining, check out this list. (Although, please read the comments for updates. It’s not totally accurate) Your best bet is to can your own vegetables, and make your own soups. Buy organic frozen of eat seasonally.
 
Seasonings/Condiments
Table Salt: Replace with sea salt (I recommend RealSalt for its high mineral content). Or replace salt with herbs, either fresh or dried, and other seasonings. Freshly ground pepper and fresh seasonings have so much flavor, you won’t miss the salt.
Thickeners: Replace cornstarch or white flour called for in a recipe to a smaller portion of arrowroot powder (i.e. 1/4 cup flour = 1-2 Tbsp arrowroot powder).
Bouillon cubes: replace with homemade or organic free range chicken/beef broth.(Make sure it’s NO MSG…Not “No added MSG” Usually a recipe will say 1 bouillon cube and 1 cup water, and you can simply replace both with 1 cup homemade broth. You can also freeze homemade stock in ice cube trays to replace the bouillon cubes.
Pancake Syrup: Replace pancake syrup (the fake HFCS sugar syrup) with pure maple syrup (Vermont does not allow formaldehyde in processing or try Canadian sources), honey, or fruit syrup.
Mayonnaise: Make your own homemade mayonnaise or purchase coconut oil mayonnaise or safflower mayonnaise.
Ketchup: Make your own or choice fermented ketchup or an organic variety that does not use HFCS. There are some brands that now advertise no HFCS, and I use so little, that we simply purchase those, but making your own is easy and a great idea if your family consumes a lot.
Bread crumbs/croutonsMake your own from healthy breads or your own that’s a day old.
Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract (not vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla) or make your own.
Salad Dressings: The best nutritious salad dressing is a simple balsamic vinegar and cold pressed olive oil. But you can also make your own recipes of salad dressings using healthy fats.
Worcestershire Sauce (this often has corn syrup): replace with equal amount of white vinegar.
Baking powder/baking soda: Chose aluminum free varieties (Bob’s Red Mill or Rumford brands).
 
Did I miss an ingredient? I am sure I did…let me know and I’ll add our source to the above list. Have a favorite recipe that you are just not sure how to adapt? Share below and I’ll try my best to offer some suggestions.
 

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen…And No, I’m Not Talkin’ Laundry

in-search-of-real-food

I am, however talking about organic versus conventionally raised agriculture. Do you have a hard time juggling the kids, the list and the shopping cart every time you hit the grocery store? I personally have a difficult time doing that, so I thought maybe I would make life just one step simpler when trying to eat a healthier vegetable. Organic is not a hoax…That may be what "Big-Ag" is trying to tell you, but it ain't the truth! Making choices is part of everyday life, choose right and chances are you won't end up a statistic in the largest growing category of "Things that can kill you" AKA, the diet related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems, etc. Yes, eating organic can have that effect.

 This list comes directly from the Environmental Working Group's website. I'll make it short and sweet.

Foods with the highest pesticide residues (All tested after washing) PLEASE, eat these only organic!

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Strawberries (I personally feel this should say all berries)

4. Peaches

5. Spinach

6. Nectarines

7. Grapes

8. Sweet Bell Peppers

9. Potatoes

10. Blueberries

11. Lettuce

12. Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean 15 (Not free from, but lowest in pesticides)

1. Onions

2. Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Avocados

5. Asparagus

6. Sweet Peas

7. Mangoes

8. Eggplant

9. Cantaloupe

10. Kiwi

11. Cabbage

12. Watermelon

13. Sweet Potatoes

14. Grapefruit

15. Mushrooms

Source: Foodnews.org

Happy Shopping!

Moo Shu Chicken (A long awaited post for some of you!)

Sorry ladies, here is the famous Moo Shu Chicken recipe. I have to say that while it was very good, I'm not a huge mushroom fan. So I can't say it's my favorite. But for some of you, it'll be the best! This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen chicken cookbook that I borrowed form the library. Without further adieu…

Serves 4

(Shredded carrots, bean sprouts, or thinly sliced bamboo shoots can be stirred inthe the pan with the cabbage.)

1/3 C chicken broth preferably lower sodium or homemade.

6 T Hoisin sauce

2 T soy sauce

2 teas non-GMO cornstarch (organic)

2 T coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

8 oz shiitake mushrooms stemmed, wiped clean and sliced thin

3 garlic cloves minced or pressed through a garlic press

1 T grated fresh ginger

2 Cups shredded or thinly sliced cooked chicken

12 oz cabbage washed, cored and shredded (about 4 cups)

5 green onions sliced thin

8 (6") flour tortillas or mandarin pancakes

  • Mix the broth, 2 Tablespoons of Hoisin sauce, soy sauce and cornstarch together in a small bowl and set aside. 
  • Heat 1 T oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned, 4 minutes.
  • Clear the center of the pan and add the remaining 1 T oil, the garlic and ginger. Cook, mashing the mixture slightly until it's fragrant. About 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken, cabbage, and green onions and cook until the cabbage begins to wilt, about one minute.
  • Whisk the sauce to recombine and add it to the pan, bringing to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens and the mixture is hot 1-2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile warm the tortillas and serve tortillas with the chicken and the 4 remaining tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce. 

Enjoy!

Meal Plan Monday

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So my mother is coming today. Since we always look forward to cooking together, I have quite the list of meals selected that I'm planning on letting my mom choose from, although I do have a slow cooker recipe planned for tomorrow. Enjoy the list and please feel free to comment if you'd really like to see any of these recipes published here on the blog.

Monday- Slow cooker Chicken and (soaked) Quinoa

Rest of the weeks choices. Whatever doesn't get picked will end up on the menu next week…

  1. Apple and Walnut stuffed pork chops with green beans or roasted broccoli.
  2. Minimalist Roast Chicken with Lentils Madrid
  3. Chimi churri steak sandwiches on sourdough rolls
  4. Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
  5. Spicy Meat Chili
  6. Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato stuffed chicken breasts
  7. Tender skewered beef
  8. Mexican Chicken lasagna with black beans
  9. Ground Turkey Enchiladas
  10. Hunan Pork and Zucchini Stir Fry
  11. Maple Glazed pork Roast

A Beautiful Letter…Repost from Raising Homemakers

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This came to me this morning in email, and I thought I'd re-post it for you all to enjoy. It really struck a chord with me. Both in the desire I have to see my children create successful marriages, but also as a reminder to myself about my own marriage. 

"Dear Children,
Should the Lord give you the good gift of a husband or wife, and I hope He does, there are a few things I want you to know. Things that you may not hear from anyone else, and certainly not on TV or other media. Sadly, your church may not even tell you.
Marriage, sweet little people, is not for the purpose of your happiness. Happy as I want you to be and hope you will be, you must yet understand that marriage is God’s design and His purposes must be pursued in order for you to be truly happy. His end is holiness and He will use all things in a life devoted to Him to fulfill that end.
To my girl:
Marry a man whose first pursuit is Christ. After that, he is not hard to please. Admire him, cheer him on and show gratitude, and he will fall over himself trying to please you. Smile often, speak well of him always, and do whatever necessary to try and maintain a pleasant mood about you so that it transfers to your home, making it a place where he and your children love to be.
You’ll have bad days of course, crying days even, and that’s when you go to your bedroom, kneel on the floor and beg the Lord to carry you. Then get up, get a fresh perspective (crayons will come off the wall), and try again. Above all else, make a home.
To my boy:
Marry a woman whose first pursuit is Christ. After that, she may be hard to please only if you don’t know “the secret”. What is that? I’m glad you asked. The secret to pleasing your wife is to make her feel safe and treasured. You may have to move out of your comfort zone to do this at times. She won’t always readily translate the oil change to love, though it means that. But let me give you a “secret question”–a question you need to ask her often. It’s not just in the asking, though. Be sure to focus your eyes on hers, maybe even touch her shoulder or face, and then ask: “What’s on your mind these days? “ And then be ready to listen. She wants you to draw her out. She will perceive this as your protection over the matters of her heart. Tenderness, listening, protection. That’s what she wants.
To you both:
If your wife or husband does something really stupid, forgive. If they do it again, forgive again. Forgiveness must be the propelling force in your lives each day. Dwell on the strengths, push out thoughts of their weaknesses. Take every thought captive–choose to love.
Here’s that part you are not going to hear often:
If you find yourself “not happy”, having lost attraction, disinterested, etc., you are not permitted to even think about a divorce. If you find yourselves arguing more and more, don’t think for a minute that “the children will be better off out of this”, because they won’t.
The vows you took on your wedding day were not suggestions. They were covenant vows, before a Holy God, family and friends, to stay with this person the rest of your life, even if you don’t feel like it. You swore a solemn oath and if you can’t live up to it, don’t get married. Decide up front that your marriage is irrevocable. There is far more motivation for getting along if your “marriage house” has no door.
Do not share intimate thoughts or feelings with anyone of the opposite sex. Do not find yourself alone for any length of time with such either.
Divorce is not a “private option”. It will affect multiple families for many generations. When you “separate what God has joined” you permanently injure far more than just yourself.
Guard your marriage as fiercely as you would guard your own life. Treat your spouse as an extension of your flesh, just as God sees you. Treat your spouse like other family members. You know, “you gotta love ‘em, they’re the only family you’ve got”.
I want you to be happy, I surely do. But I will pray for you to be holy."
 
 

Soaked Sourdough English Muffins

sourdough-english-muffins
1/2 cup sourdough starter (thick or thin)
1 cup liquid (water*, milk, fermented dairy, coconut milk…I used my homemade yogurt because it was at it's end)
2 cups flour (your choice, I use white whole wheat)
add-ins like seeds, dried fruit, or chopped nuts… (optional)
1 tablespoon raw honey (or any other sweetener. Honey is best)
1 teaspoon sea salt of choice
1 teaspoon baking soda
 

*Note: The English muffins will turn out if you use water instead of full fat or fermented dairy and if you add more flour initially for easier kneading. However, the results will not be as soft on the outside or as tender on the inside once you’ve finished the cooking.
 
Place 1/2 cup sourdough starter (thick or thin) into a medium size bowl. Pour onto that the 1 cup of liquid. This is the first place where the recipe is very flexible. Your liquid could be water, milk, any fermented dairy, coconut milk… Stir to combine starter and liquid. In this photo, I chose to water down some of my homemade yogurt. If your sourdough starter is very stiff, you might need an extra 1/4 cup of liquid. I have never added extra liquid.
 
Stir well to combine. Along with the flour, I often add in a couple tablespoons of ground flax seeds. The soaking affects the seeds as well as the flour. So, great! Cover and let your dough sit overnight, even up to 24 hours. I soaked mine for 12 hours.
The stiffness changes every time I make this recipe. Sometimes it is more wet. It really does not matter too much. In the morning, you will be able to tell that your sourdough has been at work.
 
On top of your soaked dough, sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon salt (I use 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt), 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 tablespoon honey. Use a wooden spoon to push/cut/stir in your newly added ingredients. Don’t worry about incorporating it perfectly; you will be kneading it in just a moment.
This next part of the directions might feel a little strange, because you are kneading something that could be quite wet. I pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto my counter and spread it around with my hand and then rub my hands together. I then dump out my dough onto the oiled spot and knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes. The purpose of this kneading is to incorporate the honey, baking soda, and salt. Make sure it's mixed and kneaded thoroughly. It will stay pretty sticky. After this, I take a pizza cutter and separate my dough into 10 equal portions.
As you will see, the dough is quite wet. Up until this point we have not added any new flour. At this time, I do find it helpful to dust my hands with flour before I shape each muffin. You might prefer to use all-purpose flour for this dusting, or sprouted flour where the sprouting has done the work of soaking. I usually use what is on hand…white whole wheat, Whatever.
With dusted hands, pick up a portion and gently shape it into your muffin. My muffins are usually about 1 finger thick and maybe 2-1/2 inches wide. Sometimes they are nice and round. Sometimes not. Size and shape are not important here. Place your muffins on a lightly floured or cornmealed (greased might work if you want to stay away from newly added flour) sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Don't let them sit too long)
 
About 5 minutes before you want to griddle/skillet your muffins, set the heat to mediumish. I set my cast iron to 4, the front of my stovetop griddle to 3 1/2, and the back of the griddle to 3. Each place distributes heat differently. You will figure out what works best for your situation. You don’t want the muffins to brown too quickly because the insides need a chance to cook. I also have found that greasing my griddle with a small amount of coconut oil makes a nice slightly crispy crust. Do what you think is best here as well.
Carefully transfer the muffins onto your heat source, they will be difficult to move but do your best to reform them without collapsing them. Cook the muffins for about five minutes on each side. You can take a little peek every now and again to make sure the bottoms are not getting too brown. When it is time to flip, do this carefully. Your muffins will plump up beautifully, and you do not want to deflate them by being too rough. Cook for the second five minutes. Now, if you find that the outside edge of your muffin is not as done as you like, feel free to pop these into a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. I did this because my test sample was a little bit gooey on the inside after browning nicely on the outside.
I cannot express to you with words how good these are. Whether you are eating them fresh off the griddle, toasted, warmed, or room temperature, they are bound to bring a smile. My husband savors each sandwich as if it is a dessert. Incredible! 
I’m shaking my head as I type. So, so good. Enjoy your muffins topped with butter. A truly nutritious treat! They last (if you can get them to last) for at least a week. I keep mine in a sealed container on the counter. They also freeze beautifully. Definitely slice them first. And it most definitely works to double or triple the recipe.
 
Enjoy!