Friday, March 31, 2017

Spinach Salad with hot bacon dressing (keto)

Shortly after I started eating keto, I threw together this salad out of what I had available. And then proceeded to eat it every day for a month. There's something addictive about it...the tangy meets sweet meets creamy meets bacon...that just makes for a satisfying meal. And it takes like 5 minutes to make as an added bonus...I also personally think the dressing would be pretty darn good over chicken or fish. I never actually measure my spices - just play dump. PS If you don't have kitchen shears or scissors for chopping bacon, trust me, you want them! This is one serving (ie. meal size) but could easily feed 2 as a side.

(Keto) Spinach Salad with hot bacon dressing

Salad:
2 cups (2 big handfuls) fresh spinach
1/2 an avocado, diced
1 strawberry, diced

Hot bacon dressing:
2 slices bacon
1 T avocado oil
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp pink salt
half a lemon

Cut bacon up (use shears) and fry. While frying prepare salad greens, avocado and strawberry. Once fried, add remaining ingredients and immediately pour over salad.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast: Beauty in the Ashes

I don’t really care about the “gay moment” in the movie. There, I’ve said it. May the whiplash commence. Do I wish it wasn’t there? Absolutely. Do I think it was unnecessary? Totally. A few moments just felt like someone was TRYING a little too hard to be “PC”? Yes on all accounts. 
But here’s the thing. While we were up in arms in a brilliant stroke of strategy by Disney (hmmm…how can we get free publicity and a media blitz the two weeks before the release? Those Christians! Let’s tell them there’s something they don’t agree with. Hook. Line. Sinker.), we missed some really amazing jewels in what is otherwise a pretty amazing film. 130 min. Anyone want to venture a guess at how much screen time they lauded their political correctness? About 30 seconds. THIRTY SECONDS. That leaves 129.5 minutes of other content and, believe it or not, if we’d get off our high horses long enough to look, there’s some pretty amazing things we CAN bless.

Sacrificial love
Let’s start off with an easy one. If you can’t find the love that would lay down it’s life for a friend (John 15:13) in Beauty and the Beast, you probably shouldn’t bother watching movies. A Christian concept? Absolutely. We see it in Belle’s love for her father - literally willing to give up her life to save his. We see it in Belle’s father and mother’s love for her. We see it in the Beast as he comes to realize that love without the freedom to love isn’t real love and his release of Belle to return to her father. We see it displayed in Agatha as she finds and cares for Maurice despite years of having been mocked and decried as the town old maid and crazy lady. Over and over we see the message that REAL love means a willingness to sacrifice one’s self and pride for someone else’s good. 

Pride and Arrogance
A prideful and arrogant ruler who considers himself above all else is brought face to face with his sins by being turned into a beast where he is cursed to remain until he repents. It’s actually a Bible story people. Daniel 4:28-36 recounts the story of Nebuchadnezzar - “a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” While it doesn’t carry quite the direct correlations that Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove did, the basic idea is definitely still prevalent. It’s the heart that God cares about, not the outward beauty. 

The portrayal of the church
This one actually surprised me - in a good way! So often today we see Christians portrayed as legalistic, judgmental people full of hot air and a lot of wind. The clergyman in Belle’s village was the one “sane” person she could turn to. He supplied her with the means to educate herself and allowed her free access to his library. He is the one voice of reason. Christians have long been proponents of education - the concept that people should be able to read the Bible for themselves and study and understand why they believe what they believe. That means a literate community and books.  Gutenberg and Martin Luther are two figures of Christian history that immediately come to mind - “Gutenberg’s new process sparked a revolution in society and the church. Books could now be produced in quantities and at prices that made them available to many people, not merely to scholars and monks. The resulting explosion of knowledge continues to accelerate in our day.
In the church, the Protestant Reformation might have been impossible in the pre-Gutenberg age. (Indeed, the Reformation became, in some ways, a war of books, each party pointing out the errors of the others.) Everything the Reformers said about the priesthood of all believers was rooted in the assumption that people could have access to the Bible in their own language. Thus, Luther and the other Reformers worked to translate the Scriptures so that no priest, pope, or council needed to stand between the plowboy and the Word of God. The chief book being printed was the Bible, thus spreading Christian teaching. As more were printed, more people became readers, and readers demanded more books, thus spreading literacy. And even for the illiterate, the Bible became more accessible, because the pastor could read from, and preach about, a Bible that was more readily available.”  (http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-28/1456-gutenberg-produces-first-printed-bible.html
By the time of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation this idea of education being linked with leading people to Christ and giving them access to explore Christianity on their own began to effect society as a whole - “The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century led not only to deep changes in the doctrine, the rituals and the leadership of the Church, but also to an aftermath that may be seen on an ecclesiastic level, as well as on a larger level, socio-cultural and political. This European movement also had repercussions in point of education, and the Reformers constantly evinced, among others, the necessity of a consistent religious education provided to the young, based on the Scripture. The Protestant Reformation proved favourable to the education of the masses, of all children, regardless of gender and social status.” (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187704281403688X) To see the clergyman representative of a more noble and more historically and socially accurate TRUE Christianity was a welcome one! 

REAL love over "follow your heart" as a theme
Along with sacrificial love, the idea that there is a real love that changes people comes across as the main theme of the movie. I've tired of the constant barrage of Disney's message to "follow your heart" (Jeremiah 17:9 - where was the uproar on this one?). The Bible clearly teaches that our hearts aren't that trustworthy. In fact, our emotions and hearts can lead us astray. Instead, Beauty and the Beast focuses on REAL love - love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13 as being "...patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 
The theme that real love is the opposite of pride and arrogance is one I can get behind!

We were silent

This one hurt a little. When Belle quizzes the cursed members of the castle and tells them they were innocent, they disagree. “We did NOTHING” they tell her. Nothing when they saw an innocent boy be hardened and emotionally abused by his father, nothing when they had the opportunity for influence. They gave their permission by their silence and fear to stand up for what they know is right. And they do not feel that it is somehow unjust that they have been under the curse. Ouch. While Christians rose up in mass the last few weeks at the idea that Disney (a non-Christian company) would somehow dare to add homosexuality (a non-Christian concept) to it’s film (a non-Christian film) where were we 20 years ago when I was a child? 40 years ago? Where were the people that are shaking their heads in dismay? They were silent and they did NOTHING. Can there be a more timely, ironic message for us as Christians today? What are we putting our stamp of approval on by our silence? I’m not talking the big politically correct messages here. Let’s face it, some of those hurdles have been passed already and by our silence and lack of effort, there is little we can do to reverse it now. I would venture that in running our mouths and boycotting and letting people know we “don’t support that” that we are actually making ourselves less effective. If those same characters had chosen to invest time and love into the beast as a child, what would they have accomplished? How much less pain and loss would they have had to endure? How much more influence could have been seen? Open your eyes to what is around you! So many lost opportunities to love and serve those around us. So many people hurting and feeling so alone. So so much pain. Where are we, Christians? Are we silent? There’s a song by Casting Crowns that says “No one knows what we’re FOR. Only what we’re against.” The world gets it. They know there are things we’ve decided to vocally hate to make ourselves look better. What about the things we stand for? What about the self-sacrificing love? Giving opportunity for others to hold and read a Bible for themselves? Or are we just stuck in our pride and arrogance and fear being silent? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Grey Zone: The Common Act of Mothering

I've been reading a lot of articles lately about mothering and parenting.  As some of you know, this is a place of special passion for me.  I've been there.  I've been criticized my own fair share.  I'm not going to say I'm a perfect mom.  Far from it.  Often I'm a worn out, frazzled, messy house, haven't showered in so long I can't remember disaster.  But I feel compelled to address this fractioned, mom-warred out mess we find ourselves in as mom's today.
It comes in every form - stay at home mom, working mom, nursing mom, bottle feeding mom, adopted mom against adopted mom…yes!  Even within these categories that you think we could find unity, we're attacking each other.  Reading a blog post from a fellow adoptive mom yesterday and reading the comments that people, probably well-meaning, were posting, I was astonished and heart-broken to find that in this common experience of motherhood and parenting we can somehow find the time and energy to be mean.  And that's all there is to it.  It's just…mean.  
Let me say this.  We are all in this together.  Right now, you and I are parenting the next generation of the human race.  The HUMAN race.  
Let's get a few things out on the table.  I don't care what your skin color is.  You know what?  A dog is a dog is a dog.  It doesn't matter if it comes in fluffy or wiener.  Doesn't it make it any less of a dog.  We are part of the HUMAN race.  Skin color doesn't matter.  That doesn't make you a different human than me.  So stop with the "these children are better or somehow more worthy than these because they are _________ color or from ___________ country or were born into my family or were brought in by adoption".  I'm tired of hearing it.    
We've all heard the term "mommy wars".  And we've all cheered on certain articles calling it out.  But good grief people.  Give it up.  We're so caught up in our tabloid society and what we see so and so doing or not doing and somehow thinking it's our business.  Do you want to know what our business is?  Supporting each other.  Finding that mom that's struggling and coming along side her.  Noticing that mom that "looks" like she's got it all together is just as broken as you and I.  How dare we presume to know enough to judge each other.  Yes - there are lines.  There are things that are black and white, flat out wrong.  So if you're hitting your kids, or screaming and verbally and emotionally abusing them - that's not what I'm talking about.  You need help - love your kids, love your family enough to humble yourself and get it.  I'm talking about the moms in the grey zone.  That's me.  Five kids - 4 boys and a girl.  4 biological and 1 international adoption.  4 with food and environmental allergies.  Struggles with ADHD type behaviors, high activity levels, anxiety, attachment issues, self-harm…it's the grey zone where there is often no clear cut black and white and it's the zone we need to be embracing and supporting each other in.  
We all know the categories of moms - the nursing moms, the co-sleeping moms, the everything organic moms, the stay at home moms, the super moms, the working moms.  The list goes on.  And yet, it seems even within these categories we can't seem to find the simple ability to uplift each other.  The article I happened on yesterday was specific to a mom who had adopted a child that was horribly broken - reactive attachment disorder, abandonment issues.  And yet she was being attacked.  This family that had made this incredibly difficult decision, was standing by their child with every ounce of strength and love they could muster was being attacked.  Let me make something crystal clear.  Your family is not mine.  And vice versa.  Everyone of us comes into this whole parenting mess with a different weight on our shoulders.  Different baggage, different life experience, different personalities.  And then you add a spouse and children to that.  And you get more.  More baggage, more mistakes, more life experience, more personalities.  How can I possibly have the pride to look at your family and say somehow not only do I know what's going on, but I also have superior tactics to deal with it? 
Even in our adoption, this rings incredibly true.  I've been discouraged lately in my reading from adoptive families.  I'm not talking about all the chaos surrounding adoption…older child vs younger, one country vs another, U.S vs foreign, etc.  I'm talking about that same family makeup.  Take all those things - personalities, life experience, baggage and mix them up with a child that has experienced more terror and pain and loss than any child should.  That's ANY adoption.  Even a newborn - that first and primal bond with their mother was just severed.  Loss.  Trauma.  And then put them in a family.  Let's say it's for "the right reasons" (yes, there are wrong ones…and I've heard them.) Yes, the experience has it's beautiful moments.  Yes, it can also be incredibly hard.  And every mom, every dad, every sibling is unique and will deal with it in a different way.  Who am I to say that one is better than another?  It's their experience.  We got "lucky" in a lot of ways.  Our daughter's hurts manifest themselves different than other kids I've seen - or maybe we were just equipped differently to deal with it.  If your child is more wounded or more hurt from the loss they've come through, you don't need me to tell you that somehow there's something wrong with you or your family.  And I don't need someone telling me.  I don't need to attack that mom who's getting negative about her child (biological or adoptive) - it's a cry for help, for my support, for my love.  Because how do I know next week that won't be me?  How do I know I wouldn't be reacting just like her in her situation?  I don't need to attack that mom who's got it going good right now.  They seem to have smooth sailing.  She doesn't need to hear the nay-sayers tell her that might end.  She needs my support and my love so if it does, I've got her back.  God gave you your child.  Adopted, biological, it doesn't matter.  To quote Lilo and Stitch 'Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten".  My family is my family.  God gave us to each other.  There is something uniquely ME that only I can give my children.  Something they need from me, that only having me as their mother will meet.  Even in those really bad, rotten, no good, very bad days.  If God wanted you to parent them, you'd have them.  And the same holds true for you.  If God wanted me to have your kids, I'd have them.  There is something about you that makes you ideally suited to be their parent.  And instead of criticizing you and assuming you're messing it up, I'm going to choose to love you and assume you're getting it right.  

The HUMAN race.  Right now, you and I have the incredible privilege of raising the next generation.  We'll mess up.  I guarantee it.  Maybe I've got the President, the next great scientific mind that will cure cancer or AIDS.  Maybe you do.  Maybe I'm raising the next Billy Graham. The next Mozart.  Maybe my child is that kid that grows up and saves the world.  Maybe not.  Maybe they grow up to be solid citizens.  Moms and dads that stay together no matter what, who love the people around them and give generously.  That's good enough for me.  I'm going to keep going.  And when I see you having a rough day with your child, I'm not going to assume that it's because you're a bad mom.  I'm not going to assume that if you knew what I do, somehow it would easier or you'd be better for it.  Do me a favor, and do the same for me.  And that mom down the street.  And that mom in front of you at church or the grocery store.  Assume she's doing the best she can.  Assume that you can support her by being a friend (maybe that means pointing her toward something that's helped you, maybe not…believe me, you don't have all the answers).  Assume her kids are human beings, the same as yours, and treat her and them like they are.  Assume you can love her.  We're in this together.  Let's act like it.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Grain Free Gluten Free Breaded and Fried Fish and Chicken Fingers and Garlic Oregano Oven-fried French Fries

Gluten Free Grain Free Fried Fish and Chicken Fingers

Yes.  The picture is terrible.  I snapped it with my phone moments after pulling a fresh batch out of the pan.  Moments before it disappeared.  Just like the previous batches.  This is definitely a keeper.  One of the hardest parts of allergies is feeling like you can't have what seem to be very simple "treats".  For us, fried fish and chicken fingers rank up there with the I-miss-the-junk-food.  Pair these with the french fry recipe below and watch it disappear.  The fish is also great as fish tacos!

Gluten Free Grain Free Fried Fish and Chicken Fingers
1 c. instant potato flakes
1 T garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (I use Himalayan pink)
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
3-4 fish fillets or chicken tenders (depends on size)
Olive oil (or an egg) AND frying oil (I use lard)
Obviously this recipe can be adapted to just about any taste - if we could tolerate it, I would totally try a Cajun seasoning in it.  Onion powder would also be a good addition.  Due to the variance in size of chicken and fish fillets, more or less coating may be needed.
I use 2 shallow pie pans for dipping.  In the first pan I put about a 1/4 c olive oil (if you can handle eggs, a well-mixed egg could take it's place).  The dry ingredients go into the other.  Dip the meat in the oil (or egg) and coat well with potato mixture while oil is heating (I use about 2-4 T in a large fry pan to get a good 1/4 thick coating on the bottom).  Fry til golden brown on both sides (again, depending on whether you use fish or chicken and how thick it is, time will vary - use your own judgment).  Serve hot with fries (or that's how we roll…).

Garlic Oregano Fries
About 1 large potato (Idaho or Russet hold up the best), scrubbed and cut into fries (we prefer "steak fries")
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Sea Salt
Oregano

Preheat oven to 450.  In a large bowl toss fries with a good drizzle of olive oil (probably about 1-2 T per potato).  Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil.  Arrange fries in as much of a single layer as possible.  Sprinkle generously with remaining ingredients.  Bake 15-20 min or until browned on each side.  When bottoms are done, flip to brown evenly - better yet, use a convection oven (no flipping needed and done in 10-15 min).




Monday, June 2, 2014

Kids Earn Electronics Point system/Chart

Thought I would share our new "earn your electronics time" for the summer system.  After a week off school I was already tired of the arguing and the "I can't think of anything to do" (code for: I want to play something with a screen).  So.  This is our new earn as much time as you want, up to 2 hours worth.  One of the issues we had run into before is that one boy, in particular, would quickly complete his chores while the others dawdled.  So "no electronics til the house is clean" just meant he would do twice the work of other siblings to get it done.  I wanted something that was more "fair" - if he wants to do more, he gets rewarded for it.  If you don't want to do anything, fine.  It might take you a week to collect enough points.  I kept it simple - printed this off and hung it on the bulletin board.  I made notecards with the points (10-100) on them and hung them below). They do it all on their own - collect their cards whenever they do a job and turn them into me to be allowed to set the timer so I can look at the jobs they did. My house is brilliantly clean and everyone has voluntarily done jobs they never thought of doing before. Note that things I'd like to see them do more of (read, practice music, write letters) are worth a lot of points. These jobs are on top of their normal chores with the exception of a few that they are required to do (like piano) but attitude sometimes gets in the way of.  Yesterday the inside of my windows got cleaned, the microwave got scrubbed, the chairs and stools were wiped down, siblings were helped, they read for an hour straight, etc all VOLUNTARILY and without complaint.  I win.  P.S Their fast/head math skills as getting pretty good too…hahahahahahaha 


Write a nice letter to someone in the family = 50 points
Write a nice letter to your penpal or that you need to send = 50 points 
20 min reading = 50 points
20 min Bible reading = 100 points
20 min drawing/coloring = 50 points
Play a board/cardgame with a sibling = 50 points
Help a sibling with a job or piano/homework = 25 points
Help with dinner or a meal = 25 points
Pick up entryways = 25 points
Wipe down the baseboards/door = 50 points per room
Wipe down the lower section of the walls (as high as you can reach) = 100 per room
Make sure stairs and hallway are clean = 25 points
1 load of laundry washed, folded and put away = 100 points
Organize your drawers = 25 points per drawer
Empty dishwasher = 50 points
Load dishwasher = 50 points
Clean and wash off tables = 25 points
Clean and wash off counters = 25 points
Wash chairs = 25 pts a chair, 10 pts a stool, 50 pts each for leather furniture (use baby wipes)
Clean microwave = 25 points
Take out garbage and put in new bag = 25 points
Sweep wood floors = 50 points
Sweep tile and vacuum rugs = 50 points
Clean living room and big room = 50 points
Practice piano/music = 50 points per 15 min
Wash a window = 10 points a window
Clean a pet cage/dishes = 25 points a cage
Clean the car - trash and picked up = 50 points
Vacuum the car = 100 points
Weed a flowerbed/shovel snow/sweep driveway = 100 points a piece

200 points = 20 min electronics time (Isaac, Luke, Andrew - ages 8-12)
100 points = 20 min electronics time (Ben - the 5 year old)



Monday, March 31, 2014

Strawberry Mango Pie (Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free)

Isaac brought this recipe home from school in his Spanish workbook with the idea I could "fix" it so it would be allergy free. Sure enough, a few tweaks (and the addition of a layer of strawberry) and we were good to go.

Crust:
1 box Enjoy Life Graham cookies or Sugar cookies (gluten free or regular graham cracker would be fine too)
3 T melted coconut oil
1/8 c sugar

Press into lightly oiled pie pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 min or until edges begin to lightly brown.  Cool completely.

1 lb frozen chopped mangos, thawed
1 c chopped strawberries
1 can cream of coconut (find it near drink mixes such as margarita mix, etc.)
1/2 c warm water plus 3T
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin plus 1/2 envelope

Strawberry layer:
Dissolve 1/2 envelope gelatin in 3T warm water.  Blend 4T cream of coconut with strawberries until smooth.  Add gelatin mixture.  Blend until throughly mixed.  Pour into pie shell.  Chill til firm (about 2 hours).

Mango layer:
Dissolve 2 envelopes gelatin in 1/2 warm water.  Combine remaining cream of coconut and mangos in blender and blend til smooth.  Add gelatin mixture and throughly combine.  Pour over strawberry layer. Chill til firm (about 4 hours or overnight).

Serve with cool whip or whipped coconut cream if desired.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dairy-free Dark Chocolate Mint Truffles

One of the next things on my list is to find a few Christmas goodies we can all have.   It's really no fun to try to keep 4 boys out of a counter full of special treats for everyone else.  Being a huge chocolate fan, I started easy.  These are dairy-free and, depending on what kind of chocolate you use, gluten free, soy free, corn free as well.

Dairy-free Chocolate Mint Truffles

11 oz good quality dark chocolate (I used 85% Lindt bars - they are soy, corn and dairy free).  How dark of chocolate you use is completely up to you.  Enjoy Life makes chocolate chips that are very allergy friendly and safe and are not as dark.
1/2 c coconut cream (top of can of separated (ie. do not shake) full fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional - can omit and substitute vanilla)
up to 1 T sugar if desired

For rolling:
Powdered sugar (preferably organic - usually corn free)
Flaked coconut
Crushed candy canes (would not be corn free)
Baking cocoa (this WILL make them darker)
Sprinkles or sugar
Chopped nuts

Heat coconut milk.  Break chocolate into small pieces and add to hot milk - if using chocolate chips, no need to break them smaller.  Add sugar as desired (using the 85% I found it was a little dark in this application and I added about a tablespoon) and peppermint extract.  Stir until smooth.  Let cool on counter, stirring periodically to keep from separating.  When cooled, refrigerate until firm.  Scoop out cooled and hardened chocolate and form into small balls, rolling in your choice of toppings.  Place in small candy papers.  Makes about 30 candies.

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