The Trouble With Gluten Free

Many people have discovered that they are sensitive to gluten, completely intolerant of gluten, or highly allergic to gluten. Gluten can wreak havoc on our immune and digestive systems. Gluten can cause inflammation and pain in our bodies, rashes on skin and other problems. Many believe there is a connection between gluten and cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic pain, depression, mood issues, obesity, and other illnesses. The information available on the topic is endless!

I have known that I have gluten intolerance, and have had to choose to eat differently for several years. Eating gluten can make me physically ill. Causing my joints to ache, bloating, stomach pain, skin rashes and other problems for me.

Over the past several years, gluten-free products have hit the grocery store shelves like there’s no tomorrow! These foods offer many options for people who cannot eat gluten – breads, cookies, crackers, flours for baking, and the list goes on. While these foods may be okay on occasion, eating highly processed foods still isn’t a healthy choice even if it says gluten-free on the package.

Creating or following Paleo bread and dessert recipes made from scratch in your own kitchen are a much better choice. They are generally more nutrient dense and lower in unhealthy carbs and sugars.

Let’s face it – dessert is dessert. Carbs are carbs. If we eat too many of them they slow us down, and can halt weight loss and fitness goals. However on occasion, eating a Paleo dessert made from scratch is a wonderful way to keep from feeling deprived, to celebrate, or have that weekend food that we all enjoy!

Steer clear of packaged choices whenever possible. And always remember just because there is a gluten-free option, it doesn’t equate a healthy option.

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Paleo Shmaleo! What is it anyway?

So, what is Paleo?

The word Paleo is a shortened word coming from the anthropological term Paleolithic Era. Commonly thought of as a time when cavemen roamed the earth.

I personally believe in Creation, and the Garden of Eden. Paleo to me is just a shorter way to say “gluten free, wheat free, grain free, dairy free, legume free, corn free, refined sugar free, less refined, more natural way of eating.” Because that my friends is a mouthful!

Essentially eating Paleo meals means that you are eating meat that comes from animals living the way that they were intended to live in nature. For instance, if you eat beef, you eat grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free beef. If you eat fish, you eat wild caught fish rather than farmed fish. When you eat eggs, eat hormone and antibiotic free, free-range eggs.

When you chose foods, make the beat choice possible. Choose unrefined food in its natural state rather than opening a package.

Eat vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts. Eat more vegetables! Take it easy on the nuts, too – just because they come in a bag, don’t eat them by that handfuls. Eat a few at a time.

Eat fat! Yep, fat. Good fat. Full fat coconut milk, coconut oil, avocados, seeds, nuts, ghee are some great choices.

When you eat this way, there are many benefits! I have so many testimonies of how eating this way has helped me and others I know. Eating Paleo, helps reduce inflammation in your body, improves digestion, helps you lose weight, helps you build muscle, and generally makes you feel great!

This blog is not intended to provide all of the scientific information behind the Paleo diet. There are many blogs, books and other articles that offer a more scientific approach. This blog is just intended for encouragement and to create a place for people to have a shared experience and to walk out these next 60 days together.

If you are interested in knowing more about the science behind Paleo, I would encourage you to pick up one of my favorite books called It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Their book focuses on the Whole30 approach. they also have a great website loaded with information.Robb Wolf’s book called the Paleo Solution is another great book. Sarah Fragoso has a blog called Everyday Paleo (as well as a cook book – one of my faves!), and Danielle Walker also has an amazing blog and cookbook called Against All Grains. Google any of these guys and you will be gaining great information!

Once you start looking for Paleo information and blogs, you will find so much information you will have more than enough reading to keep you busy for the next 60 days! Rather than make it complicated I suggest that you pick some simple meals, following the simple guidelines for the next sixty days. Unclutter your dinner plate, and unclutter your mind! Relax, enjoy good food in its natural state the way God intended it to be.

Set yourself up for success, ready to experience transformation!

Many of us reading this could testify that we have completed many fasts, diets, cleanses, eating plans… They last for 21 days, 30 days, 10 days, a week. 60 days will give us the opportunity to see real change in our bodies, our emotions, our attitudes, and our ability to break bad eating habits. 60 days will also give us the opportunity to set great fitness goals in motion and keep them going.

Let’s do this!

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Blessing Boxes

It started because no one had money. No one had any real plans of obtaining money before Christmas, and my older children really wanted to give gifts to parents and siblings. So the idea was birthed. Everyone needs encouragement. Encouragement is free. Words can be gifts. Encouragement can be drawn on long after the words are spoken – a gift that keeps on giving.

I thought, “This is a great task! Simple and meaningful!” I presented the idea to my children one evening after the youngest two were tucked quietly into bed, and the evening advent devotion was complete. I was all smiles as I explained, and encouraged, and explained more as blank faces stared back at me. One big girl nodded her head in agreement that it was a grand idea, and she looked like she could fall asleep at any moment. Could it be that finding encouraging words would be difficult for this group? Calling out the gold in each other and seeing God’s best in other people…in your family? Sometimes it may be easier to find the good in others – strangers even. But your family? I asked them to express ideas they had…I heard responses such as, “you’re nice” and “you’re funny.” Trying to stay positive, I expressed that these statements could be a good start…and let’s take a few minutes and ask God what He sees in that person and write it down. Just one or two words. No paragraphs, no essays. This is no home schooling assignment. So we paused, we prayed. A few kids wrote words down and others still stared. So we prayed again, together, asking God to highlight many great qualities that others possess.

The process took a while and was a little more difficult than I had anticipated. And God is good. He brought many encouraging words to mind. Older children promised to fill the boxes later, after having more time to think. Younger children wrote simple words and sayings for sisters and brothers, needing occasional help with spelling. We closed the boxes and set them in front of our Hawaiian style, lava rock fireplace, underneath the stockings. Everyone was encouraged to keep filling the boxes these last few days before Christmas. We were to fill them with words of blessing and encouragement. We prayed that God would give us insight as we encouraged and He would use us to speak to the heart of the recipient about things He wanted to do in their lives this coming year. We often forgot and had to be reminded. And reminded again. And reminded even more about how wonderful it feels to have great words spoken over you.

We can always afford the gift of encouragement and we should make time to invest in the heart and health of another. Giving the gift of a good word is priceless.

“Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 (King James)

blessing boxes

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Baby Love

I am looking back at the many blessings in my life. Recalling the good. One of those moments was the day I brought our baby girl home. We were all so blessed.

Bringing a baby home is such a gift. Everyone’s demeanor changes as they experience the blessing and the miracle of life. The miracle of a baby. Everyone wants to be near sweet little baby. Each of my children were in awe of her and her little body and little features and the sweet little sounds she made. They were filled with care and concern for her. Wanting every little thing to be just right. Voices were hushed and moments of time seemed sweeter. Kindness emerged in everyone, and a welcoming quiet was ever-present. Adults and children would coo and cuddle, giggle and smile. I loved this sweetness.

Oh how our Heavenly Father must adore us… His children… Oh how He must look at us…the crown of creation! May He look upon us today with love and adoration…sweet love!

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A Search for Socks

It all started with a search for socks. All I truly wanted was the comfort of a warm mug of coffee and my journal in hand. And I needed to get everything ready so that I could head to my class at the gym. The “Morning Grind.” This getting ready could have happened the night before but it didn’t for a thousand different reasons. So I was on a mission to get the socks and be 100% ready – this being ready would free me up to enjoy a little time of quiet devotion before leaving.

So I ended up in the laundry room staring at a pile of unmatched socks. Knowing I needed to dig through. Begrudging the fact that I was in the laundry room at 4:30 a.m. and feeling a little frustrated at this detour…I reluctantly started the digging. As I did I also decided to pray. Always multi-tasking. And then my heart softened. Every item I picked up belonged to someone I loved. The more I prayed, the more my heart was stirred. I prayed for each of them. Prayers turned into praises and thanksgiving at all God is doing in the lives of these beautiful children. I prayed for good sleep, for learning and blessings, for eating well and growing strong. I prayed for seizures to stop, and for lame legs to walk. I prayed for personalities and character traits. I prayed over myself that I would be the Mama they need me to be to grow into the people that God called them to be. Praying for each of them to be open and loving and willing to receive from God, all that He has for them. That they would know His love and His care for them and His grace over their lives. That they would see their need for God, and that we would all know that the God of the universe, the God that saves, the God that we love and so desperately need is actually all we need. Tears of joy flowed. Oh God, let your love embrace them and envelop their lives just as clothes cover their bodies…let them walk in your covering all the days of their lives.

Laundry prayers. They have continued since that day. The most simple tasks can take on deep spiritual meaning…if I allow myself to experience God’s blessings and presence in every task, it becomes a joy.

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Good Gluten Free Eats

Last night we shared an incredible meal…a little something for everyone!

20130830-165507.jpg Baked Salmon – baked to perfection and topped with my “secret sauce.”

This kale was picked fresh from our garden!

20130830-165739.jpg Baked Kale – Crispy on the edges and just the right amount of chewy.

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Delicious beets – boiled, cut, then tossed in balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper. Oh so good!

20130830-170251.jpg Nobody else really liked the beets. But can I just say that the earthy beet flavor and the sweet tang of a good balsamic is something I really enjoy!

And I made a fresh pot if rice for the kids…. Sometimes they don’t think it’s dinner without the rice. 🙂

The whole meal took about an hour from prep to completion. Worth every minute!

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Seriously Delightful Chocolate Treat

Okay…this simple, three-ingredient, blender-ful of deliciousness is fabulous! 

First, I put three frozen bananas into the VitaMix with a dash of full-fat coconut milk (almond milk can also be used, but I prefer coconut). This is very important – you do not want to add too much liquid. Your goal is to blend the bananas just enough to obtain a creamy, thick, pudding-ish consistency. Add enough cocoa powder to achieve the intensity of chocolate that you like (I personally love dark chocolate).  

That’s it! What?! I know! Simple and crazy, good!  This makes six small servings. Enjoy!

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Favorite Gluten Free Sandwiches

My FAVORITE gluten free sandwiches are suitable for so many and can be loaded with all sorts of good stuff!

Take a leaf of butter lettuce, or another lettuce that you like and load it with any of the following: 

Thinly sliced chicken breast

Crispy Bacon 

Sliced Avocados

Tomatoes

Red Onions 

Bell Peppers

Black Olives

Paleo Mayo

Mustard

Tuna or Egg Salad – I usually make these into romaine lettuce boats

Simple pleasures 🙂 

 

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Jesus Loves Me This I Know

We started with “Jesus Loves Me.” I looked up at Grandma and saw her eyes brimming with tears. Tears of joy and good-bye. Tears of relief and sadness. Mixed emotions of happy and sad, content and ready. I smiled at her. I looked across at joyful new parents ready to complete this transition. Ready to welcome their son fully, unconditionally into their home, their lives, their hearts. My eyes filled up and spilled over and kept spilling. As I sang, my mouth opened silent. Tears streaming instead of sound. Those precious words, that proclamation, “Jesus loves me this I know….Little ones to Him belong…”

Simple song. Simple words. Simple truth. And as I attempted to sing my voice cracked and stalled. It came time to pray and share and encourage and build up. Grandma stood up with this precious boy and we encircled new parents as they reached out and received their son.

Adoption. An amazing time of walking those words out. Loving kids and giving them a place to belong. And there is loss in adoption. Great loss. Great gain as well.

I am privileged to be a part of such a beautiful process. A ceremony. A promise. A celebration of life. Celebrating a grandmother and the love and care she poured out. Celebrating a precious boy with his whole life ahead. Celebrating a couple and their choice to choose that child. Despite unanswered questions, despite the unknown. They choose him, the choose love, they choose Jesus.

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Breakfast Frittata with Avocado

Yummy breakfast in the iron skillet! From the I’ve. To the burner and back again! I love cooking in my iron skillets. This one belonged to my grandmother,

Frittata’s are so easy! I followed a ten egg recipe and whisked garlic, sea salt and pepper into the eggs.

Cut 5 slices of no-sugar added bacon to the pan and fried it in the oven. After it was cooked I moved the pan to the stove top and added the following diced vegetables:

1 orange bell pepper
1 small zucchini
4 green onions

SautĂ©ed these vegetables in the bacon fat for a few minutes. Added the egg mixture, cooking on the stovetop set at medium low. After the eggs were set I put the skillet back in the oven for about 5 minutes. Broiling so that the frittata puffed up and became a little bit golden. Topped with fresh slices of avocados and freshly ground black pepper! (Last week I added a tomato…today I didn’t have one 🙂 A few slices of pear on the side made for a nice savory/sweet combination.

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