Roasted Sweet Potato

I grew up in the south. Ya’ll know that. What I am about to tell you may shock you. I’m not proud of it, but it is the truth. Ya’ll ready? I HATED SWEET POTATO…. until now. All of my southern friends are like, “WHAT?! Not even sweet potato casserole?” Puts head down in shame. Not even sweet potato casserole. I grew up watching everyone eating it one way: with cinnamon and butter. Don’t get me wrong ya’ll. I love some butter and cinnamon, but on BREAD! I mean, that’s like asking me to put sugar in grits. Mind blowing to me. So I tried them roasted and everyone said, Amen. Angels came out to sing and my children ate of the orange food group once again. They haven’t seen that stuff since they were six months old. You laugh. I tell you the truth. So, how does one roast some sweet potato. Glad you asked.

Roasted Sweet Potato
Author: Tara Norman

Ingredients

  • 2 Sweet Potoates
  • 1/2 small onion
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Peel sweet potato and dice
  3. Dice onion finely
  4. Place both in an oven safe dish
  5. Pour olive oil over the potato and onion mixture. Using a spoon toss to make sure all of it is coated well
  6. Add salt and pepper as desired
  7. Bake for 1 hour
  8. Enjoy!

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How We Became A GF Family

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Photo Credit

I have had a few of you ask how we became gluten free so this post is for you.

We made the decision to become a gluten free family in January. A few years ago, I had a hunch Thing 2 had gluten issues based on his behavior after meals. He would bend over holding his stomach in pain after a sandwich. He had some other signs as well that made me wonder. We decided to have him tested for Celiacs during an operation to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. He had already been on a GF diet for a few weeks by that time. I did not realize going GF before the test would mess with the results until a year later. When the test came back negative for Celiacs, I was really confused. I decided from that point forward to limit his bread intake. At that point in our menu planning you can see that I changed up our lunches from sandwiches. I limited bread to maybe 2 times a week. I saw an improvement in him, but not enough to make me not try to do more so I added more fruit and vegetables.

Right after I came off all of my pain medications from my last c-section, I started noticing the intense pain my body was in. I thought something was really wrong with me. My shoulders have hurt for a large portion of my adult life but I had always assumed it was stress. When I would get massages, the only place they ever focused on was my shoulders and they tried to teach me exercises to help relieve the tension, but it never worked. The summer before my c-section I had been using a shampoo to help stimulate re-growth in my hair. Everyone assumed my hair was falling out because of my last pregnancy and that my hormones had not caught back up with my body. After using the shampoo one day, my scalp felt like it was on fire. I immediately quit using that shampoo, but still had no idea what really triggered it. I sent out a question on FB one day asking if anyone ever felt like they had the flu from stress. I received a few emails, but one caught my eye. Someone suggested an intolerance to gluten. I looked it up and thought, really? Me? No way! This whole time I was sure Thing 2 had a sensitivity, but not me. I looked into it and sure enough each of us deals with a gluten intolerance differently and it doesn’t always show up in the form of stomach issues.

Did I get tested? No. Why? Well, I decided to try to go GF for a few weeks with Thing 2 and truly see if I felt different. I didn’t see any reason to get poked and prodded if in the end I did or did not feel better. I figured the proof would be in the bread so to say. A few weeks went by and without me even realizing how quickly my body changed, it did. The pain I carried around in my shoulders disappeared, my mind felt clearer and not foggy, I had engergy  and did not experience the 3pm downward spiral everyday (it still happens because I am human, but the lack of energy is not immobilizing). Interestingly enough, veins showed back up on my eyeballs. I am not a doctor, and I didn’t see one for a diagnosis, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, I am sensitive to gluten. Beyond that, what it means for me, is that every shampoo, piece of makeup, lotion, toothpaste, food I handle, gum I chew has to be GF or I feel it. I feel it like I have never felt it before. I only tested myself a few times to make sure, and I am positive after accidentally having gluten or handling gluten foods, or using shampoo with wheat, that I am sensitive. I don’t need a label or a doctor to tell me that. We tested Thing 2 after he went GF for a few weeks and after giving him a small handful of gold fish he threw up. We put him back on a GF diet for a few weeks and tried one more time with a few cubes of french bread and he threw that up. That solved that. So, that’s interesting and all but you are wondering how I made the switch.

I remember the moment I started looking at everything in our pantry and freezers and realized almost all of our food contained wheat. I was overwhelmed and freaked out. Wheat, processed in on machines that contain wheat.. it was on everything. The first thing I did was make a mental note of how I felt at that exact moment. I felt horrible. I had just finished testing myself for the last time and my body hurt. Even my fingers. I knew it was going to be a hard transformation for me unless I mentally got on board with this new life and so I did. I took note of every pain in every joint on my body that day and I remembered it.

Next, I grabbed boxes and started filling them up with all the food that contained wheat.  Don’t worry, I did not throw it away. I gave it to some good friends. It was so discouraging to see a bare pantry and know I had no flour. Next. I went to Vitacost and ordered flours and snacks. My first order was $68, but it contained all that we would need to start fresh with a healthy life. I knew enough about GF foods to know better than to buy what I needed to restock my pantry from a grocery store. That’s not to say I don’t buy Udi’s pizzas or bread from the grocery store, because I do. When it comes to buying flours and snacks, those come from Vitacost. I use GF noodles when making pastas or lasagna (I do spend the extra money to pick those up from the grocery store or Whole Foods), I make my bread when I have time, and now I have to plan a little more to have really cool breakfasts like pop tarts or cinnamon rolls that are GF. Do I miss bread filled with gluten? Am I alive? YES! What I miss most is a buttered biscuit with ham from Bojangles. I am so country. I own it.

If you are doing this for a lifestyle change (because let’s face it, it is healthier to be GF), or because you feel like you may have sensitivity to it, try be budget conscience about menu planning. Go with meals that do not need extra purchases for flour or noodles.

Here are some suggestions:

1. GF Chicken or Italian Dish

2. GF Crock Pot Roast

3. Stuffed Peppers

4. Chili

5. Butternut Squash Soup

For breakfast, go with a smoothie or yogurt. For lunch, I always eat salad and fruit. Being GF doesn’t mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars a week in groceries, but you do need to get use to the idea of eating healthier. Salads, nuts, fruits (fresh and dried), and brown rice are your friends. Once a mom always a mom. If you have an Aldi in your area, try shopping there to keep your grocery bill low. Our BJ’s (A Costco or Sam’s) carries a large variety of GF snacks and breakfast bars. I do grab a few things from there as well.

I hope I have been able to encourage those who asked for this post and shed light on easy ways to become GF without borrowing from the bank. Please feel free GF veterans to leave comments sharing recipes or ideas to help those of us who are new in this journey.

This is another resource for those of you who would like more information: Gluten Free on a Budget- ThriftySue

GF Italian Chicken or Fish Dish and letting Things help

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

We have had a long week over here. It has been filled with SAT preps, Memory Master prep for Classical Conversations, some colds, and an ear infection. I will be glad to finally get to our weekend! Some weeks are just like that, right? Thank goodness I know Who to go to, or cry out to when I am weary.

I have a few goodies coming up soon. I have had a few requests lately for posts. The following are coming your way: The Change of Plan in Homeschool This Year; How We Transitioned to a GF Diet; A Guest Post TBD.

Today we are going to chat food. This recipe was inspired from a recipe my sister gave me for Salmon. You can use this recipe on fish or chicken. I know you are thinking, “FISH?!” Would I steer you wrong? We are not fish eaters, especially Salmon, and this was just wonderful on it! No fishy taste or smell in the house!

So, don’t hate me, but I don’t have exacts for this one. It’s an add until it looks good type of recipe. This recipe is great for the little sues chefs in your home. I have a few of those, so when appropriate, I allow them to help me. Allowing your Things to help you in the kitchen builds memories, teaches them patience (especially needed at 2-3 years old), a beginning and ending, and process forming thoughts. Not a psychologist, but I do know these things to be true because I watch the wheels turning in Thing 3’s mind when he is helping me. Also, when they help, they are proud of what they have helped create and are more likely to eat what you serve.

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GF Italian Chicken Dish
Author: Tara Norman

4 chicken breasts
2 large tomatoes
Basil
Olive Oil
Onion Salt
Minced Garlic
Oregano
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350
In a small bowl mix olive oil, basil, and minced garlic. I had my assistant Thing 3 do the mixing. Feel free to sing a song while mixing. His original song was, “I mix, and a mix, and a mix, and a mix, and miiiiiiix!” Lay your chicken breasts in an oven safe dish. Have your sues chef help spoon the mixture onto the chicken breasts. Mamma or daddy, go ahead and cut your tomatoes. Let your sues chef place the tomatoes whereever they can find space in the dish. Let them hold the olive oil bottle with you while you drizzle some over your tomatoes. Hold onto the shakers, but let them sprinkle just a little Oregano, onion salt, and salt over the whole dish (I say hold on to… maybe I should say be ready to tilt up the shakers, ha!). Bake for 1 hour. Baking time may change based on how thick your chicken breasts are.

If you are Thing 3, you will wait by the oven the entire 60 minutes so you can watch your creation cook. It’s amusing to me how Things never have patience until they are waiting for their creations to finish cooking! This is not something I asked him to do. He just grabbed his little stool, pulled over all his toys, and sat. At one point, he pulled every pot and baking pan he could get his hands on and had all of his Toy’s Story guys taking a swim in the pots. I think there was a car chase involved, but I digress. This is real patience for this Thing. Waiting for me to open a breakfast bar proves to be too long for him at times.  I enjoy the moments I see him truly exercising patience on his own.

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Oh yeah, the food. Once your chicken is cooked through, remove from oven and serve. You could eat this by itself (with another side) or serve over a GF pasta with extra sauce and mozzarella. This is how we ate our last night.

For Fish

Roast tomatoes first in oven preheated to 400 for 15 minutes. Lay the fish over the tomatoes and season your fish the same way you seasoned the chicken above. Cook for 15 minutes or until the fish is flaky and cooked through. Enjoy!

Find order in cooking, make memories at the table, and feel good about what you are feeding your family as it was made by your loving hands.

I love to hear from my readers. Sometimes there are crickets out there. If you haven’t yet, please sign up to have my posts sent directly to your email account. The field to do so is directly under the Mommy Blogger Button!

Peanut butter Oatmeal Muffins

Can you believe Easter is almost here? This year is going by incredibly fast! Just as I was mentally wrapping up our school year, I had a “oh no!” moment when I realized I needed to change up Thing 1’s curriculum. More to come on that in another post. I did a curriculum change mid- year as well as moved Thing 2 up to kinder. I have no idea what this all means for summer break. I really think I am going to switch up what a school year looks like for us. More to come on those ideas as well. Haha. I’m thinking as I type (from my phone). That’s how I roll sometimes. I’m a mom of 4 who just sat down for the evening at its 10:30pm; and that’s the simple truth.

These were inspired from a cookie recipe I saw on Instagram yesterday. They truly do not need the icing, but I had some left over from making poptarts so I drizzled some over the muffins. Best served with milk (or coffee). Before I forget how I made these yummy things…

Peanut butter Oatmeal Muffins
Author: Tara Norman

2 C GF Old Fashion Oats
2 mashed bananas
2 Tbsp (heaping tbsp) peanut butter
2 Tbsp Vanilla Almond Milk
3 Tbsp raisins
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp Agave

Bake in muffin cups at 375 for 25 minutes.

For icing:
Mix 2 Tbsp powdered sugar with 1Tbsp milk. Drizzle over muffins as desired.

These could be made into bars as well. I think next time I’m making a bar version just to keep it interesting.

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Gluten Free Crock Pot Ranch and Onion Roast

We have just ended a budget series and one of the things that helps set the stage for success is having a plan. Menu planning definitly keeps me on target and in budget. Tomorrow is Foodie Friday. I will share my 14 day menu plan with you to give you some ideas. To the right of my blog is a Menu Plan button. Clicking that button takes you to the menu plans listed on this site.

Have a plan for the weekends. I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my Friday. I am so ready for some downtime on Friday that cooking is the last thing I want to do. The same can be said for my Sundays. We don’t get home from church until after 1pm. By the time I get everyone down for a nap it’s 3:00 pm. Time to start dinner. No fun. So, I try to plan crock pot meals for Fridays and Sundays. We all need rest on Sunday so let your crock pot do the work for you. I just so happen to have a great recipe to get you started this weekend. *wink*

Crock Pot Ranch And Onion Flavored Roast
Author: Tara Norman
Ingredients:

1 tbsp dill

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp garlic minced or salt (I used freshly ground salt)

1 package of GF French Onion Soup Mix (dry or both)

6-8 small red potatoes

GF Chicken or Beef Broth (pour in enough to reach the sides of the roast)

1-2 pound boneless chuck roast ( any kind of roast will do- this is a cheaper roast).

Put your roast and potatoes in first. Add seasoning. Pour in broth to desired level. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and let it go.
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I love to hear from my readers. Sometimes there are crickets out there. If you haven’t yet, please sign up to have my posts sent directly to your email account. The field to do so is directly under the Mommy Blogger Button!

Crock Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers

How did everyone do with the Marriage Challenge yesterday? The Man loved his Valentine’s and took them to his office to hang up. He sent the Things a text picture showing them where he hung them. Continue to ask God to reveal to you different ways you can help your husband. He will because He has a desire to bless us. This is the last post for this week. Get ready for more on our Marriage Challenge next week! My desire in this is that it blesses you as much as it is me. Everyone have a great weekend!

I have meant to write up this post at least a dozen times over the years. My sister would constantly ask me for this recipe, I finally gave it to her and her husband for Christmas. Ok, so that’s not the only recipe I gave her! I made them a cook book of some of our favorites and her favorites so she could make them for her family. When I first started to learn to cook, this was one of the very first meals I tried. I wanted to impress The Man and felt sure if I could manage this, he would think I was awesome. It’s incredibly easy to put together and it looks impressive on a plate. I am glad I waited to post this recipe because a good friend (hi Rebecca T. from Texas) made these in the crock pot for our family one evening and I had never even thought of that! The best part of this recipe is that this was an easy meal to whip up when we first switched to Gluten Free. I didn’t have to buy anything special. For those of you who are trying to eat healthy or are trying out Gluten Free recipes, this one is for you!

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Author: Tara Norman

4 Green Bell Peppers
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water (for the rice)
1 lb ground hamburger meat
2 28 oz cans of GF crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp basil leaves
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and pepper
mozzarella

Dump your crushed tomatoes in your crock pot and add your seasoning. Turn your crock pot to low and let your sauce heat up while you prep the rest of your meal.

While the rice is cooking (cook according to your package), brown your meat. Season with salt and pepper as desired. I like to shake a little onion powder over my meat as well. Set aside.

Wash your peppers and cut the tops off, being sure to remove all seeds and the stem.

This part is optional, but I take 2 red sweet peppers (when I have them on hand) and mince them in the food processor and hide them in the sauce. I do this because I have two Things that will not eat the bell peppers with this meal. Just the filling. Doing this ensures they get some Vitamins in them.

Combine cooked rice and beef and spoon some sauce into the mixture. Fill your peppers with your rice beef mixture. Set them carefully in the crock pot and scoop just a little more sauce over the tops of the peppers. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Sprinkle your cheese on top right before serving!

Enjoy!

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Gluten- Free Chocolate Coconut Banana Almond Muffins

It’s almost the weekend! Who is ready?
How is everyone doing with the Be My Valentine Marriage Challenge? Has God showed you things about your husband that you have not noticed in a while? It doesn’t have to be an elaborate speech, simply saying, “I’m proud of you. I admire you. You are important to our family.” goes a long way in filling up your husband’s cup. I challenge you to keep it up. Even if you think he isn’t noticing. Next week I will post a new addition to the challenge.

Have any of my GF readers had a Pure bar before? Well this recipe was birthed from one of the Pure bars. Pure carries a banana coconut bar that I really like. I’m still getting used to the texture of the bar, but really like the taste. As I was leaving Whole Foods (I always feel like I need to change into Birkenstocks and burn some patchouli in order to fit in) I was inspired to make a recipe that had the flavor of the Pure bar. I had just discovered Coconut Flour in Whole Foods and bought it. It’s an interesting flour. Very dense. After a few tries with this recipe, I think I have it. I’m still learning about GF flours. A little more complicated than a regular flour. This recipe is not going to be a big fluffy muffin result. It’s packed with flavor and ingredients that will keep you full!

GF Chocolate Coconut Banana Almond Muffins
Author: Tara Norman
3 ripened bananas
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups coconut flour
1/2 cup GF quick cooking oats
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds
1 tsp xantham gum
1 1/2 tsp GF baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325.
In a food processor combine bananas and almonds. Dump all of the ingredients into a large mixer and mix on a low speed until ingredients are mixed.

Fill a greased muffin pan with your batter. You will want to fill your muffin cups to the top with the batter. We like to use mini muffin tins, but regular is ok as well.

Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Bake until set and little brown on top. Serve. I froze these individually and just pull a few out as I need them. Nuke them in the microwave for about 5-8 seconds until hot.

My Things really liked these. Thing 3 traded all of his lunch for six mini muffins. Thing 1 kept stealing them off of my test plates and Thing 2 asked for seconds (never happens). Try these out and let me know your thoughts!

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