• FOOD

    Strawberry Rhubarb Shortbread Squares – Dairy Free and Gluten Free

    Last year I decided to mix two recipes I found online to create these delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Shortbread Squares.

    I took the shortbread portion of the recipe from here and the strawberry rhubarb portion from here and greatness ensued.

    I recently made the recipe again and realized I really needed to write the recipe out the way I make it because it is incredibly confusing to flip back and forth between two recipes.

     

    Strawberry Rhubarb Shortbread Squares - dairy free and gluten free!

     

    The original shortbread recipe was using gluten all-purpose flour but I’ve been using our gluten free all-purpose flour to make it and it turns out divine, so you can make it either way depending what you need to do.

    I also use a vegan “butter” so it’s dairy free as well, but if you like dairy butter (and your body can handle it) feel free to use that.

    The shortbread is a very forgiving recipe, one time I only had half of the brown sugar required so I used half brown sugar and half white and it was still delicious.

     

    Strawberry Rhubarb Shortbread Squares - dairy free and gluten free!

     

    You can also double this recipe and use a 9×13 pan instead, I just added 5-10 minutes to my baking time when I’ve done that.

    I love this recipe because it gives me yet another way to use all my rhubarb from my garden.

     

    Strawberry Rhubarb Shortbread Squares - dairy free and gluten free!

     

    Strawberry Rhubarb Shortbread Squares

    Filling

    • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb (diced)
    • 1 1/2 cups strawberries (chopped)
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 3 tbsp corn starch
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    Shortbread Base & Topping

    • 2 cups flour (gluten free or regular gluten flour works)
    • 1 cup butter (or non-dairy margarine)
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    1. In a medium saucepan, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, white sugar and cornstarch. Heat over medium heat on the stove-top, stirring regularly. When the fruit softens sufficiently, use a potato masher to break it up into smaller pieces. Continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.

    2. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Line 8" square pan with parchment paper and allow for extra to overhang the edges.

    3. In a bowl mix the flour, butter, 1/2 C. brown sugar and salt until crumbly but blended. Reserve 1/2 cup and set aside. Press remaining dough into the prepared pan.

    4. Pour rhubarb and strawberry mixture over the shortbread crust.

    5. Crumble reserved dough over the top in large and small clumps.

    6. Bake for 35 minutes.

    7. Cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. If you want neater slices refrigerate for a few minutes before slicing.

  • FOOD

    Baking Gluten Free Banana Bread, Dehydrating Herbs & A Failed Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

    This week I was doing some gluten free baking and herb dehydrating and decided to do a bake with me video.

    Also, I have my first attempt (and fail) at a sourdough starter. Since making the video I have decided I WILL TRY AGAIN! Ha, hopefully there will be a gluten free sourdough success video in the future.

    I have another post with the banana bread recipe but I’ll include it below as well.

     

    Gluten Free Bake With Me - Gluten Free Banana Bread, Dehydrating Herbs and a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter Fail

     

     

    Here are some links from the video:

     

    Gluten Free Banana Bread – The Best You’ll Ever Have

    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup shortening or butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 tbsp cashew or other non-dairy milk
    • 2 bananas, mashed
    • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

    2. Add the ingredients into a mixing bowl in the order listed, stirring after every few ingredients.

    3. Once the batter is all mixed, pour it into the loaf pan.

    4. Bake for 50 minutes or until bread is done in the center.

    5. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then continue cooling on a wire rack (or, if you are me, cut it and eat it while it is still warm).

    Gluten Free Banana Bread - The Best You'll Ever Have

  • FOOD

    Frozen Hot Chocolate aka Wendy’s Frosty Knock Off – Dairy Free!

    On hot summer days, or unusually warm spring days, we like to cool down with this super simple frozen hot chocolate.

    You can call it frozen hot chocolate or you can call it a Wendy’s Frosty knock off, both would be accurate. (I would call it a Frosty but both my kids are lactose intolerant and have no idea what a Frosty is.)

    No matter what you call it it’s delicious and it’s our summer go to.

     

    Frozen Hot Chocolate that tastes just like Wendy's Style Frosty and is dairy free!

     

    So far this spring we’ve been doing a decent amount of work in our yard.

    We added a playhouse for the kids, one they can use for years instead of growing out of right away. (And by “we”, it was actually Jared and my brother, I did nothing.)

    We’ve been planting trees (I can actually take some credit here!) and Jared has been building a bike shed.

    Not to mention garden planting.

     

    Frozen Hot Chocolate that tastes just like Wendy's Style Frosty and is dairy free!

     

    Due to all our work we have been spending more time in our backyard and I think we will continue to do so all summer long as we enjoy the fruits of our labors.

    So, I see many batches of frozen hot chocolate in our future this year.

     

    Frozen Hot Chocolate that tastes just like Wendy's Style Frosty and is dairy free!

     

    (Off topic but I really wish I could show you the cute face of our little R2. I have so many great photos of him that I’ll never be able to share online. Thankfully he rocks Ephraim’s old hat pretty well.)

    Anyway, back to the frozen hot chocolate, here’s what you need to know:

    • it’s delicious
    • it’s cold
    • it’s perfect for summer

     

    Frozen Hot Chocolate that tastes just like Wendy's Style Frosty and is dairy free!

     

    I really hesitate to call this a recipe because I don’t usually measure the ingredients and it is very forgiving but since it makes more sense to share a recipe than just a list of ingredients, here it is:

     

    Frosty Style Frozen Hot Chocolate

     

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 cups milk (you can use dairy milk but I use cashew milk, if using non-dairy I would highly recommend using cashew since it’s creamy and delicious)
    • 2 cups ice cubes
    • 5 tbsp hot chocolate mix*

    Add all the ingredients in a blender and mix!

    *Okay, to be honest, I’ve never actually measured the hot chocolate mix, so feel free to adjust to whatever tastes the best to you. Also, if you don’t have, or don’t want to use, hot chocolate mix you can also use equal parts cocoa and sugar and then add a dash of vanilla.

     

    Do you have a go to recipe in the summer that you use to cool off? I would love to hear it!

  • FOOD

    Gluten Free Banana Bread – The Best You’ll Ever Have

    This year marks seven years since Jared was diagnosed with celiac disease. The last seven years have been a learning curve but I’m thankful that gluten free food has come such a long way in the last few years!

    That being said, I still have troubles with baking gluten free things with the words bread or buns in them. (And I really, really miss baking gluten bread.) It always seems like anything gluten free that is bread-like just can’t compare to the gluten original.

    That is, until I made this banana bread.

    This bread knocked my socks off. If it was acceptable (and wouldn’t make me gain a ton of weight) I would make this recipe every.single.day.

     

    Gluten Free Banana Bread - The Best You'll Ever Have

     

    I got the original recipe from Meaningful Eats but I adapted a few things: I use cashew milk because that’s what I prefer on a daily basis, I use just a gluten free all-purpose flour (either my own gluten free flour mix or we get the President’s Choice brand) and no almond flour.

    Oh, and I switched the order in which I mix things so I dirty less dishes, because the clean up is never as fun as making or eating it.

     

    Gluten Free Banana Bread - The Best You'll Ever Have

     

    I love how this banana bread pretty much melts in your mouth.

    This recipe is so light and fluffy I think you’ll have troubles convincing people (and yourself) that it’s gluten free.

    Just look at how fluffy it is, there are air pockets(!!!):

     

    Gluten Free Banana Bread - The Best You'll Ever Have

     

    Honestly, I haven’t had breakfast this morning and I am going to stop in the middle of writing this post and make some of this banana bread, it’s torture to look at the pictures and not be able to eat it.

    *pauses while making bread*

    Seriously, I made some and ate some. I guess I shouldn’t write out recipes on an empty stomach.

     

    Gluten Free Banana Bread - The Best You'll Ever Have

     

    Okay, I think I’ve raved about the recipe enough, now you need to make it, so here it is:

     

    Gluten Free Banana Bread – The Best You’ll Ever Have

    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup shortening or butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 tbsp cashew or other non-dairy milk
    • 2 bananas, mashed
    • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    1. Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

    2. Add the ingredients into a mixing bowl in the order listed, stirring after every few ingredients.

    3. Once the batter is all mixed, pour it into the loaf pan.

    4. Bake for 50 minutes or until bread is done in the center.

    5. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then continue cooling on a wire rack (or, if you are me, cut it and eat it while it is still warm).

  • FOOD

    Simple and Delicious Rhubarb Syrup

    I love rhubarb for a couple of reasons:

    1. it grows incredibly well, even if your husband accidentally tilled it up one spring 😉
    2. it is the first thing that starts producing so I can use it way earlier than any other fruit and vegetable in my garden
    3. I don’t have the greenest of thumbs but rhubarb makes me feel good about my plant growing capabilities

    This super simple syrup is my favorite way to use my massive rhubarb harvest. I like that it can be made with fresh or frozen rhubarb so I can get the taste of summer even in the middle of our freezing winters.

     

    Simple and Delicious Rhubarb Syrup - great for drinks and ice cream!

     

    This is a decently large recipe and if you don’t have eight cups of rhubarb you can totally cut the recipe in half, but if you are like me you will more than likely double the recipe instead of halving it!

    I have heard that this syrup is really good on vanilla ice cream but we don’t have ice cream in our house much and personally, I just really like how it tastes with a Sprite or lemon lime pop so that’s always my default, but feel free to try it however you prefer.

     

    Simple and Delicious Rhubarb Syrup - great for drinks and ice cream!

     

    If you are going to use it as a drink I usually do approximately 1 part rhubarb syrup to about 6 parts of my other beverage.

    I keep this stored in the fridge and honestly have no idea how long it would be good for, we’ve always finished it before it’s gone bad!

     

    Simple and Delicious Rhubarb Syrup - great for drinks and ice cream!

     

    Just this week I made a batch of this syrup to help lessen the feeling of endless winter. I had a lot of rhubarb still in the freezer (because I was hoarding it until I felt like winter was never going to end) and just seeing the bright red in the syrup in the bottles once it was done made me feel more cheerful.

    Now I just can’t wait for the snow to melt from my garden and the rhubarb to start growing so I can make more!

     

    Rhubarb Syrup

    Ingredients

    •  8 cups chopped rhubarb
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups water

    Instructions

    1. Add the ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
    2. Once boiling lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft.
    3. Place a large bowl under a fine mesh strainer and pour the mixture through.
    4. Pour the syrup into a bottle and store in the fridge.
    5. Make an Italian soda knock off by using about 1 part syrup to 6 parts lemon lime pop. Adjust the ratios to your liking.

     

    I hope you enjoy the recipe! I would love to know what you make with your rhubarb!

  • FOOD

    The Best Hot Cocoa – Homemade & Dairy-Free

    I don’t drink coffee and about a year ago I found one kind of tea that I enjoy. But I am often cold and live in a land of almost perpetual winter so a girl has got to have some kind of hot beverage to warm herself with.

    Enter homemade hot chocolate.

    I originally found a Starbucks copycat recipe years ago and used to make it here and there but in the last two years I’ve modified it quite a bit and now make it every day.

    It may be a bit of an addiction.

    The original recipe and how I made it for years was with regular milk but once I realized that dairy was severely affecting my system and going off of it completely I knew I needed to figure out a way to continue having it.

    Another change I made over the years was switching out the sugar in the original recipe for honey.  If I was going to be drinking this every day (and I was) I wanted it to be at least a little healthier.

    A lot of the specific flavor the the hot chocolate is going to depend on the type of cocoa and cashew milk you use. For cashew milk, I’ve tried a couple and the best one for this recipe is Silk’s Creamy Cashew in Unsweetened Original. It’s also a really great price for diary free milk!

     

    The Best Healthy Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

    THE BEST DAIRY-FREE HOT COCOA

    INGREDIENTS

    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 tablespoon honey*
    • 1 tablespoon cocoa
    • 1 cup cashew milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

    Place water and honey in a microwave safe mug and microwave for 30 seconds.

    Add cocoa and stir, then add milk and microwave for 1 minute and 40 seconds.

    Stir in vanilla.

    Enjoy!

     

    * I’ve since realized I also have a sensitivity to honey! Ugh . . . I now use just white sugar instead but have lowered it to a little less than 2 teaspoons instead.

  • FOOD

    Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Children

    I wrote this post awhile ago and shared it elsewhere but I wanted to update it and share it on here. Since the original post we’ve also realized that Raeca is at a minimum lactose intolerant and possibly just straight up dairy sensitive. I’m planning on taking her to a naturopath in the next few months and getting a few tests done and doing some elimination diets so expect some updates in the future! (I’m also planning on getting myself tested too, I’ve been meaning to do that since my Crohn’s diagnosis to see if there are other foods I should avoid.)

    *     *     *

    Shortly after Jared was diagnosed with celiac disease 3 years ago we started to wonder if Raeca had some degree of a gluten sensitivity. Research shows that if someone is diagnosed with celiac there is a 1 in 20 chance a close relative also has it.

    Since she was showing some symptoms we took her to get the blood test which ended up coming back negative. Even though the results were negative we did make the decision to keep her gluten free at home. It was easy enough to do since Jared was gluten free anyway and then when we were out we let her eat gluten (for the convenience factor). Since she tested negative we weren’t as concerned about keeping her on a strict GF diet since her symptoms were fairly mild at that point and we weren’t worried about it damaging her intestines (a major concern for those with celiac).

    Fast forward to a couple summers ago when we realized how big of a difference gluten in her diet made. We totally slacked off with keeping her gluten free that summer and let her eat a few gluten things here and there, but the big light bulb moment came after we let her eat some pizza at a kids club.

    She had the pizza on a Friday for supper and that weekend was hard, she was not herself at all.

    Gluten in tolerance in children will some times show in physical symptoms, similar to adults but more often it mostly shows in their behavior. Raeca is, and always has been, fairly strong willed but at this age she is much easier to reason with; if she can see why we are asking her to do something she will usually listen. If she has been glutened the child that you can reason with is gone.

    Like I said, the weekend after she ate the pizza was the worst and it was very hard to watch as a parent. She had no control over her emotions, she was mean to her brother and she was very down on herself, calling herself stupid and mean because she had been mean to her brother. At one point she was even lying on the floor flailing around and crying. The gluten had taken control over her emotions.

    After she ate the pizza it took two weeks before the gluten was out of her system and she became her normal, happy, helpful self again.

    While children that are gluten intolerant may show it through physical symptoms it is often the behavioral ones that are more prevalent.

    SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF GLUTEN INTOLERANCE IN CHILDREN

     

    Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Children - both physical symptoms and behavioral

    Common Physical Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Children:

    • bloating
    • excessive gas
    • diarrhea or constipation
    • skin rash within a few hours of eating gluten
    • dark circles under eyes
    • frequent colds and flus
    • runny nose that stays even after cold is gone
    • headaches
    • joint pain

    Common Behavioral Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Children:

    • extreme mood swings
    • meltdowns
    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • brain fog
    • violence

    I have read that if a child has a parent with celiac the child should get tested every 2 years since false negatives are quite common in children. While it is a simple blood test there needs to be a significant amount of gluten in the child’s system for the test to be accurate. For us that means there is no point in testing our daughter for the time being. Right now we know she is highly gluten sensitive and in the future if she wants to go back on gluten to have the test done that is completely her choice but at this point in her life it doesn’t seem worth for her to eat gluten for 6+ weeks and be miserable just to get the test done.

    Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Children - both physical symptoms and behavioral

    *     *     *

    Since writing this post we’ve once again slacked off with keeping Raeca off of gluten. She doesn’t usually have any or much at home since we generally don’t have it in the house but over Christmas and in our recent trip to Mexico we mostly let her eat what she wanted. And guess what? It shows.

    I was recently talking to another mother whose daughter reacts the same way to gluten (behavioral issues) and we were talking about how hard it is to keep them off of it 100%, especially around holidays or when going to a friends house. I think until Raeca decides she wants to be 100% off of gluten or we get an official celiac diagnosis we’ll try to do our best at home but be more lenient when we are out and about.

    If this post resonates with you, you may want to check out this post I wrote a few years ago about raising a gluten free child.

    If have a child that has celiac or a gluten intolerance I would love to hear your experience,
    what kind of symptoms were the ones that raised a red flag for you?

  • FOOD

    Living With Crohn’s For More Than 15 Years & Not Even Knowing It – Signs & Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

    I had actually written pretty much this exact post elsewhere last summer but I wanted to share about my health journey here as well so here’s part one.

    *   *   *   *   *

    About a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, completely out of the blue. Okay, so it wasn’t totally out of the blue but I sure didn’t see it coming.

    Now that I’ve had over a year to come to terms with the diagnosis and think about it I’ve realized I’ve been having symptoms for more than fifteen years. Probably for more than half of my life.

    Today I want to share my story, not in an effort to say “hey, look at me!” but for the same reason I’ve always blogged; in the chance that my journey can help someone else out there.

    This post will be a very open and honest and probably TMI for some people. I hesitate to write about it cause it’s kind of embarrassing but Crohn’s is an irritable bowel disease so we can’t really talk about it without talking about all kinds of fun stuff revolving around bowel movements. So, cue all the memes to make things hopefully a little less uncomfortable. 😉

    Signs and Symptoms of Crohn's Disease

    Common symptoms of active Crohn’s include:

    • diarrhea
    • fever and fatigue
    • abdominal pain and cramping
    • blood in stool
    • mouth sores
    • reduced appetite and weight loss

    From what I can figure out I probably started having symptoms back when I was thirteen or fourteen years old, or at least, that’s when I remember having the symptoms, I don’t remember if I had them prior to that, there is definitely a possibility.

    The biggest problem that kept me from ever getting diagnosed was well, two things:

    • the embarrassment, my biggest symptom has always been blood in my stool but it wasn’t really something I wanted to talk to anyone about, what teenager does?!
    • the fact that there are flare-ups – I’d experience symptoms for awhile and then they would go away before I got worried enough to tell anyone about it. Then the flare ups just kept coming back but eventually it just became normal for me and I’d try to forget about it until it went away.

    Two years ago I went to my doctor for what I thought were two unrelated problems: hemorrhoids and lactose intolerance. I thought it was hemorrhoids anyway, I’m actually not even sure if it ever was, but they didn’t fully go away so my doctor referred me to a specialist – a gastroenterologist. I had a brief meeting with him . . . and let’s just say he isn’t the most talkative doctor out there. After asking me a few questions he decided to book me in for a colonoscopy in the fall. At this point I assumed the colonoscopy was to fix the hemorrhoids that weren’t going away.

    The day of the colonoscopy arrived, I’d done all the prep work (not super happy fun times but not nearly as bad as I was expecting, though that drink is something vile!), and they put me under for the colonoscopy, but they mentioned I wouldn’t be completely out, I may nap a little and wake up in between. Which is exactly what I did, I woke up briefly during the colonoscopy, I was facing the machine that showed the scope image and I remember thinking “wow, that looks really red”, and vaguely hearing the doctor speak in the background and then I fell back asleep.

    When I came to after the colonoscopy the doctor came over and without any sugar coating told me he thought I had Crohn’s and had taken a few biopsy’s to be sure. Then they did some blood work, gave me two prescriptions and I was told I’d have an appointment with him in a few months after the biopsy came back.

    I remember just sitting on the hospital bed shocked. This was not what I was expecting!

    I filled the two prescriptions and started taking them. One was a steroid to help calm things down in my intestines, I was on that one for awhile that had some positive and negative side effects. One good side effect was that I only needed like three hours of sleep each day and never felt tired! Then it had some weird side effects like making me feel like I was floating two inches above my body for most of the day and making me feel really puffy and swollen.  Exhibit A:

    The other medication, is to help prevent flare ups and I am still on it. It definitely seems to be helping and appears to have zero side effects.

    A few months after my colonoscopy I met with the specialist again and he confirmed the Crohn’s diagnoses. He also mentioned my liver levels were super high, that will be another post for another day though . . .

    In the last year and a half I’ve really learned that dairy is a huge trigger for flare ups for me. It is different for everyone but that seems to be my big thing. At first I thought if I just eased way up on the dairy it would help, and it did, but since I’ve gone completely off of it every time I try to eat some I realize how bad it makes me feel. The other day I had two pieces of pizza and that started hurting me within half an hour. For me I feel a lot of pressure in my stomach and like someone is taking a small paring knife and stabbing it into random parts of my abdomen. Not very pleasant.

    Because I’ve been watching what I eat I’ve realized how good I can feel and how much pain I was living in every day before my diagnosis and going off of dairy. Since Jared was diagnosed with celiac a few years before I’ve really learned a lot of about reading food labels and cook almost everything from scratch so it has made the transition a lot easier than it would have been a few years earlier.

    Not that finding food to eat is always fun or easy; I grew up on cheese and crackers and all things dairy and gluten and now that’s gone. But it’s surprisingly not as bad as I would have imagined, and, oddly, cashew cheese is actually good. So is gluten free pizza without cheese. I hardly know who I am anymore!

    While I’m not a vegan, my favorite cookbooks are vegan cookbooks because they’ve figured out that there is life after cheese and it can taste good!

    Okay, so, this was definitely a rambly post filled with memes, a little different that the norm but I wanted to share my journey because I’m hoping to share a variety of dairy free (and gluten free) recipes in the next while and now there is a little background as to why.

    I’ll probably do a follow up post about this last summer of testing to figure out which liver disease I have and another one about gluten and dairy intolerance in children. Our family has been plagued by food intolerances in the last few years but thankfully there is overlap!

    Do you have a health journey or problems with food intolerances?
    Any tips for dairy free eating?

  • FOOD

    The Best Gluten Free All -Purpose Flour

    Can one be a hippie without milling your own rice flour? Absolutely!

    Can one mill your own rice flour without feeling like a hippie? I don’t think so.

    Now, before you start getting all worried, you can totally just buy rice flour, you do not need to mill your own. But shortly after getting diagnosed with celiac Jared did some math and figured with the amount of GF flour we’d be using it would be cheaper for us to buy a good mill and mill our own rice flour.

    If you are interested in milling your own rice flour instead of buying it, we have this grain mill and I’d recommend it. We had a different mill for the first while but it ended up dying a loud and smoky death (while spreading rice flour all over my kitchen).

    This is the best gluten free all-purpose flour we’ve ever tried (and we’ve tried a lot), it can be used as a replacement for gluten filled all-purpose flour cup for cup in most recipes.

    The Best Gluten Free All Purpose Flour- works cup for cup in most recipes!

    The Best Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

    A great gluten free all-purpose flour that can be used cup for cup in most recipes!

    Ingredients

    * 3 cups white rice flour
    * 3 cups brown rice flour
    * 3 cups tapioca starch (or flour)
    * 1/2 cups potato starch (NOT flour)
    * 2 tbsp xanthan gum

    Instructions

    Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and store in an airtight container.

    This recipe is adapted from Silvana’s gluten free all-purpose flour.

  • FOOD

    11 Tips For Adding More Plants into Your Diet

     

    Anyone else remember this line from Bambi: “Eating greens is a special treat, it gives long ears and great big feet.”? Well, I don’t want the long ears and great big feet but I am eating more greens so we’ll see what happens . . .

    Surprisingly I haven’t shared about this at all online but last year was a hard one for me physically.

    Long story very short, after a number of doctor, specialist appointments and a colonoscopy I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in September. I’ll probably write out the whole story one of these days, for now the short version will do.

    Since September I’ve been on a few different medications and have been experimenting with my diet to see what works best for my body.

    I think I lived on crackers and cheese as a child. And cheese pizza. And pasta with cheese. And bread with cheese. Mmmmm.

    I remember hearing about the gluten free diet years ago and thinking people were nuts to willingly give up all the gluteny goodness. Then, four years ago, Jared was diagnosed with Celiac disease and as he completely eliminated gluten my gluten consumption went way down. And after my health went downhill last year and through some trial and error I have slowly come to realize that completely eliminating dairy from my diet makes me feel way better.

    So, much less gluten and no more cheese.

    I figured I had two options: I could either get depressed and whine about it or I could learn everything I could about the food that I can actually eat. Since whining is pointless (though I may have still done it a little) and even if I did get all down about my inability to eat dairy at the end of the day I’d still have to eat something so I’ve been learning all I can about food.

    And so I did what I always do when I want to learn about anything: search on Google and Pinterest and request every single book I can from the library.

    With gluten mostly cut out and dairy completely cut out I’ve gone to a very plant based diet. Me, the girl who used to often end the day wondering if I’d eaten a single fruit or vegetable. Me, the girl who doesn’t like salad.

    I have so much more to share about this and I’d really like to share this process of healing my gut and eating a healthier diet, this is definitely a topic I will be continuing to share about. Today I just wanted to share a couple of tips on how to add more plants into your diet, even if you are almost completely plant adverse like I was.

    Whether you are moving towards a more plant based diet for current health reasons or just want to add more veggies into your regular diet I hope these tips will help you.

    Tips for Adding More Plants into Your Diet

     

    11 TIPS FOR ADDING MORE PLANTS INTO YOUR DIET

     

    #1 FIND SOME GOOD COOKBOOKS

    One of the first things I did was request (almost) all the cookbooks from my library. Because of my dietary restrictions I actually found that vegan cookbooks were the most helpful. After looking through so many cookbooks I can tell you there is quite the range in vegan cooking! There are the “fancier” cookbooks made from 90% of ingredients I have never heard of, there are vegan cookbooks that are trying to be regular cookbooks by adding in a bunch of fake meat in the recipes and then there are the good vegan cookbooks. Personally, my favorites so far are: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking and N’ice Cream.

    #2 CHOP THEM

    I know a lot of my plant food aversions have to do with texture issues so I find for me if I chop things really fine so they can hide in my food it helps. My method is to generally start with chopping veggies really small until I get used to the flavor and then gradually increasing the size. I find this works so well for my kids as well.

    #3 BLEND THEM

    I am thisclose to buying a Vitamix, I’ve been wanting one for years and know that I will use it, I’m just waiting for it to go on sale. In the meantime, I have a decent blender that I use a lot. I find smoothies are a great place to hide extra fruits and veggies to bump up my intake each day.
    UPDATE: I got a Vitamix and love it!

    #4 HIDE THEM

    Finding ways to hide veggies and beans in my food has been a bit of a game for me. One of my favorite ways to do this is by mashing cauliflower right in with my mashed potatoes. Because it is the same color and there is hardly any cauliflower taste most people would never guess they are in there and yet you are sneaking in a lot of vitamin C, omega 3’s and other good vitamins and minerals as well.

     

    #5 HAVE THEM AVAILABLE AND READY TO EAT

    I guess I should have started with this, but in order to increase your plant intake make sure you have your kitchen stocked! You’ll eat even more plants if you have them washed and chopped and ready to grab for a quick snack.

    #6 SUBSTITUTE BEANS FOR MEAT

    One way to increase your intake of beans is to simply replace them for meat! If the idea of this is too drastic for you you could slowly increase the beans in a dish while decreasing the meat until you are solely using beans.

    #7 PLAN YOUR MEALS AND SNACKS

    I always eat healthier when I have an idea of what I am going to be eating/making. If I start looking for a snack or something to make for dinner when I’m already hungry it will end up being something quick and definitely less healthy than if I had a plan. We currently have a minimalist meal plan that has been working so well, I’m hoping to share it next week.

    #8 GO SLOW

    Start by adding just one plant based item to each meal. Don’t try to go on a complete plant diet in one swoop, just slowly add more in over time.

    #9 EAT OFTEN

    If you are eating more plants you’ll probably feel hungry often because they don’t stay in your system for a long time, just plan to have healthy snacks throughout the day and you’ll be set.

    #10 TRY NEW FOODS

    Every time we go buy groceries we let the kids pick one or two new foods, or something we’ve maybe tried before but haven’t had for awhile. The grocery store we go to has quite a few ethnic foods from different countries and we’ve been able to discover a number of foods that they either like or are on the fence about and are willing to eat a little bit of. This isn’t just for the kids, this is for me too. It wasn’t until I moved out from my parent’s house at the age of 18 that I found out I like broccoli, because I finally tried it for the first time. Who knows what kind of food is out there that you may like!

    #11 KEEP IT SIMPLE

    Your meals and snacks do no need to be complicated, personally I prefer most veggies raw and plain, it makes for quick snacks or a side to dinner. A lot of days for lunch my plate will just be raw fruits and veggies with some nuts. Easy peasy as my kids like to say.

    Do you have any additional tips for adding more plants into your diet?
    I’d love to hear them!

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