Not All Who Wander Are Lost

IMG_0557              Not all who wander are lost.

I really love this phrase. It speaks to me and gets to the heart of how I feel sometimes. It means to me… Not all who make mistakes are failures, not all who get an F are stupid, not all who are fat are unhealthy, not all who are grumpy are mean spirited, not all who are airheads are thoughtless, not all who do weird things are crazy.

I have been “wandering” a lot lately concerning homeschooling. Actually since I have been homeschooling I have been wandering. And if truth be told, I have been wandering forever. Is this best for children? To have a mother who is a wanderer, especially a mother who is responsible for their education? It’s a valid question. But the way I can rationalize through this is to say that I am not one who believes that what I see initially is always the way things are going to be. I continue to observe, wander, if you will and analyze and try to dissect the personalities and learning styles and preferences of my family. We just got a new math curriculum at the beginning of May, this is just about as ridiculous as it gets. But I knew we were just hamsters on the math wheel and something had to change. So I thought a bit outside the box and I uncovered something wonderful. New curriculum changes everything, even in May and maybe in November, January and April, I will let you know. I even sent one kid to take a break at the “school table” and she actually opened her book and did a page of math. So sometimes wandering pays off.

I read two articles today about food, one about gluten and one about farming. Both were great examples to me of how we are doing a lot of wandering, as a society and as individuals, trying to find our way. The Farm-to-Table movement hasn’t actually helped the local farmers nearly as much as it’s supposed to have done, maybe because we haven’t quite figured how to really use the concept yet. Maybe because we just really want things to be easy. Big, industrial farms are still growing and small, local farms are still struggling. There is a real complexity to farming that a lot of us don’t quite understand, to do it well there is a lot of knowledge and intuition needed. The farmers who do it well are Dr.’s of the earth (I am NOT a dr. of the earth, the only thing really growing in my garden are peas and some plants in the squash family, we don’t even remember what).

The other article was about the relevance of the “gluten free fad”. Media does a great job of getting such hype going and then throwing all of us followers under the bus when the fads’ time has past. Obviously I believe wholeheartedly in the reality of gluten intolerance. We live with Celiac disease, but this area is changing so much so quickly that it’s important to understand what’s going on, I wouldn’t listen to any of the media ridiculousness though. Gluten free has been a go-to diet for awhile for many reasons, but we kind of know now that there isn’t a one-size-fits all…in any area of life!? You may need wander a bit more to figure it out for yourself.

Doing some wandering in our lives to find our way has got to be ok. Even if it looks careless and impulsive or flighty or unrealistic. I am giving myself a pep-talk as much as anything else. I am not lost, we are not lost, we are seekers of meaning and wholeness. In our families and our communities.

See, I added in some homeschooling, farming, gluten free living and warm fuzzy all in less than 600 words.

oops 650 words

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Eating well for Mother’s Day

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I just had to share with you what we ate on Mother’s day.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, one of my husbands strengths happens to be cooking. It’s a match made in heaven since most of my mother’s days are centered around eating. Last year I had homemade maple bacon cinnamon rolls, the kind that takes hours to make, so there was a high bar set and I wasn’t sure it could be met on a grain free/refined sugar free diet, but I was very, very wrong!!

My day started out with this delight pictured above. Two waffles with cream cheese frosting in the middle (his unique creation sweetened with grade B maple syrup), topped with fresh whipped cream (sweetened with syrup) and strawberries. The recipe came from Against All Grain. Here it is…

3 eggs

1 cup raw cashews

1/3 C almond milk (or any dairy free milk) he used 1/2 and 1/2

3 tbsp. honey or maple syrup

3 tbsp. melted coconut oil

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3 tbsp. coconut flour

Combine the eggs, cashews, milk, honey or syrup, and coconut oil in the blender until very smooth and creamy.

Add the salt, soda, coconut flour and blend for about a  min.

This is a belgian waffle recipe, so I don’t know how it would work with a regular waffle iron. She recommends checking the waffles after about a minute as the grain free version cooks a bit quicker than normal.

What I loved about this recipe is that it was fluffy and flavorful without being overly eggy as I have experienced before. Also I ate about 2/3 of that plate and I didn’t feel bloated, overly full or icky and I didn’t experience the crash in blood sugar later in the day that made me feel light headed and nauseous. And I wasn’t hungry again for about 5 hours.

For my next meal I requested fresh grain free, gluten free pasta from Cappello’s. I wanted lasagna!!!! This is a special treat for me, because we rarely have it. One of the members of the family says lasagna is her “worst enemy” (I hope that remains always true).

My husband made a great sauce that was some eclectic combo. of organic tomato sauce, paste, onions, garlic, olives and white cheddar cheese. He then layered the pasta sheets with additional mozzarella cheese. It tasted as good as it looks and was a fabulous grain free treat.

I was so excited about how well I ate on Mother’s Day that I had to share, there are certain things that have to be given up forever like oreo’s, store bought donuts, delivery pizza, etc. But with some planning and researching it can be a full and satisfying culinary life.

This is how we eat now…part 2

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This is the fun part. How have we changed what we eat since the Celiac diagnosis?

After getting some education about inflammation and autoimmune conditions I was very inspired to go grain free and refined sugar free. I like to call this “not quite paleo”. We aren’t ready yet to go real Paleo which eliminates grains, refined sugar, dairy, legumes and processed foods.

I just knew this is what I had to do at this time in our lives. And I also knew that whether or not it was a popular decision that my children had to go along with us.

Well, it was not popular, in case you were wondering. Now we have had a decent amount of experience with special diets, my oldest 2 girls had fabulous diets for the first several years of their lives while my oldest was completely off dairy. When that allergy “went away” we got way more normal and ate much of what everyone else eats, the Standard American Diet. Then along comes daughter # 3 and I realize that I have been blessed beyond belief with two children that allowed me to believe I was some kind of mommy genius in the food department (a department with no small amount of mommy trauma associated with it). Now even more crackers, chicken nuggets, pizzas and mac n cheese (the organic kind…at least) were being served at our table. So we had some work to do, even if we were to just turn to the Standard Gluten Free American Diet.

There was a lot of complaining about leaving some of their favorite foods behind, I felt that too. I had to get some replacements in our kitchen fast. I ordered two life saving cook books that the girls regularly pull out to peruse and request the next trial recipe, Wheat Belly 30 Minute (or less) Cook Book by William Davis, MD and Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry by Elana Amsterdam. I have been thrilled and relieved to find recipes using Almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, hemp seed, chia seeds, honey, maple syrup, veggies, dried fruit, nuts, coconut milk and coconut oil, eggs, butter, etc. My rule is that in our home this is how we eat, but outside our home they get to use their own judgement. I am  hoping that they will be inspired to start making choices consistent with mine (hahahahahaha), actually what I really, really hope is that they will take ownership in their life long health.

A question I get asked all the time is…What do you eat for breakfast? Important question for the most important meal of the day.

Is it still the most important meal of the day??? Was it ever???

Anyway. My favorite breakfast is plain whole milk (traditional) or 2%  greek yogurt, sweetened with raw, local honey or maple syrup. I add all sorts of things, this morning was hemp seeds, diced apples and cinnamon. Often times I will add walnuts, sometimes it’s thawed frozen fruit and almonds or dried fruit and almonds or pecans or walnuts. Eggs are another great option, but for some reason they don’t fill me up, I need cheese and some kind of veggie added to them. Sometimes I eat apples with almond, peanut or sun butter. The main thing is to get enough fat and enough protein in your breakfast. When you are cutting out a major staple in your diet, you have to replace it with something that will be satisfying, we have “cheated” a couple of times and purchased gluten free granola for the kids, but other wise there are no cereal options and unless it’s homemade grain free bread, that’s out too. Plus we had to ditch the old toaster and haven’t replaced it. Our old staples for quick, get-out-the-door breakfasts are gone.

For lunch…blah, lunch. I home school my children, so I am making lunch at lunch time for the four of us everyday and honestly it drives me nuts. It always has, some days I just say “eat what you can find”. Because our kitchen has very few snacky or processed items in it, this is even more difficult. No such things as grain free mac n cheese (yet, and you better BELIEVE I will buy that, you know if it’s organic and non GMO…) We do smoothies about twice a week for lunch with something like apple slices, celery and peanut butter. My A+ lunch is a salmon patty with salad or sauteed vegetables (a brilliant idea I got from a friend). Tomato soup is another good one and yes, it does have sugar and it also has rice flour in it. I would love to make my own, but that along with homemade condiments have taken a back seat so far. We also use bibb lettuce wraps a lot for tuna or lunch meat or tacos. We have a great local butcher that does all uncured, nitrite free, gluten free meats, that’s another decent way to get protein at lunch.

Dinners are “easier” to accommodate the grain free, sugar reduced lifestyle. I put that in quotations, because I don’t consider making meals virtually from scratch every night easy. It was hard figuring out what to substitute for the starch or grain on our dinner plates for awhile, but now we don’t even hesitate. It’s just stir fry with no rice or noodles, more veggies, more fat like butter, sour cream, coconut oil, nuts, olives. We do eat potatoes and sweet potatoes, but pretty infrequently. I even made spaghetti with sweet potato noodles and it was really good (only one kid ate them, but I am hopeful), we eat chicken lettuce wraps, meat loaf, fish sticks breaded with coconut oil (that needs some perfecting), taco salad, smoked salmon salad, crustless quiche or omelets, homemade chili (my specialty) and soups.

We have been eating this way for 3 months. The hardest part was converting our kitchen and it still takes a lot more time in the grocery store finding the stuff that we need. Part of that is just finding gluten free items that are also grain and refined sugar free, but also not processed with wheat (try this sometime, just for fun).

I would not be able to convince you that this is an easy lifestyle to choose. There are many things that are pretty tricky (say, Easter candy and snacks) but my husband and I had a transformation of heart and somehow something that may seem impossible became a necessary challenge (as is spelling necessary). I do believe that everyone is lead differently in the way that they eat, but I think most of us would agree that taking the road less traveled will lead to better health. With Celiac disease in the family I could not ignore the harm that gluten was doing to one child, but I had a choice to isolate her or to join her and make the hard decision to toward better health for all of us.

I have noticed a few really positive differences since changing our diet, one is that our moods have been more even. I have noticed this in myself and my two oldest children, we feel more relaxed and don’t get as frustrated as easily. We are more sensitive to sugar, my youngest (the recovering carb addict) mentioned that something she ate made her feel icky because it was too sugary. Less snacking, there have been a handful of days that the children have not snacked at all through the day, they had four meals spaced out voluntarily. The fact that this has only happened a few times may seem insignificant, trust me it’s not. The major sugar cravings and desperation for food NOW has all but completely stopped for me. I would go through periods of intense sugar cravings and also bouts of feeling nauseated if I didn’t eat between meals, taking out the grain and sugar has almost completely eliminated that feeling. Then of course, weight loss.

We have made a choice to be much more conscience of what we are eating and therefore I spend a lot more time in the kitchen, this is not my natural habitat, I would be lying if I said I love it. Hell no, I don’t love it, but what I love is feeling better, watching my children feeling better, doing something better for my family.  I made two batches of “cookies” on Tuesday and it took 2 days to get my kitchen back in order and for me to even want to go in there, but I did it and made another meal, and that’s all I have to do. I am NO super mom, but…

“Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo

P.S.

There are times when I really need chocolate and I do have a stash of very dark, fair trade chocolate for when that comes up, I am not dead, I still need chocolate.