Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is finally here.  And that means delicious vegetables like pumpkin and squash are too!  There are many ways to utilize this colorful, nutrient-rich produce.

Pumpkin and squash both make great soups.  They can both be used in pasta or risotto.  They are great in smoothies.  Or even in scones.

gf pumpkin muffins 3

Pumpkin pie is an obvious favorite of many.  You can even use pumpkin to make ice cream!  But one of my favorites is pumpkin muffins.

These muffins are gluten free, slightly sweet and spicy and perfectly moist.  They also only take minutes to prepare.  And you can substitute squash if you don’t have pumpkin on hand.

Pumpkin muffins make a great breakfast for busy mornings.  You can bake them in advance and freeze them for later.  Take some out to thaw the night before and you’ll have a delicious treat in the morning.  Top it with butter and pair it with some fresh fruit and yogurt.

They also go well with soup for a comforting fall dinner.

You can enjoy a little taste of fall any time you want with these pumpkin muffins.  You might want to make two batches.  They won’t last long.

What is your favorite flavor of fall?  How do you like to enjoy pumpkin?

gf pumpkin muffins 4
Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
Author: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • ¾ cup amaranth flour
  • ½ cup organic cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 5 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix well with a stand mixer or hand mixer. The dough will be somewhat thick.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Fill the muffin cups about ¾ full.
  5. Bake 25 - 30 minutes.

 

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Date Night Done Right

Summer is winding down.  Everyone is getting ready for school, activities, keeping track of schedules…all around being busy.  But with the last couple of days or weeks left why not take a night to relax and spend some time kid free with a friend or significant other?  A back-to-school date night if you will.

Ok, sounds great!  But where?  The perfect spot for a real foodie is right here in Grand Rapids – Grove.

This “earth to table” restaurant features a wide variety of food sourced from local farms and growers.  All of the food is made fresh to order and can accommodate just about any food allergy or sensitivity.

I recently had my first experience at Grove.  It was a relaxing two hour meal with three courses plus dessert (which they gave us free since it was our anniversary…and they made it gluten free just for me!).

The menu is divided into three courses.  You can choose one dish or opt for the Taste of Grove and try three courses with smaller portions (at a great price, too!).  My husband and I each tried the Taste of Grove.  And it did not disappoint.

To give you an idea of what type of food they serve here is what we ordered.

bahn mi

We started with bahn mi and pork tacos.  Bahn mi is usually served on bread, but I asked for it without to make it gluten free.  Both dishes were delicious!  This was my first time trying pork belly.  And it turned out to be my favorite part of the whole meal…well, maybe a close second to dessert.

For our second courses we ordered a beet salad and clam chowder.  The beet salad featured a variety of locally grown beets, locally made blue cheese and crunchy lavender almonds.  The clam chowder was not what you normally picture as clam chowder.  This was a big bowl of vegetables in a spicy broth with lots of real clams.

clam chowder

Our third course consisted of duck breast with vegetables and rice noodles in pho broth and white fish with a colorful variety of locally grown vegetables and potatoes.  The duck breast was another first for us.  And another favorite from the meal.

Finally we made room to share an amazing dessert – homemade salted dark chocolate fudge (almost as big as a candy bar…and two of them) with homemade vanilla ice cream in between (again to make it gluten free in place of brioche).

duck breast

We enjoyed every bit e of food.  The service was friendly and so accommodating .  It was such a treat to be able to have a meal out, knowing it was made with fresh, local ingredients and made just for me.

It is worth noting that Grove is not a kid-friendly restaurant.  But well worth the effort to find a baby-sitter and enjoy a quiet night out.  If you do want to treat the whole family simply head across the street to The Greenwell.  It also features locally grown food in a casual setting.

The fall routines and activities are just days away.  Take a night to relax before it all begins and enjoy some amazing, real food at Grove.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

cherry cobbler

Summer in Michigan is filled with a wide variety of fruit.  You can eat it fresh, freeze it, can it, make jams and jellies, dehydrate it and cook with it.   My favorite way to enjoy the bounty of fruit is to bake with it!

gf cherry cobbler

Pie, ice cream, tart, crisp, cake.  They are all good, especially when using in season fruit.  Now you can add cobbler to your list of must-try summer desserts.

This cobbler is easy to make, and it’s perfect for those with food allergies.  It is gluten, corn, nut, egg and soy free.  It can also be made dairy free.

For those with sensitive stomachs, cooking fruit can make it easier to tolerate.  So an allergen free dessert with cooked fruit is quite easy on the gut.

If you don’t have any cherries you can substitute whatever fruit is in season.  Blueberries and peaches work really well together.  Or you can try nectarines or plums.

Cherry cobbler pairs well with homemade vanilla ice cream for a perfect summer treat that just about everyone can enjoy.  What special fruit-filled treats are you creating in the kitchen this summer?

gf cherry cobbler 2

 

Gluten Free Cherry Cobbler
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups sweet cherries, pitted and sliced
  • ½ cup organic cane sugar, sucanat or coconut sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2½ Tbsp. tapioca flour or 1½ Tbsp. arrowroot
  • 1 - 2 tsp. gelatin (optional)
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup organic cane sugar, sucanat or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. butter or organic palm shortening
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp. organic cane sugar, sucanat or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Mix 3Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a greased 1½ or 2 qt. baking dish combine the cherries, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, tapioca flour or arrowroot and gelatin. Toss. Bake 10 min.
  4. While the fruit is baking, in a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  5. Blend in butter until it resembles coarse meal (you can do this by hand or in a food processor).
  6. Stir in the water until just combined.
  7. Remove the fruit from the oven. Drop topping by spoonfuls over fruit. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mix
  8. Bake about 30 minutes, until the topping is golden. Allow the cobbler to cool slightly.
  9. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Simple, Versatile Pesto

I’ve loved pesto since the first time I tasted it.  As the years have gone by I’ve made quite a few versions of my own.  I’ve made traditional pesto.  I’ve made red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.  And I’ve made very simple pesto.

pesto pasta

I’ve added new ingredients.  I’ve taken things out when I had various dietary restrictions.  And I finally settled on my base pesto recipe that only takes about 2 minutes to make.  I’ve removed the allergens (dairy and nuts) as well so just about anybody can eat it.

Pesto is so versatile.  You can use whatever greens you have fresh or frozen.  And you can use it in so many dishes.  Here are a few ways to use pesto.

  • Pizza sauce – Replace your usual tomato sauce with pesto and top with chicken and vegetables.  With all the flavor from the pesto you can even skip the cheese and make a delicious dairy free pizza.
  • Salad dressing – Store-bought dressings are almost always made with unhealthy vegetable oils.  Whip up a batch of pesto and you’ve got easy, flavorful dressing on hand for the whole week.
  • Rice – Rice can get pretty boring.  Liven it up with a few spoonfuls of pesto.  Add a little parmesan cheese and cooked chicken and you’ve got a whole meal!
  • Vegetable topping – Mix pesto into a bowl of roasted vegetables or pureed squash or pumpkin.
  • Quiche – Spread a layer of pesto on a pie crust.  Top it with a mixture of eggs, milk and cheese and bake.
  • Snack – Need a quick bite of something healthy in-between meals?  Try a spoon or two of pesto.  You’ll get easy to digest nutrients and healthy fat.
  • Baby food – Who says baby’s need bland food?  Let your little one try some.  No need to chew
  • Bread – Make your favorite yeast bread dough.  Roll it out.  Spread pesto on top.  Roll the dough into a loaf and bake.  You’ll have a homemade bread with pesto swirled throughout.
  • Pasta – Cook some pasta, drain most of the liquid, stir in pesto.  Top it with cheese and/or add cooked chicken or bacon if desired.  Or mix the pesto into your favorite alfredo sauce to make pesto-fredo pasta.
  • Panini – Use pesto as the dressing on a Panini.
  • Soup – Mix pesto into a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup, squash soup or white chili.  It’s a great twist on your favorite soups.
  • Dip – Dip raw vegetables into plain pesto.  Or you can mix pesto with hummus to make a “pummus” dip.

Do you like pesto?  What is your favorite way to use it?

pesto pizza

Simple, Versatile Pesto
Author: 
 
Makes 2½ cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh peas, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, basil or any other green/herb you like (you can use a combination as well)
  • ½ - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (you can replace some of it with water for a ighter version or to make it have a more neutral flavor)
  • unrefined sea salt and garlic powder to taste
Method of Preparation
  1. Blend greens, ½ cup olive oil, salt and garlic powder in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  2. Add extra olive oil or water to reach desired consistency.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Infertility – Letting Go Of The Shame

A trip to the mall.  A stop at the grocery store.  A dinner out.  Simple, every day tasks.

Unless you struggle with infertility.

Then these “simple” activities can turn into painful and challenging events.  And sometimes even make you feel shameful.

I’m not just saying this as someone who has heard a lot about infertility or has friends that have dealt with it.

photo credit: morefertile.com

photo credit: morefertile.com

I’ve been thereReally been there.  I’ve had to say no to invites from friends that were expecting because I just couldn’t be around them.  I’ve had to try to put a smile on my face while listening to someone talk about how they were upset that they found out they got pregnant again without trying.  I’ve had to excuse myself from conversations about how overjoyed someone is to be done having kids.

In addition to the hurt I’ve also felt the shame.  The shame of being different and feeling like I don’t fit in.  The shame of having a body that doesn’t work right.  The shame of not feeling like a true woman.

But there is one more aspect of my struggle with infertility that has made me feel the most shame.  The path I chose to deal with it.

In 2006 I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist.  It led me down a path of a variety of fertility drugs and treatments.  After various attempts and a diagnosis of both male and female factor infertility, my husband and I proceeded with in-vitro fertilization.

We were very blessed that I got pregnant on the first try.  And now I have a beautiful, smart, creative little girl who just turned 5.

But the journey was far from over.  In early 2010 I was first starting to learn about real food and natural health…while in the midst of trying for another child.  I had already been through two failed attempts via IVF.  And was in the middle of a third.

As I learned more and more about real food I became more and more hopeful.  Maybe I could heal my body and restore my fertility without all of the medications and procedures.  Maybe.

photo credit: powerhealths.com

photo credit: powerhealths.com

I went on to do 3 more IVF transfers.  And after a lot of heart-break and physical endurance I now have a wonderful son who is just about to turn 2.

I was overjoyed when I got to this point.  I was opening up and sharing my story in hopes of giving others hope.  But I didn’t expect what came from sharing my story…more shame.

In the world of real food and natural health, saying that you conceived via IVF is kind of like saying you feed your kids fast food and candy bars every day for lunch.  I got some nasty remarks and questions.  How could I promote a natural lifestyle and support “unnatural” fertility treatments at the same time?

I’ve thought and prayed about it a lot.  I’ve felt the shame…and I’ve let go of the shame.

Although I fully support natural means of improving fertility and health,  I also know that this was my path.  I started my journey with infertility before I even knew what real food was.  I’ve also learned that real food doesn’t always work.  It really can help most of the time.  But sometimes no matter how hard you try there are things that you can’t change.

No matter how many raw egg yolks and plates of liver I eat, no matter how much raw milk I drink, no matter how many detox baths I take, no matter how many supplements or vitamins or herbs I take, no matter how much yoga I do or how much sleep I get…my fertility status will not likely change.

I have a condition called polyfollicular ovaries.  And to this day I’ve never heard of any real food remedy for it.  I’ve never found any research that explains what causes this or how to treat it (aside from working around it with IVF).  I don’t know what hormones control it.  The only solution I know of is time…some day when my egg supply diminishes my body will hopefully work normally.  It could be tomorrow.  It could be when I’m 45.

But I still deserve to be a mother.  God created my children and gave them to me.  Not a doctor.  Not a pill.

I don’t know what is going on inside my body.  But I do know that I don’t have to be ashamed.  This is the way God made me.  I didn’t cause this.  I’m not eating the wrong food.  I’m not lacking in effort to give my body the nourishment it needs.  I am fully supportive of natural fertility, health and healing.  I strive each day to keep my own family healthy.

But I also know that sometimes things don’t go the way we would like.  And sometimes we have to let go of our ideal situation.

If you’ve struggled with infertility please don’t be ashamed.  You are still just as complete and worthy as any other woman.  No matter what road you’ve been down know that you are right where you need to be.  Be kind to yourself.  Accept yourself.  Let go of the shame.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Get informed.  Be aware.  Never be ashamed or make anyone else feel ashamed.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Save The Color For the Eggs. Your Kids Will Thank You.

You may not be able to tell by looking out your window, but it is finally spring!  And Easter is only a few days away.

Time for Easter eggs, baskets full of candy, bright colors – signs of new life.  But if life is what you’re concerned with you might want to take a second look at all those colors.

photo credit glogster.com

photo credit glogster.com

Colored food and candy is appealing, especially to small children.  We eat first with our eyes.  So naturally kids will be excited by a basket full of brightly colored treats.

A few jellybeans.  A handful of colored chocolates.  A marshmallow chick.  Innocent fun.  An ok treat here and there.  Right?

Not really.  Artificial coloring is very harmful…for everyone.

Even if you avoid the obvious brightly colored candies you still might be getting more artificial coloring in your diet than you think.  Crackers, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, chips, cereal, jello, sweetened beverages, yogurt, ice cream, ketchup, fruit skins, meats.  The list goes on and on.  It is even in products such as toothpaste, shampoos and medicine.

A small amount of food dye can have a big impact.  Depending on the color and variety it can cause many kinds of tumors and cancer.  It can also cause damage to a growing child’s brain and lower IQ.

One of the biggest side effects of artificial coloring is hyperactivity and inattentiveness.  Does your child have some ADD/ADHD symptoms?  Are you struggling with behavioral/obedience problems?  Before you try to get a diagnosis start with your family’s diet.

I have experienced this first hand with my daughter.  After trial and error we discovered that she has a very strong reaction to any kind of food coloring.  It makes a huge impact on her behavior.

Do you feel bad taking away these “treats” from your child?  Try to look at the situation differently.  We have adopted a strict no food coloring policy for our kids.  It might be hard to say no to a few gummies or a sucker.  But this is the best “treat” we can give them…being able to feel good and have control over their minds and bodies.

photo credit robinhoodintegrativehealth.com

photo credit robinhoodintegrativehealth.com

My daughter is very smart, creative and funny.  I love allowing her to think clearly and let her true personality shine.  It’s heartbreaking when she can’t do that, when she seems out of control or in a fog.  And by allowing her to consume foods with artificial coloring I am taking away that freedom.  Not much of a treat is it?

The first step in tackling this problem is reading all food labels carefully and checking for harmful substances.  You might be surprised what you find.  Take a look at this list of ingredients.  Can you tell what this is?

“Skim milk, sugar, strawberry puree, whey, contains less than 2% of sodium tripolyphosphate, modified food starch, pasteurized milk and cream, sodium citrate, salt, artificial color, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and calcium propionate as preservatives, carrageenan, citric acid, cheese culture, sodium phosphate, natural flavor, artificial flavor, red 40, carob bean gum, vitamin a palmitate”

These are the ingredients in strawberry cream cheese.  Artificial color and red 40.  No thank you.

In addition to dyes and colors check for sodium benzoate.  It has the same effect on your health.

Once you eliminate foods with artificial coloring and dyes you can move on to making your own goodies.  Use real food to color your food.  Want to make something pink?  Use strawberry juice or jam.  How about green?  Try avocado.  Have fun experimenting with foods like blueberries, beets and carrots to add color to your baked goods.

Or better yet…leave out the color.  Who said mint ice cream should be green?  It’s actually white or yellow (depending on whether or not you add egg yolks).  If you really want colorful food reach for fruits and vegetables.  And leave the treats their true color.  Don’t worry, they’ll still taste great even if they aren’t neon colored.

photo credit thehotsheetblog.com

photo credit thehotsheetblog.com

Check those Easter baskets and your cupboards.  Get rid of anything that contains artificial colors or dyes.  You’re giving your family a wonderful gift and a fresh start by keeping these harmful substances out of their diet.  Save the artificial coloring for the Easter eggs.  Just be sure not to eat them.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Think Spring, Plan Your Pantry

If you’re anything like me, by the time February draws to a close you are so ready for spring!  But most of the time it still seems so far away.  The ground is likely covered with snow.  Everything is wet and sloppy.  The sun likes to hide.

You’re still eating lots of winter comfort foods and living off your freezer stock from last year.

peaches

As March approaches I’m anxious for fresh foods.  While they aren’t quite available yet, it’s time to start thinking about them.

Now is the perfect time to plan how you want to stock your pantry and freezer during the spring, summer and fall.  Doing so can save you money and keep your family well fed.

Maybe you already have a good inventory of what you preserved last year.  That is a great start.  Even if you don’t you can still start planning for the coming produce season now.

Here are general guidelines of when some produce is available in the area and some ideas of ways to preserve it.  Make a list of the ones you want, find recipes, put the plans in your calendar so you know when you’ll have to do it and stock up on all of your supplies.

When spring does finally decide to show up you’ll be ready to stock your pantry for a full year of healthy food.

Produce Season:

  • Early – mid June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus
  • Mid – late June: strawberry, rhubarb, asparagus, sugar snap peas, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry
  • Early – mid July: strawberry, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, cherry, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, apricot, peach, cherry, nectarine
  • Mid – late July: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, blueberry, peach, nectarine, corn, plum, melon
  • Early – mid August: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon
  • Mid – late August: zucchini, summer squash, raspberry, peach, nectarine, plum, corn, melon, apples, pears,  cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Mid – late September: corn, melon, apples, pears, plums, peaches, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, nectarine, peppers, tomatoes, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage
  • Early – mid October: apples, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, brussels sprouts, peppers, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage

Preserving Ideas:

  • Berries: jam, jelly, pancake/ice cream topping, frozen, pie, fruit leather, dried, relish/salsa, baked goods
  • Stone fruits: jam, jelly, frozen, canned, pie, dried, fruit butter
  • Zucchini/summer squash: salsa, tomato sauce, frozen, sweet bread
  • Apples/pears: canned, pies, sauce, butter
  • Tomatoes/peppers/onions: pasta sauce, chili sauce, salsa
  • Squash: bake and freeze
  • Corn/broccoli/cauliflower/peppers: frozen

apple butter

Recipe:

Apple Butter

makes 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 pts.

  • 4 1/2 qts. apples, peeled, cored and sliced (16-17 LARGE apples)
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 qt. apple cider
  • 3 cups cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
Cook apples with water until soft (5-10 min.).  Press through sieve or food mill on the finest setting.  Add the cider and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Cook on low until thick (about 3 hours).  Add spices.  Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

A “Hot” Breakfast For a Cold Morning

It’s January in Michigan.  Which means it’s cold (most of the time).  You wake up and drag yourself out from under a pile of warm blankets.  You shower and dress quickly to avoid getting chilled.

You clutch a big mug of hot coffee or tea to warm your hands while you think about breakfast.  Some of your staples don’t sound so great – smoothies, cold cereal, fresh fruit.  You want something hot and steamy to start the day.

So you reach for…ice cream?  That’s right.  Ice cream for breakfast can really warm you up!  Plus it can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories all day long.

It may sound crazy, but starting your day with a good mix of starch, sugar, salt and saturated fat will help raise your body temperature and metabolism.  As long as you don’t wash it down with a lot of fluid.

Ice cream is just one example of a warming breakfast.  You could also choose things like pancakes with butter and syrup, crackers with cheese, salty fried potatoes or sweet bread with butter and salt.  Any combination of starch, sugar and salt that you enjoy will work.

An important factor to remember is to not drink a big glass of water, tea, coffee or soda with it.  Save your fluids for later in the day.  Drinking too much may overhydrate your body and flush out your vitamins and minerals.  Your cellular fluid and mineral levels will be out of balance.

You’ve kicked off your day with a breakfast that gets your body burning.  Now you can gradually eat lighter and add more fluids as the day goes on.  Try some protein and vegetables for lunch, including at least some starch and salt still.  Then pile on the vegetables for dinner.  Maybe a little fruit for a bedtime snack.

Just keep in mind that if you start to get cold you should grab a small snack that contains starch, sugar and salt.  And if you’re getting really hot add some extra fluids.

Think it sounds crazy to drink less and eat more sweets and salt in the morning?  Give it a try.  See if it gets you warm on a cold winter day.  Try ice cream for breakfast paired with something salty.  Or better yet, salt your ice cream!  Your family won’t mind helping you with the experiment.

Plain vanilla ice cream is always great.  You can eat it as is or add your favorite toppings.  Don’t forget a sprinkle of unrefined sea salt.  It will help bring out the sweetness in the ice cream.

Do you have a hard time getting warm in the winter?  Have you ever tried ice cream or another dessert for breakfast?  Choose your favorite salty sweet combination and see if it helps you get warm.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients

3 cups cream (preferably raw)

3 – 5 egg yolks

1 – 2 tsp. organic vanilla

1/2 cup sweetener of choice or combination of sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, cane sugar)

pinch sea salt

Method of Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a blender.  Adjust sweetener to taste (make it a little overly sweet…the flavor will go down when processed).  Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.  Store in a freezer safe container in freezer.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes before scooping.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Cookies: More Than Just A Christmas Tradition

When I was little I loved to sit in the kitchen while my mom baked.  I could just watch for hours.  She always had something delicious coming out of the oven, and I loved to see the process.

As soon as I could I wanted to join in the fun and start baking myself.  Whether it was rolling pie dough, frosting a cake or adding chocolate chips to the cookies it made me feel like I was helping and connecting with my mother…sharing one of her passions.

This was especially true at Christmas time.  Every year we made traditional Christmas cut out cookies.  Usually mom would make the dough and the kids got to roll, cut and decorate the cookies.

Sometimes all four of us helped.  And sometimes it was just me.  I would take on the challenge of decorating all of the cookies by myself if nobody else wanted to help.  If there was any way I could participate in the baking I would.

Thanks to my mom to this day I have a passion for baking (and writing about food and nutrition).  I am happy to be passing that passion on to my own children.  I am a firm believer in getting your kids in the kitchen from a very young age.  And what easier way to start than by making cookies?

You don’t have to wait until your kids are older to have them help.  My daughter helped me with her first batch of Christmas cookies before she was one!  And she has loved our countless hours together in the kitchen ever since.

Now she is four and is a bit more help.  It is so fun to watch her progress every year in her decorating skills from haphazard sprinkling to careful placement of chocolate chips for eyes on a snowman.

Don’t let gender get in the way of your baking fun, either.  My one year old son already has a passion for baking.  He begs to bake every single day almost as soon as he gets out of bed.  Which is how we ended up making our first batch of Christmas cookies this year just a few days after Thanksgiving.

Making Christmas cookies is a tradition I had with my mom and one that I now have with my kids.  But it’s not just a tradition.  It’s a way for us to spend time together.  It’s a way for them to learn some basic baking skills.  It’s a way for them to feel helpful and needed.  And it’s a way for me to teach them about homemade, real food.

The look and taste of our cookies have changed over the years along with our view on health and nutrition.  No more bleached flour and margarine cookies.  We use real ingredients and make our own frosting.  We’re still working on replacing those lovely sprinkles.  But regardless of the ingredients our tradition stays the same.

Spend some time in the kitchen with your kids this Christmas.  Let them make a mess.  Let them have fun.  Let them be creative.

Maybe you’ll spark a passion in them for baking.  Maybe not.  But you’ll definitely make some lasting memories and have an opportunity to connect with your children.  Making Christmas cookies together is a great Christmas tradition…eating them is a fun one too.

Worried about creating unhealthy habits by baking treats?  Have no fear.  Feed your kids real, nourishing food from the start and they will develop a taste for healthy food.  My son was grain and sugar free until he turned one.  Now at 19 months I can’t even get him to taste a bite of anything we bake.

Even if your kids do enjoy the treats it’s a great opportunity to teach them about moderation and the importance of nourishing foods.

What Christmas traditions do you have?  Do you have a favorite cookie recipe for Christmas?  How do you get your kids in the kitchen and teach them about real food?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.

Thankful At Every Age

We are all busy.  We all get stressed, anxious and worn out, especially around the holidays.  There are parties, kids, meals, work, errands, etc.

Add to an already crazy life the onset of colds and flu, homework and school schedules and attempting to keep your holiday festivities full of real, healthy food.  I’m guilty myself of trying to do too much and then feeling overwhelmed.  A negative attitude sets in and life gets even tougher.

This year I want to make our holidays different.  What if instead of trying to take on the world we simply stop and give thanks?

This is a great lesson to teach your children.  We can and should be thankful at every age.

I took a moment recently to sit down with my four-year old daughter to find out what she’s thankful for.  She made her own thankful list (as you can see).  Then I did the same.

It was a great exercise to do together.  And it made me smile to see that our lists were quite similar.  Right down to being thankful for ice cream.

Focusing on what we have instead of what we want or what is going wrong is wonderful at Thanksgiving.  But it shouldn’t stop there.

Try focusing on being thankful when you’re making your Christmas lists or buying presents.  Try focusing on being thankful when the little ones are sick and you’re not sure you can manage one more sleepless night.

photo courtesy of my daughter

Try focusing on being thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It is a great habit that will impact your whole day and have a positive influence on your children and everyone around you.

It doesn’t cost money.  It doesn’t take much time.  It doesn’t involve a change in your diet.  It is not complicated.

But it can help you lead a happier and healthier life.

Take a moment today to think about, talk about or write about what you’re thankful for.  You may be surprised by how blessed you really are and how much joy there is in your life that you’ve been overlooking.

Start with some of the big things like family, friends, a good job.  Then every day start focusing on the little things like a healthy home cooked meal or a refrigerator stocked with farm fresh eggs or a hug and kiss from your spouse and kids.

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of each day.  This holiday season challenge yourself to truly be thankful.  Then teach your children to do the same.  It’s a healthy habit that can be done at any age.

What are some of the little things you’re thankful for?  How do you focus your family’s attention on being thankful instead of always wanting around the holidays and throughout the year?

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.