New stuff at John Ball Zoo

I recently had the opportunity to take my kids to John Ball Zoo with a group of my blogger friends and we had a great time. I grew up going to this zoo almost every summer and lately I’ve been impressed with the new additions. They are definitely getting more into creating natural environments for the animals to live in and that makes it fun as a visitor.

We started with the chimps, one of my favorites at the zoo! Even more fun was that we got to watch them be let outside for the day and got to talk with their keeper.

john ball chimps

We learned some of the nuances of each chimp and the older male had us laughing! They say he’s more human than chimp as when he was born in the 50’s they zoo (or people) that had him must have hand raised him. Something they’ve learned not to do as it takes the wild instincts out of them. He supposedly loves men with beards, so I must take my husband down there soon! And he also loves shoes and will run over to the window to check them out.

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The lions were busy lazing around, but the mountain lion was up and active. I think it’s the first time in my many years of going to the zoo that I’ve seen him down off his mountain perch!

john ball mountain lion

 

The bears were also quite active that morning.

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Ahem. The kids thought it was so funny that they were hugging.

As a special part of our trip, we were taken into the back rooms of the aquarium which was really cool. We got to see them preparing food for many of its inhabitants.

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The kids also loved the presentation about the screech owl and ferret.

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Side note – ferrets gross me out. They look too much like rats for me.

At this point our planned trip was over so the kids and I headed up to see the new tigers. I loved the wooded walk up there. The tigers were still quite shy, but my kids LOVED playing on the play structure up there as well as the tree play yard. We did get to see one of the tigers for a moment, but my little miss wasn’t walking fast enough for me to get up there with my camera.

On the way down we took the funicular.

My kids thought it was great.

I got claustrophobic and spent the ride praying we wouldn’t get stuck! It was not for me.

We had quite the morning at the zoo, and could have spent much more time there had I not been tired of baby wearing my chunky monkey! So we ended our trip to the zoo like every other time we’ve been. A late lunch at the park across the way and a bit of playing on the playground.

Zoo + playground = a nice quiet trip home for mom.

Have you been to the zoo lately? What are your favorite new exhibits?



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

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?

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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.

Experiencing pregnancy

A guest post by Kristin Revere

I am happy to be able share my experiences as a newly certified Sacred Pregnancy instructor with the Grand Rapids Natural Living community.  grand rapids pregnancy

I read “Sacred Pregnancy” the book during my last pregnancy and it changed my views on this time so much that I felt called to be an instructor.  I signed up for the Virginia retreat before my son was even born.

I was considered high risk during my first pregnancy as I developed pre-eclampsia and had many of the signs in the first trimester with my second child. I started seeking natural methods to treat it and read many books on holistic pregnancy. None of the other books compared to the peace and serenity that I felt when reading “Sacred Pregnancy”.  In the end, I was able to have the natural, unmedicated birth that I desired and give much of the credit to the amazing movement that Anni Daulter created. I also give credit to my husband, doulas, naturopath and chiropractor for all of their support during my pregnancy, labor and beyond.

The instructor training was unique in that we didn’t just learn the material to be able to teach it in our hometowns, we were immersed in the program as if we were the pregnant women experiencing it for ourselves. It was such an amazing way to bring the joy and beauty of the Sacred Pregnancy movement to life.

grand rapids pregnnacy

The first series of the eight week pregnancy journey classes began here in Grand Rapids just last week. I feel so fortunate to be able to share in such a beautiful and powerful time in the lives of each of the women in my class. I was happy to be able to hold space for them to create connections with each other and find joy in this time that many people see as all about the baby. I want two hours each week to be all about the pregnant mamas.

I think that it is important for women to be able to experience pregnancy and birth in a more meaningful and personal way as Sacred Pregnancy teaches in the classes and in the book. Today’s society is so fast paced and disconnected that it is more important than ever to connect with ourselves, our babies, and other women during this important rite of passage. Women in tribal cultures support one another during pregnancy and birth and Sacred Pregnancy is bringing this tradition to women everywhere.

grand rapids pregnancy

The sessions are a special place for pregnant women to gather together for (“Pregnancy Journey” classes) for eight weeks early in their pregnancy journeys and again for (“Birth Journey” classes) four weeks toward the end of their pregnancies. Each week is spent exploring pertinent topics that naturally arise for most women as they walk down their pregnancy paths and encourage deep sharing, exploring art, expression, laughter, honoring and celebration.

I am holding a free Sacred Pregnancy info night on Monday, May 27th from 6:30 to 8pm at Baby Beloved inside the Women’s Health Center located at 555 Mid Towne St NE Ste 100 Grand Rapids, MI 49503. There will be refreshments and giveaways at the event. I will show you how to create a sacred space in your home and will have a “going to the bowl” ceremony and answer any questions. Please bring a small jar to take your bath salts home in if you wish to participate in the salt bowl ceremony.

26aKristin Revere is a fundraiser and works with nonprofits centered on women and children, as well as the arts. She is involved in the Healthy Kent Breastfeeding Coalition and was an organizer of an event with the national breastfeeding advocacy nonprofit called Milk for Thought. One of her clients offers free postpartum support to mothers. Kristin is passionate about empowering women to have the birth and pregnancy that they desire.

 

Please email sacredpregnancygr@gmail.com or call (616) 340-1086  for more information about classes. Additional classes can be set up based on demand.

For more information on Sacred Pregnancy the book, classes and courses, visit: http://www.sacredpregnancy.com. For details on the Sacred Pregnancy Grand Rapids classes, visit the Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SacredPregnancyGrandRapids.

All photos copyright of Victoria Karalun, owner of Canary Lane Photography. She specializes in newborn, lifestyle and birth photography. Victoria has documented Sacred Pregnancy retreats in North Carolina, Virginia and California.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.