Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Doughnut Love...with a recipe : )

We went to the lake for a few days last weekend and spent some time with my bestie and her family.  It was great fun.  One thing I noticed, though, was that my kids went crazy to try and have some of those powdered  white doughnuts.  You know what I'm talking about.  All of our minds are picturing that little bag with the piles of powdered sugar doughnuts inside.  Well, I don't buy those.  I know what would happen.  We would all go into a sugared doughnut feeding frenzy.  But don't worry.  I'm not going to act like I've never bought them before.  Or Krispy Kremes...oh, yeah, I've never bought those ; ).  So we're all doughnut fans but in my quest to be healthy I've stopped buying a lot of that stuff.  I guess this weekend made me realize how much my kids did like doughnuts and that it would be fun to try and find a healthy doughnut alternative.  I've seen plenty of Pinterest ideas, but haven't even attempted.  Honestly it kind of intimidates me.  

Yesterday we did a trip to Kroger (which doesn't happen but every couple of weeks because the nearest one is about 40 minutes away).  I found lots of organic goodies on "Manager's Special".  I love that orange sticker.  : )  One of the things I found was this little treat....and in my mind this is a splurge, even if it is marked down.  An older lady who was browsing the discount aisle too totally convinced me that as a mother of small children, I just had to get this.  Let's just say it was in my buggy before our conversation ended : ).

Last night I was browsing the little recipe book that came with it and the first recipe looked VERY doable...especially since I just found organic sour cream on Manager's Special (yay!).  

Sour Cream Donuts (from the Babycakes recipe book)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur's white wheat)
1/3 cup sugar (I used my 100% real cane GMOs)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
1/4 cup sour cream (I used the organic stuff!)
1 egg (organic also)
1 teaspoon vanilla (pure)
(this is specifically for the doughnut maker, so I'm not sure how to do it without one)
1. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. In separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients, except glaze or topping.  Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients.  Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until smooth.
3.  Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 TBS of batter.
4.  Bake about 4 to 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into donut comes out clean.
5. Glaze or coat with powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar, as desired.

And here they are!

Honestly, they are delish just by themselves, but I still added a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon and a little brown sugar to them.  The kids and I have been munching.  This baked doughnut is very exciting to me...a decent alternative to the fried or totally sugar covered kind.  If any of you have any good doughnut recipes...I'd love to hear them!

I just had to include this picture, too : ).  My son is a Thomas train-a-holic.  He loves to set up his tracks everywhere...and I mean the house.  They are on the kitchen counter, in front of the tv, on the dining room table.  And this kid is fast.  He had this set up in less than 5 minutes while I was trying to cook the doughnuts.  I can't complain too much, though, because he was sharing with his little brother and keeping him entertained, too.

A new food adventure!  Let the doughnut making begin! : )

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mommy Camp

Summer time is here and our church always participates in a co-ed softball league with other churches in the community.  It's a fun time of sports and fellowship.  I've played two different seasons, and when the time came to sign up for this season, I talked to the hubby and asked if I could play.  He has always been supportive, so he said sure.  So I'm signed up....and I'm out of shape!

I'm going to get real here....I'm still carrying around a good portion of baby weight from last year.  Ugh.  I don't like it.  I've been changing our eating habits, but the weight just sticks like glue.  I think part of my problem is that I haven't gone the next level.  I haven't felt the major hunger pains.  I'm not getting enough sleep.  I'm probably not drinking enough water....etc.,etc.  I think getting out there and doing some fun group sports can help jumpstart my exercise.  But like I said...I'm out of shape...big time!

I've got two weeks until the games begin.  In light of that...I decided to start Mommy Training Camp...aka Mommy Camp.  I don't want to look like a crazy person when I'm trying to run to first base...given that I'll be hitting the ball.  I also don't want to feel like my legs are going to fall off after our first game (which has happened every time!).  I asked my hubby to be my trainer.  Here's how Day 1 went:

*warm up--stretching, jumping jacks, jogging in place
*sprints--we opened up the stopwatch on my phone and took turns timing each other how fast we could run from the fence on one side of the yard to the swing set...the distance we're estimating it is from home plate to first base.  Each family member did it at least three times.  Except Seth, of course. : )  We tried to beat our previous times. 
*Joe and I took turns running around our little storage house in the back yard.  Joe did 5 laps, I did 3.  I told you I was out of shape ; )

That concluded Mommy Camp for tonight...but we're planning on doing it every day for the next 2 weeks.  Sophie looked up at me when we were close to the end and said, "Mom, after Mommy Camp can we go in and play Wii?  I'm tired!" : )  I'm glad that we can all get involved in the training and the kids are getting outside and running around with us.

Prayers appreciated for Mommy Camp 2013 : ).  I'll need it! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Going Organic (with a recipe!)

So my whole baby step thing...still going!  I have setbacks every now and then (like today: two weddings in one day and I didn't resist the food/wedding cake...yikes!).  But I am making some significant strides...and God is definitely providing every step of the way. 

This week was my first week in coordinating an organic produce co-op type thing in our community.  A few weeks ago I went to a health presentation and the man who owns the farm came and showed us some of his produce.  He even gave us a bunch of carrots as a gift.  I was sold!  The carrots were delicious....and the fact that they were pesticide free and organic were a huge plus.  Around this time I also read this article from 100 Days of Real Food's blog about what to buy organic.  We were eating all of the "dirty dozen" fruits and veggies on a weekly basis.  I really wanted to find a way to get good produce at a decent price.  All the pieces fell in together and suddenly I'm getting together orders for organic produce from others in our community.  By Thursday our orders were delivered.  Look what I got...

Now that I have all of these beautiful fruits and veggies....I've got to start eating them!  Let the chopping, boiling, stir-frying, dicing, and cooking begin!  I don't want any of this to go to waste.  I was looking through an "All Recipes" magazine that came in the mail the other day and they had a comparison of a "healthier" version of carrot cake versus the traditional.  I had some beautiful organic carrots, so I thought...yum..carrot cake!  But I decided to take the healthy version from the magazine and tweak it a little.  What came out is delicious!  It was so good, that I didn't even make the cream cheese icing to go on top...we have just been devouring it without any of the sugary icing.  Yes!  I felt victory with this cake.  Naturally, I needed to share.  I'll put the original and in parenthesis I'll put what I did.

Healthier Carrot Cake III (from
*4 eggs (I used farm fresh..not from the store)
*3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
*1 1/2 cups white sugar (I used my 100% real cane sugar that I think is GMOs)
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used the "pure")
*2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used 1 cup of King Arthur's white wheat flour and 1 cup of Swan's Down flour...I was a little hesitant to use all white wheat because I was afraid of it being too dense...but I think it would be ok next time)
*2 teaspoons baking soda
*2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum free)
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*3 cups grated carrots (organic)
1 cup chopped pecans (I didn't even put these in)

For frosting (I didn't even use it, but you might want to):
*1/4 cup butter, softened
*1 (8 oz) package Neufchatel cheese, softened
*2 cups confectioners' sugar (this was the reason I didn't do the icing...I didn't have any on hand...blessing in disguise?)
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9x13 in pan (I used my bundt it was kind of like a carrot cake pound cake...mmmmm)
2. In a bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla.  Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans.  Pour into prepared pan.
3.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 min (I think I did right around 50), or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack (I turned it right on to my cake holder) and cool completely.
4. To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, Neufchatel cheese, confectioners' sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla.  Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Stir in chopped pecans.  Frost the cooled cake.

It's so yummy!  I would take a picture, but it's almost gone!  lol  I hope all of you are experiencing God's goodness in a special way.  He really does care about all the details of our lives.  He does answer prayer.  He is faithful.  God bless!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A 5K with my friends...

Today was race day.  Our little town hosted its second annual "Out of the Darkness" one mile and 5K race to benefit Wellspring Living, a center that serves survivors of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation.
My friends, Jennifer, LeeAnn, and I all signed up to do the 5K race...even though we weren't really planning to do a whole lot of running.  I feel that I am probably the most out of shape of the three of us...even though Jennifer's youngest is just 5 mos. old.  Girlfriend has done well since her little one was born!  All three of us have small children (Jennifer--3 kids; LeeAnn--4 boys; Me--3 kiddos, too) and are in the same general place in life right now.  We want to minister to those in our churches and community, and saw this as an opportunity to support a cause that reaches beyond our town and throughout the world. 

I heard recently that Atlanta, GA was one of the top...if not THE for sexual abuse and exploitation.  Crazy, right?  It is a battle that reaches beyond this physical world and into the spiritual realm.  A prayer was offered up today that many would experience freedom from this type of bondage and that God would do a might work through our prayers and efforts. 

So back to the 5K.  This was actually a big deal for me.  For years now I've wanted to do a 5K.  Before I got pregnant with Seth, I had begun to train...running when I could and building up my time.  My friend Leslie and I did my first ever race together...a 1 mile.  But in my heart I've always just wanted to take the plunge and do a 5K.  This race was coming up and in my heart...even though I haven't been exercising much...I wanted to try it.  I felt confident I would be able to walk the whole thing.  I just knew it would take a while.  Thankfully I have some good friends who wanted to walk, too.  This was a great time of fellowship for us.  We were able to talk and catch up--it was so encouraging to me.  We were keeping a pretty steady pace, too.  We thought we would never make it in less than an hour.  Right at the end we decided to jog the rest of the way.  By doing that, we all made it right under an hour.  What a blessing! 

When I got home and started talking to my hubby about it there were a lot of thoughts and feelings.  Like I said, this was kind of a big deal for me.  When the girls and I were talking, we said something about where we were this time a year ago.  I mentioned that I had just had Seth (he was about 2 mos old around this time last year).  But a lot more was going through my mind.  By this time last year I knew that there was a lump on my esophagus and that it was serious.  Serious enough that by June of last year I had to have a biopsy.  The rest of the story is something many of you know...but just to recap I proceeded to have two surgeries, at least two "scary" phone calls with doctors telling me that I had cancer, and a swirl of emotions, physical and emotional pain, and it really would take me forever to say all of the challenging details of the year.  I told my husband that I was just glad that I made it.  I made it through that race today and I've pressed on and run the race that the Lord has set before me last year...and I'm here!  And I couldn't have done it without SO MANY people praying for us and ministering to us.  I don't think I have ever felt so loved and God's hand on us so clearly as it was last year.  I'm still dealing with a few health issues, and my legs are protesting from what I put them through today, but I'm really feeling better than I have in a long time.  Praise God! 

I'm going for my six month check up with the endocrinologist on Monday.  Please pray for me.  I have some concerns that I'm going to address and I pray that everything will go smoothly.  As you can imagine, I still struggle with the thought of some new health issue coming up.  I'm a little overly cautious about aches and pains that I have...definitely more than I used to be.  I'm working on that, and hopefully soon I'll be able to let go of some of these fears.

But today...and tomorrow as I celebrate Mother's Day...I rejoice in seeing where God has brought me.  I have three beautiful, fun children and a husband that I love dearly.  I am blessed.

God bless you!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Making Granny Proud: my strawberry freezer jam experiment

On Monday of this week I learned that the strawberry patch we went to before was lowering their prices to get some ripe berries picked. the last minute the kids and I went out to the strawberry fields.  A few friends joined us and we had a great time driving out to the Montezuma countryside.  The weather was a little on the cool side, but it was so nice to be outdoors.  The kids helped me pick a little, but they mostly had fun just running around, playing on the seesaws, and eating some of the delicious strawberry ice cream.  Days like that are the ones I want to take slow...freeze in time.  Soak it in.

I ended up picking about 5 lbs of strawberries that day and my plan was to try to make some strawberry freezer jam.  I had heard that it was a little less complicated than jelly (no jar or lid boiling).  It took me a while to start cutting my fruit up, but by Tuesday I knew I had to get down to business if it was going to happen.  So after I had lunch cooking, I got busy!

I was able to use some recycled jelly jars...which was great!  Another great thing was that my berries are pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide free.  So I know that this will be better option for us.  Here is the recipe I used:

Strawberry Freezer Jam
4 cups crushed fresh strawberries (I had trouble crushing mine by hand, so I put them in the they were really mushy.  I left a few unblended, so that helped chunk it up a little.)
2 1/2 cups sugar (the recipe called for 3 cups, but I only had 2 1/ that's all I used.  My jam is definitely sweet enough!)
1 (1.75 oz) package of dry pectin (I used the SureJell that you can do less sugar with...I think it's a pink package in the jello section)
3/4 cup water
*I also squeezed the juice of one lemon in there...just because I thought it would give it some extra flavor.  I think it worked because I can kind of taste the nice lemon flavor in there...but not too much so it's not too sour.  It's optional, though, and not on the original recipe.*

Mix berries with sugar and let them stand for 10 min.  Stir pectin in water in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over med-high heat.  (and keep stirring it...I stopped for a minute and it started trying to stick) Boil 1 minute.  Stir the boiling water/pectin into the berries.  Let it stand for 3 min. before pouring it into containers.  Place tops on containers and leave 24 hours.  Place in freezer until ready to use.

I just took my jar with the small amount out a few minutes ago to taste.  I made a piece of toast.  My jam was kind of like a frozen slushy.  I'm not sure if I'm supposed to take it out and refridgerate it when I'm ready to use it or not.  I guess I'll figure that out : ).  But it was still good a little cold.  The warm toast helped "melt" it a little. 

My Granny is the ultimate jelly maker.  She has even gone out into the woods by her house, picked wild grapes and made jelly out of it!  Amazing!  She's done some jelly making tutorials with me before, but I've always been a little intimidated to try it myself.  This was a good first step!  I'm going to try and take her a little sample of my strawberry jam this weekend for Mother's Day...I hope I make her proud. : )

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bread Baking

I've had several friends cross my path lately who are doing some serious bread baking.  Grinding their own wheat, using their freshly ground flour to form bread dough, then letting it rise and eventually baking it.  There was definitely a time when I thought these people were a little on the extreme side.  Why bake bread when you can just pick up a loaf at the grocery store?  Why go through all of that effort..and who can afford a wheat grinder?! 

  I have tried to just use wheat flour and bake my own bread.  Most of the time it ends up coming out really dense and everyone tastes it and then wants nothing to do with it. So it didn't take much for me to give up.  I've mentioned my desire to start moving towards some healthier alternatives.  With that desire has come repeated encounters with my bread baking friends.  I am convinced.  I want to be one of them.  I want to be a part of the bread baking community.  But I'm not there yet.  

I'm trusting God with some things right now.  If He wants me to include bread baking into my health journey, I'm all for it.  The trusting Him part comes with some serious provision.  I'm going to trust Him to provide the tools I need to do this or that He'll provide someone I can buy bread from.  As of right now we're still buying store bread, but I'm very ready to make a change.  It's killing me to wait and be patient for God to do what needs to be done.  I'm very much a take charge type.  But I think God is going to use bread to teach me more than one lesson.

A few weeks ago, after I had already been contemplating this bread thing, an old college roommate and I got back in touch and she was telling me all about how their family has been on a health journey the past 3 years.  She said that she had started baking her own bread, cutting sugar out of their diet, etc.  She and her family were passing through a nearby town, so we decided to meet up.  We had a great time and she was kind enough to bring me a loaf of her homebread and some delicious cookies that she made without traditional sugar.  My family LOVED both!  So much so that I wrote my friend and asked for her bread recipe.  If I start bread baking, this is the recipe I'm going to use.  It's delicious.  I asked her if I could share the recipe on here.  She said here it is!  Bread bakers enjoy! : )

Bread recipe (from Jamie Schroer)
1 cup hard red wheat grains + 1 cup hard white wheat grains + 1 cup Kamut (all ground in grain mill)
1 1/2 cups water
 2 tsp Redmond real salt,
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup clover honey
 1 1/2 tbsp Instaferm yeast

They go through preheating, kneading, rise 1, kneading, rise 2 (in a bread machine).  Then I divide the dough and put it on pan or in loaf pans to rise a third time. Bake at 350 for 32 min. This recipe is derived from the Breadbeckers basic dough recipe; tweaked and simplified.

Please keep me in your prayers as I wait for direction on baking bread myself!  : )  One thing I have seen over and over again on this journey is that God keeps providing and putting healthy options in our path. He is good! God bless!