Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Eve!

i ran around town like a chicken with my head cut off this morning
running last minute errands
picking up groceries
and meeting a good friend for lunch

i've never been the type to be out and about on Christmas eve,
but that's just how it turned out this year
and it actually wasn't bad!
(well, i knew lunch would be wonderful, but the rest was a nice surprise)

now that everything's checked off the list though,
we've got the best part to look forward to:


Daniel got off work early, so we're all home
and there is nothing left to do but celebrate Christmas:
the coming of the Christ to earth, in a manger as a baby named Jesus
(read the Christmas story here)

our family is kicking off the Christmas celebration by:
- going to a Christmas eve service at our Church tonight
- giving the kids their Christmas jams
- spending time together
- wrapping up the last few presents
- trying to go to sleep, despite all the excitement
(let me tell you, Christmas morning is way more exciting for me as a parent than it ever was before)
- reading scripture, reminding ourselves of the good news and responding with joy!

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased"
Luke 2:14

may the song of the angels 
be the Gospel song that causes your heart to sing this season, friends

Merry Christmas, from my little family to you and yours!
*photo by green ginger photography

Friday, December 20, 2013

here come ninjabread men!

in my last post, i mentioned making ninjabread men with my girlies
as one of our new Christmas tradtions
well today is the day that i share the recipe with you!
(note:  you should be very excited, this is the best gingerbread recipe i have ever tried...no joke, peeps!)

and it's quite fitting that i broke out the ninjabread man cookie cutters
not just because ninjas make everything more awesome, 
but because these guys are surprisingly both delicious + healthy!

imagine chewy, spicy, perfectly sweetened gingerbread men
that are free of grain, soy, dairy, egg and refined sugar

i wondered if it was too good to be true when i stumbled upon the original recipe
then i figured i'd give it a shot - if they didn't work out, i never had to make them again, right?
let's just say, i will be making these again....and again, and again!

dry ingredients:
2 1/4 cups (packed) almond flour
1/2 cup organic, non-gmo coconut sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt 

wet ingredients:
1 1/2 tbsp organic applesauce
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp blackstrap molasses


- preheat your oven to 325* then line your biggest baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside

- combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well

- add wet ingredients and stir, stir, stir!
(at first, it'll look really dry, but just keep on stirring - eventually, you'll begin to see a dough forming...we used our favorite spoonula so the girlies could help stir, but i'm sure you could get your hands dirty and knead to help speed it up)

- roll out said dough between two sheets of parchment paper until it is about a 1/4 inch thick, then put your cookie cutters to work! (once again, i used ninjabread cookie cutters, but any will do) 

- repeat until you're all out of dough - try not to eat all the dough in the process (we had to convince the kiddos to save some for baking!)

- place the cookies on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes; try to let them cool completely before removing them from your tray
...we may or may not have snuck a couple before that point... 

the cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container
ours only lasted two days (oops), but i can vouch for their freshness that far!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Traditions

are there certain things that your family does every year during the Christmas season?
growing up, we didn't have many Christmas traditions
but the few we did have are so special to me
if you follow me on instagram, you saw this post last week:
my mom has been baking up a storm lately
she's made a little of this, and a little of that
but mostly she's made batch after batch of these, using my Grandma's secret recipe:
aren't they gorgeous?
they're an Egyptian cookie called "Kahk"
(always a fun word to try and teach someone ;) )
and they don't tend to last long around here...

i've never had the chance to try my hand at making them
(my mom's copy of the recipe is in Arabic - darn, should have paid more attention in Arabic class!)
but i do know that they use up an awful lot of ghee,
they make the house smell amazing,
and they take me back to Christmases past and growing up
most of all, they bring back so many wonderful memories of my grandma

she was an amazing woman, a prayer warrior and the most selfless person i've ever known,
she was also probably the most sarcastic person i've met- the woman was hilarious!
she lost her battle with cancer years ago, but i feel lucky and blessed to have grown up with her around
i'm thrilled that she's pain-free and with Jesus now
and i love thinking back to all those happy times watching her bake and laugh and enjoy life with us

who would have thought that something as simple as Christmas baking could mean so much?
i certainly didn't think much of it growing up
(well, i looked forward to the end product of all that baking, but that was about it!)
but in hindsight, i realize that family traditions mean so much more than simply doing the same things
year after year

so i did some research this weekend,
and made note of some ideas for traditions we can start with the girlies
most will have to wait till next year,
either because it's too late in the season
or because they're just a tad too young to understand / enjoy them this time around

here's what we've already done / started doing this weekend (with our now almost 2 year olds):
- sing Christmas carols together
- give them new Christmas jams on Christmas Eve,
so they can wear them that night and while opening presents the next morning
- baked some awesome ninjabread men
(recipe and pictures coming soon!)
- continued our celebration of Advent at church

and just like that, we've made a step towards creating our own traditions
i'm super excited to make more with my little family
and am really looking forward to being able to explain to them the real meaning of Christmas next year
of Jesus' birth and what that means and why it is such a joyful occasion

i hope you're enjoying the season and feeling festive today,
feel free to share your Christmas traditions in the comments
(or any good ideas for two year olds! ;) )

Friday, December 13, 2013

on going paleo / primal + a handful of recipes (part 2)

hello friends,
happy friday!
what are you up to today?
i spent a couple hours on the phone this morning
tracking down wayward Christmas deliveries,
got creative trying to feed my suddenly-uninterested-in-food toddlers
(anyone else deal with this?  i'd love any ideas / suggestions!)
and spent the entire morning ignoring the to-do list / chores in order to read and play and snuggle
since i gotta make up for all i'm gonna miss tonight
when we leave the girlies with grandma in order to go to Daniel's work party

speaking of which, i have to be ready pretty soon,
and instead i'm sitting on the couch in my jams
hair up in a bun
and not even a hint of makeup on

but yesterday, i listed some grain / gluten free and nutritious meal ideas
and promised to come back with more today,
so this will be short and to the point
(i didn't want to let you down!)

anyway, i hope you give some of them a try - let me know if you do, i'd love to hear your thoughts!

turkey-wich + raw veg
looking for a quick paleo-ish snack / light lunch?  look no further!  i had some cooked and sliced turkey breast in the fridge so i made a cheese "sandwich" using my turkey slices as bread (you could sub the cheese out for some other filling if you don't do dairy) then chopped up some cucumber on the side (carrots or other veggies that don't require cooking would be an easy add-on too)

blueberry scuffins... 'nuff said! 

homemade paleo granola (lots of recipes online...i'm still perfecting mine, but when i do, i'll be sure to share it!) + coconut milk + frozen wild / organic berries (since mid-december isn't really berry season around here)

gluten free "mac n cheese" 
baked spaghetti squash topped with a parmesan and romano blend...it's even the same color as KD, (but way healthier, obviously)!

thanksgiving leftover bowl
another "empty out the fridge" dish - chopped up cooked ham (nitrite free) and peas over a bed of baked spaghetti squash then topped with a guac "sauce" (you can add some parm/romano blend for extra zest)

and that's a wrap!
hope you all have an awesome weekend

Thursday, December 12, 2013

on going paleo / primal + a handful of recipes (part 1)

a couple of months ago,
i decided to go paleo / primal for a few weeks
in an effort to try and heal certain issues i've been having with my body

i went in cold turkey
and suffered from some serious "carb flu"
(which i didn't even know existed before!)
but once i got through about a week of that...i actually felt better!

all of a sudden,
i didn't have to eat every 2-3 hours in order to avoid melting down
i didn't go to bed every night with an upset tummy
my energy and blood sugar levels "magically" evened out
my hair got thicker
my skin became less dry

now, i've never been much of a bandwagon jumper,
but i was sold!
i've always eaten pretty well,
but drastically cutting back on grain and sugar
then focusing on eating high quality protein, as many vegetables as i could fit in + healthy fats instead
had made a HUGE difference in my overall well being

but let's be honest, here:  i'm not always great at sticking to it
in fact, i tend to be an all or nothing type of person
so in order to help myself not let this new way of eating take over / stress me out,
i aim for the 80/20 rule
which means that i try and stick to it 80% of the time
and not worry about it the rest of the time
(although sometimes, it's more like 50/50 - hah!  ...moderation, right? ;) )

at any rate, the toughest part of this whole shift
was coming up with grain free, nutrient dense meal ideas,
especially for breakfast
so i thought i'd share some ideas that worked for me
in case you wanted to give it a try!
(or if you just want some delicious / easy / quick / healthy meal ideas)

**note:  having recently spent a lot of time researching meal ideas, i know it can be overwhelming to sort through a sea of recipes, so i decided to split this post into two parts - come by tomorrow for another batch of meal ideas!**

sweet potato hash

shred up sweet potato and fry it up in some bacon grease...i try to avoid constantly stirring so that it gets a bit of that charred flavor to it - delish!  serve with a side of high quality protein (free range / local eggs, nitrite free bacon & nitrite free smokies with no mystery ingredients added are some of my favorites)

eggs + veg

sometimes, i stuff my eggs with vegetables, sometimes i just plop them on top of or beside them.  if i feel like living it up a bit, i sometimes add a bit of goat brie to my eggs + veg...amaze-balls!
also, this is a great way of using up leftover veggies kicking around in the fridge

paleo shepard's pie

speaking of leftovers, this was one of those "lets throw whatever's in the fridge together" meals that worked out just right:  leftover steamed cauliflower + leftover gaps friendly gravy ( both from our thanksgiving menu) + leftover seasoned grass-fed ground beef (from taco night).  just heat and mix everything together for a delicious shepard's pie-ish bowl of comfort

breakfast bowl

this one was inspired by my sister's favorite breakfast, except i subbed out the hash brown base she usually uses with cubed and pan fried acorn squash.  add some eggs, chopped green onions, plus a sprinkling of mozz and you are set!  oh, and s+p, to taste


Thursday, December 5, 2013

thankful round up


so, thanksgiving came late this year
and even later, is this thanksgiving related post
it's been a long week - deadlines, sick kiddos, Christmas shopping, personal struggles, etc
but despite all the delay, i wanted to share one last thanksgiving post
before moving on to more Christmas-y things

alright, so the first thing i wanted to share was our thanksgiving meal
this year, i made everything but the turkey (thanks mom!),
as well as some dirty rice and a couple pumpkin pies (thanks to my brother and sister in law)

given all the gluten-free / non-inflammatory food research i've done recently,
my portion of the meal was made a little differently this year
so this is what our final menu looked like:
i tried to choose menu items that were gluten / grain free and nutrient dense,
but not sacrifice on taste for my guinea pigs' --i mean, guests' sake
...aaaand most of the recipes were ones i'd never made before
needless to say, i was a bit nervous about how everything would turn out
but you know what?
the dishes worked out so well, and i was super proud to serve the meal to my family!

here are links to some of my favorites + any tweaks i made / comments:
roasted carrot mash
(roasted the carrots in avocado oil instead and subbed out the butter/ghee at the end for coconut oil)
gaps friendly gravy
(i NEVER caramelize anything [too much effort - hah] but this recipe, was worth it...and may have changed my mind on caramelizing!)
coconut "cornbread" muffins
(i totally over baked these + greased instead of lined the muffin tin, and undergreased at that so they came out dark and stuck-on...and they were still gobbled up!)
mulled apple cider
(k, to be honest, i originally made this just to make the house smell amazing, and it totally worked...with the added bonus of being super delicious!  
i cut the recipe in half, replaced the cinnamon sticks with 1 tsp ground cinnamon, and used 1 tsp cloves + 1 tsp allspice for my mulling spices)

alrightee, now that you've gotten a run-down of our meal,
how about a wrap up of my #novemberthanks?
1. for my man, who, despite the cold and fog, skipped out on watching his football to take me and the girls to the beach + a coffee shop breakfast date, complete with bird chasing.
2. to live in a country where i can enjoy the great outdoors and take photos in it, thanks in part to our veterans and their families who have given up so much to keep it that way.
3. for pretty packaging...and the chocolate that it holds
4. for homemade granola + the clear pictures that i can now get on my phone thanks to my hubs fixing it (along with all kinds of other things) for me, and with a smile on his face too!
5. for getting to live out dreams, like my sister and i having kids that would grow up together and be the best of friends - i'd say we're off to a great start
6. for the warmth and shelter of our home and vehicles, especially when the elements aren't so pretty
7. for nourishing food, and how it can help heal our bodies
8. for sunshine, and simple pleasures like trying out new coffeeshops
9. for skillet suppers...'nuf said
10. for mercies that are new every morning
11. for the beautiful seascape we have here on the pacific northwest
12. for coconut "cornbread" muffins, which are evidence of grace in a grain-free life!
13. for found baby dolls and favorite toys
14. for turkey, obviously the kiddos in my life, good food, the anticipation of a big family dinner and Jesus, the source of our joy, who makes all these things possible

and so, with hearts FULL of thanks, we move on to the Christmas season!
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