Sunday, January 19, 2014

Today Was a Good Day and GF Banana Ginger Breakfast Brownies

Well the weekend really, was good. It started with my favorite yoga class Saturday morning, that is more like a therapy workout session than just a typical hour at the gym. I joked with a friend before, that "it's therapy but without words", and although this most certainly was a drunken epiphany, I was also speaking the truth. I walked in feeling stressed, stiff, and my mind a bit frazzled. Somehow that hour I can spend on just me completely changes how I see the world. My strength startles me and I am becoming more aware than ever of my poses and openness in them. My husband brought the kids to Kid's Kove (ah-mazing) about a half hour into class and then we met in the hot tub at the rec center. Our Saturday mini date has become a highlight of my week and I love that we are making time just for the two of us. Later in the day we were back at the pool but for a friend's (Yay!! We have friends in Ohio!!!) birthday party, while daddy and Syd (our 15 month old) got some special time together. My son, Frankie, is a bit timid in the water. If his feet can touch he's generally ok but he's hesitant to try anything new. His twin, Veronica, LOVES the water but feeds off of Frankie's timidness. I don't know if it's a twin thing, but these two seem to totally mirror each others emotions. So it was nice that their friends were already hopping thru the lazy river and shouting "come on!!!" to them. They jumped in and were off!! Let me tell you how wonderful it was to not have to get my swim suit on and have two babies clenching and climbing on me; which has been the case when I am on my own with them at the pool, NOT fun. Whining instead of jumping, splashing, and laughing like the other kids their age were doing; all the while their lucky mothers sat on the side of the pool cheering them on. Oh how I longed to be that mom. After 4 and half years and some much needed friends, Hooray!, the moment has arrived!! And nothing felt sweeter and made my heart jump for joy more than watching them take that leap and have fun, on their own!! Hallelujah! 



Came home to a cozy fire crackling, and played board games and laughed with these two awesome kids. I love my family. So much. Spoke to my parents and shared an unexpected and comical moment with my mama and went to bed with a smile on my face. Sunday came along and I made a new soup that turned out delicious; chicken sausage, kale, and lentil soup ~ so so yummy! I also finally found some coconut flour that was reasonably priced to try out a few new recipes. I found this recipe, but I tweaked it a bit. Even my pickiest eater was scarfing these! Definitely a new morning staple around here, especially school days.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Breakfast Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquefied
  • 1/3 cup 100% real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chips (dairy, nut & soy free plus non gmo certified)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Molasses
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 335 degrees. Line a 9x11 baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a VitaMix or food processor, blend together everything except the baking soda and vinegar. Blend until smooth. Add the baking soda and vinegar, blend quickly and pour into the prepared dish.
  • Bake for about 35-45 minutes - until a toothpick comes out clean.

A lot of times, my adventures in new recipes ends in disaster, but every once in a while I get on a roll and it feels great. Got our green drink made for the week and peanut butter. Then my husband did the most amazing thing. He took the kids and went. I was able to focus on getting the office in order and start the ever daunting task of gathering information for taxes. Not fun but so much faster and easier without hearing the word mama every five seconds. We then tested a new recipe for shrimp tacos and homemade fresh tomatillo salsa that I am craving now just thinking about it. All the while enjoying a Moscow Mule in our new copper cups.

This could be the best weekend I have had in a LONG time. And I just don't want to forget it. The next time I am frustrated and my patience level is at zero, maybe rereading this will remind myself that this too shall pass and a great moment is just around the corner. I think the start of this new year has brought an essence of peace to my soul that I didn't realize was lacking. I have honestly never lived in the moment as I am now and embracing the joy that I am so blessed to be surrounded by.

I will leave you now with my favorite overheard Twinning Conversation of the night.

Franklin: "Say Leaf Cup Ron"
Veronica: (whispering) "leaf cup"
Franklin: Louder
Veronica: (in normal voice) "Leaf Cup"
Franklin: LOUDER
Veronica: (screaming) "LEAF CUP"
Franklin: "Awe, that's my girl."

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dissecting Labels -- First up MSG

So I usually get an eye roll or silence when I talk about the bad stuff in processed food. Honestly, I know what they are thinking, I used to think it myself. I try not to stand on a soapbox but once this stuff starts registering it's hard to stop it. I thought it might be a fun project to dissect the labels and break it down as to why this stuff makes me cringe.
Here is my disclaimer, I am not a nutritionist nor a medical doctor in any capacity. I am a mom, trying to make sense of these labels, and find choices that will work for my family. 

I'll start where I began, MSG. Dunt, dunt, dun!!! About a year after the twins were born, my husband and I finally felt we could leave them for a weekend with their beloved grandparents. We booked a trip to an all inclusive health and spa resort. Not the beach but something we had been wanting to do, and not too far from our bambino's either. Here we ate well, took 5-7 different workout classes from intervals, to yoga, to cardio classes. You eat in their dinning room. They have cooking classes and recipes for you to take home to integrate into your life. Spa treatments also were a huge bonus. Nothing like an intense weekend of clean eating, exercise, and pampering to jump start a new lifestyle plan. What I loved most were the nutrition workshops and lectures you could also sit in on. The one that started this new path of mine was set in a faux grocery store; equipped with bad, ok, good, and great products. We were to walk around and shop. What items would you choose? Why? The nutritionist then dissected each category and the why's of the good, bad, and ugly. I was shocked to find out that many companies who promote "No MSG" on their labels were really just calling it another name. This pretty much blew my mind.

If you are not sure what MSG is or the affects of Mono-sodium Glutamate are, look here. You may be saying I don't have those reactions so why do I care? And maybe you don't. But how do you know for sure?I can say for certain that I have never noticed a reaction to it and said "oh geez, I just ate MSG and now I have a headache." However, from someone who has suffered from headaches with no known cause most of my life, is it possible that they are partly caused by MSG? Maybe. So if its even a possibility that it is affecting you doesn't that stand the course to eliminate it from your diet? Maybe you agree, maybe you don't. But for me and my family I tend to err on the side of caution.  What I find interesting, while there have been no proven link to the affects of MSG, (if there were the FDA would be forced to spill the beans) in many diseases, ranging from ADD and autism to cancer patients, there are increased levels of glutamate in the brain. And for a whole list of diseases that are enhanced by this "generally recognized as safe" chemical check out this website.

But if it's so safe then why do companies consistently come up with new "names" for it so that they can purposely list on the label, Look Here!!! NO MSG!!!  Why be so sneaky? The big one I find on most processed food labels is yeast extract, but there are nearly 40 more ingredients that contain MSG that don't have to be labelled as such! This is where my frustration and need to start learning more came from. Here is a LIST of ingredients to watch out for. When I first became aware of this, I would take a print out of this list with me to the store. It's amazing how many items got moved to the DO NOT EAT list. Basically any boxed meal, bouillon cubes, seasoning packets, soy sauce... Eventually I found a few that were free of these things but overall I came to find that cooking with whole foods while harder at times, allowed me to avoid this chemical. I started making my own ketchup, seasoning blends, sauces. It's not hard, google it people. I am not a chef and am still learning ALOT on how to even cook, but I can google a taco seasoning, or homemade ketchup recipe. Then I tweek it a bit... Want it sweeter? Add honey. Want it spicier? Add chili pepper... It seems hard but it really is easier than you think. 

Here is a short list of things to avoid to get you started...
  • Yeast Extract = MSG
  • Low Fat or No Fat milk products (most have carageenan or guar gum = MSG!)
  • "Hydrolyzed" anything = MSG
  • It is even in shampoos, sun screens, and cosmetics... Hydrolyzed anything, amino acids, and protein listed in the ingredients = MSG
  • Aspartame, or it's new clever name AminoSweet = MSG
  • Chicken Pox Vaccine and really any LIVE virus vaccines are suspect to me
  • By food industry definition, all MSG is "naturally occurring." "Natural" doesn't mean "safe."  "Natural" only means that the ingredient started out in nature, like arsenic and hydrochloric acid. (Source taken from here)
If I've peaked your interest on this subject, please let me know! Do you agree, find it silly? Above all, I welcome open discussion on this and any topic and am always looking to learn more.