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If you have ever eaten gluten-free bread (or even FELT a piece of it) you know what a challenge it is to find one that does not feel like a brick or a stiff piece of cardboard.  In the past I have had to toast the bread to soften it enough to make it possible to bite through the thing (so forget taking a nice sandwich along for a picnic).   I have recently found 2 breads (one homemade and one from the store) that are actually tender… PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!!  The softest one that I have found from the grocery store is Udi’s.  At Whole Foods it costs $5.99/loaf, but surprisingly, Reasor’s has it in the frozen area for $4.99.  Lately I have come across quite a few $1 off coupons on the computer, so do a quick search and print one if you are going to try it out.   I like to keep it on hand for lunchtime sandwiches. 

How about homemade bread?  It has taken me a while to find a good recipe, but we finally have a winner!  This recipe is found on food.com, and here is the link: http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-french-bread-180306.  I do a few substitutions: 3 whole eggs instead of egg substitute, honey instead of sugar, olive oil instead of butter, and I use raw apple cider vinegar.  I put it all in one bread pan and bake it, and here is how it looks (drum roll…)

It sure does fluff up nicely, and it is oh, so soft. 

In other news, I have had a hard time lately coming up with a big enough (hearty enough) breakfast for Daniel; I think he is finally having a growth spurt AND his tummy isn’t hurting first thing in the morning.  He is really picky about eggs– he used to love scrambled eggs with bacon but won’t eat them now- so I have been trying different options.  Since we don’t eat cereal, and he can’t have oatmeal, I have been pretty frustrated.  The only consistent thing has been bacon!  My dad calls him “the BACONATOR“!   As you probably know, bacon isn’t cheap, so I have had to find ways to use it more as a flavoring.  Last week I came up with a wonderful creation…  a breakfast sandwich.  In order to get him to eat the fried egg I decided to fry it in bacon grease to give it some bacon flavor.  Then I break up one piece of bacon (I keep it frozen after I cook it), add the egg, and serve it on “buttered bread”- Earth Balance (soy free).  Here it is:

Of course this picture shows it on an English muffin, but it wasn’t big enough, so I changed it to bread the next day. 

HE LIKES IT!!!!!!!!!!   -For now, anyway.  😉

As most of you know, Mike has had THREE different jobs in 2010… what a long year it was!!!  His second job was 100% commission (as is this current one).  With the decline of the housing market lately, this was a really dry time for the mortgage industry.  In fact, things got so bad in the end of the summer/early fall that he did not have a real paycheck for about 6 weeks (that means not even big enough to cover our mortgage).  At that point, we decided to see if there was any way we could qualify for food stamps.  God worked powerfully, and though we wouldn’t normally qualify, the case worker I met with happened to be a former realtor and understood what it is like to be commissioned.  He somehow worked the numbers (he was honest, but he had to project ahead for an average), and we got some help.  Mike and I were amazed that we were given $640… way more than we could have expected!  Because we qualified for food stamps, I was able to qualify for WIC.  Unlike food stamps which only gives you money one month at a time, WIC gives you 3 months worth of “coupons” for food all at once.  Although it is humbling to have to ask for assistance, it is such a relief to feel like you don’t have to worry about whether you can put food on the table or not.  I spent quite a bit of time researching how to best use these resources to do our best to still eat healthy.  A blogger I like had written a series of posts about trying to eat well on a food stamp budget that helped a lot (http://nourishedkitchen.com/food-stamp-challenge-week-1/) Here are some of the things I learned.

Food stamps are great because they give you such freedom!  We got a debit-type card that you swipe like any other when you check out, so it was super easy.  I don’t think that there was a store I shop at that did not accept it, so yes, I could even keep going to Whole Foods to get some of the specialty stuff I need for Daniel.  Thankfully I had recently found out from a friend that some Wal-Mart Markets had started carrying gluten and casein free foods, so I went to check it out.  I was able to get the Tinkyada brown rice noodles/spaghetti that we love there for about $1 less that WF, as well as better prices on Muir Glen organic tomatoes and some Bob’s Red Mill grains like brown rice flour.  I mainly used the food stamp money to stock up on basic ingredients such as these and fruits, veggies, etc.  Oh, another thing I used them on was honey.  Normally I like to order raw honey from the food coop, but I couldn’t justify that, so I found the next best thing at Reasor’s- Cheatwood’s honey.  Quite a few stores in Tulsa sell it, but Reasor’s has the best price AND they put it on sale sometimes.  It seemed like the Lord really made that money s-t-r-e-t-c-h farther than I expected!  -I was often reminded of the story of the loaves and the fishes in the Bible or the widow’s oil and flour.  🙂

What about WIC?  Like most things, there are pros and cons.  The good thing about WIC is that the government is trying to help people make “healthier” food choices by specifying the foods on which you can spend your coupons, i.e. whole grains, cheeses, peanut butter, beans, milk, eggs, fruits and veggies.  However, I don’t agree with everything the government considers healthy- i.e. CEREAL* and JUICE.  Many of the coupons were on these items, but I would have preferred being able to get bags of oats or grains and fresh or frozen fruits!  Of course, I am not in the majority, so I am probably one of the few who dislikes this aspect.  Beggars can’t be choosers, right?  Well, here is how I made the most of my coupons:

 

My favorite store overall to use the WIC coupons was Target.  After hours (literally) of walking down aisles and reading ingredients/comparing sizes, I found some nice options.  Things I liked to get at Target: milk & cheese (the Archer Farms brand actually does not use rBGH! wow!),  whole wheat tortillas (no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils), organic fruits.  Reasor’s was good because they were the only store with the right size cannister of whole oats (WIC requires a specific size)- these were the only whole, unprocessed grains I could get.  They also had the better wild, Alaskan canned salmon (Pillar Rock, I think).  The salmon was a blessing; I got it because I am a nursing mom… you could choose any canned fish. 

Okay, this is getting long.  I had more thoughts on eating well on less money, but I will have to write another post.  I would love to hear if anyone reading this has any great ideas or experiences like this to share! 

* Here is a good blog post that summarizes my thoughts on cereal, in case you are curious: http://www.naturallyknockedup.com/what-is-cereal-good-for/

Last year about this time we had done another test to check Daniel’s mercury levels, and it had appeared that he was finally at “normal”.  Unfortunately, we did a follow-up in 2010 that showed everything (mercury, lead and arsenic) was back up.   Although this was a bit discouraging, our doctor in Pennsylvania has been so wonderful through all of this.  I am so thankful that God put him in our lives to help out! 

In the fall we took a break from the chelator we use (Waiora Natural Cellular Defense Zeolites), and began to focus on the systemic yeast in his body.  The past 2 months have been very difficult because the energetic, happy Daniel we know & love seemed to be disappearing before our eyes.  He became more lethargic and sad, and his speech got quite a bit worse.  Just a few weeks ago we consulted with Dr. Prociuk again and learned that the “die-off” of the yeast in his gut was having a drug-like effect on him.  In addition to restricting gluten and casein free foods, we had to cut out sugar/desserts.  We also gave him activated charcoal twice a day for 5 days.  Fortunately, this has seemed to help some.  We still have to keep him off sugar for a couple more months since it feeds the yeast.   Daniel has been a trooper about all of this, though.  He really has not whined or complained about no dessert (which was really the main time of the day that he had “sugar”- even though that was really in the form of honey or sucanat in things like peanut butter fudge). 

I am the one who has had a hard time with all of this.  Honestly, I am worn out and tired of having to think about food all the time.  I wish I could just give him anything that he wants to eat!   I think I had just hit a wall lately because I feel like there are so few things that I can give him… it just makes me want to throw my hands up in the air!!!!  However, I keep reminding myself that the Lord will give me  wisdom, strength and creativity when I ask Him instead of walking around whining about it.  Here are a few of the new things I have done that he likes lately:

Chebe mixes are AWESOME!  They are made out of manioc root and are really yummy plus they are versatile!  Daniel had been wanting a hotdog in a BUN, but I hadn’t seen any GF buns (besides the fact that many GF items are expensive).  These mixes are about $2.99, and you can do all kinds of things with them.  I decided to give buns a try with it, and they came out great! 

I have been dabbling with gluten-free sourdough lately, so I decided to make some Italian herb foccacia bread using a pizza crust recipe.  Daniel really likes this (esp.  dipping it in olive oil and balsalmic vinagar).

I have been trying to come up with something other than crackers and fruit to give Daniel at meals, and then I remembered a phone consult I won on a blog with Chef Rachel (she wrote a cookbook called “The Garden of Eating”).  She suggested trying a crudite platter with various dips, and he actually likes it (it’s not his favorite, but he will eat it.  Kate really likes grabbing these veggies).  I like to serve them with homemade sundried tomato balsalmic vinaigrette- it is soooooo yummy.  Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.thegardenofeatingdiet.com/pdfs/335CruditePlatter.pdf  I did the broccoli for about 3 minutes, and it comes out beautifully… no bitterness!  Give it a try.

Lastly, we made some GF/CF gingerbread cookies at Christmas time (I used a combo of brown rice, arrowroot and garbanzo/fava flour), and they were really good.  Mike and I actually liked them!  We topped them with some candy and sprinkles that do not have any artificial colors- they were a hit.

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This is my first year with “cut and come again” lettuce, and I LOVE IT!!!!!!!  I don’t think I will ever buy another kind.   It has produced a ton, and it is still growing strong. 

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Part of the herb garden: cilantro, dill and comfrey.

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A massive oregano “bush” from last year that is planning on taking over the whole garden.  It is snuggled up with some violas that came back on their own all over the yard.  I like using them on cakes, in ice cubes, etc.

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Basil, feverfew, sage (and more violas).

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Sugar snap and snow peas.

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Bright lights swiss chard.

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There are 4 types of cucumbers growing… we’ll see which is best. 

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This is an experiment with the “3 sisters” planting.  You plant corn, then beans (which grow up the corn and give the soil nitrogen), and then pumpkin or squash around the bottom.  I planted sugar pie pumpkins… you can barely see one at the bottom right of the hill. 

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Our tomato patch with a ton of weeds. 

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Our first elderberries are finally growing after 3 years!

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Raspberries 🙂

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Blackberries

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Huckleberries… I’ve never eaten them, but I thought it would be fun to grow another fruit.  I actually started these from seed in the house, and they are doing great!  I will definitely post about them once they are ready. 

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Our brown turkey fig tree.  It didn’t do anything last year, but I think it is much happier this year.  We also planted a black mission one next to it this year.

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Yarrow and melons.

Phew.  Just typing all this makes me tired.  I need to get to weeding and fertilizing, but I don’t feel like there is enough time in the day.

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I found this recipe on the blog, “Keeper of the Home” last week and was really excited to try it.  I have been wanting to make a soaked, raw granola, but I didn’t really like the last one I made (it involved soaking the oats in kefir to release the phytates and then cooking in the oven).  I had been thinking through in my head how to do this in the dehydrator instead to help the texture.  Then, lo and behold, here is one that is gluten and casein free!  -Not that Daniel will eat this yet, but at least he can when he gets used to the idea.  Mike and I really like it even though it tastes quite different from granola with oats.  I gave it to the girls in my accountablity group, and they liked it too.  Yum! 

Serene’s Rejuvenation Granola (from Rejuvenate your Life– a raw “cook”  book)

4-5 cups dry whitish green buckwheat (NOT THE DARK BROWN KASHA)… I bought mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods and just eyeballed how much.  This will make about 14-16 cups of sprouted buckwheat. 

¾ cup coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

¾ cup raw honey

½ cup ground flax seeds

1 cup ground raw sesame seeds (I used whole ones)

Cinnamon to taste

Vanilla (I also added a bit of almond extract)

Lots of raisins or other dried fruit to taste

Lots of other yummy things like raw nuts or seeds (I used soaked nuts that I already had prepared with the exception of some pecans.  These were in my freezer, so I just pulled them out the morning I was going to mix it all together and soaked them in water and a bit of salt.  Then I threw them in wet to the mix since they would dry in the dehydrator).  I also added hemp seed since it is so good for you… it’s one of our new favorites, and it does not need to be soaked since there are NO PHYTATES.  Awesome. 

1.  Sprout the buckwheat:  Soak buckwheat overnight in a bowl of water. In the morning, put the buckwheat in a colander, and rinse it very, very well with cold water (buckwheat emits a mucilage, much like flax seeds when they get wet, so if you don’t rinse well enough, they get goopy and smell very off- make sure to shake them around while rinsing to do a thorough job each time). Set the colander in or over a bowl, cover it with a towel and set it aside. Before you go to bed, rinse very well again, and cover overnight. Continue to rinse at least twice a day until it has short sprouts- around 1/2 cm (maybe a 1/4 of an inch or a little shorter?). It usually take 2-3 days.

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2) Mix the buckwheat with all the other ingredients in a very large mixing bowl.

3) Spread on greased mesh dehydrator sheets, just high enough so you can easily fit the next tray on top- I filled 4 of my square trays. 

4) After a few hours, use a fork to break it up a bit into chunks. Leave it to dehydrate overnight or until completely dry and crispy.

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I enjoyed a bowl of it this morning with some strawberries and fresh raw cream from the dairy!!!

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Here is the link to order “Rejuvenate your life”… I had heard about it for a while, but wanted to try a recipe from it before spending money.  Well, this granola sells me on it, so I think I will be ordering it today! 

http://rubies.articledirectoree.com/component/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,27/page,shop.product_details/category_id,11/flypage,shop.flypage/product_id,27/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=27&page=shop.product_details&category_id=11&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=27&vmcchk=1

Here is an awesome post that should inspire everyone!!!  I was thrilled to read through it this morning, and I wanted to share the link so that you can see it too.  For years I have tried different methods of making a clothesline outside, but it keeps getting messed up.  I suppose I will actually have to buy one soon (unless someone has a suggestion that will save me a LOT of money).   Enjoy!

http://www.nourishingdays.com/?p=1266

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I like to make crackers for Daniel out of brown rice tortillas.  These tortillas are not pliable like most since they do not have gluten, so we don’t like to use them like a regular tortilla.  Normally I will smear them with coconut oil and then shake a little herbamare to give them some zip.  I thought I would do something a little different this time, though, so I mixed a bit of ghee (supposedly it does not have any casein left in it since it is clarified butter) and raw honey and cinnamon to make some breakfast crackers along the lines of cinnamon toast.  After I put the topping of choice on, I cut them with a pizza cutter and then put them on a cookie sheet to bake for 10-20 minutes at a low temp (about 300).  Give them a try! 

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I just had to add this picture even though it doesn’t have to do with cooking (but it does have to do with Daniel since he put the bunny ears on our patient, wonderful cat). 

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This is failure number one… sorghum waffles.  They actually taste pretty good, but Daniel wouldn’t touch them.  He was excited about them while we were making them, and he was happy about the raw honey that we put on them, but that was as far as we got. 

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Failure number two… coconut flour bread.  I actually think this tastes better than any coconut flour food I’ve made before, but would Daniel taste it?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.   Argh!!!!!!!!   I finally realized this morning that I need to stop wasting my time and money trying to make gluten free bread products.  I think Daniel really equates them with stomach pain, so I need to cut them out. 

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Here is what I have attempted to do instead… spinach tortillas made in the dehydrator:

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I made a turkey sandwich on the tortilla since I cooked it a little bit too long (it was slightly crispy).  I loved the “dough” for this, but as it dried the spinach flavor got really strong.  I haven’t given any to Daniel yet, so we shall see.  I also have a recipe for a raw tortilla with avocado in it that is good.  I might make that one soon.  Tomorrow I am finally going to make the corn tortillas that I prepared a few months ago and froze (as you can see, tortillas seem to be the one bread-like product that Daniel will eat right now). 

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Here is the biggest winner so far… honey mustard!  Some kids dip everything in ketchup, but Daniel goes nuts over honey mustard.  I decided that I was going to have to make my own if I was going to give it to him.  This one is actually very nutritious since it has raw honey and raw apple cidar vinegar; talk about a lot of enzymes and good stuff!!!!!!!!!!   Here is the recipe:

Honey Mustard Dressing

5 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cidar vinegar

Blend and enjoy!  (As you can see below, rice crackers are even good when dipped in this).

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Well, I think you might be getting the picture that I am having a difficult time with this gluten-free situation.  It is definitely easier for me to get rid of dairy products than wheat/grains.  I am getting ready to look for a sunflower seed cracker recipe (to make in the dehydrator) since he will eat crackers.  I’ll also share later about the rice crackers that I make.  Get excited!

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I talked with Daniel’s doctor in Pennsylvania last Thursday morning as a one month follow-up for the new supplements he is on.  Here is a section of the email that I sent him (as a result he wanted to talk to me on the phone):

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* Gut… this is the big one.  He seemed to start out eating more and doing better, but as the month has gone on things have gone downhill.  He does seem to be digesting his food A LOT better (as evidenced in his stools), but he has had a lot of gas lately and still has some occasional stomach pain.  He used to eat cheese, fruit, almond butter, eggs, meat, milk and a few new things, but he won’t eat these things any more!  About the only things he will eat lately are chicken pieces dipped in a homemade honey mustard dressing, carbohydrates (rice crackers, homemade bread, organic blue corn chips), dessert (something with honey like peanut butter cake or peanut butter fudge).  I am really getting worried about him because this reminds me of what I have read about autistic tendencies of only eating a few foods (not that any other behavior worries me).  I am at my wits end as far as what I can get him to eat- I don’t know if I should try to “make him eat” by refusing to give him anything else unless he eats what I give him or if this is a situation where I need to work with him.  I want him to eat the things he used to eat, and it is very upsetting, especially when I work very hard to give him nutrient dense food that will really nourish him.  As you can see, I am desperate for help in this area.  I have been reading a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall and was wondering if you are familiar with it and what you think of it?  As I had mentioned on the phone, I have been wondering if I should try to do a specific diet such as specific carbohydrate or GAPS.  You told me that you thought it would be hard to do anything like that since he is not eating much, but things seem to be out of hand at the moment.  I will say, though, he is still happy and social, so he must be getting something out of all the supplements he is on (maybe especially the amino support powder?). 

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After talking to Dr. Prociuk, he told me that he believes that we are finally having yeast die-off, so we are upping his probiotic.  I am so thankful for that because it didn’t seem like the yeast would budge with the old yeast medicine that he was taking previously.  Then he proceeded to tell me that it is time to go to a gluten and casein free diet… words I had hoped to never hear!  -Not that it is the end of the world by any means, but it just means changing EVERYTHING again (and it is much more expensive).  At the moment I am quite overwhelmed, but I know that it will help Daniel with his gut and overall well-being.   Well, it is just another challenge that we have to face, and by God’s grace, we will face it victoriously.  Please pray for me as I try to figure all of this out.  Thanks!

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Today at our Natural Mamas meeting I showed my friends how to make whey and then we used that to make sauerkraut.   I have given the recipes for these 2 things on a previous post: https://homecharmer.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/yummy-sauerkraut/  It is so easy… you have to try it!  Here are some other yummy things to do if you are up to the challenge. 

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SALSA

4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (since it is winter I used a large can of Muir Glen Whole Fire Roasted tomatoes.  If you do this, don’t add the salt until you have mixed it up since there is salt in the tomatoes, and then see if you need any)

2 small onions, finely chopped

3/4 cup chile pepper, hot or mild

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped (optional)

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

juice of 2 lemons (this sounded strange, so I added lime juice)

1 tablespoon sea salt

4 tablespoons whey

1/4 cup filtered water (since I used canned tomatoes, I used a little of the juice from can instead). 

Mix all ingredients and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar.  Press down lightly with a wooden meat pounder or a meat hammer, adding more water if necessary to cover vegetables.  The top of the veggies should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temp for about 2 days before transferring to cold storage.   (I did 3 days). 

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PINEAPPLE CHUTNEY

1 small pineapple (I was in a hurry, so I actually used frozen)

1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/4 cup wey

1/2 cup filtered water

{Variation: Hot pineapple chutney… Add 1 small red onion, 1 jalapeno pepper and 1/2 red pepper, all finely chopped.  Again, I was in a hurry, so I added chopped red pepper from a spice jar instead of jalapeno.}

Mix together and put in jar, adding more water if necessary to cover pineapple.  The chutney should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temp for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.  This should be eaten within 2 months. 

That’s all for now.  Happy cooking!