In the last month, my family and I have finally made the leap into the world of gluten-free living. We feel great (well barring the fact that we’ve been sick the last couple weeks), but generally we have more energy, sleep better, and have betteer concentration. One of the drawbacks has been, however, that my husband can’t stop losing weight. I know, doesn’t sound like a very bad problem to have. Since I’m the one that got us into this mess, I decided I should try and find a way to make some calorie/energy dense snacks that would be easy to carry and easy to eat (something that tastes decent considering we don’t eat gluten or refined sugar). Inspired by these butter pecan granola chips, I decided to make some maple pecan granola bars. I could find recipes for bars and recipes for maple-pecan granola but none for maple pecan granola bars! And so I fused a few recipes together, and this is what I came up with.
1 2/3 cups quick oats (gluten-free)
2/3 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups pecans (dry roasted)
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
Directions: First, start by dry roasting your pecans on a skillet. While those are roasting (and while you’re stirring them periodically), combine the dry ingredients and mix. In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil, then add to the dry ingredients. Finally, take your now roasted pecans and either throw them in a food processor for a few minutes or just chop them (if you prefer chunky) with a knife, and add pecans and raisins to the mixture.
Preheat your oven to 350 and, line a 8×8 with parchment paper (for thicker granola bars. For thinner, crispier granola you could try something bigger.) Press your batter firmly into your prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes then cut with a serrated knife once completely cool. Store in an air-tight container.
I recently finished The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. One of my favorite things about her book is the many, many tutorials from sewing projects to making natural glue. Yesterday, Auden and I experimented with her natural glue recipe. Since Auden still enjoys exploring the world via her mouth, this is a great way to let her explore glue without worrying overly much about the repercussions.
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Directions: Place the sugar and flour in a saucepan, and slowly add cold water until it forms into a paste. Stir over heat until glue thickens. At this point add in the white vinegar. The glue will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Let the glue warm to room temp prior to using it.
I just finished reading Wheat Belly. I inhaled this book like you’d inhale a good old Einstein’s bagel with cream cheese. I read it in three days. Perhaps it’s the fact that I put this book on hold three months ago and had to wait for 22 other people to read it before I got a hold of it, or perhaps it’s because it’s interesting and funny and I’m a bit of a health junky these days. In many ways I hate that I love this book, in the same way that I hate how much better I feel when I don’t eat wheat. I love pizza and rolls and scones and cookies. So I hate loving this book, but I love it nonetheless.
William Davis isn’t just some guy with an interesting new health idea, he is a preventative cardiologist. In his book Wheat Belly, William Davis does a compelling job of looking more closely at the history, genetic makeup and physical ramifications of eating wheat. One of the main ideas of his book is that the wheat we are eating today is not the wheat our great-grandmas were baking with. The wheat we are eating has been significantly altered by human engineering (the crossbreeding and hybridization of wheat). We altered wheat with the desire to increase yield and efficiency while decreasing harvesting time. The intentions for this project where noble and good, this push for new, “stronger” wheat came out of a desire to help solve world hunger issues. But while the intentions where good, Davis puts forth a good argument that the ramifications have been devestating.
I enjoyed the straightforward structure of Wheat Belly. The book is divided into three parts, in the first part he provides a helpful sociological and historical framework for understanding wheat and the deconstruction of wheat, as he explains the shift from the wheat our ancestors ate to the current “dwarf” wheat that graces our tables. In the second portion of the book, he does a thorough overview of how wheat affects our bodies from head to toe (from affecting our cholersteral, to diabetes, to skin problems to aging, to how it affects our brains!). It gets a little thick in the middle, and people could probably skip around chapters to read about the health concerns that are most pertinent to them. The third part reads as a sort of how-to as he discusses how to live gluten free, and he provides lots of great receipes and food ideas. This book is a great collaboration of theory, medical research, and how tos.
He makes a compelling argument that this is not just a concern for those who suffer from gluten intolerance and sensitivity but that this is something that should be on everyone’s radar. I’ll admit, I’ve totally bought into his argument, and so I should offer a disclaimer: I am incredibly gullible. I hold a reasonable amount of skepticism when reading new research (asking questions such as who funded the research, how large was the sample size, was it a double-blind study, etc.), but when it comes down to it, if you throw enough compelling rat studies in front of me, I’m hooked. It’s a hard life being this gullible. If I’m equally compelled by The China Study as by Wheat Belly, then it can make eating pretty tricky (currently I’m experiementing with a vegan, paleo diet…I know sounds like it should be an oxymoron). One thing that I liked about his theory is that it is aligned with some other nutrion/health ideas that I have found compelling in the last year. A year ago I read “Is Sugar Toxic” by Gary Taubes. In this article he talks about the damage sugar does as it is high in the GI (Glycimix Index) scale and therefore causes our bodies to produce high amounts of insulin after we eat it. Davis’s argument is pretty much in the same vein, since wheat (white, wholewheat, all wheat) is actually higher on the GI scale than table sugar. So the fact that his argument fits in nicely with health arguments already out there makes it more compelling for me. Now I just have to figure out how in the world to avoid both wheat and animal products!
I’ve been going a bit pumpkin crazy these days. Making spiced pumpkin lattes in my crockpot, pumpkin playdough and my current pumpkin obsession: these chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins I’ve been eating all week. I was inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie’s single serving chocolate-chip pumpkin muffin (I enjoyed many of these last fall). But since then I’ve gone gluten-free and wanted to find a gluten-free version that could be just as good. I really like the addition of sorghum flour in this recipe as it adds a nice lightness.
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 T canned pumpkin
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 T organic sugar (such as sucrant or rapadura)
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat over to 330, combine all ingredients and mix well. Spoon into muffin/cupcake baking cups (or just spray muffin pan with pam). Bake for 20 minutes.
*Sometimes when cooking with sorghum, I find it can be quite dry. If it’s still dry add in more almond milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
This last week Auden and I threw an Equinox party for my two sisters and two nieces. As part of it, I put together some “Fall Bags” for each of them. These pumpkin spice play-dough mason jars were one of the main fall components of each bag. I loved making these as they made my
hands house smell amazing.
These were quite straight forward to put together.
1) Make the pumpkin spice playdough. I found this great recipe for the playdough. The only additions I made were to add orange food coloring and a little bit of allspice.
2) While the playdough is chilling out in the fridge, make the labels. Last year on pinterest I found these great mason jar labels. Print them on a thick card stock, cut out and modge podge it onto the lid (both front and back of label).
3) Tie a fun a fall cookie cutter onto the jar with some twine or ribbon or yarn.
*This is also a fun fall gift/craft to put together as you can do 3/5ths of it with your two-year old if you so desire. Auden was able to help make the playdough (except for the stove potion). And the modge podging I was able to do during her nap.
A few weeks ago my mom took Auden for an impromptu baking date. One of the many benefits of living 5 minutes from my parents is having things like impromptu baking dates happen. When you spend so much of your waking hours in charge of another being’s safety, well-being, and happiness, making sure they have decently nutritious food in their stomach, dry diapers, and aren’t eating inappropriate amounts of play-dough, the open space when they are gone can be deafening. When I have “free space,” I feel this overwhelming desire to A) do something with this time that I will deeply enjoy and that is B) empoweringly productive. Not sure this is necessarily a healthy response to “free time,” but that’s how I feel when I’m gifted with a few precious hours to myself. I’ve been crocheting for a few years but have had knitters’ jealousy for most of that time. So with a few extra hours on my hand I decided I’d finally sit down with needles, yarn, and the internet and learn to knit. I watched many videos, some helpful, some more confusing them helpful, and I’ve put together my list of favorite videos for each step of the process. For my first projects I’m making scarves, lots and lots of little scarves for my daughter and two nieces. Hopefully soon I’ll upgrade to the pearl stitch so I can start making cowls, handwarmers, and leggings. But for now, scarves. I’m really enjoying knitting, for whatever reason I find the movement of knitting to be more relaxing than crocheting.
4 Videos to get you Knitting:
1) Learn to cast on with this video
2) Learn how to knit your first row with this video (for some reason this was the hardest part for me to get the hang of, it took a few tries). This video isn’t the best quality but she gives a lot of helpful bits of information in her tutorial).
3) Learn how to knit the knit stitch
4) And finally how to cast off (I actually learned how to knit back in college but never learned this important step, and so I had a never-ending scarf that I just kept working on. Casting off is an important step apparently).
I’m looking forward to my first official fall as a knitter! I hope these videos help get you knitting this fall too.