31 Days: my favorites

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Welcome! Today is the last day in the 31 Days writing challenge, where I’ve posted every day (except three) for the month of October. Here are my favorite posts from this month:

Raising chickens to overcome fear of animals – I loved this post because I got to put up pictures of our chickens when they were cute little chicks, but also because this was a real issue with a real solution we experienced in the last year.

Food at school – I like being able to give practical, easy-to-implement tips like in this post. My favorite “treat” recipe is also included in this one.

Nourishing recipes worth taking time for: broth – broth is such an important part of natural, whole foods nutrition!

Recipes that saved my sanity – more practical tips, links, and recipes.

A nutty treat – I rarely make up recipes, but I’m proud of myself for this one!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’ve detailed our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries.

Why I write

I must admit, I thought I would have at least a few people read and comment on some of my posts this month. However, that wasn’t my main motivation for writing every day. My hope is that, by writing our experiences, I might help someone, at some point. I know my blog isn’t the fanciest, doesn’t have lots of photos, isn’t expertly designed, but if it comforts or teaches or helps another family going through similar trials, it’s a success! I would have been so encouraged to have found another mom like me when we were in those first couple of years of diagnosis and therapies with Nate.

So in that vein, if you are here for the first time and are dealing with a new (or old) autism diagnosis, try these posts:

Intro to treating autism

2014 check-in

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Q&A time

I’m enjoying this 31-day journey of writing every day, compiling our experiences, and thinking through what has become important to us nutrition-wise over the years. Is there something I haven’t covered that you are wondering about? Leave a comment, and I’ll answer your questions in another post!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Eating well when eating out

Dining-Out-Healthy-Way

It’s certainly possible to dine out and eat well, and there are many posts that already exist on this topic! Here are a couple:

The Primal Blueprint Guide to Dining Out

Dining Out, Paleo-Style

Cooking at home will almost always be more nutritious than dining out, of course. And yes, we want to be prepared with quick-to-make and easy-to-prepare nutritious meals in our pantries at home. But sometimes we just have to eat out! When those times occur, I think it’s mostly about common sense and grace. Use our common sense when looking at a menu or asking about ingredients, and then stick to the most whole-foods options we see. Then have some grace on ourselves when we have to choose something less than ideal.

For our family, there are a few places we go regularly. Chipotle is one of my favorites! For the kids, we get a salad (the boys have their lettuce pushed to the side because they don’t like everything mixed together) with carnitas and guacamole, no dressing. Lucy also gets the pico de gallo on hers. I love that Chipotle lists all their ingredients on their website, including GMOs (which their tortilla chips do contain). We also eat at Chick-Fil-A. The kids get the grilled nuggets and a small fry (a treat!). Finally, In-n-Out gets a large chunk of our eating-out money. The kids get either plain meat patties (the boys) or a hamburger protein-style with grilled onions and tomatoes only (Lucy), plus they share one order of fries. Are these choices the absolute best? No. But they are much better than what we used to do. Also, when we do go to a sit-down restaurant with the kids (which is rare), we can usually find a few things to order: plain hamburger patties (check there is nothing added to the hamburger and ask it be cooked with no extras besides salt and pepper), plain steak, side of avocado, side of steamed vegetables, etc.

It’s certainly possible to stick to nutritious eating when you go out. I often find, though, that the price tag for the kinds of foods I want to order for the kids dissuades us from eating out as much as we used to!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

A recipe worth the wait

This is my favorite patience-trying recipe, worth it in so many ways.

Making it this way preserves the raw garlic benefits (mostly from allicin, which is formed from garlic when a compound called alliin in garlic comes into contact with the garlic enzyme alliinase when raw garlic is cut, crushed or chewed. When you heat or cook garlic, alliinase becomes inactivated, preventing the production of allicin).

Pickled garlic

Fresh garlic cloves (several bulbs worth)
Apple cider vinegar
Honey, raw
Jar with lid
Wax paper

Carefully peel the cloves of garlic without nicking them. (If you nick them, they will look funny but are still usable). Peel enough to fill a jar. You can use any size jar.

Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar. If the jar’s lid is metal, cover the mouth of the jar with wax paper and then screw on the lid. (I’ve found it easier to use a glass jar with plastic lid.) Place a label on the jar. Keep at room temp and shake daily for 6 weeks.

After 6 weeks, pour off half the vinegar. (Save this for using in cooking). Add honey to fill to top. Re-cover and shake. Shake daily for another 6 weeks.

The garlic is now ready to eat! You can eat them as a treat or take at the first sign of illness.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

A nutty treat

Do you soak your nuts? :)

Soaking nuts is a good way to make them more digestible, since it neutralizes the phytic acid that naturally occurs in them. Of course, after soaking, they’re all bloated and moist–yuck! So then it’s time to dehydrate them! I have a dehydrator (love it and use it mainly for nuts), but you can also use your oven. This may sound like a lot of work, but it makes the nuts so much easier on your body and also makes the nutrients in the nuts more available for absorption.

Here is a quick rundown on soaking and dehydrating, and then I want to share a delicious recipe. To soak your nuts, put them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water to 2 inches above the level of the nuts. Then add sea salt (quantity depends on how many nuts you have; for a Costco-sized bag of raw walnuts or almonds, I add 2 Tablespoons of salt). Let soak overnight or at least 12 hours. Drain and give a quick rinse. Then spread your nuts out evenly on your dehydrator trays or on cookie sheets. Set dehydrator according to directions, OR put in your oven at the lowest possible setting (150 would be great) for 8-12 hours. I find almonds take longer than walnuts. (After 8 hours, take one out and eat it; is it crunchy or still a bit moist? You aren’t trying to cook it, but you want it to be dried through.) After you’ve dehydrated the nuts, now you can use them to make nut flours, nut butters, or other treats!

Here is a fun and very delicious thing I did this week with some of our dehydrated walnuts.

Chocolate walnut butter

2 cups soaked/dehydrated walnuts

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

2 Tablespoons raw honey or grade B maple syrup (or 1 T of each)

Put the walnuts into a food processor or blender:

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Process until the walnuts turn into nut butter! Here is what they look like after a few pulses:

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And here they’ve clumped together enough to be nut buttery (don’t worry if it seems dry; the honey/syrup will help):

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Now add your cacao powder and honey/syrup:

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Process:

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Scrape down the sides, and process one more time:

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Now enjoy your delicious, healthy chocolate walnut butter! You can do this with hazelnuts to make an even-closer-to-Nutella version. This is good as a fruit dip or eaten straight on a spoon!

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This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: dinner

This week I’ve been detailing what our typical breakfasts (all about efficiency), lunches (all about nutritious taste), and dinners involve. Today let’s look at dinner!

Since dinner is more about variety, I don’t have a “typical” dinner that we eat. However, my tried-and-true, make-them-at-least-twice-a-month meals are lettuce-wrap tacos, spicy honey chicken and sweet potato rounds, and oven-roasted chicken.

Lettuce-wrap tacos

I used to think making taco meat meant using one of those spice packets, but have you looked at those ingredients? You can easily make your own spice combination, or simply brown ground beef with salt, pepper, and 4-5 minced garlic cloves. Then dice and/or prepare your other desired ingredients: tomatoes, avocado (a must for us!), green onions, cheese (if your fam does cheese), salsa, etc. Peel lettuce leaves, and use them like tortillas. Easy!

Spicy honey chickenspicy honey chicken with honey

This is our family’s favorite dinner recipe, hands down. I make a huge batch of the spice rub and have it on hand all the time.

You wouldn’t think that a spice rub would make that big of a difference, but MAN does it. Also, I think chicken thighs taste much better with this recipe than breasts. Grilling also adds that extra deliciousness factor, but I have made this on the stovetop before and it does still taste good.

Sweet potato rounds

This recipe evolved from when I used to make sweet potato fries. Cutting the fry shape gets pretty laborious, so I tried doing it this way, and we all love it!

Preheat oven to 375. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds (not TOO thin or they’ll burn). Coat both sides in coconut oil, then spread evenly in one layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Put in oven for approximately 45 minutes. They should be crisp (and delicious) like fries.

Oven-roasted chicken

I like this recipe so much! I like making a whole chicken, because we can use the leftovers for multiple things, and then I use the bones to make broth.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: lunch

Like I mentioned Monday, lunch (specifically school lunch) around here means good foods I know my kids will actually eat. I like to include a hardy protein (+ fat), a fruit or vegetable I know they’ll actually eat, and a “treat.” Hardboiled eggs, leftover meat, vegetables and hummus, apples, oranges, and bananas all make it into lunches every week.

Now let’s get to the details about those treats!

This recipe is one of our all-time favorites. I started making these before I knew about soaking grains, but now that I do that, I add an extra couple steps. Soak the oatmeal, then dehydrate it if possible. Then proceed with this fun recipe!

Energy balls adapted from the recipe at Smashed Peas and Carrots

1 cup gluten-free oats

1/2 cup raw almond butter or cashew butter (or–better yet–a nut butter you’ve made)

1/3 cup raw honey (to make vegan, which I’ve done when making these as gifts for teachers, substitute grade B maple syrup)

1 scant cup unsweetened coconut flakes/shredded coconut

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything in a medium bowl until incorporated. Let chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then roll into balls. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

For schools that do not allow nuts, the above recipe can also be made with sunflower seed butter.

Another treat I like to give the kids is healthy cookies. I’ve yet to come across the perfect recipe that all three children love (usually two love something and one doesn’t!) AND that are nut-free. Here is our favorite easy cookie recipe that does include nuts.

Almond-coconut-chocolate cookies

1 cup raw creamy almond butter

6-7 Tbs raw honey

1/4 cup raw cacao powder

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (can make your own by grinding oats)

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk almond butter, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add oat flour, cacao powder, and baking soda. Stir until combined. Scoop dough into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Place on baking sheet and press down with a fork, forming a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Yields 12 cookies.

Finally, sometimes I like to put a piece of bread or a waffle into the kids’ lunches. HereIMG_2737 is a good coconut flour bread recipe I’ve made a couple of times (nut free!) from The Paleo Mom, and here I posted our favorite waffles.

Paleo Bread

4 eggs

4 Tbs butter or coconut oil

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 baking soda

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 7.5″x3.5″ loaf pan with wax paper.  Grease the wax paper with coconut oil.
2.    Melt the butter (or coconut oil if using) and let cool slightly.
3.    Beat eggs until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and beat again until smooth. Let the batter sit for a minute to thicken.
4.    Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Spread it out so that the surface is even. Bake for 35 minutes.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

Details from a day in the life: breakfast

Yesterday, I gave some basics on what our daily eating generally looks like. Here are the details on breakfast.

Once every two weeks or so, I make a big batch of these sausage patties. Once they’ve cooked in the oven and cooled on the counter, I put them in the freezer. Then, in the mornings, I put a couple into the toaster oven at around 300 degrees for 7-8 minutes. If we were crunched for time and I could only serve one thing for breakfast, it would be these! They’re packed with protein, good fats, and vegetables.

Sausage patties

Makes approximately 24.

2 pounds ground meat (I use grass-fed beef)

2 eggs

1 T sea salt

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp pepper

¼ tsp ground ginger

handful of greens like kale, spinach, chard

1-2 carrots

1 small onion

1 squash, zucchini, raw or cooked cauliflower, or whatever other vegetable you have on hand that you want to add

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except meat in a food processor and process until smooth. Add mixture to ground meat in a large bowl, and mix together with your hands, a la meat loaf. Once incorporated, form patties and arrange on cookie sheets. Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and store in the freezer.

Most days, we also have oatmeal (though Nate doesn’t like it so I don’t make it for him). Here’s how I prepare ours:

Oatmeal

Put 1 to 1¼ cup warm filtered water into a pot. Add scant cup gluten-free rolled oats. (If using steel cut oats, use 2 cups water to 1 cup oats.) Add one Tablespoon of an acidic liquid like lemon juice or whey. Let sit for 7 hours or overnight.

In the morning, no need to drain. Just turn on your burner and bring to a medium-high heat. When bubbling, turn to low and cover the pot. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove cover and stir. Sometimes I let ours cook a couple minutes more with the top off.

To serve, put into bowls (this serves two) and put a huge pat of grass-fed butter on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with raw honey or grade B maple syrup.

See www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/04/soaking-oatmeal.html for more details!

See www.weedemandreap.com/guide-soaking-sprouting-sour-leavening-grains-part-5/ for a great intro to soaking.

Finally, scrambled eggs are almost always part of our breakfasts. It’s not rocket science, I know, but here’s how we do ours:

Scrambled eggs

Heat 1 Tablespoon coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. Crack 8-9 eggs into a bowl and whisk. (I don’t add any other liquid! But if you want to, you can add a liquid–raw milk if available or even water.) When the skillet is hot, add the eggs. Let cook for a bit, then scramble to the doneness you like.

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.

A day in the life: what our daily eating looks like

Sometimes, I don’t want to read about philosophies and lofty ideas; I want the nitty gritty. I want someone (whom I trust, who researches like I do) just to tell me what to do. And sometimes it’s nice to look into the practical side of someone else’s life. So here is what a typical day of eating looks like for us. After today, I will post recipes and explanations for each meal.

Breakfast

During the school year, breakfast is all about efficiency and a nutritional “bang for our buck.” Here’s what I do most days:

8-9 scrambled eggs (Nate and Levi)

2 sausage patties (Nate and Lucy)

2 servings of pre-soaked oatmeal with butter, cinnamon, and raw honey (Lucy and Levi)

Lunch

My kids rush through lunch at school (because they want to get to recess), so lunch is all about good foods I know they’ll actually eat. I like to include a hardy protein (+ fat), a fruit or vegetable I know they’ll actually eat, and a “treat.” Here are some foods that regularly make it into the rotation:

hardboiled eggs or leftover meat

hardy soup in a thermos

vegetables and hummus

apple, orange, or banana

treats: energy ball recipe, plantain chips, homemade cookies, buttermints, homemade coconut flour bread or waffle

Dinner

While breakfast is about efficiency and lunch is about taste, dinner is more about variety. That means I don’t have a “typical” dinner that we eat, but here are the meals that I make at least once every two weeks:

lettuce-wrap tacos

soup

spicy honey chicken, sweet potato rounds, cucumber salad

oven-roasted chicken (then use the picked bones for broth), salad

Over the next few days, I’ll go meal by meal and give some details and recipes. Have a great Monday!

This post is part of the 31 Days writing challenge, during which I’m detailing our family’s journey through autism as it relates to the one lifestyle change we made that had the greatest impact on our son’s recovery: nutrition. Click here for a list of all this month’s entries as they are posted.