Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes

Charles and I are pancake afficionados. Pumpkin, banana, blueberry, chocolate chip, oat flour, whole wheat flour, almond milk, applesauce....just a few of the many ingredients we've tried. I wanted to share these that I made this morning because I fell in love with them. So delicious. I usually use frozen blueberries in pancakes but opted to use the fresh ones I had in the fridge. Boy, was there ever a difference! The fresh ones just burst in your mouth and had so much more flavor.

I didn't post a picture of them because you probably would think I was off my rocker. My food tastes good but is rarely photogenic - ha! My son is, however.

Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes

2 egg whites (we had some left over from ice cream - otherwise one egg would work the same)
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Beat eggs and milk together. Add following ingredients one at a time, beating as you go. Fry in sizzling canola oil and drop fresh blueberries on top of the batter in the pan.

Drool and enjoy with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ways My Child has Already Proved Me Wrong

Before you have children, you formulate theories. I-will-never-be-that-kind-of-mom theories. Far from being the exception, I'm probably one of the leaders in this folly. I mean, when you're from an opinionated family like mine, there's no way you can NOT formulate them. Which I realize was actually a very opinionated statement in itself.

So...this list may surprise you. Definitely surprised me. I think the key is being flexible. And willing to eat crow. My child is 16 months old today and he's already proven just about every theory I had about parenting wrong.

* Child-proof locks are for sissy families that are afraid of everything.
   I actually thought of this post while fenagling with the child lock on our bathroom cabinet. Seriously...when you live in a little apartment with nothing to do but get into everything...they become necessary. We even have one on our oven. When I bought the first set of them, I laughed at the one that keeps the toilet lid shut. Can't say I haven't been tempted to buy one myself multiple times since then.

* Only parents up on the latest fads with nothing better to do with their time teach their child sign language.
   Well...when your son screams at you for start to teach him "please," "more," "all done" and "thank you." Out of desperation to keep your sanity. Then, as a stay at home mom going crazy for new activities to keep the boy occupied, you start working on learning other words - "light," "dog," "hurt," "scare," etc.
   It's been so incredibly beneficial I can hardly believe it. Just this evening he made a new connection. He was hitting me on the head with his dog, very hard, and I expressed that it "hurt," and he got it! Actually stopped smacking me. We try to do "love," as well, and he just gives hugs and kisses instead. I'll take that. We're having a lot of fun with it.

* My child will never misbehave in public.
   One word: HA!
   Now...does he have to keep misbehaving in public? No. We're working on it. But I never in a billion years dreamed that my child would be the one hitting other kids with their toys because it was funny or throwing a temper tantrum in the eye doctor's office. Kids are actually rather unpredictable. Imagine that!

* I will not be a pushover mommy.
   When your son looks at you with that mischievous twinkle in his eye and signs, "please," if my reason for saying "no" was in the least bit invalid, it suddenly flies out the window.
   On a serious note, it's also far easier than I realized to just give in to his little tantrums or begging just because I'm lazy and would rather give him what he wants than discipline him. Challenging but necessary to teach him he can't always have his way.

* We will never own noise-making toys.
    We don't own many. But he loves them. So...they're in his repertoire. They do make life a little more exciting for a kid.

I'm sure there are many more, but these are all my tired brain can think of at the moment. Just funny, though, how every day you realize you never knew what you thought you did before. I used to have theories about parenting teenagers, too. Guess where those are now? Out the window, in the dust bin, yeah....gone.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wisconsin Wildflowers

 My heart skips a beat when I see wildflowers. Doesn't matter if they're gracing the ditch of an interstate, or covering a grassy meadow, or peeking through the crack of the sidewalk. They can be dandelions, daisy fleabane, clover or alfalfa, evening primrose...there's no difference. Wildflowers are magical. I sometimes think I like them so much because they just grow so wildly without a care in the world. No wonder-working green thumb gardener cultivates them. No one bothers to water or fertilize them. And yet their beauty astounds the beholder. You know what else I like? That so often people don't even know their names or that they exist, and yet they keep on glory to their Creator. On display for him if for no one else. And when the wanderer happens upon them, they are graced with the gentle surprise of their beauty.

In Wisconsin camping with my husband recently, I had the chance to steal some photos of these beauties. Of course the photos don't do them justice, but they try.

Another reason I love wildflowers: they grow in natural bouquet combinations. No one arranges them but the wind and the birds that drop their seeds. Yet so pretty and whimsical are the arrangements. 

A rather random patch of spearmint growing beside the creek! Delightful find!

The familiar Daisy Fleabane (below) brought me extra joy with its familiarity.  As much as I miss my Kansas wildflowers at least there were some of the same in the northwoods!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Food for Her Household Part 4 - Ingredient Check

Ok, so this cartoon cracked me up. Too true, unfortunately! I didn't mean for this series of blog posts to drag on so long, but a lot has been going on in our life and therefore blogging about nutrition hasn't exactly been a priority. But I wanted to share some things I've learned about ingredient checking before I finished up the series.

Once upon a time I only checked prices. My mom taught me young about unit pricing and I was the price CIA. I'm still serious about grocery shopping on a budget, and I do actually go to two grocery stores with my Little Rascal every week so that I can save money (Aldi rocks!). The extra effort is worth it to me.

Now, I'm the ingredient CIA. Every item I pick up off the shelf of the store I scrutinize. It's incredible what they sneak into innocent food. By doing some extra work and checking out ingredient lists and learning what to look for and avoid, you can take steps to helping your family become healthier.

There is a general health concept that says, "Don't buy anything that has more than 5 ingredients." Now, whereas this is a little stringent, even perhaps legalistic, the principle is good. Every look at the ingredients on a loaf of bread, for instance? They can stretch on for miles! Or tried to buy a can of just tomatoes? Sometimes you have to check two or three cans before you get one that has just tomatoes, water and absorbic acid (Vitamin C) in it! Kinda bizarre. Many extra ingredients are often added to processed foods to make them stretch farther, and to preserve them longer. I get that - from a money-making-manufacturer perspective. But that doesn't mean I have to buy it that way anymore as a housewife. So the first thing I check is how many ingredients there are. If I were going to make bread it would have yeast, water, sweetener, flour, and salt in it (maybe milk and eggs, too). So what does this loaf of bread on the shelf of the store have in it besides those essentials?

Bread may be a poor example because in order for it to stay fresh they have to add those extra ingredients, but it actually works for me because it's a good example of why I'm working on finding good, easy recipes for homemade bread, tortillas, etc. Fruit juice might be a better example. So many juices are chock full of ingredients besides the simple juice and water. I look for the pure juices without added sugar and preservatives and flavors.

Next on the checklist is anything that is non-food: dyes, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives like high-fructose corn syrup(originally from food, maybe, but too processed and too harmful), MSG, BHT & BHA, and sodium nitrate (research more on your own if you want a more exhaustive list). My goal in cooking for our family is to provide food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Anything that is not food to begin with, or processed to the point of being a non-food definitely gets the scratch.

Finally, I look for the quality of the ingredients used. Is sugar high on the list? Do they use sugar alternatives like honey and molasses? Are whole grain flours the primary flours used?

By just taking the time to scour food labels and switch brands on some things you can eliminate quite a few unnecessary ingredients from your family's diet and take a healthier turn in your eating.

Does this mean I never buy any of those things? Unfortunately not. In a perfect world, my husband would never ask me to buy chocolate syrup, which is laden with high fructose corn syrup, and I would always make wonderful homemade bread instead of buying the 40 ingredient kind, and we would be perfectly content without ever eating a bag of potato chips or a Jack's Frozen Pizza. But it's not a perfect world, folks. So we make little regular changes and choose to have a healthy lifestyle perspective and give ourselves grace when we choose to splurge.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Attitude Check

There are two things the Lord has been impressing on me in the past few months: to have a thankful spirit and to lean on his grace.

I have never been a morning person, and although two years as a wife and mom has trained me to rise early and get my day going, I still tend to be bear-like and so, so tired every morning. So each day, after the first hour of playtime and breakfast is over and the day has officially begun, usually about 9:00, I have to make a choice: am I going to define how this day goes, or is this day going to define my attitude?

Because it's my worst time of day, the enemy attacks me especially hard and all of those little things come back to bug me. Offenses from others. Worries about my self-image. Feelings of failure. Being overwhelmed by the day's work ahead.

Today as I was wrestling, my sister texted me the lines of this hymn:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
- Annie J Flint 
I desperately need that reminder of God's grace every morning! I've been camping in 2 Corinthians 12 - thinking often about boasting in my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me. So that is my first line of defense against the enemy, namely, remembering that it is not me fighting in my own strength, but me resting in the victory already won for me by God.

Secondly, as I was starting to fume inwardly about an offense from someone toward me, God prodded me gently to thank him instead of complaining. So I did. Thankfulness actually IS depending on God's grace. In all the ways that we suffer, whether from others, or from less than desirable circumstances, or painful situations, we are to "entrust [our] souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." Our faithful God knows what he is doing in our lives, and asks for a grateful heart from us. 

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

As each day begins, will you ask yourself, "Am I leaning on God's grace today? And do I have a thankful heart?"