Adoption journey

Over the past year, the Lord has been growing, teaching, and challenging our family in so many ways! We are responding to the Lord's leading and are expanding our family through the adoption of a precious baby!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Eating Clean on a Budget: Snack Time!

While I try to feed my boys substantial nourishing meals, they are somehow always hungry in between meals! One of my boys has this internal clock and he always asks for a snack at 2pm. I am always looking for simple economical and healthy snack for my boys! I wrote a post on snacks two and a half years ago, but our diet has changed from gluten free to grain free since then. If you can eat grains, you may enjoy some of the granola and gluten free homemade cereal bars.  My new favorite granola is Young Living's Einkorn granola!

Many of our current snacks revolve around fruits, veggies, seeds, beans and nuts. We also love frozen snacks for 100 degree South Carolina summer afternoons!
While there are many foods we avoid, we are thankful that we an eat all nuts and seeds... a couple of my guys are crazy about peanut butter! A simple snack for my boys is a bowl of cashews or another type of nut. My 4 year old likes to add raisins to his cashews and my 9 year old adds sunflower seeds to his cashews for a "trail mix".
Roasted pecans are a crunchy sweet snack!  I mix unrefined coconut oil and honey (3:1) and add a pinch of pink salt, 2 drops YL Cinnamon Bark EO. I toss with a couple cups of raw pecans and baked 45-60 minutes (stirring occasionally) at 275 degrees. 
Roasted pumkpin seeds are a great sweet or salty snack! We use coconut oil instead of butter in this recipe. We also roast cinnamon pumpkin seeds with the same recipe as pecans.

Stove top popcorn is a classic afternoon snack! We add yummy healthy twist to our popcorn with EOs. I pop 1/2 cup organic popcorn in 3 TBSP of coconut oil. After popped, I add Thyme and Rosemary EO infused olive or coconut oil (2 drops each EO to 4oz EVOO), pink salt, and 1-2 TBSP nutritional yeast (gives it a cheesy flavor). I've served this at oils classes and to my hungry boys... always a hit!
Homemade Lara Bars are a huge hit and family favorite! Our favorite recipes are Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Snickerdoodle. I can't wait to try Pecan pie and Peanut butter and jelly flavors!
Whether we're dipping veggies, chips, or a spoon... dips are a great snack! My three and four year olds will grab a bowl of guacamole and eat it with a spoon! I make a super simple version of guacamole with a smashed avocado and my seasoning blend (pink salt, pepper, granulated onion & garlic, cayenne pepper). When entertaining, I add a few more ingredients to guacamole.
Hummus is another easy dip that goes great with veggies, sweet potato chips or organic blue corn chips. This fun "pink hummus" is a cool twist on hummus!
Slow cooker refried beans are a great snack or meal!

My boys go to snack has always been fruits & veggies. They know they can always grab an apple or a tomato on their own (my oldest eats tomatoes like apples:) When our spring/summer garden is growing, out boys eat sugar snap peas right off the vine.
Peanut butter (or cashew butter) logs with celery, banana or apple are a great protein and fruit paired snack.

We love to cool off in the hot summer with a frozen treat! While we stay away from the sugar and artificial colored/flavored store popsicles, we have several great recipes my boys LOVE at home! The "Pina Colada Popsicle" is our most used recipe and we almost always have a stash of these in the freezer.  Here are several Paleo popsicle recipes.

Strawberry Limeade Slushies are another wonderful HEALTHY treat! My boys love the taste and I love the health benefits! 

This NingXia Red Slushiue recipe is great as a slushie or frozen into push up pops!
my boys LOVE NingXia push up pops! Look closely for the little one trying to snag big brother's pop!
Here's another fun variation on antioxidant rich NingXia popsicles!

Unrefined coconut oil is a wonderful healthy fat and is great for supporting metabolism! I try to get at least 1-2 TBSP of this good oil daily! This wonderful chocolate recipe helps our entire family get our daily servings!
I spoon Skinny Chocolate into lined mini muffin tins, add a dollop of peanut butter and freeze. I pop out and store in the fridge. We enjoy getting a serving of healthy unrefined coconut oil in this sweet treat!
I also enjoy a peppermint twist on Skinny Chocolate!

I LOVE cooking with my Young Living essential oils! They are labeled dietary supplement and the ONLY EO brand that I trust to ingest. If you're interested in learning more about essential oils, leave me a comment or get started here!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Eating Clean on a Budget: Lunch

I realize that boys are known for eating large amounts of food... but my kids always want to eat! My 8 year is always ready to eat! He had just eaten a large meal and was "stuffed" but walked into Whole Foods and said, "I'm starving!! I mean, I'm stuffed, but I'm starving too!" Love my funny boy! :)

 Lunch is my toughest meal to plan. I'm usually finally past breakfast and digging into school with my boys. Many days, lunch is a "snack" lunch of veggies and hummus, fruits and nitrate free deli meat.

These ham and spinach roll ups are simple and a great finger food for my boys! It's just ham with spinach and guacamole or homemade dip (Just Mayo with garlic, onion, salt and pepper) rolled up.

I'm a big fan of bacon (nitrate free) and like to make a meal around that main ingredient! This bacon spinach tomato wrap with homemade guacamole on Paleo Wrap was wonderful!

 One of my sons who eat grains enjoyed this BLT on Ezekiel Bread.
"Build your own salad" is a common lunch at our home. We throw together spinach or lettuce from the garden, leftover meat from dinner, chopped veggies (peppers, carrots, cucumber, zucchini), and sunflower seeds. Dressing choices are ACV & olive oil, simple "ranch" with Just Mayo and seasonings, or guacamole.
Guacamole chicken salad is super healthy, easy and amazing!! Throw together leftover cooked chicken, an avocado and seasonings (sea salt, pepper, garlic, onion & cayenne) and serve with lettuce, veggies or sweet potato chips! A simple tuna salad is great too!
A favorite simple hot lunch is cut up hot dogs (all beef nitrate free) or smoked sausage, bell peppers, onions and potatoes (works well with white or sweet potatoes). Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.
Peanut butter (or cashew butter) logs are a family favorite! 
We make these on apples, bananas or celery!
We read about peanut butter roll-ups in a Berenstain Bears book and they have been a hit for years! We've shifted from using wheat wraps, to using Ezekiel wraps or Paleo Wraps
Pizza is a rare and wonderful treat at lunch! Cauliflower pizza crust or Anna's Bread Pizza Crust is wonderful with tomato sauce, pepperoni and sauteed veggies.
Leftovers are also a great hot lunch! We throw together leftover chicken and quinoa or Tolerant Pasta for a quick lunch. 
What are your favorite healthy lunches??

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Eating Clean on a Budget: Breakfast

I don't know about your family, but my boys wake up crazy hungry!! They're ready to eat bright and early!! Most days, they not only eat breakfast, but they come back for "2nd breakfast" around 9:30am. Many mornings I feel like I never leave the kitchen! So I needed to simplify and plan ahead for these big boy appetites!

One of our favorite starters is a "shake"! For some reason, we've always called smoothies, "shakes". Our smoothies are packed with Vitamin C (acerola), greens, fruit and protein... and our boys love it! I hope you enjoy this recipe too! While I'm making breakfast, I'm either sipping my lemon GGMS drink or kombucha.
Zucchini bread

While we are grain free, we still enjoy Zucchini bread (Against All Grain recipe), biscuits, pancakes, and Blueberry skillet breakfast cake! The zucchini bread is great to make the night before so it's ready for my hungry little dudes!
Blueberry skillet breakfast cake
Blueberry Skillet Breakfast Cake
2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
1 tsp organic baking soda (do not cook with Arm & Hammer!)
1/2 tsp pink sea salt
1 tsp (heaping) cinnamon
1/2 tsp organic stevia extract powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, stevia, and salt. Stir together using a fork until well combined.
  2. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the coconut oil, vanilla, and eggs. Stir together by hand until combined then add the egg mixture to the almond flour mixture. Combine together using a wooden spoon or whisk or beat on low speed using an electric mixer. Stir in blueberries. Cover and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, or until cold and firm.
  3. About 10 minutes before the cookie dough is done chilling, adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron skillet or two 6-inch (15-cm) mini cast-iron skillets; set aside.
  4. Transfer the cookie dough into the skillet(s) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

My Plaintain Pancakes are super simple!! I used to make these with bananas, but the plantains are firmer and make better pancakes... as well as having a lower sugar content.
Plantain Pancakes
1 plantain
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
stevia (optional)
Combine ingredients in Vitamix, blend and pour onto coconut oil greased griddle (between 350-375). I quadruple this recipe:)

When I have more time to make breakfast, my boys LOVE sausage or bacon with eggs and Pioneer Woman hashbrowns.
homemade breakfast sausage
I recently learned how easy it is to make your own breakfast sausage! I take 1lb of local ground pork, add 1 tsp salt, ground pepper and 1 drop of Young Living Sage oil. Form patties and fry in coconut oil!

I usually eat the same things as my growing boys, but I also try to nourish my body without too many carbs. I enjoy simple Trim Healthy Mama S breakfasts, such as avocado and bacon/sausage, bacon wrapped asparagus, or a chocolate protein smoothie (similar to above recipe, but omit the banana, strawberries and add cocoa powder, vanilla and spoonful of peanut butter). A yummy breakfast that feels like I'm eating dessert is Trim Healthy Mama's Secret Agent Brownie with Superfood icing!!

My friend, Jeanette, made this amazing sausage and sweet potato hash for us when we visited her family! We've been making our version of this hash every week and our family LOVES it! I cook ground turkey or pork, add sea salt, pepper, a drop of YL Sage oil. I saute onions and then add chiopped sweet potatoes, stirring often. Enjoy!

Leftovers are a great breakfast option too! I'll be having leftover fried cabbage and bacon for breakfast tomorrow!

While we try to nourish our bodies with real food, I make sure to boost my body systems with my antioxidant filled 1-2oz shot of NingXia Red!

I hope these recipes help you to nourish your bodies in the morning!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Eating Clean on a Budget: Intro

Most of our friends know that we eat a kind of "crazy" real food/paleo diet. While, I've always enjoyed cooking meals from scratch, our family's food intolerances has taken cooking from scratch to a whole new level! As my 9 year old says, "we eat only things that grow in the ground or animals" and that is completely accurate! We eat meats, vegetables, fruits, seeds, beans and nuts. We eat little to no processed foods, grains, dairy or soy. Feeding a family of six, with four growing boys, without breaking the bank, is quite challenging!!

I wrote another blog on where we source our food, but it has changed slightly since moving to South Carolina. We order from, Vitacost and Amazon Prime. Our family typically shops at Aldi, Sam's Club, and go to the Soda City Farmer's Market for goat milk, eggs, meat and vegetables. We get lots of stares at the farmer's market as we parade down the street with our collapsible wagon full of 5 gallons of goat milk, 3 overflowing boxes of produce, 8 dozen eggs and meat! We eat a lot of food and are quite a sight!!

This series will share breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack/drink recipes from our home! I hope these recipes hope your family eat clean while keeping a budget!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Summer Camping Prep

Our family of 6 took our first camping trip last June, and honestly... it was pretty disastrous!! We planned to stay a few nights near Blanchard Springs, but stayed less than 24 hours and had outdoor temps of over 100 degrees, 2 bee stings, a sliced finger, 2 toddlers with fevers, scraped knees, burned fingers, lots of crankiness along with waterfall climbing and beautiful fun swim in a gorgeous stream next to our camp site. We used LOTS of essential oils on that trip and apparently we have forgotten the craziness, so we've planned another trip in a couple weeks to the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Here are some of the ways we are prepping for this camping trip...

  • I'm bringing several oily sprays on our trip. Peppermint and water is a wonderful cooling spray for hot days. Repel Aroma is one of my new favorite oils to wear outdoors!
  • Coconut oil and Lavender is good for EVERYTHING skin related! I'll bring our lip balm and body butter too. My Super Easy Youthful face cream is awesome to apply after being in the sun.
  • I love this homemade sunscreen! We used it on the beach last year and will definitely bring it camping!
  • We will bring stainless steel cups to drink water with YL Lemon or Peppermint Vitality essential oil. 
  • Thieves Spray for lots of cleanup and hand cleansing!
  • Thieves Cleaner for camp cleanup. 
  • Homemade Thieves wipes made our trip last year easier!

  • I will bring these oils (and probably a few more) because 4 boys going camping/fishing/swimming requires LOTS of oils: 
    • Helichrysum & Frankincense - for big owies
    • Purification - because bugs live outside
    • Lavender - for everything
    • DiGize - for tummies
    • Peace & Calming - Mama's favorite nighttime oil)
    • Cedarwood - We will diffuse Lavender and Cedarwood in tent at night
    • Peppermint - my favorite oil to drink in water, great for car ride through the mountains and bugs don't like it
    • Thieves - immune system support
    • RC - baby's favorite nighttime oil
    • Lemon - for drinking and more
    • Stress Away - because 6 of us in a tent ;)
    • Owie 
    • Repel Aroma
    • LOTS of Ningxia Red
I would LOVE your suggestions on Camping with kids! 

If you don't have essential oils yet and want to get equipped, here's a link to get started!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What happened when our family of 6 cut out SUGAR completely...

About 2 years ago, I finally admitted that my weight and health had gotten out of control. I had skin issues, chronic, pain, was constantly tired, and couldn't honor God or my family in the way He had created me to live. Our family of 6, decided to cut sugar completely. Two years later and we are amazed at all the health benefits for our entire family!

1. Weight loss
Most of my life my weight would fluctuate up and down, based on the AMOUNT I was exercising or eating. I learned that exercise is NOT the healthy way to lose weight. My doctor explained that exercising when your body is unbalanced just tears down your health and does not help. She taught me how to balance my body by eating REAL food. As someone who got caught up in "diet foods" as a teenager, this style of eating and not dieting, has been very freeing! While my boys don't need to lose any weight, my husband and I dropped several sizes and pounds. I went from 170 to 120lbs and dropped from a size 14 to a size 4! 

2. No more cravings!
I didn't realize how addictive sugar was, until I was freed from the addiction to sugar and food! It feel wonderful to no longer be a slave to food cravings!! Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our digestive systems and causes our bodies to crave it. Many "picky" kids are actually playing out their addiction to sugar as they refuse to eat anything but breads/cereals. 

3. No more pain and inflammation! 
For about 7 years, I had "tendonitis" or chronic pain in my feet. My joints were super stiff every time I got up from sitting for even the shortest time period. I had started to associate it with my age, but 35 years old was just too young! After cutting dairy, grains and sugar, and adding probiotics, my foot pain resolved COMPLETELY and has not returned! 

4. Healthy immune system!
Did you know that sugar weakens your immune system and leaves you susceptible to illness? My oldest son used to get ear infections often. We finally noticed that he would get sick the day after consuming sugar (even just 1 cookie). Our health has significantly improved since cutting sugar, dairy and grains. 
Maintaining an alkaline diet, also helps protect our bodies from cancer, which can not thrive in an alkaline environment.

There is no moderation with sugar consumption, it always causes health problems. It breaks my heart to see moms talk about how their kids and family are constantly sick. Many don't make the connection with diet & health, but they're completed connected. 

5. ENERGY and Mental Focus
After having 4 boys, my sleep patterns were off balance and I was completely exhausted most of the time. I relied on sweet tea (my source of sugar and caffeine) to get me through the day. Did it work? NO! I would crash shortly after finishing a glass of tea and just crave more to give me energy. Since cutting sugar, I realize how the sugar was CAUSING the fatigue and exhaustion! I now have tons more energy, feel so much better and can think clearly without the brain fog from sugar! I drink 1-2oz of NingXia Red (an antioxidant drink with no caffeine or sugar) daily for immune support. 

6. Digestive health 
Several members of our family have digestive issues and food intolerances. Since cutting sugar, dairy and grains, and adding probiotics and food enzymes, our tummies are much happier (less gas, bloating, and other issues). I found that I don't feel "full" or bloated after meals. I didn't realize how terrible carbs and sugar made me feel! My husband suffered from terrible reflux and esophagus problems that caused difficulty eating and swallowing food. Meal times for him were not pleasant! Since cutting sugar, dairy and grains, my husbands digestive issues are completely better! No medicines necessary! Also, my son's eczema has also cleared up and everyone is sleeping better:)
7. Skin Health
The dermatitis that I had struggled with for years, magically disappeared! My son's eczema also got better! We learned that problems on the outside of our body are just symptoms of problems on the inside. Thankful for healthy skin!

How did we do this??
Because wheat and processed foods turn straight to sugar in our bodies, we also cut those foods. Due to gut health imbalance, we completely cut dairy, grains and sugar. We follow this simple meme...

We eat local, organic meat, vegetables, fruits, seeds, beans and nuts. We shop the perimeter of the grocery store, shop farmer's markets, grow our own food and buy meat from local farmers. Here's a post on where we get our food. 

I drink this incredible drink daily and it helps support my lymphatic system and really helped when detoxing from sugar! 

GGMS - 1 quart of water + 1 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar + 1-2 drops Citrus oil + stevia to taste
Drinking kombucha and other fermented foods has greatly increased our digestive health and cuts sugar cravings.

My doctor and nutritionist teach that our bodies need a Protein + Fat + Healthy Carb for a balanced meal and complete fuel for your body. Trim Healthy Mama is an awesome plan that understands this concept also. The sisters who created THM explain that our body can only burn one fuel at a time (FAT or CARBS) and if you consume both, one of those is stored as fat. You also always need PROTEIN for your body to use those fuels. In my effort to lose weight, my meals consisted of [PROTEIN+FATS] OR [PROTEIN+HEALTHY CARBS], but not fats and carbs combined. 

Once I hit my weight goal, I began combining Protein+Fat+Healthy Carbs (in healthy amounts) to maintain a healthy weight. My 4 boys have always eaten all three together, to support their growth and development. 

Here are a couple simple meals I cooked for my family...
Roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and sauteed green beans

Stir fry made with local beef, coconut aminos and tons of veggies (including beet greens)

Lemon broccoli chicken quinoa... we eat healthy carb quinoa at least once a week!
Who's ready to cut sugar??

I know it's a little after "New Year's Resolutions, but I made several natural changes two years ago, this month, and I'm so happy I did!
** Disclaimer: I'm just a mom sharing from our research and experience.  
This is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness.