Turning Over a New Leaf

Actually it's more like getting rid of the unnecessary leaves.

We're trying to simplify our life and one of the measures we're taking is consolidating our blogs. I will no longer be posting on this blog. I'll keep it around so you can see old photos or search for a recipe but if you'd like to keep up with our family please visit our Family Blog.

Wrapping up the Week

I'm glad it's Friday. The kids and I all have a little runny nose cold and we're ready for more time with Chuck. We're also going to try to be more disciplined with our rest this weekend. Last night at our Home Group (bible study) we talked about the Sabbath. If you haven't gone through Tim Keller's "Gospel in Life" study you should. It's the best Bible study I've ever worked through.

The last few weeks I've been trying to work on my dreads a little everyday or two so they stay tight and don't get out of hand. When I don't give them any attention they get loose, hairs work their way out and my roots don't lock up on their own yet so my whole head looks droopy and frizzy. Blah.

It's a lot of work (and therefore expensive if someone other than Chuck does it) to fix my whole head all at once so Chuck and I really have to give it an hour or so of attention every week to avoid that. It's not the most exciting date ever but it really shows me that Chuck is devoted to me when he works on my hair.

No Added Sweetener

Ruby has been doing much better tolerating wheat lately so I haven't had to be as careful with it. I still make mostly gluten free muffins and limit her cracker intake, etc. so that I don't have to limit so much when we eat out and so she can eat goldfish crackers at church.

I have been working more at limiting her (and my) sugar intake. For more than a year now I've been realizing that there's too much sugar in too many things. I no longer feed the kids regular breakfast cereals or even baby and toddler marketed products because they contain too much sugar. I've found, however, that the kids don't mind eating rice puffs with no sugar or corn flakes sweetened with fruit juice! It's been relatively easy because they're still little and don't really know any different which is all the more reason to limit their sugar - it does their bodies no good so why give it to them!?

The easiest way to limit sugar is to make things from scratch. At first I began cutting the sugar in recipes or replacing it with sweet fruits like applesauce or bananas. Then, several months ago, I was introduced to coconut oil and it's become so much easier. I have found that when I use coconut oil in a recipe (in place of veggie oil or butter for example) I don't need to add any sugar (or alternative sweetener) and you don't miss the sugar at all!
Here's a website about coconut oil - there are lots out there but this one is pretty measured and basic.

Even Chuck agrees that the best pancake recipe of all time is the one that contains coconut oil and no sugar!
I've been so excited about this because not only is it important to limit white sugar but all added sweeteners. That means honey, brown rice syrup, maple syrup or whatever! Your body treats them nearly the same - it has to work harder to break them down because they don't have anything good for your body to use.

I've found that the less sugar I eat, the less I need to make something sweet and the better I feel. I can really feel my body react if I drink a soda or eat a piece of cake because I don't do it often.
Here's a quick article about recommended sugar intake.

Here are a few of our favorite no added sweetener recipes:

Best Pancakes Ever:
1 cup flour (any kind really, we've used white whole wheat, regular and oat flour)
1 cup yogurt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon if desired (we've been adding cinnamon and nutmeg lately - I love fall!)

Mix everything together adding milk if it's too thick. Enjoy!

Apple Banana Muffins (the kids current favorite)
This recipe was adapted from one my sister posted recently - it was her brilliant idea to add apple pieces instead of applesauce.
1 1/2 cups chopped apples (really small!)
1/4 cup almond butter
1 3/4 cups flour
2 eggs
3 bananas
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil
Mix all and bake for 20 min. at 350 degrees. These turn out really soft so make sure you cook them until the tops are nice and brown but don't worry when they're soft in the middle because the apple pieces are in there.

And because it's fall - Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread (revisited)

I made this last year but have tweaked the recipe again this year and it's even better
If you're making this for a party or dessert add 1 or 1 1/2 cups sugar but the kids and I can eat it without or with just 1/2 cup (which means there's only 1/4 cup in each loaf) which is way better than the 3 cups the original recipe called for. Yikes!

1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup applesauce (or pear-sauce - that's even better)
1 cup peanut butter
3 1/2 cups flour (making 1 cup or so oat flour adds to the sweetness and depth of flavor)
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Mix all together and bake for 60 minutes (or so) at 350 degrees. This recipe makes 2 loaves or try baking it in wide mouth, quart mason jars. I did that for some neighbors and it was really cute! Be careful to only add 1 cup of batter, though or it will rise over the top. :)

And here's my new fall ornament tree.

Ruby helped me paint fall colors and then I drew and cut out the leaf shapes.