Feeding Our Lives

Hi All,

As the school year continues to be super-busy, I've realized that I need to make a few schedule changes. I'm enjoying sharing interesting articles and passing along helpful information about living healthy through food and spirit......

But, I don't have the time to write the posts, find pictures that support the post, and schedule the posts.

To still be able to share these pieces of helpful information, I'm going to rely on my Facebook business page because it's a much faster posting process! If you don't have a Facebook account, don't worry! It's a public page that all people can view without an account!!!

If you're checking out FeedingOurLives to get to know me a little better while you're deciding if we'd be a good fit to work together on your healthy-living or food-allergy journey, please click around to view my past posts and view my list of services here. Also, come on over to Facebook to see what links I've passed along over there to get a solid understanding of what research I'm doing to keep my knowledge current.

Thanks for understanding,

Christmas Gift Ideas that are NOT toys.

I recently stumbled upon a great list of Christmas gift ideas that aren't toys, and I thought you might get inspiration from it like I did!

Unfortunately, I didn't compile the list myself, so you'll have to jump on over to Raising Memories to view it. But, I think it'll be worth your while if you feel like your house is being overtaken by STUFF!!!

Gluten-free, rice-free cut-out oat cookies

Santa needed Christmas Eve cookies this year, but I didn't want to make cookies that everyone else could eat and I couldn't because of my wheat issue....what to do??? Well, with the help of the Internet, several various failed recipe attempts, and lots of tasting, I came up with a very yummy gluten-free, rice-free cookie!

(Note: if you're beginning a gluten-free lifestyle, and you can tolerate rice, then you can use a gluten-free flour blend. That's not an option with my family's allergies, though, so I was left creating a recipe.)

Ingredients (Cookies):
1/2 cup softened organic butter
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/4 cup clover or orange blossom honey (nothing darker than clover preferably)
3 Tbs organic canola oil (for a crunchier cookie) OR 1/4 cup of organic applesauce (for a cookie that softens with time)
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsps vanilla (homemade preferred)
3 cups gluten-free, wheat free oat flour (I grind my own from Trader Joe's bag of oats)

Ingredients (Icing):
powdered sugar
cocoa powder
water or milk

1. Beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy
2. Beat in honey
3. Beat in oil OR applesauce
4. Mix in egg until just combined
5. Mix in baking soda, salt, and vanilla
6. Combine in flour until all the flour is absorbed
7. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and flatten into a 6-ish inch disc, and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to two days
8. Line a baking sheet with parchment and preheat oven to 350.
9. Generously cover counter top with oat flour, unwrap your disc, sprinkle with oat flour, and begin rolling out until about 1/4 inch thick, dusting with oat flour as needed.
10. Cut out shapes & transfer to lined baking sheet
11. Combine scraps and roll out and cut out again (the number of cookies you make depends on the size of your shapes, but I usually make 2 half-sheet cookie sheets of cookies from one recipe)
12. Bake on the top two racks in your oven, turning the sheets and switching racks half way through. Total cooking time about 20 minutes (we like our cookies fairly well-done so I cook them until quite brown on the edges)
13. Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack; cool completely before icing.

*** Icing: My icing is not science. I mix about two scoops of powdered sugar to one scoop of cocoa with a dash of water or milk to make my icing. Then, I make enough of that proportion to make enough icing for the cookies....sorry this isn't more exact! The cookies are good without icing and great with icing!!!!

Trick-or-Treating with Food Allergies

When our daughter was first diagnosed with food allergies, we had to come up with a successful strategy to keep the holiday fun even though she couldn't participate in the main event: candy.

We decide to focus our energy on the event of trick-or-treating and the costumes involved: we trick-or-treat with lots of friends in the neighborhood, work long and hard on costumes, and march in a neighborhood halloween costume parade! It's lots of fun!

But, despite our efforts to create a family halloween tradition not focused on candy, there's still the issue of candy. 

What we've chosen to do is this:
1. After trick or treating she looks through her grub.
2. She chooses a few pieces to give to friends.
3. We give her an allergy safe candy bar.
4. She sells her candy to the local orthodontist the next day.

To support this don't-focus-on-candy-tradition, we've decided to not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. Instead, we give out candy alternatives that alternate between these ideas:

1.  Hand out goods instead of food: We hand out pencils, stickers, erasers, rings, fake teeth, fake eyeballs, small decks of cards, glow sticks, etc. instead of candy each year.

2. Hand out food instead of candy: We give out snack bags of popcorn, pretzels, or cheddar crackers, trail mix, mini boxes of raisins, or bags of dried fruits. (Don't make the baggies yourself; buy the prepackaged servings.)

3. Hand out coins instead of goods or food: we get a roll of nickels, dimes, or quarters from the bank and drop coins in halloween bags instead of candy.

Trick-or-Treating Sugar Content & Halloween Candy Alternatives

Y'all....Sugar consumption is Out. Of. Control. in America.

We are all (yes, I include myself) are addicted to sugar, and it's killing us. We have rotting teeth, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, and addiction problems. If you don't believe me, read this article by Kristin Kirkpatrick from the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Or this one from from the New York Times arguing that sugar is a toxin.  Or this one by Mother Earth Living discussing all forms of sugar. 

Or, just trust me that sugar isn't healthy and read on.

As Halloween encroaches upon us, I thought it relevant to share this article I read in Popular Science. Basically, it summarizes that candy has a lot of sugar AND that "The average U.S. trick-or-treater takes home 600 grams of sugar on Halloween - equivalent to 3 CUPS OF PURE SUGAR."

Can you imagine ever giving your kid 3 cups of pure sugar?

There are a few things you can do this Halloween to impact the sugar consumption by kiddos:
1. In our area of the nation, many dentists and orthodontists pay the kids for their candy. Ours gives a dollar a pound for candy. My daughter made 3 dollars last year.

2. Hand out goods instead of food: We hand out pencils, stickers, erasers, rings, fake teeth, fake eyeballs, small decks of cards, etc. instead of candy each year.

3. Hand out food instead of candy: You can give out snack bags of popcorn, pretzels, or cheddar crackers, trail mix, mini boxes of raisins, or bags of dried fruits. (Don't make the baggies yourself; buy the prepackaged servings.)

4. Hand out coins instead of goods or food: get a roll of nickels, dimes, or quarters from the bank and drop coins in halloween bags instead of sugar. Really, if you calculate how much you spend on a bag of candy, this might make a lot of sense (no pun intended)!

Low-sugar Energy Balls

I stopped making my original energy balls because they were sweeter than I wanted and not quite hardy enough for me....and because we lived off them for over a year!!  Truly, I just got tired of making them!

When I read Snack Girl's Energy Ball post, I decided to reintroduce them into our food repertoire. Her version had chopped nuts that intrigued me, and they had no sweetener.

Of course, I had to make some changes to meet our allergy needs, and my family really wanted a little bit of sweetener so I added in honey.

Snack Girl's Allergy-Adapted, Low- Sugar Energy Ball Recipe:
- 1 cup roasted peanuts (we LOVE Trader Joe's Buster Brown peanuts)
- 1/4 cup dried organic raisins
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 organic natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup organic oats
- 2 TBS honey
- 1 TBS dark chocolate chips

1. Place peanuts in food processor and pulse until chopped.
2. Add in all other ingredients and pulse until chopped and blended evenly.
3. Make 1 inch balls! (Tip: if your balls don't hold together, add in a little water and pulse again)

Cost of Groceries for a Family

Every. Single. Time. I get home from the grocery store, I shake my head in disbelief of how much I spent on food.

I try to rationalize that we have no other food costs:
- I eat out only once a month for a Girls' Night Out
- My husband very rarely has lunch out for work
- We eat all the food, having very little food waste.

But, still. I drop a lot of money a month on groceries/food (this includes face lotion, shampoo, detergents, etc).

This got me thinking: is my expectation about the cost of groceries (food) accurate? Should I be shaking my head in disbelief?

In case you're wondering the same thing, here's the official breakdown from the August report by the USDA about how much family of 4 (with children ages 6-11) spent on food in July of 2014:

Per month: $650.50 - $1293.20

It does cost a lot of money to feed a family, but I'm well inside the normal range so I am going to try to stop shaking my head.

(Tip: don't read blogs about families who spend less than $400 a month to feed a family! They'll make you feel really bad about yourself and cause you to go look at reports by the USDA.)