Bone Broth Butternut Soup {Paleo, AIP, Dairy-Free}

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Still looking for one more dish for Thanksgiving? How about a lovely, comforting bowl of butternut squash soup that you can make today, have a bit for supper tonight, and then put in your slow cooker to keep warm for dinner tomorrow without a thing to do with it. Actual time I spent on this yesterday was only about twenty to thirty minutes.

I just realized something. I declared this AIP and dairy-free – and then used the picture of hubby’s bowl with the cheese on top! It was so much prettier than my plain one though! It is a raw, grass-fed cheddar which is primal. For me, I can handle small amounts of the right kind of dairy and I tasted this with the cheese and it was very good, but I liked it without just as well. It’s so creamy you would think it had dairy in it but there is none at all.

I started this yesterday morning, putting the squash in the slow cooker to slowly roast. I quartered it, removed the seeds, and placed it in the slow cooker; that was it. Then when we were ready to eat I sautéed my veggies and scooped the flesh from the skin. The skin of a butternut squash is edible and I think bits of it fell in as I was scooping because it got so tender, so it’s up to you. I take it off, but leave the skins of the apples on. No one will ever know and you get the extra vitamins the skin contains.

A quick note about bone broth. If you’re not making your own you need to start! It is so easy and delicious, not to mention economical. I buy an entire chicken and boil it and we get several meals out of the meat from the bones and at least two and sometimes three quarts of broth, depending how big the chicken is. Homemade bone broth is full of gut-healing gelatin and my family and I like it plain and hot, straight out of a coffee mug, but I always keep some in the freezer for meals like this. I pulled the jar out of the freezer the night before but I’ve also thawed them on the fly in a bowl of warm water. I used chicken (because it was what I had) but I used to make this with vegetable broth all the time; beef broth would also work. It’s a matter of taste.

Store-bought versions do not have the nutritional benefits of homemade and in addition they are often packed with sodium, gluten, and preservatives, among other things. It’s so easy to do too! Want to know more about this super food? Check out a previous post I did about it here: https://preciousbelovedblessing.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/homemade-bone-broth-from-a-whole-chicken-plus-a-yummy-soup-recipe-2/

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There’s another soup recipe in this post too; chicken and cabbage. It was a recipe of my mom’s I tried to recreate and though mine was very yummy it wasn’t as good as hers. I made it with her, basically acting as her sous chef, and did it just as she did, but I think that had more to do though with the fact it was my mama who made it. Everything she makes is always better! She taught me to cook and I am still learning from her! She lives in Nebraska and me in California, so I miss her – especially this week with it being a holiday! – but now I’m thinking about her and getting all sentimental so I should move on!

If you’ve read any of my other posts the last couple of weeks we are moving – in four days! It’s going to be a little crazy around here, so as yummy as this was last night I may freeze the leftovers to thaw in a week or so when we need something yummy and comforting after a busy day. I’ve got another batch of bone broth simmering in my slow cooker right this moment too! I’ll use it in a recipe of a grain-free stuffing dish I am making to take to Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house and then maybe another dish or just a jar in the fridge for a quick, nutritional boost! (As excited as we are, moving can be a little stressful and you need to take care of yourself.)

One more note; butternut squash are at their peak now and one of my favorite vegetables. A former favorite recipe I have yet to convert is a butternut squash risotto recipe that is out of this world – I’m going to have to start working on that! You can peel and cube them now for freezing and enjoy this next spring and I’ve also found butternut squash all prepared in the frozen vegetable section. So while I recommend using fresh (it will have the best taste, trust me) it’s not necessary. I added lots of onion, garlic, and ginger too; since I learned all three were very healing with anti-inflammatory properties I add them prolifically to almost every savory dish I make now! This soup is also full of vitamins and with the extra veggies and the bit of fruit for sweetness I hope this will become one of your family’s favorites as it is ours!

Bone Broth Butternut Soup {Paleo, AIP, Dairy-Free}
1 small to medium butternut squash (about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 apple, cored and roughly chopped
1 quart broth (whatever you have on hand, preferably homemade)
Sea salt to taste
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

Instructions:

Prepare ahead. Earlier in the day, rinse your squash and remove both ends with a large, sharp knife. I like to halve it width-wise (I find it easier that way) then lengthwise. Remove any seeds and place in a slow cooker on low heat. Let cook for at least four hours or until tender. Remove from slow cooker and let cool enough to handle. Scoop tender flesh from skin with a spoon and set aside.

When ready to make your soup take a large pot and place over medium- to medium-heat and add your coconut oil. When hot, add the onion and garlic and let it begin to cook. After a couple of minutes add the ginger, carrots, and apple. Sauté a few minutes, or until veggies begin to get tender. (Note: you don’t have to chop your veggies very fine as you will be blending this later; a rough chop will do.)

When tender add the broth and bring to a boil. Add cooked butternut squash.

Remove from heat and either purée with an immersion blender or add to a blender or food processor in batches and blend. (Be careful with the blender method when blending hot liquids; leave the top slightly vented and place a towel over the vent to prevent splatters.)

If puréeing in a blender return to pan and reheat slightly if necessary and season to taste. If desired, top with a little shredded cheese. Crumbled bacon or caramelized onions are also very good.

Serve and enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! I am thankful for you! Have a blessed, happy, and healthy holiday.

Hugs to you,

Emily

Double Chocolate Mug Cake (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, with AIP-Variation)

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Need a break from all things pumpkin? Or busy preparing for the holiday and need a little something for yourself? Don’t need a reason? Come on! It’s chocolate times two. Who needs an excuse?! If you need another, this recipe is also paleo-friendly, grain-free, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free, plus it’s so good the first thing both my husband and I said to each other on trying it was, “Mmm!” It can also be made autoimmune-protocol compliant – and believe or not, my husband and I liked it better that way!

I personally wasn’t looking for a break from pumpkin; I love it and make pumpkin-flavored goodies all year long. And we are moving a week from yesterday so another family member graciously invited us to join them for Thanksgiving, so I’m not cooking all week. I simply wanted something chocolate the other night. I love mug recipes. I don’t use my microwave very often but when you really want a piece of cake or a muffin and don’t want to spend all that time in the kitchen or wait all that time it’s awesome.

I’ve tried a few mug cake recipes and haven’t been overly impressed. The last one I tried was so dry I literally almost choked on it. I smothered it in yogurt to finish it. (Come on, it was chocolate! I wasn’t going to throw it out.) Also, almost all of them I’ve seen contain almond flour, which is fine for some, but I limit the amount of nuts I eat due to the fact I don’t handle them well. They are a treat for me, and so is this frankly, but I don’t always have almond flour on hand, plus to be honest I’m not crazy about the texture it gives baked goods.

A couple more notes about these. I like adding the wet ingredients first otherwise the dry ingredients tend to clump up badly when you dump the liquid on top. It also helps if you mix as you go. Finally, you can substitute a flax egg and use carob powder over the cocoa powder and it will be completely AIP-friendly. Both ways are very yummy but the flax egg version turns out almost fudgy. It is beyond good!

So I decided to create my own and combined several recipes, add a little of my own twist to it, and here you go! I didn’t tell my husband what I was doing the first time I made these and he came wandering out of our home office, sniffing, while the first one was cooking and I was mixing up the second. We joked having chocolate cake that was this good and that fast was either a really good thing or really bad. Yes, we can now have warm chocolate cake in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, we can have warm chocolate cake in a matter of minutes anytime! This is still a treat; a guilt-free one but a treat nonetheless.

I hope you enjoy it. I had to resist the urge to lick the mug.

Double Chocolate Mug Cake (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free with AIP-Variation)
Serves 1
1 egg or 1 flax egg (mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed to 3 Tablespoons water and let sit a few minutes to gel)
2-1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil, liquefied
2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons coconut milk
3 Tablespoons coconut flour
3 Tablespoons cocoa OR carob powder
1 Tablespoon chocolate chips (I like the Enjoy Life brand; they are dairy, soy, and gluten free. If you are full AIP and do not handle chocolate well there are carob chips out there; try those or just leave them out – it’s still good!)

1. These puff up beautifully so use a good-sized coffee mug. Mix your wet ingredients together – in the cup (one dish is all that’s needed, which is part of the beauty of these) then add the coconut flour and cocoa powder, mixing well to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Place in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Let sit a couple of minutes to cool slightly and then enjoy while still warm. (When I make these for my husband I do his first – being the good wife that I am – and then make mine. While they cool I get him a glass of milk and make me a cup of tea, and they’re perfect; his cools while mine cooks and mine as my tea steeps.)

These would make a great Thanksgiving dessert if it’s just a couple of you and you don’t want to make an entire dessert. Hmm…that got me thinking. Maybe I should make a pumpkin one next!

Happy Tuesday!

Emily

AIP Guacamole

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This was not a planned post. I often develop a recipe over a few weeks, making it over and over to get it just right for you guys. Other times the magic simply happens.

I really wanted guacamole the other day! I have found replacements for many old favorites since starting to follow a modified autoimmune protocol diet, but I still miss things sometimes. Like Mexican food! The grains (aka corn tortillas and rice), beans, and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, and cumin) just wreak havoc with my skin and digestive system and simply aren’t worth it. I love avocados and I love guacamole, so on Sunday when we were out and about and it sounded good we stopped and picked up some ingredients and whipped this up spur of the moment that night. It was so good I had to share!

We are moving in technically just over a week. I say technically because we got two weeks free at our new place so we are using that time to overlap the two and have all that free time to move, so technically we are moving into the new place on December 1 and out of the old on December 15. And we signed the new lease and gave notice to vacate here only a week ago. Crazy, I know. Moving right before Christmas is not something I recommend nor plan on making a holiday tradition (we moved on January 9 of this year into our current place)!

Why we are moving is a long story I considered sharing here then decided not to, but suffice it to say my stock response is security issues. We don’t feel safe here. There have been some creepy things going on that we are just not happy with and don’t feel secure or welcome here after how our property company has dealt with them and treated us so we have decided to move on. It sounds awful but we are very excited about it. It is all for the best!

I will definitely be making this again in the next couple of weeks! I have been planning some quick and easy but wholesome meals for our moving weeks. We drove through our new neighborhood (even though it is only exactly 2.1 miles away from our current place!) and staked out the closest grocery store, Starbucks, etc. and I checked out the local Albertson’s that is literally just around the corner. We have one close by now but I’m not crazy about it and rarely shop there; I simply need to make another trip for too much stuff so it’s not worth it for me. This one has a great organic produce section and several gluten-free favorites. I wasn’t able to really take the time to look for all my usuals, but I brought home some free-range, GMO-free verified chicken, an organic vegetable tray, and my favorite root vegetable chips (by Terra brand with sweet potato, beet, taro, and a few other paleo-friendly goodies). We spent the rest of the afternoon packing and just had a simple but very yummy supper. I put the chicken in the oven seasoned with sea salt, ginger, and garlic and made the guacamole while it was cooking.

This guacamole is AIP-friendly because it contains no nightshades. Instead of the usual jalapenos I used some horseradish for extra bite and a lot of onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro. The batch will easily double, triple, etc. and I bought a ton of avocados to make a bunch but I only fix it in smaller batches. It’s easy and doesn’t take long; nor does it last long enough to have a chance to get brown and watery.

I like to serve this a variety of ways; as already mentioned I ate it with sweet potato chips this time. I love it with plantain chips as well, but have been known to put guacamole on just about anything. Try it with eggs, on chicken or a hamburger (I was smearing it on the roasted chicken the other night!), on a roasted sweet potato, or any favorite grain-free cracker or bread. Jicama, carrots, and cucumber make good dippers too. And bacon; smear it on bacon. Think it sounds weird? Try it. You’ll thank me. The grain-free possibilities are endless – it’s not just for corn chips! What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Enjoy!


AIP Guacamole

Makes about 2 cups
2 ripe avocados
¼ large or ½ small onion
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of ½ a fresh lemon or lime (I like the taste of lime in guac but lemon works fine; I used it this time around because it was what I had on hand)
1 teaspoon horseradish (I use the Bubbie’s brand; it’s gluten-, preservative-, and junk-free)
A good-sized handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Sea salt to taste (I used a good-sized pinch)

1. Using a fork, mash the avocado in a bowl with the lemon/lime juice. Finely chop the onion and garlic and mix in.
2. Wash and chop the cilantro and fold in with sea salt to taste.
3. Enjoy right away, or if you can stand it set aside for about an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

So easy! And good for you too! Everything is fresh and full of vitamin C, healthy fats, minerals, potassium, and a host of other goodies. I hope you like my AIP version of guacamole!

Note: To store, (if there’s any leftovers anyway!) place in the fridge with food wrap directly over the guac, completely covered and molded to it basically; it will help prevent browning. This really works!

Have a great week!

Emily

Pumpkin Spice Latte (Dairy-Free, AIP-Variaton, Refined Sugar-Free)

November 23, 2014 - Pumpkin Spice Latte (Dairy-Free, AIP Variation, Refined Sugar-Free

I have seen no shortage of pumpkin spice latte recipes the last couple of months, but I have yet to see an AIP-complaint one. What is AIP? If you are new to my page, AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol. It’s a version of the paleo diet that eliminates several items that are damaging to the gut in certain people. I went completely grain free earlier this year, did the super strict elimination diet and have since added various items back in and discovered what I can and cannot have. I have successfully added back into my diet small amounts of nuts, seeds, and eggs, and even a little dairy here or there, but all of those I have to be very careful of. Too much and I am left with an upset tummy and terrible eczema flares.

So, I follow what you could call a modified AIP. One of the things I absolutely cannot tolerate are nightshades. What is a nightshade? It is a term for certain fruits, vegetables and seeds with a certain make up that can cause harmful gut irritation in some individuals, particularly those with autoimmune issues. Some common nightshades include bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and spices like cumin, cayenne, fennel, fenugreek, and spices in a pumpkin spice latte like nutmeg. For me exposure to nightshades – even just a little – makes the eczema flare like crazy and my skin feel like it’s on fire. Not fun.

So, back to the latte. There’s the fact it’s seasoned with nightshade spices, but I only learned about nightshades a couple of months ago. It’s been a few years since I ordered a pumpkin spice latte from that you-know-who coffee chain giant. Why? It was fall and I used to wait all year long for the pumpkin spice latte, but I heard it had gluten in it. I asked in the store and was met with a blank stare. That’s happened more than once and I sure wish they would train their baristas better; they’d get a whole lot more of my business if they did. I did a little research of my own and was shocked.

Number one, there is no pumpkin in it. Not any real pumpkin anyway. That is ARTIFICIAL flavor. And that bright orange color? Well, if the flavor isn’t real where do you think the color comes from? Yeah, it’s not real either. Many of the chains use milk from GMO-grain fed cows. They contain copious amounts of refined sugar, not to mention preservatives. Some of these ingredients are actually banned in other countries! Appetizing, isn’t it? Sorry if I just ruined them for you; I was bummed too but I’m glad I found out. I don’t want any of that junk in my body.

I am not shouting from the rooftops for you to never order one of these again or judging you if you do, but knowledge is power. Now you know and can decide for yourself. I will have a dairy- or refined sugar-containing treat every once in a while but this no-no list is personally a little long for me. And it is SO EASY to make your own – and I can make it dairy- and nightshade-free! Yay, bring on fall and the pumpkin spice lattes again!

One more note about the AIP variation. Try it with dandelion tea. If you are full AIP and cannot tolerate coffee try Roasted Dandelion Root tea. It is so good and has a rich and deep, almost coffee-like flavor. Once you add all the other latte ingredients it’s hard to tell the difference. I personally do not notice much of a difference in my body whether I drink coffee or not so I have left it in my diet. I simply enjoy it and I have had to eliminate so much from my diet I have simply cut back and I limit myself. It’s a treat, and this latte is quite a treat. Believe me. On to the good stuff!

Pumpkin Spice Latte (Dairy Free with AIP Option, Refined Sugar Free)
Serves 1
1 cup milk (for AIP use coconut milk but any dairy-free milk will do – or even cow’s milk if you tolerate dairy! – almond milk is good too if you can handle nuts, lending a bit of a nutty flavor)
1-1/2 Tablespoons pumpkin purée, fresh or canned
½ Tablespoon maple syrup (I like the hint of maple from the syrup but honey works and coconut sugar is also good)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1-2 shots of espresso OR ½-1 cup strongly-brewed coffee or Dandelion Root tea

1. In a small saucepan combine the milk with your sweetener of choice and the pumpkin and warm over medium heat. Stir in spices.
2. Add the hot espresso, coffee, or tea to your cup (I say 1-2 shots or ½-1 cup because I like to taste the coffee in a latte so I add extra).
3. Optional, steam the milk mixture. If you have an espresso machine use the milk steamer; if not, simply whisk the hot milk mixture to froth it; an immersion blender with the whisk attachment works great or you can put the milk in a jar and vigorously shake it (just use an oven mitt or wrap it in a towel first!) This is just optional but it only takes a second and gives you that nice coffee house froth on top. It’s just fun.
4. If desired, sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top and then enjoy! Beat that you-know-who giant coffee chain!

This is also good iced. The first couple of times I made it was when it was too hot for a hot latte in the afternoon (I like my coffee black and not sweet at all in the morning). Fall comes late to Southern California, where I am. Simply whisk the milk and spices together and add to chilled coffee or espresso. You can blend it also. It’s super yummy! Enjoy!

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Cheers!

Emily

November 17, 2014 ~ World Prematurity Day

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A year ago today I began my blog! While in the midst of setting up my website and such I learned November 17 is World Prematurity Day. The month of November is also Prematurity Awareness Month, and I remember getting goose bumps. It seemed so fitting! Part of the reason I was starting a blog was to share my story.

I am the mama of three premature babies and it is from them my blog and company gets its name. Christopher, Jr. (Precious One) was born on December 9, 2003 at only 22 weeks. He lived for 63 minutes before passing away in my arms. Joshua James (Blessing) was born on April 28, 2010, also at 22 weeks; he passed away moments before he was born but left an eternal mark on my heart. They both did. Their brother, Henry Lynn (Blessing) was born on August 8, 2011 at 32 weeks. Henry not only survived but thrived and we thank God every day for our miracle baby.

The name comes from their nicknames we gave them in utero before we knew they were boys. We didn’t want to simply call them it or the baby. We still call Henry Blessing. There is so much more to all three of their stories and over the last year I have struggled to write them and they are still coming. It is an odd thing; I have no trouble talking about them. All three of them have very emotional stories that somehow are very difficult to put onto paper. So bear with me. Even Henry’s is not an easy story to tell, though his has a happy ending. Getting there was a long, emotional, and at times painful journey that is not easy to tell and relive.

My blog has made quite a transformation. It has turned into more of a health/food blog of late, which was not my intention, but there have been a lot of health changes in my body that I am making for the better and some things are exciting, others just plain interesting, so I share that. Times like this, though, make me think of the other reason I have decided to share my heart with you – my three beautiful boys.

I am a mother of three. Not one. Christopher and Joshua left permanent marks on my heart and holes in our family only they can fill. As active and loud as Henry, a typical three-year-old boy can be you may be surprised to hear sometimes our house seems too quiet. Because it should be so much more active. It’s hard not to think that way at times. I miss them every day.

March of Dimes does amazing work and is working hard to learn about, raise awareness, and hopefully prevent premature birth and they were asking for stories so I made this to share:

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I love sharing Henry’s success. He is a miracle. No doubt about it. I lost count how many times we feared we might lose him. There were midnight emergency room visits at 19 and 22 weeks, with me contracting, and I was admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks, with them sure I was going to deliver – but I made it 8 more weeks of daily contractions and hosts of other issues, amazing and astounding the doctors and nurses. He is a miracle. Despite the odds stacked against him – and me – we made it through it together and he is here and absolutely wonderful. I still sometimes stare at him in amazement that this beautiful little boy is really here and he is mine.

Then I thought something was missing. Not every prematurity story has a happy ending. They weren’t asking for those, and I understand why, but the fact is not every story has a happy ending and as I already stated I am a mother of THREE, not just one. So I created this for my angel babies:

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If you are one of the millions of mamas or daddies grieving today instead of rejoicing in thankfulness then I send hugs to you. I got my happy ending, but I ache every day for the two precious boys I will never see grow up. I spent a few wonderful hours with them trying to squeeze in a lifetime of love. My husband and I had to say hello and goodbye all at once to those two sweet angels and they may be gone but they will never be forgotten. Today is for you too.

Thank you for joining me on my journey. I look forward to continuing to share it with you.

Hugs,

Emily

In Memory of Little Ones Loved and Lost

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October 15 is Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I myself have lost two little ones. Christopher, Jr. (the Precious of PreciousBelovedBlessing) was born at 22 weeks on December 9, 2003 and died an hour after his birth in my arms. His brother, Joshua (Beloved) was also born at 22 weeks, on April 28, 2010, and he was stillborn.

I ache for these two sweet boys and I miss them every day. Days like today give me and countless other mamas a voice in something no one ever wants to talk about.

If you are a mommy or daddy and a member of this club you never wanted to join, you are not alone and take a minute for yourself today. Do something to remember those little loves and allow yourself to grieve.

To those little ones loved and lost you are remembered, you are important, and you may be gone but you will never be forgotten.

Hugs to you,
Emily

Homemade Bone Broth From a Whole Chicken, Plus a Yummy Soup Recipe!

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American cooking, tumbling as fast as it is toward a totally takeout cuisine, retains two potent images that can still revivify our appetite for good, homemade food: baked goods, which stand for the gift of pleasure, and meat-based broths, from which all the kitchen’s healing goodness flows…its aroma filled the house, cosseting all who inhaled it with deep well-being, as if the very air were filled with nurture. The chef may have transmogrified his meat waters into gold; the housewife transmuted them into a far more essential nutrient: love. ~ John Thorne Outlaw Cook

Any good cook preparing food for his/her family puts a lot of love into it, and this method and recipe is no exception! This recipe is made with chicken and I never prepare a chicken or turkey without using the bones afterword for broth. It is so good and good for you! Your family will taste the love, believe me, and their tummies will thank you for it!

You can use the bones from pretty much any meat for broth. Fish stock usually contains the whole carcasses, including heads; beef stock typically calls for a mixture of bone marrow and knuckle bones – and even feet! All these different components contribute to the end flavor and add their own particular nutrients. I made some Chinese Pork Spare Ribs a few months ago that simmered in its own liquid for a long time and in the recipe it said to save the resulting broth, and I am glad I did. It was amazing! Having simmered in the pork with coconut aminos, lots of ginger, garlic, and cinnamon it was so good! It would have made a wonderful base for soup but it didn’t last that long! We simply drank it as is!

This broth is made from chicken, and the one I make the most often; I’ll share my method for some other favorites another time. You can do this one a couple of ways, and I have read several and combined a few to make one that works for us and that we like the end result the most. This method uses a whole chicken, cooking the meat in the delicious broth, resulting in super moist and tasty chicken meat that is great for sandwiches, salads, or snacking.

A few notes about broth or stock. The terms are interchangeable and which is used pretty much depends on who you are talking to, so don’t let it throw you; personally, I was confused about it for a while! The ending broth can be used to make gravy, sauces, soup, or any recipe calling for stock or broth; I don’t remember the last time I spent money on it at the store – we always have some in the freezer – but I also always have a jar in the fridge we drink hot in mugs like tea. Which brings me to my next point.

Homemade bone broth, made from the whole carcass, is very nutritious and extremely healing. It’s not an old wives tale that it’s a cure for a cold (but don’t just have it when you’re sick! Consumed regularly, it can ward off illness in the first place!), and can aid in the healing of all sorts of ailments and even injuries. The minerals in the bones, marrow, and even skin and cartilage add electrolytes, something called hydrophilic colloids (which aid in digestion), gelatin which is great for your digestion, protein, amino acids, and when an acid is introduced in cooking – such as apple cider vinegar – it draws out the minerals in the bones (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium). It truly is a super food! The connective tissue is also so good for healing and even goes so far as to combat damage done to the gut, can ease inflammation, and is a wonderful addition to the healing diet of anyone suffering from digestive issues but is instrumental for someone like me who needs that extra healing boost!

I recently returned from visiting family in Nebraska. It was my first time there since changing my diet and though being grain-free is not always all that difficult, probably the biggest hurdle when someone is preparing food for me are the nightshades. Even a small amount of them makes the eczema flare like crazy and any of the convenience foods I used to rely on while on the go – like lunchmeat – are now off the menu. Before we arrived my mom roasted a chicken for me then boiled the bones and made an amazing broth which she later made soup out of; it was so good I tried to recreate it here. It is very simple and so good neither batch lasted more than a couple of days!

A few notes about gelatin; it is one of the latest super foods I have learned about and wanted to share with you. I’m not talking about the artificially colored, chemical-filled concoction you can make from a box, but real gelatin. You can order it online reasonably priced; I recommend the Great Lakes brand (the red can) and it can be found on Amazon, but its truest form is when it is extracted right from the bones.

Ever notice how cold broth gets all thick and gelled? It’s the gelatin and the goal of every stock-making cook is that perfect broth that gels beautifully. My mom nailed it; the first time I went to warm up some leftover of hers it all popped out of the jar at once and kept its form until the pan heated up! Like chicken jello! (If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a picture of it.)

If your broth is not gelling much there can be a couple of reasons. Start with cold water; the process of the water slowly heating allows the fibers in the bone to open up and release the gelatin. It could also be it wasn’t simmered long enough, or too much; the key word here is simmer. Don’t let it come to a rolling boil; I go into this more later.

I am very focused on healing my body right now, and I find it absolutely amazing there are tools on this earth we can use, like naturally fermented foods for probiotics, honey with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (as long as it’s in its RAW form), and gut-healing, immune system boosting bone broth! Food is medicine!

Need another reason to make your own? Conventional “broth” is loaded with salt, most likely contains gluten, in some cases the meat is the fourth or fifth ingredient, and they can contain things like MSG, artificial colorings, sugars, hydrogenated oils, and a whole host of unidentifiable/unpronounceable things. Even gluten-free varieties and organic versions can be suspect and contain questionable labels like “all-natural” or “natural flavors.” That can mean anything BUT natural! Do your research; there are some good brands out there, but they can be hard to find and expensive…so why not make your own!

I simmer mine twice; once the first time, and then I take the meat off the bones and simmer just the bones one more time. Use cold, filtered water, and let it take its time. The little bit of effort on your part will be well worth it, trust me!


Homemade (Chicken) Bone Broth

(1) 3-4 pound chicken (as fresh and natural as you can afford)
Cold, filtered water
1 small or ½ large onion, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
(1) 1-inch piece of ginger (no need to peel)
Coconut oil, butter, or ghee
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Any mixture of fresh/dried herbs you like (we like thyme or oregano or Herbs de Provence)
Vegetable scraps – celery leaves, carrot peels, kale stems – you name it (This is optional; it helps impart flavor; I didn’t use it this time because I hadn’t thought to save any.)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the chicken inside and out. (Save the neck; the gizzards are optional.) Pat dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan. Stuff the onion, garlic, and ginger into the cavity and rub your oil of choice all over the outside then season with sea salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
2. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes then place in a pot (if you have a good stock pot that can go in the oven just use this; I can’t do that with mine but it would save some dishes!)
3. There are two options for your next step; I have tried it both ways. You could put it in a stock pot to simmer on the stove or place in a slow cooker. I personally prefer the slow cooker; it doesn’t need to be watched and you don’t have to worry about it boiling too hard, boiling over, etc., but it’s up to you.
4. Place in your pot and pour in cold, filtered water to cover. Place over low heat (or your slow cooker on low) and walk away. I like to do mine in the evening, place it in the slow cooker, and go to bed. You get up in the morning and it’s all done. I remove it from the pot and let it cool. We have chicken for lunch then I completely bone it out and repeat the process, covering the bones with more filtered water (the veggies too) and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer about 30 minutes to an hour, until any remaining meat has come off the bone.
5. Once you have your broth strain it into a bowl or jars and place in the refrigerator. When it’s chilled you can label it and leave it in the fridge for a quick, nourishing snack, make soup, or use in a recipe. I always leave one jar out and label the others and put in the freezer.

This just takes a little bit of time and whether you let it simmer all night or all day is up to you! It can also be personalized with whatever herbs or spices you or your family likes, and that one little chicken makes a lot of broth! I don’t always make soup, but my mom did and her version was so good I had to recreate it for you. The cabbage in it made it reminiscent of noodles and it was so yummy, so here it is!

Chicken Cabbage Soup
One quart homemade chicken broth
1 clove garlic
½ a large onion
4 stalks celery
½ a large or one small cabbage, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1. If you have just made your chicken broth you can just add all your ingredients to the prepared broth, bring to a simmer, and leave for about 15-20 minutes to allow the veggies to soften. If I am using a jar of pre-prepared broth I like to sauté all my veggies in a little coconut oil first – it gives them great flavor!
2. That’s it! Enjoy!
3. The night I made this soup myself I was really craving bread and made these yummy coconut flour muffins that really taste like corn bread but are completely grain-free! The recipe comes from Empowered Sustenance and can be found at http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cornbread-muffins/.

Hugs to you!

Emily

Sources:
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.; copyright 2001, New Trends Publishing, Inc.; pages 116-124
The Paleo Approach, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD; copyright 2013, Victory Belt Publishing; page 196

Homemade Bone Broth From a Whole Chicken, Plus a Yummy Soup Recipe!

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American cooking, tumbling as fast as it is toward a totally takeout cuisine, retains two potent images that can still revivify our appetite for good, homemade food: baked goods, which stand for the gift of pleasure, and meat-based broths, from which all the kitchen’s healing goodness flows…its aroma filled the house, cosseting all who inhaled it with deep well-being, as if the very air were filled with nurture. The chef may have transmogrified his meat waters into gold; the housewife transmuted them into a far more essential nutrient: love. ~ John Thorne Outlaw Cook

Any good cook preparing food for his/her family puts a lot of love into it, and this method and recipe is no exception! This recipe is made with chicken and I never prepare a chicken or turkey without using the bones afterword for broth. It is so good and good for you! Your family will taste the love, believe me, and their tummies will thank you for it!

You can use the bones from pretty much any meat for broth. Fish stock usually contains the whole carcasses, including heads; beef stock typically calls for a mixture of bone marrow and knuckle bones – and even feet! All these different components contribute to the end flavor and add their own particular nutrients. I made some Chinese Pork Spare Ribs a few months ago that simmered in its own liquid for a long time and in the recipe it said to save the resulting broth, and I am glad I did. It was amazing! Having simmered in the pork with coconut aminos, lots of ginger, garlic, and cinnamon it was so good! It would have made a wonderful base for soup but it didn’t last that long! We simply drank it as is!

This broth is made from chicken, and the one I make the most often; I’ll share my method for some other favorites another time. You can do this one a couple of ways, and I have read several and combined a few to make one that works for us and that we like the end result the most. This method uses a whole chicken, cooking the meat in the delicious broth, resulting in super moist and tasty chicken meat that is great for sandwiches, salads, or snacking.

A few notes about broth or stock. The terms are interchangeable and which is used pretty much depends on who you are talking to, so don’t let it throw you; personally, I was confused about it for a while! The ending broth can be used to make gravy, sauces, soup, or any recipe calling for stock or broth; I don’t remember the last time I spent money on it at the store – we always have some in the freezer – but I also always have a jar in the fridge we drink hot in mugs like tea. Which brings me to my next point.

Homemade bone broth, made from the whole carcass, is very nutritious and extremely healing. It’s not an old wives tale that it’s a cure for a cold (but don’t just have it when you’re sick! Consumed regularly, it can ward off illness in the first place!), and can aid in the healing of all sorts of ailments and even injuries. The minerals in the bones, marrow, and even skin and cartilage add electrolytes, something called hydrophilic colloids (which aid in digestion), gelatin which is great for your digestion, protein, amino acids, and when an acid is introduced in cooking – such as apple cider vinegar – it draws out the minerals in the bones (like calcium, magnesium, and potassium). It truly is a super food! The connective tissue is also so good for healing and even goes so far as to combat damage done to the gut, can ease inflammation, and is a wonderful addition to the healing diet of anyone suffering from digestive issues but is instrumental for someone like me who needs that extra healing boost!

I recently returned from visiting family in Nebraska. It was my first time there since changing my diet and though being grain-free is not always all that difficult, probably the biggest hurdle when someone is preparing food for me are the nightshades. Even a small amount of them makes the eczema flare like crazy and any of the convenience foods I used to rely on while on the go – like lunchmeat – are now off the menu. Before we arrived my mom roasted a chicken for me then boiled the bones and made an amazing broth which she later made soup out of; it was so good I tried to recreate it here. It is very simple and so good neither batch lasted more than a couple of days!

A few notes about gelatin; it is one of the latest super foods I have learned about and wanted to share with you. I’m not talking about the artificially colored, chemical-filled concoction you can make from a box, but real gelatin. You can order it online reasonably priced; I recommend the Great Lakes brand (the red can) and it can be found on Amazon, but its truest form is when it is extracted right from the bones.

Ever notice how cold broth gets all thick and gelled? It’s the gelatin and the goal of every stock-making cook is that perfect broth that gels beautifully. My mom nailed it; the first time I went to warm up some leftover of hers it all popped out of the jar at once and kept its form until the pan heated up! Like chicken jello! (If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a picture of it.)

If your broth is not gelling much there can be a couple of reasons. Start with cold water; the process of the water slowly heating allows the fibers in the bone to open up and release the gelatin. It could also be it wasn’t simmered long enough, or too much; the key word here is simmer. Don’t let it come to a rolling boil; I go into this more later.

I am very focused on healing my body right now, and I find it absolutely amazing there are tools on this earth we can use, like naturally fermented foods for probiotics, honey with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (as long as it’s in its RAW form), and gut-healing, immune system boosting bone broth! Food is medicine!

Need another reason to make your own? Conventional “broth” is loaded with salt, most likely contains gluten, in some cases the meat is the fourth or fifth ingredient, and they can contain things like MSG, artificial colorings, sugars, hydrogenated oils, and a whole host of unidentifiable/unpronounceable things. Even gluten-free varieties and organic versions can be suspect and contain questionable labels like “all-natural” or “natural flavors.” That can mean anything BUT natural! Do your research; there are some good brands out there, but they can be hard to find and expensive…so why not make your own!

I simmer mine twice; once the first time, and then I take the meat off the bones and simmer just the bones one more time. Use cold, filtered water, and let it take its time. The little bit of effort on your part will be well worth it, trust me!


Homemade (Chicken) Bone Broth

(1) 3-4 pound chicken (as fresh and natural as you can afford)
Cold, filtered water
1 small or ½ large onion, cut into chunks
2-4 cloves garlic (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)
(1) 1-inch piece of ginger (no need to peel)
Coconut oil, butter, or ghee
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Any mixture of fresh/dried herbs you like (we like thyme or oregano or Herbs de Provence)
Vegetable scraps – celery leaves, carrot peels, kale stems – you name it (This is optional; it helps impart flavor; I didn’t use it this time because I hadn’t thought to save any.)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse the chicken inside and out. (Save the neck; the gizzards are optional.) Pat dry with paper towels and place in a roasting pan. Stuff the onion, garlic, and ginger into the cavity and rub your oil of choice all over the outside then season with sea salt, pepper, and herbs of choice.
2. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes then place in a pot (if you have a good stock pot that can go in the oven just use this; I can’t do that with mine but it would save some dishes!)
3. There are two options for your next step; I have tried it both ways. You could put it in a stock pot to simmer on the stove or place in a slow cooker. I personally prefer the slow cooker; it doesn’t need to be watched and you don’t have to worry about it boiling too hard, boiling over, etc., but it’s up to you.
4. Place in your pot and pour in cold, filtered water to cover. Place over low heat (or your slow cooker on low) and walk away. I like to do mine in the evening, place it in the slow cooker, and go to bed. You get up in the morning and it’s all done. I remove it from the pot and let it cool. We have chicken for lunch then I completely bone it out and repeat the process, covering the bones with more filtered water (the veggies too) and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and simmer about 30 minutes to an hour, until any remaining meat has come off the bone.
5. Once you have your broth strain it into a bowl or jars and place in the refrigerator. When it’s chilled you can label it and leave it in the fridge for a quick, nourishing snack, make soup, or use in a recipe. I always leave one jar out and label the others and put in the freezer.

This just takes a little bit of time and whether you let it simmer all night or all day is up to you! It can also be personalized with whatever herbs or spices you or your family likes, and that one little chicken makes a lot of broth! I don’t always make soup, but my mom did and her version was so good I had to recreate it for you. The cabbage in it made it reminiscent of noodles and it was so yummy, so here it is!

Chicken Cabbage Soup
One quart homemade chicken broth
1 clove garlic
½ a large onion
4 stalks celery
½ a large or one small cabbage, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1. If you have just made your chicken broth you can just add all your ingredients to the prepared broth, bring to a simmer, and leave for about 15-20 minutes to allow the veggies to soften. If I am using a jar of pre-prepared broth I like to sauté all my veggies in a little coconut oil first – it gives them great flavor!
2. That’s it! Enjoy!
3. The night I made this soup myself I was really craving bread and made these yummy coconut flour muffins that really taste like corn bread but are completely grain-free! The recipe comes from Empowered Sustenance and can be found at http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cornbread-muffins/.

Hugs to you!

Emily

Sources:
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.; copyright 2001, New Trends Publishing, Inc.; pages 116-124
The Paleo Approach, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD; copyright 2013, Victory Belt Publishing; page 196

Living With A Tender Heart: Some Personal Thoughts on Kindness

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I started this blog back in November of last year to share all sorts of stuff but my focus has shifted, I guess, because all my posts lately have been about food! There’s nothing wrong with that; I personally love finding new recipes online to try, but I haven’t been very consistent either, so I’ve decided to just start posting some various things. There are a couple of blogs I follow that sometimes a post is no more than a couple of paragraphs talking about their latest crochet project or just talking about family stuff.

You might not see me post a lot of stuff very often, but I’m not a full-time blogger. I’m a wife and mom and I have a life away from my computer. Blog posts have focused a lot on my current health issues and food because that’s been more of my focus as I try to heal my body from autoimmune issues (if you’d like to read more about those look back at my posts referring to my Healing Journey). I’ve got tons more to share but have been having some Internet issues and then I was out of town for two weeks visiting family. I had my computer and my notebook full of my Posts To Do list, but though I shared a few things on social media I would find here or there I was not focused on that but on spending time with family. Then I got home and the Internet issues were worse! (We think it has something to do with the receiver in my computer and we’re working on it.) But suffice it to say that even though with what I just said I have some great recipes to share including a paleo pizza that is out of this world, how to make healing bone broth, my go-to favorite paleo meal when I want something yummy and wholesome but am feeling lazy and don’t to spend all evening in the kitchen (or morning for that matter! It’s good for breakfast too!), a dairy-/nightshade-/junk-free pumpkin spice latte recipe, and then I want to share about my trip and my thoughts on traveling paleo-style with a travel companion who happens to be a toddler AND gluten-free in addition to a tribute to my grandmother who recently passed away.

Phew! But on to this post. I wanted to talk about kindness. Why? I was bullied yesterday.

Yes, you read that right. At thirty-five years old and by another (so-called) adult. I still can’t believe it. Let me share my story.

We live in a townhouse of an apartment complex. There is this beautiful clubhouse with a pool, fitness center, and a room called, The Business Center. I’ve never spent any significant time in there, though we’ve lived here eight months. My husband wanted to test a theory about my Internet problem and wanted me to connect to a different wireless network. I had just put our little one down for a nap so off I went with an iced coffee in hand and it seemed like I was getting this wonderful vacation!

They have it decorated very nicely in there – it kind of looks like the study or library in a fancy house – and there is a whole wall of windows that look out on a courtyard full of trees and flowers; there is a line of Birds of Paradise just out the window. It’s very nice (you might have seen a picture of it yesterday if you follow me on Instagram!). There are two computers and a printer but I had my laptop and was sitting in my own little corner with my headphones on in my own little world, working on my Etsy shop. And I was in Heaven.

There were a couple of people coming and going but we all kept to ourselves. Then a few kids came in. Then a few more. And a few more until that small room was full. And they were loud. I was really surprised but realized it was mid-afternoon and school had just gotten out. There is a rule about no kids under 16 being allowed inside without an adult, but I wasn’t going to be that person and I turned up my music and kept to myself. Then I turned my music up some more. Then a little more. Finally I could barely stand it was so loud in my ears along with the raucous noise in the room, and it was getting hard to concentrate. Believe me, I can work under distraction! And actually, I can’t work when it’s too quiet, but this was ridiculous. They were not only loud but crude with terrible language. Not to mention the fact that the entire reason I had gone down there was for a little peace and quiet.

So I removed my headphones, turned around, and very politely asked if they would mind keeping it down a little. I was very nice. They continued to come and go and though they quieted down for a minute it was soon just as loud in there as it had been. Then two adults walked in. They sat at the other computer and I was stuck between the two groups who began to converse and laugh and obviously knew each other. It only got louder and I have to admit I was getting frustrated but I was still very nice and asked them one more time to please keep it down. I heard some rude whispering behind me but ignored it and got back to work, though it was frankly a little upsetting.

Ten minutes later I had had it. Without a word I packed up my stuff and got ready to go. I am not very confrontational so it was very hard for me to say anything at all even though they were being so rude, and I absolutely cannot stand tattle-tellers or people who complain, but I briefly wondered if I should head across the clubhouse to the offices and talk to someone. That seemed silly so I decided to just go home.

I got up and went to the door and the room got very quiet. Then someone very loudly made a rude comment that does not bear repeating. I froze and turned around to find it had come from one of the adults in the room of all people! Everyone was looking at me and then started to laugh. It may not have been directed at me and it was almost as ridiculous as it was rude, but it was in fact rude and I was dumbfounded. I very badly wanted to put this…person in their place but I just turned around and left, but I was shaking.

I made a split-second decision and turned left toward the offices instead of right toward the door and went to someone in the office. I felt so absurd but I didn’t know what to do and thought it was best I leave it be instead of having an emotional outburst and sometimes a word from someone in authority carries much more weight.

I was still shaking and almost in tears as I explained what had happened and the woman I spoke to was so sweet. She came out from behind her desk and touched my arm and was as shocked as I was. She was very sympathetic and I actually felt rather silly for going to her but she assured me she was glad I did and told me they had actually received another complaint about behavior in that same room just the day before so she promised to look into it, wondering if it was the same group. Then she and I started to visit about how appalling that was and ridiculous. How can another adult act that way?

She and I have kids just a few months apart; mine just turned three and hers will at the end of this month and we talked about wanting our kids to grow up knowing how to treat other people and to be kind and considerate. We love where we live and there are some really great people here; people are so friendly (most of the time) and it’s rare to be outside and not have someone wave or say hi – even if I’m in my garage with the door open! Our neighbors will wander into our driveway when we’re outside and visit or sit next to us at the pool and we’ve gotten to know some great people here.

The kids are another story. Though, I don’t mean all of them and I am sorry for saying this, but the fact is there are some AWFUL children here! Rude, inconsiderate, and just plain mean! There is a small park on the grounds and on one of our first trips my then barely two-year-old son was bullied by a little boy who couldn’t have been more than five or so – he was little! He was shouting at my son, blocking him from getting onto the play equipment, and when he pushed him at one point I had about had it. It took every bit of composure I had not to actually throw that little kid off the play equipment! And the mother was there!

I should have said something to her, but I let it go. We’ve encountered that little boy again, along with a few others that are just ridiculously mean. It’s so sad! Another child can’t run up to mine without me tensing up and getting ready for a confrontation! The last time that happened I almost cried. This boy ran up to him that wasn’t very old but much bigger than he was and I immediately went on the defensive and ran across the playground as he asked him a pointed question about his shoes. To make a long story short, he was beyond sweet and kept taking my son’s hand, racing him around the equipment, helping him up when he fell, helping him put his flip flops back on when they fell off and more; it was precious.

What kind of world do we live in I have to feel the need to go into protective mama lion mode every time someone approaches my child?! I know I can’t protect him from everything and he needs to learn to stand up for himself, but it’s just so sad.

I’ll admit I have a very tender heart. I can be over-sensitive, but yesterday really bothered me. I got home and cried and cried and cried. It’s not the first time that has happened recently and I don’t get it. And sometimes it just gets to me.

I was bullied relentlessly all through school. It got really bad around second grade and continued through about my junior year when most everyone seemed to just grow up all of a sudden, but there were a few that never let up. I’ve had jobs since where there was someone in the office determined to be the bully and make me miserable, and it has brought all that back. And I have had several occurrences recently and as a result there are a couple of places I just don’t frequent anymore. There is a particular someone I know that has wondered why I never want to spend time or talk to them, but they are always very judgmental and critical, and frankly a bit of a bully. It feels like everything needs to be perfect all the time with them and I will almost make myself sick stressing about when I’m going to see this person. Who wants to willingly subject themselves to that?!

My husband and I started a transportation business a little over fourteen months ago and we are dealing with harassment from another company in town. They have been relentless and rude; not to mention extremely unprofessional and immature, and I pity them; they are so insecure and paranoid they feel the need to attack us! The irony? They had a chance to hire my husband but cancelled his interview an hour-and-a-half before it was scheduled and yes, we now have many of their clients, but they have all come to us after bad service from them! If you can’t keep your customers don’t get all bent of shape when they’re taken care of by someone else and you lose their business. It’s not that difficult. And it’s hard not to go on the offensive, as in some of these other situations, but sometimes we just have to be the bigger person and move on and let it go. It’s not easy but the best thing to not stoop to their level but I still don’t understand it all.

Some people are just rude, and others are actual bullies. I don’t hold anything against all these people. I just don’t get it. I never have. I personally don’t understand racism or war or hatred. Why can’t we all just get along? Why does someone feel the need to pick on my TODDLER at the playground?! What kind of ADULT joins in on the ragging of rude teenagers? How unprofessional is it to harass another person just because they are doing their best to provide for their family and make a living, not to mention provide good customer service? And what’s the point?

I can’t help but wonder if sometimes I wear this sign everyone but me can see that says:

I’M SENSITIVE!
PICK ON ME!!!

That’s ridiculous, I know, but it feels that way sometimes. Bullies are cowards at heart. Or so incredibly unhappy they have to make everyone else miserable. I feel sorry for them. I pity them, but sometimes it gets to me. Sometimes they make me cry. And part of it is just because of the sheer sadness of the situation. As I already said, what kind of person willingly hurts another?

I’m a nice person. I’m good people. I keep to myself, I’m polite, and I go out of my way to help others. I saw a little sign on social media recently that I saved and almost used as my cover photo for this, but I’m not sure where it came from and didn’t want to step on any copyright’s toes, but it said, Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.

I’ve been told I’m too sensitive, that I read too much into things, that I should just get over it and move on, but who says I’m too sensitive?! I’d like to say to every person that has ever told me that, what if you’re not sensitive enough?

I didn’t post all this to complain but to share my story and maybe encourage someone else dealing with something similar – I know it helps me! – and to say this:

BULLYING HURTS. DON’T DO IT.

Life is too short. There are too many other important things going on than to pick on each other. And if you are one of those people, let me just say this one other thing and then I will get off my soap box. If I ever learn my child has been guilty of bullying, I would see it as one of my greatest failures as a parent. No matter how old he is.

How do you deal with it? Whether it be directed towards yourself, your spouse, or your child? I can’t help but think of the golden rule and doing unto others, etc. One more word from me in addition to thank you for “listening” me ramble on, and here it is. Be kind to one another.

Have a great day,
Emily

Homemade Almond Flour (From Crispy Almonds) and a Banana Bread Recipe to Make With It!

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I love to bake and got pretty good at converting old favorites to gluten-free, but since going grain-free it’s been more of a challenge. Many grain-free recipes I find call for almond flour or almond meal. What’s the difference? Almond meal is coarser where the flour is finer; that’s about it.

If you follow me you know I went grain-free and paleo in mid-March of this year and it has been a HUGE learning experience. I made the change to deal with some ongoing digestive and skin issues and am doing SO much better. I started with a strict elimination diet and the Autoimmune Protocol and now do a revised version of it.

What do I mean by that? I believe it’s more of a lifestyle than a diet and is not one-size-fits-all. Some things work for some people, some don’t. I’ve discovered by trial and error and lots of homework what my body can and cannot handle. I’m still learning and so this came from an experiment.

I have mixed reactions to nuts and I have posted about properly preparing nuts before and so I wondered if that was the difference – the flours I was using may not have been properly prepared. Nuts can be difficult for anyone to digest, but particularly those already with digestive issues, due to phytic acid and enzymes naturally present in the nuts. Soaking and slowly drying them helps neutralize them and makes them easier to digest. It is very, very simple and actually only takes of a few minutes of your actual time. You’ll notice my flour is darker than the almond flour you’re used to seeing in the grocery store. That’s because it’s not blanched. You can blanch almonds yourself, but I personally wasn’t concerned with a lighter colored flour and frankly saw very little difference, if any, in the resulting look of the baked goods I’ve made with it.

As part of the diet and lifestyle that works for me nuts are a special treat; I can tell relatively quickly when I have had too much. I’ll start to get a little rumbly in the tumbly and the eczema will begin to act up; a flare typically starts on the back of my neck, my face, and the tops of my thighs. So, in a nutshell (no pun intended) when I make a goodie like the banana bread I share at the end I am very careful not to overindulge (which is hard because this recipe is really good – trust me).

Making your own almond flour is not only healthier for you, but much cheaper. I’ve paid upwards of $10-$12 for a pound and then discovered I can get the raw almonds from the bulk bin of a favorite natural market for $7.99 a pound. I buy a couple of pounds and soak and dry them, make some into flour, I can make almond butter if I want, and I often leave some whole for snacking (the whole family loves them). You aren’t going to believe how easy it is.

I’ll share the process of preparing the nuts, then go onto the flour and butter, and then share a recipe using your fresh, homemade flour. There is no sugar in it at all, no dairy, no grains or gluten (of course) and can be made with a variety of goodies you may have in your fridge or pantry. What’s your favorite way to use almond flour?

How to Prepare Raw Almonds
Place your almonds in a large jar (or two). For every four cups of nuts add 1 Tablespoon sea salt. Cover with filtered water and leave in a warm place at least 7 hours. Drain well and spread baking pan. Place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12-24 hours, stirring occasionally, until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.

Note: you can also dry these in a food dehydrator. I like to soak my nuts all afternoon then I put them in the oven at bedtime and let dry overnight; that way it doesn’t take up the oven all day or heat it up unnecessarily when it’s hot.

How to Make Almond Flour/Butter

When your nuts are all dry place in a food processor or high powered blender and pulse for about 10-15 seconds at a time until you reach the coarseness you want. That’s it. Super easy! If you want finer flour run it through a fine mesh sieve and run the coarser pieces through the blender again, repeating until you have the right consistency.

Want to know how to make your own almond butter? Just let the blender run. It can take quite a while, maybe 10-15 minutes with some blenders, but if you keep it going the natural oils will eventually turn it into butter. I told you it was easy! At this point you can flavor it, if you want, by adding some extra sea salt, a little raw honey, ground cinnamon, or cocoa; the possibilities are endless. I usually just make it plain or with a little honey and cinnamon; yum!

Berry Banana Bread (Paleo, No Sugar, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free)
Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1-1/4 cup almond flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries – or a mixture of all three!
½ cup chopped pecans (chocolate chips are good too for an extra-special treat! Make sure they are dairy and gluten free – Enjoy Life brand are Paleo-friendly. Also, that your pecans are properly prepared too – just as you would with the almonds.)

Instructions
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a standard-sized loaf pan with coconut oil or line with a piece of parchment paper (my preferred way – it lifts out so easy and minimizes the cleanup).
2) Combine the mashed bananas and eggs and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to incorporate.
3) Fold in berries and pecans then pour into prepared pan.
4) Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
5) Let sit for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to let cool completely.
6) Enjoy! My little one likes this with a smear of almond butter on top but it also makes wicked French Toast! (Try it that way with the breakfast sausage from my previous post!)

Have a great day,
Emily