Tag Archives: healthy eating

How to Go Gluten Free (Without Hating It)

This post also appeared on the Grit and Grace Project. I’m a contributor there – go check it out!

I’ve gone gluten free for several periods of time in the past few years, and even now, I’m a little gluten-less-than-usual. And guess what?! It’s not as hard – or as miserable – as you might think. Yes, you make concessions. Yes, there are foods that you will probably miss. But depending on the reason you’re going gluten free (allergens, weight loss, or to support a family member who has to make that choice), you might be surprised at how successful and even happy you can be while you’re off gluten. Here are a few suggestions to help you along in the process.

  1. Don’t feel like you can’t eat bread. Or pasta. Or whatever your glutenous pleasure is. There are plenty of gluten free breads, pastas, and even beers out there. Of course they don’t taste the same as your favorite sourdough, but they can be great substitutes.
  2. Make the effort to search for gluten-free recipes. The main reason I suggest this is because it’s much more successful than trying to leave out or substitute the gluten in your normal recipes. There are many substitutes; for instance, flour can be substituted by brown rice flour, coconut flour, almond flour, and others. But those don’t always measure cup for cup, and they don’t always substitute well, especially when you’re baking. There are many recipe bloggers that have already figured out the best substitutions, so why not just use their methods? Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Stick it out. If it’s not an absolute requirement to go gluten free (ie: allergy-related) and it’s just an experiment, then it’s tempting to add gluten back in sooner, rather than later. But my advice? Stick it out for a couple of months (yes, whole months!) before you start adding it back in. Whatever your desired results are, it might take a couple of months to start seeing them.
  4. Be creative with how you eat your vegetables. Lots of types of food (Asian food, for instance) don’t have much gluten in them in most cases. Gluten free doesn’t mean salads only, or that you can’t be full after your meal. But it might mean you’ve got to be a little more creative with what your meals look like. If you usually eat a pasta of some sort with your vegetables, try eating rice instead. If you typically eat a bagel or toast for breakfast, try oatmeal. There are other grains that are just as filling as wheat.

It’s possible to go gluten-free and love it! Here are three blogs that I like to check out for delicious meals, practical ideas, and even baked goods!

Against All Grain – Danielle isn’t just gluten free, but all of her recipes are! She also has a cookbook, if you’d like it on paper.

Elana’s Pantry – Elana has some great recipes I use often (specifically for sweets/baked goods).

Delightfully Gluten Free – Cassandra is helpful with knowing what products to buy to help out your kitchen’s ingredient stock.

*Also helpful for gluten-free eating are blogs that focus on recipes for those with celiac disease.

Don’t believe all the bad things you’ve heard about going gluten-free. It’s possible to go gluten-free and love it! You’ll never know until you give it a shot, though. What do you have to lose?

Good Eaters

Getting your kids to make healthy eating choices is tough. And as much as I want them to choose fresh vegetables over fries, and fresh fruit over fruit snacks, it’s just not always going to happen. And I think that’s a good thing.

You see, kids should eat junk sometimes. For instance, who wants to be the mom of the kid at a slumber party who won’t eat the cinnamon rolls they heated up for breakfast? Or the kid who won’t eat a hot dog at the baseball game? I’m not saying either of those are bad things to feed your kids; my kids eat those things plenty. But we try to not have them on too regular a basis.

Usually, my kids are okay with the foods we choose to feed them. For toddlers, they’re extremely eclectic eaters, typically enjoying everything from Asian food to Mexican food (complete with spicy salsa) to salads. We tried (and will try with the third) to introduce them to lots of flavors and spices early on so that they wouldn’t have to only eat plain, boring food… mostly because we don’t like our food that way. We didn’t want to sacrifice our food preferences when we had kids.

But sometimes, my kids are totally picky. For instance, right now, they won’t eat leftovers. This is a bad thing for multiple reasons. First of all, I end up throwing more food away, and I hate that. I’m fairly good at portioning their food for them, so that there isn’t too much left on their plates at the end of meals, but if it’s leftovers (of any kind, homemade or takeout), they take two or three bites, and I can’t force any more down them. Secondly, it’s tough when you’re cooking to make the exact amount of food that will be eaten. I’m not the cook in our family, so the job doesn’t usually fall to me to do that, but Hubby (sorry babe) isn’t great at it either. The only good thing about that is that he loves leftovers and rarely wastes food (thanks babe).

When my kids are picky, I feel like it’s a catch 22. I want to take a stand and say, “You’ll eat what’s on your plate or nothing.” knowing that if they’re hungry, they’ll eat at least some of it. I don’t want them  to think that I’ll just make meal after meal until they decide they like something. But then again, I don’t want them to go hungry, or to lose their appetite for something because they’ve got a bad memory attached to it. That may sound crazy, but I’ve got adult friends with stories about how they were forced to eat something and now they don’t eat it, or how their parents always fixed a certain thing too often, and now they hate it. I don’t want to ruin a certain ingredient or dish for my kids because I forced them to eat it when they didn’t like it, or because they burned out on it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned to help them keep up their good eating skills:

  1. Put small helpings of everything in the meal on their plates. They tend to get tired of things after a few bites, but whatever they ask for more of, they can have. I waste less food, and they like the variety.
  2. Use ingredients in a variety of ways. We try to not make green beans the same way every time, or to only use basil in spaghetti sauce. That way, if they don’t like the green beans one way, they’ll probably find another way that they do like them.
  3. Hide vegetables in sauces, smoothies, and baked goods. This is a tried and true method used by many parents of toddlers, and I am a strong advocate. My kids eat zucchini in muffins, spinach in smoothies, and carrots and squash in their spaghetti sauce. Do they know? Maybe. If they do, they don’t care.
  4. Give them choices, and let them choose what they want whenever you can. I try to give them an “either or” situation if at all possible, and I try to ask them if they’ve got a preference. For instance, my son will sometimes ask for salsa, and my daughter will sometimes ask for sushi. They just as often ask for apples or bananas as snacks. Why not give them what they want if I can?

Do any of these work for you? Do you do something different to ensure that your kids are good eaters? I’m always looking for new ideas… tell me about how your family eats!

We’re eating all the fruit.

One of the changes we’ve made at our house to be a little more healthy is to have healthier snack options. Yes, I love Cheetos. However, I know that there are approximately 2,463,910 healthier snacks. We’ve been keeping Pretzel Crisps (we like the “Everything” flavor) and Nut Thins to eat with cheese, and tons of fruit as our preferred snacks. (Unless I’ve recently made those spiced pumpkin muffins from Against All Grain. Then all bets are off.)

My kids love the fruit. And I don’t mean a little bit. They are fruit nuts (see what I did there?) and so a trip to the grocery store is colorful and fresh and often. We buy berries of all kinds (twice as much if they’re on sale), grapes, bananas, apples, plums, and anything else the looks good or is cheap.

Today the grocery trip wore them out, so I had a double nap (WIN!) to do a little more to the fruit than usual. Often, I only have time to throw it in the fridge, and then I’m distracted doing something else. But since I had time today, I decided to take the fruit snacking thing to the next level.

I took the blueberries, strawberries and grapes we bought and gave them a vinegar rinse. I got this ideal from my mom… apparently a vinegar rinse kills bacteria that causes fruit to mold after a few days. Her “recipe” is 1/4 cup white vinegar for every gallon of water. My “recipe” is put the fruit in a bowl of water, dribble some white vinegar in there, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Seems to work just as well.

The next thing I did was to semi-prepare the fruit so that when my kids want some, I can just toss it in a bowl for them and it’s ready. I cut the tops off all the strawberries, pulled the grapes off the stems, and even quartered a small bowl of them (J can’t eat them whole yet). Blueberries are, well, ready. Obviously.

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All of this took me about half an hour, but I was also doing some dishes and talking on the phone, so I didn’t feel like it was wasted. And now J is eating his bowl of quartered grapes and I’m blogging about it, instead of quartering them now!

What are some healthy snacks you like munching on? Do your kids love fruit as much as mine do?

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Just because I have to include a picture of my cute kiddo 🙂

Clean Eating – How I Do It

The first time I tried clean eating, I wasn’t very creative. I also didn’t do much looking around for different options or substitutes. I just ate mostly salads, veggies, grilled chicken or steaks with no sauces, and snacked on fresh fruit and nuts. That’s fine for a while, but when you have a craving, or want something a little different, or with more depth of flavor (we are self-proclaimed foodies at our house) you need to dig a little deeper and be a little more creative to get the flavor you want without the processed ingredients.

Clean eating is, in a simple definition from Melissa (my Stroller Strength guru), a lifestyle where anything you put into your body either came from the earth, or had a mother. There are a few exceptions, and a few specific dos and don’ts, but for the most part, that’s the easy way to look at it. The biggest way (I think) that I ran into problems was with sugar (obviously) and grains… there are a lot of processed grains that you typically buy instead of buying them in their natural forms (brown rice vs processed white rice, for example, or white flour vs whole wheat flour). Therefore, pasta and bread are pretty much out, too, unless you make your own. One accidental perk of eating clean is that it can easily become gluten free, so if you’re on the gluten free diet, it’s helpful for that also.

Anyway, since I’ve cleaned up my eating in general, and done several week or two-week bouts of completely clean eating, I’ve become a little more creative and done a lot more looking for yummy recipes or snack ideas. This weekend, during my “nearly perfect day” I did some digging (read: Googling) to find a new recipe, and made a recent favorite, and now we have breakfast (or snacks? or both?) made for the week.

That’s the other key to clean eating; it takes a little more planning. I find myself needing to visit the grocery store a little more, but because I’m buying produce and meat instead of pre-made items, I don’t spend quite as much. EK loves helping bake or cook, so I get her in on the fun too, and she’s learning how to be healthy without me even forcing it on her!

I want to share a few websites that I have used for recipes or meal ideas. BUT also know that I love southern-style, more savory cooking too! For example, The Pioneer Woman is my absolute favorite website for recipes, but obviously those are for flavor and not health, necessarily!

The Gracious Pantry – All clean eating recipes, tricks and tips for keeping it up. Home of the No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies of my clean eating dreams.

Hungry Healthy Girl – Healthy recipes, lots of them clean! (This is where I got the Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins from, and both my kids LOVED them! FYI don’t try to eat them hot… the stuck and fell apart. Patience is everything!)

Mama Natural – Where I found the clean Pumpkin Spice Latte. This website is in general a little crunchier than I am, but I like it all the same!

Against All Grain – This is more Paleo (and gluten-free) but it’s still awesome!

Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body – Home of the delicious Banana Bread that EK and Hubby love so dearly. Not all recipes are clean or even healthy, but there are some great dairy-free, vegan, and healthy recipes here.

Hope that these are good resources for you if you’re on a healthy journey! Do you have any websites that I should add to my list? Leave them in the comments!