Monday, March 31, 2014

Amazing Paleo Strawberry Chocolate Ice cream Sandwiches

While I was at my mom's last week I got a craving for chocolate and ice cream. Here is the strawberry lemon paleo "ice cream" that we made and the chocolate cookies to put it on.
Chocolate Cookies
I made these before, as chocolate chip cookies but my newly found allergy to cane sugar left me with no viable chocolate chip options. So plain chocolate it was!

In a bowl Mix:
1 cup almond butter (raw, unsweetened)
1 organic egg
1/4 cup raw organic honey
1/2 tsp Baking Powder, Aluminum Free
12 tsp sea salt
2 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder .

Spoon onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten with the back of a spoon.
Bake them at 350F for 10 minutes and then carefully remove them and place on a cooling rack. Recipe yields about 11 cookies.

Once they have cooled to close to room temperature, place them in the freezer while you get the ice cream started.
Strawberry Lemon Paleo Ice Cream
1 pint organic strawberries
1 can full fat Organic Coconut Milk, unsweetened
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon organic raw honey
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a large bowl place the strawberries, rinsed with stems removed. Using a masher (I used my metal potato masher), mash them up to a mostly liquid consistency. Gently stir in the other ingredients until completely blended together.

Pour into your ice cream maker (I use a counter-top Cuisinart one, the kind where the bowl goes in your freezer until you are ready to use it). It takes about 20-30 minutes to get the ice cream to set-up to a good consistency.

Once the ice cream is ready, spoon it onto one of the cookies and then place another on top. Put the cookies immediately back into the freezer. Let them set for about 1 hour in the freezer (or you can eat them right away and have them be just as delicious but significantly messier) before serving.  Any leftover ice cream can be eaten right away or stored in an air tight container in the freezer. To re-thaw, let it set at room temp for about 10 minutes for best texture.

These ice cream sandwiches were a HUGE hit with my family and met all of our dietary requirements: gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, sugar-free, oat-free, etc.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as we did!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


We headed down to my parents' house on Saturday. They met us in Salem and took us the rest of the way so Matt could head back home and work this week.

I started antibiotics on Friday morning for a nasty case of strep. By Sunday afternoon I was so sick and couldn't stop shaking or crying. Dad drove me to Urgent Care and they switched me to a different type of antibiotics.  Those started working and now on Wednesday night I am finally starting to feel somewhat normal.

Needless to say, we have spent most of our time at Gramma and Grampa's house.  Here are a few pictures from the first few days.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Natural Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Yesterday I made up a batch of homemade toilet bowl cleaner. It worked like a champ! Here is the recipe for those of you interested in a cheaper alternative the harsh chemical cleaners.

1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup Liquid Castile Soap
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup vinegar

This recipe foams up a lot when you make it, so be sure and use a bigger bowl than you would think you need.

Step 1:
Using a whisk, gently stir the 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup liquid castile soap together.
*note* I used peppermint castile soap and it gave the cleaner a nice minty scent 

Step 2:
Stir in the 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and the 1 cup of warm water

Step 3:
Gently pour in the 1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) and whisk gently until it stops foaming.

You can see how it decreased in size once the foaming action from the baking soda and vinegar stopped.

Step 4:
Use a funnel to pour into a squirtable bottle.
My hubby found this one at Walmart for $1 near the condiments.
Also, you can see that the mixture separates as it sits. Be sure to give it a gently shake to mix it up before you use it.

My recipe made a little more than the bottle held so I poured the extra into a glass jar for storage. 

Okay, now it was time to try it. I purposely let my toilet get gross before I used it, I wanted to make sure that it actually worked. I normally DO NOT let my toilet get like this before I clean it!

Okay, so here is the gross toilet. That is mildew/gross stuff that grew on the bowl.
I squirted just a little bit of the mixture up around the edge of the bowl underneath the rim (just like you would with any other toilet bowl cleaner). I let it sit for just a minute and then scrubbed it with my toilet scrubbing brush.

It worked like a champ!! The bowl was totally clean and no hard scrubbing was needed!

*Note: I do not know how well this will work on toilets that are already rusty or stained. The minerals in water vary so much by region. If you try this, please let me know how it works on yours.

Let's break down the cost:
1/2 cup of baking soda is $0.15
1/4 cup castile soap is $0.68 
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide $0.03
1 cup of water is free (from your tap)
1/4 cup vinegar $0.05
      For a grand total of  $0.91! That is cheaper than buying the cheapest kind possible (at the Dollar Tree) which lets face it, doesn't really work that well anyways.

For those of you wondering where I get the liquid castile soap, I get it from vitacost online. Here is a link to get $10 off your first $30 purchase!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Bacon Casserole ~ Paleo

I got a great deal on some organic sweet potatoes at Costco yesterday. So I was trying to figure out what to do with them. I remembered I had some nitrate-free bacon in the freezer and then I got to work.

4 large organic sweet potatoes
1 organic apple
1, 12 ounce package of nitrate-free bacon
1 Tablespoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons Olive oil, separated
2-3 Tablespoons of Daiya (dairy-free) cheese
    *If you aren't dairy free then you can use whatever sort of shredded cheese that you like.

Peel and rinse the sweet potatoes.
Then slice them CAREFULLY with either a mandolin or knife.
*I did this step because Matt is banned from the mandolin. Last time he used it he sliced a decent sized chunk off the corner of his finger.

Put the sliced sweet potatoes, 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and all of the sea salt into a large bowl. Toss them with your hands making sure that the salt and oil get evenly distributed.

Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish.

Then pour in the sweet potatoes.

Peel, core and cube up the apple and sprinkle it on top of the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese of your choice over the top.

Place into the oven and bake at 425 F for 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are cooked and soft (the cooking time will vary depending on how thinly the sweet potatoes are sliced).

After putting the dish into the oven to begin baking, get out the bacon. Cut it into this slices and fry up in a frying pan on the stove top. When it is cooked to the way you like it, spoon the "crumbles" out onto a plate lined with a paper towel (to catch the grease). Then carefully open the oven and sprinkle them on the top of the sweet potatoes that are cooking.

Here is mine, all finished and warm from the oven.
I ate mine plain (true Paleo style) but the kids and Matt mixed theirs up with some rice. Matt said that it was really good mixed with the rice.
This is great as a side dish or as a main, "one dish" dinner.
We will definitely be making it again and I am looking forward to the leftovers that I get to eat for lunch today!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chocolate Coconut "Larabars" You Can Make Yourself! ~ No grains, gluten, sugar or dairy!

Oh man! I mixed up a batch of these this morning and I was hooked! I literally could have sat and eaten the whole batch! They are simply amazing and taste just like, if not better, than the Larabars you can buy in the store.

Here is the recipe so you can make your own....

1 cup raw almonds
1 1/3 cups pitted medjool dates (unsweetened)
1 tsp water
1/8 tsp sea salt
4 Tablespoons Raw Cacao Powder (unsweetened cocoa powder works fine too)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, divided

Put everything (except 2 Tablespoons of the coconut) into a Food Processor . Leave it on until it turns into one solid glob.
Here is the solid glob that it turned into.

Okay, so next you pick pieces off the glob (after safely removing the food processor blade from it) and roll them into 1 inch balls. I got 21 out of mine.

The roll each ball into the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut you have left. This will keep them from sticking to each other.


I put mine in an airtight container and stored them in the refrigerator.

Ah, love my BPA-Free Snapware !

So, that was super easy, super delicious and super healthy!
Now here is the good news, there is only 64 calories and a whopping 2 grams of protein per ball!
They taste like a super moist, coconut brownie and are amazingly healthy!
Not too shabby for grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and raw!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where is God When We are Crying?

Where is God in our brokenness? Where is He when we are heartbroken? Where is God in my sorrow and grief? Why did God let this happen?

These are common questions that we (or our friends) ask when bad things happen. We tend to start asking a bunch of "why" and "how could You" questions. We sometimes throw blame and anger God's way. We struggle for words when our spirits are too broken to manage them.

Then time passes and we start to see through our tears instead of having our vision completely clouded by them. That is when  we have a choice to make: where do I go from here?

It is up to us, we get to choose where we go from there. When we are at the bottom we get to choose to remain there or start moving out of the pit. Staying there for a season to grieve and  mourn your loss is okay, it is okay to cry and grieve and feel the way that you are feeling. But staying in that pit turns hope into despair and makes us weaker. We must choose to STAND UP and start walking.

But where to? Where do we go? The logical answer would be to turn to God. But did you realize that He was already standing right beside you? Even in the bottom of the pit, in the middle of your tears and crying and loss He was right there, lying in the mud beside you. Covering Himself in ashes with you, He mourned right beside you.

A common misconception is that God is only angry or happy. God has emotions and feelings. He cries and rejoices. He grieves with us, He cries with us. When Lazarus died and Mary and Martha came to their friend Jesus, they cried out to Him in despair, with broken hearts filled with grief. Jesus responded by crying with them. When he saw their breaking hearts and tears his heart was moved. "when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. " (John 11:33 NKJV).  Two verses later it simply says, "Jesus wept."

God cries. And He cries with us. Things that break our hearts break His heart too. He never desires for us to be sad or broken or hurt. He never wants to see us suffering. And yes, things in life happen that cause us to feel those ways. We live in a fallen world, filled with sorrow and

evil. Bad things are going to happen to us. God never promised they wouldn't, but He did promise that He would never leave us or abandon us.

So cry with Him. Let Him be the one you run to when you cry, because He will hold you and cry with you.

Then stand up. Yes, that's right.

Stand up.

Where do you go from here? How do you move on in life knowing that the same terrible thing could happen again? How do you move forward? Do you pretend that nothing happened? Do you put up walls around you to guard your heart from future pain?

God promised that His love and strength and grace were enough for us. That in our weakness His strength is made perfect. Being broken is a pretty good example of being weak. His love is so amazing, it is perfect.

There is nothing, that's right, NOTHING in the universe that can separate us from God's love. His "love" switch is always, ALWAYS on. And His love is perfect. And unconditional. He gives us beauty for ashes, joy for our mourning, and praise instead of despair. (Is 61:3).

If we believe what God said. If we trust Him that he trades us weakness for strength, mourning for joy, and gives us beautiful things when we hand Him our ashes; then why in the world would we choose to stay in that pit of despair any longer?

So we stand up, looking at His perfect face and all the love that burns in His eyes for us, and we take a step forward. While we step forward we look at His eyes and trust that His love is enough, enough to cover the future, enough to cover the potential pain and sorrow, and enough to rejoice with us with the promised blessings.

I love the words to Mandisa's song "The Distance"
Oh, it’s amazing
Your love is piercing
The distance
And You won’t stop, You won’t stop
Even in my weakest moment
I can feel You closin’ the distance
And You won’t stop, You won’t stop

Nothing can separate us
No one can stand between
From beginning to the end
Your love is enough, enough
Nothing can separate us
No one can separate us

His love is always there.
So we stand up from our mourning, and look for that love. The love that is enough and strong enough to pierce through the darkest, saddest part of our hearts.

It all comes down to faith and trust. If we can look at Him and believe that He will take care of us in the future, what do we have to fear? Because every good and perfect thing comes from above, and everything that is good or perfect will be redeemed by Him to be made so.

But then again, knowing what we need to do doesn't make it any easier to actually do.

I'm still here. I'm not sitting anymore, I am standing up. I just can't seem to take a step forward. I know that God is standing beside me and that every time I cry He is crying too. The way out looks so far away.... but I know that it is only a short distance, one that can easily be pierced by His love.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beach Trip!

Last weekend we were all in need of a trip out of town! We were all burned out from moving and the kids were so emotional that I decided it was time for some fresh air, laughter and fun!

So..... up at 6 am and in the car to head towards Whidbey Island and a beach. We went to the beach at Oak Harbor.

Xander was very cautious around the water.

Gabriella on the other hand, wanted her shoes off and headed right in.

Matt and the kids (mostly he and Xander) had a lot of fun climbing around on large driftwood logs.

They were a good 10 feet off the ground up there.

Gabriella started singing "Deep and Wide" while she was in the water. I was very blessed watching/listening to her sing. The ocean always inspires worship within me too.

"Come on, mommy, let's just go out some more!"
She was loving the water!

Sandy toes!

After we dried off and got all the sand rinsed off us with water from sippy cups..... we headed 20 miles south to Fort Casey.
Gabriella was very excited for Admiralty Head Lighthouse and we headed over to check it out.
Surprisingly it was the first day of the tourist season (March 1st) so we were the first people to get to go up in the very top of the lighthouse since last year. They even let the kids go up!

View from the top of the lighthouse

The windy stairs and ladders we crawled up.

Such a beautiful view of the Sound

Gabriella and I went in to use the bathroom and came out to find the boys had climbed up on the roof of the building and we laughing at us when we came out!
I love how fun of a parent Matt is!

Checking out the big gun with daddy

Ready to go!

"No, Daddy!!"

Sitting together in a little window we found.

Family picture!
The kids were very tired and we were a LONG way from the car. So we both carried one of them back on our shoulders.

We found a steep hill and Gabriella had fun scooting down it. Her pants did not recover from the mud, but she had a blast!
In this shot she is trying to help Xander scoot down too.

Sunshine and a beautiful blue sky peeking through!

Lunch time!
We had packed a picnic from home and Xander practically inhaled his food.

Gabriella with her sandwich. She insisted she wanted kale on it and gobbled it up!

Mmmmm! Me and my kale sandwich! Delicious!

The naval museum we passed on the way home.

View of the Sound driving through Deception Pass State Park

So beautiful!
It had snowed in the morning and then on our way home it started raining. We had perfect weather!

View from driving over Deception Pass.

Kiddos all tuckered out on the way home!