Thursday, January 29, 2009

When the 16-Year-Old Boy Experiments in the Kitchen...

...Things usually turn out all right! Case in point...homemade potato chips.

He came home and announced that he would be making potato chips. I was thrilled. We needed to use the potatoes in the food storage room anyway and it was a much better way to spend his time than playing the XBOX. I told him I would look up a recipe, but he held up his hand, saying he would come up with on from his own head. I suggested that he use the cheese grater to cut the potatoes, as it has a long, thin hole for slicing things in, well, a long, thin shape and he agreed that it was a good idea. He asked if he should peel them, and I told him the peels were good for you, so how about you leave them on? He said he didn't care what was good for him, but he left them on anyway. He cut them out, then laid them on a cookie sheet to bake...

I suggested that most potato chips are fried in oil, so he might want to go that route, and he said, "oh yeah, but I'll bake these, too. There will be two kinds." I thought that was a great idea.

Here's how he fried them in hot oil...

Here's how they were salted. (The thirteen-year-old girl had to stand in for this photo. The teenage boy said that he would not pose and said, "You can't just NOT take pictures, can you." I said, no, I can't.)

Check one out up close...

They were crisp, perfectly salted and delectable! He's taking them to school tomorrow. Ladies, watch out...

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PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How the Still-Crawling, 11-Month-Old Twins Babysit Each Other

This video is pretty much the same thing repeated for 3 minutes. Once you've seen the first 30 seconds, that's basically what you'll get for the next 2 and a half minutes, with some added attempted hair pulling and a short tug-of-war.

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5 Minutes For Mom's "Wordless Wednesday",
Wordless Wednesday dot com, and
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Sprouted Wheat Manna Bread

I am beyond excited about today's post. I have discovered a bread that is guilt free, filling, and extremely nutritious. It's called manna bread and is a staple of raw food vegans. This bread is "cooked" at very low temperatures, for the purposes of this post, 225 degrees, which basically just dehydrates the loaves. It can also be placed in a dehydrator for a period of time. Cooking at such low temperatures helps to preserve the enzymes, vitamins, good bacteria and other nutrients which would be lost at higher temperatures. Since I've made this bread four days ago, I've been eating it every day for breakfast in place of regular bread and I don't feel like I've missed a thing! Here we go...

Manna Bread:

2 cups whole wheat berries (These will be sprouted. Instructions will follow.)
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 teaspoons sea salt (You can substitute regular salt if you would like, but it won't be as good for you.)

Step 1: Sprout the wheat. This takes about two days to do, so a little planning is in order, but it's worth it as sprouting grains increases their vitamin share exponentially. Did you know that whole wheat berries do not have any vitamin C when they are in a dormant state, such as when they are ground up into flour, but if they are sprouted, their vitamin C level jumps to over 2.8 mg per serving! That is 5% of the USDA daily recommended value. It's amazing! Soooo, here's how to do it...

Pour the wheat into a wide mouth quart jar...

(These photos show six to eight jars of wheat being sprouted. Most normal people don't sprout this much, but I had my reasons.)

...then fill the jar with water...

... and cover with cut out panty hose, cheese cloth, or other breathable fabric. I just used my jar rings to secure the panty hose, but you could also use a rubber band...

Let it sit on your counter for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. In the morning, drain off the water. I sometimes find that I have to push into the wheat through the panty hose, like so... order for all the water to come out.

Next, put the jar upside-down, at a slight angle to allow the water to drain and enable appropriate breathing room for the wheat... ( I just used a towel-covered baking pan.)

Let the jar of wheat sit for 12 hours, then rinse the berries to keep bacteria from forming. I like to simply stick the faucet into the panty hose, like so...

...and let it run for a few seconds, then swish the wheat around, then drain.

Repeat this rinsing every twelve hours. Your sprouts should soon look like this...

(See the tiny bit of white sprouting out?)

...then finally, when the sprouts are about 1/4" long or almost as long as the wheat berry, they should look like this...

They are now ready to use! If you want to use sprouts in recipes other than manna bread, they are great on sandwiches in place of alfalfa sprouts, in oatmeal, in salads and baked in breads.

Note: Sprouts do not keep long in the fridge as they will keep growing and begin to taste very bitter. Make sure to use them within two to three days.

Step 2: Now that our wheat is sprouted, we can get back to the business of making the manna bread. Even though we only started out with two cups of wheat, we should now have about four cups of sprouts, as their size has doubled. Pour all of the sprouts in a food processor, along with the raisins and the sea salt.

Process for a couple of minutes until everything is well blended and you have a sticky dough, that looks like this...

Grease your hands with oil, then grab the dough out of the bowl and form a loaf about 8"x4". Trust me, you'll really need to grease your hands for this. The loaf should be no more than about 1 1/2" high or it will not dehydrate properly...

Step 3: Bake at 225 degrees for three hours. When your loaf is done, it will have a light-colored, thin, hard outer crust and a moist interior, kind of like a muffin...

When the loaf is cooled to room temperature, you can store it in a Ziploc bag to be used within two or three days, or you can wrap it in plastic...

...then store it in a Ziploc freezer bag in the freezer for later use...

Here's how I lay it on my plate...

And here's how I eat it, with natural peanut butter, raw honey, and psyllium husks...

I love it! This breakfast will keep me full for about five hours, but doesn't make me feel like I'm going to founder after I eat it. I again, have to thank my daughter, Bethany, for the inspiration for this recipe. She introduced me, by phone, to manna bread, something she is able to buy on a daily basis at the health food store, and I was so inspired that I had to surf the net and find out how to make it, as we don't have access to health food stores here in Mexico.

I hope you'll try this. It's really fun to learn to sprout and very fulfilling to know you're eating something so good for you! If you do try it, let me know how it goes!

I am pleased to list this post at...

-Tip Junkie's "Talk to me Tuesday",
-5 Minutes for Mom's "Tackle It Tuesday",
-Tammy's Recipe's "Kitchen Tip Tuesday",
-Blessed With Grace's "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday",
-Mary's "Tightwad Tuesday",
-The Lazy Organizer's "Talk About Tuesday".

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Homemaker Monday: The Coolest Nutrition Data Website Ever!

Welcome to...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs. (By the way, if you have been featured on Homemaker Monday in the past, your name is on my left sidebar. Check it out!)

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Mrs. Mordecai at Be it Ever So Humble. You can bet that I'll be eating lots and lots of beans from now on, as they are a great source of protein, and Mrs. Mordecai tells us how to cook them right! She features crock pot instructions, one of my favorite modes of cooking, and gives detailed instructions on how to avoid one problem, in particular, that can arise when it comes to eating beans. For Mrs. Mordecai's entire post, click HERE. Thank you so much for your contribution to Homemaker Mondays, Mrs. Mordecai, and please feel free to take the "I Was Featured" button from the left sidebar if you would like!

MINE: When I find something wonderful, I have to share it. Have you ever been on a calorie- or protein gram- counting diet and you wanted to eat, say, a banana or a peach, but had no idea what it's nutritional value was? Or, to make matters even more confusing, have you ever created a dish from scratch but been frustrated at not being able to determine it's nutritional information? Well, thanks to your visit here today, those days are gone! Let me introduce you to Enter in the name of ANY food (I have yet to find a food they couldn't give me information on) and a neat little nutrition label, along with many other charts and tables of nutrition information, is presented.

If that weren't cool enough, they have a form in which you can input the ingredients of your favorite recipes and determine all of their nutritional information. It is amazing! I can see that this is going to be my new favorite pass time (besides blogging, of course).

Something fun I've been doing with this new, informative website is calculating the amount of protein I've been consuming on a daily basis. Many of my friends and loved ones have expressed concern that because of my newfound vegetarianism (leaning towards veganism) lifestyle, I might not be getting all of the protein I need. Soooo....I figured out what the USDA recommendation for protein for my height and gender is and it just so happens that I need about 29 grams of protein a day to be healthy.

I found out some interesting things about the foods I'm eating. Most of us know that THESE have lots of protein...

...but did you know that THESE have some protein, too?...

Yep, the 2 cups I ate for a midnight snack had 2 grams of protein! Who knew?

The following is a list of just some of the foods I ate yesterday that contain protein. I was amazed and quite pleased to see that even though I ate completely vegan yesterday, I consumed MORE protein than is recommended for my height and gender! Some of the proteins were "incomplete", but I was able to consume the complimentary protein throughout the day to even things out. Take a look...

1 cup home-grown wheat sprouts- 8 grams protein
2 tablespoons peanut butter- 8 grams protein
1 cup homemade almond milk- 2 grams protein
2 cups strawberries- 2 gram protein
1/2 cup homemade vegan almond yogurt- 10 grams protein
1 cup homemade hummus- 12 grams protein

That's 42 grams of protein!

So, my dear friends and loved ones who are expressing concern over this new lifestyle choice, not to worry! I've never felt better and I've never had such a desire to eat good foods as I do now. In fact, I posted a recipe for cake balls a few weeks ago, and just the thought of eating one of those completely disgusts me! Those of you who know me will not believe that, but it's true! And it's wonderful! I now crave stuff like this...

...avocados, pears, oranges, bananas, almond milk, manna bread (stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow) and fresh, homemade pineapple-cucumber salsa!

So friends, I hope you will find fulfillment and enjoyment perusing, just as I did!

OURS: Okay, you're up! I can't wait to read all of the inspiring ideas you're sending out our way! Thanks so much for your contributions and we'll see you next week!

I am pleased to list this post @...
Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphosis Monday,
LL's Making a Happy Home Monday, and
A Southern Fairytale's Mouth-Watering Monday.

Check out these blogs! You're going to love 'em!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Could My Life Be Getting Easier?

I think so. I never thought I'd get to this point, but I think it's finally here. I've noticed that recently, the twins have begun to very much enjoy each other's company. They seem to be content, especially in the morning, to play for long periods of time in the living room by themselves as I work in the kitchen. A few things they really enjoy are the 250 ball collection my sister bought them for Christmas and a miniature house I purchased for them that is basically just a door that opens and closes with lots of switches that make lights and music. Hyrum has even started dancing, to accompany the five or six steps he takes at a time. It is always so strange to witness a child walk for the first time. We have been so used to them crawling around the floor like puppies, then suddenly they are on their feet and they seem so tall and big! The babies also enjoy a drum and a tamborine we had laying around, as well as a set of dominoes we recently unpacked. And guess what? They don't watch Finding Nemo anymore! Yes, it was great while it lasted, but I was really beginning to feel guilty, so I'm glad that they have come up with other things to occupy their little sponge minds.

Another thing that has seemed to simplify things in my life a bit is the fact that the babies can feed themselves now. Some of the finger foods they love are (by the way, Hyrum has two teeth, Joseph has four)...

-Cheerios (of course)
-Grapes cut in quarters
-Scrambled eggs
-Mandarine oranges
-Peeled cucumbers
-Torn up pieces of toast
-Torn up pieces of PB&J
and their favorite...
-Sliced bananas

During their breakfast, as the kids get ready for school and finish up their morning chores, I am able to empty out the dishwashers and start cleaning up what's left of breakfast. After the kids leave, I wipe the babies down, take them for the diaper changes, make sure the toddler is happy, then I make my breakfast and take it into the living room to eat as I check my blog on the laptop John got for me for Christmas. I then apply my make-up (for why this is a necessary part of my day, click HERE) and get out of my robe into real clothes.

Today I had a lady who helps me out come over and she spent most of her time making about five dozen tortillas for our family. I was so thrilled to find out that she doesn't use shortening or lard in her tortillas, just vegetable oil. While she was rolling out the tortillas, I cut apart two fryers, seasoned them with butter, salt and pepper, and put them in the oven for lunch. Why, you may ask, if I am a vegetarian, am I cutting up fryers and baking them in the oven? The answer? I still happen to have a teenaged son who really likes meat and I don't feel that I can inflict my beliefs on him as far as this is concerned. Now, when we run out of meat, I don't know that I will have the wherewith all to actually purchase the products that support untold cruelties to animals, so I might just have to buy live chicks, raise them, then have the kids go through the process of butchering them so that they can get a realistic picture of where their meat comes from. Plus, we will treat our chickens well while they are alive, not like at the factory farms in the United States and other countries. But, I digress...

I also put together a simple salad and cut up several Asian pears. Are you familiar with those? If not, you must become so. They are some of the best fruit I have ever had. They are crisp, like an apple, but full of juice, like a water melon. Oh, they are good! It turns out that I must have been inspired to make such a large lunch as the five kids brought four friends home, so we had more than enough food to go around. During the last ten minutes before the kids had to go back to school, we did a mad dash cleaning spree so that I was only left with the sweeping and the high chairs once they were gone.

After I got the babies cleaned up from their lunch mess, I put Johnny down for his nap, then went into the living room to hang out with the twins again. They had already taken short naps during the morning hours, so I knew this would be relaxing time I could spend with the twins without having to see to the toddler's needs as well. I spent some time on the couch doing email, then I enjoyed poring over recipes in this book my daughter and her I-don't-know-what-he-is (friend? boyfriend? man?) gave me for Christmas...

For anyone interested in improving your diet, whether you are an carnivore, onmivore, or herbivore, you will LOVE this book! The photos are beautiful, the information is inspiring and the recipes will make you feel like a better person just for THINKING about making them!

After a while, the twins got fussy, so I tandem nursed them, something I'd stopped for a while, as they kept pulling each other's hair, and enjoyed the quiet of just sitting there looking at their angelic faces. Joseph, with his small face and serious expression and Hyrum, with his easy smile and touseled hair, so happy to be eating yet again! After they'd had their fill, I put them down on the rug to play again and got another snack for myself, then it was time to wake up the toddler and go pick up the kids from school.

I'd made 100% whole wheat bread the night before, so the toddler and I took a loaf over to grandma's and visited for a bit while the 12-year-old boy and the 8-year-old boy babysat for a few minutes. That was a relaxing period, then back home to start dinner. What I came home, from across the street, the 8-year-old boy was sitting outside on a rock holding a twin and looking pensively at the sky. It was beautiful. It had been overcast all day, raining on and off, which is unusual for the part of Mexico where we live, and even the baby seemed to be enchanted by the feel and smell of the air as he was sitting very still on the 8-year-old's lap.

For dinner, I warmed up leftover soup, made quesadillas with the cheese our neighbors made from our cow's milk and the tortilla's Ester had made that morning, and the two afore-mentioned boys made strawberry/dark chocolate milkshakes. Next, we did twin bath time, toddler and 8-year-old boy bath time, called the grown daughter to ask her for a raw vegan yogurt recipe, the teenagers did the kitchen clean up, the 16-year-old boy took over scripture study as I had to go and comfort a crying baby who had woken up after I'd put him to bed, and five of the kids decided that they had to have a slumber party in the same room. I told them they couldn't because it was a school night, but they begged and pleaded and said they wouldn't talk at all. I caved and I'm so glad I did, because look...

Moments like this are what life's all about. Oh, hold on a sec...

...okay, I'm back. Both the babies woke up, but I was able to lie between them in our bed, put both my arms (thank goodness I have two!) around them and they went right back to sleep. It was a little dicey getting my arms out from under them, but they are asleep again. Even though my life is completely insane most of the time and I usually don't even have time to eat dinner until 10:30 at night, I never regret my decision to have a large family and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants lots of character-building experiences! If you're still here, thanks for listening and have a great day!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vegetarianism: How It's Going

Now that I've become a vegetarian, I find myself fielding lots of questions on the subject. One question I've been asked frequently is simply, "How's it going?" I appreciate that question. It shows concern and interest for what is going on in my life and I thought I'd take this time to let you know "how it's going".

As I stated in my first post announcing I was becoming a vegetarian, I still have tons of questions as to where this might lead in my life. I think that is the most exciting part about this whole change. Will I have more energy? Will my BMI go down so that I can fit in the "normal" range category instead of the "overweight" category? Will I live longer? Will my cholestorol count go down? Will I be able to keep up this lifestyle? Although I've only been a vegetarian for ten days, here are some of the changes I've already noticed for which I'm very grateful:

1. I've lost four pounds.
2. Because I am trying to keep meat out of my body, and it can be an effort, I am much more careful about other things that go into my body, like refined sugar and other sources of animal fat, such as can be found in milk and eggs.
3. When I look in the mirror, I feel pure and light.
4. I've had the opportunity to try lots of great recipes that I wouldn't have ordinarily tried.
5. I've begun to wonder if I shouldn't try veganism.
6. I've begun to wonder if I shouldn't try RAW veganism, in which cooked foods are avoided, thus leaving the natural enzymes, vitamins and "good" bacteria intact.
7. I've very much enjoyed doing research on vegetarianism and all of it's facets.
8. I've begun to have a disdain for dairy and egg products as well and have actually gone vegan this entire day.

These are just SOME of the changes I have experienced. It's been wonderful to try new foods and to have the motivation to carefully monitor what goes into my body. Some of the things I've eaten over the past few days are:

-Natural peanut butter and raw honey sandwich, sprinkled with psyllium husks on whole wheat bread
-Organic yogurt
-Pasta salad with vegetables and lettuce
-Chocolate/banana non-dairy shake
-Almond milk
-Avocado gazpacho
-Granola with strawberries, almond milk and agave nectar
-Manna bread, a bread made with these home-grown wheat sprouts...

...and baked at a very low temperature. I will post a how-to on Tuesday, so you, too, can make this!

As all of this experimentation takes time, I've needed extra help with the three under three and who should step in but the six-year-old girl. Here's how she does it...

And she did this without me even asking! I really appreciate this little lady!

If you don't mind, I would like to keep you up to date on my progress with my new food adventure. I'm so grateful that Bethany and J introduced me to this new lifestyle. Thanks, Guys!

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Grace Alone's...

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What DOESN'T Work For Me Wednesday and Watery Wednesday

Here's what DOESN'T...

...making homemade teething biscuits.

In my ongoing efforts to keep hydrogenated oils away from my children, I have gone the route of attempting to make many items I would normally purchase at the grocery store from scratch. I've had good success at some of my attempts, such as my homemade whole wheat rolls, homemade pancakes, and homemade cookies, but I have apparently come upon something that was destined for failure. I couldn't bear the thought of buying Gerber teething biscuits, as many of their baby food ingredients are some of the poisons from which I am trying to protect my family, such a high fructose corn syrup and partially-hydrogenated oil. I know I probably sound like a nutcase, but after feeding them nothing but breast milk for so long, I simply did not want to pollute their little growing bodies with the filth the passes for food in the United States. Okay, I'll calm down now.

Anyway...I searched for a recipe for homemade teething biscuits and came across one with only four wholesome ingredients. I whipped up a batch, put them in the oven and waited. I had even cut them into fun star shapes, because it was right before Christmas, and if things went well, I was going to package them up in cute bags and give them to Joseph and Hyrum's amigos for Christmas. After I had removed them from the oven and let them cool down, I noticed that they were very hard, but figured hey, they're teething biscuits, they're supposed to be. I enthusiastically handed one to each twin and they proceeded to stare, then throw them on the floor. I followed the three-second rule, picked them up to try to give them to them again, but it was like they didn't even register that it was food. Normally every...single...item... goes into their mouths, but they wouldn't put the cookies near them. I tried a few times again that evening, but to no avail.

The next day, because I'm not one to give up, I decided to make another batch, but this time I would apply a light sugar and egg glaze before baking to give it just enough of a sweet touch for them to want to continue to gnaw on them. The results? Similar to the above description. At least the biscuits ventured into them mouths this time, but they were so hard, the babies had much more fun throwing them onto the slate floor over and over again rather than chewing on them...

The last idea I came up with to try to get them to like these ridiculous biscuits was to let them eat them in the bath. Gross? Perhaps, but, like I said, I'm not one to give up. I figured at least the water would soften them up a little bit. Here's what one looked like directly after giving it to a twin...

Here is Hyrum's enthusiastic expression at the thought of having to try this biscuit yet another time...

(The food on his face is the result of his dinner and has nothing to do with the biscuits.)

And here are the biscuits after twenty minutes in the tub...

Perhaps this gives you a vague idea of how hard these biscuits really were.

Hey...anybody out there have a teething biscuit recipe? Joseph and Hyrum would really like to know. Thanks for listening!

I am also pleased to list this post at a new meme I've discovered...

Check out this blog for lots of gorgeous watery photos!

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