Tag Archives: food

One Year Gluten Free

This isn’t a typical post for me, because it doesn’t relate to parenting specifically, but this is a big deal for me, and has really affected every aspect of my life!

One year ago today, I received a call from my doctor, telling me that after years of vomiting, chronic anemia, crippling anxiety, and lots and lots of blood tests, specialists, and dead ends, that we finally had a diagnosis after an endoscopy: Celiac Disease. I was in shock on the other end of the phone as he congratulated me for not giving up and advocating for myself to seek what was wrong with me, and said that a nutritionist would follow up with me. I had never been a big bread eater, and to someone who just thought of white bread when someone said “gluten” I knew I had a lot to learn.

I’m fairly sure my Celiac Disease was triggered by my second pregnancy. During Mamita’s pregnancy I was SICK. And not just your typical morning sickness, we are talking vomit every day, stomach cramps that woke me up and had me in the bath at 2am for hours, unable to eat real food for days at a time until I delivered her at 41 weeks. While there was a slight improvement stomach-wise after she was born, I was tired all the time, and more than typical mom tired.

Then I got pregnant with Ezra, and once again, my body was thrown for a loop. I was going to bed at 8pm, and waking up 11 hours later totally exhausted. While I didn’t vomit as much, I was generally ick feeling and unwell.

During Peachy’s pregnancy, it was back to full blown misery. Vomit, cramping, migraines, anemia, and some of the worst anxiety I have ever had started then. But this time, after I delivered her, the symptoms did not decrease. I was often moaning and groaning on the couch, or writing with nausea on the floor. It became typical for me to just randomly wake up at 3am vomiting. I remember one time being so weak that I couldn’t get up off the bathroom floor, and I began pounding on the bathroom door for Milkman to come get me Zofran to stop the vomiting and help me back into bed.

During this time, I saw endocrinologists, rheumatologists, had scores of blood tests, and ran into lots of “we don’t know what’s wrong with you. Are you sure it’s not in your head?” Scenarios. I was thankfully diagnosed with hashimotos hypothyroidism during this time and for on thyroid medication which helped mildly, but still, the nausea was only getting worse and I was more sickly than ever. I became extremely paranoid, and Milkman was afraid I would become an agoraphobic shut in, as even the thought of getting in the car made me worry we would be killed. I insisted on the kids sleeping in our room, and I checked them for breathing constantly in their sleep, I even checked my husband all night. I became terrified to eat at restaurants, always convinced I would be poisoned and vomit more. Food became my enemy, and I ate foods based on how to minimize my pain when they would come back up. I ate a LOT of crackers because everyone knows crackers calm your stomach, right? Well, except when you are celiac and don’t know it, then those gluteny crackers just poison you slowly.

By the time I got to the endoscopy, I was expecting anything but celiac disease. My grandfather, aunt, and two cousins all had celiac disease, but I didn’t think of myself as a gluten consumer, so I didn’t even consider it as a possibility. After my diagnosis by endoscopy and a follow up blood test to confirm, my celiac friend in Oregon and google became two of my biggest resources in wading through the new waters of my diagnosis. Suddenly, I began to realize that gluten was everywhere. It was in soy sauce, canned chili beans, and even in regular oatmeal. Barley, rye, and wheat became my enemies, and looking for ingredients in the store to check for things like malt or barley syrup turned a typical grocery trip into a long distance marathon. Then I learned about cross contamination. Oh my goodness, was that ever depressing. I was skeptical of cross contamination, right up until I was glutened horribly by gluten free pasta at Macaroni Grill while out of town. I was out of commission for a solid week with vomiting, stomach cramps, extreme fatigue and migraines. No more eating corn tortilla chips or French fries at restaurants because they are fried in the same fryers as gluten breaded items, no more trusting any sauces blindly when out and about, and everywhere I eat asking people to change their gloves.

Life changed drastically in our home. Just 7 months earlier we had stopped making meat a regular part of our meals, as I had begun to associate vomiting with meat. (Something I still have yet to recover from. This pregnancy, I have had a few cravings for red meat and crispy bacon, but we still have not gone back to regular carnivorism, as I associate it too much with feeling ill). My sweet husband voted to make our home a gluten free zone to make our kitchen a safe place for me to eat. This means my husband and children have given up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, good pasta, burritos, and chewy pizza dough. They will enjoy gluten when out of our home, but never in our home. It’s been an incredible sacrifice.

Within a month, the regular nausea all but disappeared. Within 2 months, my anxiety just began melting away. I could breathe easier. I no longer lived in fear about irrational things (like airplanes flying overhead, which was such an awful anxiety that I would make the kids run inside with me when a plane came into view!), I could enjoy food again, I was able to check my children a few times less each night for breathing. Life didn’t seem quite so dismal anymore.

This pregnancy has been markedly different. After spending other pregnancies so very ill, I have struggled with normal first trimester morning sickness this time, and nausea or aversions here and there, but it’s been incredibly normal. I lost weight with my previous pregnancies from vomiting the entire time, and this time I’ve gained (which, let’s be real, I’m not totally pleased with, but it just shows how much more normal of a pregnancy this has been compared to my others!) I’ve needed IV fluids only a few times, as opposed to regular trips to receive bags of saline from extreme dehydration, and have had only a couple of migraines.

My life is drastically different from what it was a year ago, and I’ve gotta say, though I miss things like dark beer, croissants, real bread, and pasta that doesn’t turn into a gelatinous lump, I wouldn’t trade a bite of that for how good it feels to not be sick all the time! While eating gluten free is a fad for some, it has become essential for my survival as someone with celiac disease.

Do you have celiac disease? How has your life changed since giving up gluten?

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Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate.

 

Is there anything more comforting, delicious, or decadent than chocolate?  Just the word gives me warm fuzzies.  Yeah, I know, kinda pathetic, but I can’t help it.  I was raised by a man whose love for chocolate was surpassed by his love for God and family.  My sisters and I all love it close to as much as he did.  My mom likes the smell of sour mop and root canals, so let’s just say she probably doesn’t care about chocolate as much as we did.  We were definitely introduced to a love for the sweeter things in life from dear ol’ dad.

 

Now Milkman?  Oh my goodness, Mr. Sweet Tooth himself.  He loves him some sugar, more than I do.  Milkman likes chocolate syrup.  He puts it in his chocolate milk, ice cream shakes, and his amazing Saturday mochas he makes me.  My mother never bought chocolate syrup, so I have cringed a little at the thought of it because it says “Chocolate Flavored Syrup.”  Why is it chocolate FLAVORED?  That strikes me as kind of nasty, doesn’t it you?

 

I’ve talked about my mother making coffee for the grandkids that is mostly milk, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream with a little coffee, but my mom never gives the kids processed stuff, so I asked her where she got her chocolate syrup and she informed me, she makes it herself!  This was a weird concept to me, not because she made it from scratch–my mom makes everything from scratch, but I’ve just never thought to make my own chocolate syrup.

 

I ordered some cocoa powder on Amazon last week (By the way, buying your cocoa powder as an add-on item on Amazon is the cheapest way to get cocoa powder, click here for the link.  Way cheaper than the grocery store).  It comes in a giant container, and you can make allllll the chocolatey things with that much cocoa powder on the cheap, so I decided to make a grip load of chocolate syrup, and let me tell ya… It’s a beautiful thing, my friends.  Rich, thick, delicious and definitely CHOCOLATEY, not chocolate FLAVORED.

 

I’ve been putting it in my coffee with cream, or in my espresso for a yummy mocha, drizzled on ice cream, or yes– even just plain old bad for you chocolate milk.

 

Here’s how I made it:

1 1/2 Cups of Water

3 Cups of Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract

Good Pinch of Kosher Salt

 

In a pot, mix together the water and the sugar until boiling and a syrup forms.  As it begins to boil, whisk in remaining ingredients.  (It can get a little messy if your pot isn’t very big, cocoa powder kinda gets everywhere!)  Whisk til smooth, and simmer til slightly reduced.  Pour into a heat proof container (I always have a million glass jars hanging around, so that’s what I used.) and let cool on the counter.  It’ll reduce as it sits and thicken up.  Once it is cooled, throw it in the fridge.  Pour onto and into ALL the things, live in chubby bliss.

 

 

 

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An Experiment in Vegetarianism

Food.  Glorious FOOD!  I love food.  Milkman sells food. We love to cook good food.  Food is a big deal in our home, and if you follow me on Instagram you will see that I am also one of those annoying people who loves to post pictures of her food (and of her beer).

 

So, now that we have established that you are talking to someone who really appreciates good food, I gotta tell you about one of the saddest things that happens to me during pregnancies and has thus far lasted.  No!  Not just the physical disability I struggle with on a daily basis, I can rock a cane with confidence. This has to do with food.  

 

I deal with constant nausea during my pregnancies and serious food aversions and even develop food allergies.  During Mamitas’ pregnancy I developed an allergy to raw powdered sugar.  It didn’t go away, I am allergic to buttercream frosting… And all uncooked frosting for that matter.  Totally sucks.  During Peach’s pregnancy, Milkman made me a lovely surf and turf Valentine’s dinner, complete with lobster tail, and guess who went all kinds of Will Smith on Hitch and had to drink benadryl while she horfed and asphyxiated?  Yeah, me.  I still can’t eat shellfish.

 

hitch

 

While I had food aversions with all 4 of my pregnancies, none have been so lousy as I had with Peach, because they stuck around.  No more strong cheeses for me (for the foodie who loves her some good wine, this is tragic).  I don’t appreciate dark chocolate as much as I once did, and I’m only just getting back into cooking with onion again, recently.  But!  These things are all easily avoidable.  What is not so easily avoided is meat.  Well, guess what aversion hasn’t completely seen its way out the door?  Yup. Meat. Chicken.  Mhm, I know, super sucky.  I was just coming around to chicken when my sister cooked up some chicken breast from my freezer and the texture was something akin to chewing on boneless fingers.  I know, I know, WHAT?  Yeah, it was nasty.  And I can’t hang with chicken ever since.

 

I have been toying with going vegetarian on and off for a while.  I had a vegan stint back in college (didn’t we all?), but I can’t live without dairy and eggs, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to go vegan again.  However, the idea of meatless is appealing.  We’ve been doing Meatless Monday’s for a while, and we are always pleasantly pleased at how we don’t miss the meat, but Milkman is a fan of meat, so he’s not been in agreement with us all going vegetarian!  This lead me to make the following proposition to Milkman:  What if we go Vegetarian as a family, just for the first 2 weeks of June?  This way we can see how we like it, maybe it’ll make us want to go Veggie for a little longer, or maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder and I’ll be healed of my meat aversion.  He thought it was a great idea!

 

So!  Starting in a week, the Cradle household will be meatless for 2 weeks.  Don’t worry, I wont turn into a total hippy during this time.

 

vegetarian

 

However, I am looking forward to the challenge of breaking out of my comfort zone with cooking, and making new dishes.  I’ll probably become super annoying on IG with even more food pictures, but I promise I won’t be like one of those diet people on IG, because I won’t be judging what you eat, and it won’t all be health food.  I do love me some cheese!

 

Anyways, do you have a favorite Vegetarian dish you can share with me?  I need some inspiration!  Must be flavorful, hearty, and satisfying!  Are you now, or have you ever gone Vegetarian for a period of time?  Teach me your ways.

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Maple Almond Caramel Corn

Over the weekend I had a craving for caramel corn. I do not always cave to pregnancy cravings, but let’s be real, some times you just gotta have what baby is kicking for! 
I didn’t even bother checking my pantry for corn syrup because I knew I didn’t have any. I started thinking of something that would be a decent substitute (One time I tried making my own “corn syrup” and that was a nightmare.) Honey wasn’t the flavor I was going for, but I thought about all the wonderful things my hubby has made substituting with MAPLE! I have a jug of Organic Maple syrup from Costco at all times (Milkman’s family ruined me. We grew up with grocery store off-brand pancake syrup, but his family grew up with maple, it’s made for an expensive sub for pancake syrup but man there is nothing like it!)
ANYWHO! Started to make the caramel corn, and realized my bottle of vanilla extract had tipped over and leaked and I had no vanilla. TRAVESTY! So, I pulled out the almond extract and threw that in. The results were pretty danged good. When it was all done, we sat in the backyard with the kiddos and indulged!
So here it is, Maple Almond Caramel Corn! Enjoy
  
INGREDIENTS

1/2 Cup of popcorn kernels already popped (I use Trader Joes Organic  Popping corn, and here’s how I make it: The Best Danged Popcorn )

1/3 Cup Butter

1 Cup brown sugar

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Almond extract

1/2 tsp baking soda
METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 250F and prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silpat
2. Make sure your popped popcorn is in a really big bowl ready and waiting to e covered in deliciousness.
3. In a heavy pot, melt butter over medium-ish heat. Then add the brown sugar, maple, salt, and almond extract, whisk til smooth and bring to a boil.
4. LEAVE IT ALONE and let it boil for 5 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and add baking soda, stirring well and begin to pour over your popcorn immediately.
6. Mix your caramel and popcorn til all the popcorn is coated (BE CAREFUL! Caramel is satanically hot.)
7. Divide contents of bowl onto your two prepared baking sheets and shove in the oven for 30 mins.
8. Remove and stir it up on the pan to break apart and let cool.
9. Enjoy!

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Whole Wheat and Hidden Spinach Mickey Mouse Waffles!

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We are Disney freaks. No way around it. I’ve been an annual passholder at Disneyland for 13 years, my husband used to work in Downtown Disney, and when we haven’t gone to Disneyland in two weeks, the babies and I watch YouTube videos of the rides at Disneyland! So! Imagine my elation when I was at CVS to buy nail polish remover and found a Mickey Mouse waffle iron on CLEARANCE! $7.00 to ensure my kids will eat anything I put in it? Of course.

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We had a rough night last night (the littles have chicken pox and were up a lot!) so I decided a little carb and Disney cheer was in order. One of the things we Disney freaks like to do is find Hidden Mickeys in the parks. So, on that theme, I thought I would hide something in our Mickey Waffles– SPINACH!

I’ve also been reading up on whole wheat white flour. Did you know that 100% white whole wheat has the same health benefits as regular whole wheat flour, while retaining a milder flavor? Well I do now, so I bought this at Trader Joes to try out, and it’s pretty darned good!

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The kids LOVED them– and so did Milkman and I! You can’t even taste the spinach. We topped ours with Strawberry preserves and whipped cream and my chicken pox babies were happy!

So here ya have it, healthy whole wheat flour hidden spinach pancakes (and you can use any waffle iron, but let’s be real– Mickey trumps Belgian when you are 1 and 2 years old– okay and maybe 28 years old.)

Recipe:

1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 cup 100% white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tblsp pure maple syrup (you can use your favorite sugar or honey)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Throw the frozen spinach in your food processor and pulse til finely chopped. Throw in all your other ingredients and whir that baby up! Mine looked like this:

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Pour into waffle iron.

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And serve with your favorite waffle toppings! If you’re tiny like Mamitas, you might just wanna eat the ears! Enjoy!

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Potato Tostadas

I don’t plan on turning this into a recipe blog, but I posted my dinner on IG and FB tonight and I had several folks ask for the recipe. I figure this is the easiest way to do it!

Today was a really rough day with the kiddos. Mamitas has been trying my patience lately and the last 3 weeks with moving and teething simultaneously has left us all exhausted and frustrated. Mamitas cried for 65 minutes straight this afternoon. I was texting my friend, veteran mom of 5 boys and telling her how I wish for my next child to be of the make persuasion if all girls are like this! 😉 (of course, I’m kidding! ;)) I knew I needed an easy dinner for tonight that didn’t take much babysitting since I had two real babies to tend to, who were totally PO’ed ;).

Anyways, I just got my kitchen unpacked from moving and money is a little tight at the moment, as moving is not cheap! So I refused to go to the store and was determined to cook only with what was in my kitchen, which is really how I cook most of the time.

The result was potato and meat tostadas. “Potatoes in Mexican food?? I thought potatoes were for Irish cooking!” Oh, how wonderful are potatoes in Mexican food. It’s a staple!

So here she blows!

-Enough corn tortillas for however many people you’re cooking dinner for!
-Ground beef (same quantity as above!)
-All natural tater tots– wait what?? Hey! That’s what I had in my freezer. Also, I’m allergic to raw potatoes so I can’t cook or touch them in their raw state.
-1/4 of a large onion finely diced
-2 tomatoes finely diced
-Lettuce finely chopped (finito, finitos! That’s for you, mom!)
-Tajin
-Hot sauce of choice (we like Valentina, Tabanero, and Pico Pica the best for store bought)
-Oil
-Seasoning for meat (I used chili powder, comino, salt, onion powder, granulated garlic and… More salt! 😀 all to taste.)

Throw your ground beef in a pan, and since you forgot to defrost the night before, as usual, cover the pan and have the heat low. 😉

While that cooks, strap 1 year old into her high chair and throw cantaloupe at her like you would throw meat at a caged lion in order to keep said child from ravaging your house. This is also a good time to chop your tomatoes, onion and lettuce. If you have cheese in the house, grate some up, I didn’t.

Once meat is thawed and mostly cooked crank your heat up to brown it and spice it to your liking. Throw that in a container that you can store it in later, to cut down dishes.

Call husband and confirm he’s coming home on time because the 2 year old won’t stop yelling out the front door for him and he neighbors are gonna think someone is pulling his toe nails out one by one.

Throw some of your diced onions and oil into the pan you cooked the meat in (less dishes=good) throw some salt and pepper in there, get them sweaty and happy. Toss some frozen tater tots in there (or whatever potatoes you have on hand!) make em happy. Throw em in a bowl and cover.

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Right before you are ready to serve, out a fair amount of oil into that same pan and fry your tortillas in there. It’s not healthy, but it’s delicious. Sprinkle with salt after turning it if you desire. Never too much salt (for those of us with low blood pressure!)

I assembled them as follows: tostada, potatoes, meat, lettuce,
Tomato, generous sprinkling of Tajin, and hot sauce. It would have been even more awesome with cheese, cilantro and sour cream on top, but I didn’t have any.

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I probably should have taken a picture before I begun scrounging (that’s for you, nan!) but I was hungry.

The kids loved them and so did Milkman, and we have leftovers of everything so tomorrow morning I think I’ll be making Tortillitas with the leftover ingredients (basically scrambled up with eggs!) for breakfast!

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