Lean Green Mommy Machine

Thoughts on health, wellness, living green and motherhood


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That’s My Kid, Not A Labradoodle

That's my kid AND my Labradoodle. Just kidding, she's a lab-boxer.

That’s my kid AND my Labradoodle. Just kidding, she’s a lab-boxer.

In a day and age where people are treating their dogs more and more like children, I suppose it was bound to swing the other way as well.

You guys. Our kids are not dogs. And I’m really tired of everyone rewarding, training, and incentivizing them as if they are.

After ballet they get a sucker. After soccer they get Cheetos and Capri Sun. If they do XYZ just right in school or church they get candy.

I’m over it. Really.

What if for going to ballet class you are rewarded with increased skill and confidence in your dance routine? What if for playing hard in your soccer game you learned a little more and maybe even scored or blocked a goal? What if for paying attention in class or studying you gained knowledge and learned you are capable of working hard? What if we teach our kids that the activity itself is worthy?

There are two major issues with treating Frankie like Fido:

Rewarding with food gives food a power it should not have. You run the risk of creating a dangerous relationship with food. Food is fuel for our bodies. It can be fun, delicious, and enjoyable but it should not be the reason we do everything in life. If my kid is to the point where “snack is the best part of soccer” then I’m just going to buy her a few snacks and skip the $85 fee to play soccer.

The second issue is that we are creating a generation of kids who believes every thing they do deserves a reward. Every.Single.Thing. Do you want to deal with that adult? Neither do I!
But this is exactly what they are learning. I go to the class or game (that I begged my parents to let me do) and I get a food reward. I do what I am already supposed to do at school and I get a food reward. I pee in the potty instead of on the living room floor and I get a food reward. We already have a serious issue of entitlement coming up out of high school and college right now. This next group is going to be even worse if this keeps up.

Listen, if you want to treat your dog as a child have at it. I’ll keep to myself my thoughts on the “I Love My Granddog” bumper sticker you just bought your parents.
But for the sake of these kids we’re raising to be adults and the world that must deal with them…can we PLEASE stop treating them like dogs?!


Fudgy Gluten Free Brownies – Finally!

 

photo-51

I’ve tried a variety of gluten free items from pizza crust (still looking for THE one) to cakes. One thing I had yet to find was a recipe for a fudgy gluten free brownie. Every recipe I made turned out more like cake rather than a dense, moist, delicious brownie.
As you can tell, I have specific feelings on how brownies should be. I already have a regular brownie recipe that is my go-to dessert. It’s quick, easy – and most importantly – fudgy deliciousness.
Since none of the gluten free brownie recipes were hitting the spot I decided to look at a few of them, and my favorite gluten-containing one and see what I could come up with.
And I will tell you this: it.is.fabulous.

 

Fudgy Gluten Free Brownies

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup, minus 1 tbsp coconut flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp xanthum gum

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking dish.
In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together and stir until combined.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips (if using).
Pour/scoop batter into greased pan and spread evenly into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with dry crumbs (not wet batter) on it.
Allow to cool completely before cutting (or as long as you can resist!).

photo-50

 


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Intentional Birth and Pregnancy

husband wife pregnant

To say I am into pregnancy, birth and all that surrounds it would be an understatement. It’s possible to say I’m obsessed but that sounds so negative (and looney) so I prefer to say passionate.
I have 4 children and have enjoyed obsessing, err, exploring all aspects of pregnancy the minute I get a hankering to have a baby.
But it was my 5th pregnancy that had me realizing that “all” I had been exploring had very little to do with truly understanding pregnancy and birth. I discovered I was pregnant in January of this year. I began digging into aspects of natural childbirth, homebirth and things along those lines. But I was still a bit obsessed (there it is again!) with those little things like what vegetable is the baby the size of and what parts is she growing now.
Most likely due to my low progesterone levels, I lost my baby somewhere around 9 weeks.
Since that time I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions and desires (or lack of) for more children. We won’t get into where I am or where we have landed in that arena. But I will say that I have become aware of something that I had never truly experienced through 6 pregnancies and 4 children – intentional pregnancy and birth.
I don’t mean intentional, like I planned to get pregnant (though that is what happened most of the time lol) and planned to give birth. I mean intentionally understanding what happens during the intricate and lengthy processes of pregnancy and birth, what to expect, and how to have the best possible outcome.
We have come to accept “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” as the only manual you need for pregnancy and birth (and they pay dearly for us to believe it). Thinking all we need to know is every day by day of what our baby may be doing or what sixe it may be. And sometimes we focus more attention and time on what we plan to paint the nursery or finding the perfect going home outfit. But there is FAR more to pregnancy and childbirth and the lack of this knowledge has led to many generations of women who FEAR birth and don’t trust their bodies.
I’m not saying everyone should have a homebirth or intervention-free birth. I truly feel all women should make the right choice for them. But I think we need to start taking responsibility for our pregnancies and births. We need to genuinely understand the physiology of pregnancy and birth. If we don’t know what typically does or possibly could occur and how to handle it, how can we possibly NOT succumb to fear. Without this knowledge we simply are along for the ride with OBs who don’t always have our best interest at heart. (I know some of you read that as me saying the OBs are out to harm us- not what I mean. But they are quite often focused on managing and controlling every aspect of our births rather than allowing our bodies to do what they are made to, even if at times of day and holidays)
There are some amazing resources to explore in order to have a truly intentional pregnancy and birth.

  • The Business of Being Born (documentary) – As of the date this si written, available on Netflix streaming
  • Birth Without Fear (Blog and Facebook page) – birth stories of every kind (including c-sections, you can have a positive section) and so much more
  • Mama Natural (Blog, Youtube Channel & FB) – Folks, this Mama is awesome. She teaches so much about pregnancy and birth and she feels like a best friend. I just love her!
  • Peaceful Parenting (has great lists of books and other info to explore) – This stuff is deeply researched and thorough. So many resources.

I admit that if we are blessed with another baby, I truly want a natural birth at home (something I never had with my other 4 children). I realize not everyone wants this, and that’s ok. You should still be intentional and well informed. And I plan to be very intentional should that time come, by taking in as much knowledge as possible on what to REALLY expect.
Happy birthing!


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Katy Perry is NOT My Girl Power Icon

Roar!

Roar!

Ever since Katy Perry released her song “Roar” it has been used at any sporting event involving a big cat mascot (including the Bengals, much to the disappointment of fans).
It has also become some sort of “girl power” theme song. Moms happily sing along with their daughters, feeling they are being empowered as females and developing quite a love for Perry herself.
But why wouldn’t you. She’s a successful singer who is belting out a tune that makes girls feel strong and confident, right?
Except it’s one song and positive girl power is NOT Ms. Perry’s M.O.
Before you get all, “Let’s buy you every Katy Perry song on itunes, sweetie because she is all about awesome girl power!” let me take you back to a cringe-worthy little number called “Last Friday Night”

“Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”

There’s a stranger in my bed,
There’s a pounding in my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJ’s passed out in the yard
Barbie’s on the barbeque
This a hickie or a bruise

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I’m screwed
Oh well
It’s a blacked out blur
But I’m pretty sure it ruled
Damn

Last Friday night
Yeah, we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage à trois
Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we’re gonna stop
Op-oh-oh

This Friday night
Do it all again
This Friday night
Do it all again

Trying to connect the dots
Don’t know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandeliers on the floor
Ripped my favorite party dress
Warrant’s out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I’m screwed
Oh well
It’s a blacked out blur
But I’m pretty sure it ruled
Damn

Last Friday night
Yeah, we danced on table tops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage à trois

Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we’re gonna stop
Oh whoa oh

This Friday night
Do it all again
(Do it all again)
This Friday night
Do it all again
(Do it all again)
This Friday night

T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.
T.G.I.F.

Last Friday night
Yeah, we danced on table tops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage à trois

Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we’re gonna stop
Oh-whoa-oh
This Friday night
Do it all again

[Clapping] Whohoo!

So let’s sum this up: got completely drunk (to the point of no memory), not sure what I did, trashed a lot of stuff, bad pics ended up online, slept with a stranger.
Girl power.

There is a time in history where we women were told that this sort of thing is being powerful. We were lied to and I am quite sure we know better by now. Don’t we?
I guess if that is how you want to live your life then, whatever (I really won’t know anything about it because we aren’t friends). But I doubt all those moms out there praising Katy Perry and her “girl-power” song want THIS for their daughters. This is the type of somg Ms. Perry consistently puts out.
I have 4 daughters and I believe in instilling confidence and power in them. I do not believe Katy Perry stands for that in the least. If you want to rock this song as such, go for it. But you may want to stop your Katy Perry playlist there. And in the mean time, find some more worthy girl-power role models for your daughters – like you.


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Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

The flecks of white are the consequence of not using a mixer to beat the cream cheese. I need a mixer!

The flecks of white are the consequence of not using a mixer to beat the cream cheese. I need a mixer!

If you’re anything like me, you skip all of the touching and adorable stories that bloggers list before their recipe. I just prefer to get right down to business. Delicious business.
So here you go!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Crust
1 1/3 cup walnut meal/crumbs (pulse walnuts in a food processor or blender)
1 Tbsp almond flour
4 Tbsp coconut flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients for crust thoroughly and pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish. Smooth and spread evenly. Place in refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 can pumpkin puree, 15 oz (only ingredient being pumpkin)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
4 eggs
4 Tbsp coconut flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat cream cheese until soft and smooth (this is MUCh easier with some sort of mixer, I made mine without one). Beat in the sugar. Mix in pumpkin, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and greek yogurt. Mix in eggs one at a time. Lastly, stir in coconut flour.

Remove crust from fridge and pour filling into pan on top of crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. The center may look slightly jiggly but it will set as it cools.
Allow to cool completely before cutting. Best if allowed to set in fridge for at least a few hours.


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Gluten Free Carrot Cake

GF carrot cake

My fabulous husband just celebrated a birthday. But not just any birthday, he turned 40! I certainly couldn’t let my new gluten free status ruin his birthday tradition of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I began searching for the perfect recipe for gluten free carrot cake. But I was pretty picky about ingredients so it was harder than I thought. I can’t use a standard GF flour blend, as they all seem to have potato starch in them and I am unable to eat that. I also didn’t want almond flour since I have noticed when I eat almond flour baked goods I get horrible stomach pains and gas (this makes sense if you think of the number of equivalent almonds you would have eaten). I also didn’t want one of those recipes that used seven different starches and flours that I have to order online because my tiny hometown won’t possibly carry them.

I’m not asking too much here, right? I know…I am. Essentially I was looking for a recipe that used just coconut flour. I have some GF friends who seemed a bit unsure that this would happen. The truth is, it didn’t. Any recipe I found had the wrong ingredients, or many bad reviews, or something just seemed off with the recipe.

I decided I was determined to at least attempt to creat a GF carrot cake but I would not subject my husband to it on his 40th birthday. That would be cruel! So I made my traditional carrot cake for my husband and 4 kids.

After that was finished I found a recipe for a GF yellow cake that uses just coconut flour and seems like a good recipe. Although yellow cake is actually my favorite, I now had my heart set on carrot cake and I was NOT going to let that go. So I proceeded to look at three recipes to figure this out: the GF yellow cake recipe, the traditional yellow cake recipe, and the traditional carrot cake recipe.

And so my Gluten Free Carrot Cake was born!

Before we begin though, a few thoughts on coconut flour: It can be kind of temperamental. People have told me it doesn’t really work out for them. Coconut flour is VERY absorbent. A little bit goes a long way at sucking up liquids. I have had a lot of success with it but I have noticed that when it’s particularly humid out my cakes seem more crumbly and stick to the pan more. Definitely grease AND flour your baking dish and you may want to even line with parchment paper.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
3/4 cup finely shredded carrot
1 cup coconut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour (and possibly line) an 8×8 or 9×9 square or round baking dish.*

In a large bowl mix butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs, and milk. Mix in carrots. In a separate small bowl mix the remaining ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix thoroughly.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. I’ve found that when I bake with coconut flour it seems to take my oven much longer than the recipes state. I cooked my cake for about 45 minutes. You want the center to be set and a toothpick inserted in the center to come out clean.

For me, there is only one way to top a carrot cake – cream cheese frosting! I used the left overs from my husband’s cake, which was a traditional recipe of butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar.

*I made my cake in an 8×8 square pan but you could even do 2 layers and frost in between. They will be thinner than a traditional layer cake but will probably cook faster and it would be fun. These would also do well as cupcakes, just shorten the baking time to about 25 minutes and I would spray the cupcake liners.

When I was searching for a recipe I even Googled “best gluten free carrot cake”. I have finally found it!

Enjoy!

Single bite carrot cake


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Homeschooling, Peer Influence, and Lifelong Learning

open book

We decided to homeschool our three younger children this year. We do not have official plans beyond this year as we feel it is a decision we want to make every year, for every child. My high schooler would rather die than be homeschooled so she is in her junior year at our local public school.
I’m not completely new to homeschooling. I homeschooled my oldest for two years (5th and 6th grade). It was what we needed at the time but I was very disorganized and we were both ready for her to go back to school after those 2 years (if only I had known the middle school wolves I was throwing her to!).
The bigger challenge with this time around is I am homeschooling different ages (my three are 9, 6 and 4 years – 4th grade, 1st grade, and Pre-k). I also have a 2 year old I watch during the day. My bigger advantage this time is that I am far more organized than I ever have been in my life.
We are in our fourth week of homeschooling and it’s going well. I have had a day or two where I felt like I am not doing enough, but then I remember the vast amounts of time I have to teach them and they show me all they are learning – and then I calm down!
I also have dealt with personality differences, attitude adjustments (theirs and mine), and the need to reset how they view my authority in their lives.
Mostly, I can say that this has been an amazing blessing in our lives. Now all of you veteran homeschoolers don’t start shaking your heads, saying, “It’s only 4 weeks in! Don’t get to cocky.”
Believe me, I’m not. I just truly feel that I followed God’s call in this avenue of our lives and God is blessing us through this.
One thing I have noticed is the difference in my children’s behavior. Learning is no longer limited to school hours. They are able to dig deeper when they are intrigued by something or let it be at surface level if they just aren’t that into the lesson.
Yesterday our history lesson taught a bit about ancient Egypt and mummification. My kids wanted to explore more so we did. Then they used those concepts as they played. This is something that the time constraints of a classroom can’t allow.
I also feel there is an amount of peer influence. The opportunity for learning and exploration has always been available in our home. But I wonder how much my daughters’ peers influenced their perception of learning. The television shows aimed at these kids look down upon learning, make school out to be dreaded and poke fun at those characters who show interest in these things. I know the majority of my 9 year old’s friends from school watch these shows (The Suite Life, Jessie, Hannah Montana, etc). I also know they have begun to act like these characters: embracing fashion, marketers ideas of beauty (a 3rd grade friend was wearing mascara last year!), dating, wanting endless money without ever doing work, hating work of any kind (including learning).
Just months ago my kids seemed to be buying into the idea that learning belonged in school and it was only supposed to be fun if you were rewarded with skittles or went on a field trip.
Now, my 6 year old has begun finding dead bugs and cicada shells and is gluing them to paper (and her older sister is labeling them for her). They are building pyramids out of Legos and pretending to embalm doll house people.
A friend and I were discussing that this sort of things is why so many people say homeschoolers are “weird”. The thing we discussed is, it’s that they are different than the typical kids you encounter every day and people often don’t know how to handle that. But being different from the world, that’s not a bad thing. That is what God asks of us, to not conform to this world.

I want to teach my children that learning never ends. It can’t be confined within set hours of the day…or years of life.

Let’s all keep learning, and not be conformed to this world.

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