Lean Green Mommy Machine

Thoughts on health, wellness, living green and motherhood


Fudgy Gluten Free Brownies – Finally!

 

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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!).

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Homemade Protein Shake

Don't act like you don't drink out of mason jars!

Don’t act like you don’t drink out of mason jars!

Protein shakes are pretty popular these days. Everyone seems to be going low carb and high protein based on various diets out there. I’ve enjoyed them as a quick breakfast with a big dose of protein to start my day and keep me full. I’m not following any particular diet. Mine is to control certain health issues.
But those protein powders are pretty processed, which is something I try to avoid. And when one of your health issues has you cutting back on sugar, those powders just won’t do.
So now I make my own protein shake and I really love it. I drink this almost every morning.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Coconut, and Banana Protein Shake

1/2 cup Milk (whatever you’ve got, I use whole raw)
1 Tbsp Cottage cheese (one with a highrer fat content, mine is 4%)
1 Tbsp Greek Yogurt, plain (again, full fat, please)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Peanut butter
1 Tbsp Coconut oil (I like the unrefined in this recipe, it adds coconut flavor)
1 Tbsp (heaping) Cocoa powder
1/4 Cup Walnuts (shelled, of course)
1/8 cup Shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 Banana (do I need to say peeled?)
A handful of ice (if using a frozen banana, skip ice)

Toss it all in the blender and blend until smooth.
Enjoy!

If you are just getting used to less sugar you may want to add a bit of honey to this as you wean off of sugary foods.


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Discouraged By Perfection?

I wrote a few months ago about how I think Real Food Bloggers need to get real already. It really is something that frustrates me and I feel turns a lot of people off of making better choices. If you’re constantly being told that the little changes you make aren’t good enough, then why bother?
I’m prone to griping about what bothers me and what I see wrong. But I have seen it said, I don’t know exactly…something about promoting what you love instead of bashing what you hate. I probably need to do more of that. Maybe we all do.
A post on Instagram made me feel the need to promote something I truly do love.
Organic Eater.
I don’t know Organic Eater (a.k.a. Dana) personally which makes this more valuable, I think. While so many bloggers out there are saying unless you meet their standard of food perfection you’re not doing enough. When they are saying if you can’t afford Organic you probably can give something up or work more hours. When they are saying if preparing so much food on your own is overwhelming, work more so you can pay someone else to do it.
Organic Eater is saying none of this.

She is saying to do what you can. To be willing to take any steps you can. To learn more. Do more. Do the best you can in your moment, in your situation. To simply work towards living a low crap lifestyle. That little steps matter and count and are worth while. Because they are.
She doesn’t demean, put down, act holier than thou. No insults. Quite the opposite.
She encourages, supports, and genuinely loves people towards a healthier lifestyle.
No matter where you are in this journey of eating well Dana will be there for you. Check out her blog and follow her on Instagram (she’s more active there).
She’s a mom and a wife living in the real world and encouraging people every day. Thank you for all you do, Dana!
#lowcraplifestyle


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One Size Fits All Nutrition

vegetables

I have a passion for nutrition. I love food and I love finding fun ways to eat healthy. I also truly enjoy helping others learn to make their health and nutrition a priority. I have many friends and family members who ask me for advice from simple substitutions to full meal plans. Someday I hope to do more with this aspect of my passion but right now I am focusing on raising my kids.
So knowing that healthy eating is my passion the next question is which idea do I believe in and teach? Paleo? Primal? Low carb? High fat? High protein? Vegetarian? Vegan? Raw?
The answer…. none.
I do not for one minute believe in one size fits all nutrition. I do believe there are certain things that fit across the board, such as avoid high fructose corn syrup and food dyes and artificial ingredients.
But I don’t think there is one way of eating that is 100% right for every single person. We all have such variety to our bodies and how they function best and what deficiencies they may have. It isn’t at all reasonable to say that any one way of eating can meet the needs of every single individual.
I am about 95% wheat free. I don’t go all out gluten free. I am NOT celiac but I have discovered it affects my blood sugar levels immensely (insulin resistance and PCOS). I do not believe everyone should therefore be wheat free (I know MANY people who get this way).
Our family drinks raw milk (and has been happily for over a year now) but I recently read a blog post by a mom whose family didn’t do well on raw milk. By golly, if it ain’t working don’t do it. I don’t care how healthy someone says it is.
It is so easy to find information that tells you whatever you want. I could present you with article after article on why wheat is good and why it is bad. Same with dairy, meat, anything.
I refuse as a mom, a health enthusiasts, as a nutrition passionist (yeah, I made that up) to jump on any eating bandwagon. When people ask me for help I try to meet them where they are and address them individually as much as I can with the knowledge I have and the research I do.
One day I do hope to obtain some sort of certification or degree in nutrition but I refuse to get a traditional degree (think Registered Dietician). They teach a complete one sized fits all approach to nutrition and don’t even get me started on their love of “diet” foods, low-fat and artificial sweeteners. We need far more nutritionists who study integrative nutrition and who understand that people are individual and there is no one way that can work for every single person.

I suggest you focus on incorporating more real food and less processed foods. Get in tune with your body and how it feels. You would be amazed at how much you can discover about what you need by listening to your body.

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. Summer with the kids has kept me busy and I am now doing weekly freelance writing over at Buy Me A Pie. But I’ve missed being here and need to make more time for it. Always searching for balance!


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Real Food Bloggers Need To Get Real

I have plenty of family and friends who think I’m a bit over the top with my healthy living. They think I take things a bit far or question my sanity as well as the time I spend on certain things. But they have no idea the multitude of things I don’t do or choose

The biggest garden we can plant where we live.

The biggest garden we can plant where we live.

not to stress over. There is plenty out there that is bad, dangerous, toxic, healthier, better…that I am just not worrying over.
I can’t.
It’s not realistic for me to function like that. Or try to function, since I know I would never actually be able to function while doing the “best” of everything. We all have to determine what is best for our family’s personally and for us that is a mix of things.
But I do love to share knowledge of things I find helpful, healthful and interesting. I’m kind of a health and wellness nerd so what is interesting to me may make you fall asleep. Still, I try to share things that I think may improve someone’s health or give them great options. Or simply make them think.
But we have a serious problem with Real Food Bloggers. They seem to live in some counter-reality. I mean, I get that their lives are real and that there are others out there who live a similar life, but not the majority.
They write about the simplicity and ease of living a real food lifestyle and making everything you eat from scratch and anything you can’t make you buy local every other day….or whatever.
They have 1, maybe 2, kids and a nanny, housekeeper and enough money to blow on fancy gadgets to make themselves and their family even more healthy.
They live in California and have access to 40 different varieties of local produce year round.
Essentially they live a life that no one I know actually lives. And them singing the praises and simplicity of real food from where they are just makes it all seem unrealistic and unattainable. It is not actually encouraging people to improve their eating and make better choices. It is overwhelming them with the idea that somehow they are supposed to dive right in and find it so easy. It’s not easy and sometimes there are limits. Location, lifestyle, work, children, money…all potentially limiting factors. (Yes, money. Please, for the love of all things healthy, real foodies STOP saying things like, “If you think organic is expensive, you should try pricing cancer.” I LOVE Joel Salatin but that quote did not magically make money appear in my bank account. If you use this quote then you have no clue what it is like to struggle with money. You aren’t helping your cause. Just STOP.)
I am hoping to see more realistic Real Food Bloggers start popping up and sharing what they do and how they do it. People from all over with all different budgets and numbers of family members, talking about how they manage to make life just a little bit healthier for their family while not going mad. That’s a lot more real.


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Apricot Granola Bars

I love trying new recipes for granola bars. With four kids we are always on the go (did I mention 3 of them play sports?). Granola bars are a great quick snack as we zip from lacrosse to soccer and back again.
I had some dried apricots in my pantry and I started thinking about how much I like the Apricot Almond Kind Bars. So I decided to create an Apricot Granola Bar. Since we go through granola bars pretty quickly I will definitely double the recipe next time.

Apricot Granola Bar

Apricot Granola Bar

1 1/2 cups of dried apricots
2 cups of oats
1 cup of puffed grain cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey

Cover apricots with hot water and allow to soak for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 baking pan.
Drain apricots and place in a blender or food processor (I use my trusty Vitamix). Blend until chopped into small pieces. Place coconut oil and honey in a microwave safe bowl and heat until oil is melted and the honey begins to bubble (this can be done on the stovetop in a pot as well). Add the oil and honey mixture to the blender and blend again. It will make a sticky paste.
In a large bowl mix the oats, puffed grain, nuts and coconut. Add the apricot mix and blend thoroughly. This takes a few minutes as the apricot mixture is very sticky and you want all of the dry ingredients well coated.
Scrape mixture into the prepared pan and press down with the back of a spoon or your hands (you may need to grease your hands a bit to prevent sticking). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until center is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting.


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Gluten Free Dinner: Pizza and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been off wheat for about a month now. Some days are easier than others. Pizza day…that’s been torture.
I’ve tried a few recipes that were flops. An almond flour crust was just soggy and nasty. A quinoa crust I couldn’t even top and try to turn it into a pizza.
Don’t get me started on the cauliflower crust. gag. And I like cauliflower!
Well my awesome neighbor has also been trying out gluten free pizza crusts and has been at it for a bit longer than myself. She mentioned a recipe she felt was pretty good and I decided to give it a try.
Joy!
This pizza crust was actually…crust-like! I admit I haven’t tried a multitude of crusts partly because I haven’t been at this long and partly because I’ve hesitated buying the many ingredients that gluten free baking often requires.
This recipe had very few ingredients and I had them all except the xanthum gum, which my neighbor happily gave me.
The recipe is from Gluten Free Cooking School.
I was short 1/3 cup of brown rice flour so I subbed in almond flour for it. (This website is how I knew I could do that and it would be ok) I also used different seasoning. That part is personal and you can season it how you want. I used salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
Even my husband tried it and said it was good and the whole family would eat it and never know. Yay! I get pizza again and it can still taste good.
Hubby didn’t enjoy the Brussels sprouts I put on my pizza though.

Yummy!

After we all enjoyed our pizza I let the kids have a chocolate chip cookie. I had made a big batch of them for my 6 year old’s soccer snack on Saturday but then constant rain flooded the fields and soccer was cancelled.
Those cookies were torturing me. I wanted one SO badly. Soft and gooey and baked just right.
Curse you gluten!! (can you see me shaking my fist in the air?)
Anyway, I started thinking about how I had made a mug cake before (thank you, Pinterest) and it was really quite good. I was sure there HAD to be a gluten free chocolate chip cookie in a mug recipe. Certainly not too much to ask, right?
Well I found this gem and it was delish! I doubled it thinking it was far too little and I may have done myself in there. It tasted very cookie-like and was just what I needed to finish my Friday night. The recipe is written vegan. I happen to love butter so I replaced the applesauce with an equal amount of butter (it really helps to have cooking knowledge to know what ingredients are for and how to swap them!) and my yogurt was dairy. I didn’t measure my chocolate chips, I just added until it looked good.
I needed to cook it slightly longer than it says but it was still quite fast. It was really good!

Clearly, I'm no food stylist.

Clearly, I’m no food stylist.

I finished it all off with a glass of Moscato and I was one happy, gluten free, camper!

Aren't my wine glasses gorgeous?!

Aren’t my wine glasses gorgeous?!