Lean Green Mommy Machine

Thoughts on health, wellness, living green and motherhood


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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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Dating My Daughter: Unexpected Casualties

Holding handsTo say I had concerns at the thought of my daughter dating would be an understatement. We put it off for a while (though I can’t say she fully adhered to the rule). Initially we had a NO dating policy with no end in sight. However, my husband and I are not unreasonable people and we have always told our children they can approach us with questions, concerns or perceived unfairness as long as it is with respect.
After many conversations we landed on a specified “D Day”. She would be allowed to date at the beginning of her Sophomore year in High School (this post isn’t about whether that is too early, too late or any of that – so save it). There were further rules about us meeting boys, allowable activities and riding in cars, etc.
We had no problem sticking to this rule until she and a wonderful young man from church became interested in each other at the end of her Freshman year. We have known this young man and his family for many years and adore them all. We allowed “D Day” to arrive a bit sooner, just for this fellow.
I admit it. I was smitten. I had a mom crush like you wouldn’t believe. He was everything you want in your daughter’s boyfriend. But he is two years older (the only one we’ve allowed to break that dating rule as well) and they were in completely different places mentally, emotionally, maturity wise, etc.
It ended peacefully and I was broken-hearted.
There it is. the thing no one tells you about your kids dating.
That YOU may feel that loss too.
We warned our daughter of the certain heartbreak she would feel as she entered the dating world. No one warned me about mine.
She began hanging out with another boy who was sweet and kind and I really liked. But he just wasn’t right for her. They hadn’t dated but he had come over a couple of times. I was disappointed to see him go.
A third boy she dated was one I liked quite a bit. But things just didn’t work out there either.
I could have maybe predicted how sad I would be at the loss of the first boyfriend since he was one we already loved (and maybe I was planning weddings in my head, don’t judge). But I didn’t expect to keep getting attached to these young men.
She has picked a couple of…less than ideal boys. We’ll just call them that and leave it there. But they were short-lived and I certainly was happy to see them go.
Now, for some this may paint my daughter in a poor light. She is simply trying to figure out who she is and who fits in with that and that’s a tough place in life. I’m sure we can all relate on some level.
My husband has been wise to guard himself against becoming too attached to any of these young men. It may be a bit easier for him as he views them all as a bit shady and after his baby girl. I’m sure all you dads can relate.
But I’m very emotional and intuitive and I keep finding myself disappointed to see someone go. I want what is best for my daughter and I am certainly not trying to mentally marry her off (anymore).
I just had no clue. No one tells you that this will happen. I thought I would always hate the idea of her dating (parts still scare me) and would always be giving any boy who liked her the stink eye. But it turns out some boys are actually pretty great.
So my goal now is to get to know them, engage and be kind with them but NOT get attached. I have to get the hang of this because I have 3 more daughters to work through this with.
Have you had to deal with this? How have you handled getting to know your teen’s significant other without becoming too attached?


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Please Don’t Call Me A Mompreneur

 

Entrepreneurs are taking over the world. There are 15-year-old kids starting companies. Most of these businesses start when someone sees a need and devises a way to meet that need.
Anyone from the teenager down the road to your own grandmother can become an entrepreneur. It’s pretty fantastic, actually.
What’s not fantastic is what happens when the person who becomes the entrepreneur happens to be a mom. Especially if she was a mom who was not even working outside of the home when she began her company.
She becomes a Mompreneur.
Shudder
Why is that teen down the road, who founded a company, not a Teenpreneur? Why is my husband, working on his company, not a Dadpreneur?
Why do we need to make such an emphasis on the fact that a MOM did something outside of being a mom?
There is an article in the May 2013 issue of Kiwi Magazine about Mompreneurs. I happen to really enjoy Kiwi. It’s a pretty good natural minded magazine. And the idea of sharing how people were able to come up with and implement an idea is great.
But here is the beginning of that article

Mompeneur

 

This struggle that they describe is NOT exclusive to moms. What they explain, this pull between family and work, wanting a better balance, wanting more time with family…this is something my husband feels daily. It’s part of the reason he is working on the company he is. But no one is deeming him a Dadpreneur. No, when he gets this up and moving he will simply be an entrepeneur who is also a dad.
I love being a mom. It is a core part of who I am. But please, PLEASE, should I ever start a company, do NOT call me a Mompreneur.
I will be an Entrepeneur and a mom.
Or a Mom and an Entrepeneur.
A mom who starts a company is not some sort of societal-shocking novelty. I find this term rather belittling.
What do you think?


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A Favorite, Revisited

It has been just over a year since I shared a favorite recipe of mine, Breakfast Cookies. They have been a huge hit here at the blog and with friends and family. Ava’s first grade teacher even asked for the recipe and informed me she has passed it along to many. I have

High energy sports need the right fuel.

improved upon it since I last posted it and felt it only right to share how much tastier it has become.
One change you’ll notice is I have doubled the recipe. I have 4 kids and they can go through the smaller version way too quickly. This recipe is quite adaptable. You can toss in 2 cups of any combination of dried fruits, nuts or chocolate chips you like.

These cookies are so portable and packable they are ideal for breakfast on the go, snacks at school, and energy before practice or the big game.

Breakfast Cookies

5 very ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 TBS peanut butter
1 tsp cinnamon (this is an estimate, I don’t ever measure it)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (also an estimate)
4 cups oats
2 cups dried fruits, nuts, chocolate chips (My standard is 1 cp raisins & 1 cp craisins but I have also added chopped up Hershey bar and it was tasty)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish. In a large bowl mix everything but oats and add-ins (fruit, nuts, etc). Once well mixed fold in oats until mixed through. Then fold in add-ins. Spread in baking dish and smooth out the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top and middle is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.


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Cookies for Breakfast?

Just in time for Back-to-School, I wanted to share a quick, easy recipe for getting your kids out the door and on the bus. These “Breakfast Cookies” could not be any simpler to make. And they are not loaded with fat and sugar like regular cookies. They are like a wholesome bowl of oatmeal in the shape of a cookie. So they are perfect for everyone from your picky toddler (who will think he is getting cookies for breakfast) to your over-sleeping teen (who is pulling on her shoes as the bus pulls up). They are also great to stash in a backpack for an after school snack before practice starts. You may even decided to stash a couple in your purse before headed to the store. That way you won’t be so tempted by all the shelves full of sugary, processed treats while grocery shopping.

Breakfast Cookies
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup applesauce
2 cups oats (quick cooking, rolled, steel-cut)
1 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and shape into cookies (be sure to flatten as these don’t spread like traditional cookies) on a lightly greased baking sheet. bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden and set (my oven cooks hotter so I did 17 minutes and they were perfect). Remove to wire rack and allow to cool.