Category: Health

Coconut Milk Ice-Cream

I’ve been promising this post to my sister for a long time! So this is for you, Amb!

My body hates dairy. My appetite hates my body for hating dairy. And I just plain hate the whole debacle! I LOVE cheese and sour cream and ICE-CREAM! I’ve ignored all the signs for years because I simply was not ready to say goodbye. I couldn’t. I mean, when you’re married to the Frenchman who introduced you to Camembert, how on earth are you supposed to casually step away forever? Let me assure you, when you’ve tasted that king of cheese you’ve gone way past the point of no return.

Alas, I’ve tried elimination diets and cleanses and gut-healing diets for over three years. All for naught. I’ve cried many tears over it (yes, literally!) and experienced many break-ups and reunions with the wonderful creamy world of dairy only to be heartbroken yet again. I am simply not meant to consume baby-cow food in any shape, consistency, or texture.

But I still eat ice-cream as recklessly as I like!

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I formulated this recipe after taste-testing nearly every dairy-free option in the freezer section of the grocery store. Most dairy-free ice-cream falls far short of the real stuff in the creaminess department since it’s made from half-water (how do you think almond and rice milks are made? Almonds blended with water…). Store-bought coconut milk ice-cream is a step up but still lacking in richness according to my taste buds. Still too much water in the recipe. Not to mention you have to wait forever for it to be soft enough to scoop!

My coconut milk ice-cream has every single bit of the cold creaminess and sweetness we all expect from ice-cream but without the side effects for me. It’s also incredibly simple to make out of ingredients that most dairy-avoiders already have in their kitchen!

Ingredients, Assemble!!! …Sorry, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to throw in some Marvel humor. That’s what happens when you’re the mom of a ten-year-old boy who can play Avengers all day long!

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Homemade Coconut Milk Ice-Cream:

1 can full-fat coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand for the BPA-free can, but any full-fat coconut milk from a can will work)
3-4 egg yolks (I use organic and as fresh as possible for this recipe)
1/4-1/3 cup sweetener (I regularly use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and even Xylitol, all with delicious results)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod (optional, but super yummy to have those flecks of real vanilla bean. Slice the pod open and scrape the goop out)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use raw, organic because the flavor is simply heavenly)

Now, the instructions can sound a little complicated, so pay close attention and read everything…

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

That’s it! I told you to pay close attention ; )

How easy was that?! (yes, I’ve also watched too much Barefoot Contessa and picked up her kitchen-lingo).

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Note: if your eggs are not super-fresh and you’re worried about salmonella, you can mix this in a small saucepan on low heat just until it starts simmering. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and cool in the refrigerator. I’ve never had any problems with using raw, fresh, organic egg yolks in this recipe, but when in doubt, heat it first. Just let it cool to room temperature before pouring into your ice-cream freezer.

Freeze in an ice-cream freezer to your favorite ice-cream consistency. If you don’t have an ice-cream freezer, you can put it into a bowl and put it into the freezer, stirring it with a spoon every thirty minutes until you can’t stand it anymore and have to dig in!

I have a super-handy Cuisinart Ice-Cream Freezer that lets me whip up a batch of frozen goodness and have ice-cream for dessert faster than I can have supper made!

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I picked up this handy container at Home Goods just for fun, so now my ice-cream not only tastes official, but it looks official too…for the few minutes it lasts in the freezer! I like soft-serve consistency, but this recipe will freeze as solid as dairy ice-cream and can be scooped with an ice-cream scoop for a traditional ice-cream look : )

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Enjoy!

~Crystal

 

4 Tips to Survive the Winter Blues 2015

Happy Winter, everyone!

Just kidding. I hate winter. If you’ve known me even a short while, this should be no secret. Cold wind, bare trees, gray sky, drab landscape. What’s not to hate? I’ve told The Engineer multiple times, “I think I’m Kryptonian; I NEED the sun for energy!” I think I’ve been spending too much time watching Superman with my 10-year-old son! Super-hero-alien joking aside, it’s true; I absorb my energy from the sun. When the clouds hold those precious rays captive, my body goes into survival mode, slowing down to semi-hibernation to conserve energy until the sun can fight the clouds away.

I’ve always wanted a winter that looks like this…

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I think I could handle that. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s white and bright, and the sun shines when snow isn’t physically falling from the clouds.

But I get stuck with this… for the better part of four months.

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Blah, drabness for days, sometimes weeks, on end. The worst part is that it will look like this most of the winter yet never have the courtesy to grace us with snow! Yesterday the sun showed its face for only the second time in two weeks! I high-tailed it outside and did some puttering around in my gardens while I soaked up those weak rays of Vitamin-D. Today it’s back to blah. I slept in, gave my kids a protein drink and fruit for breakfast (their request!), then we called it a pajama-day, turned on the TV and have been reveling in couch-potato-ness since 8am. I can think of a million projects and activities that need attention, but my body says, “Nah, it’s a gloomy day. Be a bum!”

OK.

Technically, we’re barely fifty hours into winter. Knowing how unmotivated I am over the winter, I’m formulating a battle plan to get ahead of the curve. Maybe if I make specific plans to stay active and mentally engaged, I can combat the winter blues and finally win!

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Here are my top four strategies to beat the winter blues and possibly even thrive in 2015!

Continue a physical exercise routine. I’ll be using BURSTclub.com for my main workout. I love that I can burn 300+ calories in a mere 15 minutes and keep my sciatica at bay! Thank you, Nathan and Jenni! I’m also going to incorporate some of Wendie Pett’s restorative exercises. She uses isometric moves that can be done anywhere and anytime, yep, even while you’re waiting at a red light! One thing I’ve wanted to do for the past couple of years is establish a yoga practice using Tara Stiles’ videos on YouTube. I love her casual approach to yoga and always feel physically and mentally destressed after a 10-minute routine.

Stick to a routine rather than letting the weather determine the day’s activities. I really struggle with this. It’s so much easier to snuggle deeper under the duvet and go back to sleep when I see clouds and gloom out my window, but I find the more I do that, the harder it is to stare Winter in the face and beat those blues! I have plenty to keep me busy if I just have the gumption to DO it: helping kids with lessons, blogging, laundry, cooking, and of course my hobby projects.

Speaking of projects… That is the next step in my tactical plan. Find a motivating project! If I have a project that I want to wake up to, it’ll be easier to wake up, right? This winter I am committing to painting my kitchen. This is my seventh winter in this house, and my third winter pinning glorious white kitchens, and I’ve wanted to paint my cabinets since the day we moved in! If I’m dipping into crisp white paint every day, maybe it will boost my spirits. Stay tuned to find out!

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Challenge the brain! My brain often goes into sleep-mode over the winter. Some of this is a vitamin-D deficiency, and some of it is simply me using the chill and lack of sunshine as an excuse to let my brain be lazy. The winter off-season is a perfect time to delve into my list of things I want to learn. I want to focus on learning some web and blog-development and brushing up on photography and Photoshop skills (so I can Photoshop myself doing all the things I’ve mentioned so far… I’m kidding. I promise not to use Photoshop to make myself appear to be anything other than what I am).

Feed the body, starting with my favorite Vitamin-D supplement. 1,000 ml of sunshine in each of those tiny white tablets : ) THAT’S what I’m talking about! Everyone needs to keep this stocked during the winter. You can even order it directly from me and have it delivered right to your door so you never have to leave your cozy home!

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I’m already very disciplined about eating a clean diet, but I’ve fallen off the Paleo, gluten-free wagon and am definitely feeling the repercussions of that, so I’m planning a cleanse and a return to Paleo after New Years Day. I’ll be recording my progress here. Wouldn’t it be nice to LOSE weight and feel GREAT over the winter? …OK, I’m willing to settle for merely NOT gaining.

I also reserve the right to occasionally set the thermostat at 80* and curl up in my chair with a quilt and hot chocolate to watch sappy movies all day ; ) What is your battle plan for chasing away the winter blues in 2015?

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Super-Vitaminman!

I heard on the news about the Children’s virus that is quickly spreading across the Midwestern U.S. These things always give me an initial freak-out reaction that goes something like, “We’re not going ANYWHERE, and we’re going to wash our hands at least a hundred and seven times a day, and if we DO have to go anywhere, we will not even BREATHE!” One of my worst nightmares as a mother is having to see one of my children in the hospital battling a deadly illness. Most of that probably stems from watching my firstborn baby struggling for life in a neonatal ICU for his first week, so yes, I get a little overly-paranoid.

My next reaction is to form a more realistic battle plan. I hollered at the kids, “Everybody look at Mommy!” Eight eyes turned toward me, and I launched into the whole, “We’re going to build our immune systems” pep talk. Four blank stares. Right; not nutrition researchers. Scratch that. New tactic.

“Did you guys know there is a superhero living INSIDE of you?”

Oh yeah! THAT got their attention!

Amidst disbelieving giggles and bright eyes, I told them, “Yes! Seriously! There is a superhero living inside of you! It’s called your Immune System.”

“That Superhero lives inside of you and fights the bad guys that try to get in and make you sick. Does anyone know where he gets his superpowers?”

More wide-eyes and giggles. My oldest superkid ventured an answer, “Our food?”

Whew! I guess I’m doing something right if at least one of my children knows that foundational answer!

“Right! How is our food a superpower?”

Ummm…

…OK, maybe I still have some teaching to do…

“Our food has vitamins and proteins that our Superhero uses to fight off the Supervillains. If we don’t eat enough vitamins and protein, our Superhero loses his powers! And sugar is like Kryptonite!!!

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My superhero connoisseur gave him a persona, and we named him Super Vitaminman. I loved the addition of that villainous bug!

Here is our plan to combat Cold and Flu Season 2014:

No sugar! This is always my foundation because sugar kills white blood cells. Without white blood cells on the front lines, you’re battling a lost cause.

Lots of protein. Protein is the building block for healthy cells, especially those white ones! So eat that juicy steak and golden-roasted chicken as if your life depends on it! Because it does ; )

More fresh stuff. We already eat a good amount of fruit and veggies in our house, but we can always do better, so we’re super-charging our veggie intake to get all those antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes to fight bad bacteria.

Fill in the holes. Just eating fruits and veggies isn’t always enough these days. Sometimes they need an extra boost to bring the vitamin content up to what it used to be half a century ago. There are a dozen reasons our veggies and fruits leave holes behind, but that’s another story for another day. For now, there are holes to be filled. In our home we fill our holes with… *drumroll please*

IncredivitesIncredivites!

Super-vitamins for super-kids who want super-powers. No need for plasma bolts when you’ve got THIS in your hand!

This is the only children’s multi-vitamin available in the U.S. that has Lactoferrin. That sounds like an awesome name for a superhero, doesn’t it?! Lactoferrinman…? Never mind!

Lactoferrin is a nutrient in breastmilk that gives babies an extra immune boost. If your baby never had the opportunity to breastfeed, they could sure use some of this stuff! Even if your baby DID breastfeed, there’s nothing wrong with an extra boost, especially during cold and flu and allergy season : )

Incredivites have zero artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, or contaminates (like lead!), and all the vitamins are extracted from real food ingredients, nothing synthesized in a lab! I’ve searched far and wide and I can’t find anything else that comes close to the vitamin content in these incredible chewables. Nor have I found anything else that does as good of a job at protecting my kiddos from all the flu bugs. They’re sweetened with Xylitol, so not only are they not BAD for your teeth, they’re actually GOOD for your teeth. All four of my kiddos have taken these as soon as they had the teeth to chew them with (some of them even before that; I just crushed them up and added them to their baby food!).

And if all THAT isn’t enough, just check out the Super designs on the tablets : ) Which one does YOUR kid think is the coolest? Mine love the surprise of seeing which super power they get each morning ; )

incredivitetabs
Go here to get these for your own kiddos, or leave a comment below if you want to know more! I love questions : )

 

Sadder Sunday

Sunday was less jovial than the previous days. Daddy had to bid us all farewell and return home. His vacation days are limited, so he flies home for a few weeks while the rest of us enjoy the coast for a little longer (and taunt him with pictures of cool water and sunny beaches!) until he flies back to drive us home.

We drove to the airport with him and enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a cafe overlooking the runways before following him the Security check-point where we waved goodbye. It’s always sad to be apart, but in the end, my always self-less husband would rather us take a fun vacation without him than be cooped up at home with nothing to do while he gets a new youth soccer season up and running. By the time we come home from vacation, the hard work will be done, and all we have to do is jump into a new practice schedule. …I say “all” a little tongue-in-cheek because it’s not exactly that simple ; ) That’s when I am back in full-time-mom mode, juggling school, soccer, meals, and keeping the house running like clockwork–Ha! If only… 😉

BUT, vacation is not the time to dwell on normal-life craziness! Back to our Sunday…

We left the airport and headed to the center of the city to run an errand before going back to our temporary home. It should have been a quick, easy errand to pick up a few groceries, but I had a brief moment of trust at the restaurant that resulted in my sweet girl having a food-sensitivity reaction in the middle of the grocery store. No, not a life-threatening anaphylactic shock kind of reaction, thank goodness, but a neurological reaction resulting in uncontrollable hyperactivity. I’m talking twirling and waving her arms around irregardless of the people around her, making exaggerated and uncontrolled facial contortions while cackling crazily and talking nonsense at the top of her lungs. I was near tears as I tried to navigate the crowded, unfamiliar store while dealing with a food-additive-possessed child. All I wanted was to go back in time and beg the waiter to leave her French Fries unseasoned!

I’m sure there are people who think I’m exaggerating or overly-paranoid when I start knit-picking my daughter’s food, but most people are usually not privy to the scene that happens thirty minutes later when I don’t knit-pick. Well, now here it was, on display for an entire grocery store. All I could do was try to finish my shopping as quickly as possible and get home so I could give her a therapeutic dose of B-Complex and magnesium to rebalance her system.

I’ll spare you the details of the remaining hours of the day only to say that supper was a trial, Grandma and Grandpa were more than a little shocked and speechless at the obvious change in their usually introverted and agreeable granddaughter, and a quiet walk to the swings turned into a complete defiant meltdown. Back at the house, an emotional little girl drew me a picture of a girl with a sad face in an attempt to communicate how she was feeling inside. She burst into tears as she laid it on my lap. All I could do was cry, helpless.

We sat together for almost an hour, crying and talking about how she was feeling and how certain things in foods affect her behavior and emotions. I know. I also struggle with reactions to food additives. It’s hard to see my daughter go through the cycle of crazy-hyper, socially wired, defiant, and finally emotionally spent to the point of unstoppable tears. I don’t know why she is sensitive while my other children seem to be fine. I replay my pregnancy with her wondering what I might have done or eaten to make her more sensitive. I ask myself what I could have done differently to spare her these intense reactions. The honest truth is, I DON’T know, and I can’t change anything from the past. All I can do now is be vigilant, help her recognize her sensitivities and learn which foods and situations affect her, and teach her how to take care of herself through it so she can come out on the other side of the cycle still-healthy and smiling.

As we were wiping our tears, my oldest son snuck in and slipped a piece of paper to us. It was the picture of the sad girl but he had drawn a very bold smile over the thin down-turned mouth. I love that about my son; he may be easily-distracted and not one for sharing his own feelings, but when someone has a need, he SEES it and is the first to offer help and comfort, especially if that someone is one of his siblings.

We smiled at the picture and knew it was time to turn our tears into happy smiles. It had been a rough, emotionally-charged afternoon, but we emerged from it, stronger, calmer, and with a renewed determination to be watchful even if it means saying NO to something everyone else is enjoying. The aftermath is not worth it. I am glad she understands that and also knows that her mommy is right there with her. I love you, Sweet Girl!

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