Monday, August 5, 2013

Gluten Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My baby is now five months old & he is a big boy! Chunky, chunky, chunky. It shocked me very much when my milk supply all but disappeared. With both my girls, I had no problems with that at any point. The thought that could happen to me didn't even cross my mind. Anyhow, I went searching for something that could help me. I started taking fenugreek & blessed thistle, and noticed a little improvement on milk supply, but nothing terribly drastic. On top of that, by day five I was hanging over the toilet. I have no idea why, but one or the other or maybe even both made me very sick! Stopped taking those supplements immediately & felt find. Weird. So the search for something else continued & while telling my sister about it she mentioned "lactation cookies." I've never in my life heard of such a thing. Come to find out, it's not actually the cookies but the "secret" ingredient. Brewers Yeast. Never heard of that either (other than in beer) and had no idea you can buy it in a powder form and add it to things. I set out to make some cookies, and since we have so many dietary restrictions around here went for a gluten free & vegan version of these treats. Turns out, not only are these cookies absolutely divine, but they have worked tremendously for my issue! I had my doubts, but now I'm a believer. Whether you're looking for the benefit of upping your milk supply or not, brewers yeast is pretty amazing & you should look it up. It's got a whole slew of benefits for men & women alike. I'm assuming that not adding it to these cookies wouldn't be the end of the world as far as the cookie goes. They are still yummy.


3/4 Cup Gluten free flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 TBS brewers yeast
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup spectrum shortening
3 tsp ener-g egg replacer (beaten with 4 TBS water until very frothy)
1 TBS flax meal (mixed with 2 TBS water & set aside for 2 or 3 minutes)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2-3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl mix together gluten free flour, baking soda, salt & brewers yeast. 

In another small bowl mix the flax meal with the water & set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients. 

In the bowl of your mixer blend together the shortening with both sugars until light & fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium high speed, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add prepared egg replacer & blend. Add vanilla & flax meal & blend again for a minute or two. Dump in the flour mix & blend until well incorporated. Once mixed completely, remove bowl from mixer and by hand mix in oats, coconut, walnuts & chocolate chips/chunks, reserving some chocolate for the tops of the cookies before baking if desired.

Use teaspoon or a tablespoon to place heaps on a cookie sheet and top with chocolate chips/chunks if desired. For a more uniform cookie, roll into balls. Dough should be pretty sticky. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes depending on how big the cookies are & how done you like them. This recipe will make 12 big cookies or a couple dozen small cookies. 

*I have used all purpose flour for a non gluten free version, two different gluten free flour mixes, half & half of each of the gluten free flours, & they all turned out good. I will post the gluten free mixes below. I have NOT used eggs or butter before so I do not know how they will turn out if you make these substitutions.

Gluten free flour mix #1.
4 cups organic brown rice flour
1 1/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch

Gluten free flour mix #2.
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup tapioca starch
3 tsp xantham gum

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Dinner's

Been very lazy on the "new foods" front in recent months. Largely due to the fact that I just had a know. Trying to get back on the bandwagon over here & really enjoying trying some new recipes. For pictures of all my food & desserts check out my instagram! My name is instayum ;)

#1 FAVORITE (so far!) is Laila Ali's Chicken & gravy with Rice Pilaf!
Of course, if you know me you'll know I can't make ANYTHING according to the actual recipe....
instead of using water for both the rice & the gravy portion of the recipes I used chicken stock. I also added a pack of organic crimini mushrooms into the pan after I finished browning the chicken. Adam gave this a 5 star rating. LOVED IT!

#2. Close Runner up would be One Pot Mustard Chicken & Rice
Seriously yummy & addicting! (Noticing a trend with super simple one pot meals? What can I say?)
I do not add capers because I just don't like them. I also put my green beans in the same time it tells you to add the chicken back in or else they are crunchy & I cook it for 10 minutes longer than it says because I feel like the rice is underdone if you don't. 

Those are my only recipes that actually have links.... another fun yummy treat was the vegan Naan bread I made! It is really yummy! 

1 pack active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 TBS sugar
3 TBS non dairy unsweetened milk
1 ener-g egg
1/4 cup spectrum shortening or non dairy butter spread, melted
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour


            1. In the pan of your bread machine, dissolve yeast in 1 cup of warm water with the 1 TBS sugar. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Add milk, ener-g egg, shortening/butter, salt, and flour. Turn bread machine on dough cycle. 
            2. Once dough cycle is over, take dough out and break into golfball size balls. Place balls onto a baking sheet, cover with towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Should just about double in size. 
            3. Once dough has risen, pat or roll out until flat. Put a little oil into hot frying pan and cook on both sides until browned. 

And...I will finish off with a product recommendation! Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta! I've been making a lot of spaghetti with meat sauce lately & this pasta is so good! Gluten free, vegan, organic, gmo free....just wonderful! 

I will try to write up some of my original recipes when I get a chance for some dishes I've been making lately so I can post more recipe ideas for you!


Going organic has been a LONG time coming for me! I would always buy whatever I saw on sale that was organic, and more recently I would try a little harder to buy certain products organic, but I was never 100%. Now, I'm OBSESSED. My best friend Amy has been organic for almost two years & my sister (read her blog!) also eats largely organic, especially meats, so they helped convince me that it's the only way! It honestly took me so long for one reason. Cost. I am such a coupon shopping, deal seeking, frugal kind of it's hard for me to spend twice or three times the price for something. Here were the determining factors that put me over the edge and made me go all the way.

1. GMO's! I cannot stop thinking about it! Once you look into genetic modification of foods, you will be disgusted. I want to say "it's better not to know", but it's not. You SHOULD know what you and your family are eating. We are consuming genetically altered, test tube, lab rat, unnatural food! NOT EVEN REAL!  Don't even get me started on what they're starting to do to chickens now.....

2. Chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers.... do you realize how much of those things you consume on a daily basis? We're all going to die of cancer.

3. I can still get good deals shopping sales & using coupons! Fresh & Easy has a great variety of organic food! While their produce is somewhat limited, they do have a little & what I can't get there I can get at Sprouts for a good price! Anything extra I need I buy through VITACOST which is my favorite online food source! I will also occasionally go to Whole Foods when I absolutely cannot find something I need somewhere else.

4. I've decided it's better to support the farmers and companies who are DOING THINGS RIGHT! That dollar more is supporting a good cause, a hard working person & someone who is trying very hard to get better, natural products to consumers though it's very difficult for them!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


There are so many things you fear as a parent. The biggest fear of all being that something will happen to your child. An accident, an illness, any thought of such things make my heart clench. I think I am ALWAYS afraid. Not a day goes by that I don't worry about them. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my oldest until the day I die I will worry. I know that the Bible says NOT to worry. I know that we are supposed to trust and rely on the Lord. It's so easy to do when nothing is going wrong. When life is routine and days go by with no incident. I could tell you that I'm a good Christian, that I go to church, that I have faith, trust in and love the Lord....but when trials come, do I still?

Last October Quin was running around the house playing when I noticed a lump on the front of her left shoulder just above her armpit. Of course it alarmed me immediately. I made a dr. appointment and took her in shortly after. The dr. we saw didn't seem concerned and said he thought it was probably a fatty cyst which, although he's never really seen in a child in that location, is fairly normal apparently. They usually appear in adults, but he didn't seem worried about it, and ordered an ultrasound just to check it out. We had the ultrasound done a few days after and the technician told me it was not a tumor. My biggest concern was cancer, so I asked if it was benign. She said they can't be 100% sure unless they do a biopsy but that there was blood flow, so they thought it looked ok. I had NO idea what that even meant at the time. The dr. called me and told me to keep an eye on it and unless it grew or changed he didn't think it was a problem. After a few months of never feeling completely settled about it, I took her to a new pediatrician to have it evaluated a second time. The pediatrician said the EXACT same thing the first dr. said & didn't even order any additional tests. At that point I figured it must be normal-ish & I was overreacting. Only a few weeks after our appointment, I started noticing growth in the lump. All in the same week three other people mentioned it as well. That scared me, so I took her BACK to the pediatrician who examined it again & THIS time said that she was now concerned. She called the other dr. on staff in to look at it who made a face that scared me and said "I wouldn't wait on this at all." They both told me I needed to get an MRI immediately. I called to make the appointment, but they wouldn't be able to get her in for THREE WEEKS! I was a complete wreck from the moment they told me to get the MRI. Every possibility ran through my head and I could literally think of nothing else. I had the MRI scheduled, but it seemed like every day that went by could be wasting time if something was wrong. Since It had already been about 7 months, I was petrified. I couldn't sleep or function properly and sent out a text to our Pastor's wife for prayer. The prayer chain at our church all were notified of the situation, and one of the women from our church who is a nurse at a Children's Hospital said waiting three weeks was CRAZY! She wanted to talk to me at church on Sunday and see Quin's arm. I have to say it was the look on her face when she saw Quin's lump that set me off. I'd already been barely hanging on, but having a nurse who has seen a lot say; "you should go to the ER immediately and demand they do tests!" completely freaked me out. I literally called Adam out of church and went home, grabbed some stuff and we headed out for the hospital. That entire day was filled with a lot of screaming as they had to draw blood from Quin not once, but TWICE because she was screaming and fighting so hard the first time they didn't get enough. They had tried once to get an IV on her and couldn't. Every nurse who came in and saw her lump kind of had this look on their face. After blood work they sent her for an ultrasound. I think that was the moment my stomach kind of came into my throat. The ultrasound techs reaction to what she was seeing was unsettling. She immediately got up and went to call the radiologist to make sure he looked at the images right away. She came back and said he was going to want an MRI. They put us back into our ER room and had the Dr. come talk to us about it. She said they were definitely going to admit us and that we needed more testing done to determine what this was. They had to get an IV hooked up to her since they were admitting us, and it was a horrible experience for the poor baby. She was so miserable by this point and they had to put it in her arm with a splint so she didn't bend her arm and rip it out. The biggest problem was that she sucks her left thumb and they put it on her left arm. She HATED that. They set us up for a cat scan, so Quin had that done as well. When the dr. came in to talk to us she said that all of the testing so far couldn't offer us a definite answer. She said it could possibly be a hemangioma, which is just a vascular mass that causes no real harm. When I asked her what else they were thinking it may be, she kind of looked at the floor and told me she didn't want to tell me. I insisted, so she went on to explain that because they could see calcification and her alkaline levels were a bit elevated and with the characteristics of the mass, it was possible it could be a sarcoma. My first question was "sarcoma's aren't always cancerous, right?" She replied that they aren't, but in this case the only kind Quin could have had would indeed be cancerous because of it's attributes. I don't know that I've ever felt so physically ill in my life. It was like someone punched me in the stomach. So, there we were. Two possibilities on the table and no answers until we had the MRI. Ruby was staying with my parent's, but because Dean is still little, I can't leave him for very long. He was with us at the hospital all day and by 10pm he was screaming and wouldn't go to sleep. We still hadn't been moved to a room, and weren't sure when we would be or even if I could stay since it was most likely a shared room. We decided that the best thing for everyone would be for me to take the baby home and for Adam to stay with Quin. Not being able to stay with her, not knowing what was going to was all sort of the stuff nightmares are made of. They didn't get Adam & Quin into a room until almost midnight and it was indeed shared with about 5 feet of personal space and one tiny little bed for a parent to use next to a little hospital bed/crib. We were hoping we would be able to get the MRI first thing since Quin had to fast until we knew whether or not she would have the test. I woke up at 4:45am and couldn't go back to sleep, so I showered, got Dean ready & we headed back to the hospital. I came into the little dark room, pulled the curtain back and saw little Quin laying on the bed sucking her thumb. Adam had broken part of the splint so she could bend her elbow and get it into her mouth. She saw me and started crying for me to hold her. I literally just scooped her up, sat down and started bawling. Adam & I kind of just sat there together with Quin on my lap and cried. I couldn't stop thinking about how bad things could be. I felt so incredibly helpless. At this point, all we wanted to do was get her in for the MRI. That was the only test that could tell us exactly what Quin's lump was. The morning went by slowly as we kind of jumped every time someone came into the room hoping that it would be to tell us if we could get her in or not. She was still fasting and we were just trying to keep her preoccupied. My mom and dad came to the hospital and took Dean for a few hours so we could have our full attention on Quin. She was really tired and needy & I think she could just feel our tension. FINALLY they came in and told us they were going to take her for the MRI. My parent's had brought Dean back so he could nurse & were waiting in the lobby for us. Through everything it was ridiculously hard having a newborn in the hospital! Quin wanted me, Dean needed me, so Adam & I did our best to keep them both happy! We finally got into the prep room for the MRI & were waiting for them to take her in. It was so scary being there. I wanted the test so badly, and then part of me didn't just in case the results were bad. It seemed like a really long time for them to come get us. We sat there & both just broke down crying. In the 6 1/2 years Adam & I have known one another, I've NEVER seen him cry. That killed me! They came in to get Quin & I carried her in and laid her on a big table. The Anaesthesiologist put a little bit of medicine into Quin's IV line & she was out in two seconds flat. It was so hard to walk away and leave her laying there on the table. After we left her we went into the lobby to meet my parent's and Ruby (who we hadn't seen all weekend!) and that was really hard to pretend like we weren't as upset as we were! We went to the cafeteria to eat something and everything I put in my mouth tasted like gravel and felt like rocks in my stomach after. They told us Quin would be in the MRI for about an hour & afterwards they would take us to the ward where they would wake her up & they would get us for that. We left Dean & Ruby with my mom and dad & went into the waiting room to wait for them to call us. When they got us and took us to Quin it was so weird seeing her laying on a bed unconscious with all sorts of tubes and whatnot all over her. They tried to wake her up but she wasn't ready yet, so we just sat and waited. Finally she woke up & started freaking out a little bit. I got to pick her up and hold her & it was like she was drunk. She was doing the silliest things and was super groggy. From that point on they moved us back into our room & we had to kind of just deal with Quin coming off the anaesthesia. She was a WRECK! It was just awful. She just kept screaming and throwing her body all over the place. I'm sure it must have felt very, very strange! Not to mention she already hadn't been eating and  had been through so much already! We finally had a great lady come in from Child Life who helped calm Quin down with bubbles. Go figure! After that we were able to feed her & she was a little happier. The rest of the afternoon we spent just trying to entertain Quin as we waiting for the oncologist to meet with us. I tried to stop thinking about it & the results. I was out in the hallway pushing Quin in one of those cute little toy cars they have for patients when a group of three women approached our room & asked if I was Quin's mom. I ran in and grabbed Adam & we both came out to talk with them. They were all smiling & I honestly wasn't sure if it was some sort of tactic they use when they have bad news, or if it was actually a good thing. Then she finally said "We have good news!" I literally swear I didn't barely hear anything else after that. A huge weight just lifted off my chest. I finally felt like I could breathe again! Adam & I just looked at one another and had the biggest smiles on our faces! Basically, in short, Quin has a vascular anomaly. It's a mass of veins that do nothing and lead to nowhere. A jumbled ball of pointless veins. Very hard to diagnose & quite "rare". Nobody at the hospital knew what exactly we would even do about it. We had to stay the night again in case they were going to do another procedure the next day, which meant she had to fast again, and that was a bummer. Turns out that it was a little more difficult than anyone even anticipated in the fact that they couldn't come up with the best plan for her that quickly. We will probably need to have one procedure where it will be injected  to stop the veins from flowing & another surgery following that where they will remove the mass. At this point we will be going to a couple different specialists to figure out the course of action. We are so incredibly relieved and blessed that was our outcome! Surgery won't be fun, but we know it could have been a lot worse. Getting to go home was the BEST! We came home & got the kids all cleaned up and fed and that night we all slept in bed together. I Love my babies! That was such a crazy experience for us, as parent's and as Christian's as well. I don't think I handled it with faith and trust like I was supposed to. I don't think I truly acted like the model Christian in my heart toward God. I don't think I really would have been pleased with the Lord had the outcome been bleak. But you know what? I learned an awful lot. About myself, about my heart. Adam & I feel so blessed to have gone through that together, and I think it has also made us closer & a little bit more understanding of how blessed we really, truly are. I try to be the best mom I can be, and I hope that I will never forget the lessons I've learned and the real privilege it is to have three beautiful healthy children!

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for Quin & us. We appreciate your love, support and prayers more than you know!! xoxo

This was after she was allowed to eat again & was shoving bacon in her mouth. Yum! 
 Bacon & fruit were the only two things on the menu she could eat because nothing else lined up with her food intolerance's! Kind of ridiculous! Adam went two separate times and got her In'N'Out which made her very, very happy!
This is what our day's looked like when nobody was crying.
When we finally got home! Quin crashed out. Such a nice feeling! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's a Poop Story

Funny enough, I was just telling my friend how we've never had any major "poop incidents" at my house. I mean, I've got three kids, the oldest almost I thought that was kind of amazing. Maybe I was boasting a little bit. Definitely came back to bite me in the butt because I spoke to soon.
The day before Quin's 2nd birthday, we were at home just hanging out & recovering from being sick. All three kids & myself caught a cold and we're all congested, runny noses, watery eyes, cough, scratchy know, the fun stuff. Needless to say, nobody was really feeling that great. Quin had already had a rough morning since she is deathly afraid of pooping on the toilet. We're talking like screaming, crying, running afraid. She has been potty training for less than a month now, and doing great, minus the being afraid of poop thing. She just holds it. Which is HORRIBLE! So I'm really pushing for her to go in the toilet and get over the fear. This special particular day she went poop on the toilet and cried her eyes out. Somehow I always use bath time to deflect situations. It's like the easy way out. Kids are bored? BATH TIME. Everyone is crying? BATH TIME. Kid's are falling asleep when it's way to close to bed & you need to keep them up longer? BATH TIME! So you see, it work's at all times. Since Quin was a wreck, I said "BATH TIME!" And the kids always scream and laugh and run upstairs like I just announced we we're going to eat ice cream. We head upstairs & Quin tells me she has to poop again, so she sat on the toilet & does her business. I thought that was perfect since we we're getting in the bath, of course. I start the water, get Quin in, get Ruby in and get the little man all undressed and lathered up in soap. I go to put Dean in the water when I see little bits floating around.  Me: "Quin? Did you poop?" Quin: "YES!" Ruby: Jumps out of the bath SCREAMING. I set poor little naked soapy Dean down on a towel on the floor. I then pick up Quin who has just had MAJOR, nasty, horrible, HUGE diarrhea man poop in the bath tub. (I literally don't know how she had that much left since she had just pooped twice within the 20 minutes before!) She turns around, sees the mess & of course starts SCREAMING. Ruby sees it and starts screaming LOUDER. Ruby upsets Quin. Ruby starts backing toward the door which I open and make her leave the bathroom. Quin's hysterical at the point, the little naked man is now screaming, and I'm left with a bathtub FULL of the grossest mess. I shove Quin out the bathroom door, then let the water out of the tub as quickly as possible. I picked up Dean and rinsed him off in the sink, got him dried and dressed & then tackled scrubbing out the tub with bleach. By the time everything was clean, I had to carry Quin back into the bathroom kicking and screaming and bathe her in about thirty seconds because she was screaming like someone was murdering her. I guess the scene of the crime was a little traumatizing to her. Ruby flat out refused to get back into the bath with Quin, so I had to wait until Quin was done before Ruby got back in and cleaned up. All that with a horrible headache from my cold and I'd say it was about the most not funny, funny experience we've had with poop thus far. Feel free to tell me your poop stories so I feel better about mine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Healthy" Brownies

Ok, so they're not actually healthy....but they sure are good & fit a lot of the standards I've come to want with baked goods. I am a baking junkie and HATE that eating a giant brownie or cinnamon roll isn't good for you at all. Lately I've been on a no refined sugar kick. It's kind of depressing finding out that no matter what, whether refined or not, sugar is sugar & it's just not good for you! BUT, on occasion, when you're wanting something sweet, here is a grain free, vegan, no refined sugar brownie recipe just for you.

"Healthy" Brownies

1 1/2 Cups Almond Flour
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 pitted Medjool dates

1/2 Cup Spectrum Shortening (can sub coconut oil but will change the flavor of brownies)
4 one ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate (I used Baker's)
1 Cup coconut sugar (I haven't tried honey yet...but I will soon!)
1 2.5 oz jar baby prunes
1 small zucchini peeled & grated
1 ener-g egg (prepared according to box)
1 TBS vanilla

Walnuts to top (if desired)

In food processor blend almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda. Add dates and process until completely blended into almond mixture.

On a double broiler, melt shortening and unsweetened baking chocolate. Remove bowl from heat and add coconut sugar, stirring well. Add baby prunes and mix completely. Add vanilla, egg replacer and combine. Fold in zucchini.

Pour the wet mixture into the food processor with the almond flour mix. Blend until completely smooth.
Pour into a greased and floured 8x8 dish. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. (My oven is really annoying, old as the hills and really hot in certain spots, so I NEVER know how long a normal oven will take! Just watch them! They may need longer.) You'll know they're done when they sink in the middle a bit and the outsides get a little crisp/cracked looking.

Voila! Moist, chewy & delish!

Little Man

Nobody can get enough of this darling boy. I'm kind of in love.