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Chicken Alfredo on top of Spaghetti Squash
Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Health, Paleo, paleo diet, Recipes

Chicken Alfredo on top of Spaghetti Squash

Chicken Alfredo on top of Spaghetti Squash

Lately I have been trying to start networking with fellow bloggers and have been finding some new meal ideas in the process.  This is one was inspired by a recipe shared by instagramer @mypaleoishlife.  It looked absolutely delicious and I loved the idea by using spaghetti squash along with chicken alfredo!  I just used a simple alfredo sauce instead of his Better than Alfredo Cauliflower Cashew sauce.  Last night I finally had a chance to try it and it turned out great!

Chicken Alfredo on top of Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

Chicken

1 lb of Chicken Tenderloins
1 tbsp of Olive Oil
Spices to Taste: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Rosemary, Parsley, Oregano, Salt & Pepper

Alfredo Sauce

2 cups of Heavy Cream
1/2 cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup of Shredded Italian Cheese Mix
1/2 tsp of Parsley
1/2 tsp of Oregano
1/4 tsp of Garlic Powder

Spaghetti Squash

1 medium Spaghetti Squash

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Poke holes in spaghetti squash and place in oven for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.  Once spaghetti squash can be cut easily pull out and let cool off.  While the spaghetti squash is baking, place 1 tbsp of olive oil in large skillet and set to medium heat.  Place raw chicken tenderloins in large skillet.  Sprinkle on spices to taste and turn chicken until cooked through.  I like to add a little bit of water while I cook the chicken so it doesn’t dry out.  Place cooked chicken onto plate and save the large skillet for later.

Chicken Tenderloins

Pour heavy cream into sauce pan.  Stir in Parmesan cheese and Italian cheese.  Add spices to taste.  I kept it on a low to medium heat for a couple minutes and constantly stirred until sauce thickened.  Once sauce has thickened remove from heat.

Alfredo Sauce

Now that the spaghetti squash has cooled off, cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Scoop the squash meat and place in the large skillet.  Stir until the squash meat has been coated with the leftover spices and juices.  You can place the spaghetti squash on a plate or in a bowl and top with the alfredo sauce and chicken.  Yum!

Now that the rain has finally subsided in our area, we have finally been able to start getting back to a normal routine.  It had been over a week since we’ve been able to take a walk so we finally got a chance to do that this weekend.  We even got to take a trip to see my friend’s farm critters, which my son absolutely loves!  As for Baby Girl, she is still doing great!  Only about two and a half more weeks to go!  I can’t wait!  I can’t wait to meet her; I can’t wait to have my body back . . . hahaha!  My wonderful sister-in-law took my maternity pictures for me last week.  They turned out so good!  I’m so excited that I want to show you a sneak peek!

Maternity Pictures

Maternity Pictures

Aren’t they adorable?!?  After I deliver Baby Girl, I would like to share with you some of the ways that I helped this delivery naturally.  When I had my son, his heart rate was in distress during most of my labor so I wasn’t able to do a lot other than lay on the bed since he had a scalp monitor placed on him.  But since my pregnancy with Baby Girl has been a lot less stressful I have been so much more healthy and feel like this delivery will go by much smoother.  Some things that I am doing to help prepare my body for labor is to take walks (as long as we don’t have any more rain), sit and bounce on an exercise ball, and eat a handful of dates every day.  Blogger Evelyn Ojeda quoted a study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology stating that eating six dates daily during the last four weeks of pregnancy “significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labor, and produced a more favorable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. ” You can read more about it on her webpage here, it is all quite interesting.  I also plan on getting a pedicure the week I’m due to help start contractions.  For all you moms out there, what other ways did you try to naturally induce labor?

How to Make Shredded Taco Meat
Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Paleo, paleo diet, Recipes

How to Make Shredded Taco Meat

How to Make Shredded Taco Meat in the Crockpot

How to Make Shredded Taco Meat

This has been a nice relaxing week for us.  Usually we are going non-stop to doctor appointments or viewing houses (we are currently looking for a new house to live in).  But this week we decided to take a break from looking at houses and I did not have any baby appointments either.  Of course, all it has done for this past week is rain, so we’ve been cooped up in the house and I think everyone is going stir-crazy!  Even our dog!  We’ve had to turn around my son’s crib again so he can’t get out because he kept trying to play with his toys during naptime.  He’d been doing really well for a while but I think since we haven’t been able to go out on our walks like usual or get out of the house it’s been difficult for him to go straight to sleep.

But thankfully I think we are finally over the worst of our colds.  My son had developed a really bad cough over the past couple of weeks and last week it sounded so bad that I went ahead and took him to the doctor.  Fortunately he didn’t have an infection and his lungs sounded clear.  The doctor prescribed him some allergy medicine to help clear up his congestion and drainage which we thought was causing his cough (very similar to what I was dealing with).  So in addition to the allergy medicine, I also pulled out my steam vaporizer to put in his room during the night.  I have been avoiding it because our house has such a bad moisture problem I was afraid that it couldn’t handle extra steam.  But my son’s cough was so bad he was up all night and keeping me up all night as well.  We both needed our rest.  This particular steam vaporizer I really like because it has a little pool on top where you can place extra liquid like camphor or essential oils.  So I also added water, 2 drops of lavender and 2 drops of lemon to the steam vaporizer to help my son’s breathing at night.  And it worked amazingly!!!  We have finally been able to sleep through the night.  And after about a week I have been able to quit using the steam vaporizer as well so I don’t have to worry about the condition of his room being warped by the steam.  Sweet victory was finally mine!

Since we have been recovering from such a busy schedule and finally starting to feel better, I wanted a meal that was cheap and easy to make.  When I was still working, I threw this dish together one day out of desperation.  It turned out so well that it has become a regular staple in my house.  My husband absolutely loves it because the chicken turns out tender . . . and let’s face it, it’s Mexican.  So here’s my recipe for shredded taco meat:

How to Make Shredded Taco Meat

Ingredients

2-3 lbs of Raw Chicken Breast
1 cup of Water
1 Tbsp of Chili Powder
2 Tsp of Cumin
1 Tsp of Salt
1 Tsp of Pepper
1 Tsp of Garlic Powder
1 Tsp of Onion Powder
1 Tsp of Cayenne Powder (optional)

Directions

Place the raw chicken breasts in the crockpot.  Pour 1 cup of water on top of the chicken.  Sprinkle seasonings on chicken and stir in water.  Set crockpot on low for 5 hours or until chicken pulls apart easily.

Raw Chicken in Crockpot

Once chicken is tender, pour out as much excess water as you can.

Cooked Chicken for Taco Meat

Using two forks pull apart the chicken until completely shredded.

Chicken After Being Shredded

When I first made this dish I was pleasantly surprised at how tender the chicken was and how tasteful it was with the seasonings.  The seasoning is enough to taste but not punch-you-in-the-face overpowering.  I personally haven’t been using the cayenne powder since Baby Girl won’t let me eat anything super spicy and so that my son can eat it too.  I love this dish because it is so easy to prepare, you can have it cooking while you are working or out running errands.  And you can use it for just about anything!  You can use it for tacos and burritos.  Since I am gluten free, I like to add it to a bowl of rice and add cheese, salsa or ranch dressing.  This is also easy to add to my son’s meals.

Shredded Taco Dish

This has quickly become a favorite in my house and I hope you like it too!  Are there any other ways that you can think of to use this meat?  Let me know what you think!

Stuffed Pepper Casserole
Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Health, Paleo, paleo diet, Recipes

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

How to Make Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

So much has been going on in the past couple of weeks.  The end of March was my last day at work.  My cousin who watches my son is returning home after I have Baby Girl, so we decided since I get paid about the same amount of money as it would cost to put two kids in daycare that I could stay home.  And I would much rather stay home and raise my own children.  So this time between now and when I deliver will give me time to rest and stay healthy during the last two months of this pregnancy and to help my son adjust to a new home-life routine.  And as for how Baby Girl is doing . . . we got to see her again last week!

Baby Girl at 33 Weeks

She is doing so well!  Unlike her brother, she is constantly moving and kicking.  During this last ultrasound she would keep putting her hand in her mouth and at one point tried to fit both in!  The doctors were estimating her weight at 4 lbs and 10 oz, which is only one pound away from my son when he was born at 39 weeks!  I’m so happy at her progress, we really want a healthy baby weighing at least 6 lbs or more this time around!

At the end of March we also had the baby shower and were given a lot of food to take home.  I tried to make the most of it for as long as possible so I didn’t need to make a lot of new meals for a while.  Since then I was looking for a new meal to try and this one popped up on my pinterest feed.  It looked really good and I decided to give it a try!  I was looking for something simple and tasty and this turned out very well.

Recipe for Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Ingredients

1 lb of Ground Turkey
2 Peppers chopped
1 Onion chopped
2 Garlic Cloves minced
2 cups of rice cooked
1 jar (24 oz) pasta sauce
2 cups of shredded Italian cheese blend

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown ground turkey and saute the peppers, onion and garlic cloves in a large skillet.  Add rice and pasta sauce to the skillet and mix together.  Sprinkle in about a cup of shredded cheese and mix together.  Pour everything into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese on top of mixture.  Place in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

I thought that I would like some sort of bread to go with the casserole so I decided to try the Gluten Free Bisquick Biscuit mix.  You can find the recipe on the Gluten Free Bisquick box.  I didn’t particularly like these biscuits with the casserole myself.  Stand alone with butter (and even some honey, yum!) they seemed alright.  But I still would like to tweak the recipe to improve the flavor a little bit.  It seemed rather bland and had that Bisquick taste to it.  But it was something that I had wanted to try for a while.  I like using the Bisquick mix for my pancakes and pizza dough now.  The pizza dough is especially easier than any of the other gluten free recipes I’ve used in the past.

As for the casserole, the flavor was very good and I will certainly make this again.  Of course, my husband was disappointed that it wasn’t Mexican flavored.  He likes to make our stuffed peppers with Mexican seasoning.  I personally wanted to try something different, and Baby Girl doesn’t seem to like Mexican food nearly as much!  But I’m sure this would make a great Mexican casserole whenever I feel up to it . . . even if it won’t happen until after she arrives!

 

Essential Oils, Health

Essential Oils – How to Survive Sinus Congestion

Essential Oils

Breathe Easy Blend – How to Survive Sinus Congestion

For the last couple of weeks I have been so busy with work and trying to get ready for the baby shower I haven’t really had much time to work on any homemade meals for this blog.  So I decided that I could share about the essential oil blend that I’ve been using to try to help me get through yet another bout with sinus congestion.  I had seemed to be doing better with my cold, my cough has improved and basically gone away.  But then the congestion came back and my sinuses have been draining down the back of my throat causing a sore throat.  Ugh.  It had gotten to the point that when I would walk into my bedroom my nose would immediately close up and I couldn’t breath.  Sleeping is becoming more difficult as the baby is getting bigger so any extra discomfort makes sleeping miserable.  And I need all the rest I can get at this point.  So I decided to try an essential oil blend to help open up my breathing passageways.

What Essential Oils are in my Breathe Easy Blend?

  • Peppermint – 3 drops
  • Eucalyptus – 3 drops
  • Lavender – 2 drops

There wasn’t any real science to the drops count that I used.  That was not the original drop count that I wanted but I’ve been having trouble controlling how fast they come out so that seemed to be the average amount!  Hahaha!

How Has it Worked for Me?

Oh my word!  Every night that I have my diffuser on with this blend I can BREATHE!!!  Sometimes only one nostril will be open, sometimes both.  But nevertheless I can breathe!  And on the nights that I didn’t use it, you betcha, I couldn’t breathe at all.  It is like magic!  So this has been my best friend and constant companion for the last week or so.  Along with doing the nasal rinse every morning, I added another antihistamine to my regimen temporarily and on the mornings that my throat particularly hurts I’ll gargle with salt water.  Thankfully, I think that my congestion is finally starting to clear up.

What about you?  Have you tried a similar blend or do you have a favorite blend that you like to use?  I would love to hear from you!

Bone Broth, Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Health, Paleo, paleo diet, Recipes

How to Make Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

How to Make Loaded Baked Potato Soup

This week my family has been struggling with sore throats, coughs and my toddler has been teething.  No fun at all.  I’ve been busting out the essential oils and teas trying to knock this thing out as naturally as possible.  Here is a link to my facebook page discussion of At-Home Remedies.  Earlier this week, when I had a day off I thought that everyone would really enjoy and benefit from my crockpot loaded baked potato soup.  This is another really good recipe to add some immune boosting ingredients like garlic and Bone Broth if you have any saved.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any bone broth leftover and I didn’t really have any time or energy to make it this time around.  Sometimes I get tired of loaded baked potato soup (this is one of my husband’s absolute favorite meals) but I think a lot of that has to do with when I was pregnant with my son I had to limit my sodium intake to help with the swelling and this soup does NOT taste good without salt!  I love adding garnishes to the dish, it brings out so much more flavor and interest to the dish.  And I was right.  It really hit the spot.  It was so comforting to all the sickies in my house.  And my son was even willing to eat it mixed with his rice.  Another mom-win for me!

Ingredients

2 1/2 lbs of Russet potatoes
1 small yellow onion
5 cloves of garlic
4 cups of bone broth (or chicken stock)
8 oz of cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Garnishes: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped chives

Directions

Chop potatoes, onion, and garlic.  Add to crockpot along with seasoning and bone broth.

Potato Soup2

Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10 hours.
Stir in Cream cheese and allow to melt.
Scoop some soup into the blender, puree and add back into soup until desired texture.  (My husband likes to still have some potato chunks in the soup so I don’t completely puree the soup).  This last time around my son was down for a nap when the soup was ready to be pureed so I had it sitting for a couple hours on the “Keep Warm” setting which softened the potatoes even more and made it super easy and super quick to puree.

Potato Soup3

Here is the loaded baked potato soup finished.

Potato Soup4

Top with your choice of garnishes and serve.  Our personal favorites are bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped chives.  Yum!

Potato Soup5

It tasted so good and was a very comforting meal since we weren’t feeling well.  This is one of my husband’s all-time favorite meals and he would literally eat this everyday if I made it everyday.  I can never go wrong whenever I decide to make it!  There are so many different ways to make potato soup.  I hope you like this recipe!

Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Recipes

Gluten-Free Tater-Tot Casserole

Latest Updates for changemyhealth

Now that I have more time, I have been really excited to start updating my blog.  I’ve been wanting to make it more user friendly and post more often so you can benefit from my experiences.  So you will begin to see some changes over the next couple weeks and months.  Please let me know what you think, if there are more topics that you would like to hear about or any questions that you have regarding a gluten-free diet or changing your health for the better using diet and lifestyle changes.  Some things to look forward to will be links to purchase the type of gluten-free flours and pastas that I use, guest posts to share an in-depth look as to why I use the supplements and diets that I use, and more social media outlets via facebook and pinterest to keep you updated throughout the week.

Vacation Busy-ness

One of the reasons that I have not been able to update the last couple of weeks is that we have been getting ready to go on our family vacation.  We have been busy making sure that all of our bills would be paid on time while we were out of town, I had to work several days back-to-back due to the upcoming holiday, and prepare by packing or cooking meals in advance because I had to work more frequently than usual.  But we finally made it!  Woohoo!  We’ve had a lot of fun spending time with family and will continue on the next leg of our trip tomorrow.

I was hoping to update with this post sooner but my son became sick yesterday and we spent all day cleaning him up and sitting with him.  Sick babies are a lot of work!  Thankfully today he has been much better.  Still a little cranky and very hungry.  It’s been hard to limit his food and drink intake to make sure he doesn’t overwhelm his stomach all the while keeping him happy.

sick-baby

One of the recipes that I made this past week while preparing for vacation was a Tater-Tot Casserole.  I tried it several months ago for the first time and it was a big hit for my family.  My husband absolutely loved it!  And after persuading my son to try it, he cleaned his plate!  This is a very simple recipe and you can tweak it to however you and your family would enjoy it.  Usually we would add a lot more spices to the meat while cooking it, but since Baby Girl is still kind of picky I didn’t do that this time.

tater-tot-casserole4

Gluten-Free Tater-Tot Casserole

I just love how simple and easy this recipe is to make and how much my family loves it!

tater-tot-casserole

Ingredients
1 Bag of Frozen Tater-Tots
1-1.25 lbs of Ground Turkey (or Beef)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Chopped Tomato
1 Bunch of Chopped Chives
Sour Cream
Pico de Gallo

Directions
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
– Brown the ground meat (my husband likes to use turkey because it is healthier but beef works just fine too).  At this point you could also add spices, chopped onions and peppers to the meat too.  I just chose not to this time.
– Pour the bag of tater-tots into your 9 x 13″ baking pan.
– Pour the browned meat on top of the tater-tots and stir so they are evenly mixed.
– Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
– Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  The dish should look slightly browned and the tater-tots should be crispy.
– Add your choice of chopped tomatoes, chopped chives, sour cream or pico de gallo.

tater-tot-casserole2

I just love how simple and easy this recipe is to make and how much my family loves it!  It usually doesn’t last more than the night and maybe leftovers for one or two people.  Even my son, who tends to be pretty picky, will eat quite a bit of it.  I hope you enjoy!

tater-tot-casserole3

Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Recipes

Oven-Baked Mac & Cheese

Sometimes I forget how hard the transition from gluten-free (or even something as basic as paleo or just plain healthy) can be.  It has been several years for me now, so I forget the struggles I once had.  My gluten-free diet has evolved over the years and depending on my health at any given point may fluctuate as to how strict I want to be.  I remember when I first started out, I only ate veggies and meat.  Period.  Unless I went to a restaurant that offered gluten-free pasta or sandwiches or pastries, that was all I made.  Since then, I have experimented with flours and pastas and found which ones I prefer to use mainly because of taste and simplicity.  This process never ends.  My local store may start carrying a new product or as I have recently been unfortunate to discover may discontinue carrying a product I like.  So far the store has discontinued carrying (and it may be that the company stopped producing it) my Pillsbury’s gluten-free cookie dough and it threatens to discontinue carrying several dry mixes for my gluten-free cheesy breads and cinnamon rolls.  Sad times.

One of the struggles I hear from my friends often is making gluten-free pasta.  If you have ever tried it, you know what I’m talking about.  Usually the end result is a big pile of mush that is not at all appetizing, and the idea is promptly thrown out.  Trust me, I have had my fair share of piles of mush.  On more than one occasion.  And once I had mastered the art of cooking gluten-free pastas I tried to combine them with crockpot meals or stove-top meals.  Doesn’t work out too well either.  All you get is a big pile of mush in your otherwise nicely cooked meals.  Such a waste.  It can be very disappointing.

All this to say, for this blog post I would like to share a tried-and-true way to cook gluten-free pasta that my family does enjoy eating with me.  To be honest, I have cooked gluten-free pasta for so long now, I’m not sure I can cook regular pasta anymore.  But I hope this is very enlightening and can broaden your meal-plans as it has broadened mine.

Oven-Baked Mac & Cheese

macandcheese3

Ingredients
– 1 lb or 16 oz bag of Gluten-free pasta
– 1 tbsp of Olive oil
– 4 cups of Milk
– 4 cups of Shredded cheese
– 1/2 cup of Butter
– 1/2 cup of Gluten-free flour
– Salt and Pepper to taste
– 1 lb or 16 oz pkg of Kielbasa (optional)

macandcheese1
Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Boil a pot of water 3/4’s full.  Turn down the heat so the pot doesn’t bubble over.  Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to water.  Pour in the pasta.  Keep heat to just under boil and cook pasta for at least 10 minutes.  Make sure you stir the noodles every couple of minutes.  I’ve added the olive oil to help keep them from sticking together, but you still will need to keep stirring them.  The first couple of times you may notice that they like to stick together or to the pot.  Just keep scraping the pot and breaking the noodles apart every couple of minutes.  After the 10 minutes start testing the pasta to see if it is soft enough.  You want the noodles to be soft enough to chew but firm enough to keep it’s shape.  You may need to leave the noodles in for another minute or two until they are soft enough.  But you want to catch them before they start breaking down.  I promise that you will get the hang of it.  Once they are at the right firmness strain the noodles immediately.  You don’t want them sitting in water any longer than necessary or they will turn to mush.

– I would just like to note that the quality of the gluten-free noodles really does matter.  Some will never keep it’s firmness after cooking.  That is one of the most frustrating things about learning to cook gluten-free, you have to experiment with different brands until you find what works best for you.  My favorite pasta to use is pictured below.  I’m not sure if it is just from my region or if you can find it in your local stores too.  But this one stands up to being cooked and I can add it to other meal dishes and it still keeps it’s shape after being mixed in.  It even can be reheated after being in the refrigerator.
– I would also like to note that rice-based pasta seems to have the best taste and texture out of all the gluten-free pastas.  There is a new ramen-type noodle that we tried from the store that is rice-based that tasted and cooked pretty well.

macandcheese2

Now that your pasta is sitting in the strainer, use the same pot to cook your cheese sauce.  Turn the heat to low.  Melt the butter in the pot.  Slowly add the gluten-free flour to the melted butter and stir until completely mixed.  Start adding your milk but keep stirring.  Once you’ve added the milk, add the cheese.  Keep stirring as your add each cup of cheese.  Salt and pepper the cheese sauce to taste.  You can turn up the heat to medium/medium high to help melt the cheese but be careful not to turn the milk.  Once the cheese has melted to your liking you can turn off the heat and add the noodles into the mixture.  The noodles may still stick together from being in the strainer but they will break apart as you mix them into the cheese sauce.  Using either one 9 x 13 pan or two 8 x 8 pans, spray non-stick cooking spray onto the baking dishes.  Pour your cheese and noodles into the pans.  You can also mix in any kind of sliced meat into your dish if you so desire.  My family loves kielbasa, so we add that to just about everything.  (Unfortunately the little princess doesn’t seem to like it as much so I have been avoiding it more lately).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

macandcheese5

My son still isn’t too fond of noodles, but he loved the kielbasa and cheese!

macandcheese4

There are a couple of basic rules to remember when cooking gluten-free pasta:
1. Quality really does matter
2. Always have the water boiling first before adding the pasta
3. Stir constantly
4. When you test your pasta, you want it to be soft enough to chew but firm enough to keep it’s shape
5. Once the pasta is finished pull it out of the water immediately

I hope this has been helpful and you can begin to add pasta back into your gluten-free diets.  If you want to add pasta to meals, always cook the noodles by themselves and never let them sit in a soup or stew.  Anytime that I have tried this they have deteriorated.  I have come to the point where I will keep the noodles separate from something like a chicken noodle soup until I add it to my personal bowl.  But anything with a thick sauce like Mac & Cheese or Alfredo or Red Sauce seems to be okay and will hold up even to being refrigerated.  It’s so nice to have a comfort food available again!

Let me know if you have found any other types of gluten-free noodles that work for you!  I think once I’ve found something that works for me, I’m extremely hesitant to try anything else for fear I will ruin another meal.  Do you struggle with that too?  I’d love to hear your struggles and and stories as well!

Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Recipes

Broccoli Apple Salad

It’s difficult to stay healthy while your pregnant, and as I am finding out, even more so when you are pregnant with a girl.  This little girl is very picky with the foods she allows me to eat and most of them tend to be sweets.  I like to joke that my son was grown on Mexican food.  Not so much with this one.  She barely let’s me eat Mexican.  I have had times when I have put together a whole bowl of taco salad together and from just the smell alone I know that I won’t be able to eat it.  *sigh*  Meal planning has become very difficult because there’s a lot of food that sound and look really good, but I’m always worried that when I’m done making the meal I won’t want to touch it.

But, there are times when I do crave raw fruits and veggies.  So when I came across this recipe, it looked really good and I thought we could give it a try.  To be honest, I was slightly nervous about making it.  In the past we had tried a cucumber salad recipe from pinterest and it was an epic fail.  I don’t know if I misread the measurements or what, but it tasted awful!  Thankfully this one turned out really good!  Everyone else really likes it and baby approves.  And that’s really all that matters!

broccoli-salad-3

Broccoli Apple Salad
Ingredients
4 cups of broccoli
2 large apples
1/2 cup of matchstick carrots
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1/2 cup of pecans
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Directions
– Start with your veggies and dry ingredients.  I just bought a bag of pre-chopped broccoli florets.  I’ve bought and chopped the whole head before, but this is just so much easier and faster!  All I did was chop some of the large pieces into smaller pieces and remove any long stems.  Slice your two large apples into bite-sized pieces.  Chop the red onion (I only needed to use about a third of one).  Combine in a large bowl.  Add the carrots, cranberries and pecans and mix together.

broccoli-salad-1

– In a second bowl mix your sauce.  Combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar.  Mix well.
– Add your sauce into the large bowl with your fruits and veggies.

broccoli-salad-2

– Mix all together.  And voila!  Yes, it really is that easy.  The majority of my time was spent chopping and that really didn’t take that long.

I had been craving raw fruits and veggies so much that I had like a whole bowl full of this salad!  It was so good!  My son even got in on the action.  I had sliced some of the apple pieces without the sauce into smaller pieces and cut off the peels.  After having to persuade him to try a piece (he has refused to eat raw apples for a while, he only likes applesauce from a pouch) he downed a little bowl’s worth.  I was so ecstatic!  Recently he has been doing much better trying new foods and eating big people’s food with us.  Another mom-win for me!

Gluten Free, gluten free diet, Recipes

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

It seems like so much has happened in this last week!  We just had our latest baby appointment and we found out that we are having a GIRL!!!  We are so excited!  I was convinced that she was going to be a boy because she felt lower than my son had at this point, but come to find out, she is sitting on my bladder!  That certainly explains all the pressure down there!  She is healthy and right on track with her due date.  Thankfully she cooperated much better than my son did during his ultrasound and the doctors were able to get all the measurements they needed.  With my son, we had to come back a second time to finish his measurements because he was wiggling so much.  We certainly enjoyed getting to see our baby girl again!

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Baby Girl at 21 Weeks

Now we know that we are having a girl, that explains all my sweets cravings too!  I had originally planned to make Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies for Christmas but since we had been sick for so long I didn’t have a chance to make them.  I was also concerned that having more sugar would prolong my yeast infection from the antibiotics.  But, sometimes, you just can’t help wanting homemade cookies.  And thankfully I have been clear of the infection now for over a week.

This was my first time ever for making this type of cookie.  And they turned out so good!  I especially liked that my son was able to help with making them.  I had him push the hershey kisses into the cookie after they finished baking and he really enjoyed that.  I’m trying to get him involved in cooking with me more.  So that was a lot of fun.

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms
Ingredients
1 cup of gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
21 hershey kisses

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and brown sugar together in a bowl.  Make sure the brown sugar is broken down and mixed well.  Melt the butter and peanut butter in a saucepan.  Create a dry well with the dry mixture and pour the melted butter and peanut butter into the well.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the egg and vanilla extract to the mixture.  Roll the dough into tiny, approx. 1″ balls onto a greased sheet pan.  This should make 21 dough balls (I only made 20 myself).  Cook the dough for 11 minutes in the oven.  Once you take out the baked cookies start placing the hershey kisses into them.  The kisses will soften for a little bit after being placed in the hot cookies but will harden as the cookies cool off.

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These cookies turned out so good!  So good in fact that I had already eaten several before I took the picture!  Hahaha!  They were so easy to make and my son had such a fun time helping put the kisses in them.  I can’t wait to continue making them as a new tradition in my household.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Bone Broth, Health

8 Alternative Methods to Medications

Wow!  So much has changed and happened since my last blog post!  According to WordPress, it’s been 8 months!  I changed jobs and life got busy.  It was always my intention to keep up with this blog but it kind of fell to the way side as life happened.  My husband has complained about me keeping pictures of meals and recipes on the iPad; I was hoping to write about them later and I never did!!!  Every time I make a meal I think of this blog and how it would make a great post.  Hahaha!  My other issue has been technology.  Our laptops are both old and I couldn’t find a simple way to use the iPad or my husband’s new computer to write the blog and upload my pictures.  So now with more time (and new technology…or at least new ideas to use the technology) I am starting to write again!  Woohoo!

So, to kind of bring everyone up-to-date, in March I changed jobs to become a cake decorator at a local grocery store.  I was looking for a job just to help us through while I was in between jobs, and it turned out that I really enjoyed what I was doing.  So much so that I wished that I had started cake decorating earlier in life.  It was a less stressful job and it was a great outlet for my creative flare.  We found out we were pregnant with our second child in September and also moved closer to both of our jobs, cutting my husband’s commute to almost half the time and mine down to just a couple minutes.  So many big changes for all of us!

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Baby #2 Measuring at 8 Weeks

In December, one by one my whole family got sick with the flu bug and a horrible cough that lasted for weeks.  Even taking plain cough medicine didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  After struggling with this cough for over two weeks, I developed a rash on my neck and decided to visit the urgent care to make sure it wasn’t anything serious.  Strep was going around and I knew some people were getting rashes from it. I was tested for strep and was found negative, they told me it was just blood vessels that had burst in my neck (from coughing so hard) and then sent me home without any help for my cough and what I was sure was a sinus infection as well.  The following day I went to see the nurse practitioner at my OBGYN’s office, who thought everything was viral but could tell I had some sinus issues so gave me a Z-pack to try to help clear that up.  By the end of the week, my cough was still getting worse, my son was throwing up with the flu, and I was running a fever.

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My cousin holding my poor baby sick with the flu

All of this is concerning for anyone, but since I was pregnant, I was really getting worried and was determined to get some more help.  Going on over three weeks now with this cough and being sick, I went to see my PCP.  She was also really concerned about my cough but could hardly give me anything for relief between my allergies and my being pregnant.  So I was given more antibiotics to help clear up my sinus infection and was taken off of work for about a week so I could recover.

Since I have been pregnant I have been unable to use a lot of over-the-counter medications and prescriptions to help me get better.  It has been very difficult trying to recover without any typical medications.  So today I would like to share with you all the alternative methods that I used for getting better:

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8 Alternative Methods to Medications

1) Antibiotics
I know not everyone likes to use antibiotics. They not only kill the bad bacteria but also all the good bacteria in your gut flora. And it’s pretty much clockwork for me now, when I take antibiotics, I get a yeast infection.  However, I had such a nasty sinus infection that it was draining down causing an upper respiratory infection and irritating my sensitive airways.  My PCP wanted to also give me an inhaler but couldn’t because I was pregnant.  So at this point I felt like I needed all the help I could get.
2) Rest
The main thing that I needed that was really going to help me overcome this was rest.  Which is extremely hard to get when you’re a working mom.  My PCP even took me off of work for a week so I could try to get the rest I needed to get over this.  I had so many absences at work that I was about to lose my job.  Sometimes you also have to make some major decisions as well.  I chose to go down to part-time hours at work because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to recover while pregnant and working full-time. I was exhausted, had uncontrollable coughing fits and had just about lost my voice.
3) Tea
Tea is really great for soothing your throat and depending on the ones you drink, they have great healing properties.  I would always add honey to my tea to help soothe and coat my throat and honey has great immune boosting properties as well.  Cinnamon is good for your throat as well.  I personally drank a lot of chamomile, echinacea and tumeric tea.
4) Vitamin C
We all know that vitamin C helps boosts the body’s immune system.  I try to take extra vitamin C while I’m sick.  While I was trying to read up on the whooping cough (I was convinced that I had it this time around) I read a blog writer that said that even though she could not get a diagnosis for whooping cough her research led her to believe that vitamin C taken in very large doses helped her and her family recover much faster.  (“9 Things You’ll Wish You Knew About Whooping Cough” by Sidetracked Sarah).
5) Nasal Rinse
A lot of people that I have talked to don’t realize that as a pregnant person, you can’t take decongestants.  If I absolutely had to use decongestants, I have to closely watch my blood pressure.  So, as an alternative, I use the neti pot as a saline rinse.  It did not clear up my sinus infection, but I am convinced that if I had not kept my sinuses as clear as I had I would have been much worse much faster.  It is difficult to get used to running water through your nose (and sometimes down the back of your throat).  Some people really don’t like it, but at least I could get some relief that way.
6) Bone Broth & Chicken Noodle Soup
Both of these dishes are soothing for the throat and are filled with nutrients for your body.  Anytime that I or my family is really sick I like to make bone broth and chicken noodle soup to help put vital nutrients back into our bodies, especially after using antibiotics.  Bone broth is known to help improve your gut health after your gut flora has been depleted.
7) Steam
Steam was one of the few ways that helped my cough, but didn’t help control it completely.  Since the house we are in currently has a bad moisture problem, I didn’t want to use our steam vaporizer like I usually do.  So I stuck to just localized steam by covering up my mouth and nose with either a scarf or a blanket.  Steamy showers are also a great expectorant.
8) Essential Oils
Since we could use all the help we could get I also tried to use essential oils to help overcome our illnesses.  Being pregnant, I have to be very careful with topical uses.  Most of the immune boosting blends warn against topical use when pregnant or if you have sensitive skin (like children).  So I like to dilute it and use the diffuser.  The group that I order from has an immune boosting blend called Armor that I like to use when we have an illness going around.

So those are the 8 alternative methods that I used since I can’t take most medications.  After several weeks we are finally starting to feel better and get back to normal.  So now I need to start wiping down the house, lysol spraying everything and washing sheets and blankets.  Oi.  I hope you won’t need to use these 8 methods for your family, but if you do, I hope they help you get some relief and get better as quickly as possible.