Tuesday, December 31

My One Word

I don't need to tell you how hard it is to keep up with New Year Resolutions. Why do you think they start pumping out the Weight Watchers, Curves and Nutrisystem ads like they're going out of style from about Christmas until February? They want to suck you in while you're most susceptible to change which just so happens between December 31st and January 1st. Yeah sure it's wonderful to sign up for a weight loss program, promise to spend more time with family, finally pay off those loans and what not, but how many of us fall off the bandwagon somewhere between March and April (if you've held on that long). 

What if this year was different? What if a year from now, you look back and think, "WOW, I really have achieved my goals & I'm better for it?". 

For the past two years I have forgone the typical "New Year Resolutions" in lieu of something I find to be much more practical, applicable and rewarding:
My One Word.
I pick one word that I am going to focus my energy, quiet time and effort on for the whole of that year. That one single word replaces all those broken promises to yourself. Your word allows you to have focus, clarity and direction in the new year.

You don't have to spend every waking minute focusing on that word and how it applies to your life. You reflect. You pray. You have quiet time. You meditate on how you want it to impact your life. It really is a launching pad for a life transformation.

For the past two years God has worked through me and transformed me for the better. Two simple words that I chose in January transformed my life each year; sometimes not in obvious ways- but as I sat there on December 31st each year, I reflected on the past year and was amazed at how quietly and strategically the Lord changed my heart, my mind and my attitude. Subsequently, other things that used to be on my list of "resolutions" actually got mastered for once. 

So who do you want to be in 2014?
 Do you want to have more faith? Do you want to be more focused? Do you need to have hope? Do you need change? Do you need to simplify your life? Do you need to show love? Maybe you need to surrender to God's will. Maybe you simply need to listen more.
 Decide who you want to be in 2014 and chose a word that will follow you this whole year; you'll be amazed a year from now how much God will transform you when you just pick one simple little word.

Check out http://myoneword.org/ for how MyOneWord began.

Tuesday, December 24

The 24 Days of Blessings

December is one of my favorite months. Not because of Hallmark Channel playing non-stop Christmas movies or the piles of holiday sweets that end up at your desk at work or even the lights; I love this time of year because it renews my spirit with faith and hope. I see so much hurt, pain and struggles in the world and it makes me want to extend my arms and help every single cause. Children, single moms, underprivileged families, abandoned animals, children in 3rd world countries, the lonely neighbor down the street... there are so many worthy groups and this is the time of year where humanity pulls together to help those less fortunate. 
Christmas is the season to count the blessings you do have, because as is evident in our world, everybody is not as fortunate as the next. In the 24-days leading to Christmas, I realized that I had so many blessings in my life that I don't thank God for every day and this is the time of year to stop. reflect. and give thanks.

The 24 Days of Blessings 

24. Clean, running water
23. A closest chalk full of "I have nothing to wear" clothes
22. A real bed 
21. Too many shoes to keep track of
20. Never having said "I'm starving" and meant it
19. A job that I actually don't loath
18. A warm coat for those chilly North Carolina days
17. Ladybug, my reliable (although she's getting up there in years) car
16. Being able to physically & financially afford to travel 
15. The gift of sight & sound
14. A Christmas meal that will leave you begging for Spandex
13. Witness true-love
12. Never having a Christmas without a gift under the tree
11. The blessing of knowing how to Sign, a language that is seldom learned but I find the most rewarding
10. Attending University, a right denied to many women around the world
9. The ability to read & write- still foreign to so many
8. The knowledge that God's plan for me is bigger than what I could have ever imagined
7. The military who make it possible for me to go to work in pants, pray, express my beliefs, and not worry about being attacked because of it
6. Parents who would lay down their lives for mine
5. Brothers who will stand up for me, even when I wasn't the nicest big sis
4. A handful of best friends who don't mind silly snapchats & texts
3. The wonderful unconditional love of my dog Abby
2. A family who loves one another
1. The biggest blessing of all: Jesus's birth

Merry Christmas to All

Thursday, November 28

A Thankful Heart

15 Things I'm Thankful For 

15. Hallmark Movie Channel
There's nothing like wasting an entire Saturday glued on the couch watching happy (yes, predictable) Hallmark Movies. Oh and don't even get me started about Christmas Hallmark movies; haven't met one yet I didn't like!

14. Gluten-Free Flour
If it wasn't for GF Flour I may cry. From baking every weekend to not even being able to enjoy a cookie without feeling sick, GF Flour has been a Godsend!

13. AC & Heat
I used to want to live in the 1800's, but then I realized I wouldn't have AC or Heat and just think about how horrific that would be. No AC in North Carolina summers or Heat in Minnesota winters; yup I would've died.

12. Nike Workout Shorts
Come on, you know you live in yours on the weekend, after work, working out, after working out...

11. Jello 
Youbetcha. A nice jello salad is the best way to start a holiday season! It's happy and squishy and colorful; who doesn't love Jello?!

10. Starbucks Holiday Drinks 
Gingerbread latte. Eggnog latte. Tall nonfat white peppermint mocha with light whip. Bring it on. Got my Holiday Star Dash going on and I'm going to win.

9. Chick-fil-A
It's a staple in our household at least once a week during baseball season. The smell of waffle fries is enough to make you drool. Oh, and am I the only one who craves them on a Sunday?!

8. Books  
My bookshelves are overflowing with books and yet I always seem to buy more. I can't resist the smell of a fresh new book. Oh, and Yes, I do judge a book by its cover.

7. Joy of Writing
Writing is a release and such a joy. I'm so thankful that I get to sneak away and write whenever I can. I can express myself, share ideas, and it's amazing that other people like what I say and are inspired by it. So amazing.

6. The Ocean 
The smell of salt in the air. The foam of the waves. The presence of the Lord is so obvious that it's sometimes overwhelming. I'm so incredibly thankful I got the opportunity to live by the water for several years. 

5. The Gift of Travel
The thought that a year ago I was living in England is so humbling. If it weren't for the pushing of my family, I wouldn't have been able to do it. Now, one year later, I've been traveling for pleasure and for work, and have three trips in the works. How incredibly wonderful!

4. My Job 
This year, one of the biggest things I've been thankful for is God providing me with a wonderful first job that is not something I would've dreamed I would be doing. I've been able to travel, fly, and work with some wonderful people. Considering how many people haven't found that first job or are out of work, I'm thankful that I was blessed with this gift.

3.  Faithful Friends
This past year it's really been highlighted who are friends for a lifetime and friends just for a season. I'm thankful that friends have stuck by my side and encouraged me to grow personally and spiritually. Thanks for being a listening ear and a cheerful smile. 

2. Unconditional Love of Family 
To my family to always think better of me than myself; who push me to my limits because they know I can handle it. Who always try to thing in perspective and always make me laugh. We only have one another in this world, and I'm so glad we've grown our little family into a tight family unit. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful family.

1. God's Plan
His plan for my life is bigger than my own and for that I am thankful, because if it was up to me to plan my life, it'd be a complete mess and I would never reach my full potential. You experience life when you're pushed out of your comfort zone, and God knows that I am greater than this. It's humbling to know that and I am thankful for his unconditional love even when I majorly screw up. It amazes me that even when I venture off the path and fall down a hill, he can bring me past a river and up a mountain to get back on the path, and most of the time it's greater than you expected.

So for these things, I am thankful on this holiday weekend and I encourage everyone to count your blessings this holiday season because there is so much to be grateful for- from the little things to the big things, we are more blessed than w realize. 

Sunday, November 17

Hi, I'm a Runner.

Some say that at a certain point during a run, you break through the wall and enter a "runners high" where you are in this incredible zone of freedom; you feel nothing, you sense nothing, and the only noise you hear is the rhythmic beats of your feet pounding pavement. Your lungs suddenly stop struggling to keep a steady breath and you can feel the wild abandonment that coincides with being able to run like nothing will catch you.

I have never had that feeling.
I hate running.

Running is literally one of my least favorite forms of exercises to do and most of the time when I arrive at Crossfit and I see running on the menu, I have to fight this urge to turn right back around and flee to my car. Running is just not something I enjoy; I can't get into a runners high and all I can think about is when is the torture going to end.

So no. I'm not a runner; but I run. 

Over the last few years I've pursued the wrong guys and been burned in the process. Offended and hurt, I retreated to the only thing I knew- the safe haven of the Lord and His promise for my life. "'For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future'" Jeremiah 29:11.  

I realize my list of expectations and qualities in a man are high, but by no means do I think they are outrageous. I did realize however, that I expected a man to be this incredibly Godly man who would be a prayerful leader of a household, and a man who recklessly pursues the Lord and His will for His life; but was I worthy of a man like that? A few months ago I took a step back and looked at my "list" and reflected on myself and my own characteristics. Would I measure up to a guys "list"? It made me humbly recognize that my heart wasn't completely hidden in the Lord, but it was just hidden in general from friends, family and myself. That's when I realized I was doing this wrong. How can I expect a man to have all the checklists of the ideal Christian guy if I am not 100% hidden in the Lord myself? So what did I do? I ran.

I run from all relationships and the possibilities of relationships towards God's love and protection. I realized if I submitted my entire heart to the Lord, he would keep it safe until the right guy (or sucker...depending on how you look at it) could actually keep up with me. Then, and only then, would I know that this guy was worth the while and see where things lead. 

So yes, I'm a runner. I don't run out of fear or rejection but I run for joy and fulfillment in the only One who can bring peace. 

Saturday, October 26

GF Adventures: Homemade Applesauce

There's a nip in the air, the leaves are starting their slow cascade to the ground, and Starbucks has rolled out their Pumpkin Spice Latte; know what that means? Autumn must be upon us! I don't know about you, but my family has fall traditions that we always like to do: pick apples from an orchard, run through our local corn maize, eat our favorite carmel apples flew in from Minnesota, and pick pumpkins from the patch! 
Usually when we pick apples from the orchard we have an exorbitant amount of apples left over and there is only so many apples you can eat and so many apple pies you can make, so I decided to make my first attempt at homemade applesauce. 
After searching for the perfect recipe I decided to try our the Pioneer Woman's recipe, who also happens to be one of my personal favorites.  

Homemade Applesauce 


6 pounds Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into 8 Slices

1 cup Apple Juice Or Apple Cider

Juice Of 1 Lemon

1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed

1 teaspoon Cinnamon, More Or Less To Taste

Optional Ingredients: Nutmeg, Maple Syrup, Allspice, Butter

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.

Carefully puree in a food processor or blender (don't fill too full; split into two portions if needed) until smooth.
Store in the fridge and serve by itself, over pork chops, over ice cream, over pancakes...or any place where applesauce is needed!

Tuesday, October 22

Can't You or Won't You

"I trust you, I don't trust myself" I said through gritted teeth holding on for dear life as I glanced anxiously at my coaches face. 
I've pushed my body to its breaking point and done things I would've been scared to do three months ago. I've put my body through some of the most physically demanding challenges and come out physically exhausted, bruised, calloused, beaten up and to the point of vomiting, yet I keep coming back for more. However, there are still things I can't do, I can't push myself to do it. 

It wasn't until I was lying there horizontally, about 3 feet off the ground and he was telling me to let go of my arms so I would just hang by my feet that I cracked. He kept telling me what to do and all I could say is "I can't". He squatted down and looked at my in the eyes and said "You can't or you won't?" and I didn't know how to answer. I hung there for a moment and tried to release my hands but every ounce in my being was terrified that I'd fall to the cement floor below me and that'd be the end. "Trust me" he said and that's when I realized I trusted him 100%- I believed what he was telling me was true. He could've said anything to me in that moment and I would've believed him and trusted him; I just didn't have faith in myself, my own body and my own mind. 
The Lord says in Isaiah 40:11 "Do not fear, for I am with you" so why do we fear so much? I realize how much fear has held over my life. Fear of the unknown, fear of the known. Fear of failing miserably, fear of succeeding. Fear of the past but also fear of the future. So much fear and so little living.

Within those few seconds I had to chose to trust myself and have faith that I would not plummet to the cement ground. I let go and guess what, I'm still here today and hanging upside down isn't as terrifying as before. I put incredible faith in other people and even after being burned multiple times I continually put faith in others, yet I have the hardest time putting faith in my own self.  "Fear is an idea-crippling, experience-crushing, success-stalling, inhibitor inflicted only by yourself" Sometimes we are the ones standing in our own way. Trust in the Lord, trust in yourself, because He is always with you.

Let your FAITH be bigger than your FEAR. 

Monday, October 7

A New Season

"God prunes us when He is about to take us into a new season of growth & expansion" 

It's important to have dreams and aspirations, and I realize that more than ever today. I did everything 'right' in school, joined the clubs, worked the jobs, participated in the internships, graduated with honors in both degrees, and landed a fantastic job right out of college; every college students dream. Yet, I can't help but feel there's more out there than just a great paying job. 

What happened to spontaneity and adventure? What happened to adventures and stupid decisions? Ah. Adulthood. My life has become a routine of wake up, get to work before the sun rises, leave work, workout and get home after sunset. Shower, eat, repeat.

Don't misunderstand my words as complaints, I love my job and am ever so grateful that I landed a job like this out of college. However, as one of my professors in college pointed out, life is a lot more than having an amazing paycheck; it's about being happy. He made me wonder, am I happy? Or more importantly, when was I last happy?

Quietly and consistently I have felt the Lord leading me in a new direction. Sometimes it's scary to take a leap of faith and trust the small voice inside your heart; but when you finally do take that leap, there is an amazing sense of peace that overcomes you and when you look back that big 'scary' jump looks more like a hop. 

God is slowly transforming me for a new season in life, which is extremely scary and exciting at the same time. My future is a complete question mark but I know that my future is in good hands. There is more to life than our job title and the amount of money we make. We need to realize what makes us happy and strive to make that a priority in life and our job.

So here is to a new change in my life, a new path that God is slowly shaping me for, a new sense of freedom and excitement and a completely new season.

"God prunes us when He is about to take us into a new season of growth & expansion" 

Thursday, September 26

Who You Are

These words are not my own. They are a transcript of the truth; the truth that is sometimes impossible to believe. This video was posted on Facebook tonight and I opened it. These words are not my own. These words are His words, spoken into broken hearts, tired minds, strained and desperate souls. These are His words.

You are beautiful. You are smart. You are funny. You are kind. You are unique. You are worthy of love and affection. You are never too much, and you are always enough. You are precious. You are a diamond, a rose, a pearl, the most stunning of all God's creation. You are worth more than you could ever imagine. More than numbers on a scale or the hair products you use or the shoes that you wear. More than how many girls wish they were you or the number of guys who wish they had you. More than the price tags on your clothes or the percentage at the top of your math test or even the number of followers you have on Twitter. Your worth surpasses all earthly things because in the eyes of the Lord God you are loved, and you are worth dying for. 
Regardless of who you think you are, whether you model in a magazine or you model pottery with grandma, whether you're on the hot list or the not list, whether you're a head cheerleader or a high school drop out. Whether you're miss popular or you've never had anyone you can call a friend. Whether you love yourself and love your life or you can't stand to look in the mirror and you feel as if everything in your life is falling apart. Whether you're such a winner or you feel like the worlds biggest failure...regardless of who you think you are, the reality is YOU DESERVE someone who would give up their life for you, because you are powerful, strong, capable. Read about the women in the Bible: Esther, Ruth, Martha, Mary; these women changed the world FOREVER. And inside of you, each and every one of you is a woman with that same power, that same strength, and that same world changing capability. Your responsibility is to find that woman and to set that woman FREE. This is WHO YOU ARE. Any voices in your mind that try to tell you otherwise is from the enemy. So the next time you hear these voices, you say "No, not me Satan. I am a daughter of the living God: cherished, loved, adored, above all things, by the Creator of all things, for the glory of Him, who is greater than all things. I AM AWESOME.

God has such incredible ways to speak to us. Please check out the Anima Series on Youtube.
DISCLAIMER: This is a transcript of his video, not my own words but spoken into my heart.

Saturday, September 21

All Woman Cancer isn't Pink: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

When you think of September, what comes to mind? Changing of the seasons, warm sweaters, jeans, chunky knit scarves, Starbucks PSL, steaming hot stew? While all those things might be true there is also one thing many people don't know about September: it's Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. 

Ovarian Cancer, represented by a teal ribbon, is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries and is "a growth of abnormal malignant cells that begins in the ovaries- the women's reproductive glands" according to Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. One of the saddest aspects of Ovarian Cancer is that it often goes undetected, earning the nickname of the "silent killer". Why does this type of cancer have a terrifying rate of late detection or no detection? Women typically don't realize something is 'wrong' until it's spread, mostly because the symptoms are so common to women: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms. As a woman, these symptoms can be extremely common during certain times of the month, so it's so easy to let things slide by and go unnoticed.  

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance believes that symptoms, although common, are still extremely relevant, but they aren't a definitive diagnostic tool. Since there is not currently a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, one of the most important things is to KNOW YOUR BODY. You are your best advocate; you, more than anybody else in the whole world, know when you're just feeling a bit "off", when these symptoms happen more than normal. 

Ovarian Cancer Awareness is something that is super close to my heart for many reasons, but one of those reasons is the incredible women I've met, survivors, warriors, battling soldiers who have or are still going through this awful disease. It's a beautiful thing to witness, the sisterhood that they have formed around such difficult circumstances. The women I have met, the families that have been affected, the stories I have heard are why I support Ovarian Cancer research and awareness.  

September is a month to come together and stand up against this silent killer. September is  a month to spread the word about Ovarian cancer. September is a month for women to understand their bodies, and more importantly listen to their bodies. September is 30 Days of Teal. 

For more information, please visit Ovarian Cancer National Alliance webpage for more information. Also please check out Teal Diva for support & information and The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition webpage.

"Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion" Psalm 103:2-4

Friday, September 20

Stop & Be Still

"The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all." Psalm 34:19 

How easy is it to get overwhelmed and stressed out in everyday life? Little things suddenly add up and before you know it- boom- your plate has exploded. Getting to work on time, working out, packing a lunch, balancing the checkbook, paying bills on time, trying to figure out dinner, walking the dog, laundry, ironing, filing the car with gas...I know I don't need to go on because everyone goes through the endless checklist in their head on a daily basis.
However, although it's so easy to get caught up in the day to day monotony, it's important to remember who is in control. When life feels like it is spiraling out of control, it is so difficult to maintain order, maintain a gracious heart and keep a positive spirit. It would take every once of my being to maintain a graceful spirit when my life is falling apart, and that is why I constantly need God's Holy Spirit to renew my heart and cleanse my spirit. Don't stress about getting it all done.

I was reminded recently how busy everybody is, but someone asked if we were too busy for the Lord. How many times do we delay quiet time because we need to finish something at night, or skip church because we want a day to sleep in? I've found myself many times skipping out on reading the Word at night because I was so exhausted from a long day at work or not go to church because Sunday is my only day to sleep in. It was highlighted to me recently that when we listen to God and give him what he wants: our heart and our attention, he blesses us beyond our dreams. When we tithe, when we spend time praying, when we spend time in the Word, when we sit and listen and when we just sit in silence God uses those moments to mold, shape and change our lives.

Stop. Be Still.

Thursday, September 19

One Year

One year ago today I set foot on English soil and my life changed forever. In a moment that I can recall so vividly I can almost feel the electricity pulse through my veins, my plane landed at Heathrow Airport in London and survival mode kicked in. After 48-hours of traveling full of delays and running frantically through airports, I had finally arrived at the place I had dreamed about my entire life; England- the land of Jane Austen, the Royal Family, high tea, beautiful hats, coat tails and gentlemanly behavior. Alright, so my idea of England might be stuck in an 19th century interpretation, heavily influenced by BBC productions of classic novels and Jane Austen period dramas, but still I had made it across the pond to a whole new country, an island of dreams, adventure and hope in my mind.
My arrival into England wasn’t exactly as expected. I was supposed to fly into Manchester. I ended up flying into Heathrow. I was supposed to be picked up by a bus. I had a real-life “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” experience that took me 6-hours. I was supposed to be with other foreign exchange students. I had God’s protection over me as by chance, I met another Keele bound traveler who kept me from getting straight back on the plane and heading home. However, in those pivotal first hours alone, abroad and exhausted I redefined myself, realized I was a much stronger woman than I ever thought, and that this wasn’t going to be the beginning and the end of my time abroad. 

Just in case traveling to England and to University wasn’t enough of a struggle, the first 24-hours weren’t much better. After three planes, two trains, one bus and a taxi I arrived to this small little English village where I would live in one of the blocks for the remainder of the year; completely alone with American-size luggage to haul up 3 flights of stairs with no lift. Managing to get to the third landing, I tried to get into my room and it was locked. Pulling out the key I was assigned I tried opening the door, and to my chagrin it wouldn’t open. Logically, what is a girl to do in this situation? Exhausted, warn out, emotionally fried, dirty and desperate I sank to the floor and cried for 10-minutes straight realizing what I had just gotten myself into. In my head I saw it play out like a movie, a joke really; dreams dashed away as quickly as they were realized. This couldn’t be happening; this wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Then again, life doesn’t happen how you imagine it will sometimes and it’s in those moments that some of the most incredible moments in life happen.

Eventually I did get into my room (the door was horrendous the entire time there; it was rickety and old and barely locked). After three days alone in the flat, other people moved in and the place quickly became bustling with life, laughter and absolutely crazy nights filled with hours of lying on the landing watching movies, eating meals together and getting ready to go out compliments of our residential DJ. I did things I never would have had the courage to do in the States (why, I’m not sure). I tried new things. I experienced culture shock. I got myself into situations that looking back could’ve been a CSI episode. I made new lifelong friends. I tested the boundaries. I met someone, I was burned by someone. I learned what I truly believed. I let my walls down for the first time in years. I smiled and laughed like never before. I was me for the first time in a really long time.

It was one year ago today that I left home for the first time and tearfully said goodbye to my family at the airport. One year ago I wasn’t sure what I would experience while abroad but I knew I was ready to experience it all. One year ago I didn’t know how much of an impact one decision would make on my life. One year ago I wasn’t the same person I am today, and because of that I look back and smile at how far I’ve come and where I am headed.

They say that travel is rebellion in its purest form. We follow our heart, we free ourselves of labels, we lose control willingly, we trade a role for reality, we love the unfamiliar, we trust stranger, we own only what we can carry, we search for better questions, not answers, we truly graduate, and sometimes...sometimes we never come back.

One year Later 

Saturday, September 14

GF Adventures: Homemade Chewy Bars

The weekend is prep time for me: prepping for lunches, snacks and dinners throughout the week. By the time I get off work, head to Crossfit and bust my butt (almost literally), drive home and shower it's nearly 8 p.m. and who wants to be on the struggle bus trying to eat a healthy, gluten free meal? This means no calling to pick up a pizza on the way home, no cereal and toast night, or throwing pasta on the stove for a quick pasta meal. Gluten-free, organic living calls for a little planning ahead. One of the things I miss is having quick grab-on-the-go snacks like granola bars so when I saw one of my favorite people ever, Ree aka The Pioneer Woman, posted a yummy looking granola bar recipe I decided to tackle it today and convert it to GF! 

[Chocolate Chip] Granola Bars

  • 6 cups Rolled GF Oats (not Quick Oats)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted, Plus More For Greasing
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Or Canola Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Apple Juice
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cup GF Rice Krispies
  • 1/4 cup Roughly Chopped Almonds
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate Or Dark Chocolate (optional)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter and salt. Spread the mixture out on 2 baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the pan twice and making sure they don't burn. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, apple juice and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until all combined. Stir in the vanilla

Toss together the toasted GF oats, GF rice cereal, pecans and almonds. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour. Toss to combine; it will be sticky!

Press into 1 baking sheet (thoroughly greased with butter, or line pan with foil and grease foil) and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut pieces with a sharp knife and remove from the pan.
They turned out nice and crunchy and the chocolate melted nicely. Now it's time to let them cool, wrap them up and store for the week!

Friday, September 13

GF Adventures: Homemade Pesto

Summer is officially coming to an end and the garden is quickly disappearing so I decided to go out and pick a bunch of the fresh basil and make some homemade pesto to store up for winter. 
It takes a whole heck of a lot of basil to make just a small amount of pesto so cut up about 2 cups of basil leaves
 Wash & dry the basil and then place it in a food processor with salt and pepper. Add in a few cloves of garlic and a heaping handful of parmesan cheese. 
With the lid on, drizzle in several tablespoons of olive oil and voila - homemade pesto. Store in an air tight container and freeze until ready to use. Perfect for pasta, pizzas, and chicken!

Saturday, September 7

GF Steak & Ale Pie Night

After a super tough Crossfit Workout, one in which I thought I was going to vomit and die right there on the floor, I was craving something filling and with a little bit of nip in the air, something with a taste of fall. Time for some steak and ale pie. It's super filling, deliciously warm and tasty, and makes the entire house smell of fall for hours. So came the time to experiment on how to make this gluten-free friendly.

Gluten Free Pie Crust
*Based off of Bob's Red Mill Recipe

1 1/2 cups GF All Purpose Flour (I used Trader Joe's All Purpose)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup of Butter (one stick)
4 Tbsp Cold Milk

Combine flour and salt, then cut in butter using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in milk, one tablespoon at a time, while blending until all ingredients are moist.

I rolled the dough mixture into a ball and pulled off small pieces and pressed them into the bottom of the pie dishes. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until the bottoms are just enough done.

Now time for the actual pie mixture! Our families favorite is Pippa Middleton's "Celebrate" Steak, Guinness Cider and Kidney Pie. 

2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
1 pound of ox or lamb kidneys, cleaned and cubed (optional)
Salt & Pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose GF Flour
6 Tablespoons of sunflower oil (or veggie oil)
2 Tbsp butter
6 ounces small button mushrooms
1/2 onion, halved and sliced thinly 
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 large fresh Thyme sprigs
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 Cups Gluten Free Hard Apple Cider (YUM)
1 3/4 Cups Beef Stock
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Bay Leaves

Season the beef and kidneys (optional) well, then coat in the flour. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan and brown the meat in batches. Remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of the oil and half the butter into the pan and brown the mushrooms, scraping up the residue in the pan from the meat, then remove and set aside with beef.

Add the last of the oil and butter to the pan and cook the onions over medium heat until soft, then add the garlic, celery, carrots, thyme and sugar and sweat for another 5 minutes.

Return the meat and mushrooms to the pan, pour in the Cider, stock and Worcestershire sauce and add the bay leaves. 

Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom. Remove the lid and continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Season well.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spoon the beef mixture into the individual pie dishes. brush the edges of the pie dish with a little beaten egg mixture and roll the left over pastry over the surface, trimming off any excess so it fits the dish nicely.

Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining egg wash and cut a small cross in the middle of the pastry to allow the steam to escape. Put the dish in the middle of the oven on a baking tray for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

The GF substitutions worked out great :) 

Friday, September 6

GF Adventures

With the recent diagnosis of gluten intolerance, things have been slowly clicking and after years and years of feeling..eh, I'm finally starting to feel better. Who knew, after four years of random diagnosis, that GF might be a possible solution. One of the hardest things is that for 22-years I have enjoyed everything with gluten, and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up everything I used to love just because of the gluten; time to start experimenting. Tonight was a quiet night with Abby so I made a GF Fish & Chips for us (Okay, she got the scraps...)

Baked Gluten Free Fish & Chips

Olive oil cooking spray
1/2 cup GF Rice Krispies
Salt & Pepper
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1 egg white 
Pinch of salt
1 tilapia filet (I used a frozen piece of tilapia, thawed)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees 

Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. TIP: This gets the bottom crispy too!

In a shallow bowl, combine the egg white and a pinch of salt and whisk with a fork until frothy.

In a second shallow bowl, crush the Rice Krispies using your hand or the bottom of the measuring cup. Add seasonings.
Dip the fish in the egg whites, then roll in the cereal crumbs to coat. Place the five on the rack. Bake the fish on the bottom oven rack until crisp and just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with "chips".
12 minutes later...voila! Bon appetite. 

The "chips" were some gluten free sweet potato oven fries as I was too exhausted to make homemade sweet potato chips tonight :)