28 December 2011

Coloured Rice --- soooo fun!

My tiny little pile of leftover grains of rice - this little pile made me giddy!   Look how vibrant they are!  (Except for the yellow and orange!)
At our old church in Williams Lake, there was this sensory play table with white rice and peas in it, and some animals and cups and vehicles... It was ALWAYS, WITHOUT fail, Shan's FAVOURITE place to be when he was in Sunday school.  I've wanted to have a sensory box for ages, but never got around to making it happen.  (Which is a shame, we had such an AWESOME, huge playroom in our townhouse in Williams Lake, now we are so limited space-wise!)   My brother and sister-in-law had bought the boys a Step 2 play table (with roads and train track, etc, that has a cover to make it into a great craft table) for Christmas last year.  I never set it up because we knew we were moving south, and a compact box is far easier to move than an awkward table.  I knew that I wanted to set it up so that we could have a sensory play box sit under the table when not in use, and up on the craft table when it was.  So this past summer, I bought a bag of white rice, a rubbermaid storage tote, and some bulk split peas (green and yellow), pinto beans and navy beans, to create a sensory play box for the boys.  Near the end of summer, one of the crafts the boys brought home from day camp was a picture made with coloured rice (glued, kind of like glitter).  I saw that and decided that before I would create the sensory box for them, I was going to colour the rice.  5 months later, and I finally get it done. :D  (In my defense, I only JUST got the time and space to organise the office where the table and box now live - that was my boxing day... I'll post about that later, because I am SO excited about that room!)

Last night I googled "how to dye rice," and came up with a bunch of results.  They were all similar: food colouring, liquid, and either a bag or a bowl.  I tried two different methods (out of necessity, due to my different food colourings), and I thought I'd share what worked for me and what didn't.

Food colouring
Options I saw were Koolaid (would smell yummy, but you would HAVE to use the mix that does NOT have the sugar in it), normal liquid food colouring (from the supermarket), gel food colouring, water colour paint.  Try and get the gel icing colouring from Michael's or JoAnn, or some other craft store (they usually do NOT sell them in the supermarket - I've tried looking).  I used regular food colouring for yellow and orange (blended yellow and red together), and to say it nicely, the colours just don't pop.  Bluntly?  They're DRAB.  Very light.  So drab that in the mix in the tote, they both look almost like there is no colour to them.  In the gel colouring (I have Wilton brand), I used black, green, blue and red, and the colours are SO VIBRANT!  I did not try Koolaid or water colour paint.  From what I saw online, the Koolaid does not dye very bright (kind of pastel-y), and I guess the water colour or tempera paint would be ok too?

Options I found were rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and water.  I did not try the vinegar.  The theory with using alcohol would be that it would dry very fast.  One would think.  WRONG.  The 3 that I did with straight alcohol took FOREVER to dry, and I had to spread them out on papertowels to dry.  The one that I did a mix of (not on purpose), dried ok, but the straight water dried SO FAST.  I didn't even have to dump it out.  I just mixed it every 10 minutes, and it prevented it from getting too hard.  My theory about that is that the water didn't need to evaporate, it was just absorbed by the rice.  But it was such a small amount, that it didn't affect the rice.  (1/4 cup to 6 cups rice.)  ***NOTE*** Alcohol does NOT work with gel food colouring.  I found that out the hard way.  For whatever reason, it made the gel solidify into this hard, almost wax crayon/oil pastel like substance. O_o  If you decide to go the alcohol route (which will make you cough, believe me), use NORMAL food colouring.

Method of mixing
I saw it done in a quart canning jar, ziploc bags, and bowls.  I used bowls with a wooden spoon, and it did the trick.  More space than a quart jar (I did huge batches), and less wasteful than baggies.  It was also very gratifying to mix and watch the colours change, rather than just shake the crap out of it.  PLUS, I didn't need to dump it out to dry it, I just kept stirring every 10 minutes (with the water ones).

So, without further ado, here's MY recipe. :D

7 colours of rice, yellow and green split peas, navy and pinto beans = fun fun fun!

How to dye rice

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp gel food colouring (or more if wanted)
  • large bowl
  • wooden spoon
  • 6 cups white rice
  • a few drops of essential oil (optional)

Pour your water into a small bowl, or even a half cup measure.  Put your gel food colouring in the water, and mix it in well to dilute it.  This is where you are going to decide how dark/vibrant your colour will be.  Continue to add more colour if desired.  Just remember that once you add the rice, with gel colouring you can't really add more, as it wouldn't spread well.  You COULD use normal food colouring to get more colour if you wanted it, but you're better off adding another 1/4-1/2 tsp gel food colouring at this point.  (Note: I used the back of my spoon to make it dilute faster, next time I might use a hand blender to get all the gel pieces pulverised.)  Pour your colour mix into your large bowl.  This is the point you would add the essential oil if you wanted to make it smell good.  Lavender and sweet orange would be really nice, and both are good for kids.

Measure 6 cups of rice into your bowl.  Mix with your wooden spoon.  Mix WELL.  Make sure you have no unused colour mix in the bottom of your bowl, and that your rice is fairly evenly coloured. You will hear the rice start to snap and pop (like Rice Krispies!) when it starts to dry, that is normal.  Just keep stirring it every 5-10 minutes to prevent it from forming into a rock.  That said, I DID forget, and came back - I was able to break apart the "rock" with my hands, no biggie.  It was actually kind of fun.  :D

From top left (clockwise): red - using alcohol and water combined/gel and regular food colouring,
orange - using alcohol and regular food colouring,
purple - water and gel food colouring,
black - water and alcohol and gel food colouring,
blue - water and gel food colouring,
green - water and gel food colouring,
middle: yellow - alcohol and regular food colouring.
The colours look so much more vibrant in this pic because I used the Camera+ app to take it, and the "vibrant" filter - the yellow and orange especially do NOT look that vibrant in real life - the others aren't too different.
I made seven colours: yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green and black.  I kept aside 2 cups of each colour  to use in crafts, and together with the boys, I put the other 4 cups of each into the sensory box/bin/tote (whatever! LOL).  In our box, we also put 4 cups each of the other bulk items I bought (yellow and green split peas, pinto and navy beans).  They had so much fun measuring each colour/item out, that the process of "building" our sensory box was in and of itself a fantastic activity.  The had a BLAST burying my arms and hands (and each other's!) in the colourful mix.  And it felt SO cool. :)

Burying mummy's arms in rice and beans
Do YOU have a sensory play box for your child(ren)?  What do you put in it?  Do you change it up?

18 October 2011

GF meatballs

Still on my quest to make easy, yummy meals that my two picky older boys will eat, that are gluten free for the man, and NOW, I have my NEW item to check off: relatively healthy so that I can eat more than a bird's portion. :P

I made some hamburger rolls last night, like sausage rolls, except using ground beef and phyllo pastry instead of sausage meat and puff pastry.  They weren't bad, and although high-ish on the calorie side (450 for 2), I used extra lean meat, and phyllo, so the fat was fairly low. :)  BUT, I did learn that having them directly on the cookie sheet results in greasy phyllo.

Today, after a MAMMOTH amount of exercise (2 hours of wearing my 25lb baby walking around the mall and dancing him to sleep in the passport office and 20 minutes of one of my new FIRM Express DVDs), I CRAVED carbohydrates.  Chippies!  Haven't had chippies in awhile, and they're not too bad. (Baked!)  What can I make that goes with chippies?  Well, I forgot to take meat out, and we have about 20 kg of ground beef left in our freezer.... so, yeah, what can I make with ground beef?  The man was stoked about chippies, and suggested "what about mini meatballs?"

So, using some Victorian Epicure Seasoning for Meatloaf, and Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats, I made me my first meatballs.  Ever.  I've never made them before, really.  :D

Dinnae's Gluten Free Meatballs

1 kg extra lean ground beef
3 large free range eggs
1 cup gluten free old fashioned rolled oats
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp Victorian Epicure Seasoning for Meatloaf
2 tsp seasoning salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
If you're able to, put a wire rack over a cookie sheet, so that you can place your meatballs on it, so the fat and juices can drip into the cookie sheet, keeping your meatballs as healthy as possible.
Shape your meatballs in roughly 2-3tsp portions, and place on wire rack.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, thickness of meatballs, etc.  To check for doneness, cut one of your centre meatballs in half. 

Makes 50 meatballs.

Nutritional information (based on the sum of the ingredients):
Per 8 meatballs
256 calories;  9g fat;  11g carbs;  2g fibre;  31g protein

I served them with homemade GF beef gravy (leftover from roast night last Friday - thickened with potato starch instead of wheat flour), and of course, those carbs, shoestring chippies, and raw veggies and low fat dip.  YUM!  And surprise surprise, my boys inhaled them.  Score!

11 October 2011

Reality check

I'm expecting my FIRM Express DVDs to arrive this week, so I thought this weekend would be a good time to take my "before" pics.  Today I got dressed in a sports bra and workout capris, and got dh to take a front, side, and back view of me.

What a reality check. :(

I KNOW that I'm big.  I KNOW that I have more rolls than I ever have.  And I KNOW that I'm actually clinically obese.  (Wii Fit tells me that every time I do my body test. :P )  But to see that picture... that person is ME???  It's humbling.

Today (well, technically yesterday, as it is currently 12.30am Tuesday) is Thanksgiving day here in Canada.  We went to a couple-from-church's house for dinner, and I was very careful with what I ate.  I STILL went 500 calories over for the day, because I allowed myself a butter tart, but I had had a good week DESPITE a trip to Red Robin when one of my BFFs came to town. (ACK! Mesa chicken salad is YUM, and healthy-ish, but 1000 calories!!!)  I felt ok after dinner, not over-stuffed like I usually am at the holidays.

***Note: I'd like to say here that since I am a breastfeeding mama, my daily calorie goal of 1900 might be a bit low anyway, so I'm not HUGELY concerned if I'm 100-200 calories over -- I *DO* weigh 200 lbs.  I read somewhere that in order to maintain your weight with a sedentary lifestyle, your weight in lbs x 10 is how many calories you need.  Add in breastfeeding (200-500 MORE per day), and light activity, 1900 is a pretty low amount. (but still within safe levels for milk supply.)***

Which is good.  VERY GOOD.  Because here I am uploading before pics to my profile on the FIRM Believers Club, and I'm feeling horrendous and disgusting right now.  I'm disgusted with myself mostly that I've allowed myself to get to this point.

Tomorrow I will take my measurements, and I'm sure that will be another reality check too.  The myfitnesspal.com app allows you to custom-pick which measurements you want to track, so I will be putting in the ones from the FIRM's Goal Setting article... and checking those once a month.  Realistically, knowing my history with working out and losing weight, I won't see the scale move as much as I will see those numbers on the measuring tape move, so I need to get those recorded before I start my FIRM Express DVDs.


08 October 2011

Emotional eating

I've always known that I eat when I'm bored. I've ALWAYS done it, I'm a late-night snacker, and I have a HORRENDOUS sweet tooth. (I am very into holistic nutrition, and I have NO DOUBT that I have some bad yeastie-beasties in my gut. :/ )

And, I've SUSPECTED I was an emotional eater, but really haven't taken a close look at when I eat, besides the time of day.

Last week I had a *ROUGH* one. My little one is teething and growing, so his immune system is down, and he caught a cold. Stuffed up babies don't sleep so well. Meaning? Mummies don't sleep so well either. Daddy ended up on the couch for 2 of the nights this week, and me and Ri ended up getting not enough sleep. When I'm tired, I'm grumpy, I'm cranky, I truly am a bear. And I can be mean. It makes me sad and depressed, I feel guilty, and guess what? I eat. :(

As you may know, I have been experimenting a lot with baking bread and snacks for the man. Store-bought bread and snacks that are gluten free are heinously expensive, and usually taste like a$$. We spent $8 on a box of 5 nutri-grain-type bars 6 months ago, and we each took ONE BITE and threw the whole rest of the bar and box in the rubbish - they were THAT BAD. O_o But I digress. 

I had bought a package mix (very unlike me, I'm a from-scratch kinda girl) of brownie mix, by Bob's Red Mill, to bake for him. The brownie on its own is actually very benign, but of course, chocoholic that I am, I HAVE to make the topping. Did you know that sweetened condensed milk is ALSO actually quite benign on its own in moderation? But that chocolate chips are, like, 3/4 FAT???!??!!! Anyway, I had these grand intentions of having one a day, to allow myself something sweet (so I don't binge)... but because of the rough days, I OF COURSE ended up having MORE than one each day. And EACH TIME I had more than one, the 2nd went down the hatch RIGHT AFTER having a blow up at my kids. :(

I bought myself some carrots and some other veggies to snack on, but when I'm sad/depressed/bummed, it's not the actual ACT of eating that consoles me - it's the sugar. It is my only vice. And when I'm down, I need a "hit." (LOL!) I have to deal with my sugar addiction, but... baby steps. In the meantime, I need to think of achievable ways that I can circumvent my cravings, by maybe tricking my body into thinking that I'm having some crazy rich awesomeness. I have thought about buying a flat of coke zero too, but not for an always thing, just for those days of craziness: a coke zero is MUCH better than 640 cal and 14g of fat in brownie.... O_o

Do YOU have a bad sweet tooth? How do you, besides cold turkey, ;) deal with it without going into DETOX? Are you an emotional eater? 

02 October 2011

Corn bread and a Kitchen Aid...

So, yesterday, whilst making GF bread for the man, I killed not one, but TWO el cheapo hand mixers.  Yes, that's right.  KILLED 'EM.  (Only one of them was brand new though, and that one I was able to salvage to give away, but the other one?  Had to actually throw it out, it had dough in the MOTOR. O_o)

Covered in dough, LITERALLY from head to toe, I sent the man some pics and attached a message: "if you want to continue eating GF bread, you head on over to Costco and get the KitchenAid mixer that is on sale."


Regular $379, down to $289.  The 575watt motor... hubba hubba.  This Empire Red mixin' machine is HUGE, and oh does it ever work well!

My Empire Red Kitchen Aid 575W Stand Mixer

BTW, the bread I made yesterday turned out okay (millet bread), but I don't know if it fell hugely because of the mixer debacle or what....

So, today, of COURSE I gotta give it a go.  I decided to try this recipe I've used but make some substitutions, and WHOA MAMA... it is SO good!

Corn bread - YUM!

Corn Bread

2 1/2 c corn flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1/2 c tapioca starch
1 tbsp guar gum
2/3 c dry milk powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 c warm water

1/4 c melted butter
1 c warm water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (although any vinegar would probably work)

3 eggs (preferably at room temperature, or close to)

Combine the corn flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, guar gum, dry milk powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Mix well.

In a small bowl, combine your sugar, yeast and first lot of warm water - stir to dissolve and let sit in a warm spot for 10 min or so until it gets all bubbly.

In another bowl, combine your butter, the second lot of warm water, and the vinegar.  Add wet to dry, and then add the eggs, 1 at a time while mixing.  Once thoroughly combined, add the yeast mix.  Beat for 2 minutes on high (or about 3 or 4 on a KitchenAid ;) ).

Cover with plastic wrap (I spray with cooking spray first) and a towel, and let rise until doubled (your time will vary).

After the first rise, beat again for 3 minutes (high).

Grease a large loaf pan, and fill the pan about 2/3 high.  Any extra dough, bake in muffin tins.

Put on a cookie sheet (in case of bubble-over) in your oven with the light on, and let rise until just over the top of the pan.  (again, your time will vary, it took mine about 45 min or so.)

Once finished rising, turn your oven to 350 degrees F (do NOT take it out of the oven), and bake it for 30 - 40 minutes.  After the first 10 minutes of baking, cover your loaf with foil, so the top doesn't get burnt.

*** This bread is VERY batter-y, almost cake-like.  Do NOT be alarmed, it rises beautifully, and tastes SCRUMPTIOUS! ***

For those of you NEW to GF (gluten free) baking, corn flour is NOT corn meal, nor is it corn starch.  I get mine at Save-on Foods in the bulk section, for those of you in BC and Alberta. ;)

08 August 2011

Why SEEING breastfeeding is important: My personal challenge to you

*** NOTE: ***
This entire post was written and composed by Emma Kwasnica.  Unfortunately, this amazing, talented chica isn't blogging *yet,* so I'm posting it here to help get it out there... It was originally posted as a note on Faceboob that you can see here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/emma-kwasnica/why-seeing-breastfeeding-is-important-my-personal-challenge-to-you/436431689914

* If you wish to re-post this, please do! (But please remember to credit Emma!!)
* If you wish to TWEET THIS, FB SHARE THIS, please, please do!!!
And I sincerely hope you enjoy what this passionate woman has to say. :)

Why SEEING breastfeeding is important: My personal challenge to you

I'd just like to talk a bit about the bigger picture here for a moment, in that by Facebook taking this stance against breastfeeding images, and by creating such arbitrary obscenity guidelines as "no exposed areola or nipple may be shown" (I have seen many, many women whose areola covers up to a third or more of their entire breast - a baby's mouth could never come close to "covering" it all!), it is stigmatizing breastfeeding women, and shaming women into thinking that their breasts are much, much less than the amazing life-giving source they are. Nipplephobia has reached epic proportions here in North America, and this is to the supreme detriment of babies everywhere.

Just think for one moment, how many more women would breastfeed, or for how much longer, if only we rid society of the harmful practice of over-sexualizing women's breasts! And how much this, in turn, could benefit the BABIES. For whose voice do the most vulnerable members of society have, if not ours? Interestingly, we find cultures around the world where women's breasts are seen *only* in their functioning capacity, i.e., that of nourishing and comforting their young. I believe that we can get there, too (or at least try to find some balance), but we have to start somewhere, and I truly feel that there is never any harm to come from challenging the status quo (you're not surprised, I know ;-) ).

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: as a childbirth professional, but also as a woman, in general, it is absolutely crucial that one support ALL women to breastfeed their young. While you, personally, may have your own code of "decency" for how much skin YOU are comfortable showing while breastfeeding, it is important that you do not impose your own, completely arbitrary line drawn in the sand regarding "modesty" or "discreetness", onto any other breastfeeding mother. Period. Just like a woman who wants to cover up should be supported (and generally IS in our society....), we need to support those women who struggle --or those women who do not want, or care-- to cover their baby and their breast, and make life simpler for these women to, first and foremost, feed and comfort the baby!

Quite simply, this is about normalizing breastfeeding. The more we hide it away, classify it as obscene, shame mothers into covering up while feeding, and encourage women to retire to "private" rooms in order to breastfeed the baby, the less we see of it in public, and the less and less people are comfortable with the very idea of nursing in public. This is the sad reality of this pathologically hyper-sexualized (yet sexually repressed...) North American culture of ours. The solution, however, seems quite simple to me; breastfeeding (and/or images of breastfeeding) need to be seen every day, and I am convinced that SEEING more breastfeeding, wherever possible, is what will change our breastfeeding culture. Re-normalize it. Everywhere in North America (in all provinces in Canada, and in every state in the USA but two) women have the right to breastfeed in public, wherever they have the legal right to be. So women should do it. And they should feel completely free to do it. Lots of it. As much as possible.

If you want to be a part of the solution, here is one, simple thing you can do, each and every time you see a mother breastfeeding her baby in public : yes, give her a great, big smile, but don't stop there --go right *up* to her, and tell her what a wonderful thing she is doing for her child. I guarantee you, that if we all did even this simple gesture every time we saw a woman nursing in public, the tides would begin to turn.

I would also like to suggest in your daily life (outside the 'net), that you get out there and nurse your children in public. And do so with a huge smile across your face. Pretty hard for onlookers to say, feel, or do something negative in the face of a beaming, breastfeeding mother --n'est-ce pas?

Breastfeeding is normal. Normal. NORMAL. Say it, do it, show it.

Will you start by doing these simple acts right today? Indeed, I challenge you.

Warm regards,
~Emma Kwasnica

Emma Kwasnica & her family at the 2008 Montréal Breastfeeding Challenge. This photo and article were published in Le Journal de Montréal, a major daily francophone newspaper. If a North American city of 2.5 million can handle this in their daily paper, why can't Facebook? (oh, and before you pass inane judgment, and tell me these kids are "too old to nurse", please read this and get educated/get your head out of the gutter :http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html)

2010 Breastfeeding Challenge - notice the 11-month-old Would. Not. Latch. Not for the world. TOO DISTRACTED.

Mama love ~ nursing Sophie is such a joy

March, 2006 -- HOORAY FOR TODDLER NURSING (. Y .) (. Y .) (. Y .) Bitter sweet. My girlfriends and I and our three nurslings, just prior to our sudden and UNEXPECTED departure from Toulouse back to Canada (due to a stoopid competition clause kerfuffle with Seb's work at IBM). Christel, Christelle, and I found one another through our local LLL group. Our babies are around the same age and grew up around one another from 12mo through to 2.5yo (when we left Toulouse). There is nothing like finding yourself a like-minded "tribe" of mama friends who totally "get" one another. I will forever cherish being in the company of these two women and their babies, as I muddled my *own* way through, slowly but surely developing into the fierce mother I am today. Love you, girls ! xx

Montréal Breastfeeding Challenge 2009 "in the park". Torrential downpour for the event, but that didn't stop us "hardcore breastfeeders" from going ahead with our plans. I am 42 weeks pregnant with Chloë *to the day* in this photo; Sophie (2.5 y/o) nursing on cue for the official latch-on at 11am. Labour had, indeed, begun just a few hours prior to this moment, but I literally psyched myself out, and contractions petered right out at around 3am, because there was no way I could miss the Breastfeeding Challenge in front of my own house in the morning ! (Photo courtesy of Rowan Smith) http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Breastfeeding%20event%20zapped%20H1N1%20fears/2056459/story.html

This photo was deleted by the "powers that be" of Facebook on Friday, July 16th. I've just re-uploaded it now. I do wonder if it is precisely BECAUSE my breasts are not being used to titillate men in this photo that it was found to be so offensive, offensive enough to be deleted. I mean, here is this nice-looking woman, hair done, wearing a somewhat dressy, funky, black top... looks like she could be heading out for a night on the town, right ? And instead of seeing her breasts all smooshed up into a push-up bra and a large line of cleavage displayed for all the hot-blooded men to ogle, we see a baby suckling at her breast. Could utter RAGE be the response on the part of (some) men looking at this photo ? On the part of the button-pushers behind their screens at Facebook, those who are deleting the photos, those who are responsible for insuring Facebook remains pure from all this sort of "filth" ? As ludicrous as this might seem, could they be feeling denied by the space occupied by this tiny infant EATING at my breast ? Disgusted by it ? I am devastated that our culture has done this to us, given us this mental disorder. But it has a name (Nipplephobia), and there is hope out there for people with it (therapy). Nipplephobia *can* be overcome; a large part of the therapy includes seeing more and more women breastfeeding their children, seeing more and more breasts EVERYWHERE, being bombarded by the image of breasts being used in their biological context --that of nourishing a child. I highly recommend you try it. It's also why I post the dozens and dozens of breastfeeding photos that I do, here on Facebook. Look at them. Over and over again. Please. It will do a world of good... 
********************************** Facebook warning Hello, You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at http://www.facebook.com/help/?topic=wphotos. The Facebook Team

October 2010 -- The crazy-eyed lactivist strikes again. (I just put this sign up on my fridge, at home)

Nursing Sophie ~ 3 years, 11 months old

04 August 2011

Adopt a gluten free blogger - Gluten Free Gobsmacked

And the GF adventures continue... 

Through my mad surfing, and my insatiable thirst for all info gluten free, I of course stumbled upon a NUMBER of blogs.  The first?  Kate Chan's blog over at Gluten Free Gobsmacked.  I love her style of writing, her passion for ingredients, that she's a mama like me, and the fact that she is a seasoned GF chica.  She was diagnosed with celiac THREE WEEKS before her wedding (poor chick!) and she and "her love" have been experimenting and living gluten free ever since.  Her DH is of Asian descent, so in that aspect, she kinda has it easy - so so many GF flours are regular, normal, everyday flours in the Asian menu.  At least *HE* knew what he was looking for! ;)  That said, I spend a LOT of time in the Asian section in our local Save-On Foods and Great Canadian Superstore... 

Anyway, back to Kate.  She's very adventurous with her baking, and she's part of this wicked awesome thing called Ratio Rally - wherein a group of GF bakers are committed to using weight ratios for their baking rather than standard cup measures... and lo and behold, some amazing creations are coming out of it!  They just did the most recent of Ratio Rallies, Cakes, on the 3rd... Can't wait to dig in to that one!  Oh, and another reason why I love her writing?  She has a sweet tooth like me!  Oh be still my heart!  One of her recipes that I'm *DYING* to try is for .... wait for it.... OREOS!  If you know me, then you know that I loooooooove Oreos.  If you don't, well, just get this - I have been known to polish off a whole bag of Double Stufs ON. MY. OWN.  Anyway, I was going to try baking them this week, but necessity won over craving - the man needs bread for lunch.  And it's just been one of those weeks that nothing else was gonna get baked this week.  Pooh!  Although... it seems that summer has finally arrived in Greater Vancouver - YES!  Hence why we've been so busy this week - lots of time spent at the beautiful parks in the City of Surrey.

So, why am I telling you about Kate?  Well, I signed up for this Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger Web Event.  Basically you "adopt" a GF blogger, do one of their recipes, photograph it and post about it.  So... here it is!

As I said, the man needed bread for lunch.  So I did a recipe of Kate's called Sorghum Flax Bread that actually has 3 different ways to make it.  I have, in my bread baking over the last 3 weeks, made it all 3 ways.  You can find her recipe HERE.

So I gotta tell you a bit about my adventures with this bread.  These pics are made the standard way with the recipe (eggs NOT separated, and WITH a sponge).  To be perfectly honest, I didn't notice a difference in taste or look between the 3 ways.  BUT.  With a sponge and with eggs separated was the only way my dough didn't bubble up and over into my oven during the rise.  (That was effort #2, NOT these pics.)  Not quite sure WHAT I did... except that MAYBE with the sponge this time last time I didn't let it settle enough?  I think that is *most likely* the cause of the bubbling dough debacle.  Well, at least my oven wasn't *ON.*  

***No smoke alarms or fire alarms were tripped in the baking of this bread.***  ;)

My "sponge" activating

My dough, all nicely patted down into my pan.

My dough, not so nicely patted down into my pan... 
oh, but rising! LOL!

Make lemonade out of lemons?  
How about buns out of bubbling over bread dough?

End result? Some darn good-lookin' bread and buns.

And a yummy chicken BLT... not bad!

And the verdict?  Well, good enough that the man is happy with it for his sandwiches for lunch... and I enjoyed a slice with hummus this evening... Aw yum!  

All yumminess aside, serious verdict is that this wholegrain bread has some good chew (not crumbly! yay!), a fantastic texture, and a little bit of a sweet undertone.  I may mix it up a bit by making it a bit savoury next time - dropping some of the sugar, and upping the salt and maybe some spices in there.  The texture is awesome, and I think it'd make a GREAT cheesy scone-type bun.

Go check out the rest of the posts for this AaGFB event, you'll find them in the comments section of the post. :)

Happy bread making!

31 July 2011

Multi Blend Gluten Free Flour Mix and WAFFLE recipe

This is a repost of a Facebook note that I wrote on 20 June, 2011.


As some of you know, Todd is gluten intolerant, and so in order to make it better for him to eat, I'm having a go at gluten-free cooking and baking.  Today being father's day, I made him gluten free waffles with a flour mix I found on the 'net.

It's a VERY popular mix, on many sites, including http://glutenfree.wordpress.com (where i found it first - kate is one hella-talented writer and baker!), celiac.com and many others.  This mix is touted as a great "beginner's mix"... perfect for me!!!  (and so many others too!)  As gf bakers get more confident, they rely less and less on "cure-all" mixes like this, and get more adventurous, but I'm just learnin' so I'm gonna go with this for now.  So, I'll put down the recipe for the flour mix and notes about the flour(s), and then the waffle mix, along with some notes at the end about how gf works with this recipe.

Multi Blend GF Flour Mix

1 c brown rice flour
1 1/4 c white rice flour
1/4 c potato starch flour
2/3 c tapioca starch flour
3/4 c sweet rice flour
1/3 c cornstarch
3 tsp guar gum (or 2 tsp xanthan gum)

* I tripled this recipe, and it fits nicely in an ice cream bucket.
* you can use straight brown rice flour instead of the white and brown - it's healthier actually, and in some opinion (I agree) tastes better.  white rice flour is the one that gives items the chalky, gritty taste/texture, so you want to use the white sparingly.
* you can use any combination of brown and rice flour that suits you, as well as "superfine rice flour".  i haven't found superfine yet, so that might be just an American thing.
* you can use pure buckwheat, amaranth, or quinoa flours in place of the rice flours as well.
* this mix can be used for sweets, tortillas, waffles, pancakes, etc.
* if using it for the following, add extra xanthan or guar gum PER 1 CUP OF FLOUR MIX to your recipe:
           breads 1 tsp/cup
           cakes/quickbreads   1/2 tsp/cup
           cookies   1/4 tsp/cup
*use CUP FOR CUP when wanting to replace traditional wheat flour in your recipes.
*guar gum is the least expensive, but you can also use xanthan gum. (edited to add: I've read that you when using guar vs xanthan, you want to use 1.5 times the amount of guar.  Ie: 2 tsp xanthan = 3 tsp guar.)
*I found the tapioca (68 cents!) and sweet rice flours ($2.49!!!) at Superstore in the Asian section (I'm sure Save-on would most likely have them in WL folks), and white and brown rice flours in the bulk section at Save On Foods... the remaining ingredients I got at a local place called Organic Grocer.  All told, my ice cream bucket of flour cost about $12 (and that is just an estimate, I can't remember how much I paid for the rice flours last year).  Next shopping I'm going to check out T&T Supermarket (a biiiiig Asian grocery store here in the Lower Mainland), and I'm guessing I should be able to find other stuff there too.
*this mix will take LONGER TO ABSORB your liquid, so don't panic if it's SUPER watery at first, like I did this morning. :P  I ended up adding extra flour to my waffle batter, the first thing I made with it, which it still tasted GREAT, but made for very thick, hard to pour/dish out batter.  And coming from someone who makes waffles at least twice a month, I do *kinda* know what I'm talking about. LOL  I will be trying it out on some cookies for T's lunch tomorrow.

****A lot of those notes above are a combination of stuff I've learned in some basic researching on the net regarding gluten free baking.  Some GREAT sources that I've found are:

*OLD SCHOOL* Waffle Recipe

--> I'm calling it old school because it came from one of my mum's OLD cookbooks, and my mum doesn't even remember which book I got it from (but I remember what it looked like!), and SHE doesn't remember using a recipe with shortening in it, but I do... LOL  I remember making them *myself * over 10 years ago, and have no clue where the recipe is from.  I have compared it to other waffle recipes though, and the ingredients are pretty standard.

1 2/3 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 2/3 c milk
6 tbsp shortening, melted
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

sift dry ingredients.  beat together yolks, milk and shortening (do NOT add yolks DIRECTLY to shortening or it will cook them); add to sifted ingredients.  beat until mostly smooth (there will be lumps of shortening though - just ensure your flour is all blended in); fold in egg whites.

*I usually double this recipe, and on my Belgian iron, I get 11 waffles with a doubled recipe.  I keep the leftovers in an airtight container, and we toast them (like Eggos) and eat throughout the week.  (and the boys LOVE just having a 1/4 of a waffle for a snack. ;) )
*the first time you try these gluten-free, give your mix time to absorb - don't panic like I did and add extra flour.  Mine still turned out great, but I think they'd have been fine had I just left the flour to do it's thing for longer.

27 July 2011

Gluten Free Adventures begin...

So the man is gluten intolerant.  Not celiac, we don't think, as he doesn't get violently ill, or rashy... just that his tummy doesn't gripe so much when he's off gluten.

And maybe me too?  Maybe why I'm always so damn tired (oh wait, 'cause it's 1am right now.. :P ), bloated, cranky, eczema-ey... etc.  I'm going to a naturopath next month to get tested... who knows, maybe our whole house will end up being gluten-free....

Anyway, we THOUGHT he had issues with yeast and just wheat, turns out it's pretty much just gluten.  (Not that yeast is a good thing in excess, but he had to give up his beloved Vegemite before, now... not so much.)

The last few months have been hairy - the decision to move south to the Greater Vancouver area, the move (whoa), unpacking (double-whoa), and adjusting to life with daddy away from the house for 11 hours a day (when previously, being self-employed, he was here 24/7 to help mummy when she was going batty). And maybe a bit of fb activism regarding HM4HB thrown in for good measure too (see previous post). ;)  OOH, AND, fitting time in there to learn/research about being gluten-free. 

I've been baking a bit, trying some new recipes, as well as adapting old ones.... and tonight I did the latter.  I adapted MY banana muffin recipe.  (yes, it's truly mine, I've been tweaking it now for about a decade.)  But... I made a boo-boo.  Part-way in to baking, I realised that I didn't have enough gluten free flour blend, so rather than wasting a schwackload of time mixing up another batch of blend, I improvised using the chana flour I'd bought today.  (Boo hoo! Yeah right, I was stoked to try out baking with the chana!)  The result was this yummy Banana Chocolate Chip Flax Seed Muffin that TASTES BETTER than its' wheat counterpart!  REALLY!  Sooooo excited. :) :) :)  Pic and recipe below....

Don't they look stinkin' scrumptious????

 Dinnae's Banana Chocolate Chip Flax Seed Muffin

3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c oil
1/2 c sugar

1 1/2 c + 2 tbsp gluten free flour blend (recipe below)
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
1/4 c chana flour (aka chickpea or garbanzo flour - chana is the Indian name for it)
2 tbsp flax meal
2 tbsp flax seeds
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 c chocolate chips

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.
  • Mash your bananas; add beaten eggs, sugar and oil - whisk together well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients except the chips.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix well (get out all the dry lumps) but do not overmix.
  • Fold in chips.
  • Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, and bake until golden.

I used muffin TOP pans, so I baked mine for 7 min, rotated them (my oven is old-school and not even), and then baked another 4-5 min.  Full size muffins would probably be about 18 - 20 min, give or take.

This can also be baked in a loaf, but I'd probably drop the temp down to 325F and then bake for 45-60 min.


I found the following recipe at a couple of different sources, but most notably www.celiac.com and GlutenFree Gobsmacked

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

  • 2 1/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c potato starch
  • 2/3 c tapioca flour
  • 3/4 c sweet rice flour
  • 1/3 c cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp guar gum

Kate (GF Gobsmacked) uses superfine rice flour, which I haven't been able to find here in Canada, and I also adjusted it for guar instead of xanthan gum.  Xanthan is more expensive (like crazy so), and guar gum needs a bit more.  On the Bob's Red Mill site, it said that subbing guar for xanthan is ok, but generally one should multiply it by 1.5 to get the same consistency.

Alrighty then, so there it is, my first GF recipe posted to my blog.  I've posted a few to facebook (which I think will make their merry little way over here), but this is the first one I've done on here.  Yay!  Here's to more baking, and more posting yummy recipes and pics!

12 March 2011

Breaking the stigma of milksharing - INFORMED CHOICE

Recently I posted a link to Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) on my facebook wall.  I am eager to pass on the information that there is a grassroots movement out there to encourage INFORMED, mama-to-mama milksharing!  The group was recently re-named so there were a bunch of us posting the new name and new site to our walls.

Not long after I posted the link, an old friend from highschool posted on my wall: "This may be a silly question: But do people actually donate their breast milk to other moms who need it?"

And of course, I replied.  :)  Then it got me thinking, I REALLY should blog about this, because whilst my facebook wall is only viewable to my friends list, my blog is viewable to the WORLD.  Anything to get the word out!

And my reply to her was this (edited to add links, etc):

The simple answer: OH YEAH BABY! ;)

And the more complex answer (picture me getting on my soapbox...):

I'm actually in the process of giving over 100 oz of frozen milk I have to a mum in Kelowna with a baby about the same age as Riley (my youngest, he's almost 4 months old).  I've been blessed/cursed with over-supply, especially in the first 3 months post-partum, with all 3 of my boys.  This time around, within 10 days of Riley being born, I was pumping 8 to 10 oz per feed, and he was only eating 2 to 3 oz.  For me, it can be a curse, because I am unable to feed naturally without pain (unless using a breast shield) for the first couple of months.  Once my supply settles down (around the 3 to 4 month mark), I'm good to go.  This being my 3rd baby, I was feeding naturally (without shields, and without pumping) by 3 months, which was just awesome to me. :D

Conversely, with all the stresses in today's society (stress SERIOUSLY affects milk supply), limited support and education (at a grassroots level, ie: mum and aunties helping you, teaching you - which is a much better way to learn than just reading), and the "taboo" nature of breastfeeding ("ew, boobs are for sex, not food!"), some mums are finding breastfeeding nigh on impossible, at least without some supplementation.  And until more grassroots support is available (ie: we de-taboo breastfeeding, daddies understand how IMPORTANT their support is to mama, and women don't feel inadequate by discussing their issues), donated ebm is the perfect solution.

Expressed breast milk (ebm) is the BEST source of nutrition for human babies next to straight from the source.  Preemies and addict babies ESPECIALLY benefit from ebm - Jenna Elfman (aka Dharma) donated excess ebm that she had in her freezer to a couple that had adopted an addict baby -- and the drs say that the only reason that baby is now thriving is because he got that ebm from Jenna.  Neil Patrick Harris was on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson talking about getting milk from a milk bank, because his adopted daughter (one of twins) doesn't deal well with formula.

Basically, formula is either dairy or soy-based.  Soy has been proven to have high amounts of estrogen - not so good for babies (some babies even get boobies from it - boys included!!).  Dairy is made for baby cows, not baby humans.  Cows have completely different digestive tracts than humans (including FOUR STOMACHS!), so it's not surprising that MANY babies' tummies don't deal well with formula, and it causes many complications, including gas, reflux, and down the road, lactose intolerance, allergies, asthma and eczema... just to name a few.  According to the WHO, bottle feeding a baby formula is a LAST DITCH option for feeding babies, it ranks number 5, after donated ebm, wet-nursing and even feeding formula from a CUP.  And in their document, Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, it says on Page 10: "Infants who are not breastfed, for whatever reason, should receive special attention from the health and social welfare system since they constitute a risk group."  That some pretty scary stuff, yet our western society chooses formula very nonchalantly, like it's no big deal.

Culturally, western society is having a hard time dealing with this "notion" because... ew, it's a bodily fluid!!!  Ummm, hello?  And what, pray tell, is dairy milk?  Don't get me wrong, I loooooooove milk, we go through 3 4L jugs in about a week in this house, but if I stop to think about the fact that it's a bodily fluid from a COW... yeah, I'd much rather the stuff that was MEANT to be for humans.  Salma Hayek nursed an African baby last year... but our society was collectively "grossed out" by it.  Because, ew, that's just gross, giving a baby much needed milk. :/

In the 80s, Canada had over 20 operating milk banks nationally.  Now?  ONLY ONE.  ONE, in Vancouver.  I don't know about the one in Van, but milk banks in the States CHARGE for ebm, and on one forum post I read about it, it costs about $120/day to feed a baby ebm from a milk bank.  $120 a day!!!!!

The lady behind getting HM4HB up and running (Emma Kwasnica) said something that a lot of people are quoting now: "Breastmilk is not some sort of scarce commodity; it is a free flowing resource."  There are lots of mums out there like me, who have oversupply, and have a freezer full of milk (liquid gold! ;) ) that will go bad if it's not used... so why not provide that milk for a baby that needs it?

BM has probiotics, antibodies, antifungal and antibacterial properties, and ALL the goodness a baby needs (not just SOME, it is THE PERFECT FOOD).... and if a mama is unable to give that to her baby, she should have the option available to her to give her baby ebm from another mama.  

I realise that there are mums who choose to formula feed, and that's fine, provided that they have all the information.  National recalls were going on due to contaminated formula - the companies were cutting corners to save a buck (rumours were flying that some execs KNEW about the contamination!) - and we're feeding this to our BABIES?  No worries about recall from boobie milk.  lol  Formula is a necessity, many babies would die without it, I don't deny that, but it shouldn't be the first go-to solution (and the WHO most definitely agrees!).

Okay, so maybe I should step down from my soapbox now.  ;)

Please don't EVER think any question, ESPECIALLY about breastmilk, or breastfeeding, is silly to me.  (um, and including, natural birth, home birth, etc. ;) )  THAT is where the education and support starts - when people are honest and look to expand their knowledge and make INFORMED CHOICES by asking questions.

And her response was so awesome, and the reason why I decided to blog this: 

"It is quite a concept. I have to admit, I was kind of like "ew, gross....feeding your baby someone else's milk" I'll admit it....kind of gross. But I guess the points you make are true esp. regarding the one about cow's milk being a bodily fluid! Pretty awesome that you are a milk making machine and that you can donate your milk to another mom in need. Thanks for the info....definitely something to think about :)"

I just want to say thanks to MK for prompting me to blog about this... it's information that NEEDS to be out there: parents need to know ALL the options available to them.


Looking for milk? Have milk to share? Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) is a global network represented by community facebook pages for each state/province/country. These pages provide a space where families in need can connect with women who have milk to share. HM4HB affirms that human milk is the biological norm for human infants and children. HM4HB does not support the sale of human milk.

28 February 2011

Growing, teething! OH, and a marriage seminar.

So, this adorable little bubba that I birthed less than 4 months ago is growing... and yes, teething.

His poor poor rosy cheeks from all that drool!

Teething means rough sleeps... and yeah, he's a baby, so theoretically, I should ALWAYS be having rough sleeps, right?  WRONG.  This bubba has blessed us in the way that our first bubba did too - he was already sleeping through the night when the stuffiness/teething began.  

Yes, I know, you hate me.  But HEY, in my defense, our 2nd little man, Shannon, didn't sleep through the night until he was over a year, so I've been there, done that too. 

So back to Riley.  Stuffed up, not sleeping well due to teething, AND, wait for it, he's ALSO to the point that I think he's wanting to get into regular naps, not just in between feeds, but real naps (= grumpy child until he's used to that).  That's good, actually that's GREAT, but transitions are hard.  I love this little monkey so much, but as the days go by, I'm getting more and more sure that I agree with the big man in my life, that we're done.  Three little munchkins who light up my world are good enough for this family.  

My big boys need and deserve some consistency in their lives, and if we keep introducing little ones, that consistency is a far way off.  Ri doesn't have a schedule, meaning the big boys don't really either, which is hard for them.  They're both learning to tell time, which means that they want to be able to tell when it's snack time, when it's lunch time, when it's time for a bath, etc.  It's fun, and I want to keep it fun.  But it's hard to do that when I keep changing the times associated with those activities when I have a baby who needs to go down (add 20 minutes), who needs a feed (add 20 minutes), or maybe who needs a bum/clothing change (add 3 to 5 minutes).  And I can't exactly keep Ri to the boys' schedule - when a baby needs to eat, poop, sleep, they need to do it NOW.  And while the big boys may be learning how to tell time, they still don't get the concept of "in 5 minutes," or "in half an hour."  On that note, I'm getting better at telling them "when the clock says 12:10pm, it's lunch time" instead of just saying, "sorry, honey, not right now."

Now, marriage seminar.

Don't think "BORING!"  Really, don't.  'Cause it wasn't!  Our church put on a marriage seminar called "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" by Mark Gungor.  It was absolutely, mind-blowingly AWESOME.  I laughed so hard my face hurt, I cried, and I learned so much.  And Todd had just as much fun - really, he did!  

It is a "Christian" curriculum, but as Mark states in the first session: "I'm not going to beat you over the head with the Bible."  The curriculum is great for anyone, even atheists, and although he makes a couple Bible references, and references to God, he truly doesn't beat you over the head with the Bible.  Mark makes the serious topics fun and easy to learn about, and he gave us all so many "aha!" moments.

The church did it up nice too.  We got lunch and dinner on Saturday, and they even had candles going during dinner.  After each of the 4 sessions, they gave out a "prize" that we all voted on who deserved it, depending on the category.  T and I got a prize for the "least romantic honeymoon."  (We went snowboarding with friends, and I was sick, so spent the entire weekend on my own in the chalet while T was out on the slopes.  While it was kind of relaxing for me, I got to crochet and read, etc, and it was fun for Todd, it wasn't romantic in the least.)

This program was so paradigm-changing, that I truly think that this program should be in the highschools.  Well, not as a marriage seminar, but definitely covering the topics he did, like waiting for marriage for sex (which I didn't do, but wish I had), how boys and girls think differently, how we operate differently, and how KEY sex is to a healthy marriage.  Yes, he said it.  He didn't say it was just important, he said it was probably THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT to a successful marriage. There was so much to be absorbed from this weekend, and I could seriously post for days about it, but I'll leave some surprise to it for you.  Find it, and do it - whether you go to a weekend put on by your local church, or you buy the dvds online (on their site, $59.99).... make it a priority.

Another busy, but oh so fun weekend... and I wonder why time flies so stinkin' fast????  We're off for an ENT specialist appointment for Xavier's tonsils this week, as well as my niece's THIRD birthday, oh, and then it's the weekend again.  :D  So much to do, and so little time.


23 February 2011

Taking over the world...

One follower at a time!!!!


Okay, slightly psycho, yes.  But funny, no?  C'mon, you know you laughed!

Part of my bio blip is about getting used to tweeting, blogging, all these technological thingamajiggers so that I can remain a SAHM, and not rack up the debt of the century by placing my 3 kids in daycare.  So, I've started tweeting more.  I've realised that in order to be truly effective at tweeting, I need to do it more often, so I have twitter.com as one of my home pages.  (I have 8 sites that load automatically when I boot up Chrome.)  And my work is not going un-noticed... I hit 300 followers today.  Now, that might not seem like a lot... but considering that, 3 weeks ago, I had about 150 - that's not too bad!!!

Now... back to the post below, about balancing working at home with 3 boys... that big square thing is showing their favourite show right now.  We SEVERELY limit telly in our house (ooooooh, their behaviour when we don't, ie: when I'm sick, etc, is ATROCIOUS), to about 1 hour per day (sometimes less); and that is dependent on what is on.  Their two fave shows are the Backyardigans, and In the Night Garden.  So, because those shows are on at a lovely time (4pm - dinner making time!), that's their tv time.  So on days like today, when I am the SHIZNIT, and I ALREADY have din-din simmering on the stove... I have time to blog!  Woo hoo!

Another thing that will make life easier in that whole balance thing?  We are moving soon (about 2 months from now) to Vancouver (6 hours south of where we are), and we'll be squishing into (compared to now) a 3 bed unit (suite, apt, townhouse, whatever)... so I will have a desk in the living room, and be able to supervise whilst being productive at the same time.  Then it'll be easy to take a break to do the hokey pokey with my boys, and then get back at 'er.  :)

That feels good ... to have a plan in place, ya know?

Love D.