Carrot Cake Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Hallelujah! He is Risen! If you are looking for an easy breakfast for the family this Easter weekend, here’s a new idea. I absolutely love carrot cake, but now that I am gluten & egg free, it is harder to enjoy these days. I’m satisfying this seasonal craving during breakfast, getting a serving of vegetables in with a bowl of carrot cake oatmeal that is gluten, dairy, egg and refined-sugar free!

IMG_3161Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of coconut or almond milk (can also use water)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups of steel cut oats (regular oats will not work!)
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup shredded organic carrots (I used 4 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup shredded apples (or frozen pineapple as a variation)
  • 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey, coconut sugar or brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
  • Optional: 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the apples and carrots, peel and then use a food processor with shredding disc.
  2. Add all ingredients into a glass pyrex bowl that fits inside your slow cooker and stir well to combine.
  3. Place the glass bowl into the slow cooker and then add water into your slow cooker (around, not in the glass bowl) to fill up to a little over halfway around the bowl.
  4. Turn slow cooker on low for around 8 hours (I do this overnight).
  5. It will be ready to serve immediately. Enjoy!

If you have leftovers to reheat (this makes a lot!), I add a little bit of water before microwaving.

Happy Easter, friends! Hope you have a wonderful time with your family and I pray you are all staying healthy (and sane) during this pandemic.

 

Potato-Crusted Quiche

IMG_8432

On #mealprepmondays, I try to always make breakfast for my daughter and I for the week so it makes mornings easier.  This quiche, made with hash browns instead of pie crust, makes for a healthier version that’s still super yummy and filling.

As with ALL my recipes, this takes very little time to prepare and is really easy to make.  There is a lot of room to create in this recipe- using different meats and veggies based on what you like best or what is on sale that week.  My go-to is bacon & spinach but I’m always trying something new.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter (or coconut oil)
  • 2 cups organic frozen hash browns (I use half a package of the Alexia brand)
    • I’ve also used frozen sweet potato fries for this if you want to avoid white potatoes.
  • 6 large soy-free pastured eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetables
    • I typically use what is leftover from dinner the night before- asparagus, bell pepper, frozen spinach have all worked great.
  • 1/2 cup cooked breakfast meat
    • I like to mix this up depending on what’s on sale/what I’m feeling. I rotate between bacon (look for organic + sugar-free), ham and breakfast sausage.
    • TIP: If cooking bacon, make less of a mess and use of an already heated oven by oven-baking it instead of frying.
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (or heavy whipping cream)
  • 1/2 cup grated raw cheddar cheese
  • Sea salt & pepper

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in your quiche dish (I use this one, but a standard pie dish would work just fine too) and place in the oven to melt.  TIP: to make it easier to put in/take out of the oven, I put my dish on top of a cookie sheet.
  3. Put frozen hash browns in dish and spread around to evenly distribute and mix in butter.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Put dish with hash browns into the oven until slightly browned- typically around 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk the eggs with milk and salt & pepper. Add the veggies and meat and cheese and stir.
  6. When potatoes are brown and crispy, take out of the oven and add the egg mixture.
  7. Put dish back in the oven and cook until the eggs are puffed and set- around 20 minutes.

I’d love to hear your favorite combinations of meat & veggies to put in this!  Enjoy!

 

 

Zucchini Bread (Gluten/Grain, Dairy & Refined Sugar Free)

Sharing another #mealprepmonday recipe for breakfast!  This recipe makes two loaf pans, so I’ll keep them in the fridge to last the week. Even though this bread is free of grains or refined sugar, my toddler still loves it and I think you will too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (just cinnamon works too if that’s all you have)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or avocado oil)
  • 3/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (not packed & no need to peel first) – this is typically 2 medium sized zucchini for me

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the eggs.
  4. Add the eggs, oil and honey to the bowl and mix with spoon until combined.
  5. Cut the ends off the zucchini and shred using either an electric vegetable shredder, food processor or manually with a large cheese grater.
  6. Add the zucchini and mix until combined.
  7. Pour equally divided between 2 greased loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

A Health Story: Fatigue, Food Allergies, Inability to Gain Weight

Me and AlyssaToday, I’m sharing the health story of my friend Alyssa. Alyssa is one of my oldest friends… we met nearly twenty years ago at church and we were 2 of just 16 in our graduating high school class. I’m so thankful for Alyssa’s friendship over the years.  She is one of the strongest women I know; her optimism and endurance in the midst of suffering is inspiring and truly displays a joy that only God can give.  

As we have both struggled with different health issues for many years, I’ve been grateful for someone to share ideas & recipes with as we try new diets and attempts at natural healing.  She’s the friend that introduced me to essential oils, which have been so life-changing for me. And, as I’ve become a mom, she is an even more valued resource.  Here’s her story:

Hi, I’m Alyssa. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have four kids, ages 9, 6, 5 and 2. When I’m not spending time with my family I enjoy DIY projects at home or working part-time at Board and Brush creative studio.  I’m also passionate about natural health and wellness.

Growing up, my family was close-knit, but my mom struggled with health problems her whole life – depression, gut issues and back problems.  While we did things together as a family, we were limited by her condition  I remember her being in bed a lot. She would try to have a good meal for us on the table every night, but I still ate a lot of junk and processed food when a home cooked meal wasn’t an option.  We weren’t aware of all the short and long-term effects that food has on the body.

In middle school, I started getting made fun of for being so thin, which really affected me.  I had always been slender and unable to put on much weight, but when others started noticing, it made me really insecure.  That continued well into high school.  In high school, I also remember being pretty tired and not having a ton of energy.  My sleep consisted of: going to bed late, getting up early for school, falling asleep on my bed doing homework and going to bed late again.

Fast forward several years after having my first few kids.. just a few sleep deprived nights… my exhaustion and fatigue were much worse.  Not taking care of myself the right way put me in a bad state.  I was having gut issues and I was frequently getting sick and littlest virus would keep me down for a week or two.  

My mom had passed away in 2008 after I had had my first child, from an accidental overdose (the combination of a pain patch on her back and a heating pad).  After that, I began to think about my health in a new light; I knew I needed to figure out what was going on with myself, but I had a bad taste from conventional doctors and medicine after everything that happened with my mom.  

I discovered I had a gluten intolerance via trial and error after a doctor misdiagnosed me with acid re-flux.  I saw a string of natural doctors trying to figure out what was now lack of energy, anxiety, thinning hair, continued inability to gain weight along with some gut issues.  I saw at least 5 different doctors who all saw I had a problem going on with the symptoms and various lab results, but were unable to figure out what it all meant or what the cause was. I started eating healthier, in addition to being gluten-free, and begun researching more about natural remedies.  

When anything came up with our family, from colds and ear infections to strep throat, I tried to find a natural remedy for it. When my oldest was five, she had 5 rounds of strep throat and antibiotics to go with them, but was still sick. I was so frustrated and felt helpless; I came across a remedy of cayenne + honey + garlic and made her try it.  To my surprise, it worked! I had been able to treat her strep naturally without the use of antibiotics and she’s never had strep again. It’s like her body needed just a little natural help to fight it off on it’s own.

I continued seeking out natural remedies for ailments and dabbled in essential oils, not seeing much impact from the ones I had bought from the grocery store.  I didn’t think much of it until I was introduced to Young Living essential oils at a class. I was educated on the difference between store-grade oils vs pure, therapeutic grade oils and how they could help enhance a natural lifestyle. My husband thought I was nuts for being so excited about oils, but he’s now completely on-board and embraced my “crunchy” tendencies of tackling pretty much anything naturally.

As for my health problems, I’m still continuing to sift through the details of understanding what’s going on with my body. I found that following an AIP diet helps with a lot of my gut issues.  When I eat something I shouldn’t, I can recognize it quickly. My blood work still shows off levels and indicates potential thyroid and hormone issues, but the doctor I was seeing was somewhat perplexed by it. I’m currently waiting to see a new functional medicine doctor that a friend with Hashimoto’s recommended. She’s seen drastic improvement with her health over the last 6 months, so I am hopeful for similar results. In the meantime, I take each day as it comes. I am super aware of what I eat, what I use on my body and the products I use in my home. The journey to health and wellness seems to be an ongoing one. It can be so discouraging at times but I know that God has me in this journey for a reason and I’m trusting in His plan.

Like Alyssa, I know that so many of us are still in the thick of it- trying to figure out what’s causing issues and doing all we can to address the symptoms in the meantime.  I hope to someday share the answers Alyssa has discovered and the healing that she’s found.  I’m always comforted to know I’m not the only one still looking for answers, even though it is such a frustrating & discouraging place to be.

If you want to share your story, I would love to feature it on my blog to encourage others- please reach out to me at healthyhopefulblog(at)gmail.com. 

Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

BruschettaAs I’ve been planning our upcoming trip to Italy, I’ve found my cooking quite inspired by the cuisine. Last night, I needed a quick dinner and happened to find fresh baguettes on sale at Whole Foods for just 99¢, so I went with one of my favorite go-to 5 minute recipes: bruschetta!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package organic cherry heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 package organic mozzarella cheese
  • 5-6 basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon organic olive oil (my favorite brand is Kasandrinos)
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Preparation:

  1. Put tomatoes into food processor and pulse just a couple times until tomatoes are broken up.
  2. Cut mozzarella cheese into small pieces.
  3. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together. That was so easy, right?!

4 Easy Serving Options:

Toasted Baguette – the most traditional way to serve… cut a baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle some garlic and ground pepper on top. Put in a 425 degree oven for 3-5 minutes depending on how toasty you like your bread. Top with the bruschetta and serve.

Pasta – prepare your favorite pasta (I recommend Organic Einkorn Grain Spaghetti for a more digestible form of gluten) and toss with olive oil. Instead of a sauce, top with bruschetta for a fresh version perfect for a hot summer day!

Grilled Chicken – for a healthier, gluten-free version with some protein, marinate some chicken with balsamic vinegar for an hour and then grill. Top with the bruschetta mixture and serve.

Salad – another gluten-free option – get your veggies for the day by serving over some mixed greens; plus, you won’t even need to add dressing.

Enjoy!