Sunday, November 16, 2014

Has it REALLY been 6 months!

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Hello out there…

Last week my friend, Tessa, from Tessa  the Domestic Diva, contacted me to check-in.  A jolt of happiness shot through me when I saw her email pop up on my personal account. And then the reality of time hit me…the fact that it has been 6 months since my last blog post! I’ve been purposely avoiding my blog email and comments, thinking, “When I have a good chunk of time, I will get going again and sift through everything.”  And if you blog, you know what a few months of neglect will do to your inbox.  So I’ve been waiting for the time.  Tessa’s email inspired me to log on and just MAKE the time.  I have the weekend off, which is so nice and although it has already been packed full of home projects, gardening, birthday parties, play dates, and schoolwork, I logged in to my oh-so-familiar cyber space that is like a little home that’s been boarded up for months, and got to reading.  I am sitting here cozy in my bed on this chilly fall morning revisiting my beloved blog.  I’ve been reading through the comments and remembering how lovely it is to read notes from complete strangers that have something so nice to say about a recipe, or tip, or homemade lotion.  

It started out as a modest break last summer.  My health was not well (severe Crohn’s flare) and a slew of other things were happening.  Luckily, by early July the flare subsided and my health has been pretty steady since.  In July I landed my dream job (in the town in which I live).  I work as a mental health clinician three days during the week.  I work in several different schools in town – meeting with children and teens for therapy sessions.  I have a big bulk of the summers off which is a HUGE perk.  The job required me to go back to school and commit to a year-long PPSC credential program, which translates to a long drive to a 3- hour class once a week with a lot of busy school work, papers, and projects.  About a week after I accepted this job, Kaiser Permanente called for an interview for an on-call medical social worker position (a weekend position).  Kaiser has been high on my preferred job list since I worked there in graduate school 12 years ago.  So I went on the interview and was offered the position!  I did about a month of back to back training in September, but ultimately, it was just too much training and too crazy starting two jobs at once.  So I decided to wait and try again at Kaiser during the summer. My weekends are pretty busy with my other job at the psychiatric hospital (a job which I really love).  I try to get 4 to 5 weekend days in each month.  So between these two jobs, school, and spending as much time as possible in my kid’s school volunteering and running the yearly auction, blogging literally fell of my list.    

I started The Tasty Alternative 3 1/2 years ago.  At that time, my daughter was 4 1/2 and my son was 18 months. I stayed home full time during the week for 8 years to be present for my children, and during that time I immersed myself in the kitchen.  Blogging became a way to connect with others, share recipes, and learn more about healing from auto-immune disease.  I think back on that time with such fond memories.  My life feels very different now.  For example, I have found it nearly impossible to keep up with my previous level of cooking and baking.  And I desperately miss it.  I still manage to make my kids homemade snacks during the week and I manage to throw together an admittedly uninspired dinner each night.  This lifestyle change has provided me with a valuable perspective. I’m trying to navigate working outside the home with keeping up with the home and meal planning.  Luckily, I live just a few blocks from my local natural foods co-op, so I usually run to the store after work and after I get the kiddos, grab something for dinner, and manage to have it ready by 6:00 pm.  Eating dinner together as a family is a must! So I make this happen.  On the weekends while I work at the psych hospital, my husband makes dinner and he has been making some incredible recipes from the Living Without magazine and from Paleo magazines.  He is becoming quite the cook (and that’s super sexy when your man knows how to cook)!! 

These last 6 months have been an incredible journey with many learning opportunities and personal growth.  I’ve learned the power of saying “No.” When Kaiser asked me to dedicate more time to training, I felt empowered to say “no” and found a time later in the year that worked better in my schedule.  I’m taking care of myself and my health.  I am working on my stress and focusing on stress management and letting go of the things I can’t control (self proclaimed control freak right here).  I’m going to bed earlier and thus sleeping better now that I have a my weekday work commitment.  I’m reading books before bed rather than watching shows on my laptop.  I’m in a book club with my daughter, which is super fun.  I am going out with friends more and nurturing the special relationships with the amazing women in my life.  I’ve given myself permission to just do what I can in the kitchen and take it easy.  I can’t do it all.  I’m spending valuable time with my husband in the evenings and trying to make the most of each weekend day I do have off work and have fun with my family. 

I have several blog post ideas swimming around in my brain and I had several in progress before the break in June that I plan on publishing soon.  I enjoy blogging.  It’s one of my favorite hobbies.  It’s a special way to stay connected to my health.  

I plan a return in January.  I have carved out some much needed *me* time next year and blogging will once again return to my life.  I miss my readers and my dear blogging friends.  Thank you, thank you Tessa, for tracking me down and inspiring me to post an update.  

I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season full of love and laughter and I will see you in 2015.

Big Hugs,  –Amber xoxo 

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 120: June 4, 3014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 118: May 21, 2014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

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Friday, May 16, 2014

5 -Ingredient Chocolate Free & Sugar Free Frosting

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My son turned 5 years old yesterday!  My kids are starting to look VERY BIG to me these days. I’m loving the independence each year brings, but I would love to hold them each again as a baby (until they start crying and pooping – the fantasy ends there).  The teenage years will be here before we know it so I am ever reminding myself to treasure small moments and not let the silly stuff feel so big.    

This year for his birthday, Ethan asked for chocolate cake.  That sounds great, however, I don’t give my kiddos chocolate after dinner and so close to bedtime (I don’t even eat chocolate right before bed)!  So we compromised.  I am going to make chocolate cupcakes for his birthday party this weekend, but for his birthday yesterday I made a vanilla cake with strawberries and a NEW frosting that looked like chocolate.  I was thinking a lot about the frosting, as I have several different recipes for frosting (both vanilla and chocolate) but they both include a lot of coconut and require refrigeration.  I have to share that it was 100 degrees here yesterday and I didn’t want to make the usual coconut based frosting that melts all over the place in the warm temperatures.  So I called upon my friend Ricki’s recipe for inspiration.  I’ve made her chocolate buttercream frosting many times and it’s one of my absolute favorites.  So I used 2 ingredients from Ricki’s recipe (sweet potato and a nut butter) to make a nice chocolate alternative frosting that actually has only 5 ingredients and free of any added sweetener.  This would be the perfect frosting for a one-year-old’s cake.  It’s full of nutritional ingredients and free of common allergens (use sunflower seed butter in place of cashew butter).  The verdict? My kids loved it.  Even my daughter who is a big chocoholic like daddy said it was great.  It does have a date taste to it, but the carob provides a nice malty flavor.  I am sure this would taste great with raw cacao powder (and maybe a few drops of stevia to offset the bitter). Best part of this frosting…it holds up at room temperature…and held up great in our warm 80 degree house.  It did not melt and did not wilt.  Yay for a fun new frosting!! 

5 Ingredient Chocolate Free & Sugar Free Frosting
Author: Amber from The Tasty Alternative
Ingredients
  • 12 seeded Medjool dates soaked for 3 to 4 hours
  • 1 cup baked sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup [url href="http://thetastyalternative.com/2012/07/homemade-cashew-butter-cashew-honey-spread-scd-friendly/"]homemade cashew butter[/url] or [url href="http://astore.amazon.com/thetastyalter-20/detail/B001RPT6O8"]store bought [/url]
  • 2 teaspoons[url href="http://astore.amazon.com/thetastyalter-20/detail/B000WS3AE8"] vanilla extract[/url]
  • 1/4 cup [url href="http://astore.amazon.com/thetastyalter-20/detail/B004O86R2O"]carob powder[/url]
Instructions
  1. Earlier in the day, bake a small sweet potato (you need a total of 1 cup) on 400 degrees until tender (this takes about 45 minutes). You know the sweet potato is ready when it starts leaking out its juices and feels nice and tender to the touch. Set aside and allow the sweet potato to completely cool.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, add in the soaked and drained dates, the cooled sweet potato, cashew butter, vanilla, and carob powder and blend until well incorporated.
  3. Spread onto cake or fill pasrty bag and top cupcakes.
  4. I made one batch of [url href="http://thetastyalternative.com/2013/05/just-right-coconut-blueberry-muffins-gluten-free-dairy-free-nut-free-cane-sugar-free/"]this [/url]cupcake recipe and instead of blueberries, I used strawberries.
Notes
*For nut free, use [url href="http://thetastyalternative.com/2011/10/homemade-sunflower-seed-butter-sunbutter/"]homemade sunflower seed butter[/url] in place of cashew.

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May 2014

Happy birthday to my sweet boy!

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Ethan riding at his horseback lesson

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Labels: allergy-friendly, cake, carob, dessert, frosting, Paleo.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 117: May 14, 2014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

Continue reading

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 116: May 7, 2014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Grain Free Cashew Thumb Print Cookies

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Okay, these aren’t really thumb prints I guess, more like heel prints (ha ha).  I like lots of filling in my cookies so I make the dips bigger than your typical thumb print width. So these cookies were inspired by a new paleo cookie that has arrived at my local natural foods coop (created by a local bakery called Sugar Plum Vegan).  The ingredients: super simple.  The price: OUCH! One cookie costs $4 – I’m not kidding. That’s a bit outrageous, especially since these cookies are very easy to make with some very basic paleo ingredients.  I bought one to taste test (and I really liked it) so took note of the ingredients and made my own batch the next day. My recipe contains an egg because I like to use egg as a binder and like the way it tastes with the cashews (vegan option in notes).  The flavor is truly spot on.  I could not justify buying another $4 cookie when I literally had everything at home to make a big batch. These are my family’s new favorite treat.  I try to make 2 or 3 homemade snacks each week for the kiddos to decrease my dependence on packaged food (especially packaged snacks).  And these are super easy to make and low in the sugar department (which is always a plus).   

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Labels: cookies, dessert, grain free, grain free desserts, low glycemic, Paleo.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Honey Kissed Mint Watermelon Salad

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It’s warming up here in these parts.  A heat wave is moving through right now and pushing temps into the 90s.  Therefore cool, refreshing dishes are in demand.  It will drop back down to cooler temps next week, and let’s hope May is nice and mild. May is usually our last month of decent weather before the searing summer heat blankets our region.  But it’s all good.  I love the summer and I’m no stranger to hot, dry heat.  As a child I grew up in the desert near Death Valley (in Southern California) – so bring it on.  I was at Costco the other day and found organic, fair-trade mini seedless watermelons.  Awesome-sauce!  They are super delicious and so sweet. I’m thinking this would be a great dish for any summer gathering.  

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Labels: AIP, GAPS, Paleo, raw, salads, SCD, sides, summer cuisine.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 115: April 30, 2014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up. Thank you!

Continue reading

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 114: April 23, 1014

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Hello and welcome to Allergy-Free Wednesdays (AFW).

  AFW is a weekly blog hop where folks can share their allergy-free cuisine, gain knowledge about allergy-related topics/issues, and connect with others living or caring for someone with food allergies.

Please read HERE for AFW guidelines before linking up.  Thank you! 

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Labels: Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Uncategorized.