Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blogging Break and a big-ole' long mind dump

Hello out there.  
Anyone else out there suffer from "too-much-on-my-plate-itis?"  I could be the poster child for this ailment.  Ha ha.  I am a high energy, love to be busy, love to be going-going kind of person.  I love this about myself and also dislike this about myself.  And once in a while life sort of slams into itself and you can totally feel it - like all the pieces are right there up in your face and it's like, "Okay stuff I totally got myself into...back off." 
Ever hear of a school auction?  Auctions raise money for valued school programs.  And planning a school auction is very much like planning a big elaborate wedding.  Well, yours truly (along with one other brave parent) is planning/organizing a fundraising auction at my daughter's school.  I should get: "What in the hell was I thinking" tattooed on my forehead because that is the phrase running through my brain most of the day.  Anyway, this auction is in a few weeks and let's just say I will be glad when it's all over and I hope we make a CRAP load of money! It's my absolute pleasure to run such an important event but in my most naive of moments, I just had no idea how much work was truly involved.  

As you might know from reading my blog, I work part time.  I recently started a new job and started training two weeks ago (I work at an inpatient psychiatric hospital as a clinical therapist).  I love it and love what I do.  I work weekends (and will soon also work Friday evenings).  So I am with my kiddos during the week and actively involved in their lives and schools (which I also love).  But it's never convenient and always exhausting to train at a new job during the week (when I don't work during the week) and have to figure out what to do with, oh yeah, my KIDS!  My children are my number one priority, so leaving them during the week is difficult and often stressful.  I'm so thankful to live in a small, supportive community where I can rely on friends for help and know that my kids are always safe and cared for.  

And everything else that is peppered in between planning an auction, running a home, and training for a new job feels like one thing too many and then the things feel heavy.  And yes, it can be worse (it can always be worse, right).  Things were worse three weeks ago in fact when my body was like, "Okay, you asked for it" and I was in a gnarly Crohn's flare trying to crawl through the day.  

It's like part of me wants to live my life Zen-Monk style and the other part of me wants to live life like a rock star super woman.  
(I might be wrong here folks, but these desires are totally incompatible).   

So then we have blogging.  Blogging is one of my most enjoyable hobbies.  Blogging is so much more than just sharing recipes.  For me, blogging = friendship, connection, resources, comfort, knowledge, information, empowerment, and validation.  Blogging has become so much, MUCH more than sharing recipes.  It's hard to explain.  Perhaps you understand if you came from a similar place of loneliness with your health issues and lifestyle.  I feel quite overcome with emotion when I think about the friendships and connections I've made with people from all over the world (whom I have never met), but people who understand me, share my philosophies on food, live with an autoimmune disease, sacrifice one thing or another for health, have a child with eczema, have a child on an allergy-free diet, care about environmental matters, worry about GMOs, heal their children with herbs, make homemade remedies, fight against chemicals in our food, chemicals in our water, chemicals in our products, etc.  Only the internet can bring like minded people together in this way.  Without blogging I would miss this vital connection in my life.  Blogging has become such an important part of my healing journey.  

But as valued as blogging is in my life, it's the first to be crossed off the list when I'm trying to simplify and slowdown.  That being said, I am excited to share that when I return in March, The Tasty Alternative will be new and improved.  I am working on a blog redesign and switching over to WordPress.  I'm jazzed about this change and hope you enjoy some of the new features on this long overdue makeover.


Until then, I've included some pictures in this post that make me happy for different and equally random reasons.  Most are pictures of family, some from Pinterest and others are inspired quotes.    

See ya on the flip side. 


xoxo,
--Amber 
*
My kids playing "cat family."  
Ethan is the baby and Sky is the mama (cat).  
So sweet. 
Sky building a fairy house out of mud and rocks 
(November)
Planting flower bulbs with my loves 
(November)
 Rain finally!!
(February)
my snow peas growing and loving the rain
The bulbs we planted in November blooming way too soon 
(due to our previous spring-like winter weather)
Ethan chowing down on his 5th piece of 
garden fresh chard 

OMG!  This turtle is so freaking cute!
Get in my belly...
(I feel the same way about strawberries little dude)

lovely 
 happy place
 arm candy 
 how cute is this little drink cozy 

 another happy place

Sisters in the City.  
A visit with my sister in San Francisco in December

Thrifting

I like these words...










See ya...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Love Cupcakes? Then check this out: Sweet Secrets Cookbook and eBook Giveaway (4 winners)

If you love cupcakes (and come on...who doesn't) then you must get your hands on a copy of Anna Belle's cookbook dedicated to all things cupcakes and frosting:  Sweet Secrets!!!  She uses gluten and grain free flours, many dairy free ingredients, and alternative sweeteners.  Get this cookbook just in time for Valentine's Day!  
A quote from Anna Bell's cookbook:
"This book has a plan for you, my dear reader. It will show you how simple changes to your pantry,  from non-‘food’ ingredients to Real Whole Food ingredients, can transform your life! Your children,  family and friends will ‘ooh’ and ‘aaah’ over these quick and simple recipes, making you feel happy and  proud to serve such Delicious Nourishing Treats!"

Here is just a glimpse of some of the cupcakes you will find in her book: 

Apple Spice 
Banana Nut 
Black Forest 
Blueberry Muffin 
Caramel Cheesecake 
Carrot Cake 
Chocolate Chip Cookie 
Chocolate SoufflĂ© 
Cinnamon Roll 
Coconut Cream 
Dark Chocolate 
Devil’s Food 
German Chocolate 
Ginger Bread 
Green Goddess 


Check out this amazing, delicious and super 
healthy recipe found on page 84:
German Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients for Cupcake
-1 ¼ C Blanched, Slivered Almonds
-1 ¼ C Unsweetened, Coconut Flakes
-1/3 C Erythritol
-1/2 C Palm Sugar or 1/3 t Stevia
-2/3 C Chopped Yellow Sweet Potato or Yam
-1 C Packed Baby Spinach or Chopped Zucchini
-1 C Chopped Apple with peel
-1/3 C Cocoa Powder
-1 T Vanilla Extract
-1 t Almond Extract
-1/4 t Sea Salt
-2 LG Eggs and 2 LG Egg Whites
-(reserve yolks for Frosting)
-2 T Coconut Flour
-2 t Baking Powder

Ingredients for Coconut Pecan Frosting: 
-2 Egg Yolks
-3/4 C Heavy Cream or Coconut/Nut Milk
-1/3 C Erythritol
-1/2 C Palm Sugar
-1 C Chopped Pecans
-3/4 C Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
-2 T Coconut Oil
-2 T Honey

How To:
1.  Position your oven rack to lower portion of oven.
2.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line Muffin Pan
with 12 Cupcake Paper Liners and set aside.
3.  In your Food Processor fitted with the S Blade, add
the Almonds, Coconut Flakes and Sweetener.
4.  Process for 2 or 3 minutes until it’s powdery.
5.  Add the Sweet Potato or Yam, Spinach or Zucchini,
Apple, Cocoa Powder, Extracts, Salt and process until
smooth.
6.  Add the Eggs and continue to process another
minute until smooth and well blended.
7.  Combine the Coconut Flour with the Baking Powder
and add while the machine is running. Blend for a
minute, then let set another minute.
8.  Open the lid and check the Batter. It should be the
consistency of thick pancake batter. If it is too thin,
add another Tablespoon of Coconut Flour and blend
again.
9.  Using an Ice Cream Scoop, fill the Cupcake Liners
about 3/4 full.
10.  Bake about 12 minutes at 375, then turn the temperature down to 325 and continue baking about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Enter here to win  
9 chances to enter
4 items to giveaway 
(1 hard copy of the book and 3 ebooks)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Allergy-Free Wednesdays Week 103: February 5, 2014

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.

This is a weekly blog hop hosted by myself and five other fabulous allergy-free bloggers.  Your weekly submissions will be shared on all 6 blogs!  Check back each week for reader favorites and recipe highlights.  

Your AFW Hostesses:
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom
Janelle @ Gluten Freely Frugal
Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry
Nancy @ Real Food Allergy Free
Tessa @ Domestic Diva
And me!
What can I link-up on AFW?
  • We welcome allergy-free cuisine in any shape or form
  • Tips & allergy related articles/information are welcome
  • Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities all welcome
  • Rules & Guidelines *Please provide a link directly to your post (not your homepage).
  • Please provide a link back to our weekly blog hop somewhere in your post.
  • Please provide a description of your recipe, such as DF (dairy free), GF (gluten free), SF (sugar free), V (vegan), etc.
  • Recipes do not have to be free of all common allergens, just allergy-free in some way.
  • TWO weekly submissions max please.
  • Grab yourself a badge and help support Allergy-Free Wednesdays and the allergy-free community.
  • Entries that don’t comply with stated rules and guidelines will be respectfully removed.
Please leave a comment after you link-up and tell us about your weekly submission(s). We love to hear from you!
By linking up, you agree that I may make use of any applicable pictures in my Allergy-Free Wednesday posts, and that, by your entering, you are giving permission to use them and/or re-pin them via Pinterest. You also, by entering, guarantee that the picture is not someone else’s work , or else has a broad license (for example with stock photography put in public domain).
______________________________
Featured Recipes & Highlights

Each week AFW features the most most popular recipe from the previous week, and the six AFW hostesses will highlight their favorites.  Please note that your submission must contain a link back to our Allergy-Free Wednesday's Blog Hop in order to be featured.  

So without further ado...

May I present you with the most popular submission (most viewed by readers):

Amazing Raw Chocolate "Cheesecake"
From:  Kitchen Stewardship  

And here are my favorite recipes/posts from last week: 

Tuna & Broccoli Quinoa Patties with Lemon Caper Sauce
(I made these - they are awesome)!
From: Allgery-Free Alaska 
Roasted Chickpeas
From: Simply 123 Allergy Free 
Apple Oatmeal "Cream" Pie
From: Grassfed Mama
*
Thanks for visiting Allergy-Free Wednesdays!
And thanks for being awesome and reading through our guidelines before linking up!
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