So What Can You Eat?

If you have ever heard of a total elimination diet (TED) before, you know they can be very restrictive. Reading the long list of items you cannot eat leads to a very important question- so what can you eat?

The answer is surprisingly a lot! Again, the TED that I am going on is under medical supervision. This is not a weight loss plan and I am not reducing my overall calories. They are just being altered. Changed. Transmogrified (I love that word).

Now before I show you what I can eat, remember that I am not going this alone. These are the foods that *I* have been told I can eat. There are certainly more limited TEDs out there, but this is the one I was given. I have more range with my meat category than some are given based on a variety of reasons. If I have no changes in my symptoms by the end of the month, some of the following items may be further restricted, but based on current evidence I am allowed all of the following:

Meat- Chicken, Turkey, Lamb and Fish (not shellfish).

Carbohydrates- Quinoa, Rice and Sweet Potatoes

Vegetables- All except for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and corn

Fruit- All except for bananas, strawberries and citrus

Beverages- Water and herbal teas

This may not seem like a lot. Admittedly, at first I was terrified. But then I started reviewing some of my favorite recipes and realized I could make this work.

Noodles in my favorite Chicken Noodle Soup could be substituted with rice. I could make sweet potato fries with turkey burgers for our cookouts. Baked apples with cinnamon are one of my favorite autumn treats that I can continue to eat. Plus, the goal is not to eat only these foods for the rest of forever. Quite the contrary, the goal is to be able to add in most foods back to my diet! I just want to ensure that what I choose to add back in really works for my system.

Since my husband will be joining in on this with me for moral support (and because I cook most/all meals), it will be interesting when we get to the challenge phase to find out which foods don’t work for his system either! There are bound to be quite a bit of differences, but with that knowledge, I can better prepare meals for us as a family in the future.

Homemade Granola Bars 

I think I’m a little bit obsessed. Ever since I made the commitment to start making more homemade food items, I find that I can’t stop! Everything just tastes so good. As a bonus, it is also way more affordable to be preparing food this way. I cannot afford to give Cupcake everything I would like, so this is my way.

In our family, we love granola bars. When my husband started residency just three weeks ago, we had a grand total of six different types of granola bars JUST FOR HIM. That does not count what we had for Cupcake and I. Kind of crazy. Also, kind of expensive! Even with buying most of our granola bars as Aldi’s, it was a significant part of our “snack budget.” Since I am really working to be more thrifty, I realized I could help by learning how to make my own granola bars. I had seen many recipes online that seemed quite involved. I was looking for something simple, because Mama wants to enjoy nap time by relaxing,not by running around like a crazy person!

An easy granola bar recipe is what originally led me to Andrea . Her recipe for granola bars seemed super easy, and I was excited to try. The recipe that follows is hers, with a few notes from me! Dear Andrea, if you are reading this, I might have a bit of a momming crush on you!

Ingredients

1/2 c honey

1/3 c packed brown sugar

1/4 c peanut butter or nut-butter of your choosing (I used crunchy peanut butter as recommended by Ms. Andrea)

1/4 c unsalted butter

4 c quick oats

2 c crispy rice cereal

3 t vanilla

Directions

In a large bowl, stir crispy rice cereal, quick oats together.

In a medium saucepan, combine honey, butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then bring the temperature down to low, and simmer till sugar dissolves.

*thejoyofmomming note- let it boil for a minute or so, and then simmer. Your granola bars WILL fall apart if this mixture does not heat enough because my first few tries definitely did this  I’ve heard.

Remove from heat. Pour in vanilla and stir.

Pour the hot mixture over dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Press into a parchment-lined 13×9 pan.

Pack the granola bar mixture as closely and as tightly together as you possibly can into one end of the pan at about 1/2-3/4 inch thickness. Any thinner, and the bars will not hold together. *See pictures below for trick I used!*

Let cool on the counter till they reach room temperature.

Cut into bars. Wrap in plastic or store in a ziplock bag.

*You may add chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, etc. if desired. If adding chocolate chip, press them into the top of the bars after you’ve packed the very warm granola mixture into the pan. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a melted chocolate-swirled mess.

Here are some photos from my adventure. I did not have any parchment paper, so I used tinfoil and it worked just fine.
  Look how pretty!   Okay, here’s where I went a little crazy. As I mentioned before, I may have some people had trouble with the granola not sticking together. So, I folded my tinfoil around the granola.
  And I found the cutest 21 pound weight to pack it down (I put a clean baking pan over the tin foil first!) I’m glad this kid isn’t in school yet, because I could just imagine her sitting around the snack table. “My mommy has me stand on my granola bars before I eat them.” Thank goodness she is only 16 months old!
I prefer a harder granola bar, so we store these in the fridge, but you can store them on the counter-top as well.

Sausage and Peppers Pasta

My sweet husband loves sausage and peppers. It is one of his favorite meals. Since it is his intern year of residency, he has been working an insane amount of hours and we rarely get to eat dinner together. Most of the time, he gets home well after Cupcake is asleep. I always leave him a plate in the refrigerator, but it definitely is not the same. So when I realized that he would be home tonight for dinner with us there was only one option!

As I was starting to pull out the ingredients, I found a half filled container of kale from my most recent kale chip adventure. If I knew it didn’t have much time left so I threw that in. The small amount of kale looked silly so I added in some spinach, too. When Chris walked in, he was so excited despite having just come off of a 30 hour shift. Success!

Ingredients

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 c kale

1 c spinach

2 T olive oil

1 t minced garlic

1 lb pasta, cooked according to package

Directions

1. Add sausage links to pan and cook over medium-heat until cooked thoroughly.

2.  In a seperate pan, add olive oil, garlic and salt over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, kale and spinach and saute until greens are wilted and onions/peppers are tender.

3. Slice sausage into bite sized pieces. Add to vegetable mixture.

4. Serve over pasta .


Domesticated Momster

Hot Cocoa Brownie in a Mug

One of my favorite features of our new place is our pantry in the kitchen. I like being able to stock up on items we need ahead of time. It brings me comfort to know we have most of the essentials on hand. Every month I go through the pantry to make sure I am not letting anything go to waste. Foods that are nearing expiration are quickly put into the line-up.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered an unopened box of Swiss Miss, set to expire in just a few short days! Now, I usually like to eat pretty cleanly and quite honestly, this does not fit the bill. I typically prefer to make my hot cocoa from scratch. We received this as a gift and Swiss Miss always reminds me of my childhood. I was so excited to use it!

Except, I had less than a week to use it. During a heat wave. In July. Not ideal hot cocoa time. So, I started wracking my brain for different ways to use it when a huge brownie craving hit. It was also late and I didn’t have the time or patience to sit around for the oven to preheat. I had made cake in a mug before, so I decided to attempt brownie in a mug. The first time I made it, I sort of just threw ingredients in the mug without any measuring and stirred until it looked right. I also ate it all without abandon and didn’t take a single picture.

So, because I know you all need them, I had to suffer through a second night of brownie in a mug to get the measurements and take pictures. The things I do for you all.


  
  
  
 Hot Cocoa Brownie in a Mug

Ingredients

1 package instant hot cocoa (1 oz.)

3 T flour

1 T canola oil or butter

2 T water

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe mug. Stir until hot cocoa powder is dissolved.

2. Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Continue cooking for 10 seconds until brownie is complete. It is ready when the edges are cooked, but the center will still be gooey.

3. Let cool for 2 minutes.

I still have quite a bit of hot cocoa to use up. Do you have any fun recipes I should try? Leave them in the comments section below!

Domesticated Momster

Homemade Hummus without Tahini 

After my husband and I really sat down to evaluate our budget, we realized that we could be doing better in terms of our spending on food.

Although I have benefitted in the past from couponing, that can become a full-time job in itself. I mostly want to find ways to cut back in terms of the types of food we purchase and prepare.

Cupcake is a tad bit obsessed with hummus.

 We go through A LOT of this stuff. I realized that making my own could be one way to try and save.

This recipe is super simple. You basically just dump all the ingredients in the food processor and press start. Voila!

I have found that the most important part is to peel the skins off the chickpeas. Some people skip this step, and the hummus will be fine- I promise. However, by peeling the skins, you get a much smoother texture. I prefer the flavor, too!

Ingredients

1 15 oz can chickpeas, reserve liquid

1 T minced garlic

2 T cumin

1/4 – 1/2t salt, depending on preference

1 T olive oil

Directions

1. Drain chickpeas. Reserve liquid.

2. Remove shells from chickpeas

3. Add chickpeas, 3 T of reserved liquid, garlic, cumin, salt and oil to food processor (or in my case, the Baby Bullet since I don’t have a grown up one haha)

4. Add more liquid as needed to reach desired consistency.

I can’t wait to try adding other spice combinations! So good and SO simple!
Disclaimer: this may or may not actually save you money because it’s so yummy you will want to eat it all. 🙂

Homemade Rolls 

I do not know what has gotten into me! I have been obsessed with homemade bread lately. You’d think that the weather outside would have been damp and chilly, but no. I just really LOVE homemade bread!

After trying out this awesome recipe for Homemade French Bread, I was really excited. It tasted amazing and was much easier than I thought. It was much more cost affordable and definitely much healthier!

The only downside was that the recipe took a bit longer than I preferred to spend when I have this cutie pie hanging around.


So I was super excited when I found out that the lovely Ms. Andrea at Pennies and Pancakes had a recipe for hamburger buns that took less than an hour from start to finish! I wish I could take credit for the delicious recipe, but she so deserves it!

Ingredients
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or just over 4 cups whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg

Directions 
Warm the milk, water, and butter in the microwave. Stir until butter is melted and let cool until warm, but not hot.

Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add in milk mixture and then add the egg. Your dough should be only slightly sticky. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into 12 balls, and place them on a large, greased baking sheet. Lightly press down on the top of each ball of dough, so that the top is more flat than rounded. They will puff up more during rising and baking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Cover with a dishtowel, and let rise 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve as desired, and store for 3-5 days on the counter, or 4-6 months in the freezer.

Before

After!

I am telling you, this was the easiest thing to make! My father-in-law had one and proclaimed that he was officially handing over the reigns and that I was now in charge of making buns for the holidays. This is the same man who drove six hours to our house with coolers filled with food so he could prep it himself for us. He loves to cook, so to pass any of it on to me, I’d say we have a winner!

When these came out of the oven, Cupcake was napping. I split one open and may have let out a little squeal. I grabbed a bit of olive oil and sea salt and I was in HEAVEN. Anyone who is nervous about making homemade bread should definitely start here. My only regret is that I did not find this recipe sooner!

The Best Split Pea and Black Bean Soup

Ever make a really foolish mistake? Yea…well this is embarrassing.

I decided to attempt to make my own french bread this morning when I awoke to rainy skies.  In my head, a good crusty french bread pairs perfectly with soup. So, I was excited to find this recipe for a homemade lentil soup that used ingredients I already had in the house. I have been trying really hard to been more aware of the costs associated with different recipes that I make for my family. We have been cutting back on our expenses and I have found we spend entirely way too much on our proteins. We love meat! I am looking forward to the challenge of finding satisfying vegetarian meals that fill us up, while still are healthy and yummy. This soup recipe was perfect.

I dug into my pantry and pulled out all of the beans. I had a package of lentils that I had never used and figured now was a good time to try! I love a thick soup, so I figured it would be perfect. I chopped my onions and threw in some baby carrots. I was on a roll. I set my beloved crockpot to high for six hours and went about my day.

It smelled WONDERFUL. Weirdly, the soup did not seem to be thickening up at all, but I figured that it was okay. I knew the magic would occur eventually. I was happily coloring with Cupcake when I had a strange thought. I ran over to my crockpot and my very watery soup. Five hours and 54 minutes had passed. I lifted the lid and all of a sudden it hit me-

I USED SPLIT PEAS. I didn’t use lentils.

People.

I promise I can read. I used to teach elementary school! It wasn’t even that I grabbed the wrong bag. For the last YEAR, I have had a bag of lentils in my pantry. The lentils were never used at our old house. They made the trip to our new house. The lentils were never lentils at all!

This is when I started to panic a little. My hubby does not love split pea soup. I don’t like it AT ALL. I also made it following a recipe for lentil soup. I had a watery soup and I had no clue what to do. I ran to my pantry and started scouring the shelves. Dinner was now supposed to be in five minutes. This was the one night we really had to eat at a specific time. I had my first ever self-made loaf of bread for this meal. I was crushed.

Four minutes to dinner. I can’t find anything. We do not eat potatoes. I don’t want a creamy soup, so milk is out. The amount of flour I would need at this point would ruin the soup. Ugh.

Three minutes to dinner. Cupcake decides she reallllllllllllllllly needs her sippy cup (which is already half-full) filled to the top. Water, Mommy. Water. Ugh.

Two minutes to dinner. Sippy cup crisis averted, I return to my pantry. And that’s when I see the forlorn box of potato flakes I bought to make potato pancakes many moons ago and never used. I rip it open and pour a bunch in. It’s working! It’s working! It’s also weirdly clumpy! And oh no! That doesn’t look pretty.

One minute to dinner. Hubby puts Cupcake in her high chair and gets her dinner ready (she has been on a kick of only wanting carrots and “petz” (pretzels) with hummus for dinner). I pull out the hand-mixer. Whirrrrrr. 

I tentatively ladled the soup (now a thick-almost chili consistency-like soup) into the bowl. I sit down to the table. We say grace. I pick up a spoon and…

People. It was good. Like really good. As in, I am now questioning my opinions on all previously hated foods, good. Both my husband and I had two bowls. As further proof, Cupcake took a break from her “petz” streak and ate a little baby sized bowl, herself!

I don’t even know how this happened, but my immediate thought was to lie to y’all and pretend like this was on purpose, because it definitely is good enough to pass as being on purpose. But, I’m all for being real with you and finding the joy in my mistakes! If you’d like to try this yourself…

Ingredients
1 lb. bag dry split peas
1 can black beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c baby carrots
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 T jarred minced garlic
1 T cumin
2 t chili powder
1/2 t dried parsley
5 cups HOT water

1/4-1/2 c dried potato flakes *Added at end*

Directions 
1. Rinse peas and black beans. Discard any small pebbles or bad beans. Add all ingredients (except potato flakes) to crockpot

2. Cover, and cook on HIGH for 6 hours.

3. Remove the lid, and add the dried potato flakes. Use a hand mixer on medium for approx. two minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.

I hear that chocolate chip cookies were once a happy recipe accident, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad! Have you ever had one? Let me know about it in the comments section!

Homemade French Bread

Let them eat bread! (or, something like that.)

Lately I’ve been trying to find new ways for my family to cut back on our spending. Since I love to cook, that seemed like a good area to start. If I was being really honest, I would admit that I have not been quite so responsible lately.

We moved a few states away two months ago. I did a pretty decent job cleaning out my pantry, which was awesome. Rebuilding my pantry? Less awesome. I had lost most of my coupons, did not have a working printer, and wasn’t really too sure about any of the local grocery stores. I made a lot of mistakes and spent more money than I should have.

However, I am now two months in and feeling much more settled. I know which grocery stores around here fit my needs. (Side note: isn’t it interesting how different stores within the same chain can be? We have most of the same stores available to us, but now shop at completely different options!)

I started researching different recipes to save money and came across Pennies and Pancakes. Among the many delicious things that she makes is bread! She has quite a few recipes for homemade bread on her website. I did what I usually do, and completely skimmed past that section until I read one little note. She had a recipe to make a loaf of French Bread. The approximate cost to prepare? 31 CENTS.

I adore a good loaf of french bread! In the past, I have bought the prepared ones to accompany pasta and soups and all sorts of great meals. Never have I ever been able to score one for anywhere near $0.31. So, I decided I would try.

I started copying down the recipe and immediately got cold feet. There were a lot of steps. And it would take quite some time to prepare! Long involved recipes with an active 15 month old don’t really work. As I read further, I realized that a lot of the time spent in this recipe is waiting time. Time for the bread to rise. Time that I could play with Cupcake and not have to say, “Oh give Mommy just 30 more minutes!”

I did not take many pictures of this adventure for several reasons.

1. Pictures on the original blog are pretty. My iphone cannot compete with that

2. Often my hands were covered in dough or flour or both

3. I also decided to make the most delicious Split Pea and Black Bean Soup 

4. I also decided to try to make a recipe for homemade granola bars (recipe to come soon!) that I found on the website

5. Any other time I was playing with my sweet Cupcake

My final result was not as perfectly beautiful as a loaf of French Bread should be. It was too wide, but it was SO GOOD. Seriously. My family ate half the loaf in about 5 minutes. I will be making this again. Tomorrow. And maybe eventually taking some pictures along the way!

If you do not feel like heading over to the original website, I will post the recipe and directions here. Although usually I modify every recipe, this one is 100% not mine. It is perfect as is!

Ingredients
1 cup luke-warm water
2 tsp. dry active yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. oil
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. oil (for coating dough)
1 well-beaten egg + 1 Tbsp. water (brush on loaf before baking for a shiny exterior)

Directions
1. In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast, sugar, and oil. Let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Add salt and 2 1/2 cups flour. Mix ingredients to form a very slightly sticky ball of dough. Add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if needed to reach right consistency. Mix for eight minutes.

3. Using your hands, lightly coat the ball of dough with 1 tsp oil. Cover and let rise till doubled in size (1- 1/2 hours).

4. Punch down the dough, and knead it for 5 minutes.

5. Rub a baking sheet with olive oil. Using your hands, flatten the dough into approximately a 12×6-inch rectangle. Starting with a long side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a log. Pinch the seams and ends together.

6. Cover and let rise 30 minutes on the baking sheet.

7. Uncover and lightly coat in an egg wash made from one well-beaten egg and 1 Tbsp water.  Using a very sharp knife gently make 1/4-inch deep slices on top of the loaf.

8. Place a pan of water in a cold oven. Move a rack to the top level. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

9. While the oven pre-heats, allow the dough to rise, uncovered, an additional 10 – 15 minutes.

10. Once the oven has reached 450 degrees, place the loaf on the top rack, quickly throw two ice cubes on the bottom of the oven, and shut the door. (The steam from the water in the pan, and the water on the bottom of the oven creates a crispy/chewy crust.)

11. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes. Crust will be golden brown, and hard to the touch.

12. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think! This bread makes me REALLY excited for the autumn and lots of awesome soup recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe for soup? Leave a comment below!

Easy Kale Chips

I am absolutely in love with this summer! This is now my second summer as a SAHM, and to be perfectly honest, I did not love last summer at all. We were in a location where all of our friends worked during the day, and I felt very alone! Cupcake could not do a whole lot, either, so it was all very quiet.  As a former elementary school teacher, quiet is not a word I tend to love too much. It feels foreign. Strange. Lonely.

And so, I am just loving my summer of 2015 with all of my heart! Every day, Cupcake and I go out and about. We have met so many new people in our new hometown. Things were going along swimmingly, until a park play date was canceled due to rain.

IMG_4968

I usually wouldn’t let this stop me from finding an alternative, but I took one look at Cupcake and I thought: hmm, we could be due for some quiet. 

You see, my little Pooh Bear loves the hustle and bustle as much as I do! She is very social and pretty much in a constant stage of blur. I love it! However, I also want my daughter to be able to appreciate the slower moments in life. So, we decided to hang in together. We colored and read books nearly all day. When it came time for snack, I knew just what we had to make: kale chips!

Despite my Cupcake’s sweet moniker, she actually has not developed much of a sweet tooth yet. Both her father and I love sweets, so it is surprising! I should have expected this because one of my weirdest “cravings” when pregnant was that I didn’t crave sweets at all. I remember at one dinner with my in-laws at Chili’s, it came time for everyone to order dessert. I asked for an order of chips and salsa. So, it really should not surprise me that Cupcake has no desire for sweets.

This recipe is for my easiest kale chips EVER. So easy and they come out perfectly!

Ingredients 

Kale Chips

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Salt, if desired

Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

IMG_4969

2. Put small amount of olive oil on paper towel and spread over cookie sheet.  IMG_4970 IMG_4971

3. Cover cookie sheet with kale. We used baby kale here because it’s what I had on hand, but use any kale that you have. Make sure to remove the stems as those are pretty bitter.

IMG_4973 IMG_4975

4. Sprinkle garlic powder (and salt) evenly over kale

IMG_4977

5. TURN OVEN OFF

IMG_4981

Seriously, turn it off.

IMG_4979

6. Cook kale chips in (now turned-off) oven until crispy, but not burned (ours took about 10 minutes).
IMG_5003 IMG_50057. Eat the deliciousness!

IMG_5007 IMG_5010 IMG_5013 IMG_5017 IMG_5025We hope you love it as much as Cupcake does!

Easy and Clean Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I literally have no idea how I made it the past 27 years without this recipe. My sweet friend Katie posted a picture of these delicious little treats online and I knew I had to have it. Please drop whatever you are doing and make these!

The original recipe is awesome and super easy to follow. It’s dairy-free (and vegan!), which is always a big winner with me because I LOVE me some chocolate, but it can be really hard to find without milk. I knew I had to try it! I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house and personal preference, and they came out perfectly and took me almost no time to prep. The hardest part was waiting for it to freeze!

I highly recommend using refined coconut oil to avoid an overpowering coconut flavor in this recipe!

Ingredients

Crust:

3/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Peanut Butter Filling:

1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate Topping:

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (or use a silicone pan like mine!).

IMG_3735Mix together the ingredients for the chocolate crust. Press evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Put in freezer to set. (Approx. 10 minutes)

IMG_3737Mix together the ingredients for the filling. Remove pan from freezer. Evenly spread filling over the top with a spatula. Return pan to freezer to set. (Approx. 15-20 minutes)

Now it’s time for the topping! Stir the ingredients until you have a smooth sauce with no clumps. Take the pan out of the freezer and pour the sauce over the peanut butter layer. Return to freezer until firm. (Approx. 1 hour) If you were using a pan lined with parchment paper, you can gently pull the paper to remove the bars from the pan after they are firm. If using a silicone pan, just pop those bad boys out!

Disclaimer: I have no pictures of the chocolate sauce stage because I may or may not have started trying to eat it the second it was ready.

Store these in the fridge (up to 2 weeks) or the freezer (up to one month) in an air-tight container. The original poster preferred to keep them in the fridge so they did not get too firm over time. I find that hysterical, because ours did not last long enough to ever get “too firm” in the freezer. Perhaps in you have more restraint than I!

Here is the one picture I managed to snag before we immediately devoured it! I cannot wait to make these again!

IMG_3743