Sleepless nights thanks to chocolate almonds

 

 

Have you tried these?  They’re so good they’re addictive!  They, of coarse have sugar in them but they also have stevia, so less sugar than you might think.

I ate them yesterday as a “birthday” snack and woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed at three am.   The diet is an excellent detox so it takes very little caffeine to disrupt my sleep.

Yesterday I made a big sugar free chocolate bar and plan to chop it up into chips and make something with it.  I was thinking I might try blueberry chocolate chip muffins made with almond meal and coconut flour tomorrow for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  I don’t make sweets or snack too often so the kids will be pleasantly surprised!

Strawberry Coconut Pops

Today is the first day of spring, last week it was in the 80’s, and tomorrow we’re supposed to get 6 to 9 inches of snow.  This is definitely Missouri weather!

Weather or not it feels like spring (ha ha!) I’m so glad it’s finally here that I’m celebrating with a yummy popsicle recipe today.

Strawberry Coconut Pops:  Coconut milk, frozen strawberries, vanilla and stevia.

I don’t usually keep kid treats in the house because my kids always devour them within 24 hours of bringing them home and those treats are usually loaded with garbage anyway.  My mom was the same way and my sister and I always looked forward to those rare occasions when she’d bring home a box or two of instant pudding mix in the summer because we knew that usually meant pudding pops!  Last Friday I made these for my kids who were running in and out of the house peeling off layers of clothes because the temp was right at swimming weather.  They were overjoyed when I brought a plate full of these outside.  I told them they could eat them inside rather than fight off all the dogs, cat, goats and chickens, but they wanted the full springlike experience and managed just fine.

Strawberry Coconut Pops:  Coconut milk, frozen strawberries, vanilla and stevia.

These were super quick and easy to mix up.  Here’s the recipe:

1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk

8 oz of frozen strawberries

Stevia to taste.

1 tsp vanilla

Blend all ingredients in a blender till only small chunks of strawberries remain.  Pour mix into popsicle molds and place the stick handles into each mold.  Stick ’em in the freezer.  Couldn’t be simpler!

Chocolate Maca Chia pudding

I recently jumped into the chia pool and tried a recipe called, Chia Tapioca, or something like that.  It was pretty good but it’s not an exact replacement for tapioca since the little gelatin like balls now have a hard, slightly crunchy center, but if all the hype is true it’s surely better for me.  I’ve adapted it a little to include maca, another supper food, and it turns out to be my favorite way to get maca down my gullet.

 

Chocolate Maca Chia pudding

Chocolate Maca Chia pudding

I don’t eat maca that often and when I do I have to use very small amounts and only in the evening.  I know it’s supposed to be energizing and all, but it actually makes me feel sleepier than usual for several hours before it kicks in…in the middle of the night while I’m actually trying to sleep.  If I only use it as an occasional dessert in the evening I seem to be okay, but even one small serving any other time of the day equals an energy fit filled night and if I don’t get my eight hours of shut eye I turn into a crazy woman!

Chocolate Maca Chia pudding

Chocolate Maca Chia pudding

Back to the pudding…I think maca and chocolate go together pretty well flavor wise.  The chocolate kind of hides the cigarette butt flavor of the maca.  Mmmm.  I made some yesterday and took some slightly fuzzy pictures of it.  Here’s the recipe:

1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk

3/4 c water

1/3 c chia seeds

2 Tbs cocoa powder

1 tsp maca powder (adjust the maca to your liking and here’s the brand I use.)

1/4 tsp salt (I’ve been using Real Salt, tasty!)

Stevia to taste*

Mix all the ingredients together till clumps are gone.  Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes then mix again if needed.  You may eat it at this point or save it for later in the fridge.  It makes four servings.

I bet there are all kinds of ways to play with this using other ingredients like protein powder or even raw eggs.  We have our own chickens so I do this sometimes in shakes and it makes them so creamy.  You can coddle the egg first if you don’t have a good, clean source for healthy eggs.

Stevia concentrate

Stevia concentrate

*It’s hard to put a measurement on stevia since there are so many varieties and they all vary in sweetness and measurements.  I started using the brand in the link above about seven years ago and haven’t looked back.  I use it every single day in my tea so I’m very used to eyeballing just how much I need and I even cut a bendy straw to use as a little scoop.  For this recipe I used four scoops which seems to be about the equivalent of one cup of sugar.

Homegrown green stevia

Homegrown green stevia

I also grow stevia and dry and grind my own, but green stevia has a green taste to it so it’s less versatile.  I use it mostly in juices that are bitter and don’t have enough carrots to sweeten it up.  It’s not quite as strong as the concentrate, but it’s surprisingly close so I use a snipped straw to measure it out too.

Popcorn stitch, Bubble stitch, Bobble stitch

As soon as the weather starts to cool off in the fall I always like to drag out my yarn collection and surf the internet for a new crochet project.  Now that most of my kids are in twin size beds I’ve decided to tackle making each of them a crocheted bedspread.  I finished my son’s blanket this past fall, which I started the fall before, and then moved on to one of my girls.  The baby, whose actually 3 and still in a toddler bed in my room, staked her claim on it as soon as she saw all the bright, pretty colors coming together even though I had originally planned to make it for my five year old daughter.  I’ve been hesitant to finish it because all winter she has been basically telling me that as soon as her blanket is finished she’s getting a big kid bed and moving out.  I’m not sure if I’m ready for that.  She’s my baby and probably the last one I’ll ever have.

 

Popcorn stitch, bubble stitch, bobble stitch crochet.

Popcorn stitch, bubble stitch, bobble stitch crochet.

The flip side of that coin is I still have three other daughters to make bedspreads for so I need to get crackin’!  Then again, maybe this coin has three sides because I keep hearing a voice in my head screaming “What were you thinking?!”  It’s taking me forever and to make matters worse I accidentally made this one wide enough to fit a queen sized bed and I’m only half way through.

 

Crocheted bedspread.

Crocheted bedspread.

This particular stitch has several names like popcorn, bubble, and bobble.  I learned the stitch from a great video tutorial found here.  It assumes you know the basic stitches so it’s not exactly for beginners but it’s not hard at all if you do already know how.  My grandma was an avid crocheter and she’s the one who taught me the basics of crocheting when I was about 12 which makes me love it even more now that she’s passed away.  I miss her.

Now that the weather is warming up I’m working on it less and less often and I’ll probably put it away very soon until the fall.  Thank goodness!

Champion Juicing

 

Juicing carrots, cucumbers, celery, and ginger.

Juicing carrots, cucumbers, celery, and ginger.

Back in November, Hubs persuaded his coworkers to have a “Biggest Losers” starting in January which would run for four weeks.  It would operate like the TV show but they named their contest the “Big Fat Loser” contest.  They had entry fees and a small weekly money prize for the guy who lost the highest percentage of weight each week ending with a larger money prize for the one who lost the highest percentage of body weight over all.  The rules were, you couldn’t use any pills or do anything so extreme as to put yourself into the hospital.  Pretty simple.  Diet and exercise.

Well, midway through, one of the guys confessed to drinking tons of water before the initial weigh in and then taking laxatives before each weekly weigh in so that combined with his low carb diet meant he won.  He should have been disqualified, but he’s a manager and no one wanted to be the one to tell him.  Evidently the name of this contest was a double entendre.

Anyway…Hubs wanted me to help him with his plan and motivate him and cook for him and tell him what he could and couldn’t eat et cetera.  Not my thing, I’m a middle child.  I didn’t have any plans of doing this with him either because I’ve done this particular diet enough to know it cuts to the core it’s so hard.  I was too stressed all the time and needed my comfort foods badly.  They were tasty distractions that I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to so it’s a miracle that two days before the contest we went grocery shopping for what Hubs needed and I bought enough for the whole family because I was in.

I wouldn’t weigh in or pay a fee, I’d just participate quietly on the sidelines and cheer my husband on.  I had high blood pressure and needed to loose some weight so I was willing to give it another try for as long as I could stand.

As of today, I’m still doing it!  Two and a half months into it and I’m still going and I don’t have plans to quit.  I want to be one of “those” people all the time.  You know the kind.  They always eat right because it’s what they want to do not because they have to.  Hubs is  a little more off and on, mostly on.  I’m convinced he’s got a major fungal overgrowth in his digestive tract and possible something like Chrone’s disease.  He’s a mess, bless his heart.  We’ve never been into going to the doctor for things we can fix and he doesn’t want to start now because he’s convinced we can fix this (and so am I.)

We’re following the Phase One diet of Doug Kaufmann’s and Know The Cause.  It’s an antifungal diet that’s been our go to health plan that we’re convinced can fix most any health problem.  Doesn’t everyone have one of those kind of plans?  No?  Of coarse you have to continue to eat right to maintain the benefits.  It always cracks me up when people scoff at a “diet” because, as they say, as soon as you go off the diet all your problems  come back.  Well, duh.  You are what you eat.

Well, I feel great!  My blood pressure has gone from 140/90ish to 110/70ish, my weight has come down, although I still need to lose more (I’m a really slow loser,)  my skin is softer and clearer, no more breakouts, and no more cravings for foods that I shouldn’t be eating.  Hubs had serious blood sugar problems being hypoglycemic and so did our oldest but eating the way we do now has eliminated all their woe’s and will hopefully fix Hubs digestion too.

 

Champion Juicer

Champion Juicer

As part of our new routine I juice every day.  My favorite is cucumber, celery, lots of carrots, and a bit of ginger.  It is so good.  Some days I crave large amounts and I drink all I want and most other days I’m good with 16 ounces or so.  Every now and then, I skip juicing and I’m usually dragging a little when I do.  It really does make a huge difference and as an on and off juicer since my teens, I can tell that it makes the biggest, quickest difference in the appearance of my skin.

 

Carrot, cucumber, celery, and ginger juice.

Carrot, cucumber, celery, and ginger juice.

Yesterday I juiced 3 pounds of carrots, 1 pound of celery, 2 large cucumber and a chunk of ginger.  It made just over 80 ounces and tasted amazing.  I give it to my kids too and they drink it without protesting so I think they like it too, especially if it has plenty of carrots to make it extra sweet.

Juicing is only part of the Phase One diet and as the name suggests it does have multiple phases.   I’m still on the first phase because it’s very doable for me and I think that’s what it will take for Hubs and I to get our bodies in order.

This post is too long already so more some other time.

Growing celery and avocado trees

Seems like everyone on Pinterest is growing their own celery these days so I figured I should at least give it a try.  I juice daily and typically use at least one whole celery bunch (usually two) every day.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little of my money back?  I buy the organic which comes at a hefty price but since celery is otherwise covered in high amounts of pesticides I figure it’s worth it.  Right?  If it becomes too burdensome financially, I’ll probably just start juicing carrots and maybe I can grow some cucumbers this year in the garden too.  Now I’m chasing rabbits.  Back to the celery…

 

 

Regrowing Celery

Regrowing Celery

As I cut off the ends I place them in lovely yogurt tubs which I’ve cut down to about 1 1/2 inches and filled with water.  Right now they’re covering my piano to the point that I don’t have any room for more.  It’s really lovely, all those tubs…heh, heh.  It is working, they’re growing and needing to be planted and given more space.  I’m not sure how I’m gonna pull that one off seeing that my piano is completely full.  I suppose I can move them outside very soon and maybe even come up with a makeshift green house if necessary.

Last may I saved a couple of avocado seeds and suspended them over water with toothpick trying to get them to sprout.  It took a long, long, long time.  A couple of months went by before they even cracked open.  As soon as they did however, they picked up the pace and now they’re in pretty pots…on my piano.  It’s really the only place in the house with sun light and a place to set things.

 

Growing an avocado tree from seed.

Growing an avocado tree from seed.

(It’s in the pot on the left…next to my celery hoard.)   I have two of them and the other one is a little bigger.  I wonder what the odds are of ever getting any avocados from them are.  The climate here in Missouri isn’t warm enough for them to grow outside all year.  Hubs wants to build a green house and I figure if he does we can put them in that and then maybe we might get something, that is, if I don’t kill them first.  The pot next to the avocado had three plants in it until one of them died so now it has a big open spot.  I figured the ivy was doing so well and getting so long I’d clip a few vines and see if they’d grow roots in water then plant them in the bare spot.  Sure enough, they’re growing lots of little roots!

If it weren’t for Hubs, I probably wouldn’t have any house plants.  I can only remember one time in our relationship that he bought me flowers and it was a bunch of roses for Valentines day while we were dating.  Since then he’s always bought me potted plants or plants and pots with bags of dirt.  Ha!  He really is so sweet.  A couple of years ago, he did stop on the side of the road on his way home and picked me a huge bunch of wild flowers while the day lilies were in bloom…and the hemlock.  There was poisonous hemlock in that bouquet too.   It’s commonly mistaken for queen anne’s lace except it doesn’t have that tiny black flower in the very center of the bloom.  There are other subtle differences but if you don’t see that tiny black flower DON’T TOUCH IT!!  It can kill you in thirty minutes flat if you ingest it (don’t put it in your mouth for goodness sake!) OR if its juices get into your blood stream, say through a cut on your hand which could happen while your trying to pull that rascal out of the ground to put in your bouquet.  You know what?  Maybe you should just stay indoors.  It’s safer that way.

Best Chili Seasoning Recipe…In The World!

 

Bulldozing pasture 034My husband looooves chili and has for as long as I’ve known him. In the  first couple of years of our marriage I always made chili using premixed seasoning packets from the store. Those usually have a few ingredients that aren’t necessary if you make your own or even good for you, but they always tasted pretty good. (Probably because of those same nasty ingredients like MSG!) Chili was and still is one of my go to meals if I haven’t planned ahead since I usually have everything I need, or at least most everything I need. I occasionally would forget to buy those little premixed packets and would experiment with recipes until I found, “the one.” It was such a big hit with Hubs I quit buying those packets all together.

Over the years, I have served chili to company using this homemade mix and I have yet to have, even once, any chili left over when I do even though I make a huge vat of it when I make it for guests. It really is that good. Serving chili with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips makes it extra tasty, but it’s definitely good enough to stand alone too. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t follow the recipe perzactly (FYI: how we say exactly around here) I just eyeball it with all of the herbs and spices I use. Here’s the basic recipe I use:

1/4 c chili powder

2 T + 2 t onion powder

1 T + 1 t garlic powder

1 T + 1 t dry mustard (don’t skip it!!)

1 T + 1 t ground cumin

1 T + 1 t paprika

1 T + 1 t ground oregano

1 t ground black pepper

1/4 t salt

Mix all the ingredients together and store in a sealed container. It makes a little more than 3/4 cup and you need to add 2 tablespoons per 1/2 pound of meat. I can’t tell you how good this mix is so you’ll need to try it for yourself. If you make it don’t skip any of the ingredients. You can adjust the amounts to your liking but trust me, everyone of those herbs and spices is absolutely essential in making chili taste amazing!

“Peanut” Sauce…Almond Sauce

Sweet Asian Almond Sauce

Sweet Asian Almond Sauce

My husband’s been on a cooking kick which, with the exception of his Tomato Florentine soup,  has been amazingly awesome!  He’s a bit OCD and doesn’t seem to mind standing over a hot stove for two hours straight if it means a tasty meal as his reward.  I am not the least bit OCD and can be satisfied with a handful of nuts and a glass of tea as a meal most days.  However, I do most of the cooking and it gets pretty blah around here for those who prefer a little variety and spice so Hubs jumped in last weekend and cooked every.single.meal on Sunday.  Whoohoo for me!  That got his mind whirling on the kinds of foods he wants but hasn’t had much of so last night he and I made up a pile of steak lettuce wraps that were amazing!  We’re on a diet lifestyle eating plan that does not include grains, sugar and fungusy type foods.  (Future post?)  Peanuts are pretty high on the no no list but we had to have peanut sauce to put this over the top!

Enter almond butter…almonds are our friends in combating the evil, no no food cravings.  After searching the net for the basic idea of a good peanut sauce I came up with this alternative rendition that was pretty dang good, if I do say so myself.

It goes as follows:

1 cup almond butter

1/2 cup hot water

3 Tblsp raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Braggs liquid aminos

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 large chunk of fresh ginger (a little bigger than your thumb) minced or grated

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

stevia to taste (I like mine sweet!)

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree for 30 or 40 seconds.  It’s ready to use right away or store it in the fridge.

Next time I’ll probably increase the water to 1 full cup.  It was a little thick.  Oh, and it makes a LOT so maybe I’ll cut everything but the water by half next time.  Anyway it’s creamy, nutty, spicy and sweet.  Mmm, mmm, mmm!

Starting over

Sometimes we need a fresh start.  It doesn’t come easy but it’s something we all need from time to time.  A chance to do it again and get it right or a chance to try something new and see what adventure it takes you on.  For me, I need a place to bloom.  A place where I can feel safe to be me, whoever that is from day to day.  I wear a lot of hats like most people do and the one I’ll be wearing here is Lessy Lu’s.  On the side I’m a wife, a mother, and a Christ follower.  Those are the main roles I play as well as, chef, housekeeper, teacher…you know the whole spiel. 

I’m not sure what I want out of this but I’m going to give it another go. 

On your mark,  get set…

Lessy Lu