I hear it absolutely all the time- my kid just won't eat that. He is picky. She doesn't like vegetables. They only like grapes but nothing else. Trust me, I totally get it.
But let me be real with you first.
I totally did not get you say six years ago. Six years ago, I was the mom bragging my face off about how my kids eat what I say they are going to eat and how they better thank the Lord that they get to eat. "I am not a sous chef" I would tell all my mom friends and neither should they have to be. I had two kids at the time and I was pretty darn proud of how well they would eat their fruits, vegetables, and pretty much any dish I sat before them. I had accomplished life.
I am pretty positive God had decided enough was enough with all of my bragging about how amazing I was as a mother who provides the most nutritious foods to my kids all the time. How I always had a sense of proud of just how great I must be as a parent because my kids were never picky. Because my kids did as they were told. Because my kids were the best of the best.
......I am annoying myself just typing all of this.....
Then. Came. Gabriella. Gabriella (who is quite literally my middle child with two older siblings and two younger siblings now) came to this world and opened my pretty little eyes. Gabby came into my kitchen to eat for the first time as a sweet toddler in her pimped out high chair, smile on her face, and taught me some valuable lessons I will never ever forget.
-Gabby does not like her food to touch on the plate
-Gabby does not like anything that is a "weird" color
-Gabby does not like white cheese if it's melted
-Gabby does not like sandwiches unless it has no crust, no mayo, no mustard, no lettuce, and the bread cannot be brown or any golden color
-Gabby does not like things with burned edges
-Gabby does not like fish unless it comes in the form of a nasty fish stick from a fast food place
-Gabby does not like mushrooms, onions, or the smell of garlic
-Gabby does not like soft grapes or too cold pineapple
-Gabby does not like meats that don't look like chicken
-Gabby does not like mushy broccoli or raw broccoli
-Gabby does not like any type of dressing with bits of "stuff" in it
-Gabby does not like spinach or kale
-Gabby does like pepperoni pizza however she takes the pepperoni off and gives it to someone else
There are about 50 more examples I could share if she were standing next to me listing them. Gabby was the picky eater I was given. Gabriella came down from Heaven to show me two very important things: I have never been nor will I ever be a perfect mother and parents have to get creative in the kitchen.
But does getting creative actually work?
The short answer: yes, being creative and organized can lead to some huge changes in what you are able to feed your family. The long answer: It is going to take you actually being creative and actually being organized to see some huge changes in what you are able to feed your family.
So here are a few tips to make a simple change:
1. Get organized. I am a bit obsessive about meal planning. I have tried "winging" it and it was total chaos. Granted, there are 7 people in my family (5 of them being incredibly chaotic children) so meal planning might not be as necessary as it is in my house but I will say that I have never seen a home (with 3 people to 10 people) where preplanning in the kitchen hasn't helped. We have a FREE template over in our store for meal prep to get you started!
2. For Gabriella, having such picky tendency helped jumpstart her ADHD symptoms (as a counselor, I highly encourage you to always discuss situations like this with your child's doctor to see if a referral to a psychologist is needed. DO NOT INTERNET DIAGNOSIS). I knew that her gut had a lot to do with it. So with the help of a good friend, we started flooding her body with over 30 fruits nd vegetables in a super easy gummy. Here is a link for these life-saving Gabby gummies.
3. We started hiding as much as we could in her foods!!! It sounds awful, but let's be honest- fast food restaurants are doing this to your family regardless... why not you do it but with nutritious things that will actually help? I started hiding spinach, carrots, flax seeds, chai seeds, and oats in almost everything to get started. Smoothies, spaghetti sauce, mac and cheese, burgers, and especially muffins.
A few days ago, I came across a recipe from King's Flour for Morning Glory Muffins. I had seen Ree Drummond make something similar on TV a few years ago, so I had a pretty good idea of what it was. I made some adjustments to make it a bit more "fall" like (mostly because that was what I had on hand and I was not in the mood to make a grocery run). These muffins were so delicious, I quite literally did not get a chance to take any pictures. I am shocked I was able to taste one.
So yes, I completely and utterly understand the real struggle of a picky child. But we will get these little suckers to live healthy lives spiritually, emotionally, and especially physically!
Peace, love, and strength
So I just wanted to share this moment with you all: the moment I became officially bronzed in awesomeness...
About a week ago my mom ended up on (sadly enough) another doctor-suggested diet that now eliminates not only gluten but dairy and an assortment of other items from her list of things she can eat. She was really heart-broken and frustrated. I, of course, jumped at the challenge. My geeking-out level hit an all-time high probably due to my obsession with British baking shows, cooking shows in general, and a taster who is amazed by just about anything I put before her. Granted, I don't have nearly the stomach issues she does- but I could not for the life of me understand why she was not as uber excited about this as I was.
Along with her normal meals, I wanted something she could snack on as well during the day and not just focus on huge gluten-free dinners she probably wouldn't stay awake to eat every night anyways (what can I say? I know my mother...). I made some spiced nuts with gluten-free pretzels, almond muffins, and these delicious crackers. I was super impressed with the mere idea of there being a cracker sitting in my pantry that I literally made first and foremost. Seriously, I was. The fact that my mom really loved them was completely an after thought. Kidding...sort of.
Grab a few for the kids as an after-school snack this week!!
Real Deal Crackers:
Have you ever made rye bread before? Well, really any bread that requires several proving times? Let me tell you all about it…
So over the last month or so, my family has been in a season of hurry up and wait. That goes for our finances, our home, and definitely in my baking the other day. Our businesses are on the brink of some really amazing things, we have our eye on a farmhouse (pray for us!), and everything I seem to want to bake lately has been about waiting. I have one more time to pull up one more recipe and it says, “wait 4 hours…chill overnight… let soften on the counter for an hour…” and I might just lose my mind. I don’t know if my new impatient temper tantrums are from what is happening in my life right now or if I have always been an “I want everything right now this very moment” kind of person.
Take this rye bread I suddenly wanted to make for example. In theory, it was cute. I mean how amazing would it be to make pumpkin-rye bread for my family to bring in the fall season?? Fun right?! Wrong… This bread took me LITERALLY. FOR. EVER. Again, I could have just been riding on my emotions about everything else happening in my season of life or it could have been that the bread took me forever.
The first stage of making rye bread (especially since it does not have a super huge gluten factor to it) is mixing and kneading this very sticky dough. By hand. For like ten minutes. And it starts out really sticky. Like stick in between your fingers and all in the creases of your wedding ring kind of sticky. Then the bread needs to rise for about two hours. Two whole hours! Then you need to knead the bread again, shape it, and let it rise one more time before it ever goes in the oven.
Y'all, I was waiting for this bread to rise so long I was able to mix, make, bake, and eat three (yes three) gluten-free blueberry muffins. I kid you not...
As I pitifully sat watching my bread rise for the ninetieth hour, wondering how many gluten-free muffins I could eat before I should start feeling greedy, I started to hear that still small voice. That Voice of reason. The Voice that always knows how to calm my soul. Is this not what I am doing in your life right now, Victoria? Is this not how I operate? Have I ever fallen through on what I have promised you before? Just trust me- I'm at work.
I don’t know where you are in your journey of life. But I do know this one thing to be true: God isn’t concerned with how long he has to prove you (another word for rise in the baking world FYI). He is not super concerned with wait times. Have you ever noticed that? This is the same God who literally waited until the Israelites were at the Red Sea with the Egyptians like right behind them before He parted the sea. Wouldn’t you have made those plans obvious to Moses before he got to the sea? Wouldn’t you have given him like some boats the night before or even had the sea already parted when they started heading that way? Or Joseph. Who gives someone a dream at the age of 17 to not have it come to pass until after he’s been sold into slavery, lied on after being sexually harassed at work, put into prison, and is in his thirties? Who does that? The same God who created bread you have to let rise for hours and hours before it is ready to be eaten.
Nevertheless, my sweet Savior’s voice was right. Everything great, everything worth praising Him for, everything good and wonderful in my life took a journey. Some of those journeys in my life haven’t been the best. They have been hard and, by my sight, have looked pretty hopeless. But in every one of those situations, God has allowed me to grow and prove into something absolutely amazing.
I said all of that to say- God isn’t super concerned about time. And He is especially not moved by my inpatient tantrums. He is the same yesterday, today, and for eternity. He is not pacing around with a stopwatch thinking, “Oh man, I better hurry up before this gets out of hand. I’m late!” He cares about the process. Without slowing down to knead the dough carefully, letting it rise, and handling it in the proper way- the end result would ultimately collapse. He doesn’t want you and I to collapse in our journeys. He desires to see us to grow and mature in His timing, not ours. So be patient, eat your muffin, and watch God do a work in your life.
And our Rye bread… well it was absolutely delicious.
Peace, Love, and Strength
Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins
Milk (we use almond or soy)
Mix all of your wet ingredients together
Hemp/Flax Seed Mix (Optional)
Mix all of the dry ingredients, then slowly fold it into the wet mixture. Gently add in blueberries (fresh or frozen). Bake in a greased muffin tin on 350 until done.
I don't want to lead you down a path of destruction...
I found about three different rye bread recipes online and mixed and mashed them together.
However, my advice is to find a good rye bread recipe that also includes using a cornmeal in it. I made a pumpkin rye bread. The pumpkin was simply for texture, it didn't taste like pumpkin.
Also, when cooking something that has risen that many times and is that big- try tapping the bottom of the bread when taking it out of the oven. It should sound hollow.
So yesterday was my mom's 58th birthday. I am shocked I remembered because I have been telling folks she was 60 for about eight or so years now... A few things you need to know about good ole Sarah J, my mama:
#1 She does what she wants when she wants
#2 She is never on time (Even after almost 30 years in the Army)
#3 She has celiac disease, so I have had it up to here with gluten free recipes at this point
#4 She is incredibly picky for someone who has a serious food allergy
#5 And she is the most giving person I know
That being said, my birthday is literally two days before hers. She gave me an insane amount of stuff for my birthday (see #1 and 5), she showed up to my little get together for my birthday around 9:20pm when I'm sure it started at 6pm (see #2), she demanded a gluten-free cupcake heated up with absolutely no icing on it (#3 and 4), and still managed to try giving me even more gifts yesterday on her birthday (what I love the most about her see #5). That being said, I wanted her 60th birthday (I mean 58th) to be perfect. So we scooped up (yet again) a house robe for her, which she absolutely loves, and I started plotting our gluten-free, for the ever so picky Sarah J, birthday menu.
Side note: Let me tell y'all (for my not southern folks: this means you and all as in you guys, you peps, you people: y'all) something about gluten-free baking: I hate it. So much empathy for people who have to eat that way, so much respect for people who choose to eat that way, but I cannot stand baking with gluten-free flour. There is always a surprise factor involved. This could, of course, speak to my level of expertise in the kitchen but still!
I decided on fried fish, rice, broccoli, homemade tarter sauce, and some delicious apple tarts. Now, I know how to make a pretty good apple pie. Essspppecialy if I sneak a pre-made box of crust into my grocery cart instead of making one from scratch like I usually do. But to celebrate my mama turning the big 6-0, I wanted this dessert to knock her picky socks off. I found a french apple tart recipe online: decided there were way too many layers for me to be trying to deal with (I am not Ina guys). Found another tart that I liked: It caused for frozen puff pastry. No sir! This is my mom's 60th (I mean 58th) birthday! There will be no frozen anything thank you very much. Found an old puff pastry recipe: ummmm.... yeah it's not that big of a birthday milestone for her... I could go buy a frozen pre-made one for all of that. Then I came across this recipe on Taste of Lizzy T's . Now granted, I went through all of this fuss to find a pastry recipe because I already know how to make a pie crust, but after about an hour of searching and my eyes crossing I decided I would just stick to the basics. Don't judge me.
I have always been taught that a good pie crust (or biscuits which is a pretty close recipe to pie) starts with cold-cold-cold stuff. What does that mean in the kitchen? Cold ingredients, cold bowls and utensils if you wanted to take the extra step to do that, and as little bit of touching the dough with your body heat. I got my girls to help out with the measuring and with the apples (which essentially meant they made playdough on my counter and ate a bunch of apples I was trying to get cut). On my birthday (because I was told I couldn't lift a finger that day) I played around with making some apple jelly. It bombed. Horribly. BUT I was able to make an apple...syrup...if you will. I used that with some lemon juice to keep my apples, what was left, from turning. And, because I spoke it into existence, her dough was soggy. Maybe too much butter on my part? Or maybe it's because baking with gluten-free flour always goes wrong? We shall never know. As I have seen on many cooking show, I decided to par bake it in an attempt to stiffen up her "soggy bottom" <--- you would get that if you ever watched a British cooking show. Ever. Some sliced spiced apples layered on top (because the dough was to squishy to fold, move, or even look at) made a pretty nice looking open-faced gluten free apple tart!
I don't want to lie to you. The one on the right is the gluten-free tart. The other tart is a highly glutenized version of hers that I made for the rest of us.
I am happy to report that Sarah J was not only thrilled with her meal, she made it a point to tell me that she actually hates apple pie (especially ones that have a few peels still on them) but that she loved this one.
#6 My mom will never lie to you to make you feel better about yourself. She would rather tell you something absolutely sucks so you can begin working on improving on it
One thing about my mom, she might be a lot of wild things- but she is the greatest 60 year old mom I could ever have :)
Peace, Love, and Strength
Pie Crust (gluten) recipe above in link.
Apple syrup (homemade apple juice or regular apple juice cooked with sugar)
Corn starch to thicken
Layer apple slices across half the recipe for crust then lay second piece across top and tuck in edges. Coat with an egg wash (one egg and water) and sprinkle a little sugar on top. Slice top dough with 4-6 slits across top. Bake on 400 F for about 30 minutes or until brown. Mix a splash of milk with powdered sugar for a drizzle to go on top.
With five kids (and a super greedy husband) I have learned that my kitchen is the heart of our home. We have so much going on: from homeschool to chores, our businesses, everyday chaos and life; making a priority of meeting in our kitchen for our time of faith and fellowship as a family hasn't always been easy but it is the key. This doesn't always mean we meet over an extravagant meal decked out with appetizers and french desserts either (even though I am not against either one). For me, "bringing it home" has always meant me trying my hardest to show up every single day for my marriage and my family emotionally and physically. The best way that I know to do that is over some good food with the people that I absolutely love.
Psalms 128: 1-3
Peace, love, and Strength
*Game night with triple berry crumble pie