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Just about one year ago (almost to the day), I blogged about a new recipe I’d discovered from a fun blog, for zucchini bread pancakes. This morning, as I stared at a surplus of zucchini, visions of those incredible pancakes stirred in my mind. Shortly after making those pancakes last year, my family became gluten-free. Slowly but surely, we’ve revisited special recipes, one by one, making tweaks and alterations. As a rule, it’s best to find a true gluten-free recipe for something rather than make substitutions to a traditional recipe. Many do not translate well due to different properties of gluten-free flours, wet-to-dry ratios, and lack of well, gluten. Certain recipes, however, are unique and beg for experimentation. I’m pleased to say that this recipe translated amazingly. Proportionately, there’s not much flour, which bodes well for its success.
A summery breakfast
If you’re not gluten-free, go straight to the original recipe. My only change is to use two cups of shredded zucchini. To make these gluten-free, substitute the one cup of flour for 3/4 cup plus 1 T brown rice flour, 2 T cornstarch, and 1 T tapioca flour. Make sure your oats are certified gluten-free, and use 1 t xanthan gum. Follow the recipe as posted above, and enjoy. We’re also mostly dairy-free, and the recipe worked well with almond milk in place of cow’s milk, soy-free dairy-free butter in place of butter, and I did use the sour cream because there’s no good substitute. Almond milk yogurt might work, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it might be too thin. No matter how you make them, they’re incredible.
Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, HcG Pills, B12 Shots, South Beach Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Phentremine, Hydroxycut, Nutrisystem….
Been there, done that.
The day I started 7th grade was the day I started my first diet. Prior to that day, my diet consisted of pizza, fried chicken, candy, soda, potatoes and lots of pasta. In my family, the way you showed someone you loved them was by cooking them a great meal. Every Sunday my entire family would meet at my grandma’s house to eat a huge meal and play cards… only we’d eat so much that we would fall asleep after the meal and forget to play cards.
I was always big for my age… I just never realized it until 7th grade. My problem was not a lack of exercise; I’ve played organized sports all my life (my first word was baseball for crying out loud)! My problem was that I had a family that showed love with food. My grandma would keep me after school until my mom picked me up. I’d eat a snack that was probably big enough to be a meal, then go home and eat a large dinner.
The day I realized that I was overweight was when one of the girls I cheered with said to me, “WOW I can’t believe you can touch your toes, you’re so fat.” Thus began my journey through yo-yo diets and failed attempts at losing weight.
I literally tried every single diet out there. At one point, I was starving myself on the “lemonade” diet and only drinking a nasty concoction of hot water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and honey. I’d lose 5 lbs after dieting for months, get discouraged and start eating again.
Finally, it clicked for me (Stick around for my next blog to see what my new “diet/lifestyle” is all about). I got serious about losing weight and lost 12o pounds in a little less than 2 years. But there is still one major problem… Even though I’ve lost 120 pounds and I’m at a weight I would have died to be at 4 years ago, I just don’t notice the difference.
I’ve had body image issues since middle school. The teasing and constant nagging about dieting has taken its toll on my mind. My parents were great… don’t get me wrong. They loved me unconditionally and always encouraged me to be the best person I could be. We very rarely talked about weight (except when my mom and I dieted together). The ridicule came from other kids.
Here’s the take home point I’d like to make: If you’re a parent of an overweight child, don’t make a big deal about their weight. Don’t over analyze everything they eat. Don’t criticize them. Trust me, they get enough teasing from other kids, they do not need it from their parents. Take all the junk food and unhealthy items out of your home and start cooking healthy family meals. Don’t say you’re going on a diet, just say you’re trying new recipes (better yet, say nothing at all). Take family walks together or play a family game in the back yard.
Most importantly… THINK ABOUT HOW YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT AND LOOKS IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN. If your child hears you saying you’re ugly, need a face lift, need to go on a diet, etc. they’ll soon be saying the same things. Be positive about all the great things that make you who you are. If you’ve got laugh lines that you want to get filled in, don’t complain about the laugh lines in front of your children… be thankful that you’ve had a lot to laugh about during your lifetime.
Please check out our health section for more information on body image, dieting and encouraging your children to exercise. In my next blog I’ll discuss how I lost 120 pounds!
Thanks for reading,
Hello readers, as boring as it may be, I’m going to start out by introducing myself to you all…
I’m Brittany and I’m the newest addition to the Hudson Valley Parent family. About 4 months ago, I was hired as the Editorial Assistant. I must say, I really love working here at HVParent. Our entire staff is great and so much fun to be around.
Since I came on board, I’ve worked a lot with our social media sites. If you’re not already our friend on facebook, I hope you’ll take a moment to join us (shameless plug… I know).
Now for some
boring background about me… I’m originally from North Carolina. I moved to New York 6 months ago to be with my boyfriend, Bill. Bill and I met through my baseball-focused, radio show I used to host called “A Show of Their Own.” The show is now archived online, but I’ll spare you the shameless plug.
Prior to HVP, I worked as a high school basketball, softball and volleyball coach… which transitioned me to sports-talk radio and now logically to working for a parenting publication! Working for HV Parent is a combination of everything I love: writing, editing, interviewing, videos, photography, social media, even some graphic design! Not to mention, I get to think up crazy ideas for new things to offer our readers!
Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been putting off blogging for a while. I have several blogs of my own, but couldn’t decided on an angle for this new HVParent blog of mine. BUT I finally figured it out.
Since, I made you read this long blog all about me, I guess it’s time for me to unveil my new blog and what exactly it will be about (drum roll please….)
Gym Class Hero will focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ll discuss everything from sports, weight loss, activities for the kids, nutrition… anything. I recently lost 120 pounds… yep 120! I’m still 30 pounds away from my goal weight and cannot wait to share my journey with all of you. I’m a sports nut and have had some great experiences I want to share with
(y’all) you all. My goal for this blog is to have something for everyone… mom, dad, kids, grandparents, etc. I hope you’ll continue reading my musings and comment away!
Thanks for reading,
This was not an easy week. For those of you who did not catch last week’s post, my family and I have recently committed to the GAPS diet to help heal damage caused by celiac disease. The beginning of a positive shift is often the easiest, as motivation is high, the change is fresh, and the honeymoon period of improving your life for the better is exhilarating. Once the newness wears off, challenges arise. Whether someone has started a new exercise plan, changed eating habits, quit smoking, or any other lifestyle change, motivation and desire to stick to the goal waxes and wanes. It’s best to set up some reinforcements and contingency plans in advance, and rely on them as needed. Some important reinforcements are social support, information, and patience. I have relied on a great friend who has made a very similar commitment and understands what we’re going through. She listens to vents and complaints, and responds with suggestions and gentle nudges toward acceptance. The internet is always a great place for any kind of support, and I’ve made a number of friends online who have also been down this road and provide insight. Surprisingly, I’ve even made some friends whose journey resembles ours of a few months ago, and I’ve been able to provide support to those individuals. I’ve found it motivating not only to receive support, but to give back to others and know I’m paying it forward.
Knowledge is also motivating. Each time I feel my commitment diminishing, I spend some time reading about the many benefits of this lifestyle change. It reminds me of the importance of prioritizing health. I also find recipes, tips, and ideas. Favorites we’ve enjoyed thus far:
Zucchini noodles (these can be enjoyed by most anyone)
Peanut butter squash “brownies” (tasted just like pumpkin bread)
(Grain-free!) Banana blueberry waffles (based loosely on this recipe)
Next up on my list are butternut squash fries, which sound similar to sweet potato fries (who doesn’t love those?) and cauliflower “rice.” We’ve also gotten good at making bone broth. It’s surprising easy to make, and there are many benefits to it, whether you are feeling well or looking to improve health.
Finally, patience with oneself is key. Chalk it up to my time spent working in the substance abuse field, but any new change must be taken one day at a time. Even my husband keeps asking, “So how long do we need to do this?” and my answer is, “Let’s take it day by day.” I’m a plan-ahead gal down to the most minute detail, but at some point it’s essential to let go. Planning a change that will last “forever” (or for any relatively long time period) is daunting and overwhelming. Those who stop smoking may not be able to envision never lighting up another cigarette, but they can probably agree to withhold for the remainder of the day. The next day will bring new opportunity and often renewed strength. I find it best to plan out only a few days at a time, and let things fall into place. Adjustment happens over time. Any new habit takes two to four weeks to form, and bolstering oneself with support and knowledge will make that time less painful.
As always, I welcome hearing from anyone who has ever, or who hopes to, make a significant lifestyle change. I’m not gonna lie… it ain’t easy… but may the payoff be a fair exchange for the sacrifices along the way. The face of my blog is changing, and I welcome you to visit, cheer us on, share your experiences, and broaden the support we can all offer one another.
Before I can even talk about what my family is currently doing, I have to first say that I strongly dislike the word “diet” and all of its connotations. To me, the word “diet” is so overused in our culture, and carries with it such negativity. It typically implies superficiality, and the desire to lose weight without attention to health. Especially given my years of studying eating disorders and working with individuals suffering from them, I cringe when I hear someone “on a diet,” especially children. To take it one step further, I’ve never believed in any of the faddish low-carb diets, as I’ve always known that the best path to improving one’s health is through long-term, sustained lifestyle changes, and not a quick fad diet to be followed for a brief time. So when I use the word “diet,” I really mean “meal plan” or “lifestyle.”
That said… my family is currently on the GAPS “diet.” It’s a structured plan designed to heal medical conditions (in our case, leaky gut caused by celiac disease) and its origin is medicinal in nature. It’s drastic, and the idea of it took some getting used to. The concept is to remove anything harmful or inflammatory from your diet, and allow your insides to heal. Basically, GAPS is a grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, whole-foods-only diet. Lots of cooked veggies, fruits, chicken, nuts, seeds, and eggs. And if that doesn’t sound restrictive enough, we’re doing a modified intro, which means you begin following the diet by eating meals consisting of only of a homemade bone broth filled with cooked meats and vegetables. While we are not eating anything unpleasant, at all (I actually love veggies, fruits, eggs, and chicken) it’s more of what we can’t eat that’s the adjustment. Anything you can buy from the store that is pre-made, packaged, or comes in a sealed container, jar, or can of any sort is off-limits. Shopping for GAPS means leaving the store with raw meats or poultry, a carton of eggs, and fruits and vegetables. It’s lots of cooking, making broths, and adjusting. We’ve been gluten-free and quasi-dairy-free for seven months now, and even that lifestyle is a walk in the park compared to GAPS.
The reason I share our current journey is that I could not have gotten to where we are now without the help and guidance of others who have been down this path before us. I have one close friend who is my gluten-free, grain-free guru, and I’ve spent countless hours reading articles, books, and blogs to find our way. The more I talk to others, the more I have find so many people who are affected by gastrointestinal upset, headaches, arthritis/inflammation, asthma, allergies, Autism/Asperger’s, and so many other complaints. Shockingly, so many of those ailments can be addressed through purposeful detox and diet (well, lifestyle change, but you know what I mean). I’ve made many friends in cyberspace who have been where we are, and give a glimpse of what is to come. It builds hope. I welcome anyone who is not feeling quite right, or who knows someone who isn’t feeling quite right, to look into the possibility that there is a bigger picture, and a possibility that changes in lifestyle could bring surprising relief. I’d love to talk to anyone who’s been down this road before, or considering it now.
All the best.
I don’t know about your family, but mine comes home starving every day from school and work. We tend to eat dinner early (typically 5 or 5:30) so an after-school snack at 4 pm could easily ruin dinner. However, it’s hard to keep my daughters (and husband) out of the kitchen, and I can’t help but feel annoyed to see them snacking as I’m making dinner. I’ve found putting out a plate of veggies or fruits and dip satisfies their snack cravings and is something I don’t mind them eating. If you enter the house at the same time as your hungry spouse and kids (or if you are that hungry spouse!) it can be made the evening before and taken out of the fridge as you walk in the door.
Quite simply, I fill this sectioned tray with veggies or fruit, and put salad dressing or yogurt in the middle. On this occasion it was snap peas, red peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, and cucumbers; but other times it’s baby spinach, cantaloupe, grapes, watermelon, or whatever my family enjoys. Cover it with plastic wrap and have it ready for whenever your family needs it. Even if the kids don’t eat their vegetables with dinner, they’ll have gotten a head start. In fact, many kids are more likely to eat fruits or veggies as a snack than if it was on their dinner plate.
If your kids will eat soup, it can be a great way to get almost anything into them. With a blender, food processor, or stick blender, you can puree veggies, fruits, proteins, or beans, and they’ll literally disappear into the broth. Even if your kids will eat their dinner without disguise (as mine will), soup is still a fun way to help the vegetables go down, no spoonful of sugar necessary. If your kids tend to be picky, get creative and rename the soup something fun. Transformer soup, martian soup, princess and the pea soup, or whatever will get them smiling. Provide an interesting garnish– shredded cheese, tortilla strips, whole grain goldfish– and the fun will go even further.
Broccoli is one vegetable that gets a bad rap. My kids love it, but I know many children (and grown-ups!) who do not. Soup is a great way to serve broccoli, as no one will ever see past the “fun” green color. I found this recipe a while back in Parents magazine. Its base is stock, not milk or cream, which is healthier, and dairy-free; both of which are important to many families. I made it as a first course on Easter, and it was the perfect elegant, simple, tasty soup that “looked like Spring.” Even my 92 year old Grandpa (who does not like broccoli, as it turns out) scraped the bowl clean. Later it occurred to me that I could’ve also tossed in a handful of steamed spinach before pureeing, so I’ll try that next time.
To make, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large stockpot. Sauté ½ an onion (chopped) over medium heat. Add one medium potato (peeled and chopped), three cups broccoli (chopped), and three cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered, 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool slightly, puree in small batches or using a stick blender. Stir in one cup of shredded cheese, if desired. Serves four.
Kale is one of those vegetables, similar to collard greens, that I always intend to incorporate into our meals but can never find palatable ways to do so. Other than slipping it into soups (and I can’t get my family to eat soup as a main course too often) I’m at a loss. I always hear that kale chips are a great way to transform kale into something delightful, but my last attempt was more like disappointing. They came out terribly bitter, and my husband swears they made us sick afterwards. I held off on trying again, but they were on sale last week, so I took it as a sign. I decided to do some thorough research and give it another go.
Basically, what I learned is there are two essential steps to getting kale chips just right, and I unfortunately did neither the first time I made them. Cutting the leaves off the stems (which are the source of bitterness) is essential, as is thoroughly drying the leaves before baking, so that they get crispy rather than soggy. This time I was diligent, and they were perfect. I took step by step photos as I went along so the process would be easy to replicate. The methodology I followed came from Real Food Digest.
Making Kale Chips
First, put the entire bunch of kale in a strainer and wash well, paying attention to dirt that can get trapped between the stem and leaves. Even though you’ll next do some trimming, it is easier to wash the leaves as whole pieces.
Next, trim the leaves off the stems, staying as close to the stem as possible. Then rip the pieces into chip-sized bites. I wasn’t quite sure how to get a photo of myself in action, but my four-year-old took this photo for me, budding photographer and chef that she is.
When you’re done trimming, your stems should look like this. We tossed them in the compost.
Next (this is a really important step), spread them out on racks (like the kind you use to cool baked goods), and pat them very, very dry. Then let them air dry for as long as possible. I did this a few hours before I was going to bake them, and left the nearby window open.
Once they’re dry, put them into a bowl, and season and massage them. Yes, massage them. My kids thought it was hysterical. The concept comes from KB/Superhero, and it was the funniest thing I came across online while researching kale chips. KB said, “Now it’s time to give the kale an intense massage. Pretend your a Swiss masseuse and you’re taking out your frustrations on a Wall Street jackass. Really let him have it. Massage that dressing into the kale.” (In this case, I massaged in one tablespoon of olive oil, then I sprinkled them with one teaspoon of kosher salt once they were on the baking sheet. They can be made them sweet, savory, or however you like them).
Next, spread them onto however many baking sheets you need to not have leaves overlapping (I needed two large baking sheets). How you bake them seems to be another key component. Some websites recommended quick, high temps to crisp them, whereas others recommended longer, lower temps to dry them out. I went with the latter, and baked them at 250 for 35-40 mins, rotating the trays halfway through. Keep close to the oven and check them after 30 mins, so you can monitor when they get crisp but before they burn. Taste one and you’ll know if it’s done.
Done, they’ll look crisp and dry, and are crunchy.
Finally, serve alongside a casual meal. We had ours with tomato/turkey bacon/grilled cheese sandwiches, and oranges. After dinner, I brought my daughter to dance class and my husband stayed home to handle clean-up. I was sad, although not surprised, to find out the kale chips were completely gone when I returned. I’ll consider that a good thing.