August 24, 2016

Gluten Free, Vegan Pancakes

My Little Guy was diagnosed at 12 months with Wheat, Egg, and Dairy allergies. My husband and I already consumed minimal wheat and dairy at home, but I'm an egg lover! So, egg free is a bigger challenge for me with finding alternative recipes.

By the time he was diagnosed, his love for pancakes had already formed.
So, what's a mama to do? Right! Find a way to make her baby some GF, Vegan pancakes.
So that's what I did.

Just so you know, I failed miserably at first. The first batch was a total fail. Before I cooked a second batch, I changed skillets and said a little pancake prayer as my son tugged on my pajama pants. "Dear Jesus, help me make my baby some pancakes that won't trigger an allergic reaction. Amen."
If you can't tell, this mama's love runs deep for her baby's food.

But thankfully, I bounced back from the lows of my first failed attempt. I think they turned out lovely! Most importantly, the Little Guy loves them, the Big Guy likes them, and Mama is thankful her baby can have fluffy pancakes again!
Here is my tasty, prayed over, pancake recipe.

Servings: 10-12, 3"-4" pancakes

INGREDIENTS
1 cup gluten free baking mix or all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 Tbsp oil + more during cooking

INSTRUCTIONS
1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients, stirring well.
2. Heat oil on griddle or in small skillet over medium heat.
3. Add liquid ingredients to dry mixture. Mix until all lumps are eliminated.
4. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter into skillet or onto griddle. Cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbles form. Flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
5. Repeat with remaining batter.
6. Serve with peanut butter, maple syrup, or fruit spread.



Mini Meatloaf Pepper Rings


I love a good meatloaf but have never, ever been able to make a fantastic traditional, full-size meatloaf. It never cooks completely in the center, the edges are crispy, or something just isn't right with it. Thus, my love for the mini meatloaf. I mean, isn't most food better in smaller, pre-portioned sizes?

These mini meatloaf pepper rings are awesome for several reasons.
- They meet my cute mini pre-portioned criteria.
- Because of the smaller size, it doesn't take as long to cook as a large meatloaf.
- The flavor from the bell pepper ring cooks into the meatloaf.
- It makes such a colorful meal!
- And best of all, clean up is a cinch using the pepper ring instead of a muffin pan like most mini meatloaf recipes. Can I get an amen for not having to soak a muffin pan?!
I combined a few recipes and tailored for our needs. Since my Little Guy has several food allergies, Gluten Free and Vegan ingredient options are provided in parenthesis.
Let me know what you think and if you have any other creative ideas for this recipe!

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can tomato puree
1 egg (or 1 Tbsp The Perfect Egg Vegan Substitute)
1/2 cup quick oats (or Bob's Red Mill GF Quick Oats)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
4 medium to large bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or green)
1 1/2 Tbsp grapeseed oil

Instructions:
1. Cut off tops and bottom of peppers. Reserve for later. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers. Slice peppers into 2 - 3 rings each. Line a pan with parchment paper and place pepper rings on it. Dice the reserved pieces of peppers.
2. Combine ground beef, onion, garlic 1/2 cup tomato puree, egg, oats, salt, pepper, and oregano. Go ahead and mix that up with your hands. Nothing works better than hands to mix meatloaf.
3. Now, stuff the pepper rings with meatloaf mixture.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp in large cast iron skillet and transfer stuffed pepper rings from pan.
5.  Brown the stuffed pepper rings for about 5 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may have to do a couple batches. If you aren't using an oven safe dish, transfer to a casserole dish at this time.
6. Once browned, spoon remaining tomato puree over the stuffed pepper rings.
7. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes.
8. While stuffed pepper rings are baking, heat the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in a small pan. Saute the reserved, diced peppers.
9. Top each stuffed pepper ring with sautéed diced peppers.


August 16, 2016

Being a Faithful Dreamer

Dream BIG! Follow your dreams!...How many times have you been told that or heard it said?
Find GOD's dream for your life!...Now, how often do you hear that? Not as much, right?

I just finished a short, yet powerful, devotion titled God's Dream for Your Life. It is a 19 day plan by pastor and author Rick Warren, and free on the Bible app. I highly recommend downloading the Bible app and add this devotion plan.
Some mornings I read and felt like it was a pep rally injecting hope and faith into my dreams!

As I wrote this, I found myself relating these encouraging truths about dreams to some of our experiences as we pursued our dream of becoming parents through adoption. Even though I didn't start with that intent, I'm grateful God led me down that trail!
I won't spoil it for you by giving you a day-by-day recap, but here are major take-a-ways that I encourage you to consider with your own dreams.
 
FIND YOUR DREAM
God gives us these dreams. If your dream is real, then it is God-given. A real dream is one that doesn't go away. Wishes fade, dreams grow stronger the more we pursue them. We may think these dreams are our ideas, but that's not how it works. Sorta like when my husband and I thought we chose to adopt instead of going through another round of infertility treatments. We thought we would take a break, pray about it, and then move forward. How silly of us, that wasn't our idea! God planted that dream in our hearts like a farmer plants a seed in his freshly tilled soil. He planted the seed, cultivated it, and then let us reap the blessings of our son. If you don't know your dream, then you have to tune everything out and ask God for it.
 
COMMIT TO YOUR DREAM
Commit yourself to God's word, dig in to your dream, and focus. God gives us dreams, but we have to make the decision to achieve them. Our motivation sets our wishes apart from our dreams. Have faith in His heavenly plan, not your earthly viewpoint. With every decision you make, consider how it supports or deviates from your dream. God believes we are capable of doing our part, or He would not give us the dream. After we submitted our adoption profile and applications to adoption agencies, there were times when I let negative and impatient thoughts creep in my mind. Sometimes, I thought there is no way a birthmother will choose us over a couple. Fear and weakness sometimes got the best of me, but I knew God wanted us to be parents. I held tight to the dream he placed in our hearts. Another thing is tell people your dreams! Maybe not announce it to the world, but share your calling with others that will support you, pray for you, and hopefully hold you accountable in a positive way. We chose not to shout our adoption dream from the rooftops, but did have a group of people that knew we were actively presenting and seeking God's path leading to our son. Great success can be a result of positive sharing and accountability! When you commit to God's dream for your life, you're committing to Him. Sharing your dream with others and your commitment to attaining the dream is a statement of faith!
 

EXPECT DELAYS
Once I have a vision, I want to run out and make it happen regardless if I have all the resources or insight. Yes, we have a responsibility to work to make our dreams reality; however, we can't run ahead of God. Sometimes along the path, we encounter dead ends. That doesn't mean your dream is over! God may take us on a detour so that our dream becomes even more clear. When this happens, pray for guidance and the right path be obvious. My husband and I had a very clear vision of the desires for our family and our abilities as parents. Adoption requires you to be very honest with yourself at what you can handle and provide. Still, there were times when I wanted to rush things and deviate from that clear vision. My hope would often dip when we weren't seeing our vision in the babies being presented. Then, when we did present to birthmothers, there were plenty of rejections. Once I would recover from the sting, I reminded myself that God was waiting on our child; thus, the delay. God doesn't abandon His promise. It may be that He is actually waiting on us...
 

EXPECT GOD TO DELIVER
Expect God to deliver on His promises. That's called faith! With our human nature, we often grow weary or begin to lose hope. When you are ready, when the timing is perfect for His will, He will deliver that dream. This is the opposite of relying on yourself to make something happen.  At some point, I whole-heartedly trusted God. I knew deep down that God would not let us miss our baby or send us the wrong baby. God is too good for that! Sure enough a few months later, God led a young woman to choose us as our son's parents. While you're waiting, read God's words and realize His promises. Positive, secular encouragement is good reinforcement, but the Bible prevails. It calms panic, turns weakness to courage, and is a roadmap for navigating our journey.
 

Each of these truths left such an impression on my heart and mind. Isn't it amazing that our mighty God has written our dreams in His plans! This my friends is glorious, freeing, and leaves me hopeful. I hope sharing from a personal perspective is relatable and encouraging to you.
I don't know about you but I want to uncover all the dreams God has planned for me and pursue them whole-heartedly!

If you enjoyed this summary of God's Dream for Your Life devotion by Rick Warren, find it on the Bible app or here.

Fit from Within,
SFM


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