Gingerbread Delights

IMG_4387You know I love flavors and that I tend to go a little crazy when I find one I love! Making everything possible out of it. Like pumpkin, I love pumpkin (and actually this fall inherited a lot of pumpkin) so was making muffins, pies, ice cream, etc. Experimenting with all different kinds of recipes.

My recent obsession is gingerbread. Always fabulous this time of year and something I really enjoy. I love ginger in general and am often making fresh ginger tea and drinking it daily. (Ginger also has a lot of health benefits, like aiding with colds and flu, as well as prevent and eliminating nausea).

IMG_4334But I had never really thought you could do much more with gingerbread than cookies. I had tunnel vision and could not see out of the box. Cookies are the only thing right? Then last month I discovered a recipe for gingerbread waffles. Of course I knew right away that we had to try it. They were fabulous! and everyone gobbled them up. Which got me to thinking there must be other variations of gingerbread something out there. So I started looking – I had so far, cookies, waffles… what about muffins? Gingerbread muffins would surely be delicious.

IMG_0750I did a quick Google search and a number of recipes popped up. I looked at a few, picked the one I liked the best and whipped them up yesterday! Ok I tried to whip them up, I had a bit of a baking travesty. I checked on my ingredients and thought I had everything I needed but as I went along I first discovered I was almost out of barley malt, then ginger, both I had just enough. Phew! Nope, didn’t have enough Earth Balance – shoot! So I mixed it all together and set it aside until after I could run to the store.

Once I had my final ingredient, I finished mixing them up and put them in the oven to bake. I was curious and of course so were the kids (they always want muffins!) They poofed up beautifully and smelled delicious. That lovely gingerbread smell wafting through the house afterschool…Yum!

They were finally done, and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, we dove in. They were delicious, super moist with just a subtle gingerbread taste, not too overpowering. Now I prefer a little more of a gingerbread flavoring kick, so I am going to play with the spices in this recipe a little to amp up the flavor. Once I do that, I’ll report back to you 🙂 But since I have 36 muffins at the moment to enjoy I won’t be experimenting with that one for a little bit.

You can easily half the recipe if you want to, 36 muffins is a lot, or you can bake them all and freeze them for later (if you remember they are in the freezer, personally I often forget that they are there and end up baking new ones anyway).

I also think these muffins would be fabulous with some kind of icing, which I am also going to experiment with and get back to you. For some reason I am thinking a nice cream cheese option would work…

Now that you are drooling, anticipating that warm moist gingerbread muffin in your mouth, here is the recipe. Completely sugar free and dairy free, it will be a hit at your house too!

Gingerbread Muffins

3 eggsIMG_4385

1 c. barley malt

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. ginger

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly grease muffin tins with Earth Balance. Spoon batter into muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 36 muffinsIMG_4392

What is your favorite gingerbread recipe?


Homemade Marshmallows

Well it’s official! I can now make anything without sugar in it. When we went sugar free we really struggled at first, having to avoid things that we loved and enjoyed. But it was just going to take time to figure out how to make these things like cakes, cookies, chocolate, etc. without the sugar in it. What were the substitutes? How did you do it? It was a huge learning curve.

I assured Matthew, my oldest son that I would figure it out. Cause one of the things I did not want to happen in going sugar free was for him to feel denied. That he could still have the yummy treats that his friends did, with the difference being healthier, better for you.

Slowly I began to build my reperatoire, cookies, cakes, muffins those were easy. Bread, new sweet treat recipes, chocolate…we were getting there. Matthew was pretty happy too, except for one last thing, marshmallows. There was no substitute in the store to buy and I had no idea what to do to make them.

He reminded me of this when we went camping this summer, mentioning that it would be nice to roast marshmallows… “I know” I said and assured him that I was on a mission; as marshmallows were the only thing that I could not make sugar free but I knew there had to be a way.

A little while back I found this recipe for homemade marshmallows on Facebook and just about died! This was the ‘missing link’ that I was looking for. The recipe I needed, and it was totally healthy! Sweetened with honey and very easy to make.

So yesterday was the big day. I tried it out and Wow they were stupendeous! They look and taste like an original marshmallow and I don’t care how many my kids eat!

Unfortunately the marshmallows had to sit to set, but I let the kids lick the beaters. As you can see Luke and Chloe were thoroughly enjoying it! Attacking the beater with vigor. Matthew has attested that they taste just like regular marshmallows and just in time for our Halloween campfire tomorrow night.

We are also set for camping next summer! S’mores, rice krispie squares and other marshmallow treats here we come!

IMG_2354

A couple quick tips when making this marshmallow recipe:

When letting it sit to set don’t worry about covering it. I made this mistake and ended up losing some because it stuck to the cover. Oops! lesson learned.

When storing them make sure you line the bottom of your container with parchment paper, and layer it with paper in between. Again, they’ll stick and they’ll peel right off the parchment paper. Don’t forget to put one on the top before you put on the lid!

The mixture starts to set quite quickly so have your pan ready to go, and as soon as the soft peaks form, pour it right into the pan. Don’t worry about the beaters you can take care of those later 🙂

Crunchy Broccoli and Feta Salad

One of the things I love about summer (I know it’s not quite summer yet, but it’s on my mind), is all the comings and goings, the possibilities and options of places to go and see and explore. There is so much to do that you can easily be gone all day everyday if you chose to.

I love taking the kids out whether it be to the zoo, Heritage Park or checking out a new park in the city. One of the challenges and things I really don’t enjoy so much, is packing lunch for the day. Snacks are easy enough but I find that peanut butter sandwiches are only exciting for so long and then we need something new. I also like things that are ready to grab and go so packing lunch takes no time at all. I also like variety; so salads, things with vegetables and different flavours and textures. Makes the trip more enjoyable cause you’re looking forward to lunch, and life more exciting!

So I usually prepare ahead of time and freeze, muffins and cookies to take or other meals that are easy to make ahead and just grab the day of. That’s why I was very excited when I discovered this broccoli salad recipe. It’s fresh, crisp, has a zippy flavour and is lovely on a summer day. Plus I love feta cheese! and though I am dairy free, I discovered that goat feta is ok for me as it is not considered dairy as it does not come from a cow. (And if it makes a difference to you make sure you check the label when you are buying it – I had no idea that you could have cow feta until someone pointed it out to me, I just assumed they were all goat). Which I say thank God to that! Cause I love feta!

Crunchy Broccoli and Feta Salad

1 bunch broccoli

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp wine vinegar

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. each sea salt and pepper

1 cup crumbled feta cheese (I use goat feta as it is considered a non-dairy because it does not come from a cow)

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 c. red onion, very thinly sliced

Cut broccoli into florets. Peel and cut stems into 1/4″ thick slices.

Pour enough water into saucepan to come 1″ up side and bring to a boil. Place broccoli in steamer basket in saucepan; cover and steam until bright green but still crisp – about 1 minute. (Do not overcook! I have made the mistake a couple of times of leaving it too long and ended up with mushy broccoli and it does not taste so good in the salad. One minute is really all you need). Drain water.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Add broccoli, feta, tomatoes and onion. Toss to coat.

Can be made a head and refrigerated.

Gingerbread Cookies – A Holiday Favorite (& sugar free!)

sugar free gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread is a favorite and common Christmas recipe in most households during the holiday season. It’s fun to make, fun to decorate and of course delicious!

When we went sugar free I was unsure how to make sugar free gingerbread cookies, as it seemed silly to make and decorate them, then not eat them. I had found a website with sugar free recipes that offered an alternative but when I tried it though it was edible, it was not the same and I decided that I would not make it again. Matthew though really liked them, which I thought was interesting.

This past summer, I started using barley malt and coconut sugar more. Barley malt is a great substitute for molasses and coconut sugar for brown sugar. I made a delicious baked bean recipe when we went camping using the barley malt in place of the molasses, oh it was yummy!

Once I discovered these substitutions and that they worked well, I took a look at my original gingerbread recipe and realized that I now had the appropriate substitutions to adjust this recipe. I was very excited!

So I tried it out last week for the first time. I got out all my Christmas cookie cutters, which I have many, big and small and all different shapes. The kids love to use the cookie cutters and enjoy making the shapes. We made Santas, reindeer, angels and bells. Hollies and wreaths, snowmen and tin soldiers. Luke and Chloe were very excited and once we had them in the oven, asked to have the oven light on so they could see the cookies.

They did not eat much for lunch that day as they were waiting for cookies! (but I also used it an incentive to finish their lunch 🙂 They gobbled them up and of course wanted more, but after a few I said we would wait until later, as I actually had to bake the rest.

In adjusting the recipe I found that I would increase the spices a little, so though I have posted the recipe with the spice amounts as is, I would recommend increasing the ginger and maybe the cinnamon by 1/4 tsp. each, but it depends on your personal preference. I like my gingerbread cookies to be a bit more gingery than they turned out, though they were still very good.

We did not ice them this time around as we enjoyed them straight from the oven, but you could ice them with the recipe that I have included below. It is a basic sugar free icing recipe, which you can color using food coloring if you like. (Though food coloring is not good for us due to all the processing and effects it has on our body. You can buy natural food coloring in the store, I have seen it at Community Natural Foods here in Calgary, but you can also make your own. My sister has been experimenting with beets, spinach and other foods to color her icing for her cookies. More on that coming…)

Sugar Free Gingerbread Cookies

2 1/2 c. flour

sugar free gingerbread cookies1/2 c. shortening

1/2 c. coconut sugar

1/2 c. barley malt

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. hot water

1 tsp. vinegar

Sift flour, measure, resift. Cream shortening, blend in coconut sugar and add barley malt and beaten egg. Beat well. Mix spices with baking soda and blend until smooth with hot water and vinegar. Stir into creamed mixture. Add flour and mix.

Roll out dough on a well floured surface to 1/4″ thick. Dough may be quite sticky. Use cookie cutters to make desired shapes. Put on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes.

Cookies may be iced after fully cooled.

Simple Buttercream Icing 

1 c. Powdered Sugar Replacement (see recipe below)

1/2 c. Earth Balance Vegan Spread

1/2 c. Rice Milk or Almond Milk

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth. Proportions can be adjusted to make icing thicker or thinner as desired. Add food coloring if desired, ice cookies.

Sugar Free Powdered Sugar (replacement for regular icing sugar)

1 cup nonfat dry milk (for dairy free use powdered coconut milk)

1 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup Krisda Stevia for baking

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and whip until blended and powdered. Store in an airtight container.

This replacement can be used in any recipe calling for icing sugar.


Vanilla Bean Cake- a.k.a.Guilt Free Cake

Vanilla Bean Cake

When I tell people that we have completely eliminated sugar at our house I get a variety of responses – from “Good for you!” to shock and amazement “How did you do that?” I even have some people who swear they can’t live without their sugar fix, which I think is cute actually.

We originally made this choice due to Matthew’s needs but I feel that it has benefited us all. In fact, through my sugar free journey I have slowly been able to ‘convert’ some of my other family members. Not that I am on a mission to convert anyone, it is all personal choice and it is not for me or anyone else to get preachy and tell people what to do. But I do like talking about it and sharing what I have learned with others, and if it benefits them, then I am happy to have helped.

My family became interested in what I was doing as they were watching the changes I was making and how I was doing it. They became curious, so some of them decided to try it themselves, choosing to do so for different reasons. My mother has done quite a bit without sugar, now making bread, cookies, cakes, etc. She is also very accommodating when we come to visit and makes sure that she has food and meals for us that meet the no sugar requirement. Bless her!

I also have influenced my aunt and one of my sisters, so much so that they are coming to me for recipes and tips. They are learning themselves too how to adjust a recipe that they already have to meet their needs.

Once Upon a Time

My sister Cathy, currently of Vancouver, BC and part of the costume team for Once Upon a Time (I love that show!) came to me looking for a recipe for vanilla bean cake. I had come across this when working with Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids and Smokin’ Hot Mom. Cathy had tried a vanilla bean cake before without much success so was looking for a new recipe.

She tried the recipe I gave her as is but found that for her personal tastes it was a bit dry and needed a little something to spruce it up. So she adjusted and revised the recipe and now makes this moist delicious cake! Which I can vouch is true, as I got to have a piece this summer. She usually tops it with vanilla bean ice cream, but it is very good without.

It was so good that I asked her to send me her revised recipe to post on my blog and share with you folks. So here it is, enjoy! And it is a very healthy cake, dairy free, sugar free, gluten free and full of fibre, so go ahead have 2 pieces!

Vanilla Bean Cake

2 cups cooked white beans

Coconut Oil

6 eggs

3/4 tsp. liquid stevia

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 c. honey

1/4 c. coconut oil, liquified

1/3 c. coconut flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1.5 tsp. baking powder

1 fresh lemon

In a blender or food processor add white beans, rinsed and at room temperature (this is so they don’t cook the eggs or congeal the coconut oil), eggs, stevia, vanilla and honey. Puree well.

Then add to blender coconut oil, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda and puree well.

Transfer mixture from blender to a bowl. Add the zest of one lemon.  Fold in by hand.

Squeeze all the juice of the lemon into a cup and add 1 pkg.  (1 g) of stevia sweetner.  Stir and set aside until after the cake is out of the oven.

Pour mixture into a spring form pan, or a well greased 9” cake pan. Sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries on the top.

Bake at 325 F for 55 minutes.  Check if it’s done by inserting a knife in the centre, if it comes out clean, it’s done.  Otherwise bake for  5-10 additional minutes, checking often so it doesn’t over bake.

Once cake is removed from the oven, let stand for 10 minutes.  Then, while still warm, pour lemon juice mixture over top of cake.

It is delicious warm and plain, or add a scoop of frozen dessert such as Organic Rice Dream Frozen Dessert.

Vanilla Bean Cake topped with yummy ice cream

Next week I will have my first guest blogger, Nina Manolson of Healthy Yummy Kids. She is a certified holistic health coach who believes and educates women and families how to live and eat well in a world that doesn’t. She has many tips and recipes on how to eat and live sugar free as well, so if you wish to continue your sugar free learning don’t miss her post next week!

Natural Sugar Substitutes

It’s been over a year now since we have completely eliminated sugar from our home. We did so because our oldest son, Matthew required it. We found that the effects of sugar on his body were too extreme, leaving him moody, angry and disruptive and it was also affecting his sleep at night. He would go to bed at a reasonable time, and I know it was reasonable because I checked around with other parents and experts, and it would take him almost an hour or more to fall asleep at night. Now as an adult I find it very frustrating when I go to bed and it takes me a while to fall asleep. I can only imagine my son’s frustrations around this.

It was a huge learning curve discovering what I could use instead of sugar and products that did not contain it. Because as we began our journey we discovered very quickly that sugar is in almost everything.

The biggest challenge was finding yummy alternatives for Matthew that equated to what the other kids were having, and all the foods that he enjoyed and was used to, such as chocolate, cake, pies and muffins. With diligence I rolled up my sleeves and have been able to find replacements for all these things, as you have seen with some of the recipes on my blog in previous posts. It was just a matter of learning what the natural sugar substitutes were that he could have and how to easily substitute them in a recipe. Once I started looking I found that there were many to choose from and I had a lot of them already in my home.

Here is what I have learned/ discovered to be great substitutes for sugar in recipes. What you choose as the substitute will depend on your recipe as well as personal preference. Many of these natural sweeteners also have great health benefits as well, such as being rich in vitamins and minerals or aiding in the prevention of certain ailments and diseases.

Honey

Honey -choose a honey that is local to you. It has been shown that local honey provides immunity for you against environmental illnesses because the bees are local to your area. Honey has many other health benefits as well such as being a natural energy booster and remedy for many ailments. I use honey as a sugar substitute in crumble and muffins as well as in my bread recipes.

Agave nectar – simply the nectar from the agave plant. Make sure you get a good quality brand as some agaves are more processed with more additives. Ojio agave by Ulitmate Superfoods is a good quality one. When substituting agave for sugar use 3/4 to 1/2 the amount as agave is 25% sweeter than sugar. You also reduce your liquids in your recipe because the agave is a liquid itself, by 1/4 cup. Agave is great in anything but I use it mostly in cakes, muffins and pies.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup – use 100% pure. If you are using the processed kind then it is not a natural sweetener and you might as well use sugar. This is great in icing, marinades and glazes.

Stevia – is a strong leaf powder that is very sweet, also found in a liquid form. It is considerably sweeter than sugar so you use 1 tsp. stevia to 1 cup of sugar when substituting. It also has many health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and aids in digestion. Stevia is great in cakes and muffins, but also for your coffee, tea, or to sweeten other drinks.

Coconut sugar -comes from the nectar of the flowers of a coconut tree, and is available in a granulated or liquid form. Rich in vitamins such as potassium, zinc and iron. Coconut sugar is great because it melts like brown sugar, so I find that this works well in crumbles, on oatmeal or things like apple cinnamons when you want to create a syrupy texture.

Date Sugar

Date sugar -is made from dried dates and adds a rich sweetness to recipes. It does not melt or dissolve in liquids. When using date sugar substitute 2/3 cup to 1 cup of the sugar, as it is sweeter than sugar. I use date sugar in some bread recipes, muffins, pancakes or waffles.

Yacon syrup -sweetener extracted from the roots of the yacon plant. Some of yacon’s health qualities are strengthening the immune system and calcium absorption. Use 3/4 cup of yacon to 1 cup of sugar.

Barley Malt – is a wonderful replacement for molasses and is made from sprouted or malted barley. I use this in some cookie recipes, and my homemade baked beans. Yum!

Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar – naturally sweet, nutrient rich “sap” from coconut tree blossoms. High in amino acids, minerals and vitamin C. It can be used just like agave or maple syrup in recipes instead of sugar. I have only used it so far in cookies and they have turned out delicious!

Fruit is also a great natural sweetener, using apples (applesauce, make sure there is not sugar added) or bananas can add the sweetness you desire.

The best thing to do is experiment with these sweeteners, determine which ones work best in your recipes and which flavors you prefer. It can be fun to experiment in the kitchen as long as you are prepared to ‘let it go’ if one doesn’t turn out so well 🙂 Personally I have had success with my substitutions and if you follow these guidelines you’ll have no trouble whatsoever and soon it will become second nature, just like it is for me!

 

Welcome to Momma on the Move!

Welcome to Momma on the Move, a parenting blog written about the joys and challenges of parenting 3 young children in a world full of adventure and change.

This light hearted, witty, yet informative blog on the joys and adventures of parenting twin babies and an older child is full of tips and tricks that will help you to appreciate and manage the challenges of being a parent. My hope is that this will help you find the light heartedness in each situation and challenge, which will aid you in managing every day with ease and a smile. As well as to appreciate the positives of parenting and see the joy and the gift in each situation.

I am a mother of 3 children, Matthew, 9 and Luke and Chloe my 2 year old twins. Adjusting from one child to 3, was not hard but I discovered it has made things very busy! Through trial and error I’ve discovered tricks and tips in parenting twins, equipment must haves and survival tactics for managing a busy household. I love to write and in addition to my blog, freelance and have published in Today’s Parent, Angels on Earth and Suite101.com. I am also a regular contributor to Calgary’s Child of Calgary, Alberta where I live with my family.

I love the outdoors, camping, travel, reading and adventure and greatly enjoy spending time and sharing these passions with my children.

Over the past year we have made a number of dietary changes in our family due to allergies, intolerances and some personal choice. I have become well versed in being able to eat dairy and sugar free (and what the workable alternatives are), while still being able to enjoy the foods that we love, like cookies, pancakes and macaroni and cheese! I have been dabbling in some gluten free choices as well but this is still fairly new to us.

In this blog I will cover a variety of topics including

“Mommy Time”- taking time for yourself, how to fit it in and some of the unique “Mommy Time” experiences I have

Healthy Kids/ Family Nutrition -tips on eating well, exercise and play, ways to get the kids to eat those vegetables, tips and substitutes for sugar free and dairy free eating

Activities and Games for kids -inside and outside, in the car and on the way to the park

Sugar free/ dairy free recipes- ones that are tried, tested and true! That I have personally made, recommend and are favorites in our house

Events/ Special Occasions/ Milestones

Guest Bloggers – other bloggers/ experts in the above topics

As well as lighthearted stories to help us all relate to being parents; the trials and challenges, the joys and successes and the steps we take to get there; not only to laugh at our experiences and find the gifts in them but to create a sense of community where we don’t feel so alone. Where you hear yourself saying, “Oh her son does that too! Good I am not crazy!”

So welcome, read and enjoy, comment, ask questions. I am here to share with you what I have learned and experienced and hope that you find it helpful in some way, if only to make you smile.