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Close The Blinds and Mow Your Own Yard



This post was originally written three years ago.  It's been three years since I took control of my social media and what a difference it has made!  I HIGHLY recommend taking the advice I gave in this post and stop letting your social media consume you.  Below is the post as it was originally written......

Today was a hard day.  It was a painful day.  It was a pivotal day in my life.  It was a day of tears, fears, what if's, why not's, why me's.  It was the day I closed my social media blinds and started mowing my own yard.

Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter......every social media site known to man is made to do one thing, make us the most unsocial, unreal, unplugged people in all of society.  I know some you just gasped and almost dropped your phone in the toilet.  But, it's true.  Social media is one of the most unsocial, deceptive tools we have available to use today.  And the Internet is the gas that fuels the whole shebang.


Those of you that have become intrigued and are still reading this are probably thinking, "Okay Denise, are you fixing to go into some long spill about how I should give up the Internet and social media and go back to the 'caveman days' of actually CALLING someone on the phone or writing them a letter with PEN AND PAPER and using a stamp to get it to them?"  Well, no not exactly.  While those are great things to still use, it wasn't what I had in mind.

Let me back up a bit.  You see about a year ago I had a digestive flare up that rendered me, well, pretty incapacitate for several days.  I was still not feeling great, but at least I can get out of bed.  Anyhoo, during those few days of laying on my death bed, I spent an over abundant amount of time watching TV and being on social media in between trips to the bathroom, and even then I took my phone, because well, doesn't everyone do that these days?



So, I was already not feeling good, and instead of doing something productive for getting better like actually resting or sleeping, what was I doing?  I was watching every one's life on Facebook like it was a Lifetime TV special.  That only led to one thing, envy.  Here I was on my "death bed" for the umpteenth time since my illness started five years ago and it was "why me" and "poor me" and "so-and-so has this" and "why can't my life be like hers" and "they have a better life than I do".

Before I knew it I was WALLOWING, CRYING AND LOATHING in the endless pit of self pity.  Then my self-righteousness kicked in and I was rolling in the "where are all those people on social media now who are my 'friends'?  I don't see any of them being helpful or friendly enough or doing anything for me, even though I posted that I was sick.  Do they even follow me?"  Yeah, I know, it was ugly in that pit, but it gets worse.  I actually had the audacity to "call out" one of my friends in a text message and "give them a piece of my mind".  Please don't drop your phone in the toilet, I promise there is a positive ending.


Fortunately for me, my friend was gracious enough and wise enough to know what to say and how to handle the situation and she helped me get out of that pit and realized what a selfish jerk I was being.  It was in those moments after I spewed my mouthful of ugliness and got her gracious response (to which I stewed over for a while, because it was not the answer I really wanted.  And by the grace of GOD did not respond to her with the thoughts that were really going through my head), that I realized that something has to change, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.



My very wise friend said, "Denise when you compare on Facebook (or social media) you are seeing everyone else's high-light-reel and comparing it to your behind-the-scenes footage." Before I go any further here, let me say this, if some people are posting what they call their high light reel, I REALLY wouldn't want to see their behind the scenes footage. Just sayin'. Some things just DON'T belong on the internet, PERIOD.  But what my friend said, well, that just punched me right between the eyes.  So what did I do?  I went to the two social media sources that I use the most, Facebook and Instagram and I closed my blinds.  Say WHAT?!?!?!?

Yep, I did it.  I unfollowed EVERYONE except for a small handful of people who fit into two categories, close family or VERY influential friends and people.  If I couldn't see someone's posts in my news feed on a regular basis without feeling envy, overwhelm or anxiety, they didn't make the "I choose to follow you" list.  

Notice I said UNFOLLOWED not unfriended.  Why did I not unfriend people?  Because, I have nothing against the people I am friends with on social media, I just need space.  Space to think, space to breath, space to still feel connected, but not overwhelmed every time I logged into social media.  Will I ever follow them again?  Maybe.

I also only follow a few active groups that I enjoy being a part of.  It is amazing how much networking you can do meeting, talking with, helping and providing meaningful value to people in certain groups on Facebook when your news feed isn't cluttered with so much stuff about what everyone else is doing.  Almost instantly my mind felt calmer.  My soul didn't feel so overwhelmed.   When I scrolled through my news feed I no longer saw post after post after post of, "Look at me and my life and what I am doing."




The only other social media I kept was social media for the blog and my Ebay store like my Facebook fan pagePinterestInstagramTwitter.  These are the places where I call the shots and I get to decide what is on there and who see's it and still contribute valuable, meaningful, useful information and content with all of you.

After I got the blinds closed I realized something, I can no longer see if someone else's grass is greener than mine, which is an awesome and LIBERATING thing.  But then, I realized that I COULD see how over grown and neglected my own yard of thoughts, feeling and emotions had become.  So, I decided that now that I am no longer wrapped up in what everyone else is doing I have time to mow my own yard, pull up the weeds, get rid of the dead debris and make room for growing new things that in turn will help me take better care of me.


How do you keep yourself ground in everyday life?  Tell me in the comments.  I'd love to hear!



Six Tips To Eating Gluten and Dairy-Free Without Breaking The Bank



1. Define your grocery budget.
             
No matter what kind of eating plan you follow, EVERYONE should have a spending plan for buying groceries.  If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.  Before you lay out your hard earned cash for food,  you need to PLAN ahead before you go to the store.  When you are making your grocery list and reviewing your budgeted amount for groceries you need to be thinking about what you need on your list that is gluten free, dairy free or other types of foods that you will need to replace.  We budget about $400 a month for groceries for our household and out of that I spend about $150 a month on gluten- and dairy-free items.

2.  Shop Smarter Not Harder

Know where the deals are!  Don’t spend all your time hopping from store to store searching for the best deals or just looking for the special foods that you need.   Most grocery stores have websites these days, use those to your advantage ahead of time.   Check out those sites and see what they have available to you based on your needs.  A lot of stores also have specialty sections for gluten-free, dairy-free or other non-allergenic foods.  Save yourself some time and know where those are.  I also keep a price book for my specialty foods.  I list the store, what I bought, what aisle it was on and how much it costs.  This way I can go back later and price match future purchases and keep track of past prices compared to current ones.  This helps me to know if I am getting a good deal.


3.  Buy In Bulk

There are SO many benefits to buying in bulk.  If you shop smarter, with bulk buying you will save money, keep a well stocked pantry and shop less often.  Shop at your local health food stores.  We have a really great little family-owned health food store in my area that I love.  They offer bulk bin shopping for things like nuts and nutritional yeast and if I want to order something by the case like dairy-free yogurt they give me a nice discount on my order.  You can also shop online for your bulk items too.  I often shop at Amazon for my gluten-free rice, tapioca, corn and potato flours that I use to make my gluten-free flour blend.

4.  Knowing Good Substitutes For Gluten and Dairy

There are LOTS of options out there for gluten and dairy replacements in your meals and recipes.  Gluten flours can be replaced with rice, oat, bean and nut flours.  There are tons of gluten-free pastas, dessert mixes, cookie and brownie mixes, chips, crackers and more available.  Aldi is a GREAT place to find gluten-free options for your favorite foods.  Dairy lovers can replace milk with plant-based milk like almond (my favorite), cashew, soy, rice.  Nutritional yeast gives dishes a really nice cheesy flavor.  When combined with other ingredients you can make dairy-free cheese sauces and dairy-free parmesan cheese.


5.  Focus On Whole Foods

So many foods are naturally dairy and gluten free that you can have a really great diet with a wide variety of good food just by focusing on eating whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods.  Processed foods contains a lot of unnecessary ingredients that our bodies don’t need, especially gluten because it is used as a stabilizer in a lot of processed foods.  Instead focus on things like chicken, lean red meats, fruits and vegetables, rice, gluten-free oats, potatoes, quinoa, dairy-free milks and cheeses.  Your body will thank you.

6.  Save Money By Making Your Own Convenience Foods


Take the time to learn how to cook and bake gluten and dairy-free.  So much money is wasted on prepackaged foods.  This is just as much of a problem, if not more so, for someone who has food restrictions.  Gluten free baking like cookies, breads and , snacks and desserts can be super tricky, but it is worth the time and effort to learn how to make these items yourself instead of purchasing expensive prepackaged versions.  Not only will you save money, you will avoid the added unhealthy chemicals and preservatives that a lot of these foods have.  If you need some inspiration check out my recipes for Denise's Perfect Guten-Free Biscuits, Refrigerator No-Bake Cookies, Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce, Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing.



Denise's Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies



Everyone loves fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven!  Right?  Being gluten-free doesn't mean you have go without your favorite treats.  Once I finally got the perfect gluten-free flour blend recipe created, I suddenly found that baking gluten-free wasn't as challenging as it used to be.  As a matter of fact, I haven't made one recipe with the new flour that we didn't like or that I had to throw away.  If you are gluten-free, I know you have been there too, crying over your failed baked goods as they go in the trash.

Like I said, I have yet to make anything with this flour that we didn't like and this chocolate chip cookie recipe is no exception.  We like these cookies so much, that we actually PREFER these cookies over regular chocolate chip cookies!   They are thin, yet SOFT and chewy and still have a slight cripsness to them.  Even my husband, who is not in any way, shape or form gluten-free and never has been, loves these cookies. How's that for a win! 


So, if you are needing a good old-fashioned cookie that tastes like grandma used to make, look no further.  I have done all the experimenting for you.  All you need to do now is go make you a batch of my perfect gluten-free flour and then get busy with these cookies.  I promise you won't be sorry.


First, weigh 260 grams of the flour blend and put it in a bowl and set it aside.  Next, we are going cream our coconut oil and sugars.  You want to measure the coconut oil EXACTLY.  This is important.  You only want 1/4 cup of SOLID coconut oil.  Trust me, if you just eyeball and don't get an exact measurement and you end up with too much oil, your cookies will be all oily, spread to much in the oven and be not good.  See, I told you I did all the experimenting for you already 😁.  Cream the solid oil and sugars together.  They won't exactly be creamed, but you want them well incorporated together.


Then, add the eggs and combine everything really well.


Stir in the salt, baking powder AND baking soda.  Don't use all baking soda or all baking powder.  You need both.  The baking powder gives the cookies a little bit of a rise and helps with texture.  The baking soda helps with texture as well.


Now, we are going to start stirring in the flour blend, a little at a time until it is all mixed in thoroughly.  Your mixture should closely resemble regular cookie dough.  If it is too soft, you can add more flour blend a teaspoon at a time until you get the right consistency, but don't add too much.  Last, stir in the chocolate chips.  I am using mini chocolate chips from Enjoy Life.  They are gluten-, dairy-, nut-, and soy-free.




Using a small cookie scoop or 1/2 tbsp. drop the batter on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool slightly before moving them to a cooling rack.






Denise's Perfect Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup solid coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar 
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (raisins or nuts optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Weigh 260 grams of the flour blend and put it in a bowl and set it aside.  Cream the coconut oil and sugars. You want to measure the coconut oil EXACTLY.  This is important. You only want 1/4 cup of SOLID coconut oil. They won't exactly be creamed, but you want them well incorporated together.

Add the eggs and combine everything really well.  Stir in the salt, baking powder AND baking soda.  
Stir in the flour blend, a little at a time until it is all mixed in thoroughly.  Your mixture should closely resemble regular cookie dough. If it is too soft, you can add more flour blend a teaspoon at a time until you get the right consistency, but don't add too much.

Last, stir in the chocolate chips.  Using a small cookie scoop or 1/2 tbsp. drop the batter on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool slightly before moving them to a cooling rack.


























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Denise's Perfect Gluten-Free Biscuits



After going gluten-free over two years ago I have struggled in the bread baking department. Gluten-Free baking is NOT like regular baking.  You practically have to be some kind of mad-scientist chemist sort of person to be able to successfully recreate regular bread recipes into gluten-free recipes successfully.  If you've been there then you know how real the struggle is.  Can I get an amen?

The good news is I have FINALLY come up with a gluten-free flour blend that seems to be working well for my baking needs and I have create this beyond delicious biscuit recipe that even my gluten-eating husband loves.  SCORE!!



So, here we go let's make some gluten-free biscuits:

First, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum  and baking powder in a bowl.  Whisk those together to combine.  Now, add the SOLID coconut oil and use a pastry cutter to cut in the oil to the flour mixture.  Next, add the apple cider vinegar and honey and about half of the water.  Mix well.   Continue to add and stir in the remaining water until the mixture is well combined and becomes a soft dough.


Use an ice cream scoop to grab some dough.  We are making 12 biscuits so don't grab too much.  Have a small bowl of gluten-free all purpose flour handy and drop the dough into the bowl.  Lightly coat the outside of the dough with the flour and use your hands to GENTLY shape the biscuit in to a round ball.


Continue with each dough ball and place them in a small greased baking dish.  


Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.  This isn't a yeast bread but it does help to let the dough rest before baking it.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake about 15-20 minutes or until they are risen nicely and are a light golden color.  



Serve hot with butter, jelly, honey or your favorite fillings.  The also make excellent bacon-egg biscuits for breakfast!




Denise's Perfect Gluten-Free Vegan Biscuits

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. coconut oil (in SOLID form)
2 tbsp. raw honey
1 1/2 water

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum  and baking powder in a bowl or stand mixer. Whisk those together to combine.  Now, add the SOLID coconut oil and use a pastry cutter to cut in the oil to the flour mixture.  Next, add the apple cider vinegar and honey and about half of the water. Mix well. Continue to add and stir in the remaining water until the mixture is well combined and becomes a soft dough.  Use an ice cream scoop to grab some dough, don't grab too much. Have a small bowl of gluten-free all purpose flour handy and drop the dough into the bowl. Lightly coat the outside of the dough with the flour and use your hands to GENTLY shape the biscuit into a round ball.  Continue with each dough ball and place them in a small greased baking dish. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake about 15-20 minutes or until they are risen nicely and are a light golden color.  

NOTE:  If you use LIQUID oil then use the full 14 oz. of flour.  If you use solid fat then start with 12 oz of flour and add more slowly if needed. 

thehealthealthetarianwoman.com

Where's The Meat No Beef Patties




After creating my no-beef crumbles recipe that is vegan, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and egg-free, I loved it so much that I used that recipe to create a meatless pattie.

This recipe is the BOMB when it comes to ground meatless patties.  It taste great.  It holds it's shape well.  It has a good chew and bite to it and is the closest thing I have tasted to replicated ground meat.  Does it taste like beef?  NO, but when it is served on a hamburger bun with ketchup, mustard, minced onion and pickles it sure does taste a lot like a McDonalds hamurger.   If you are looking for a meatless burger this fits the bill for BB Q's, quick lunches or dinners, Salisbury steaks, meat loaf, hot dogs and more!  This also freezes well.







Where’s The Meat No Beef Patties
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https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vpa2sBcJVbVMlL1k9a1nEhVfw5HXpB6IMrIk1CGhQZM/edit?usp=sharing

4 cups oat flour
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. Nut-free Vegan Parmesan cheese or regular Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. dry onion flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. paprika
12 oz.  cooked mushrooms, drained (canned mushrooms work fine)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. liquid smoke
1 regular or flax egg
2 cups water, veggie broth, beef or chicken broth or bullion


In a large bowl you will blend up the oat flour, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, Nut-free Vegan Parmesan cheese, dry onion flakes, garlic powder and paprika.  In a food processor, grind up the cooked mushrooms until they are a very fine mince. Add the ground mushrooms, tomato paste, flax egg, liquid smoke and water to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined.  


Using wet hands shape handfuls of the meatless ground meat into patties and place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I use an ice cream scoop to help get an even amount for each patty. Place the baking pans in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until they are golden brown and crispy.


 Heat up some water, veggie broth, beef or chicken broth or bullion in a large pot on the stove.   Bring the liquid to a boil and add the patties. Cook them for about 5 minutes. Then remove them with a slotted spoon and put them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cool them completely. Flash freeze them in the freezer and then place them into two Ziploc bags.
Put a frying pan on medium high heat and add some oil or spray with non-stick spray (I use the spray).  Brown the patties on both sides in the skillet until they are a light golden brown.
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Protein Powder Shake Mix



Protein shakes are a quick and convenient way to have a healthy breakfast, snack or other meal replacement. But not all protein shake mixes are the same. They vary widely in taste, texture, and ingredients. You can just about bet that any mix you buy at the store or from an online retailer or MLM distributor is going to be pack with weird ingredients, preservative and all kinds of stuff you don't really want in your body. Plus, they can be super expensive to buy depending on the brand.

I wanted a protein shake mix that was not only inexpensive and easy to make, but that I could make using ingredients I already had on hand. I experimented with various ingredients and put them all in my nutrient calculator to come up with the perfect mix that provides a balanced nutrient content with simple ingredients from my kitchen that are also easy to find at my local supermarket. 

Start by placing all the ingredients in to a large food process or blender.  Mix thoroughly until will combined and a fine powder.  Even with my Ninja food processor, I have to let it run for several minutes to get it to a fine powder.  It won't perfectly smooth and that's OK.  You just don't want large clumps of anything in your mix.  The 1/3 cup of sugar make this a ready to drink mix.  I add it for convenience so I can just blend and go.  You can add any kind of dry sweetener you like.  If you don't want the added sugar you can leave it out and just add a liquid sweetener like honey or agave nectar when you make your shakes.



Store it in a a pretty glass airtight container on your counter top.  I love storing mine this way because it makes it convenient for me to use and it is nice to look at.


I like to add a scoop of super greens powder to my shakes.  You can't taste it and it give you LOTS of extra vitamins and minerals.  The one I use is Country Farms Super Greens.  It also contains probiotics for gut health.


 

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iii7ZaIlVt0M066lr9hb80onZkrx21wHGH_ZfnUFBYw/edit?usp=sharing


Vanilla Protein Shake Mix 
4 cups powdered milk 
1 cup almond flour


To make a protein shake add 8 oz.(1 cup) of water to your blender or blender cup.  Next add 1/2 cup of the dry protein powder. Add sweetener of your choiceBlend about one minute.  Drink and enjoy!
I like to add a scoop of super greens powder to my shakes.  You can't taste it and it give you LOTS of extra vitamins and minerals.  The one I use is Country Farms Super Greens.  It also contains probiotics for gut health.
Variations:
This protein powder mix is SOOO versatile you can add all kinds of things when you are blending up your shake to make it even more Yummy!  Frozen fruit blends best if added first before any other ingredients. It's easy to "shake" things up! Just pick your favorite shake mix flavor and your add ins and blend!

Strawberry:
Add 1/2 cup frozen strawberries 
Cheesecake:  1/3 cup plain unsweetened yogurt.  For a fruit cheesecake flavor add 1/4 cup of your favorite frozen fruit.
VERY Berry:
Add 1/4 cup EACH of frozen blueberries & strawberries
Creamy Green Machine:
Add 1/2 frozen banana and 1 scoop of super greens
Chocolate Blueberry:
Use chocolate shake mix.  Also add 1/4 c frozen blueberries (ONE OF  MY FAVS!)
Banana Nut Bread:
1/2 frozen banana, 1/4 cup chopped nuts
Apple Pie:
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon






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Kitchen Printables



One of the hardest parts about cooking and baking is keeping all my own recipes and those I find and print from other websites well organzied.  I I have a HUGE three-ring binder full of recipes that I have found or created over the years.  The first step to being a success cook is having all your recipes easy to access.   My FREE Kitchen Printables Kit does just that!


You'll have access to:


  • My some of the most popular recipes.
  • Recipe cards that you can use for gifts or hand-written recipes. 
  • A simple weekly menu planner to help you put food on the table everyday of the week. 
  • A shopping list so you won't forget to pick up those important ingredients at the grocery store.  
  • My printable recipe binder kit will help you put it all together and  keep your recipes well organized so you can find them quickly and easily!  

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