Plum Upside Down Cake

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You know when you want to have a cheat meal without really cheating? That was the predicament I was in yesterday, when I desperately wanted to bake some thing in celebration of mine and J’s anniversary without totally ruining the liver cleanse I’m doing with my nutritionist. I still had a few “cheat” ingredients that don’t completely fit into my cleanse [hence, me calling it a “cheat”] but this recipe is 100% Paleo and delicious!

I got the recipe from Paleomg.com which is a fantastic resource for delicious clean food for every occasion. She uses peaches, but all I had on hand were plums. It was still delicious, and dare I say I may even prefer the plumbs! There were a few other modifications I used that I will highlight below.

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For the Plum topping:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 plums, halved and sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
For the batter:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ cups tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, whisked
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ½ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, combine the coconut oil and sugar until sugar dissolves, then toss the plums in the sugar mixture until they are soft. Set plums aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients for your cake batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together all your wet ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Mix both wet and dry ingredients together. In a round cake pan, spray with coconut oil and lie down a piece of parchment paper. Carefully arrange your plums on the bottom, then pour the cake batter on top, smoothing evenly with a spatula. Bake for 35 minutes, then check on the cake. The top should have a brown crust beginning to form. Leave in the oven for 10 more minutes if it does not seem finished. Let cool for 10 minutes before flipping over your cake to reveal the plum topping! Enjoy.

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Yes, I made a small version for myself… for taste testing purposes! Have a good weekend, y’all!

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Breakfast Bread [gluten free]

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Trying to get back on the creative horse! I entitled this blog “Buckeyes and Babies” with the intention of posting equally about food as much as I do about babies. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ll admit I’ve been a little heavy handed with the baby talk. So, I wanted to share that banana bread recipe I talked about on Monday, but I didn’t want to title this post “banana bread” even though this is indeed, banana bread. You can use this same recipe for pumpkin or zucchini bread, though! I just happened to have bananas. I don’t want to say this is a savory recipe, but when compared to my indulgent banana bread, it seems savory. In any case, this bread would be a nice asset to brunch or any other bigger breakfast. Or hey, just eat a slice on your way out the door.

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What you need [courtesy of Pamela’s]:

  • 1-3/4 cups Pamela’s Artisan Flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin or grated zucchini or very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl while the wet ingredients get whipped in a mixer. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the mixer. Spray a loaf pan, then slowly add batter (it will be very thick). Sprinkle some sugar on top before popping it into the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes and you should have a delicious loaf of bread! Enjoy.

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How Much Does Baby Eat?

A few of you have gotten some interest into Baby Led Weaning based on some of my previous posts. It’s a fun and exciting way to introduce food to your baby, but unlike a measured bottle, it can be tough to tell how much food baby wants or needs. I’m not bragging that our daughter is the perfect picture of health, but her weight has always been perfectly balanced whenever we take her to the doctor with no worries of her ever being under or over weight.  Of course, I’m no expert in baby nutrition, but the following meals are what have worked for us. That being said, I thought I’d share with you a couple snapshots of how much our baby eats in a day.

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Breakfast options:
-1 egg and 1 piece of sausage
-1 banana and 1/3 cup of milk and cereal*
-1 pouch of puree and 1/4 c. of dry cereal
*we try to buy organic brands of cereal, but some times she’ll end up with cheerios or corn flakes

Snack options:
-1 small piece of fruit [lately its been plums]
-1/3 c. of grapes or berries
-1/3 c. apple sauce

Lunch options:
-1/3 c. of chopped, grilled chicken breasts with 4 cherry tomatoes
-1 turkey hot dog with 3 generous cucumber slices
– Half of a small sandwich [lunch meat + cheese, no condiments] with some kind of vegetable

Afternoon snack options:
-plain string cheese
-1/3 c. cheesy crackers or veggie crackers
-Horizon fruit snack pouch
-1/4 c. organic yogurt

Dinner:
Honestly, we feed our baby whatever we’re having for dinner. This has motivated me to make more balanced meals, and I think it has helped her to have a more acquired taste of a variety of foods, and to be less picky. If for some reason we’re having something really spicy, or we cave and get some thing not so healthy, I’ll give her one of the lunch options. However, her meals are pretty much always made up of a protein and a fruit/vegetable.

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I feed her 4 oz. bottles of organic whole milk, 4 times a day: when she first wakes up, for her morning nap, for her afternoon nap, and right before bed. We just weaned her from the breast, but she still falls asleep easier if she can have a bottle before she lies down. Eventually, she’ll have to learn that nothing else is to be consumed after she brushes her teeth, but for now, it’s worth the risk for me to get her to relax and fall asleep quicker.

I hope this gives you a better idea of baby portions! Though they are tiny little humans, they’re also growing and need lots of energy and nourishment! Good luck mamas!

Things I learned in my Twenties: Reflections on 23

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Yesterday I turned 24. I was trying to reflect on the year, specifically what I have learned, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot. I thought that after my first year of marriage, I knew all there was to know about sacrificial love. I stand corrected. After a year of parenthood, I REALLY feel like I know every thing about love and sacrifice. I know I will “stand corrected” on this topic for the rest of my life, probably until I die and witness the mystery of Love, Himself when I make my way through those pearly white gates. But I digress….

Instead of expanding on how much I don’t know, let me tell you what I do know. Love is hard. Some times is requires you to get up at 3 am, other times is requires you to listen to screaming that feels like it is going directly into your ear drum, as you hopelessly make efforts to soothe. Aside from suffering, it also takes humility. Love asks you to admit when you don’t know what you’re doing. Some times Love requires you to admit when you know exactly what you’re doing, because its the wrong thing, and you need correction. Some times you are the one lovingly suggesting a correction…

Love has many forms, but this year I have mostly seen it take on the form of parent and child. I would argue this is Love’s original form. Adam and the Father of Adam, God and the Son of God, the one correcting and the one being corrected, the one consoling and the one who needs consoling. I thought that by default, I’d always have the “parent role,” false. Many times I have the child role. My impulsive shopping needs correcting. My weary soul needs consolation…

What I’ve also learned is that neither role is particularly easy. The parent role requires stamina and patience while the child role requires humility and acceptance. Basically, there is no easy way to love. It drains you, it exercises parts of your soul that you’d probably prefer remained dormant. For many of us though, the childlikeness is particularly difficult. Afterall, we spend more of our lifetime as adults than we do as children and yet, the call to have a childlike spirit is unending however unnatural it may feel to us. The year of being 23 reinforced that for me. Even though I was a parent, I was not allowed to stop being a child, a child of God. When I am confronted, I must be honest. When I am scared, I must trust. When I need help, I must be humble. When I need to work on my flaws, I must be obedient. These are all virtues we expect of children and rarely apply them to ourselves.

If there is one way I can certainly teach my children these virtues, it is by example. That is what I learned in my 23rd year of life. I will head into year 24 with maturity, but also with the heart of a child.

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Healthy Snacks

Being a parent is hard. You are responsible for everything. No exaggeration, EVERYTHING. When your child sleeps, how they sleep, how they play, how they dress what they eat. It’s rough, and overwhelming. Before I got pregnant I did a lot of research and work to improve my own health. This has helped me tremendously in making the transition with my baby from breastmilk to solids.

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In previous posts, I had mentioned I was doing Baby Led Weaning. We’ve been doing it for 3 straight months now and Sugar Plum knows how to pick up foods, how to chew, and how to swallow. I am so proud that she has come so far, but now more than ever, she is curious to try new foods. So what’s a mama to do? Of course I try to give her vegetables first, then fruits…. but after that? What if I haven’t gone shopping for the week? Here are my tips on other foods to feed your baby, and what to look for when searching for healthy snacks.

1. Organic – This isn’t just some pretentious standard. I know organic foods can be expensive, but they truly are [let’s not say better but, ] purer foods for your baby to consume. Organic, in my opinion, means that food item, is as close to its original [or “organic”] form as it can possibly be. How is that not purer? OK now for the expenses, pretty much any one can afford organic baby food and snacks. Because these foods are usually free of preservatives, they go bad quicker, which means stores have to get rid of them faster, which means a lot of times the store will mark them down at a discount in order to sell them before they go bad. Find the clearance section of your grocery story. More often than not, there are organic foods back there, just waiting to be bought! I got that big box of animal crackers for just ONE DOLLAR! It’s possible…

2. Sugar – Even if some thing seems healthy or all natural, there may still be a ton of sugar hiding in it. Since my daughter is only 9 months old, I like to try and get foods that have UNDER 10 grams of sugar. The animal crackers pictured above only have 7 grams of sugar per serving, and I never even give her a whole serving [8 cookies] I usually just give her one or 2. To put things in perspective, think of a snickers bar –  it has a whopping 25 grams of sugar in it. Now, most of us wouldn’t feed our babies a snickers bar, so why feed them 25 grams of sugar? If for some reason you find a food that has 10 grams or more of sugar, ask yourself why? Is it because that food contains fruit that has a lot of natural sugar? Or is fructose listed in the ingredients? Just be smart about what sugars you DO give to your baby [i.e. don’t give them a snickers…]

3. Meat – this doesn’t apply so much for ‘on the go’ foods like the previous 2, but it still is worth mentioning. Our bodies, especially females, are very sensitive to hormones [middle school, anyone?] and unfortunately, many animals are given hormones nowadays to make them mature faster, so that the companies can get the meat faster. It’s important, with babies who are still growing and adjusting to their own little hormones, not to overwhelm their system with added hormones in meat. Again, it can be pricey, but looked for marked down meats that are about to expire, then freeze them. Eventually you will have a stockpile of good, healthy meats on hand, for a fraction of the cost.

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Those are my 3 cardinal rules for introducing foods to baby! What do you look for?

Fasting Bread

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The tradition of fasting definitely has some deep Catholic roots. In Croatia, there are currently visionaries who claimed to have been visited by the Blessed Mother. I was lucky enough to have been able to visit the place where there have been sightings and visions of Mary. We stayed with locals, and according to the messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje, it is very important to offer up a fast every Wednesday and Friday, specifically for world peace. During our stay there, we depended entirely on what our host family provided for us to eat and on Wednesdays and Fridays, it was bread and water.

If you just google “Catholic Fasting” you’ll notice that the minimum requirement for a fast is that you give up 2 regular sized meals and replace them with 2 smaller snack, but you still get to have dinner. The more intense version is to only eat bread and water all day. If you intend to only eat bread and water, “you’re going to pass out if you only consume a loaf of wonder bread” [quote from my beloved Mariology professor in college] The bread needs to be hearty, and it must contain protein as well as other sustenance for one to be able to fast on it all day.

So, combining both my knowledge of Mariology and Medjugorje, I was able to come up with a recipe for “fasting bread”

What you need:
-3 c. whole wheat flour
-3 c. white flour
-1 c. oats
-1 pkg dry yeast & 1/2 c. warm water
-1 apple peeled and chopped
-1 egg
-2 TBS honey
-1 TBS cinnamon
-2 TBS olive oil
-1 TBS salt
-2 cups very hot water
-1 c. walnuts

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In a medium sized bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Cover with a plate and wait a few minutes until bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the flours. Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Mix a bit.

Reusing the now empty medium bowl, combine Salt, Sugar, Butter, Oil, Raisins, Nuts, 1 beaten egg, and the two cups of very hot water. Pour this over the yeast mixture. Mix/knead the dough, adding flour and or water as needed.

Knead the dough until it comes clean from the bowl. Cover with a plate or towel and let it rise ten minutes. (I often skip this step and the bread still tastes fine) Knead it again until it has spring to it. Place in well greased bowl and cover, letting it rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on room temp.

Form into desired shapes. This will make two large or three medium loaves.

Place in greased pan. Brush the top with remaining egg (if you did not use it in recipe) and sprinkle with sesame seeds, oats or poppy seeds, if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes, until done and golden brown.

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This also makes a yummy snack on non-fasting days as well! Yummy with cream cheese and a slice of apple.

Avocado Banana Pancakes

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When I was trying to stay fit for my wedding, I used to make these pancake alternatives all the time. I have to say, this variation on the little banana pancakes, is delicious. I got the inspiration half from Paleo Mom, and half from a Baby Led Weaning group I’m apart of on Facebook. Sugar Plum finds bananas to be a little strong in taste, so I thought adding the buttery avocado would be a nice balance. They were SO good! I made a couple big pancakes for myself, and then a few little ones for my Little One.

What you need:
-1/2 of an avocado
-1 banana
-2 eggs [preferably free range/organic]
-1 Tbs rice cereal [***optional]

***I only use the rice cereal to get in some extra iron for Sugar Plum. If you’re making these for yourself and not for a babe, obviously you don’t need rice cereal.

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Mash your banana and avocado together first, then beat in the 2 eggs. Heat up a skillet [like this awesome organic, ceramic one] and start flippin some pancakes!

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[green, like the frying pan]

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They were a hit with her!