Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tomato-free, Nightshade-free, Sugar-free Ketchup

About a year ago I started getting horrible leg aches every now and then which always started when I laid down to go to sleep.  My head would hit the pillow and the horrible, deep leg aches would start.  I took tylenol just to dull the pain enough so I could get to sleep.  I had no clue what was causing it, just that I hated it.

Because I follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating most of the time, and have been for almost two years, I started noticing a pattern for my leg pain.  I'd eat out at a fast food restaurant and order fries--and that night I would be in pain.  Surely not!  I went a few weeks without eating white potatoes, then ate fries--leg pain.  Oh dear, please tell me it isn't so!

Of course that meant I needed to do some online research to see if eating potatoes could really cause leg pain or if it was just in my head.  Sure enough, it is a common symptom of a nightshade sensitivity.  I looked up what the different nightshade foods were and found the answer to another trend.  Whenever I ate pizza, I always felt terrible at bed time and woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn.  So I decided to order my pizza without sauce the next time we got it--and I didn't have any adverse side effects.  When I trialed avoiding peppers and then reintroduced them, I had adverse effects as well.

I was crushed.  Very, very crushed.  My cooking had involved heavy use of tomatoes and peppers.  I ate pico de gallo probably 4 days a week!  To suddenly have to cut out pasta sauce, pizza sauce, peppers, tomatoes, and chili powder eliminated nearly half my regular dinner menu!

But I have been avoiding nightshades for a few months now and was starting to grow melancholic about cooking in general.  What could I make for dinner that didn't involve my favorite foods??  Tacos?  Not unless I left out the chili powder.  Chili?  I tried talking Hubby into letting me make a tomato/chili free chili and he just laughed.  My go to meal of chicken or sausage sauteed with peppers and onions?  Out.  A quick spaghetti?  Out.  Meatloaf?  Just not the same without that crusty ketchup glaze.

Yesterday I was poking around on the internet looking for a tomato-free BBQ sauce.  Because I love BBQ sauce.  I found a few options that I am going to try, but something else I found by accident was a ketchup recipe that is nightshade-free.  Yes, apparently you can make a ketchup substitute that doesn't use tomatoes.  I had to try this because I love ketchup.  A lot.

I had to alter the recipe I found a bit to make it to my liking and to also make it sugar free to comply with my Trim Healthy Mama eating plan.  I admit I was skeptical, but it actually tastes pretty good.  So here is my night-shade free, sugar-free ketchup recipe adapted from this recipe.

Tomato-Free, Nightshade-Free, Sugar-Free Ketchup
1 C fresh cranberries
1 C apples, peeled, cored and chopped.  (Can use pears)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 C water
1 tsp ascorbic acid (I have no clue on this, but I threw a teaspoon of vitamin C powder in there anyway)
1 tsp THM Sweet Blend (or other sweetener)
2 tsp himalayan pink salt (or other salt--may need more as my salt is extra potent)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp allspice
Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and cook on stove over medium heat, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.  Use an immersion blender, or pour into a regular blender, and mix until smooth.  Store in the fridge, or divide into smaller portions and freeze what you won't use within about a week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Family Game Night--Day 3 of Play

Yesterday we had to run errands, one of which brought us to the mall with its super awesome escalator.  Just ask my kids, they will tell you.  "Mom, can we go up the escalator??  Please??  How many times??"

I stood at the bottom while I watched them go up, and I thought that was silly.  I should go for an escalator ride, too.  Because that's fun and I need to have more fun.  Up I went, down I went.  Up the kids went, down they went.  Over and over.  The girls' stuffed animals even got to slide down the middle near the end.

We were done with our shopping but the kids begged to walk the mall.  Because apparently in my family, mall walking is the "in" thing to do.  Fine.  Lets go walk the mall.  Despite the fact that we had a bunch of other errands that we still needed to do and it was approaching lunch time.  Whatever.  So we walked the mall, we threw pennies into the fountain, and I had flashbacks to doing this exact same thing over the years, which used to involve needing to change my kids' shirts at the end.  I'm grateful times have changed, but sad that my kids are growing up too fast.

David still can't keep his hands out of the fountain

After dinner we cracked out David's birthday present for family game night.  We played Ticket to Ride, which only Hubby had ever played before.  I don't normally go for board games, but I have to admit that I actually enjoyed this game.  Despite losing to a 7 year old, Miss Joy, who kicked our butts.  Despite Lizzy blocking my route which caused me to call her all sorts of names like "Snot," "Booger," and "No more Christmas presents for you."  (Hubby said that he would buy her presents because she didn't block his train route and because he doesn't love me, obviously)

I got in the game, literally.  I laughed and played and learned the strategy of the game so I know how to beat Joy the next time we play Ticket to Ride.  (Which is the most important lesson I learned yesterday)

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Dance Party Take Two--Day 2 of Play

This would be Joy and me working it last night to some more 90s music.  This time Hubby decided to play old Christian songs, like Jesus Is Alright With Me by DC Talk, because that song is a classic from our high school days.  And then he threw in some other classic songs from high school like Keep Em Separated by The Offspring, which incidentally I just looked up the lyrics for and was rather appalled.  No more listening to that song in front of the kids.  Oops.  Guess that's what happens when the singers scream the music so you can't understand what they're saying.

But, despite our lack of discretion in song choices for our impromptu dance party, we had fun.  Even if Hubby spent the whole time laughing at me dancing around.  I had fun and the kids had fun.  That's good enough for me.

The only one in the house not having a good time was Shinx.  She sat on Hubby's lap and gave us her best disgruntled look that I am sure was her way of saying, "Why are you dancing around like crazy people while listening to super loud music when I am trying to sleep??"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

60 Days of Play

I'm ready for my hair cut, Mom

I lied.  It was a small lie, but a lie nonetheless.  When the nurse asked me if I was claustrophobic, I said no.  Which is how I found myself in an MRI tube with my eyes squeezed shut praying and doing just about anything to get to a happy place.  To ignore the fact that I was strapped to a table inside a coffin-sized tube for 35 minutes with no way out and told to remain absolutely still.  (I figured I could tough it out rather than risk being sedated--no thank you)

I prayed for everyone I could think of.  That took all of 10 minutes.  Maybe.  It felt like an eternity, but since I couldn't wear any metal, I didn't have a watch on.  Not that I could have looked at it anyway with my arms all twisted up like pretzels inside the coffin.

Next I moved on to just praying for God to distract me.  "Take my mind off this situation.  Help me to shut out the banging noises and the shifting board I'm laying on that startles me every time it jiggles and pulls me deeper into the tube."

An image popped into my head of running through a field with someone, chasing each other with buckets of water in a big water fight.  And I heard God whisper to my soul:

I want to teach you how to play.  You have been focused and serious for too long.  
It's time to laugh and play.

I thought about it for a while seeing as I had nothing better to do.  I needed to learn how to play, but how?  I decided right there that I could not make a list of things to do that would be playful--that would defeat the purpose of learning to play.  Play a game with the kids today--check!  Ya.  Just seems to ring hollow to me.  

It needed to be spontaneous things.  Fun things.  Things that made me belly laugh.  But I also wanted it to be intentional so I wouldn't set it aside or forget about it in a few days.  I wanted it to become a habit.  God obviously considered it important that I learn how to play if He told me so.  

Somewhere between the swooshing banging and the clanging banging of the magnets, the idea to do 60 Days of Play came to me.  This was on Monday, and if I started that day, 60 days would put me at an end date of January 1.  Perfect.  Do something playful every day until the end of the year.  I can do that.

I drove home feeling slightly battered and bruised mentally, craving my Mom's old trick for scary doctor's appointments when I was a kid--slurpees (or slushies or icees, depending on what they call them in your neck of the woods).  But I drove straight home because dinner and my family were waiting for me.  I walked in the door and found this on my counter:

I almost cried.  Hubby got a really big hug and got gushed over.  I smelled them, and took a picture of them, and never saw a more beautiful bouquet of flowers.  So, that has nothing to do with learning to play, but definitely needed to be shared.

That evening I snuggled with Joy and watched a movie.  We had a tickle fight and laughed.  It was as good as I was gonna do that night.

Lizzy dressed up in her Halloween costume
which she did not wear on our date, but she
looks beautiful here so I had to share it.

Tuesday, I took this beauty out on a date.  I let her pick the place and she chose ice cream McFlurries at McDonalds.  I laughed and said okay.  I listened to 15 minutes of her telling me all about Pokemon and evolving and battling.  I have no idea what she was talking about, but she was animated and so I was engaged fully in her.  We talked about life and family and what she loves to do.  We laughed and I tried to hide the fact that I was a hot mess over how fast she is growing up.  She's so beautiful and kind and fun and tall and not my little girl anymore.  But we laughed and had fun and I counted it as my playful act for the day.

And that brings us to today.  Yesterday I bought a new game.  Today we played it.  A lot of laughter was had, someone--not mentioning names, DAVID--knocked me on my bum and made me lose when he bumped into me with his bum.  We played 5 rounds before we collapsed on the ground laughing too hard to play anymore.  

A second opportunity presented itself for some serious fun when Hubby got home.  He put a 90s music playlist on the sound system and the kids and I danced around to some pretty awesome songs like Barbie Girl, Bye Bye Bye, Macarena, and lots of other songs I used to listen to.  My kids laughed at my taste in music and I told them to be quiet.  It was beautiful.

Tomorrow I can't tell you what I will do because I'm not planning ahead or making lists or turning this into a science experiment.  This is about me being spontaneous and jumping in on the fun and laughing until I cry.