Birthday Favorites: Food

Hey, Friends! It’s that time again – this week is my birthday, and it’s tradition around here to share everything I’m loving right now, and the things that have made this last year enjoyable/delicious/successful/positive in any way.:)

Leave a comment sharing YOUR favorites, and you’ll be entered in a draw for a prize….

Today we’re talking about food! I love talking about food. I love making it, photographing it, studying new recipes for it, and…EATING it!:)

Here are my favorite things to eat right now:

Breakfast: Baked Apple Pancake

I will always and forever love my green smoothie for breakfast – I told Anika this morning that when I’m an old lady in a nursing home, she needs to come bring me green smoothies.

BUT. If I’m going to eat anything else, this baked apple pancake is my new favorite. I kinda made up the recipe. I cut up three apples and fried them in lots of butter and cinnamon, and then dumped them into a 9×13 pan once they were soft. Then I mixed up this pancake batter, and poured it over the apples. I baked it at 350 until it felt firm to the touch, about half an hour.


Lunch: Salads!

I don’t really have recipes for these – I just kind of throw together whatever looks good. I love having tons of fresh vegetables and herbs on hand, and making it a really filling salad with chicken or avocados and cooked eggs. I love experimenting with different oils, seasonings, and dressings.


Supper: Chip Potatoes

This is something I made up this last winter, and everybody in our family loves it, so we keep making it. So simple – just slice up potatoes super thin, cover it with chunks of butter and lots of sea salt.

potatoesBake it at 400 for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes start getting all brown and crispy.


Best Restaurant I Ate at This Year: Buccacino’s!

A few weeks ago, I was going out for dinner with a friend, and we couldn’t decide where to eat. I was in the mood for something new and different – the fantastic food on my trip to Ottawa had left me craving something exciting. We quickly googled gluten-free restaurants in Winnipeg, and chose Buccacino’s. It’s so delicious, I can’t wait to go back!

Besides the fact that I’m in Food Heaven whenever I can eat gluten-free pasta, I also was quite impressed with the reasonable prices.

New Recipes:

Because I’m constantly trying new recipes, it’s hard to choose just one favorite, so here are a few that we’ve been enjoying, in case you’re in need of some new ideas!

Best Ever Beef Stew

Veggie and Brown Rice Noodle Bowl

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins

Energizing Protein Power Salad

Your turn! What are your favorite foods, recipes, and restaurants? I want to hear all about it!:)

3 Reasons Why This is Not a Food Blog, But I’m Trying Something New…

Today, it is exactly five years since I stopped eating sugar.


That seems like kind of a big deal to me, so I decided this would be the perfect day to introduce you to a new little project of mine, which involves food.

I love food. I love eating it, making it, and taking pictures of it.

I love the bright colors of vegetables, or when healthy food looks super appealing, and I really enjoy a plate of food with great presentation. If I had time in this life, I’d be a food stylist.

But I will never have a food blog. For the following reasons:

1) I very rarely make up my own recipes.

I love following other people’s amazing recipes, but I don’t “experiment” in the kitchen. That’s just not my thing.

2) I don’t know anything about food photography.

Although I’m often taking pictures of food, I really don’t know how to do it the way professionals do. I could learn, but it’s not close to the top of my list of priorities right now.

3) I’m interested in too many other things.

While healthy eating is very important to me, and something I’m passionate about, I can’t see myself limiting this blogging hobby to food. I love Jesus, I love my family, I love photography, reading, writing, organizing, simplifying, etc, etc. The list could go on and on. A food blog or even a health blog would feel very limiting.


Despite the fact that I don’t want to write an entire blog about food, I’ve been working on a little surprise for all of you who are interested.

I have been approached by several different people who are curious about the way our family eats. I am often asked questions about how I have navigated the different diet transitions my family has been through, including going gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. (Lots of free…)

Because food intolerances are becoming increasingly common, and healthy eating is on the rise, I have been asked a number of times if I could put together all of the recipes our family uses on a regular basis, as well as any tips for where to find great products, resources, or any other helpful tidbits.

The only qualification I have when it comes to healthy eating is experience. I have read and researched for hours and hours, and I have lived it for five years.

I will never forget that day, five years ago, when my naturopath called me with test results, and her solution to my health problems: a total food makeover.

The day she called me with the results, I was lying flat on the couch, recovering from a surgery which was supposed to treat my infertility issues. I felt about the worst I’ve ever felt, which was probably a good thing, because I was ready to agree to ANYTHING she suggested.

And her suggestion was: No more gluten, dairy, or sugar.

I had no idea what to eat. No idea how to cook. No idea how to survive within the new limitations I’d been given.

The first two weeks were completely terrible. Because I couldn’t eat the very things my body was desperately craving, I felt hungry all  the time. I lay awake at night, thinking about food. I cried a lot.

But I stuck to it, and slowly, things started to change.

Slowly, I found a new normal. And then things went well for a few years.

Until our girls started having too many digestion problems, and Ben and I decided it was time to make some changes in the way our whole family was eating.

So I started all over again. I could feed myself in a healthy way, but it wasn’t appealing for kids.

I’ve spent the last year figuring out how to feed a family in a healthy, appealing way. It is a constant work in progress, as I learn more about what is truly good to eat, and as I discover more recipes.

But it doesn’t stress me out anymore. I enjoy it.

And I don’t ever want to go back to the way we used to eat.

I love what our family eats. I feel truly good about the food I serve. Part of me would love it if our girls could enjoy what “normal” kids eat, but mostly, I’m just thankful for how much healthier we eat because of the food intolerance issues we deal with around here. I have so much left to learn, and many more healthy habits to add to what we’re already doing around here, but I feel that we’re on the right track.

So this is what we’re going to do around here on the blog:

For all of you who have expressed interest in what our family eats, or for anyone who just loves to check out new recipes, and you want some ideas on how to eat gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free, I have decided to add a new page to my blog labelled “Recipes”. I have put together a list of links to all of our favorite recipes, and I will pass it on to you, in an effort to make it easier than it was for me in the beginning.

Also, I am working on a second page which will include all of the resources and health tips I have picked up over the last five years, from the reading I’ve done, and the multitude of healthcare professionals I’ve seen.

What I know, I’ll share!

And...if you have great gluten/dairy/sugar free recipes to pass on, I’d love to have you email those to me, and we’ll share with everybody.

But if you love your wheat and sugar, then by all means, avoid those new pages, and keep coming back for the usual blog stuff! The only thing that will look different are a few new tabs across the top.

And now, I must ask: How many of you out there are with me on this food intolerance adventure?? Any suggestions on how to navigate through all of the obstacles? Any recipes to share?

*Update: I have decided to remove the recipe page from my blog, and to replace it, I have started a Pinterest board with all of the online recipes we use on a regular basis. It is much less time-consuming to keep it updated, and more easily accessible, so I hope you find it enjoyable and useful!:)

Favorite Things Right Now 2011

Okay, everybody! It’s my birthday today, so it’s time for my birthday tradition (started by my mom when I was a little kid) of listing all of my favorite things right now, as I enter a new year of my life. (To see last year’s favorites, go here.)

Surprisingly, it was more difficult to make my list this year than it was last year, for a few reasons: 1) Last year, I had never publicly made a list, so it was easy to think of things no one knew about. 2) I also made a small list half way through this last year, and I should not have done that! Save it all for the birthday, and make it easier for myself!!

However, I have managed to think of some significant things that I’ve added to my life that have provided increasing joy, and so now I will share them with you:

1. Favorite Snack: Macadamia Nuts

I loooooooove these nuts. Too bad they cost an arm and a leg. And a foot. The rest of the family loves them, too, so we kind of have to ration them around here or else our entire grocery budget would go into macadamia nuts. But maybe no one would mind…. (Bulk Barn is the cheapest place to buy macadamia nuts, in case you’re wondering.)

2. Favorite Place to Shop: Value Village!

While writing this post last summer, I did some long, hard thinking about my shopping habits. I used to shop at Value Village occasionally, but stopped because my pride likes to go to the mall better. I like to buy new stuff. But since I wanted to make some changes in my purchasing choices, I gave Value Village a try again last fall, and I was hooked. Here are the reasons why I love shopping at there:

  • Our clothing budget goes so much farther.
  • It’s a one-stop-shop! I can buy clothes for the girls, Ben, or myself, as well as pick up some summer reading and home decorating items, all at one place!
  • I love the thrill of the hunt. The Mennonite in me just loves to find a great deal. I think I feel like I’m actually working for my purchase when I hunt through a pile of junk to find a real treasure.
  • It is very environmentally friendly to shop there. There is so much stuff in the world already, so it’s great to reuse what we can. And anytime new clothes are made, they “off-gas” chemicals for a long time after. When I shop at Value Village, some children I don’t know have already run around in those clothes during the off-gassing stage so that it doesn’t have to happen while my children are wearing them. (I know that some people would think that’s ridiculous, but I still think it’s a nice perk.)
  • It is usually cheaper to buy slightly used, brand name, good quality stuff at Value Village than it is to buy cheap quality, non-brand name stuff brand new.

And to make things ever better, you can now become a member, and get coupons! This makes my world extremely happy – coupons that make cheap clothes cheaper. Then I have more money to spend on the stuff that we can’t get a deal on.

If we lived in civilization, I might really love garage sales, but as long as we live at camp, the garage sales are very far away, and only on certain days. Value Village is always waiting there for me.

3. Favorite Date Night: A movie, followed by sweet potato fries at Montana’s if we’re in the city, and if we’re at home, an episode of Heartland or Everwood, and fresh veggies with hummus.

I know that I wrote about the wonders of Heartland in last year’s “Favorite Things” post, but I have never introduced you to Everwood, our first TV love. Four seasons of pure wonderfulness. (Well, things get a little sketch in Season 3, but they make up for it in Season 4.)


It is just such a great show. Season 3 arrived at Costco recently, so that’s what Ben and I are watching these days. One episode a week – Ben is very disciplined about stretching out the enjoyment, rather than watching all of the episodes right away.

I used to feel really guilty about the fact that I enjoy movies and stuff so much, but I read recently that people who love to write and read usually love watching movies, as well. It’s all about a good story. I don’t have much use for TV, though, with the exception of Everwood and Heartland.

4. Favorite New Movie: I would have to say Tangled. It was the best movie I saw this last year, which is a bit weird since it’s Anika’s favorite too, so I feel a little juvenile in that choice. But my goodness. I left the movie theatre with that happy, satisfied feeling you get when the story ended perfectly, and the whole thing was just pure pleasure.


5. Favorite Way to Exercise: Pilates!


I tried pilates years ago, and thought it was boring. And silly – “rolling like a ball”??? Please. What kind of exercising is that?

But my physiotherapist (whom I love so much that I’ll keep going to see her for appointments even once I’m healed, just so I can spend time with her) told me to start doing pilates to help with my pelvic/hip problems, and I am so, so glad I listened to her. It has made the hugest difference in my life. Last year, yoga was my favorite, but pilates has surpassed that. Now I alternate yoga and pilates. I’m working my way up to resistance training….It’s my goal to have that on my list of favorites for next year!

6. Favorite New Recipe: Mediterranean Bean Salad

I eat embarrassing amounts of this stuff – for lunch, supper, snack….I haven’t had it for breakfast yet, though! But it’s a good one. And very easy, fast and cold for in summer.

1 1/3 cups barley, cooked (I leave this out, or add cooked millet)
1 1/3 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1 1/3 cups white beans, cooked
3 bell peppers of various colors (orange, yellow, red), chopped
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together barley, garbanzo beans, white beans and veggies. In a seperate bowl, mix basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

Add dressing to bean mixture. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*I found this recipe somewhere on the internet, but can’t remember where.

7. Favorite New Book: The Happiness Project

But you probably already knew that, because I wrote about it here.

8. Favorite New Blog: Oh She Glows

Interestingly enough, this is a food blog that contains strictly vegan recipes. I would never have thought that would excite me, because I am not vegan, but I can eat a surprising amount of things posted there, the pictures are beautiful, and the food is healthy! Of course I have a bunch of old favorite blogs, but this one stands out in my mind as being the new one that I look forward to reading the most right now.

And what is it with me and recipes?? Ben and I had 15 luxurious minutes in a book store on Saturday, and out of all the wonderful choices available to me there, I spent the entire time looking at recipe books! Of foods that I can’t even eat!!

9. Favorite Resolution That I Kept This Last Year: Do everything I can to improve my health.

Last spring, I sat down and made a list of everything I could possibly do to improve all of the little things causing discomfort and sickness in my life. I decided that I was tired of dealing with it all, and I was going to take charge.

I found health care professionals in every area that was necessary, made some very big changes in my life, and went to hundreds of appointments. I met some amazing people who have helped me in ways that I never imagined were possible. Here’s my list:

  • Jamie Angus @ Donna Sarna Physiotherapy for pelvic/hip problems
  • Dr. Marianne Hembroff @ The Nature Doctors for general health/Candida stuff
  • Dr. Steven Lawson for TMJ
  • Dr. Gupta @ Fort Garry Foot Clinic for orthodics
  • Renee @ Fort Garry Foot Clinc and Raffaela Pingitore @ Body Serene Massage Therapy for massages

That list looks really insane, but some of these doctors I only needed to see a few times.

I am so glad I did it. I feel really different than I did at this time a year ago, and I am very, very thankful.

Now I need to come up with some resolutions for this next year…

And that’s the list for this year of my life! And now I’m curious…

What are your favorite things right now? I need some ideas of new things to try for this next year…

Blog Bonanza

Just for fun, I decided that I’d share with you all a few of my favorite blogs. No idea what kinds of tastes/interests are out there, but maybe you’ll find something you like as much as I do!

For funny spiritual stuff:

For serious, challenging spiritual stuff:

For challenging, funny spiritual stuff:

*There is a bit of a language warning with this one – but if you can get past that, she’s got some really amazing things to say!

For photography:

For photography and scrapbooking stuff :

For Project Life, photography, and crafty stuff:

For the yummiest-looking recipes ever:


Have fun! I’ll be back tomorrow with a “Been Thinking About” post. See you then!