Winter Blues Solutions

During these cold, gray days of winter it can be extremely easy to fall into a less than cheerful mood. Ok – maybe I’m understating the problem. We can get depressed, grumpy, mad at the world. We can start to go just plain old stir-crazy! Clouds and below freezing temperatures seem to amplify the rest of life’s little problems.

It is important for our sanity (and the sanity of those around us) to go to battle against these bad-mood monsters!
*Check out this post my mom mentioned that takes a creative look at a similar every day challenge many of us have: here.
I decided to write this post because the gray skies of winter have a pretty big affect on my mood. It is much harder to be grumpy when the sun is shining brightly and it’s warm enough for shorts and a tank top! I have to continually fight against my bad mood. Everything I do can affect my mood in some way or another when the sky looks gloomy.

So how do I fight? There are the obvious ways: reading the Bible regularly, spending time in prayer, getting enough sleep (all areas I could improve).
There are other things we can do that may not be quite as obvious… I take liquid Vitamin D and an herbal extract Good Mood Tonic every day. Reducing sugar intake and increasing “good fat” (coconut oil, cod liver oil, etc.) intake is important for energy levels and over all well being. Having a clean (and organized!) living space is key to a positive outlook on life. Consciously enjoying the little things in life is very important! Take the time to enjoy and appreciate those things that we wouldn’t get a chance to do if it was warm and sunny outside. Things such as – savoring a cup of hot tea… Working on a puzzle while the wind howls outside… Filing your taxes in less then fifteen minutes because you live in Washington and don’t have to file state taxes! Walking through a field of untouched snow in the moonlight… Watching the snow falling outside while you fall asleep. Little things can provide some of life greatest joys!

Don’t let those winter doldrums get you down… Fight back with every “little thing” you’ve got!

What are some of the ways that you combat the winter blues?

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Savory Gluten-Free Rolls

In the oven RIGHT NOW are some yummy gluten-free rolls! I never thought I would be putting the words “yummy” and “gluten-free” in the same sentence – but I’m pretty sure I’ve only had bad gluten-free bread in the past. I’m a believer now! These rolls have sold me – and they are sooo easy to make.

Savory Gluten-Free Rolls

  • Servings: 1 dozen rolls
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c warm water (almost as warm as you can stand to hold your finger in for about 20 seconds)
  • 1 tsp granulated sweetener
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one package)
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp  raw apple cider vinegar (any other plain vinegar works in a pinch)
  • 1 c sorghum flour
  • 1/2 c brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c teff flour
  • 1/2 c arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 c tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh garlic
  • 2-3 Tbsp Italian seasoning or 1 Tbsp each basil and oregano

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Oil a 12-cup muffin tin. Find a warm place to proof the rolls (the oven set at about 200 works, as does a food dehydrator set at the same temp.)
  3. Stir the warm water, sugar and yeast together in a small bowl. Set aside while you mix together the dry ingredients.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (leaving out the chopped garlic). Whisk together to completely combine.
  5. To the small bowl with the liquids – add the agave syrup, olive oil, and vinegar. Stir well to combine.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk together. Continue to whisk to get rid of any lumps and keep whisking until the batter thickens and becomes smooth.
  7. Quickly add the chopped garlic and stir until just combined. (Work quickly after all the ingredients have been added together, otherwise you might loose the little air bubbles that are being created by the baking soda and the vinegar.)
  8. Spoon mixture into the oiled muffin tin. Set in a warm place to rise for about 20 minutes.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (or until the tops are golden brown). Remove from oven.
  10. Allow rolls to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan (a knife may need to be run around the edge of each roll to loosen.)

Enjoy with butter, soup, or salad; or make each roll into a little mini sandwich!

Let me know what you think of these rolls! I just love them.

Good Fat!

Although I promised a while back to do a “mini series” on Why Fat Is Good For You – I never really did anything about it. So consider my previous post (Raw Chocolate Torte) the first of the series!
One aspect of that dessert that I just LOVE is the fact that it is full of good fat. Coconut oil, coconut butter, avocado, nuts – all of these contain fat that is GOOD for you! I’m not going to go into all of the many details surrounding “good” fats and “bad” fats right now – but I will say this… If we don’t eat enough good fat our body hangs on to any excess fat we happen to have because it thinks it’s being deprived.
          I will also give you this excerpt from one of my favorite “real food” cookbooks: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She says this in her introduction, “Fats from animals and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed fro the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes.”

Think about it – if we don’t eat good fat we can’t absorb all of the vitamins and minerals we need. So – go make that Torte and eat some good fats!

Raw Chocolate Torte

This is something you have to try to believe! Containing only raw ingredients and absolutely no dairy, soy or gluten – this is a dessert that can be enjoyed by nearly everyone (even those who are extremely restricted by their diets). Let me know what you think!

*Not my own recipe but I’m not sure where it’s from originally. If you know I would love to give credit where credit is due!*

Raw Chocolate Torte

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Crust:

  • 2 c pecans (or pretty much any other nut combo you can think of)
  • 8-10 medjool dates – pitted
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom

In a food processor, grind the nuts until they are fairly well blended. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and process until well combined. Press into a deep dish pie plate and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Filling:

  • 1 c raw cashew butter
  • 1 small avocado (yes – I said avocado)
  • 1/2 c + 2 T raw cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c agave nectar
  • 1/2 c melted coconut butter
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 T vanilla

Rinse out the food processor. In the food processor, blend all filling ingredients until smooth. Scrape filling into crust and chill for 3-4 hours.

This is torte great on its own or served with berries! Enjoy!

 

Cilantro Dip

This. Dip. Is. Amazing. You will never want to use ranch again! Tzatziki sauce either. It’s great with veggies, all kinds of meat, over rice, with chips… pretty much anything you can think of. And if you just add some vinegar it would make a wonderfully creamy salad dressing. You will be eating this by the spoonful and licking the bowl (both of which have been done)!

I made this dip for the first time this weekend, in a gigantic sized batch. This recipe should give you similar results on a smaller scale!

*Please note that this dip is best if made at least one day before serving. The first time I made it I kept adding lime juice and salt, trying to get it to taste like something other than mayo. I put it in the fridge without really being happy with the flavor – but the next day it was wonderful!

Creamy Cilantro Dip/Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1-2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 6 T chopped fresh cilantro (you can never have to0 much cilantro, so feel free to add more than this)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
  2. Taste and adjust the lime juice and salt if needed.
  3. Refrigerate over night if able.
  4. Allow dip to become your new addiction!

Serve with anything savory. I mean ANYTHING.

Apple Mustard Salad Dressing

Guess what?! Now that I have semi-consistent internet access (at my house), I can blog more! Woohoo! Now the question is… will I? It would help if I could find my camera. No idea where it went.
Ok. Does this sound good to you?

White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Minced chives
Minced garlic
Sugar
Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper
aaand Apple Juice???

I think it does. I’ll be getting about 160 peoples opinions about this dressing on Sunday when we serve it with a mixed greens salad at the Mothers Day lunch my dad and I are putting together!

Feed the Family #8 – Beef Pot Pie with Easy Cheddar Biscuits

Meal number eight – Friday dinner

For dinner tonight I just thickened up last nights beef stew by throwing in a couple handfuls of flour as I reheated it. Then I made some easy cheddar biscuits that I baked in a dutch oven on top of my beef “stew” – to create an instant… Beef Pot-Pie!

 

Easy Cheddar Biscuits

  • Servings: 6-12
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 c butter
  • 1/2 c grated cheddar
  • 1/3 c milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine first four ingredients in a medium/large bowl.
  3. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter and cheddar.
  4. Pour in milk and stir together until just blended.
  5. Lightly flour cutting board or clean counter and gently roll out dough to desired thickness.
  6. Cut dough to desired size and place on a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and done inside.

 

(I pretty much just tore pieces of dough off and flattened them into biscuit shapes that mostly fit together to cover the pot-pie. Then I baked the whole thing in the oven at 400 for about half an hour. So that’s an option too.)

Everyone loved this impromptu pot-pie!

This ends the Feed the Family Challenge. My dad is home now so he and Rosie will be taking care of feeding the kids tomorrow! Rosie has plans for breakfast that involve using up a bunch of frozen berries and some spinach…

Keep an eye out for my next “mini series” – Why Fat IS Good For You!

Meal #7

Meal number seven – Friday Lunch

Success! This was easy and fabulously tasty… Chili Pie! My sister helped me make corn bread (she even found a good recipe in her Boxcar Children Cookbook by Diane Blain), and we topped a pie pan full of leftover chili with the corn bread batter.

Here is the recipe she used…

1 1/4 c flour
3/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
            Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, pour into a greased baking pan (or on top of some chili) and bake at 400 until a toothpick or a knife comes out clean.

It did take a while longer then expected to bake (the chili was cold and I think that was a big factor), but the end result was worth the wait! We topped each bowl full with grated cheddar cheese and the whole thing magically disappeared, so fast in fact that I almost didn’t get a picture of the end result.

Meal #5.5 – or dessert…

Remember that rhubarb soup I mentioned earlier?? Well… it stayed soup. What do you do with liquid dessert? Make it look like you planned it that way! And that’s just what I did. So – this “soup” consists of chopped up frozen rhubarb, frozen summer strawberries, frozen raspberry puree and tapioca flour (one of the missing ingredients I mentioned earlier was any type of normal thickening agent). 
I patted my mixture of brown sugar, melted butter and flour into little ramekins and baked them for about ten minutes in the oven.

  Filled the ramekins with “rhubarb soup”, returned them to the oven for five minutes and… 
Voila! 
Happy children!