I have come to realize that the general overall mood of my family is intrinsically tied to my mood - this was not extra pressure that I needed, but after being a Mom of almost 14 years I have noticed that if I am stressed out, my kids tend to be stressed out, which then stresses out the Weekend Chef.
If I am happy and singing Christmas songs and laughing, then my kids tend to be carefree and spirit filled as well. On the other hand, if I am worn out and stomping around the kitchen (who me ??) then the general mood in the entire house is down and out.
Like I said, not extra pressure that I really needed, but it has made me realize that taking care of my family also requires me to take care of myself.
Like a lot of other Mom's, I have had to work hard and learn to take care of myself. The to do lists is never ending - is doing the craft for the class party more important or going for a walk with my girlfriends?
Do I dare let the laundry pile up for yet another day, so I can go take in an art class?
Will they survive dinner with dad cooking if I leave for the night?
I have had years where I have picked the Room Mom of the Year approach, and in taking care of everyone else have not paid attention to the care and well being of myself - these time left me empty and drained. When I am empty and drained, so are my kids.
What fills each of us up is different:
One of my friends loves to go to the movies and she will do so during the day when the kids are at school.
Some love a glass wine with friends while chatting about their favorite book.
For others there is shopping or getting a pedicure.
For me, I have to be creative in some way to be happy, and
I have to be outside and exercising.
I ran my first road race in 7th or 8th grade (my Mom reads this blog so she probably remembers what year). It was three miles, I won first place in my age group (there was not much competition) and a trophy and a turkey! I have been running, biking, skiing, kayaking, walking, hiking ever since.
I have weighed almost the same thing for the last 15 years or so (minus periods of pregnancy) but have gained a few pounds lately. I can't decide if it is age, from all of the Christmas treats, or the fact that my body is finally absorbing everything I eat so that my days of eating like a pig and then passing it all through unabsorbed in under two hours is over.
Nevertheless the cause, while poking my new stomach pouch while looking at my profile in the mirror, I asked the Weekend Chef the loaded dreaded question "would you still love me if I gained five pounds?"
"Of course," was the quick response (thank goodness since I had).
But I could not stop there so "What about ten pounds?"
"Dah," he replied back.
"Well then what about twenty pounds?"
"Actually, I am not sure."
"What do you mean?" I insisted as I started to contemplate the marital division of property in my head. .
"Well being healthy and exercising has always been such a big part of you, that you just would not be who you are if you started eating a bunch of junk and stopped being active."
Okay, so maybe he has a point.
And my point - that I am not me without being outside and being active. And if I am not me, then I am not a good Mom, wife, sister, friend.
So, why have I taken you down this path of inspiration.
First, I really do hope that everyone who reads this takes some time to take care of themselves. It sounds so cliche but is so important.
This gluten free lifestyle can be a little crazy at times, so while you are making sure to take care of what you and whoever else you love is eating, be sure you are also taking time to be you.
Secondly, I have to give a big shot out (if the President can use the term, then so can I) to Savory Moment in Redmond because this business has given me back a little bit of my life by giving me a little bit of time out of the kitchen.
Savory Moment in Redmond WA provides top of the line Chef prepared meals that are frozen and available for pickup. All you have to do is thaw them, warm or complete cooking in your oven and serve.
The owner contacted me about a year ago because, after a lot of inquiries, they were thinking of adding some gluten free options.
They have now expanded their business to include an extensive list of gluten free items. This month's gluten free menu includes asian meatloaf, bourbon chicken, grilled pork tenderloin with pomegranate pinot demi, chicken fingers, gluten free macaroni and cheese. Are you salivating yet? Click here to view the complete menu.
I love not only the fact that the food is gluten free, but it is also tasty. This is Julia Robert's come to the Eastside as Kay the owner is a Cordon Blue trained Chef.
And the meals are healthy meals just like you'd prepare at home - no mass production line and loads of preservatives. They are just wonderful, Chef prepared meals that are frozen and ready for you to take home, thaw and warm.
So on those nights when I have been running around like a maniac from one kid activity to the next and I just do not have it in me to cook a meal, instead of serving a bowl of GF cereal we can have a healthy square, gluten free meal of grilled teriyaki chicken with a side of risotto.
Even better, Savory Moment has been adding additional gluten free products to their store such as the sought-after and hard-to-find Udi's bread, Lucy cookies, Bavaria Mills frozen pie crusts, Jules GF flour, Kinnickinnic's donuts.
Did I mention they are also selling beautiful Gluten Free decorated cakes for the Holiday Season?.
Savory Moment also honors the Microsoft Prime card and delivers.
Do I need to say more?
Do yourself a favor this season, and head over to Savory Moment. I will be serving their prime rib for dinner Christmas Eve.
Prime Rib DinnerFeaturing Harris Ranch all natural 4 diamond choice Angus boneless prime rib roast, Hazelnut mashed potatoes, Green beans with caramelized pearl onions and apple wood smoked bacon
Maple Glazed Pork Loin Dinner
All natural pork loin slowly roasted with a maple mustard glaze Au gratin potatoes Green beans with caramelized pearl onions and apple wood smoked baconFabulous Gluten Free holiday cookie dough is also available
Chef Terry Kaczmarek will carve Prime Rib and Maple Pork Loin samples from 11:30-3:00 on Saturday, December 19th
Saturday is your final day to order your holiday dinner so don't miss this opportunity to taste our delicious entrees if you still need to make up your mind.
Open House this Saturday from 11:00 - 6:00.
Gluten Free Samples
Snicker doodles, Thumb prints, Snowballs, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Kisses
Gluten and Dairy free Chocolate Cake and Lemon and Raspberry Cake,
Peppermint Holiday Cake
Sweet Potato Casserole & Au Gratin Potatoes
Gluten Free Gingerbread House Kits are available to purchase - limited quantity
No, I have absolutely no financial interest in this company.
Ti's the season to party around our house - we have gone to and had more Christmas parties this year than in the year's past. Thanks to some thoughtful friends and great caterers, I have dined like a queen this year (okay maybe that was pushing it a little, but I have been treated to some great gluten free food).
In previous years I have honestly made it through most Christmas parties by eating before I go and sipping wine all night.
This year I have really been treated to some delightful and thoughtful gluten free treats. For one party, the hostess stopped by Savory Moments in Redmond and treated me to a wonderful meal of steak, rice and a fabulous chocolate gluten free cake!! Can I tell you how nice it was to participate in the meal with the other guests? I was so stuffed - with the food and warm thoughts of appreciation.
At a party for our school, the entire catered meal was gluten free,
and it was fabulous,
and everyone loved it.
There was gluten free pasta, steak on this wonderful gluten free breaded tart, salmon, chicken skewers and more. They even had a delicious gluten free dessert. The caterer was Upper Crust and they did a wonderful job. I was honestly overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness.
So while I have absolutely nothing to complain about this season, there is one remaining party to negotiate.
A party whose theme is flour and butter.
I can already smell the fresh baked cookies.
You guessed it, a cookie exchange.
I have politely not gone for the past several years. Probably being a little over dramatic, but it was the one party I just could not convince myself to go to.
But this year I am going to the party -
first of all, I am so full that it will actually be okay to not be able to eat the cookies.
Plus I love my friends and do not want to miss out on this tradition.
And, while I may not be able to sample their treats, I am bringing some of my own to share.
But what to bring?
If you find yourself in similar circumstances this year, I do have a few recipes to share. I think most importantly, you should take treats to share that are naturally gluten free. You do not want to waste your expensive gluten free flour on cookies for people who just don't need to eat gluten free.
Plus there are tons of treats that are naturally gluten free. Some of our favorites include fudge which we even make it casein free. It is not Christmas without fudge at our house.
I have settled on Peanut Butter and Chocolate cookies. They are naturally gluten free, taste an awful like a Reese's Peanut Butter cup, very easy to make and melt in your mouth.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies
1 cup smooth peanut butter (the healthy, natural type of peanut butter will leave you with crumbly cookies. For this recipe, go with your mainstream peanut butter like Jiff. It has more oil and holds the cookie together better.)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts (optional)
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (we used casein free chocolate chips)
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter with the sugar, baking soda and egg.
Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips. These are optional ingredients. We did not use the peanuts but the chocolate chips are mandatory for us.
Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls.
Set the balls on 2 baking sheets, and using a fork, lightly make a crosshatch pattern on each cookie.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned and set.
Let cool on a wire rack.
We double the recipe - one batch is not nearly enough!
Thanks to Jennifer who is an ex-pat living in Holland for this recipe. Jennifer has a 9 year old daughter who was diagnosed with Celiac disease 3 months before they moved to Holland from the US.
Christmas Blessing going your way Jennifer!!
Almond Roca Toffee
This recipe is tasty and pretty easy to make. Just keep the kids away from the stove for this one as it gets incredibly hot and is, therefore, too dangerous for the younger crowd. It is pretty messy to eat as well, but worth the finger-licking.
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup whole almonds
1 cup butter (we used Earth Balance for casein free)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (we used Sunspire for casein free)
Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray well with non-stick cooking spray.
Place all of the almonds in a single layer on cookie sheet. You are going to be pouring the toffee and chocolate chips over the almonds, so space them out so you have a few bites of almond in each mouthful. They will not cover the entire cookie sheet.
Heat butter, sugar, water, vanilla and salt in a heavy saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly until a candy thermometer registers 310°F. (approximately 15 minutes) The mixture is extremely hot so exercise great care.
Remove from heat and immediately pour over almonds, evenly covering the almonds.
Immediately sprinkle with chocolate morsels and spread evenly stopping 1/2 inch from the sides. The heat of the toffee will melt the chocolate chips into a smooth top.
Let cool until firm. We put ours outside on the deck to quicken the cooling process.
Come on, don't be shy - how have you negotiated this holiday season??
A new Raising Our Celiac Kids Group has formed in our area. This will be the fifth ROCK Group to be formed in Washington and will be centered in the Bothell Wa area.
R.O.C.K. (Raising Our Celiac Kids) is a free support group for all caregivers of any gluten-free child. All are welcome to come & share their experiences, gluten-free recipes or tips for living gluten-free. This group meets once a month to discuss various topics concerning the gluten-free lifestyle, including:
•Finding "fun" gluten-free treats for kids
• Menu ideas for school lunches, quick dinners, and sports snacks
• Helping kids take responsibility for reading labels, cooking, & preparing food
• How to prepare for unexpected parties & food-oriented activities at school, church,
• Halloween, Easter, & other special days - how do we include our kids safely?
• Educating day-care providers and teachers - without burdening them
• Dealing with grandparents, babysitters, & "helpful" friends who offer gluten-containing foods to our kids
• Sending kids away to camp, friends' houses, & other times when we're not around to help
• The psychological impact of growing up with celiac disease (peer pressure, teenage years, and more)
Sometimes it helps to talk about it, and it always helps to have some guidance when initially diving into the gluten-free diet. R.O.C.K. has free support groups in dozens of cities throughout the country. Parents exchange information & ideas, while kids enjoy gluten-free goodies & play with other gluten-free kids.
For more information, please contact
The next group meeting will be on Sunday, Dec 20th from 2:00 - 4:00 at Pizza Works in the Inglewood area.
Pizza Works serves gluten free pizza & pasta. Space is limited to 20-25 people, so please RSVP to Lynn at email@example.com before December 15th. The topic of discussion will be Packing a School Lunch.
The January meeting will be on January 16th from 2:00 - 5:00 at the Bothell Library. The topic of discussion will be favorite GF books and cookbooks.