Monthly Archives: June 2013

Important Ingredients: Spices


DSCN3150Back in October of last year I suddenly discovered that I had to give up meat, dairy, oatmeal, and peanut butter. Not only did I discover that finding recipes was HARD, I also discovered that I needed to have a lot of spices to make my food taste like something. I was familiar with the usual garlic powder and onion powder, but now I added in all sorts of other spices. High quality spices are extremely important at any time, but when you are trying to make your mushroom dish taste like tacos or steak they become critical.

I had heard of Penzeys before, but I found myself doing an extra order or two then was usual. Penzeys is an awesome company with a wide selection of every type of spice your heart could desire. In the last year they started offering free shipping if you purchase $30 or more in a single order! Their catalog is an awesome comprehensive list of the spices and gift boxes they offer interspersed with stories from their customers and different recipes from their customers using Penzey’s spices. This catalog appears several times a year and always includes a coupon for a free or discounted specialty spice usually with a purchase of a certain amount. My absolutely favorite perk of Penzey’s though is the fact they always include a sample of one of their blends in every order! I’ve found some new spice blends that I would have never tried otherwise.

I think my favorite blend is their “Sandwich Sprinkle“. It’s marketed as a topping for making croutons which I have done, but it is delicious on absolutely everything! I love it on eggs, French fries, and anything else that requires salt and pepper–this adds a little zing!

I was also happily surprised to find lots of salt free blends. Several members of my family are concerned about their salt intake and Penzey’s clearly marks which of their blends don’t have salt in them. Just because you can’t have salt doesn’t mean that your food needs to be tasteless! I’ve also purchased one of their gift boxes and found it to be a wonderful gift.

So take a look around their website or better yet request a catalog or visit one of their stores! Everyone’s spices need to be updated once in a while and some new blends could add some excitement to your otherwise bland routine!

What Not to Do When Taking an Infant/Toddler/Preschooler on Vacation


Vacation as an infantWhen our darling princess was 11 months old we decided to take her by ourselves to the beach for a week’s vacation. I didn’t change anything in the way I usually planned our time away because I figured she would just fit into our regular vacation routine. I reserved the smallest type room in the hotel per usual to save money and made sure they would have a pack and play available for our use.

That vacation was easily one of the worst that we’ve ever taken as a family. The room was cramped–my fault entirely! What would have worked for two adults who spent most of their time outside exploring the town did not work for three people one of which was still taking two naps per day! It was hard going out to eat as the princess and slow restaurants just did not follow the same protocol even with us trying to be as amusing as possible. We were even unable to watch TV at night because the princess wouldn’t lay down and go to sleep at night even if it was muted. She didn’t like riding in her stroller on the beach or shopping downtown; however, she was extremely interested in the ice cream stop! She was also surprising cooperative during the two-hour ghost tour we went on. I no longer wonder at multi-family vacations! Extra adults must mean some breaks at some point for everyone.

Vacation time!Vacation last year!The next couple of years year we borrowed a beach condo and things were slightly improved. The princess had her own room and although we still had sleep issues but it was a relief to put her down in her own room at night. We didn’t go out to eat as much as we had a full kitchen to take advantage of. She disliked the beach and the water, but by the end of the week she was becoming comfortable enough to loosen her death grip on whomever was holding her in the pool.

This year (she’s almost 4) was the best yet. I learned from my previous mistakes and I had no expectations at all. In spite of that almost all of my initial expectations from when she was 1 were fulfilled. She is now potty trained and sleeps in a big bed which cuts down on much of the special equipment we had to drag along. She is getting to be like the little fish I remember being when I was small! She loves the ocean now and loves playing in the sand. She is even old enough to play board games during the times we need some inside time. She played Pickup Sticks and a modified game of Uno! I was super impressed at her beating the socks off her dad in Uno! Although sleep issues and the whining from change of routine haven’t disappeared, they have improved immensely. I know her age has something to do with it, but I also know her gluten-free diet has helped significantly!

Eating ice cream on vacation was the Princess thing to do!

Eating ice cream on vacation was the Princess thing to do!

Menu Plan Monday June 24th


The past month and a half have been crazy busy! I’ve found that when I am busy I don’t have the quiet dreaming time I would like to just sit and think. I end up doing a lot of just sitting when I have the time which hasn’t been recently! However, I have survived…we recovered from the stomach flu completely within two weeks, plunged ourselves into VBS at the church where I work (I volunteered while my daughter had the time of her life), and then we went on vacation for a week right afterwards. Now it’s back to real life! I did continue to menu plan during all the craziness–I had to! If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been able to get food on the table every night and my budget would be completely off by now.
Now onto this week’s menu:

The theme for the GF Menu Swap over at Celiac Family this week is apricots. I did actually see some apricots at the store the other day, but I haven’t seen any at the farmer’s market yet. I’m not sure if they are really a local thing in Florida. I don’t do much cooking with them regardless, but I do enjoy eating them raw when I can find them!

Grilled Veggie wrap with hummus and a coconut flax wrap

Grilled Veggie wrap with hummus and a coconut flax wrap!

Buckwheat granola with raspberries and toast (I have been completely excited to find a healthy granola recipe that I can eat and that tastes good!)
Surf ‘n’ Turf–without the turf, baked potato, coleslaw
Light snack type supper

Rest of the week:
Lemon Blueberry Waffles
Smoothie, toast
Egg Salad (without bacon for me.

Working on cleaning out the freezer of random frozen leftovers–so whatever I can find in there!
Grilled cheese and/or tomato sandwiches
Chef Salad
Quinoa/Turkey/Beef burgers with corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes
Fish, rice pilaf with peas and corn
Pizza, Salad
Smoothie, Popcorn
And of course…LEFTOVERS!

For more menu ideas check out Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday! Or if you are interested in some gluten-free menus check out Celiac Family and the Gluten Free Menu Swap!