strawberries

Allergy friendly yellow cake

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I know (I think?) what you’re thinking.  Yellow cake?  What’s the point?  Chocolate is where it’s AT!  I agree with you, but every once in a while you need some quality yellow cake in your life.  Like on the 4th of July.

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Because it just feels right.  Is #merica just so 2013?

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Since I wanted P to be able to eat some, I made it allergen friendly.  As in, no wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts, or soy.  The batter does contain eggs and I’m not sure if it would turn out without them but if anyone wants to give it a shot with flax meal or chia seeds, by all means please do.  I realize there are boxed cake mixes out there, but I wanted a cake free of gums and stuff, so I made my own.

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I made both the cake and frosting a few days in advance and stored them in the fridge.  Before frosting the cake, I let the icing sit on the counter to get closer to room temp – not too warm though, just enough to spread more easily.  Then it went back in the fridge until the 4th.  I took it out of the fridge ~15 minutes in advance of serving.

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Both the cake and frosting involve coconut oil so we all know the solid state that reaches in cooler temps.

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Frosted and berried and BAM!  Land of the free, home of the brave.

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Turns out I have some crafty inclinations in me after all.  🙂  I used this recipe as my guide but made lots of changes to make it both allergen friendly and able to fit a (9X13) baking pan, so here’s my version:

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Yellow Cake [gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free]

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used TJ’s – it doesn’t have guar or xanthan gum)
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, softened (or almost all the way melted)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can light coconut milk (~1 2/3 cups)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, salt) until uniformly mixed.  Add in wet ingredients and mix thoroughly, whipping it til it’s silky smooth.

Pour into greased baking pan (I used a 9×13 pyrex).  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Let cool on counter before frosting.

For the frosting I had to make a hack version of what I normally do.  Ordinarily, I would use the solid portion of a can of full fat coconut milk (chilled in the fridge over night so it’s separated and easy to scoop apart from the coconut water), but I was all out.  So instead I combined coconut milk and oil to create a “cream”.  It’s not a whipped frosting, but rather, a thin sweet layer that nicely accompanies the cake.  I thought it was good enough to share the recipe.

Vanilla Coconut Frosting [vegan, gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free]

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Whip everything together until no lumps remain (I used a hand mixer).  Refrigerate for >2 hours.  Remove from fridge and give it a quick stir a few minutes before frosting.

Top with berries for the American flag look.  Or go crazy with sprinkles.

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This cake is humble enough to be an everyday cake, but can be fancied up for special occasions too.  And even though it’s not from a box, it’s still not terribly labor intensive.  It’s not quite as fluffy as traditional cake – it’s a bit more dense (although I hesitate to use that word since it implies a heaviness, which was definitely not present).  I’d say it’s more like a shortcake.  It gets softer the warmer it gets – thanks to the coconut oil.  And everyone seemed to like it, so I think it’s a winner.

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Notes: For a white (not yellow) cake, you could use 8 egg whites instead of 4 eggs.  If you’re anal (cough, cough) you may consider buying extra berries so you can find ones that are uniform in size.  Don’t be alarmed by the liquid-y nature of the batter (I was) – I promise it will be okay.

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I hope this is helpful for all the allergy peeps, but honestly, it’s a delicious cake that I would eat it over and over, even though I tolerate many things my son cannot.

Parts of Kyle’s birthday weekend

I took pics of the days surrounding Kyle’s 30th, but never shared them!  Never too late to celebrate?

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Here’s the young man and his tower of 30 beers.

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Kyle requested an al fresco themed birthday dinner, and since it was gorgeous weather it seemed like a brilliant idea.  We hit up the farmer’s market that day and hung out in the park with friends, soaking up the social scene.  It was a taste of what it to come (once the weather finally commits to warmth in entirety). 

The above platter had some old & some new items, including Redwood Hill Farm’s camellia goat cheese (strong and pungent!) with crackers and rice cakes, (home-made) candied walnuts, TJ’s baked green beans, strawberries, and TJ’s prosciutto.  With champagne on the side.  Cheers to three oh.

The next day we headed to my parents’ for the weekend.  I had a lunch with my sister, my mom and some of her friends (who I’ve known my whole life) and P got to meet his new buddy, Jack! 

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Don’t they look like besties already?

I was INCREDIBLY late on account of the most embarrassing jet lag fiasco ever (I was up at 5 am but somehow fell back asleep and didn’t wake back up until 10:30!!).  Yikes.  After running around like a cuckoo bird, I finally made it out the door.  The drive to my hometown is just under an hour so I made it as everyone else’s plates were cleared.  Ha! 

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I still ordered a salad anyway.  My sister fed P and I caught up on everyone’s lives.  Luckily everyone was able to hang out for a while so I didn’t really miss too much. 

Later on my sis and I took P for a walk around the res.  Then she headed into work and my mom and I got started on dinner.  Kyle didn’t get home til after I did the bedtime routine (and dinner) so he didn’t get to see the little guy all day.  🙁

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But he had a present waiting for him when he arrived so that counts for something!?  Wrapping was done by my dad, FYI.

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We made a simple dinner for the three of us (my parents and myself) since Kyle was in the city for a work dinner.

“Foil chicken” is the most passed around recipe in my family and so I figured I should share it on the blog.  I’ve made it with tofu in the past and it didn’t work as well but I never tried tempeh so perhaps that could work for a vegan option.

Foil Chicken [gluten free, dairy free]

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • dijon mustard
  • oat flour
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 4-8 mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tbsp tamari
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance

Directions:

Lay out four pieces of foil and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Rinse and pat dry each chicken breast.  Spread mustard over surface of chicken and dip both sides in flour.  Place on foil (repeat for each breast).  Top each breast with onions, mushrooms, tamari, and Earth Balance.  Wrap foil tightly around each breast.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve over rice and/or veggies.

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We had ours with brown rice and stir-fried broccoli, zucchini, and snow peas.

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The next morning I worked out while my mom played with P.  Then I made us both breakfast.  Flax4Life has several GF muffins and I’m slowly working my way through all of the flavors.  Last time I was home I had the carrot ones.  I think I like blueberry best so far, but I know they make a chocolate one so let’s be real.

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For lunch I had a few pieces of GF toast with avocado and goat cheese mozzarella.  Canyon Bakehouse bread is maybe the best at replicating wheat bread.  

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For Kyle’s birthday dinner my dad BBQ-ed and my mom made cake.

I made a salsa for the fish with mango, avo, yellow tomato, cilantro, and lime juice.  Guess what wine that is?  Should be no surprise to regular readers.

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The spread!

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Happy birthday Kyle!

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This is the same cake my mom made me for my birthday, but she made this frosting instead

I love chocolate so much. It was hard to not go back for a second (or third) slice.

We slept in the next day and I went on a run by myself, which ended up being one of my longest runs since having a baby.  It wasn’t anything crazy but I’m starting to feel like I’m getting my endurance back.  Slowly but surely.  There are no races in my future, but I do see distance increases (if I’m being ever so hopeful). 

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I made eggs with sautéed spinach that I topped with avocado and a GF blueberry muffin (half of which was eaten while I cooked the eggs). 

We enjoyed NCAA basketball and the sunshine as a family.  Weekends are the best.

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We ate lunch outside (leftovers made into a salad) while P practiced walking all over the yard.  He is getting so good at walking!  Sorry for the surprise photo mom!

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We went back home after lunch (timing our drive with P’s afternoon nap) and watched more basketball until dinner.  I made us taco salads.  And definitely had quadruple the amount of chips shown.  So much, in fact, that I didn’t have room for leftover cake.  Now there’s something you won’t hear from me often ever again.  Don’t worry, I made up for it the next night.  🙂

And for those interested in baby travel crap, P has not been adjusting to the jet lag/daylight savings time changes AT ALL.  Rather than post about it (which would come across as a confusing mumbo jumbo with no helpful tips whatsoever), I am just going to address it quickly now.  I’m trying my best to sort it out, but in the meantime we are all in agony, so yeah.  Sleep fail, rock on.

New foods for a happy baby

Since we are heading out of the country, I wanted to try a bunch of new foods before we left, to maximize the options for P.

As you can probably imagine, I’m not really keen on the idea of trying various foods for the first time while we are oceans apart from our MD (and the coverage of health care).  I am bringing 3 epi-pens with me and I’d like to return with the same amount.  Benadryl can fill in the gaps if there’s cross contamination, but for the 2 weeks we are gone, I’m not going to press our luck with expanding his palate.

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In the past week he’s tried strawberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, and chia seeds.

I know SEEDS!  I was seriously nervous feeding him chia seeds because we had been advised to avoid all nuts and seeds until he was 2 years old and was able to get re-tested.  I did a TON of research but couldn’t find a single scientific study or article that concluded anything about the cross reactivity of chia, flax, and/or pumpkin seeds amongst people with sesame allergies.  This is something that is likely due to the recent increase in prevalence, so I’m still hoping there will eventually be more information over the course of P’s childhood.  The reason I wanted to clear these in particular, though, was because several of the puree pouches that I was looking at had salba chia seeds in them.  I could have avoided those specific flavors, but the rest of the ingredients looked so nutritious and delicious and I wanted to have as diverse a range of options for him as possible away from home.

Anyway, I mixed a teaspoon of chia seeds into his oats with cinnamon and mashed up banana.  And I gave him a few bites.  He loved it and would have eaten a lot more, but I thought it best to go slow.  After he ate, I watched him carefully for a while – no rash, no hives, no labored breathing, no wheezing.  No change in demeanor whatsoever.  Sigh of relief.  I put him down for a nap a while later and even though I have a video monitor, I still put my ear to the door to listen for breathing a few times.  I realize I sound like a nutcase, but he’s my little everything and I don’t usually go against the MD’s advice.  I have since given him chia seeds several times without any reaction.  Hooray!  The pouches now have the green light.  Hopefully he won’t turn up his nose at every single one of them.

Strawberries and pineapple were less of a concern for me, since those seem to be more of an acidic issue than allergy thing.  He did get a little redness on his chin the first time he tried both of them, but he didn’t seem bothered by it.  Incidentally, both the strawberries and pineapple were a huge hit the first time, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with them the second time I offered them to him.  Weird kid.  I have since tried both a few more times without any luck in the strawberries.  Pineapple he refused a few times but then finally gave in…and inhaled them, so much so that he broke out in hives all over his hand and arms (due to excessive contact with the acidic fruit).  It freaked me out at first because the rash was bright red and raised, plus he was clearly bothered by it, scratching himself where the skin was inflamed.  But there weren’t hives anywhere else and as soon as I washed off his skin it went away.  I believe it’s purely contact dermatitis* given how quickly it resolved, but I’m hesitant to push pineapple (and any other citrus) much more.  For now, I don’t care if he eats these acidic fruits or not (they won’t go to waste on my watch!) but at least I know he doesn’t have an anaphylactic response when he ingests them.

He hardly ate the oranges and tomatoes I offered him, even though the tomatoes were cooked into his scrambled eggs, so I can’t be sure about his skin’s reaction to the acid, but he got enough to clear him from having an allergic reaction.  I may try tomato sauce on some gluten free pasta next to see if that’s something he likes or not.  Marinara could open a whole world of meals for us (him), although I will still have to be hyper-vigilent about any added ingredients because I think gluten can get hidden in there sometimes.  Maybe even nuts and/or seeds, too.

*ETA: He got the same hives (in the same location) after another meal that didn’t include pineapple, so I’m not sure what caused it but we now have more trial and error planned for the next few meals.  I need to buy stock in Benadryl. 

Next up?  Beets, kiwi, and maybe (but probably not quite yet) flax?

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Look at all these happy baby products!  I bought tons of flavors from a few different lines, including the starting solids (1), simple combos (2), homestyle meals (2), and hearty meals (3).

FYI, I emailed the company about what’s in the chicken stock just to be sure.  I have yet to hear back, but I’ll update once I do.

From the company “We use several different facilities for our products – most do not use peanuts, tree nuts or sesame, but a few do. Our Super Toddler bars are produced in a facility with peanuts and tree nuts present, and our Munchies Rice Cakes are produced in a facility with sesame present. Otherwise, the only tree nut used with shared equipment in our pouch production facilities is coconut.  Our chicken stock is made from chicken and water, there are no additional ingredients.”

Perfect Fall weekend

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Trrrrrrrrouble.

[Don’t be deceived by this photo, he’s not crawling.  At. All.  He rolls to get everywhere.  He’s surprisingly mobile for only using rolling as a means of travel.  I’m sure I’ll be swallowing my words later but it would be nice if he showed some signs of crawling.  Like maybe contact with the ground.  On the other hand, he’s basically ready to walk since he holds himself up using the coffee table or wall as support…hmmm…tummy time to standing?  Kids are confusing.]

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On Thursday my parents came to Davis to visit for a few hours.

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It was fun to have them in town on a day that didn’t involve them babysitting while I slept.  I was alert and able to interact without dozing off mid sentence!  Yay!

They treated us to lunch at Bistro 33, a place I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  It’ sin downtown Davis and has outdoor seating which is perfect on days like Thursday.  It was barely crisp and Fall-like, so sitting in the sun felt awesome.

Kyle even managed to ditch work for a couple of hours (a perk of being self employed) and join us.

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We “started” with baked goat cheese with sundried tomatoes and parmesan crostini.  I got some without parmesan for me.  And FYI, the reason started is in quotations is because the service is pretty mediocre, so our appetizer only beat out the arrival of our entrees by 30 seconds.  Not amazing timing.  At least it was good.

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For my main dish I got the banh-mi style Vietnamese sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.

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The sandwich had grilled portobello mushrooms, asian slaw, and lime chili vinagirette aioli on a fluffy sweet roll.

The aioli was the best part – I would have liked a bit more oomf in the form of tofu or more mushrooms – but it was still a pretty good vegetarian option.

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The sweet potato fries were awesome, and it’s a good thing I shared them with the whole table or I would have demolished them all.

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Mr. No-Naps (going on day 4) finally fell asleep during the meal so we actually lucked out.

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After lunch we strolled through downtown and then onto campus.  We stopped to feed P some banana, because he wasn’t super happy that he missed out on lunch. 

I feed him solid food twice a day (more or less) but I still nurse him the same amount.  It’s a lot to fit into 10 hours (yes, he sleeps for 14 hours…for now). 

In the afternoon my parents headed home and Kyle went back to work so I played with P and made myself a smoothie.  No photo, but it was large and green, with banana, spinach, almond milk, and peanut butter.

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For dinner I had this again but topped it with a fried egg.  Delish.

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And for dessert I had a few slices of pumpkin gingerbread and maple coated almonds.  The almonds are from the co-op bulk bins and are way too addictive to buy on the reg.  I try to limit myself to one fancy nut per month.  Yes, I could easily make my own, but let’s be real, I’m spread pretty thin these days.  Buying food is what’s happening and I’m making no apologies for it.

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Friday’s breakfast was steel cut oats with almond butter stirred in, topped with cinnamon, desiccated coconut, and roasted sunflower seeds.  An oddly amazing combo.

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Afterwards I fed P, then we got to playing with a new toy.

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Pre-and post-destruction. 

As strong as he is, I’m thinking it’s the poorly made toy that is the issue because it lasted about 2 seconds in the table position before he tore the legs off it and broke the thing down to parts. 

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Lunch!  You all have to know what this is by now since I have shown the same meal on repeat for the past two months.

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Kyle and I went different routes for dinner.  He went Mexican with a new awesome ingredient.

I didn’t feel like much, so I landed on tomato soup.  With crackers and chips aplenty.

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I had both Amy’s chunky tomato and Wolfgang Puck’s tomato basil.  Both were perfectly salty, complemented with tortilla chips (until they ran out) and then Van’s multigrain GF crackers.

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I felt all sloshy and didn’t even have room for dessert. 

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Kyle’s said the Fresh ‘n Nova hot garlic fluff took his burrito to the next level.  Talk about a perfect Mexican food add in!  Kyle loves garlic so this is basically a spread created for him.

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Saturday started way earlier than we wanted thanks to P’s teething issues.  He has been waking in the early morning and no matter what we do or don’t do, he won’t go back to sleep. 

He loves cuddling and it feels so sweet having him on my chest while he sucks his thumb.  I feel his hot breath on my neck and occasional eyelash flutter.  It makes me melt so as tiring as it is, I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world.

Oh and PS I made GF pancakes with peanut butter sauce (above) for breakfast after doing level 3 of Jillian’s shred. 

I ate lunch in the car, so no pics, but it wasn’t anything special.  We were en route to Chico for a baby shower.  Doesn’t P look excited to meet his new friend?

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He was certainly bonding with the other little girlies at the event.

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Until Kev showed up and there was another boy in the running…no worries for my ladies man.

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Chillin’

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We spent the night at our friends’ house in Chico and got take-out from The RawBar for dinner.  It’s pretty nice having kids the same age because they totally get the whole house-bound-after-8-pm-because-my-kid-is-sleeping thing.

I had a bomb seaweed salad and inari.  And some vino as a night cap while we watched the first two episodes of Top Chef. 

Predictions??

P woke up when we went to bed so that sucked.  It was a two hour battle to get him back to sleep as he wailed on and off.  Yikes. Fortunately he didn’t wake up Kevin, who was asleep in his parents’ room. 

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The next morning we went to Tin Roof Bakery and Cafe for breakfast.

I got a decaf with almond milk (free refills for the win) and a massive cinnamon roll.

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I only got through half before I felt the sugar crazies coming on so I stopped.

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This is Kyle’s pretty almond milk mocha.

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We stopped at the park on the way home.  The boys and their boys….awww.

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Don’t mind the fact that P’s still rockin’ his pjs.  It was a lazy Sunday.  Who gives?

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We made it back in time for the beginning of the first round of football games.  And hung out in Chico ‘til we got to a good break in the games. 

Thanks to the crappy am radio in the middle of nowhere we only had the Raiders game to listen to on the way home.  Whatever.

I worked hard to get pacman to nap on the way home and after he finally dozed off I did the same.  We were a sleepy pair in the back seat leaving poor Kyle to entertain himself.  Luckily the 49ers game came on. 

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We got home around 2 pm and I’m not sure who was the most hungry of the three of us.  Patty-cakes of course got priority.  But as soon as he was done nursing I made myself a quick egg/avo scramble (above) which I bulked up even more with a cheesy sauce of nooch and plain almond milk.  Neon colored pee! 

The rest of Sunday was mellow as we got things squared away for the work week ahead.  I had zero interest in cooking so we got a few different deli salads from Nugget Market on the way home from an evening walk through the neighb.

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And that’s the weekend!

Ruts and reining it in

And just like that, my accountability went down the drain.  Wah wah.

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Even though I spoiled my dinner with the above yog from cultive, it was so necessary.  I had just finished loading my groceries into the car when I noticed my (new) iPhone was nowhere to be found.  I usually keep it in the cup holder on the stroller, so I figured it either fell out when I pushed P over a bump or crack in the sidewalk…or…someone stole it. 

Since I live in Davis, I figured it was my fault.  So I retraced my steps all over downtown Davis…all the way back to the Co-op.  Unfortunately, nobody had seen my phone, but someone let me borrow their phone to call mine.  And someone answered it!!  A nice guy found it on the ground and was only a few blocks away so I raced over to meet him and reunite with my mobile.  Phew! 

All that running around town worked up my appetite.  Hence the fro yo.  It has live cultures though, so that means it’s healthy.  😉

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Most people don’t follow up a frozen yogurt feast with a nacho platter, but as you probably know by now, I’m not most people. 

I have a nacho problem.

In the past 2 weeks I’ve had nachos for almost 50% of my dinners. 

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Seriously Elise. 

Anyway, I’m going to cut myself some slack (advice from my husband) since I just got off a killer stretch of night shifts. 

Here’s a few of the other meals I did manage to capture.  Not sure what meal was what considering I was doing the zombie thing – 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners per day is my norm (and snacks aplenty obvs).

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Toppings = peanut sauce (PB/almond milk/stevia/cinnamon) + strawberries

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Wildroots GF pancake mix is seriously the sh!t.

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I make no apologies for the repetition of pancakes.

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That’s almond butter straight up.

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And that’s chocolate cherry bread.

I guess I did mix it up a little.

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I also made pumpkin gingerbread.  It was loosely based on Emily’s recipe but I made it gluten free and added molasses (and made a loaf not muffins).  It’s tasted fantastic but the consistency was a fail so I’m not going to bother posting the recipe. 

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The texture was super dense and not very bread-like, so I almost think the dough would have worked better as a cookie.  It has an awesome ginger and molasses kick though.  And it made the house smell like Christmas.  Mmmm…

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Suzie’s corn thins, Mary’s Gone crackers + strawberries + carrots + an avo/egg/sour cream mash.

I feel like ever since Greek yogurt came on the scene, sour cream has gotten seriously neglected.  I never actually ate it before greek yogurt was all the rage, but I definitely use greek yogurt in all recipes that call for sour cream.  No longer!  Sour cream is awesome.  Green Valley organic lactose free sour cream is SO thick and amazing I’m especially smitten at the mo.  It’s nothing like greek yogurt and anyone who thinks differently is in denial. 

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More avo/egg/sour cream.  This time with carrots, corn thins and figs.

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The same avo and egg mash but with goat chevre instead of sour cream.  On the side were Mary’s Gone crackers, cornbread, carrots, and a little wedge of Redwood Hill Farm goat cheese camellia.

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And so on and so forth.  You get the idea.

Obviously I’m in a food rut.  My breakfasts are all the same.  My lunches are all the same.  And my dinners are all the same nachos.

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The only outlier last week was this quickie dinner I threw together.  Kyle was working late at the shop but I had to go into the hospital, so my dad came over to hang at the house while P slept.  Saved by grandpa!  Since my dad was so great to cover us, I couldn’t exactly leave him high and dry for dinner so I scrambled to find something around the house. 

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The vegetable drawer was pathetic (all I had was scallions!).  I ended up making cod with a scallion sesame brown rice dish.  It was decent, but nothing I’d rave about.

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For the cod, I simply rubbed them with miso paste, then sprinkled coconut sugar on top and baked it for ~15 minutes.  I had mine with some leftover squash.

Desserts?  Yeah, they’ve been a bi (tri?) daily occurrence.  Eek.  Gotta rein it in!  I was much more thoughtful and intuitive with my eating when I was taking pics of everything. 

So that’s that in the food department.

I owe you a patty-cakes pic don’t I?

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Going on 8 months…boy does time fly…

I (finally) have a stretch of days off, so I’m hopefully going to actually cook something this week.  Stay tuned!