Monday, December 30, 2013

Immune function, Vitamin D3, and Autism

Have you been hearing a lot about Vitamin D3 and health?  Maybe you know someone who is Vitamin D deficient. 

I recently read an interesting article looking at Vitamin D, autoimmune issues, and autism. This study looked at levels of Vitamin D and levels of anti-MAG auto-antibodies in healthy vs. autistic children.  Anti-MAG auto-antibodies are antibodies that specifically attack the myelin on neurons and are implicated in some forms of neuropathy.  Click on the link below to read the article in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Research study investigating Vitamin D, antibodies that attack myelin on nerves, and autism

Here is a summary:

1. Immune abnormalities, mainly autoimmunity to brain tissue, may have a pathogenic role in autism.  Recently, vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a potential environmental factor triggering some autoimmune disorders.  

2. In this study, autistic children had significantly higher serum levels of anti-MAG auto-antibodies than healthy children, P < 0.001. Increased serum levels of anti-MAG auto-antibodies were found in 70% of autistic patients. A previous study conducted on 32 Egyptian children, aged between 3 and 8 years, reported anti-MAG seropositivity in 62.5% of autistic children.

3. In the present work, patients with severe autism had significantly higher serum anti-MAG auto-antibodies than children with mild to moderate autism.

4. Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels had significant negative correlations with serum levels of anti-MAG auto-antibodies.  That is, individuals with lower vitamin D showed higher levels of auto-antibodies.  

The authors emphasize that the findings are intriguing for future study and do not negate the contributions of other factors in the expression of autism.  The possibility is raised, however, that there may be an autoimmune contribution in a subset of individuals with autistic expression and that Vitamin D3 may play a role.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Great Fun with Jigsaw App

I really enjoy jigsaw puzzles, but there are some drawbacks to getting one pouring out the pieces on your floor or table.  The pieces get lost, you lose interest in the picture, you get stuck and give up, or it takes so long to complete you have to put it all back in the box undone. 

I recently discovered the Jigsaw Collection HD app from iTunes.  I paid for the 2.99 premium version, but there is a free version as well with some puzzles included.  

The premium version lets you upload any photo you want and turn in into a puzzle, for endless personal puzzles of your choice. You can also buy packs of themed puzzles from iTunes.  

Some nice features are that you can save puzzles you are working on, and have several puzzles in process at one time.  You can choose the type of pieces you want...such as traditional puzzle pieces, waved squares, or flat squares.  You can choose how many pieces are in your puzzle from as low as 12 to as high as 288.  You choose the color of your background puzzle table.  You also have the choice to have the pieces right side up at all times, or rotated in random ways to make it harder.  You can have the app separate all the edge pieces for you and bring them onto the table first.  In other words, there are many ways to make the puzzle personal and adapted to your difficulty preferences!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

5 Reasons I Started Shopping at Zulily

I have often seen ads for but never checked it out until recently.  I was very pleasantly surprised and excited by the site.  It is a site where you can find the latest deals on things for women, kids, and the home from a variety of different vendors.  It is the type of site you check frequently, because the deals are only while supplies last, and the deals are for a limited time...usually about 3 days.  The items are discounted from regular price and the shipping costs are low.  You cannot return items, however, and you have to wait about 2 weeks to receive your purchases.  They have you "sign-up" so you have a log in and password, that this "membership" is free. 

 However, given those stipulations, I love so many things about it, I had to make a list...

1. Variety of Vendors and Items
We live in a fairly small city, and there are limitations to the variety of stores located nearby.  I tend to feel like I see the same things at all the stores.  But on Zulily, there are so many different vendors and the items are very UNIQUE.  In addition to having clothes, they also have toys, books, LEGOs, furniture, wall hangings, rugs, kitchen gadgets, boots, etc.  

2. Variety of Sizes
You can get unique clothing, shoes, lingerie, etc. for a wide range of sizes.  They have several plus sized vendors that have very nice clothing, of good quality, and a variety of styles (work, evening, lounge-wear, etc). 

3. Good Quality
The items I have received from them are of good quality and material, much better than if I bought them at a local discount store. 

4. Unique Categories: organic, gluten free/casein free, special needs
My son is in the autistic spectrum and he eats a gluten free/casein free diet to help manage his symptoms.  In the last month that I have been monitoring the site, they have had an Enjoy Life event for gluten free, allergy friendly food; many clothing events that have used organic cotton; and even a "special needs" event where they sold compression shirts, vibrating cushions, and chewy toys for kids.  

5. Latest Fashion and Toys
I was somewhat concerned that if these were "deals" they would be outdated clothing styles.  The merchandise they offer is always up to date for fashion and relevancy.  For example, they currently have many events carrying leggings, tunics, infinity scarves, and high boots for women.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Celebrating the Holidays with Special Needs Children

Trees, lights, decorating cookies, shopping, visiting family, school vacation, wrapping and opening presents, singing traditional songs of the season, and church services...

The best things about the holidays, right?

We all have our favorite part of the holiday season.  It usually comes wrapped with childhood memories of what was or what we wish had been.  We try to recreate scenes from Christmas past.  Capturing those great pictures of the kids for Christmas cards.  Surprising people with gifts on Christmas morning.  Visiting Santa and watching favorite Christmas movies on TV.

For children with special needs, all or most of the above may be very difficult and not enjoyable at all.  My dreams for the season are often not my son's dreams.  He is 7 years old and in the autistic spectrum.  Every year, I'm surprised by how much he struggles during the holidays.  Just this year, I spent some time crying at a coffee shop as I took a break from trying to cook for Thanksgiving.

As I try to regroup, these are my thoughts...

1. Anticipation and Surprise
For most of us, anticipation and surprise is what Christmas is all about.  But for my son, anticipation feels like anxiety.  He prefers to know what is coming.  He likes a predictable schedule.  He can seem "off" from before Halloween until after Christmas break.  "Off" could look like meltdowns, crying at small things, wanting to be constantly close to a parent, or wanting to be isolated like under a "tent" in his room or behind a chair.

** One thing we have tried is to ask Joshua if he wants to know the "schedule for the day" even when school is out.  This let's him know what unusual things may be in the schedule, or what usual things are cancelled because of the holidays.  Sometimes we ask him if he wants to draw out or write out his schedule.  Other times, he just wants to hear it. Here is an example of a visual schedule.

**Joshua wants to know what he is getting for Christmas ahead of time.  Yesterday, he and I ordered his gift together over the internet.  Now he feels good that he is getting something he will enjoy, but he doesn't have to manage that nervous energy until Christmas morning.

**You could also develop a social story like the ones at this link.

2. Crowds, Commotion, and Loud Noises
There is a lot more activity during the holidays than other times of year.  Even at his "typical" activities like fencing and school, there are Christmas songs, concerts, and his school even takes all the kids to a store to buy toys for charity.  These activities can be overwhelming because of the noise, scents, bumping, and bustling.

At any time of year, Joshua can be loud and physically active; however, sometimes this is most noticeable when he is actually overwhelmed.  When he is crashing through the house and can't stop, I know he is having a hard time.  There was a time when I thought he needed to "run off" this energy, but now I know that he most often needs help with calming during these times.

**He may need us to set up a quiet place like an indoor tent.  He can go inside and watch videos or play an app on a tablet. Try these ideas for creating a cozy resting place.

**Deep pressure and proprioceptive input can be also be calming and centering.  Try these sensory strategies OR these!

3. Diet

Holidays often have lots of treats, traditional dishes, and a deviation from normal diet.  In addition, Joshua follows a gluten free, casein free (dairy) diet to help manage his autistic symptoms.  Joshua typically does best when he has enough protein and very little simple sugar as well.  We try to cook healthy and organic as much as we can, but still have treats for Joshua at every holiday and special occasion.

**Joshua eats a lot of healthy foods, but he often rejects new or unusual foods.  Many of the traditional holiday foods are out of our typical routine (e.g., most of the Thanksgiving dishes).  While I may be working very hard to make stuffing, gravy, etc. Joshua often wants his usual dishes.  Or, he may ask for holiday dishes because other kids talk about them, but then often reject them when they are on his plate.  This Thanksgiving, Joshua ate coconut milk ice cream and that was it.  He rejected each of my Thanksgiving offerings.  I have to just anticipate that he may want his usual foods; I need to choose which ones I will make in combination with a few holiday dishes for us.  

**We try to really focus on protein and healthy eating, so sugar rushes don't add to his symptoms and struggle.

4. Little Bits at a Time
**We try to enjoy little bits of the holiday at a time.  Our church holds Christmas service during the week before Christmas, so we are able to go to service and then not plan anything else that day.  

**We don't have family in our area; rather than driving 8 hours to see family and stay in their home, we opt for a quieter holiday in our own familiar setting.  

**We spread out his presents across multiple days, rather than opening all the presents Christmas morning in a flurry of craziness.  So, he opens one large present on Christmas morning (of course he already knows what it is) and then across the following days, we dole the rest of the small presents over time.  

5. Take Care of Ourselves

As I was crying in the coffee shop this year, I remembered that taking time to myself is really important.  I can't do it without breaks and a chance to regroup.  So I either need a to find a babysitter, a willing neighbor, or take turns with my husband to get out of the house and breathe.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Close your eyes Mom!": Talking to my Son in the Autistic Spectrum

My son Joshua is 7 years old.  He has been diagnosed in the autistic spectrum.  When he is having a particularly rough day, he may prefer to avoid seeing people's faces or eyes.  He also has a hard time handling adrenaline or strong emotions, even if they are coming from another person rather than from inside of him.  

That is why, there are times when he wants to tell someone something, but he doesn't want to do it face to face, eye to eye, and emotion to emotion.  

I know we all do that sometimes.  Maybe we prefer to email a difficult topic to someone, just for a little personal distance.  Maybe your child likes to tell you things when you are not looking at each other, like when you are driving the car and he/she is sitting in the back.  It tones down the emotional intensity you are having to process from the other person. 

Sometimes, my son will ask me to come under the covers with him so it is dark and we can't see each other.  Then he will tell me what is on his mind.  Or laying in the dark as he is falling asleep...he may say, "Mom..." and talk about something that feels emotionally intense to him.  I have to remember to be very "matter-of-fact" when he tells me something like that.  Whatever it is, he is feeling overwhelmed by the emotion of it already, without my response adding to it.  

How do your kids talk to you?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Homemade Lip Balm: A Must Try!

This summer, I tried the recipe I found hereHomemade Natural Lip Balm at

And today...I just used the left over I had from that first batch, remelted it, and refilled my containers (12 tubes).

This is a must for the winter and year round.  I used to buy other natural lip balms, but they were about $3 for one stick and rarely went on sale.  Once you invest in the ingredients, these balms will last a long time and are easy to refill.  And, they can be made in different scents and are great for gifts!

I got the beeswax pellets through Amazon and also ordered these tall slender tubes while I was at it.  I already had coconut oil in the house, and did use Vitamin E but found it hard to squeeze into the batch.  I used some oils I had in the house like peppermint.  Although I did invest in the decorative tapes, the trick was to be able to make them stick with all the oil and balm on my hands!  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Whispers: Jeremiah 29:13

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional 
copyright Regan 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Jeremiah 29:13 (New International Version)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

When I want to speak to someone who is quite a distance across the room or down the street, I shout loudly! But when I want to speak intimately with someone, I whisper. When I’m in a knowing relationship with someone, I want to talk up close and speak about dear things. Whispering is the sound of intimacy. Sometimes I feel that the more God wants closeness with me, the more He whispers. I must come close to hear His intimate thoughts. There is no shouting because God wants no distance. We have a God who wants to be found and known, not from a distance, but close up. He wants me close so that He can speak in whispers and share His heart with me.

We seek you, God, with all our hearts. We lay at your feet. We seek to fully know and experience all of you—all of your facets and attributes. We want to know your provision, healing, safety, breakthrough, courage, peace, anointing, rest, knowledge, wisdom, blessing, and favor. We seek you. We pray that ALL of you will cover all of us!

1. Do you believe and understand the depth of God’s desire to be near you? Pray that God will reveal to you how much He desires and loves you.

2. How can you seek God and come closer so you can hear His whispers? In what practical ways can you foster a more intimate, connected, and knowing relationship with the Father?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hot Mocha in a Pinch!

I love coffee shops!  I have always loved the smell of coffee, even before I liked the taste of it.  If I am going to escape somewhere to relax, I will drive to a local coffee shop.  While I'm there, I will likely order a latte or mocha.  That is my treat!

The other day, I couldn't get away to hideout with a special drink.  I was at work!  But I did find some coffee and a box of instant hot chocolate (salted caramel flavor).  I mixed it together, and Voila!  A hot Caramel Mocha in a pinch.  Yum...  What treats do you like in a pinch?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Celebrating Halloween with Special Needs Kids

Celebrating any holiday with special needs kids can feel overwhelming.  There can be a lot of adrenaline and intensity at holiday times, unusual changes in diet, and noticeable disruption of routine.  There is also usually a big enphasis on cultural specific ways of celebrating, some of which your child may be unable to participate in or tolerate. 

Here are some Halloween tips:

1. Sensory Issues
If your child has sensory symptoms, pick a costume that makes sense for your specific child.  Avoid things that are itchy, smell "funny", or are too tight.  In contrast, maybe snug parts of a costume feel good to your child.  A hat or turtleneck may help some kids feel more centered and secure.  Having them carry a weighted backpack or some type of accessory with the costume that is heavy can also help kids feel calmer.  Some kids might avoid face paint or masks, while others may like that feeling on their face.  Do the best you can to select what makes sense for your child, and know that you will do your best to plan...and then be flexible when costume time comes if your child won't wear what you had picked out.  Have some options in your head just in case... like plan B...C...and D.

2. Anxiety and Inflexibility
Try using social stories to prepare your child for the unusual things about the holiday.  For example, what happens differently at school or home.  If the child is old enough, have them write a story with you or tell you the story. 

3. Extra Calming Times
Plan extra calming times into your routine a few weeks before and after the holiday.  Maybe your child feels better when they can lay under a table with a heavy blanket and watch YouTube videos.  Maybe they like to play LEGOs in their room with a dim light on. 

4. Learn to Recognize what Behavior Means
For some reason, I'm usually surprised when my son has trouble before and during the holidays.  Even this year...I was not expecting some of the behaviors that have "come out" such as anxiety, wanting to touch and climb on visitors, melting down if he loses a game.  My son can also "lose his words."  Although my son does talk, when he is under stress I hear myself saying more and more "use your words please" and "have you lost your words today?"  My husband reminded me that we need to expect some changes before any holiday or change in routine (e.g. traveling, the beginning or end of school, etc). 

5. Dietary Needs
My son follows a gluten free and casein free diet to help manage some of his autistic symptoms.  We have a game now, that he goes trick or treating, brings back "a stash" and then he comes to my "candy store."  I pretend to be a shop owner and he comes in wanting to trade some of the candy he can't eat, for other treats I have in my store.  Then he has choices and can choose what he likes. 

6. Be Flexible
Sometimes we have high expectations for any holiday and how it should look if it is "good."  We might feel very disappointed if our child doesn't want to wear a costume or leave the house.  Maybe our child prefers to hand out candy rather than going from house to house.  Maybe they won't pose for a picture or meet their friends outside.  Every holiday may be different...every year may be different.  Take pictures when you can and build what memories you can, but let the rest go.  Let it be good in it's own way.  If your child wants to stay home and hand out candy, embrace it.  If they just want to wear face paint but no costume, go for it.

7. Take Care of Yourself
As a parent, you are doing the best you can.  Some other parents may give you advice or feel critical of your child for not looking and acting like everyone else on Halloween.  Maybe your child is nonverbal or won't wear a costume.  Maybe they can't choose a piece of candy from such a huge variety in a large bowl.  It could be that they have trouble self-regulating and grab too much impulsively.  Perhaps they melt down in front of others. Not everyone will understand, but some will.  You may feel alone, but there are a whole community of parents out there who support and embrace you. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies from gluten, grain, egg and starch free

I've been making these chocolate cookies from lately.  Yum and Yum. 

Check out the original directions below (and then see bottom of post for my own variations). 

  • 2 packed cups Blanched Almond Flour 
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbs Granulated Sugar 
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
  • 4 1/2 Tbs Room Temperature Butter  (Earth Balance, Goats Butter, Shortening or Coconut Oil)
  • 2 Tbs Applesauce
  • 1-2 bars of Dairy Free Chocolate Chopped into Chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large cookie sheet with either parchment paper or a baking mat to prevent sticking.
  2. Chop your bar(s) of chocolate into chunks (as big or as small as you want them).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (by hand should work as well) combine all of the ingredients until the dough comes together stirring in the chopped chocolate last.
  4. Form 12 cookies with your hands into round / flat patties (I made mine 1 inch thick and about 3 inches wide).
  5. Bake 15-16 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from baking sheet.

My own variations--
I use 1/4 cup agave nectar and 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar.  I like the texture of the cookie a little better this way.  If I don't have applesauce, I actually use one large egg because I do eat eggs.  I use coconut oil and it works out well.  The cookies are great without chocolate chunks or chips as well.  Recently I put in mini-chips and dried cherries.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Relationship with the Father: Luke 15 devotion

Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional copyright Regan 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Luke 15:11-13 (Amplified Bible)

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.

The father had two sons. The older son had a relationship with the rules. The younger son had a relationship with his father’s property. Who had a relationship with the father? Who chose father over property, rules, inheritance, and justification? However, the father wanted relationship with his sons. When his youngest son was still a long way off, the father ran out to him and threw his arms around him, restoring the son's place in the family, calling for a party! When the older son was angry because the rules for right behavior had been broken, the father came outside to him and asked him to come into the household and join in the family celebration.

No matter what we are attached to, God is always inviting us back into the house, into the family, into relationship with Him. He longs for relationship with you, even when the rules have been broken and the property is gone. He wants you. He wants your children. He wants to be close to you, to speak intimately with you of eternal things. What do you want? Can we say we want the Father completely, without offense or reservation, and that nothing else comes first?

1. Are relationships at the top of your priority list? How is your relationship with God? Does it need tending, commitment, or time? How can you pay attention to that relationship today?

2. In what ways can we show our children that relationships and people come first? How can we consistently invite them into the household, no matter what? How can we help them demonstrate that love and relationship to others?

Friday, October 11, 2013 Lego plus googlemaps

Have you played around with the site "" It reminds me of minecraft in a way.  Google and LEGO worked together to use a map of Australia and New Zealand which allows people to build LEGO structures, publish them on the map, and view what others have built.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Check out Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake bars from

This is a great one from  I actually make a double batch of this recipe and use a cupcake tin with liners to make 12 servings.  I keep them in the freezer, and eat one for breakfast as I run out the door for protein packed goodness.  It fills me up and lasts a long time.  The basic recipe is below, but use the link for the most complete directions. 

Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake bars

Chocolate Crust:
1 cup raw pecans
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
In a food processor, process the pecans and crust ingredients until crumbly.
Cheesecake filling:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour
1/2 cup zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey (or agave, for vegans)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until silky smooth. Pour the filling over the chocolate crust and smooth the top, using a spatula.
Chocolate Swirl:
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, in liquid form
Whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Next, using a spoon, gently pour 3-4 lines across the cheesecake bars and swirl.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How Do I Treat Others And Why?--A Meeting With The Longing King...

I vividly remember the day I was working in a United States hospital as usual.  I was asked to see a patient who had been brought in from home with significant debility.  I am often asked to work with the medical team when there is concern that someone is failing at home and needs more help than they have. 

I walked to the connected building where he was being treated.  When I got to the room, he was in contact isolation which means staff put gowns and gloves on to help prevent spreading infections to staff or other patients.  As I read the chart, I saw that he had lice and open sores on his skin.  I was surprised that the nurses were wearing masks and asked if he had a respiratory infection.  One nurse stepped out and explained that staff worse masks because of the smell; he had not been bathed and cared for in so long, and his sores were oozing. 

I came in ready to introduce myself.  As I entered the door and turned to the right to face him, I took the scene in visually in what felt like an instant.  There were two nurses cleaning him and caring for him.  He was clearly the most debilitated person I had seen at the hospital.  His arms and legs were contracted and he was unable to straighten his joints.  He had obviously been bedridden.  He was so thin.  I remember thinking "This is like a man Mother Teresa would take in from the streets." 

Just then I felt God at my right side whispering in my ear.  He said, "Theresa, do you see him."  "Yes God," I said. "I feel so sorry for him."  God said, "Isn't he wonderful!  I created him.  Isn't he wonderful.  I love him so much.  He's my favorite!"

That moment changed my life.  

I knew God was not closing His eyes to the suffering of this gentleman, but in that moment He was gazing on him as he created him.  His Father's gaze saw His son, His wonderful creation.  Just like the good Daddy He is, he saw this man as a child, running and jumping on His lap.  God said, "There you are!  I missed you!  Oh, I love you.  You are my favorite!"  and then he would jump off and a little girl would run up.  God would say, "Oh, there she is!  My favorite!  Oh, there's my girl."  And so on the dance continued, children coming and going.  All His creation, all His favorite.  

It hit home...Every person I interact with is God's wonderful creation.  All people were created for good.  They were created with identity in Him, with destiny, and purpose.  They were created to proclaim beauty for ashes, joy for despair, and resurrection to the dead.  Kings and Queens, paupers, plumbers, CEOs, soccer moms, divorced dads...those in prison, in shelters, in mansions, in stone cottages...those revered, those criticized, those seen and unseen, those claimed and unclaimed...the woman who stole from you, the man who betrayed you, the parent who let you down, the political figure you despise...all were created to be representatives of the King.  They were created to be filled with the Holy Spirit to speak peace, healing, and blessing everywhere they go.  When you interact with them, you are speaking to God's beloved, His creation.  He longs for them to be close to Him always, He chases after their heart so they be not deceived by the Deceiver, He invites them into his flock like a Shepherd, He longs to give them Life forever...God's longing for His people to be near to Him--Longing in the manger, Longing on the cross, Longing from His throne.  He is a God who longs for his people to be restored to Him.

Even when others don't know who they are in Christ, can we look at them and know that what the Psalmist said is true for them as well...

Psalm 139 v 6
It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.

Does this woman know that God shaped her?  Do we treat her with that knowing...

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.  You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful;  I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.


When kings and princes rule the earth, can we pray they will know their Eternal King and Creator...the King who is the Longing King.

O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am; You even know the small details like when I take a seat and when I stand up again.  Even when I am far away, You know what I’m thinking.  You observe my wanderings and my sleeping, my waking and my dreaming, and You know everything I do in more detail than even I know. You know what I’m going to say long before I say it.  It is true, Eternal One, that You know everything and everyone.

Can we live with the knowing that people who are different from ourselves are cherished by our King; He created them and has thoughts and plans for them...what treasure, what value, and joy!

Your thoughts and plans are treasures to me, O God! I cherish each and every one of them! How grand in scope! How many in number! If I could count each one of them, they would be more than all the grains of sand on earth. Their number is inconceivable!

If we could live with the glistening knowledge that everyone, everywhere has been created by and is important to our King, would we interact with others differently? 

If we could look beyond what we "know" of them now in this lifetime, and see how God created them to be, could we call out the gift and destiny and life God deposited in them?

How would the world be different?  

(all scripture from The Voice translation in this post)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vegan Ice Cream Recipe

My 7 year old son follows a gluten free, casein (dairy protein) free diet.  This helps him manage his symptoms within the autistic spectrum.  We are always on the look out for healthy and yummy alternatives for favorite foods like ice cream. 

A few years ago, I played around with recipes for making homemade ice cream.  We use a Cuisinart ice cream maker (I don't think the model is even being sold now) and probably make about 5 batches a week. We have been doing this for about 4 years, and the machine is holding up well. 

The milk base I use for the ice cream is a mixture of hemp milk and coconut milk.

Hemp milk is an alternative to cow's milk made from hemp seeds. 
One 8-Ounce glass generally contains the following nutrients:
900 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 2800 mg Omega-6 Fatty Acids, All 10 Essential Amino Acids, 4 Grams of Digestible Protein, over 40% of RDA of Calcium, Vitamin D, and many other nutrients.

Coconut milk is produced when water and coconut "meat" are mixed together and then pressed so the milk is harvested.  

Some sources I read said the water used is coconut water and others just said "water." Coconut milk contains medium chain fatty acids, the fatty acid type most easily recognized and used by your body.  Because coconut milk is not a cow's milk product, it is free of lactose and the large milk proteins that can be associated with intolerances and allergies.  It is also vegan.  It is versatile and can be used in smoothies, rice dishes, soups,and curries.  Coconut milk is found in cans, sometimes in the international food section of your grocery store.  

Basic recipe:

In a blender, I put one can of coconut milk (you can use either full fat or lite depending on how creamy you like it and how much you want to cut calories) and then top it off with hemp milk until I reach about 4 cups on the total blender content line.  Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Agave nectar and blend.  

You can make flavors by adding elements to this basic recipe (our ice cream maker holds about 5 cups, so I watch the blender content line when I am adding ingredients. 

1. Add cocoa powder for chocolate
2. Add frozen organic fruit for a fruity ice cream
3. Add pumpkin puree to make a nice autumn ice cream
4. Add organic peanut butter and chocolate chips

We store our ice cream in a glass container in the freezer.  The ice cream will need to be warmed to scoop out, so it either needs to be taken out ahead of time or put in microwave for a minute or two to soften up.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Harvest of Our Prayers

I love autumn.  Maybe its because I was born during the fall.  Maybe its because my name means Reaper. Maybe its because my husband proposed to me at a cider mill.  Of course, the pumpkin spice lattes, cool crisp air, and colored leaves don't hurt either.

And in our prayers, we all wait for the harvest don't we?  The fruit of the seeds we have planted in intercession.  The glorious outcome of all the sowing...the seeds sown in tears.  We wait to harvest them in joy.  

Here are some of my favorite harvest scriptures (The Message):

Luke 8:15 “But the seed in the good earth—these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.

John 15:5 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.

Galations 6:9 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. 

Hosea 10:11 Sow righteousness, reap love. It’s time to till the ready earth, it’s time to dig in with God, Until he arrives with righteousness ripe for harvest.

Psalm 126:4-6  And now, God, do it again— bring rains to our drought-stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gluten Free Frozen Pizza

I have recently been recovering from surgery, and having some food we can unwrap and throw in the oven is very nice!  That is sometimes a tall order when you are trying to eat natural food, and in addition, we eat gluten free, soy free, and dairy free. 

We recently discovered Ian's gluten free dairy free pizza at our local grocery store.  

We have tried other frozen pizzas but didn't care for the "cheese."  Ian's is now our favorite 
frozen pizza...nice crunchy crust, smooth cheesy topping, and delicious uncured pepperoni.  The makers describe it as "all nature allergy friendly."  

For those of you that like gluten free but can eat some dairy, you may want to check out Bella Monica's Gluten-Free Spinach and Feta pizza.  It has a subtle spinach taste and the feta adds a nice unusual twist to the usual cheesy topping.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Civilized Caveman Cooking: Lemon Pound Cake (Paleo)

Interested in Paleo cooking?  You might want to check out,  I personally LOVE this recipe on the site for lemon pound cake.  I use agave nectar rather than honey and I leave the glaze off.  The cake is very moist and not too sweet.  I have noticed that the center often seems too soft when I take it out, which I think is a function of the coconut oil which melts easily even at near room temps.  I put it in the fridge for cooling and it firms up nicely.  

Serves: 12
Lemon Pound Cake
Lemon Pound Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare a 9×9 baking pan by coating the interior lightly with coconut
  3. oil.
  4. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and place it
  5. over the coconut oil.
  6. Sift dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir with a whisk to
  7. combine.
  8. Place oil and honey in the bowl of a food processor and process for 2 minutes.
  9. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  10. Add coconut milk, lemon extract, and lemon zest, and continue to process until well combined.
  11. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine using a wooden spoon until smooth
  12. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test
  13. Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes
  14. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely
  1. While cake is in the oven, cut vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the beans into a small saucepan.
  2. Add the vanilla bean pod, lemon juice, zest, and honey to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Let cool to room temperature. Remove pod and discard.
  5. Using a fork, poke several holes in the top of the cake
  6. Pour glaze over the cake, using a spatula to evenly distribute over the entire cake. Let the cake rest for an hour to fully absorb the glaze.
  7. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator.