Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Today I witnessed an incredibly horrific car accident, which opened my eyes to something I am already so passionate about... car seat safety. I was just going to write a facebook post about it, but this topic is SO important, but literally not taught enough. Most parents are just misinformed, or merely NOT informed on just how literally having your child in their carseat correctly can save their life. 

Here's what happened: I was walking into the gated nature play area for an ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) class with my 21 month old son Caleb, and my daycare kiddo Braham. Right as we walked in, I heard the LOUDEST crash, lifted up my head to see the rest of this terrible accident unfold right in front of us. It happened on a street right in front of the elementary school (30mph speed limit, a two way street). A white mini van was driving northbound, and a silver suv driving southbound. The white van honked repeatedly at the suv, as it was slowly veering into their lane, and before you knew it smash, the suv drove HEAD ON into the white van, then come to a stop about 10 yards later on the side of the road in the ditch. Immediately people were calling 911, something was seriously wrong. Sure enough, the dad on the passenger side gets out of the van (walking and clearly in shock), to check on the driver of the suv... as soon as he opened the door of the suv we could all see the older man driving was lifeless with the airbag in his face. The dad talking to responders, and clearly taking a pulse and shaking his head... not good. The responders got there within 3 minutes... and we saw them immediately pull this lifeless body out of the drivers seat in the suv and begin performing CPR... which they continued for which was probably a good 20 mins and from the best of our knowledge the man was then announced dead on the scene from cardiac arrest. After watching this awful scene, I switch my glance over to the mini van... realizing the dad was NOT the only one in the car. One of the teachers in our ECFE class had hurried over to the van... 2 mins later we see her take out an INFANT from the car (which I immediately noted was in a rear facing carseat... thank GOD). At this time we continued watching, but assumed those were the only two passengers until the fire department got there and hurriedly worked on the driver side of the van. 20 mins later we see them remove another carseat WITH a preschool aged kid (probably 3) from the vehicle (again i noted, it was a 5 pt harness restraint system... thank GOD.) Once the kids were safely out of the car and being tended to by paramedics, we see the final passenger which was the mother... who was the most injured, but just some broken bones. After initial assessment the family was rushed to the hospital... the two adults had the most severe injuries (most likely broken bones, whiplash, and glass cuts), but the absolute best outcome happened... these two sweet kiddos were (severe) injury free. They had cuts from glass shards... but they were put into their van with the proper carseats, installed correctly... which potentially saved their life. Adults can walk away with injuries from car accidents at 30mph... but little kids without proper restraints... cannot. Their necks are not strong enough, their bodies are so light. It is IMPERATIVE to keep them safe and in carseats up until they reach max weight and age. And here's the kicker...come to find out, this family was just a few blocks from home. I've heard ALL the time, that most car accidents occur within a mile of your home... so even on short trips, BUCKLE UP YOUR KIDS! This was a first hand example of why that is so important. 

Now its' been a few hours since this happened this morning, and it sure shook me up. I took a carseat safety course a couple years ago with my sister-in-law when we were doing licensed daycare together. And ever since I've been such an advocate for practicing car seat safety, but I have NOT done a good enough job of spreading the word. How many people (even better, how many PARENTS), have taken a course on car seat safety. Probably very few. Heck I didn't even know they existed until I did daycare. I don't blame parents... we are just not informed and think, "Here's a good car seat... looks like you install it like this... pull this, snap this... my kid is safe". But there is SO much more to it than that. So I did some more research and wanted to share some basic tips when it comes to carseats for your children ages infancy-13 yrs. 

*Your child should go through 3 stages of carseats throughout their childhood (infant rear facing 5 pt harness, forward facing 5 pt harness, to a booster seat). 

*Rear face your child as LONG as you can up until the age of 2. If your child exceeds the weight limit, find a convertible carseat that does both forward and rear facing. Legally, your child needs to be at least 1 yr and 20 lbs to forward face. (we held off on turning Caleb around until a month ago, at 20 months. If it were up to me, I'd keep him rear-facing for LIFE, but my husband and child think otherwise) ;)

*Once your child is forward facing, keep them in a 5 pt harness carseat as long as you can (usually recommended until around age 4, or weight limits (40-60 lbs) on carseat). 5 pt harnesses protect MUCH more of a small child's body than just a shoulder strap seat belt. 

*In a 5 pt harness make sure the straps are secure and tight! You should not be able to pinch any of the strap fabric. Also make sure the clip is at armpit level.

*One safety fact for us who live in colder states... carseats are not intended for children with jackets on. Remove jackets and heavy sweatshirts when buckling kids in 5 pt harness. 

*Once your child graduates to a booster seat, I highly recommend the backseat booster for better support on back, neck and head. You may also buy just the bottom no-back booster. Your child should remain in a booster until AT LEAST 8 yrs, or longer and 4 ft  9 in tall. 

*No child should ever sit in the front seat until at least age 13. 

*Keep in mind your child's weight. Small children should not be rushed into the next stage 
of carseat, just because they have reached the correct age or height. Safety first. YOU are the boss. 

*Carseats expire! Most within 5 years. the material wears, making them not as effective or safe. Check your manufacture date. 

Check out
for more information. or

STAY INFORMED PARENTS. This family could NOT have prevented this accident at all. The driver of the other car was unconscious when he hit the family. They couldn't swerve out of the way or stop. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it can happen to anyone, anywhere. So drive safe, undistracted, and informed to protect your children. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

1,440 days in the making

4 years ago... doesn't seem that long. but that's 1440 days... a lot can happen in 1440 days, and a lot has. This day, 4 years ago, was one of the happiest days of my life... but let's be real, I had no idea what was in store. But I knew one thing, I was going to be sharing life with my best friend for the rest of my life. Sharing my life with a man who pushes me to do things that I wouldn't ordinarily try on my own, a man who encourages me to believe in myself, a man who puts his trust in God and leads me, a man who loves me for me... even when I suck! 
 I will be the first to tell you marriage hasn't been a cake walk for us. We've gone through literally hell and back in these 4 short years. We've gone through the death of our first family pet, we've gone through financial struggles, disagreements, co-living arrangements, home ownership, multiple job changes, a sleepless YEAR with our firstborn, health ups and downs, relationship battles... we've gone through some just plain ole junk. In fact I can tell you there have been several times in our relationship where many others would have thrown in the towel, checked out, and split.  But everyone has their own story, everyone has their own struggles. And I am here to say, I wouldn't trade the marriage Adam and I share for anyone elses. 
And yes, on your anniversary it's easy to say... "yay what a happy day to say I LOVE YOU to your hubby, who is the best husband on the face of the earth"... but to me, it's also a day to take a look back, and reflect on these past 4 years... to see what we've gone through, reflect on those struggles you have faced, the struggles you currently face, and know that the future will hold another handful of trials. But through it all, we've stuck together. We've grown, we've learned, we've loved. I can honestly tell you the one thing that has helped us pull through out of each bump in the road, is the fact that I have a husband who is amazing at communicating. I've never known a man who can and willingly does, communicate his way through problems. He has taught me so much through this amazing skill of his.
Because we have learned to communicate with one another (whether it be through sitting down and talking (maybe a little bit of yelling), writing each other, texting, calling, facebooking, or just learning to read each others body language)... I honestly believe we can get through anything. Sure there are times we let issues bottle up until we explode, but for the most part, I put pride in the fact that we continually strive to be better, encourage one another, and communicate often so that we can continue to become closer, stronger and a more impactful couple. 
When Adam proposed to me in November of 2008, I'll never forget some of the things he said. He told me that we were meant to do great things. That though, we may face some trials other people may not, that we would grow from those trials and would do BIG things together. To be honest, as an individual, I'm not a person who tries new things often, who makes bold statements, or goes against the grain. I am a people pleaser and a planner... I like things peaceful and in harmony. I'd rather just agree with others, or keep my mouth shut, to avoid any controversy.
But Adam has taught me to stretch myself, challenge myself, and to take a stand on things I believe in. To believe in myself, and to believe that I have something to offer this world. Adam Timothy Wallschlaeger has given me confidence. Together we were meant to do great things. And yes it's only been 4 years, and no we may not have done anything "great" to the outside eye... but we have. We have spent time learning how to LOVE each other. We have built a solid foundation, which is VITAL in a marriage. We have come up with a theme for our relationship, a statement that will forever stand as a goal in our family... and that is to
"OUTSERVE" one another. There is no greater way to love, than to put others before yourself. To go out of your way to serve your spouse, care for them before worrying about you. It's easy to say, but let me tell you... it is MUCH harder to do than you may think.. especially on those sleepless nights you lay awake with your coughing child, the times your husband gets home late from work, or the dog pees all over the floor. But those are the times that mean the most... to stop, breathe, and LOVE. Don't sweat the small stuff. (Yes adam is probably laughing as he reads this, because I totally sweat the small stuff... but i'm working on it) ;)
I am beyond thankful for the journey God has brought Adam and I through these past 1440 days. It has been difficult, it has been tough... but it has been so very rewarding. I am a more confident, joyful, caring human being with Adam by my side. And today is a day to celebrate that. I love you to the moon and back and forth Adam Timothy. Through and Through, inside and out. Thank you for loving me. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


"pizza chicken pasta" (quinoa/brown rice pasta, homemade speghetti sauce, chicken, cheese and broccoli)
I can not stress to you the importance of feeding our children CLEAN, WHOLE foods. Feed them foods that grow on trees, rather than foods that are processed and genetically modified to look like the food that grow from trees. I have written about this topic before, but it has become such a key ingredient to Caleb's success, that I just want to write about it all over again.  
Caleb is now 18 months old. And a short year ago he was one of the hardest babies I've ever known. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure there was much more than just diet that impacted Caleb's extreme colick his first year... and to this day Caleb still has his sleepless nights on occasion, and his typical toddler tantrums... but I am convinced more than ever, that because of his clean eating, no added sugar in his diet... he is a changed kid. A toddler who is so inquisitive, curious, and can focus on small tasks. A toddler who is happy, comfortable and healthier than ever. I know, that in a few years, it's going to get much harder to control what my child eats... but for now... I can monitor and provide every little thing that goes into his mouth. What a blessing. Think about it... when our kids are completely dependent on us to meet their basic needs, why not do that to your BEST ability?! You are building the foundation here... the habits you start them out on, will likely be the habits they grow into and continue to carry out as they enter adolescence and adulthood. There is really no excuse for feeding your kids genetically modified, packaged, junk food. I know there are plenty of excuses out there... because I have given those excuses before...
first corn on the cob
Excuse #1: Time? "I don't have time to cook everyday". Well, I guarantee you have time to wash a few berries or slice an apple for snack.  I guarantee if you have time to make "boxed mac and cheese", you have time to make a pasta dish with whole grain pasta, chicken, vegetables and real cheese, or to throw some vegetables and chicken in a crockpot in the morning. I guarantee you can open a greek yogurt and add some berries for breakfast, in the same amount of time it takes to pour cereal (filled with food dyes, and little to no nutritional value) into a bowl. 
Excuse #2: Money? "I just can't afford to buy healthy foods". I can tell you one thing... it CAN get expensive to buy organic and healthy... but you CAN make it work. Adam and I are eating the healthiest we have ever eaten in our lives, and are currently probably living on the lowest income we've ever had to live off. For one, we eat out much less. We save money there, and rather spend it on organic chicken, beef and produce. Two, we don't buy all organic, we buy organic on the items we can, especially in produce where pesticides are prominent, or on organic items that are on sale. Three, when you eat fresh/clean foods... they usually don't last quite as long, so I may be shopping more frequently, but buying only what we actually consume. Wasting less money on foods that may just sit in the back of the cupboard, and go uneaten. And yes, sacrifice... spend less on things that don't matter, toys/clothes/movies/video games, and add that money to your "grocery budget". 
Excuse #3: Knowledge? This one I understand. Because I honestly am still learning about the importance of healthy eating. I still struggle with the fact that I feed my kid way healthier than what I actually eat. I'm working on it, because I now have the knowledge of the dangers in fast foods, packaged and processed foods, and excessive sugar. But most of America... they just don't know. So many foods, restaurants and stores advertise their foods as "natural", "safe", "nutritious", when in all reality, they contain disease causing agents that produce huge health problems... food intolerances, ADHD, focus problems, developmental delays, and cancer. So read up! Become knowledgeable... and learn to cook :) It's time to start somewhere. Your child deserves it. Set them up for success. 
Especially as a toddler, they don't know any better. They don't know the difference from a mcdonalds chicken nugget vs a homecooked chicken dinner. Feed them food that will nourish them, feed them food that will boost their immune system and brain function.  Feed them foods that will sustain them and give them energy throughout the day. 
homemade banana ice cream (aka pureed frozen banana)
Caleb is 18 months old, has never eaten fast food, and just this past weekend ate food from his first restaurant. (scrambled eggs and fresh fruit from Perkins... and yes it still bothered me he ate restaurant food, but that's totally just my control issue.). ;) It can be done. And I'm not saying you can't eat out or have packaged foods on occasion. We still probably eat out 4-5 times a month, we just try and choose healthier options, and I prepare food for Caleb to eat while we are out. I know I won't always be able to do this, and that there will be the day that Caleb will want to eat french fries and a burger like his friends... but for now, he doesn't care and he's a fabulous eater. He doesn't need candy, cake, fruit snacks, crackers, and ice cream. He is completely satisfied with fresh fruit, veggies, and toast :) 
I'm not writing this article to tell anyone how to parent... just to inform about the important role food really does play in your child's temperament, behavior and development... and how EASY it is to provide those whole, clean foods each and every day. It may be a huge change to your lifestyle, because it is for us...but its definitely a change worth making. :) I challenge you to start today! Read up on an easy dinner recipe and have a home-cooked family meal tonight! It's "pickle chicken", homemade sweet potato fries, and corn on the cob for us tonight! 
Southwest chicken and quinoa casserole

Friday, June 28, 2013

PICKLE chicken! seriously... its good! and easy!

Pickle Chicken-crockpot style!

Mixed up a few recipes and concocted this amazingly tender, juicy, flavorful chicken! yummy! Definitely worth trying.

-1 lb chicken breast
-1 c. greek yogurt-plain
-1-2 garlic cloves
-1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- pickle juice! (to taste... i added about a 1/3 of a cup)
-sea salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 c parmesan cheese

plop it all in the crockpot on low all day. add cheese for the last 15-20 mins. SO EASY, and SO GOOD! It was moist and just kind of fell apart, you could also shred it.

I served this chicken with a side of parmesan cheese quinoa (2 cup water, 1 cup dried quinoa, 1 tsp butter... bring to a boil, then simmer 15 mins. Add in some parmesan cheese).


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

a Breakfast COOKIE?!?!

A flavorful, crunchy...yet soft breakfast treat, you won't feel bad about eating. 
Waking up to rain this morning, the first thing that popped into my mind was that I wanted to try and bake something new today! :) So I popped online searching for a healthier baked good option to try. Knowing I wanted to stay away from too much gluten, dairy and sugar.  I also have limited ingredients in the house and don't currently have a car during the day to go to the store. So I did a quick check through the kitchen, and my cheerios caught my eye. So I looked up a few things then concocted this homemade breakfast bar...aka COOKIE!

*2 eggs, beaten
*1/2 c. raw honey
*1/2 c. butter (I actually reduced it to 6 TBS and added 2 TBS raw milk)
*2 TBS natural applesauce
*1/2 c. raisins
*1 c. grated carrots
*1 c. chopped almonds (I used peanuts due to adam's allergy)

*1/2 c. chopped apples/apricot

*1 c. all purpose flour (I used GF)
*1 c. rolled oats (I also used GF)
*1 tsp. cinnamin
*1 tsp brown sugar
*1 tsp nutmeg (optional... i didnt have)
*1 1/2 cups cheerios (YAY who doesn't love a little cheerio treat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grate carrots, and chop apples/apricot and nuts and set aside.
Combine egg, honey and butter
Then add the grated carrots, peanuts, apples, and raisins. Stir to combine
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg.
Add to the wet mixture and stir until all mixed and wet.
Fold in the cheerios, then drop them onto a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-15 mins (until firm).
Cool, and enjoy!

I haven't tried it yet, but i'm going to also freeze half the cookies, so you can just grab one in a pinch for breakfast or a snack :)

ok ok, if you look closely I MAY have added a couple choc chips to 1/2 the cookies.
A girl needs her chocolate! ;)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LOVE that hurts.

Love that hurts

I seriously look at this kid we've created, and my heart literally hurts and is bursting with love. It's so darn corny, but it's a love I've never quite experienced before. It's a feeling of responsibility, wrapped up with pure joy.  It hurts, because you know that someday this pure innocent little man is going to face life's real problems, and it hurts because you know that someday you will have to let go and trust him to make the right decisions, it hurts because this world has so many messed up crazy things going on that you can not control. But the joy... that genuine joy, is what makes that hurt, feel so good. The joy you feel when you look into those big innocent eyes, the joy you feel when your baby learns how to put that puzzle piece in for the first time, or the joy you feel when you watch your toddler build a personality, do things to make someone ELSE laugh, and learn to communicate with you. I can't tell you how proud I was the first time Caleb signed "i love you" and was able to communicate what that little heart of his was feeling. It was the corny... bursting love kind of feeling, that feeling of love that literally hurts. 

Caleb is growing up, and more and more I am left having to make decisions that impact his life in a huge way. Let that sink in, the decisions we make impact our children greatly. If I wake up crabby, yell or treat others poorly, guess what... those baby eyes are watching me, and soon he will copy those behaviors. For instance, our sweet dog Milly... well she's kind of a spaz. We often yell at her to stop barking, use a harsh voice to tell her to shut the heck up when she is barking at the car that's driving by. Well now our little toddler, although its pretty darn cute, walks around, waving his hand, furrowed brows yelling "sta! sta!" telling her to stop barking. We think its cute now, but in a way it does make me think... I am yelling at her, I am teaching him that I don't like her barking so I'm going to handle it by yelling... rather than walking up to her, and helping her calm down and showing caleb the correct way to handle this situation. So instead of waking up crabby on rainy days, or nights you don't get a full night sleep... my sweet husband once told me...make that conscious decision that today you will wake up happy, because you have a life full of blessings and people to love. As women, our moods are often based on our emotions... so if I wake up tired and crabby, that is how my morning will be. But what Adam said made sense, make the conscious decision when you wake up, to make your day great. You control your emotions, which effect those around you, especially our kids.

Now is a time to TEACH. Children are watching. So, NOW is the time to live like Jesus did. Love others, and really put others before yourself. Get down to your baby's level and communicate, interact, and play. And when you are interacting with others, your spouse perhaps... interact with encouragement, love and respect. Because that is where your child will primarily learn how to treat others. If you want your little boy to grow up to be a gentleman, someone who respects and treat others with dignity and grace... then be that person yourself, each and everyday. It's hard, and sure easy to just say... but if you are reading this, then take time today to start. Encourage someone around you. Take time to hug your spouse when you get home and ask how his/her day was. Compliment the cashier at Target or hold the door open for the family walking in the grocery store. It doesn't take much to put a smile on someones face. And because we have a generation to impact... let's impact it for the greater. Let's love so much that it hurts. :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Blueberry Banana MUFFINS! :)

I've been looking for a "treat" for Caleb that didn't contain a bunch of preservatives and excess sugar, and soy free of course. When I came across a whole wheat blueberry banana muffin recipe I thought I'd try modifying it to be gluten free. So this recipe can be easily made with whole wheat flour for those of you who don't need to bake gluten free. I used rice flour, and all purpose gluten free flour in it's place.


*1 1/2 cups of rice flour

*1/2 cup of all purpose gluten free flour
*1 1/2 tsp baking powder
*1 tsp baking soda
*2 ripened bananas, mashed
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1/4 cup buttermilk
*1 cup whole milk
*1 egg, lightly beaten
*1/4 cup olive oil
*1 cup frozen blueberries
*1 Tbsp stevia (or you could use organic white sugar)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins.  In a large bowl mix up the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and brown sugar.  Make a hole by pushing the mixture around to the sides, and add the bananas, buttermilk, milk, egg and olive oil in the center. Fold together, just until combined, being careful of not over mixing. Gently mix in the blueberries with a few stirs. Drop mixture into muffin tins.  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with some stevia (or sugar). Plop in the oven for 20-25 mins, until golden brown and risen. Let cool, then ENJOY! DELICIOUS! Finally a gluten free baking recipe I didn't ruin. :) 

You can also FREEZE these little treats, and thaw on the counter when you want to eat them. :)

Yield: 24 mini muffins

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Clean, allergen free, BROCCOLI SOUP!

Broccoli Soup
Adam is currently following a dairy and sugar free diet, for the month.  On top of his already gluten free, and Caleb's soy free diet, my recipes have gotten a bit more challenging the past few weeks. It has finally warmed up here in MN, but when I made this soup it was snowing out, just a few days ago. :) I was looking for a good comfort, warm the soul, kind of soup and came across a recipe similar to this. I again, made a few modifications and wahlah! A creamy, CLEAN eating, Broccoli and cauliflower based soup. I have to admit, its no creamy cheesy broccoli soup like I used to eat constantly at Panera Bread, but its a good healthy substitute. :)

1 head of Cauliflower-cut in florets
1 head of Broccoli (or bag of frozen)-cut in florets
2 Tbsp Coconut oil
1 small onion-diced
2-3 tsp of minced garlic
1 can of great northern white beans (any white bean works)
2.5 cups of chicken broth (homemade=best)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
(optional) parmesan cheese, grated 

Place cauliflower florets in a large pot and just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, then steam an additional 10 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and cook another 3-5 mins until soft. Drain the veggies and set them aside in a separate bowl.  Return pot to the stove and melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft, add garlic and cook an additional few minutes. Add broth, beans, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Add broccoli and cauliflower. Use food processor or blender to puree into creamy soup. Season with salt and pepper, and top with cheese if desired.  


Thursday, April 18, 2013

THE Most DELICIOUS Grilled Cheese

Roasted Cauliflower, Onion Grilled Cheese
I was watching the Today show one morning and they had a professional chef fancying up normal day to day recipes... I was busy playing with the kiddos, so I didn't catch the recipe, I just heard her say "You've got to try this roasted cauliflower grilled cheese", and I thought... brilliant! I must try this!
So here's what I put together, which turned out to be the most flavorful grilled cheese I've ever had!

1/2 head of cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp dried rosemary 
dash of garlic powder
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
sliced mozzarella/white cheddar cheese
shredded mozzarella & parmasean cheese
olive oil
bread (any kind)
spinach leaves

~First you need to roast your cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and cut your cauliflower and cover with coconut oil, rosemary and garlic powder in a small bowl.  Layer on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pop in the over for 20 mins.
~While the cauliflower is roasting, saute your onions in melted butter. Once they are caramelized, add the balsamic vinegar and saute a bit longer. Once the cauliflower was done, I added it to the pan and sauteed a few more minutes with the onion to give it more flavor, adding a dash more garlic powder.
~Now, the art of grilling your sandwich! Butter each side of your bread... (with my high needs family, I actually had to use 3 different types of bread! Gluten free for Adam, Ezekiel for Caleb (no soy), and Wheat bread for me.) Add some olive oil on a heated pan (medium/low heat)... throw on your bread and build! Add sliced cheese, layer on cauliflower and onions, sprinkle with shredded cheese, add a few leaves of spinach and top with your second piece of bread and grill!
ENJOY! Simply delightful, and fancy :)
Caleb's first bite... he gobbled it right up!

NOTE: We made these again tonight, and this time added organic, nitrate(ite) free bacon... AMAZING! :)

Crockpot Chicken Lasagna Soup!

When thinking about a new dinner idea, I looked in my fridge for some ingredients and inspiration... I had: Chicken, homemade chicken broth, and veggies I knew I wanted to use. So I began looking up different recipes and decided to modify a few crockpot lasagna recipes I saw to create this amazing soup! This recipe is naturally soy free, and can easily be made dairy free (just don't add the cheese), and gluten free if you use gluten free pasta! I just threw things in there, so hopefully I can accurately duplicate it for you... here it is:

1 lb chicken breast
3 cups of chicken broth
4 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green/red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of spinach (i used frozen)
1 roma tomato, diced
28 oz organic crushed tomatoes
6 oz organic tomato paste
3 T riccota cheese- optional (doesn't need it if you want dairy free)
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup water
2 cup of pasta- uncooked (we used gluten free)
Shredded mozz cheese to top

~Place all ingredients, except water and pasta, in the slow cooker. Stir. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high. During the last 30 minutes, add your water and uncooked pasta and let cook another half hour, until pasta is cooked. Serve, and top with cheese if desired. ENJOY!

~This is also an easy recipe to freeze and save/share. Just leave out the pasta and water, and combine all the ingredients in a gallon freezer bag. When ready to eat, plop in slow cooker and follow directions above.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Crispy Quinoa Bake

I have recently added a new grain to my kitchen... quinoa! I have heard more and more recipes containing quinoa and how "good it was for you", that I did my own little research before I attempted my first few recipes. And boy was I excited once I learned all the many benefits that quinoa has to offer our bodies :)
In summary I've learned these significant facts about the grain:
~Quinoa is gluten free and very rich with nutrients
~Quinoa contains much more protein and "good" fat compared to any other grain such as rice, noodles, wheat, etc.
~Quinoa has natural anti-inflammatory properties and rich in antioxidants
~Quinoa is also high in fiber, therefore easily digestible
~Quinoa can be sold pre-packaged or in bulk and is EASY to prepare!

So why not add this key grain to our diets?! YES PLEASE! My dear sister-in-law Sara was actually one of the first to introduce me to this phenom. And here is a recipe she shared with me, that was absolutely delicious and a must try.

1 c. quinoa
1 T + 2 t olive oil
2 c chicken stock (see previous post on how to make your own)
1 c. onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. zucchini, cubed (2 small)
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed
1 4oz can diced green chiles (optional)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. frozen corn
1/2 t cumin
1 t oregano
1 t chili powder
1/2 lime, juice
2c. sharp cheddar cheese

-preheat oven 375 degrees
-grease 9 x 13 baking dish
-rinse quinoa with cool water for 2 minutes
-in a medium saucepan, heat 2 t of olive oil on medium-high heat
-add quinoa and cook, stirring for 1 min, it should cry out and start to pop
-add chicken stock, stir and bring to a boil... then turn the heat to low, cooking covered for 15 minutes
-remove and let stand covered for another 5 mins
~meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 T of olive oil over medium heat.
-add onions, peppers, and cook. Stir until soft (approx 7 mins)
-add garlic and zucchini and cook another 3 mins
~Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and place in a large bowl
-add onion mix, beans, chiles, tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and lime juice and mix thoroughly
-transfer to a baking dish and bake for 30 mins.
-top with cheese and bake an additional 10 mins, until cheese is melted. 

:) comments/modifcations/suggestions always appreciated!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

This post is completely dedicated to me gushing about my adorable son CALEB! Enjoy a recap, month by month, of his first year of life :) 

Our sweet boy Caleb Timothy was born on Dec 29th, 2011, at a tiny 6 lbs 0oz, 20 inches @ 10:46pm. He was welcomed into the world by his fabulous mommy & daddy, his grandma and grandpa "O", uncles Brian and Nicko, and his sweet "grandma Linda Bob" who made the trip from Milwaukee! He had many visitors throughout the first few days :)
From the moment Caleb entered this world he was bright eyed and alert! He's sweet little raspy cry warmed out hearts instantly. In his first week he dropped to 5 lbs, 5 oz, but once he got the hang of eating he slowly gained it back. 
At 1 month old, Caleb weighed in at 7 lbs 7oz, 21 inches. Our first month with Caleb was quite different than expected... although as new parents what DO you expect?! Caleb breastfed every 2-2.5 hours regularly. Had extreme colic, but he loved to cuddle, have his little hands up by his face, and being held seemed to be the only way to keep him happy. We quickly discovered the beauty of bouncing on an exercise ball! On his 1 month birthday he SMILED for the first time :)
Throughout Caleb's 2nd month, he met many of his favorite people for the first time... his Wallschlaeger grandparents and his godmother Jackie to name a few. We tried a chiropractor for the first time, and even hit up a timberwolves game where he spent most of the time in our beloved moby wrap (another godsend, he lived in that thing). This month Caleb went to Children's hospital for an upper GI test, and tested negative for reflux. He was still eating 8-9 times a day, but introduced his first bottle, and exclusively breastfed. He was still in newborn clothing and diapers. Little peanut. His weight was at 9 lbs 9 oz, 22.5 inches @ his 2 month appt. 
At 3 months Caleb weighed in at 11 lbs 4 oz. He was imitating sounds, sticking out his tongue, sticking his hands in his mouth, and cooing. He loved his Whinnie the Pooh mobile and sucking on his nuk. His colic was still really bad, and we spent much time on the exercise ball to get him to sleep. Caleb moved up to size 1 diapers and 0-3 month clothing :) He would sleep few couple hour stretches in his crib at night, but would sleep longer and co-slept with us, where we would get up to 4-6 hour sleep stretches. This month two of his favorite friends were born (Your cousin Blake, and friend Olivia!)
Caleb's 4th month was fun because he was blabbing and giggling much more. He hated his carseat and still struggled with tummy pains and colic. He was tested for allergies (RAST test) and took many stool samples to see if there was any bacteria in his gut. Everything came back clear. He remained a mystery. So we kept at it, still exclusively breast fed and sleeping 4-6 hours at night, with short naps throughout the day. He started grabbing at toys, rattles, and taggie balls on his playmat, and rolled over! Caleb began playing in the jumperoo too! Caleb was dedicated to the Lord on May 13th (with his cousin Blake) at Grace Fellowship Church. At 4 month appt he weighed in at 12 lbs 4 oz and 25 inches.
During Caleb's 5th month he was still in 3-6 month clothing, size 2 diapers and weighed around 14 lbs. He slept 5-8 hours at night in bed with us (few hours in crib), taking 3-4 mini naps a day. Caleb was rolling over like crazy, giggling, taking his nuk in and out of his mouth, and found his feet, practicing sitting up in his bumbo. He also fell asleep on his own for the first time in his crib for naps (without being rocked or bounced), but would still sleep longer at nights with us and would need to be bounced on the exercise still often to fall asleep. His smiles and independent play came more frequently. 
Caleb turned 6 months at the end of June and at his doc appt he weighed 14 lbs, 2 oz and was 26 inches long. We started more stroller/jogging stroller rides outside. He loved fireworks and being outside. Caleb attended a few Twins games and even made it on the jumbotron! This month he also discovered how to make new faces, and a silly cute scrunchy smile. He also discovered his love for watching CARS drive by, he'd lean over the couch and watch them during the day, or with his aunt Rara downtown! Still struggled with colic, feeding 6-7 x a day. He slept around 9:30pm-8am with 2-4 wake ups/1-2 feedings. Caleb began moving and scooting on the floor and was learning to sit well independently. :)

Month 7, Caleb slept through the night for the first time in his crib! He slowly began learning to self soothe with taggies, blankies, nuks. He also began eating baby foods (brown rice cereal, pears, avacado, oatmeal) and liked it all. Still struggled with tummy/colick issues and constipation. He wore size 3-6 month clothes and size 2 diapers. We took many trips this month! He did pretty well on his first road trip to ILL to visit great grandparents, grandma linda bob, cousins and the Wallschlaeger family. We also went on his first annual camping trip to the Dells...he tent camped for a whole week! Caleb loved to make loud noises, play with his dog Milly, sing "row row row your boat" and read books. He was pushing himself up all the way up, and creeping around. Caleb also got his first tooth this month!

At month 8 Caleb was eating solids 3x a day by now (added sweet potatoes, peaches, peas, plums, squash, green beans, zucchini, prunes and mum mums) on top of breast feeding. Caleb started cooing and saying "mama, dada, nana", loved knocking toys together, slapping anything to make noise, and sticking everything in his mouth. His favorite toys were stacking blocks, and playing in the exersaucer/jumperoo. This month Caleb was babysat by his Grandma Abbie for 3 days while Mom and Dad got to take a sibling trip to Vegas! He was sick with his first ear infection but did well for grandma! She claims he slept 11 hours... jealous, because this month he was getting up 10-15x a night for us and struggling. He weighed around 15 lbs. He got his first tooth this month as well and began inch worm crawling!
Month 9 was a rough month for Caleb. He was waking a lot at night, and had to start introducing formula because he wasn't getting enough from me. He was in the doc several times for a never ending cough/cold (beginning of asthma type issues). On the bright side he was clapping all the time, pulling himself up in the crib, crawling, he saw his Papa O race in an ironman and mommy run a marathon.  He talked all the time, with his new favorite phrase "dis" and "dat". He loved playing with his "clicker" blocks, cars, balls and in the jumperoo. He began eating finger foods and drinking from a sippy cup. He wore size 3 diapers and 6-9 month clothes. At his 9 month appt he weighed 17 lbs 3 oz. 28 inches.
At month 10 Caleb celebrated his first halloween as a little monkey :) We tried a few new pediatricians this month due to his chronic cold, and found Dr. Meier at partners n peds, who tested him for whooping cough and diagnosed him with pnemonia. He had his first rd of oral steriods and began his journey with the nebulizer (pulmicourt and albuterol). :( Once he was feeling better he was working on standing up, waving bye bye, giving kisses, and started sleep training. now went to bed around 8-8:30 until 6:30-7 with a few wake ups, 2-3 naps a day (20-90 mins). He ate 3 meals a day, and bottle with breast milk/formula 3x a day. Caleb wore size 3 diapers 6-9 month clothing and got his first top tooth in!
Caleb's colic behavior was slowly subsiding and at month 11 we were having more and more fun together. He was playing independently with balls, cars, blocks, books and magnets on the fridge. He began signing "All done" "milk" and "bye/hi". He could walk with his walking toys and crawl FAST! He loved to push cars down the hall way. Caleb got his first stomach flu this month which was so sad, but was on the mend and eating more and more solids/finger foods (strawberries/blueberries were his favorite). He learned to stand on his own at the end of the month and took his first plane ride to Milwaukee for Wallschlaeger Christmas! He was a champ! He weighed around 18.5 lbs. 

YAY! we made it to 1 year Caleb! By this time we finally decided to try a holistic doc due to his chronic coughs/constipation and tummy issues that were simply not improving. Here we discovered Caleb's sensitivity to SOY which is in everything (even in almost every marketed formula). Once we removed this from his diet, added many whole food supplements, he quickly began sleeping much better (9-11 hours at night with 2 naps a day with a few wake ups). He also seemed in pain much less and was a much happier boy. At 1 yr Caleb weighed 19 lbs 2 oz, 28.75 inch.

We celebrated Caleb's 1st birthday with close friends and family with a Cars Themed party :) Caleb always enjoys having people around, the center of attention, smiling, flirting and giggling constantly. Just a few weeks after his first birthday he took his first steps and was walking right after!

Caleb is always on the go, busy "working"/aka playing with blocks on the windowsill, "vrooming" cars along couches and the floor, and babbling the day away. He is simply the cutest, sweetest blessing and despite the many challenges we faced during the first year, we wouldn't have changed a thing. God has taught us a lot through each stressful, sleepless day... and made our relationship as a family simply that much better! God is GOOD, and we are thankful everyday for this miniature HUGE blessing we call our son. With Caleb's health finally turning around, we feel we have a very FUN future in store for us as a family. 

So, we look forward to the years ahead :)