Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our New Meals... Heading Vegan!

In the last couple years, our family, which was once 4, and grew to 8 within 2 years, hasn't consumed much meat. I'm not totally sure why. 

When the college kids were in high school last year, I would buy a 2 breast pack of organic or free-range chicken from Trader Joes and cook it up 2-3 times a week, and almost without question (even with 5 adults in the home and one teenager), we always seemed to have leftover chicken. It's like God multiplied our chicken without asking Him too. While the meals were yummy, the only time it was ravenously consumed was when I would cook Teriyaki chicken on the grill. 

Since the college kiddos don't have a say anymore, we are trying to eliminate meat, gluten, and dairy. We still will eat organic or free-range chicken and organic beef, but it's usually only a couple times a month or if we end up eating out.  

Before trying to go vegan, we didn't eat chips, potatoes, french fries, bread, or any other worthless "food"... but, there are times I just don't know what else to eat. So, this is a work in progress. 

In going "vegan", I gained 8 pounds in 2 months. It is supposed to be the other way around... right? But, we also found a new favorite recipe... which isn't vegan... Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. A few pounds may have come just from that recipe alone. 

We are currently "Flexitarian" Starbucks vegans... we eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but will occasionally eat meat and products from animals, and will probably always drink Starbucks!

So, what DO we eat? 
I tried to take a few photos these last couple months. 

Here are a few breakfasts:

These are Gluten Free (GF) Cinnamon Roll Pancakes... one with and one without the homemade cream cheese frosting... just so you could see it. 

Amaris will eat 1-2 of these, Gabriella will eat at least 3, and I don't even bother with this size for anyone else. Everyone else eats 2-3 the size of a dinner plate... 

Before this recipe, the girls and I didn't eat pancakes and I HATED them. It's a much different story now. 

My husband asks early in the week if he can go to the grocery store to get cream cheese. He went to the grocery store TWICE this particular week... and, he even bought EXTRA cream cheese as well. That my friends, is a great recipe... though, not vegan.

To test out the powers of this pancake, I quietly opened the door of the sleeping teenager and started cooking. Before the second set got onto the griddle, he was already walking down looking for them. Bet you want this recipe... huh? Look for it's own post soon. 

This is GF oatmeal with 
added slivered honey roasted almonds, organic apple, and topped with a cinnamon mixture from our Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. 
It is paired with organic applesauce and homemade granola. 

Homemade almond meal muffins with almond butter.  

Gabriella, my 6 year old, home from China for 2 1/2 years, asked: "Mama, what's that?"
I got to tell her it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
Actually it is almond butter and marionberry jam 
on some magnificent GF bread from Costco.

These are some of our lunches and dinners: 

This was our very first vegan meal... 
baked cauliflower, quinoa with veggies, and 
veggie salad with avocado on top. It was yummy. 

This was probably the most "labor of love" meal... 
shredding all those carrots..
It was worth it, but I literally need to buy a new peeler. 
It was overworked. I haven't found a peeler that can do this again, 
but everyone is waiting to eat this again. 

Included this photo because it was the first time 
I had ever seen them play with their food. 
Usually they are so busy guarding their food from the dog... 
but the dog really isn't that excited about salad. 
So, they got to mix up their lunch a bit. 

 This is a quinoa and kale with pepita seeds and a 
homemade Italian dressing.   


This homemade yellow sauce is DELICIOUS... it is Buddha sauce.
Just looking at this makes me want to run to the kitchen 
and start cooking. 

First chips for the girls... they had to ask what they were. 
Made me smile... guess I am doing a pretty good job 
keeping junk food away from them. 

 This is a kale and broccoli salad mixed with dried cranberries and topped with a homemade Italian dressing. 
The brown rice is mixed with black beans and GF soy sauce. 

Homemade cashew butter 

This salad has red and yellow peppers, dill and carrot... 
with the option to top it with a slice of turkey bacon. 
The brown rice has black beans, red and yellow peppers and celery. 
The homemade almond meal and chocolate chip muffins are 
simply irresistible. 

Yummy banana and chocolate chip GF oatmeal cookies. 
First potatoes.

This is a rice noodle gently boiled in vegetable broth with carrot. Cucumbers added afterward. Plus, some homemade granola!

 This is a kale based salad with mandarin oranges, apple, sliced almonds and a homemade Asian dressing.   
On the left are some sliced brussel sprouts lightly steamed and topped with cashew butter. 

 This is red quinoa with broccoli and cashew butter. 
Pesto sauce has been mixed with black and garbanzo beans. 

 This dinner includes quinoa, garbanzo beans, broccoli, carrots, and celery and is topped off with homemade Buddha sauce.  

 This is a quinoa and kale salad with Buddha sauce.  

This is a GF pizza made with Costco's pesto sauce,
mushrooms, kale, garbanzo beans, red and yellow peppers, 
and fresh pineapple. 

Okay... totally cheated... this is Chipotles salad with chicken. 
If the girls ask for meat, or to go somewhere, 
I generally try to oblige. 

This is their first time for snap pea chips. They loved them!

Thai dinner: beef salad and veggie rice with egg. 

 This is a potato lentil chip from Trader Joes. 

This was our first time with lentils. They were delicious. 
The sweet potatoes were baked with olive oil and salt and pepper. 
I should have bought 3 bags of sweet potatoes. Even the teenager wanted more. 

I decided to cook the three packages of chicken 
that had been in the freezer for the last 3 months... 
This was a PHENOMENAL recipe with 
the best peanut sauce I have ever tasted.... 
and I LOVE peanut sauce and always try it wherever we go... 
the recipe was from The Costco Connection
April 2013 magazine. 
Everyone thought we had just gone to the restaurant 
and paid double. 

Thai marinated grilled chicken skewers with peanut coconut sauce

This is a broccoli slaw with black rice, avocado and cashew butter. 

This is quinoa mixed with red quinoa, 
a homemade hoisin sauce and carrots 
with avocado on the side. 

This is our vegan homemade macaroni and cheese... 
we have the VERY BEST Macaroni and Cheese 
recipe in the world... 
however, it doesn't look or taste the same with 
GF noodles, coconut milk and non-dairy "cheese".
Hope I can figure out some tastier substitutes. 
This meal was served with a broccoli and kale salad and some 
homemade kale chips, pictured on the right. 

Quinoa with lentils, broccoli and kale. 

This was a better homemade macaroni and cheese made
later in the month with a different noodle and non-dairy milk. 

This is some GF bread with non-dairy cheese 
grilled with a super yummy lentil soup. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gabriella Had Stem Cell Surgery!

The information you are about to read was originally written January 11, 2013, but wasn’t posted until Easter day, March 31, 2013.

In early 2011, the Lord opened my eyes to stem cells and the incredible gift of healing that they can bring. About 9 months after learning about personal stem cell surgery, I made the decision that this was something Gabriella needed to do.  

In December, the girls and I headed back east and then south for an "All Girls Trip". We visited some friends, Gabriella underwent her first stem cell surgery, and then we flew to Disney World for a few days.

Gabriella had her first stem cell surgery using her own bone marrow, 
removed from her hips, on 12/12/12.

Her right hip, not shown, had an extraction site the size of a needle... no swelling, no bruising, no pain. 

This left side of her hip had a hole the size of a needle, however there was swelling the size of a Mento candy. This is what the site looked like on day 2, post surgery. The bruising was the diameter of just over an inch. There is still bruising three months later on this side. 

Three hours post surgery, you would not have known she even had surgery. 

We intentionally did not tell any family (including siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents), teachers, or doctors about her stem cell surgery... in hopes they would start seeing her progress themselves.

Gabriella was adopted at age 3 ½ with ZERO balance standing. ZERO!  She could sit and crawl but she would fall multiple times a day, regardless of the over-protective mama I am.  Her receptive and expressive language was exceptionally delayed.

Diagnosis: Severe cerebellar atrophy

Her main issues at the time of her adoption due to her under-developed cerebellum included:

She was unable to sit or crawl without falling, unable to stand at all, unable to walk unless holding two “focused” adult hands…  she could understand some Chinese (because she was living with a Chinese foster family prior to adoption), and we think she had about 5 Chinese words in her vocab. Her speech was exceptionally unclear.

Fast forward to the week before we left…

What could she do PRE stem cells:
By the grace of Almighty God we saw significant improvements since adoption through fasting, prayer, organic food, eliminating wheat and corn from her diet other than a couple pizza meals each week, taking high-end supplements including the most notable (Univera Essentials which is an all-in-one meal in a 3oz. bottle with immediate absorption) among many, many others, and refusing additional immunizations. Gabriella is making remarkable gains. She did get good physical therapy at school for about an hour in preschool and she was getting up to 30 minutes of physical therapy once a week in kindergarten.

·        She went from zero seconds standing in 7/2010 to 12/2012 (pre-stem cells)… standing on average for 30 seconds (and sometimes a minute or two)… and had stood ONCE for a miraculous 6 minutes and 25 seconds (timed and videoed… thank you Lord!)
·        She has begun to be able to take SUPER baby steps (one or two steps at a time before falling)… HOWEVER, she took 9 steps prior to stem cells (unassisted)… Please see her video: “Gabriella Walks!” via … this is the direct link:
·        She can ride a 16” bike with regular training wheels, she can use her walker unassisted, and she can get dressed by herself and almost get undressed by herself (dresses are still hard). She can use the restroom unassisted and bathe without me having the fear of her drowning.
·        She had learned all her ABC’s and their sounds two weeks home from China… before the neurologist saw her. She learned to blend sounds within 3 months of that and was reading 3 letter words within 4 months.
·        By 12/12/12 she could read sentences in “Bob Books”… at the Kindergarten level… and some first grade level books… though it took more than 15 minutes to read those few pages. She could spell and write her name and she could talk and understand at about a 2 year old level.

What did I hope from stem cells for my 5 yr. 11 mo. old daughter:
·        Gabriella started throwing massive fits the month prior to stem cells… not sure why, but I believe it’s because she is in a special needs class where 4 of the 6 kids throw fits daily… she started to begin to show “autistic” behaviors in her movements… not something that she has demonstrated prior to November 2012. She also knew we were going to Disney World soon (something we did 2 days after her surgery).
·        Gabriella repeats herself over and over and over and over again. She might ask “Mama, what’s for dinner?” a hundred times or more a day from the time she wakes up until the time she eats dinner. I would REALLY like this annoying behavior to stop.
·        Gabriella asks questions in general over and over again… even seconds after she asked the first question.
·        Her balance has obviously gotten better, however, we hope to see increased improvement.
·        We hope to see her begin to walk.
·        We hope to see her begin to talk more, with sentences, better sentence structure, and read more fluently while remembering what she read.

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella the FIRST MONTH:
·        Gabriella (and her newly adopted sister of 6 months- age 2 yrs. 11 mo.) both began speaking in sentences 2 weeks post stem cells.
·        Gabriella’s reading has increased in speed and accuracy. She is reading phonetically.
·        Gabriella can actually now read THREE books in the time it took her to read one.
·        Gabriella took 10 consecutive steps on week 4 post stem cells, walked up the stairs yesterday holding the rail with one hand… one step at a time (not alternating feet).  Today  (1/11/13), she walked up the stairs with one hand and alternating her feet.
·        She is migrating more around the home… crossing hallway walls and corners to get to the bathroom or her room.
·        She has greater balance… she stands and talks to me much more often and for longer periods of time, even removing clothing such as a jacket or shirt.
·        Today her physical therapist at school said the following:  “I can see she’s been practicing her outlining – it’s getting more steady.” (uh…. no, she’s not practicing much at home)
·        Her recent “fits” that began in November  are now subsiding.
·        She has GAINED WEIGHT… Holy cow… this is huge… she weighed 25 pounds as a 3 ½ year old coming home from China and COULD NOT GAIN WEIGHT for an entire YEAR. The second year and a half home, she gained 12 pounds. SHE HAS GAINED 3 POUNDS POST STEM CELLS… in ONE MONTH!
·        And, my favorite… she is no longer repeating herself like she did. She NOW might ask me 5 times in a day “What’s for dinner?” 

What has happened POST stem cells for Gabriella THREE MONTHS later:
·        Gabriella can now read the same Bob books that took her about 15 minutes to read, pre stem cells, in two to four minutes.  
·        She continues to want to read several books in one setting, a minimum of three books each sitting.
·        She is able to read these books now without having to sound out the same words on the same page. Once she knows a word, she generally knows it for the rest of the book. She has at least 10 words in her reading knowledge that she can now see and say rather than actually sound out and read.
·        She is beginning to ask questions… “Why?” is her new favorite question.
·        She can stand AND DANCE in place… even for minutes.
·        When her sister whacks her, she is often able to tell me how, why and where.
·        She is now able to speak with pronouns: he, she , you, me
·        She is negotiating more productively with her newly turned 3-year old sister… there are fewer fights and fits.

As of 1/11/2013, What do we anticipate in the near future:
·        Gabriella will walk unassisted… no longer needing her walker.
·        Gabriella will talk and understand at a 3 year old level by summertime.
·        Gabriella will fluently read at a beginning first grade level by summertime.

The Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you.”  (NKJV) The Lord has been healing our daughter for many months… healing in a way that I can really watch it happen.  Stem cells have helped this healing manifest even quicker.

“Make straight paths for my feet so that what is lame
may not be dislocated but rather healed.”
Hebrews 12:13 (NKJV)

Gabriella's Third Easter!

This morning we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ... uh, with ladybugs, candy and eggs. 

We captured the girls smiles while coming down the stairs...

Gabriella Grace 

Amaris Nanette (which means grace and favor)

This is what they saw. Love when they are little that I can do just about anything and it will appear to be a great idea... even if I just brought their ladybugs downstairs from their room and plopped them in their Easter buckets with a new bottle and their bunny ears they have been wearing for this last month. 

I clearly didn't take this photo... because I would have been SURE to not photograph the one chaotic (catch everything) counter space. 

The Easter Bunny brought Amaris her own set of necklaces and bracelets. Ironically the same set that Gabriella got for her birthday a couple months ago. 

I love the face of Gabriella's excitement when she saw HER first egg this year. 

The race was on... wish I had the video camera rolling... there was a bit of roller derby going on to get the first eggs. Amaris is pretty strong! She won!

This is Amaris' first Easter egg... EVER!

They started opening the eggs after only getting a couple... 

Baba helped Gabriella find a couple eggs that were really hidden... 
I was trying to take the guilt out of my pile of clothes still needing to be ironed. By hiding Easter eggs in the clothes, I made the clothes useful for occupying my chair. 

We had some gluten free cinnamon roll pancakes with cream cheese frosting... Ooh la la... 

This is actually a left-over cinnamon roll pancake from yesterday (just re-heated), so you will need to imagine it smothered with a couple hundred cream cheese frosting calories. The girls each ate 3 or 4 of these.  

Ready for church!

Jesus didn't come to start a religion. 

He came to have a relationship with you.

Got Jesus?