January Gluten Free Menu Plan

This month in the Treehouse we’re going to Reset, Renew and Restock!

I have been doing weekly menu planning for months now, and because our family’s leftover schedule has changed, due to the increasing appetites of two tween boys, I am going to try a bi-weekly menu plan where we “cook once and eat twice” to save time and freezer space. All recipes will be doubled and frozen for use in the second week.

All recipes that can be linked, will be….

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Weeks 1 and 3

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

Snack #1

Snack #2

Weeks 2 and 4

Breakfasts

Lunches

Dinners

Snack #1

Snack #2

Thank you so much for stopping by!

If you want to learn more about my family, Read about Why I believe you are a Gatekeeper, or how to cut down your cooking time you have come to the right place.

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How to Build a Gluten Free Pantry on a Budget

As a large family our food budget is definitely one of the areas, where we have to make our money do miraculous things every month.  Really, it’s God in action, because I don’t know how it happens most of the time.

Now, the gluten free life style may seem like just another fad, but it keeps our children healthy in the short term, and affects their future health in every way.  Two of our children have an autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease is not something they will ever grow out of, it is not something that they acquired from eating the wrong things as babies, i is not from me eating or drinking anything while I was pregnant with them, or coming into contact with pollution or the wrong type of non-GMO grains.  It is a true allergy at the cellular level, specifically in their intestines.

If they go on and eat gluten later in life it will damage their bodies and create a whole host of health problems that could result in a shorter life expectancy.

So, the gluten free pantry is incredibly important.

FEEDING MY CHILDREN WITH FOOD ALLERGIES (1)

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I did a video tour of our pantry, and you can see it here!

 

Start with empty shelves!

You will have to throw things out. I know, the thought made me shudder when we were starting. Find another family to bless or donate what is still usable!  We can no longer use the food bank, but they would love your items!

Get rid of your plastic storage containers and utensils. Gluten is a sticky protein, and you don’t want to cross contaminate all your new pantry items, or the food you cook in the future.

Look up the sneaky names for gluten. You may be able to save canned goods or frozen fruit and vegetables, but be sure of the ingredients, and manufacturing.

Here is what our pantry has…..

Dry goods:

Beans – we choose dried because they are very cheap and we can control cross-contamination better

Rice – We generally use brown rice to fit into the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating

Quinoa

Nutritional Yeast

Spices – you will need to make your own seasoning blends because anti-caking agents and cross contamination are very common, and buying single ingredient spices in bulk is how we do this

Nuts and seeds – these are best and cheapest raw and un-roasted because of seasonings being an issue. Also, buy the packages that say “pieces”, they are so much cheaper than the whole nuts.  I started making my own peanut butter, and my family love it!

Oatmeal – Certified Gluten Free Oats

Gluten Free Flours – You can find our list here

Canned Goods:

Check all your cans for manufacturing!  It’s not usually what’s in the can that is the problem, it’s how it was packaged.

Canned Veggies – and you can see where we use some of them in my Green Bean Goulash

Canned Coconut Products – Full fat milk, and coconut cream

Canned Beans – We do not do this much anymore, but we do keep some for emergency use, now we like to soak our beans from dry and cook them ourselves

Condiments – Thickeners, preservatives, and colorants are big here.  Stay safe!

Frozen Foods:

Again, check manufacturing!  Very few seasoned, or saucy items are clean of contamination. Stay safe!

Veggies, Fruits, Meats – no preformed patties because they usually have “modified food starch”

Refrigerated/Produce:

Milk Products – I make my own Kefir, Greek Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese.  Because we were dairy free for 7 years we do not usually use it for straight drinking or cooking.  I also can sell surplus kefir grains if you message me here

Meats

Cheeses

Eggs

Veggies

Fruits

 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

If you want to learn more about my family, Read about Why I believe you are a Gatekeeper, or how to cut down your cooking time you have come to the right place.

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Cottage Cheese – THM (FP)

Make your own cottage cheese

 

In our large family  the small container of cottage cheese doesn’t even last for one meal.  I scoured the internet, fermentation groups, and stumbled upon one of my fellow large family moms who has a solution that was built for us!

Her post is here.

My tweaks:

*I made it with fat free milk.

*start with a pan that will fit into a regular size cooler.  I use the cooler to incubate my cottage cheese so that I don’t have to take up the space on my stove top.

*After the culture is cooked and strained I used my double fermented kefir as the liquid element to re-hydrate the curds. It is made with fat free milk, so it keeps this recipe fuel pull on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

This made about 1/2 gallon after I re-hydrated it with the kefir to the consistency that I wanted for my family’s taste.  I stored it in a half-gallon glass jar because it is a fermentation, which means it has live bacteria.

If you want to see why I am so passionate about this way of eating you can go to this page and read about it!

 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

If you want to learn more about my family, Read about Why I believe you are a Gatekeeper, or how to cut down your cooking time you have come to the right place.

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How to Support Your Trim Healthy Man on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan

Trim Healthy Mama….

Just the title alone had my husband doubting that its principles were designed for all humans, and not just the ladies.

I began looking into the plan because I was pregnant, and I had tried everything.  Counting calories, low fat, more veggies, shakes, pills (shudder), none of it worked for me.  I was a lifetime dieter!

When I met my husband I was the smallest I have been in my adult life, 194 pounds!  He was active duty, and doing regular efforts to maintain so that he could pass his PT tests and keep his job in the military.  That changed when he was honorably discharged in 2013.

Discouraged by a career of yo-yo dieting to maintain a small enough waist size, he went for it and ate whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.  That changed in 2019, when he gave the plan a real try with me for 21 days.

SupportYourTrimHealthyMan_NicoleBurch

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How did I get him on board?

I didn’t.

If your husband is anything like mine was, it may take a little while, or years, but as they see your progress, and maybe some of their own because of your good cookin’, they will begin to come around!

I kept making THM compliant meals for our kids because it has been invaluable in helping us understand how to feed our growing children, with life threatening allergies in the mix.

He was a full-time college student and would grab whatever he wanted while he was away from home for his classes.  He would also go to the store for what struck his fancy or grab it when he went to the store with me.  He was a gas station regular for pop and candy!

Over the years he would tell me how good he felt when he ate only the meals I made for a couple days, then a couple weeks.  Now, he has gone two months and lost 35 pounds!  It was gradual, and it was all his idea!

I am a facilitator!

Now, he will look at the cookbooks, or the THM Membership site and print out or show me ideas for recipes he wants to try.

He loves a varied meal plan and this means that my Pinterest board for Recipes we’ve tried has over 500 recipes!

He may not fully understand how to create a meal from each fuel type, but we discuss it often to see if he can decipher it…this part is going to be gradual too.

Most recently he let me know that he needed more treats around to help curb his sweet treat desires and so, I keep one treat available as I can.

We also add a hot drink or cold drink like Boost Juice, or a Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate to every meal and snack so that we feel like every time we eat is a wonderful thing to look forward to.

Because of my friend, who is the Mother of Change on Facebook, we try to drink half our body weight in ounces of water every day.  This was harder for my husband than the switch to eating this way because he does not like water at all…at least he didn’t used to.

The Trim Healthy Man Plan

What helps him stay on plan, according to my Husband

  1. Eat every 3 hours, even if you are not hungry
  2. Plan ahead, you don’t want to scrounge around for food when it’s time and then go for convenience over healthy foods
  3. Mix up the recipes, frequently
  4. Drink Plenty of water
  5. Remake old favorites….like the Jalapeno Poppers
  6. Ask your husband what he needs.  This is how I learned he needed more treats around.
  7. Find a sweetener he really can live with, and make it portable. You can find the sweetener we use here

For Wives who are waiting on their Trim Healthy Man….

Would I have loved to have my husband on board with me from the beginning?

YES!

Did it affect my success for him to not be committed to the plan?

If I am going to be committed to something, then it’s going to be something I want to do.  I won’t place blame for my lack of commitment to my own long term health goals on him or anyone else.

Is it better to have him on plan with me? 

Yes!  I think that it is easier not having candy or sugar in the house at all.  But, it’s do-able with just one person on plan too.

Give him the space to make the jump.  It is going to be a different world for them.  Also, wrapping your brain around something becoming a lifestyle and not just a diet is going to be a challenge.

All I can say is, that for us… I am so grateful we are a Trim Healthy team now!

 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

If you want to learn more about my family, Read about Why I believe you are a Gatekeeper, or how to cut down your cooking time you have come to the right place.

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How I Learned to Feed My Children With Severe Food Allergies

FEEDING MY CHILDREN WITH FOOD ALLERGIES

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Not long after our second son turned one we realized that something was wrong.  He had always been a very thin little one, and he was shorter in stature than his older brother who always maxed out every growth chart from the day he was born.

I had attributed his trailing growth to genetics, with my husband’s family having men as short at 5’5″ and as tall as 6’5″ along with the men in my family fitting in the middle of his somewhere, we knew we could have kids all over the growth chart.

The other factor was that he was severely tongue tied until he was 10 months old, when the Pediatrician finally agreed to give us the referral for a Frenectomy. He could eat much better after, but he never made the type of gains we were hoping for, even on formula.

His little belly was super distended all the time, and he was beginning to show signs that something in his diet was affecting his digestive system negatively.  This prompted us to quit cloth diapering because we could not keep his bottom from rashes and hoped that disposables would keep him dryer.  They did not.

We even ended up in the emergency room one day because what came out of him was the exact same color and consistency of the milk he had consumed less than 30 minutes earlier.

1st Diagnosis

After he was about 18 months old we began to pursue, in earnest, some sort of diagnosis or help because he was beginning to vomit every single day and still had intestinal issues that were not changing.  His Pediatrician told us to try lactose free products and that eased the symptoms for a few months, but they came back.

We decided to eliminate all dairy, including casein, and see if that brought even further relief, which it did.  We had another child, our first daughter, by this time and she began to show the same symptoms as she grew.

Our whole family went diary free to accommodate two out of our family of five having, what we believed, was an allergy to dairy protein.

2nd Diagnosis

We moved to another state, and finally got our allergy testing, which was negative for both dairy and wheat.  This stumped us because, while being completely dairy free was helping some our son still had a distended belly, intestinal upset, and our daughter was suffering from eczema.

We switched to another Pediatrician in the same town after a traumatic appointment with our oldest, on the spectrum, where we realized that the former one was not equipped to handle children with sensory processing disorder.

The new Pediatrician begrudgingly went with my request for blood work for our son to test him for Celiac Disease.  She called me back two days later, You know that blood work you asked to be done, we actually did find that he has high levels of reactivity to gluten.  I need to refer you to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist.”

This Momma felt the weight of years, four at this time, of uncertainty and struggle being lifted in that very moment. By the end of 2015, 4 years after beginning to ask questions about our son’s symptoms, both diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Now What?

You can’t eat breads.

You still can’t eat dairy.

You can’t eat things made on the same machinery as bread.

You can’t be in a room where someone has baked with gluten containing flours for at least 8-12 hours.

You have to make everything they eat, or bring it with you.

Here’s the number of a dietitian (who did not help us in any way).

How on Earth was I going to feed my kids?

I found Trim Healthy Mama looking at some Mom-blogs that I had been following since my husband was in the military.  As our family grew I was trying to glean as much as I could about how to care for our large family from these ladies.

I began to look at the program, and bought their first book The Trim Healthy Mama Plan, as an e-book, which is no longer in print.  I read the book in just a few hours and I knew that it was what I was looking for to meet my childrens’ needs.

I could combine foods, real foods, simple foods, and do it for weight gain.  I could feed myself during pregnancy, nursing and beyond.  It fit our whole family!

Over the Years we have dabbled in it for weight loss, my husband and I, and at this time we are seeing a lot of success.  You can find our progress over at Life In The Treehouse.

We love it so much that my husband buys me the yearly Trim Healthy Membership for our Anniversary.  He gets a Motor Trend subscription, so fair is fair.

We find our recipes from many places.  Cookbooks, Pinterest (We have tried over 500 THM Compliant recipes at the time this is written), The membership site, and Bloggers who make recipes for the community.

Cookbooks:

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook

Trim Healthy Table

Our Favorite Trim Healthy Mama Bloggers:

Mamashire – Many of her older recipes are THM, but her newest ones are gluten free/dairy free but mostly crossovers or off plan.

Northern NesterShe is mostly No Special Ingredients

Oil of Joy – Egg free/gluten free/dairy free

Lotsa little Lambs – The best gluten free pancakes, plus lots of other recipes!

Joy Filled Eats – Some dairy free, but lots of gluten free.

Well-Planned Kitchen – Used to be “Working At Homeschool”, and at this time many recipes still say that on the web.

Brianna Thomas – The Ice Cream Queen, including dairy free ones!

My Montana Kitchen – She does a lot of gluten free, and has some great dairy free things too.

Oh Sweet mercy – Real food, with lots of E meal options.

Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved – Many gluten free/dairy free.

Darcie’s Dishes – She is the tex-mex food Queen.

Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen – lots of down home cooking

Nana’s Little Kitchen – a little bit of everything

Raye’s Place – gluten and dairy free, with some surprising ingredients that are delicious.

Sweet E’s – Greens heavy, and lots of inventive ways.  She does not cheat on her plan, EVER!

 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

If you want to learn more about my family, Read about Why I believe you are a Gatekeeper, or how to cut down your cooking time you have come to the right place.

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Leftover Days Will Save Your Bacon, Literally!

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As a mom with a lot of children, I am constantly trying to make our budget fit our needs.  A few pennies here, or a couple dollars there and you can have one bill throw off your whole budgeting system.

Food is the #2 bill in this house, and here is how we….

  1. Feed 8 people for less than $800 per month.
  2. Build and maintain a pantry that will feed us in lean times, from our savings.
  3. Decrease our food waste, and still eat fresh veggies and fruit, daily.
  4. Eat completely gluten free, without losing our minds!

Saving our bacon….

This habit came about because my husband was in college, full time, during the weekdays, and I was working overnight on the weekends.  Throw some homeschooling, weekly therapy for our exceptional needs children, and religious activities and you have a very full schedule.  Oh, and I went to night school during 18 months of this time, had shoulder surgery and recovery, and had two babies.  It was a wild ride, let me tell you!

Back to the food……

I call it a habit because we have tried to change the days we picked for our Leftover Days once, and it failed miserably because we were so used to the days we had done it on for three years.  We chose Wednesdays, and Sundays because those were our busiest days, and they were almost perfectly even in spacing.

It ticked all the boxes for me.  I could save money and time by using every last drop of what I was preparing, reduce my time in the kitchen, and actually not have to prepare or plan anything for two whole days a week!  I tell everyone about our Leftover Days!

What do you mean by Leftover Days?

I know that people use leftovers in all sorts of ways.  As lunches for their kids and themselves, as dinner when they are in a hurry, or even as a hail Mary pass on a rough day.

The one that we used to do when we first got married, and I grew up with, was eating leftovers when the refrigerator was so full that you had used every storage container, and you couldn’t remember when they had last been opened….then we got into the moldy containers and the mystery jars of unused condiments and it put people off of leftovers forever!

How do we do it?

We save our leftovers.  All of them!  Soups, meat loaf, 1/4 cup of cottage cheese or a slice of baked oatmeal.  No matter how small, we save it ALL!

We realized that we could not just save them for one, or even two days many times, and have enough for our large family for a whole day or even a whole meal and we were counting on at least lunch and dinner to be covered.  Three days worth of leftovers is just about perfect for our family, and they are first come, first served.  We do not all get our favorites, but we all get fed.

We will save a few things from the Wednesday to Sunday time frame to carry us over the shorter span between Sunday and Wednesday of the following week.

What happens if you eat all the food you prepared for multiple meals in between Leftover Days?

We ran into this problem a lot in the beginning, especially as our family has grown about yearly since we started it.  Now, to avoid that I automatically double, or triple every recipe.  I make sure that the approximate serving size of the prepared food at each meal is 12 people instead of 8.  This makes enough wiggle room for growing young boys, and a hungry husband after a day of chopping wood.

What if my family hates leftovers?

You are capable of setting the tone here for your entire household.

My husband loves variety.  We rarely eat the same meal twice in one month, and I prepare almost every single one myself.  That’s a lot of recipes, and a lot of leftovers, if we were not good stewards and use them up, that is a lot of waste.

So, in light of our desire to reduce our food waste and its affect on our bank account, he and we, have learned to either tolerate or love our leftovers anyway.

Sometimes, I combine multiple things and “recreate” them into something new.  Sometimes, I can use them, plus a little can of something from the pantry and jazz it up.Sometimes, I put it in a corn tortilla for the kids, or on salad for my husband and myself.

Really, we have just learned to roll with it.

What about my kids with sensory processing disorder?

Momma, I got you!

We have a child on the spectrum, and my husband is too.  Food was a big issue in our house for three years, when our oldest was at the height of his oral aversion.  I kid you not, it took that long and meals were rough.  But, we also lived without a microwave during that time, and I learned a valuable lesson from that.

My husband and oldest son, the ones with sensory problems, get to pick first, because I do not want to put them off of leftovers forever.  Do they eat things they do not like, absolutely, but they know that it is the last time for a while.

Also, You can restore the mouth feel of almost any leftover by baking it at a higher temp for a short amount of time.  Say, 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes to warm it up in the oven, and then wack it up to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes, or even use the broiler for a minute or two.  It worked for us, and still does!

So, Call this a large family Hack, or the ingenuity of a desperate work outside the home Mom, but it WORKS!

 

Thank you so much for stopping by!

If you want to learn more about my family, Check out what we have been eating, or how to cut down your cooking time you have come to the right place.

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How to Not Cook Two Days a Week, Without Fast Food and Cereal

I used to think I had to plan for one day of eating at a time

It’s what my mom did.  She’d come home from work and this is the conversation that would happen…

Dad: “What’s for dinner Ma?”

Mom: “I don’t know, What do you want for dinner?”

Nobody planned ahead, and we generally ate the same hand full of meals on rotation.  Then, when the fridge was bursting at the seams, and we were scared to see what science experiments we would find, we would venture into the fridge for the leftovers.

This was an epidemic in my family!

My Grandma did it, my Nana did it, my Biological Dad did it when we visited him and his wife. I knew, when I became responsible for the menu in my family I needed to have a plan.  I poured over every way to menu plan that you can imagine, but leftovers are not really addressed as an integral part of the process, except as a money-saving measure.  Still not sure about how to make my leftovers work for me, my husband was discharged from the military, and things changed drastically.   I became a working mom after 5 years of being a homemaker, and my job was overnight, and 30 hours a week.

I tried to manage everything, and have the menu set up, but I was exhausted and cooking every day was not something I had the energy for.  We fell into the eating out habit, or just using boxed meals.  This was the time that our two middle children got diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  We had to make everything now!

How to not cook two days a week, without fast food and cereal

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My Plan

I notified my family, all 5 of them at that time, the tall and the small, that all leftovers were to be saved.  It did not matter if it was 1/4 C of rice or an entire gallon container of soup, it was saved and put in the refrigerator.

Then, I designated two days, equal-ish days apart, on our busiest days of the week that we would eat on those leftovers.  This made our trips in and out of the house for therapy and church, and me needing to sleep during the day for work on one of those days, something manageable for everyone.  I felt FREE!  The plan was working!  Yes, we typically did not have breakfast leftovers but we ate anything for that meal in the fridge, and sometimes the favorites were eaten immediately by the earliest risers, but EVERYTHING had to go!

We are now a family of 8.  I have to double, triple, quadruple, and sometimes octuple, recipes to plan for leftovers or for freezing purposes.  But, the schedule is set.  I tried to change our days, to accommodate our schedule and it threw everyone off and we missed so many leftover days as a result, that I rescheduled our kids’ therapies again to get us back on track.

What about holidays and birthdays?

My husband is easy, and so are my kids.  He sees the value in our leftovers schedule.  I meal plan for special events either the day before or after the scheduled leftover day (for us it is Sunday, and Wednesday) and we eat a traditional holiday meal, or whatever our kids have picked as their birthday meal.  We do certainly make treats to eat on that day, and sometimes to go with the other day, just because we can.

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