Friday, May 28, 2010

Dairy Free "Ice Cream"

There are quite a few dairy-free ice creams on the market now. These have become a great treat for me, and it's fun to try all of the different varieties!
Purely Decadent has a pretty big line of dairy-free ice creams. I have tried both their regular, soy based ice cream, and the coconut milk version. Personally, I don't like the soy version, it seems like it has an unpleasant aftertaste... but the coconut milk version is amazing!
Another brand is NadaMoo with a ton of flavors! I've just started sampling this brand.
Then there are the soy ice creams- Soy Dream and others. Personally, try to avoid soy as much as possible as a main ingredient in food. If I'm going to do a non-dairy version of something, usually I try to go with almond or coconut milk, just because soy is in everything to begin with, and with all of the phytoestrogens in it, I don't think it's something we should eat so much of.
Rice Dream is made from rice milk. It actually tastes pretty good too. My only problem with this brand is that they don't have any gluten-free versions of any that aren't just plain ice cream flavors... I like my ice cream with mix-ins!
There is also another new option- Almond Dream ice cream (they don't have a page for this on their website yet!). This is good, but the ice cream seems to be frozen harder than the other versions... which makes it a little more difficult to eat, unless you have patience to wait for it to soften up. Patience is not a virtue that I possess...
I've decided that if I'm going to eat all this ice cream, maybe I should review it as I try the different varieties!

Purely Decadent Made with Coconut Milk:
Chocolate- VERY GOOD. Rich, smooth, creamy, satisfying! A little bit satisfies my ice cream craving.
Cookie Dough- I was so excited when Dave brought this home for me! Not only is it dairy free, it's also gluten free, even with the yummy little chunks of cookie dough in it! This is very good!
Mint Chip- Very good! I've always liked mint ice cream for when I have a stomach ache/heartburn. This does the trick!
I've also had some chocolate and almond covered bars with coconut milk ice cream in them, they were wonderful too!
NadaMoo Coconut Milk Ice Cream:
Java Chip- eh, not so much. Got this thinking it sounded good, but I really don't like it. Don't like the texture with all the little chunks, I'm assuming they are ground up espresso beans based on the ingredients... but it doesn't look like the picture on the carton, and it really wasn't good. I think I will take it back and try a different flavor.
Purely Decadent Soy Based:
Turtle Trails- I REALLY wanted to like this. But honestly, I didn't. The ice cream itself just didn't taste right.
Rice Dream:
Mint Carob Chip- good, but unfortunately I realized later that it's not gluten-free!
Almond Dream:
Praline Crunch- very good! Frozen super hard... if I thought ahead I would take it out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before I wanted to eat it probably...

Gluten-Free Product Review: PF Chang's

I love PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps. They've been my favorite thing there for years... tonight we tried PF Chang's Gluten Free menu for the first time.
The Chicken Lettuce Wraps were good. They tasted pretty much the same to me as the non-GF version. The only difference was the "special sauce", it was specially marked as Gluten-Free and tasted a little different (and was pre-mixed).
We also tried the Singapore Street Noodles. These are my favorite meal from Asian Cafe & Grill, right down the street from our house (but I doubt they're GF from there!). PF Chang's GF version tasted a little bland to me. I added some curry powder, some GF Tamari Soy Sauce, and a squeeze of lime, and it was better. Dave thought it was a little spicy... I probably added too much curry powder.
Overall, it was pretty much what I expected... and we will probably do PF Chang's Gluten Free menu again for a date night or something. I probably wouldn't order the Singapore Street Noodles if we were going to eat at the restaurant, but if we were doing take out again, I might, since I can easily fix it with a little curry powder.
If I had a little star rating, PF Chang's GF menu would probably score a 3 or 3.5 out of 5.

FLYing Day 1 Completed!

There you go, FlyLady. My sink is shined. The kitchen may not be clean, but the sink is shined. BabySteps, right? Tomorrow's new habit is to get dressed to shoes... thank goodness I have to go out in the morning, that one will be easy! :)

No Poo?

I know what you're thinking... HUH? Is she talking about poop? Well, I do have a chronically constipated daughter with short bowel syndrome, so that wouldn't be completely abnormal... But no, I'm not talking about poop! I try to keep those topics limited to Faith's blog.
So, what am I talking about? I'm talking about a super simple, super cheap way to take care of your hair! With the exception of about a week, I have been shampoo-free since January 2010. At first glance, it seems complicated, not worth the effort, etc... but I don't honestly think I will ever go back to shampoo! (Seriously, I tried... when the seasons changed from winter to spring, my hair got funky, so I went out and bought some natural shampoo, and I have used it maybe twice, it just doesn't get my hair clean!)
How do you go shampoo-free, you ask? It starts with 2 simple ingredients- baking soda and apple cider vinegar. You'll also want to have a container of some sort for the baking soda, and an empty (washed) shampoo bottle for the cider vinegar. I use a small plastic food storage container for the baking soda.
There are many ways to do No Poo... some people use very diluted baking soda, some use thicker paste, some people put it on dry hair, some do it in the shower... you have to experiment and see what works best for you.
Personally, I put probably about a cup of baking soda into my container, add maybe 10-15 drops of Tea Tree Oil, and sometimes some Eucalyptus Oil. Then I add water until it forms a thin paste, not much of a different consistency than actual shampoo. I keep the container on a shelf in the shower. I wet my hair thoroughly when I get in the shower, then scoop up a little handful of the baking soda mixture and scrub it all over my head. It doesn't lather like shampoo, but I do use pretty much the same technique that I would use to lather shampoo. Then I let it sit in my hair for a minute or two, before rinsing with my shower turned to a high-pressure setting to get all of the baking soda out.
Maybe once a week or every 2 weeks, I follow with a rinse of the apple cider vinegar. I fill my empty shampoo bottle about halfway with vinegar, and then add water to fill it all the way. Some people add essential oils to the vinegar to make it smell better, but since I don't use it that often, I prefer to add my oils to my baking soda. I shake it before I use it, then just pour it on my head (being careful not to get it in my eyes- vinegar BURNS!). You can rinse it or leave it in, personally I rinse it out. I have experimented with using the cider vinegar more often, but it makes my hair oilier than using the baking soda alone.
The benefits of going No Poo? Well, I used to have to wash my hair EVERY DAY. I was lucky to even make it 24 hours without my hair ending up totally oily and dirty looking. Now, I use baking soda every other day, at most. Most weeks, I only need to "wash" my hair with baking soda 2-3 times a week. My hair is super healthy, has good body, and is shiny and nice. And, baking soda is CHEAP! I buy the big 12-lb bags that they sell by the swimming pool supplies, the last bag I bought cost less than $6, and I've used it for baking, cleaning, and bath & body care!
Let me know if you try this, and what works for you!

GF/DF Cheesecake Bites

Raw Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cheesecake Bites!

These are SO good, and super simple to make! They are a wonderful item to bring to potlucks, although they do need to be kept fairly cool, or refrigerated until just before serving. Pictures to come!

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
6 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 c raw honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
*optional* 1 tsp+ ground cinnamon
extra ground cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, or whatever type of nuts you like!

Place cashews in a jar or a bowl, cover with cold filtered water, and soak for 4 hours. Drain, rinse, and place into the bowl of a food processor. Add coconut oil, lime juice, honey, and vanilla. Puree until smooth. Transfer into a bowl, freeze for about 1/2 hour, just until mixture starts to harden.
Add extra ground nuts to a shallow dish. Add cinnamon, if desired. Remove cheesecake mixture from freezer, and scoop a small spoonful into your hand. Roll it into a ball, then roll in ground nuts, and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Continue with the remaining mixture. Freeze cheesecake balls for 1-2 hours, until solid, then enjoy!

Here we go! FLYing Day 1

Well, I've been getting the FLYLady emails for at least a year. They haven't done me much good, mostly because I haven't consistently read them! And it's hard when you feel like you're jumping in late, having started and stopped in the beginning, trying to re-start 3 months later, trying to re-start 4 months after that...
So, I canceled the FLYLady emails, so that I could re-join back at the beginning. And I'm planning to share my FLYing journey here! Hopefully this will be the motivation I need to declutter my life and develop a routine that works! The program uses BabySteps to help it be less overwhelming, which sounds good to me!
The BabyStep for Day 1 is "Go Shine Your Sink". I will post a picture when I'm done!
(for more about FlyLady and her method for organizing your life to eliminate CHAOS, visit her website!)

Monday, May 24, 2010


I guess I'm not doing that well following through with my goals for this blog! The busy-ness of life is overwhelming lately. We have something going almost every day of the week, between meeting clients for my doula business, appointments for myself and the kids, and *trying* to have some semblance of a normal family life.
Meal planning is going pretty well, and is definitely helpful. Noah had a wonderful birthday party on Saturday, complete with a solar system cake/cupcake arrangement. I will post pictures, as soon as someone emails them to me :)
In the meantime, the reason I do everything I do: