Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Homemade Marshmallow

Homemade marshmallow's are so easy and quick. I wanted to post this before Easter but we had a family emergency and was not able to post it. But these melt great and would work for smores, rice crispy treats or you could cut them small for fruit salad. I've made these twice and have kind of tweaked it to work for us.

Adapted from:
2 TBS of unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups of sugar *
1 cup chilled filtered water
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp real vanilla or any flavoring you would like
1/4 cup powdered sugar**
1/4 cup tapioca starch or cornstarch

1. Chill bowl and whisk
2. Dissolve the gelatin into 1/2 cup of the chilled water. Let sit.
3. In a medium sauce pan add the rest of the chilled water, then the sugar and salt.
4. Cover and let boil for 3 min.
5. After 3 min put your thermometer into the mixture until is reaches 235-240 you want it at the soft ball stage. Don't let your thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. I don't have a candy thermometer so I used our digital one that goes up to 300 degrees.
6. Remove from heat when it has reached the right temp.
7. Get your mixing bowl out and put the gelatin mixture into the bowl
8. Slowly mix the sugar mixture into the gelatin ounce the sugar is added add the vanilla and raise the speed of your mixer slowly you don't want the sugar to splatter it's very HOT.
9. Keep mixing on a medium to high speed until it turns white and thick. It will look like meringue.***
10. While the marshmallow is mixing take a 9x13 pan and coat with butter.
11. Mix the tapioca starch and powdered sugar and coat the pan.
12. After the marshmallow is done pour it into the 9x13 pan and smooth it out.
13. Cover and let set at least 2 hours.
14. After it's set cut into squares or little shapes.
15. After you cut your marshmallows you are going to want to roll them in the same mixture you used for the pan. put into an air tight container for about a week.

* The first time I made these I used organic cane sugar. They turned out great and still mostly white. The second time I made these I used coconut sugar. These were good but different they had more of a maple taste and they were tan. Which didn't matter to me because I rolled them in toasted coconut.
** Instead of using powdered sugar I used ground up unsweetened coconut and mixed it with the tapioca starch it worked great and didn't add any flavor.
*** If you are making rice crispy treats just take the marshmallow from this stage and mix with your rice crispy's.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our Homeschooling Curriculum

I don't know why it has taken me so long to write a post on homeschooling but it has. I thought I would tell you what we have been doing this year and some things that I have learned.

I love A Beka Books! That is the curriculum that we chose this year and I am so happy with it. It has been kind of scary going through the math, I can not believe what they expect 5 year olds to know these days. All I remember in kindergarten is learning my ABC and how to tie my shoes. But she is getting it so I don't think they are asking to much. I have always been of the mind set that children give what they are expected of if you don't expect much you won't get much. Here is me stepping off my soap box, sorry About that. Any way umm curriculum that's right.  here is the break down.

For her writing we are using Writing with Phonics K5. This book is great because it has lots of repetition and goes well with the book we are using to teach reading.
For math we are using Numbers Skills K Arithmetic. I again love this book it teaches through repetition but in a good way. It teaches the same concept through different ways. It also has tests so that you can keep track of what your child needs to work on. My daughter is learning how to write her numbers up to 20, number families (teens, twenties, thirties, and so on), she it also working on telling time, adding, subtracting, counting money and counting by 10. There is more but you get the idea. It is a very well rounded curriculum.
For reading we have been using The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, a mouth full hu. I love that book too and it will serve you from age's 4 and on up until they get it. I have to say that the thought of teaching reading scared me to death I had so many questions like where do I start? How do I teach the stupid letters with multiple sounds? and then there are the letters that don't make any sounds at all the list could go on. I'm not really a fan of who ever came up with our official language. Anyway this book breaks it down in a way that you don't realize that your teaching your child to read until well they are reading sentences to you. Mind you they are sentenced of three letter words but you know what?  It is amazing to watch your child read. Not to mention your fears evaporating because you can thank God for giving others the gift of writing curriculum.
For history we kind of just went with the holidays and got books from the library. Let just say next year I will have a history curriculum.
For science we went with what interested them at the time and just got books from the library. It was not the best way and I will not do that next year. I will also be getting a science curriculum.

Some advice if you are just starting out:
1.Ask everyone you know and even people you don't know about there methods and the curriculum they use.
2. Get the teachers addition for all the curriculum's that you are not an expert in that includes simple K math because there is advice and methods that you need to know in order to teach it properly. I thought I could save some money and not buy the teachers addition because well I know how to add and subtract and count to 20 but it more then that and you need to be prepared.
3. Don't think that it is easy to teach by the seat of your pants. Homeschooling is hard and is a full time job and considering you have about 15 other full time jobs that you are juggling being a full time mom try and make this as painless as possible. Remember that being a supper mom does not mean doing it all yourself. Curriculum is a very handy tool and will make your life less of a chore.
That's my 2 cents and I hope that it will help you with making some decisions for next year.
4. Lastly be prepared to make mistakes and change things along the way as you learn how your child learns.
5. Ok one more thing celebrate the good days. And pray through the bad days.

Easy Changes That Make a Big Impact on Your Health: How About Something Sweet!

This is the absolute easiest thing to change in your diet because who doesn't love sugar.  The only thing that makes this switch hard is that besides your healthy fats which we will talk about soon natural sugar can be expensive. But like anything else in this healthy eating journey you take your time and implement what you can when you can. Some of my favorite sugars to use are raw honey, raw sugar, grade B maple syrup and my newest find is coconut sugar. The honey and the coconut sugar are both low glycemic so I try to use them as much as possibly. Their are other sugars that you can use that are natural such as stevia and agave. My personal verdict is still out on agave so I won't spend any time on it. As for stevia it is so touchy in the amount that you use that I don't use it often.

What does low glycemic levels mean? It is the measurement of sugars in food and how fast or how slow the body absorbs them. Every time you eat something that has a high GI level it spikes your blood sugar causing fat storage. Eating to many foods with a high Gi can cause heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and of course weight gain. Besides trying to lose weight I also have a very very low tolerance for sugar and so the low GI sugars help my body absorb them in a normal fashion. Here is how what you want to look for: A high GI level is 70 and up, a medium level is 56-69 and a low GI is 55 and below. Here is a link to a chart I found on GI levels in different foods.

Raw honey is amazing, it's one of Gods true gifts. Honey not only has a low glycemic index of 55 but has healing qualities, it's good for burns and cuts because of it natural antiseptic quality. I love honey but in baked goods it can make them dense so I use it manly in things like granola, these cookies, oatmeal or my personal favorite on some sprouted toast with coconut oil. Those two together are like they were made for each other. We have also been known to mix coconut oil and honey together to put on our popcorn. MMMMMM. The reason you want your honey raw is because when it is heated in the pasteurizing process it kills all the good things that makes honey worth eating.

Coconut sugar is my favorite sugar of all time. It comes from the sap of coconut tree. It has a low glycemic index of 35 it tastes great and you can get it granulated so that you can bake with it or make marshmallow's like I'm doing today. According to wikipedia Coconut sugar is high in potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and has vitamins such as B1,2,3 and 6. If you want to know why these are important to your body click on the link above.

Raw sugar: I don't really use this sugar as much now that I'm trying to lose weight but it is a good alternative to processed sugar and it is full of vitamins and mineral. The reason you want to stay away from processed sugars or fake sugar substitutes is that they are chemically striped of any nutrient. Or with the fake stuff they are  just fake man made sweeteners that have side effects that are harmful to your body.

Grade B maple syrup: While both grade and A and Grade B are natural and come from the sap of a maple tree. Grade A comes from the early spring sap and Grade B comes from the later sap which according to this site the grade B contains higher levels of vitamins. I use it mainly for pancakes and to sweeten oatmeal. My family and I are not real maple fans unless it comes with a side of flap jacks.

I hope this helps you take another look at your pantry. The best way to find out what is best for your family is to just look up anything you have questions on. That is how I came to find out what I wanted to change, it has become so natural to us we don't even think about it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lentils my new favorite legume


I have to say that I have never given lentils much thought, but my sister and I are trying to lose weight using natural low carb, low glycemic foods. In my research I found that lentils have tons of nutrients, are high in fiber, are a low glycemic food and are cheap so I thought I would give them a try. They are now my new favorite and the best part is they don't have any real distinct taste themselves they just take on the seasonings you put into them. I made baked meatless meat balls with them and they were great. The texture was just like meat.

Tweeked from lentil recipes
Pre-heat 375
2 cups of soaked lentils *
2 cloves of garlic
3 eggs
1 medium onion
1/4 wheat germ
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
pinch of salt
your favorite meatloaf or ball seasonings
Update: I forgot to put milk in the ingredients. I used about a 1/4 cup of milk. Sorry if this caused any problems.

The Sauce:
1/2 cup of ketchup (corn syrup free)
6 Tbs butter
6 Tbs raw sugar
3 Tbs vinegar (I used raw apple cider)
6 Tbs water

*Lentil prep: the night before soak the lentils in filtered water with about 2 Tbs of some kind of acid I used raw apple cider vinegar but you can use whey, or yogurt. The next day I rinsed the lentils with filtered water and put them in my slow cooker on low. It took most the day because I did a large batches to freeze for later without taking 2 days.

For the lentil balls I mixed all the ingredients together and made 1 inch balls and placed them on a foil lined cookie sheet and baked them for 25- 30 minutes.

For the sauce mix the ingredients into a sauce pan and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. I reheated the lentil balls and the sauce together on the stove the next day and they tasted great and held together.

*As a side note lentils are very good if you suffer from diabetes because of there high fiber.

This post is shared at Simple Lives Thursday.