Gluten-Free Muffin Recipe and A Recipe For A Family Meeting.

6 Feb
Gluten-Free Almond Meal Muffins

Gluten-Free Almond Meal Muffins

 

 

For a bout the last two years I have run a gluten-free kitchen. Having noticed such amazing results shortly after removing gluten from my diet (no more constant bloating, gas and intestinal distress, and a disappearance of low grade chronic joint pain) I quickly encouraged the rest of my family to live a “bagel-free life”. Yes, I know there are gluten-free bagels. Hella expensive, so they have become a rare treat.

At first our oldest daughter, Deirdre, thought we were nuts. But since no other options were available at meal time, including “brown-bagging” options when packing her lunch for high-school, she inadvertently adopted gluten-free as well. Not too long after, she started noticing some interesting results. She wasn’t falling asleep in the middle of afternoon classes, no belly bloating and she had way more energy. One afternoon had her practically skipping around the house asking, “Am I supposed to feel this healthy? I mean, is this normal?”. The occasional pizza slice at a friend’s house would have her vomiting through the night. Aside from myself, she is the most strict with gluten-free. My husband will have the occasional gluten exposure. At first he will not notice anything, but the next day brings with it a general sense of malaise. My younger daughter and my oldest son fair the best after eating gluten, but everyone knows when the youngest of my brood has ingested the stuff. Cranky doesn’t even begin to describe the aftermath. While I am not militant about their avoidance of gluten products when they are at friend’s houses or birthday parties and what have you, preparations for the fall out are usually in order.

Having variety for gluten snacks and treats around the house helps to keep everyone happy. “Gluten-Free” prepared products can range in quality and price. So while I do buy some products I also like to find or create easy to make snacks and treats at home, with ingredients that I know.

I’m no master at baking, so my recipes stay pretty simple. I got good feedback from the hungry faces that dwell in my cave on these!

Gluten-Free Almond Meal Muffins

ingredients

3 ripe or even overripe bananas

1/3 cup coconut oil or grass-fed butter (Kerrygold), melted

1/4 – 1/2 cup maple syrup (how big is your sweet tooth?)

1/2 cup coconut milk (I used the drinkable kind as opposed to the canned. You can use whole milk as well if you like)

3 eggs

2 cups almond meal (I used Trader Joe’s Just Almond Meal)

1 cup coconut flour (you can find at most health food stores. Sometimes even in the regular grocery store if they have a well stocked organic/health food section)

1 teaspoon baking powder (hey, ever wonder about baking powder vs. baking soda?)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease your muffin tins with coconut oil or butter. Peel bananas and mash them up in your mixing bowl. Add coconut oil or butter, coconut milk, maple syrup and eggs (I always lightly beat my eggs in a separate small bowl before adding to mixes). Mix a bit. Now add almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and nutmeg. Mix until all ingredients are blended.

Fill each muffin tin hole about 3/4 of the way.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. I find that almond meal is very moist, thus muffins made with almond meal require more baking time. To check for doneness, insert a clean butter knife into the center of a muffin. At least half way down. When you pull it out it should be clean. If batter is still sticking to the knife cook for another 3 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

As with most low sugar, homemade products store in refrigerator. These muffins heat up nicely in the microwave.

Now for another recipe…a recipe for how to run a family meeting.

 

 

Our oldest daughter, Deirdre, is in college, her major being social work. Her end game is to go for her master’s in social work field. While going to college she is employed by our county’s behavioral health department, specifically in youth development programs. These programs seek to identify teens in crisis and then try to provide them with tools and opportunities to cope and hopefully make healthy and empowered choices for themselves as they rapidly approach adulthood. I probably would have benefited having her on my team when I was a teen. Although I guarantee it would have probably been exasperating for her! Actually probably not. She is great at what she does. I can’t even begin to express how proud her dad and I are of her. But she is still our first pancake and has gotten to witness all of our parenting mistakes and fumbles.

A few weeks ago she came to us asking if we could schedule a family meeting. Possibly a family meeting that would occur on a regular basis. The first thoughts Richard and I had were along the lines of, “Oh great! So this is where she is going to point out where we are screwing up in regards to her siblings. How we used to do such and such, and now we do so and so. The others weren’t going to say anything, but…” I should mention here that Deirdre still lives at home. This is something that does not bother us (okay, maybe it cramps the ol’ afternoon delight style occasionally) as she is working, going to school and prizes family as one of the most important things there is.

We let her know our initial concerns. She in turn assured us that the family meeting was not a ploy to rip us a new one, but was a technique that she had been studying.  What better place to see it in action than with her own family. There would be a format to follow.

Mom and Dad, “Okay. Let’s give it try (subtle eye rolling).”

Caitlyn, 16 yr. old sister, “Okay!”

Neil, 11 yr. old brother, “Do we have to? I don’t really want to.”

Brian, 8 yr. old brother, “What? Will there be dessert?”

So we picked a night we would all be home. We assembled.

Here is the format;

Pick a name.  From a small box we each picked a piece of paper that had a family member’s name on it. Making sure we didn’t pick our own name, we then set the paper aside. We could see who we had, even announce it. At the end of the other parts of the meeting each of us would say something nice about the person we picked. One could even say something they admired about their pick or thanks them for something. Picking at the beginning gives time to think a bit about what you would want to say.

Something positive about your week or a special achievement/moment you would like to share. Each of us would get a turn to share, in our own words. Little things and/or big. If it meant something to us then we shared. One at a time of course. Number one rule; let the person who is speaking speak.

Share something that is coming up that you need help with. Even if it’s just moral support or some compassion and understanding. This part is not required for everyone. Just for those who may need it for that week. Everyone is welcome to share though.

Discuss, as a family, household stuff or upcoming events. Who is in charge of the dogs’ outside water bowl again? Oh, by the way, Grandma and Grandpa are coming over for dinner this Saturday.

Now for those slips of paper with a family member’s name. One at a time we each have turn to say something we admire about our pick, or thank them for something.

We have done a few of these meetings now. They are something Richard and I look forward to. While we can’t always schedule them for the same time each week, and we may even have to skip a week here and there the meetings are definitely something worth maintaining.

This is a quick look at how they typically go in our household.

In picking names everyone knows which paper is Caitlyn’s because Neil origami-ed the hell out of during the first meeting. I’m sure we will revamp them, but for now it’s good for a laugh.

Hearing about high points for everyone’s week is, well a high point in and of itself. Most peoples lives get really busy and we don’t always get to hear about great things in our loved ones lives while they are still fresh.

Asking for help or understanding and moral support. THIS IS A BIGGIE Folks! This takes ,”Uhg, why is she being so bitchy?” to “Okay, I totally get it. She is feeling overwhelmed with a new work and school schedule and not quite sure how to manage it all yet. Been there many times.” Also, watching my sons see their dad open up and talk about his concerns about being the bread winner during uncertain times gives them an example for the future when they need to be able to talk to those that love and rely on them. I feel it bonds us as a family and a married couple to hear him reach out and describe what he is thinking and feeling. How one side of his mind can process it all logically (take it one day at a time, there are rough times and there are smooth times, roll with the punches) but how the other more emotional side can take its toll (Holy Sh*t! Am I totally f*cking failing my family!?! Which of course he isn’t. But again, it takes, “Why is he being such a d*ck?” to “How can I help assure him that things are just fine and not to over stress?”). All of our kids are going to have good times and bad times. It’s called life. But it can also be a lonely-ass place if you can’t, or don’t know how to reach out and communicate, especially to those who love you. COM-MUNI-CA-TION.

Household stuffy stuff. It’s always best to know who’s doing what. And in the case of our family this gave our youngest an opportunity to express his eagerness to be helpful. Outside dog water bowls it is, son!

Names on slips of paper. This part brings out both my family’s humor and connectedness. Me getting Deirdre as my “person to thank/speak of positive attributes” launched such lines as “Do cry! Don’t you dare cry!” Of course with mocking love. Sometimes Neil, who communicates pretty much how you would expect an eleven year old boy to will give a simple “You’re pretty.” Followed up with his signature shoulder kiss. But at the last family meeting Neil did say that he really enjoyed it when dad threw the football with him in the yard. I do enjoy watching my boys learn how to communicate and verbally express gratitude. I think they can only benefit from such abilities. The format also opened up discussions about manners when others are speaking and how those awesome video games might be stripping them of their (our sons) ability to sit their asses down and listen.

Quick summary-

Pick a name for later

Share something positive

Share something you need help with or moral support for

Household business

Share the love!

Don’t have a family yet? It’s never too early to set a standard in your relationship for constructed, conducive and loving communication.

Do you have a special way that your family communicates? Have any suggestions or ideas you would like to share?

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