Friday, January 17, 2014

Day Seventeen: Eating In Your Homeschool

He slurps the last of the sweet potato soup in his bowl and gazes at me lovingly.
"That was the best you've made yet," he announces, and most of the kids nod their heads.
I smile and offer some more bread for dipping and pass the salad bowl around again. I am acutely aware that I have been given much. The Lord answered my prayer many years ago to become a good cook for my family and I inwardly praise Him. Only He could have softened my stubborn spirit and He did.
When I was a young wife, I was not thrilled with the "duty" of cooking. I struggled with the whole submission thing and roles in marriage and that home jobs leaned heavily on my side by virtue of the fact I was a woman. I was proud that I wasn't a good cook (really?) and felt that it was a shared position anyway. I'll be sure to make my man split half of that one down the middle, I thought. We were both students and had jobs and absolutely should serve each other equally. He happily obliged. I was so concerned about proving my independence, I ignored the lovely, wise mentors God placed around me who were satisfied and happy in their marriages. I felt they were "old school", and obviously door mats. I shudder to think of my prideful judgments.
It wasn't until I began to homeschool that I realized this housekeeping, cooking stuff truly was falling into my lap like an unwanted hot potato. I was now home most of the time but I still fought against the housewife image. I opened a photography business with my sister (yes, while beginning homeschooling and pregnant). Photography was a passion of mine so I didn't begin simply because I didn't want to be home. I had my own studio in my house but spent many weekends shooting weddings, which meant a lot of babysitters. However, I felt it was a "necessary" escape and a way to remain a "productive member of society". I was helping out financially; wasn't that a good thing? I was wishy-washy in my choices. Was I a wife, mother and teacher? Was I a business woman? Could I wear all my hats and do the jobs well? I knew that some women might be built to pull off what I was doing but even though I loved my work, in my heart I longed for peace. As it turned out, I could not juggle all those balls without some of them falling. I was stressed out, my husband felt he was receiving my leftovers and my children, well, they were probably getting the bare minimum of what they deserved.
Life finally came to a quick standstill when our family suffered a difficult experience. As it was a time of great reflection, I asked my husband what he wanted from me and he admitted he felt that I was not doing anything well. That was a hard pill to swallow but I knew it was true. In his wisdom, he asked me to choose one thing and put my heart into it. Praise God, I picked home. I loved my husband and children and knew we could live without my income and the stress my job incurred. Life slowed to the kind of pace that stops you long enough to look in the mirror. I wasn't pleased with what I saw. I begged God to help me to become a great homemaker, wife, mother and cook. He answered me because I was finally ready to listen. I'm still very much in process, but the change in me gave my family security and peace.
So, here we are talking about what to eat in your homeschool. This post was borne out of the reminder that it would be impossible for me to even tread on this topic if God hadn't altered my heart. He's not only given me a love for cooking, but a passion for finding healthy meals and snacks for my family. I mostly make only "clean" food for them, with the help of my researching friend, Annie. Yes, I'm a chocolate lover and we do hop in the truck and excitedly race for ice cream when we can. I will pull through a drive-thru, when necessary, and will not judge others because of their eating choices. I only desire that I do my best to feed my family well and possibly inspire others along the way.
One thing I was thankful to subtract from my life when my kids left school, was packing lunches. Even though I'm thankful there are restrictions for the precious kiddos who are allergic, oh, how I love smothering my own with nut products without concern. Being home also allows me to prepare dinner ahead of time while the kids are reading. We have the time to bake clean cookies at break time if we feel like it. Meghan cooks one night a week for us, Molly is forever baking muffins and Emily is my kitchen helper. She loves to do whatever I'm doing in the hub of our home. Oliver is very good at making his own breakfasts and lunches, even cutting up his own apples and cheese for his sandwich. Homeschooling has made a big difference in our ability to be able to cook together and learn the necessary techniques of meal-making. When we cook for families in need, one of them is right there with me, becoming a part of the love.

kid-designed snack with leftover-from-party cones
Perhaps you have always loved cooking or you are a working momma and can pull off wearing all the hats. I hope the food shared below might give you a fresh idea too.
Our favourite meals and snacks (listing ingredients and assuming some cooking experience):
-clean French toast--Ezekiel bread (sprouted grain bread-frozen section, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and milk, with maple syrup)
-poached eggs on Ezekiel bread with cayenne
-Bananas dipped in natural peanut butter (I mixed natural and regular p.b. for almost a year before my family got used to it)
-roasted chickpeas (spread on baking sheet, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with your favourite seasoning, oven to 450 degrees for as long as it takes for them to be crunchy)
-berries in a bowl with a little bit of coconut milk
-clean cinnamon cookies
3/4 cup of cane sugar (or 1/2 cup of raw honey)
1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
1/2 cup of butter
3 tbs water
2 tsp of vanilla
2 and 1/4 cups of spelt flour (or brown rice flour)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbs cinnamon
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Mix wet first
Oven on 375 for 8-10 minutes.
-sweet potato soup with spelt bread (large batch- 2 veggie or chicken broths--I use cartons--4 sweet potatoes plus any veggies you have in fridge, chopped onions, minced garlic, curry--I use a lot--2 cans of coconut milk) 
-fruit and veggie platter with walnuts or almonds and red peppers
-chickpea salad (canned or soaked chickpeas, chopped peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, minced garlic, olive oil, lime juice, feta, black pepper and dill weed, mix and eat)
-Coconut Curry Chicken (chicken breasts, can of coconut milk, lots of curry, cubed butternut squash)
-Cajun Penne (spelt or brown rice penne, can of crushed tomatoes, real whipping cream-till it's as creamy as you like it--sauteed chopped onions and roasted garlic, Cajun seasoning)
"Chocolate Balls" (great for Daniel Fasting)
handful of chopped dates--boil for one minute and drain
2 squares of 100% cacao melted
1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
1/4 cup of organic shredded coconut
melt and stir all ingredients in saucepan on low heat
form into little balls and chill

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