Recipe Friday: Celebration Cake

MS//Mommy is reaching a milestone this weekend: on Sunday we will be celebrating our one-year anniversary. In honor of this milestone, we asked Michelle Melton to share with us a sugar-free cake recipe – perfect for all sorts of celebrations.


frostedcake

One of my favorite lines from Ray Romano’s early stand-up routine was about his, then 3-year-old daughter, Alexandra. As they were driving along, he noticed that she stared out the window smiling at nothing in particular.  When he asked her what she was thinking about, she replied “candy!”

Even at 60, I remember clearly the joy as a child that was candy, ice cream, and other sugary treats.  My friends and I would walk to the drug store clutching our quarters and stand in front of the rows of candy trying to decide which choices would yield the most pleasure for our money.  Our neighborhood was visited by three different ice cream trucks each day during the summer and though my mother would limit the purchases to occasionally, the sound of bells or a music box-like jingle would send me running home with the hope that, perhaps today, might be the day. A few years later, when a candy company introduced a large-sized lollipop with a sweet side and a tart side, bringing it to school, became the cool thing to do in sixth grade.

With such a long-standing and deep-rooted love of sweets, one would imagine that once I became a mother, I would be sympathetic to a child’s love of candy and desserts.  But nothing could be further from the truth.

As I watched those beautiful new teeth emerge in my infant daughter’s mouth I vowed (successfully) that she would live life cavity-free.  Since sugar-filled treats had been the source of my numerous dental fillings, I chose to limit the introduction of candy and other treats into her life.  If we did indulge, I chose high-quality or homemade confections and desserts.  We enjoyed candy on special occasions and holidays but rather than using candy as a gift or reward, I would instead choose small toys or other useful items like pens and pencils, especially on the annual homemade advent calendar.

It was by coincidence last year when my daughter decided to remove cane sugar from her diet that I had been investigating the idea at the same time.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was already living gluten-free off and on so the concept of removing sugar seemed daunting. I decided to postpone going entirely gluten-free until after the first of this year and instead joined my daughter in her effort to use sugar alternatives (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, xylitol) in place of cane sugar.  With birthdays and the holidays approaching at this time last year, the effort to convert favorite recipes to these substitutes was going to be difficult enough without the added trouble of trying to use gluten-free flours.

My first sugar substitute of choice was coconut sugar.  It is readily available at most grocery stores and it is also the least expensive.

It could be substituted one-to-one for the sugar called for in recipes.  However, one of the drawbacks is the brown color which, when combined with foods like fruit give the mixture an unappealing look, though it works well in recipes as a replacement for brown sugar.

The last drawback is one I haven’t read about so I am guessing few people have noticed this but coconut sugar is oily.  It seems to retain some of the oil found in the coconut and therefore, can interfere in the finished product.  For example, when I tried to make homemade chocolate chips, the final product would not solidify properly because of the added oil.  Coconut sugar is a great substitute as long as these characteristics are taken into consideration.  If appearance, taste and setting up isn’t an issue (as when making chocolate syrup for milk) then I use coconut sugar.

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Recipe Friday: Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

For the first Friday of Foodie month, I asked Michelle Melton, of Michelle Melton’s Photography, to share one of her favorite weekend recipes. She graciously shared her thoughts and recipes for gluten-free pizza packets (for convenience) and a favorite gluten-free pizza recipe.

Enjoy!


Mixes: Convenience in a box

When baking, there is nothing like a box mix for convenience.  Even after I had mastered more complicated baked items from scratch such as pies, yeast breads, and pizza crust, I still enjoyed the results I achieved from box mixes. If I was short on time, the helpfulness of just adding a few wet ingredients to the mix and then popping it in the oven was always tempting.  Whether it was pancakes for breakfast or a cake for a celebration, if I was in a hurry, I’d reach for a mix.   And mixes can make the gluten-free diet easier to manage.

My first exposure to a gluten-free diet was about 10 years ago.  Although I was familiar with celiac disease from textbooks and nutrition classes, I never knew anyone who had it. Celiac seems to be like other diseases that don’t have outward or visible symptoms; the casual observer would never know that a person has it.  This was not the case, however, for my friend of mine.  From the time I met her several years before, the one thing you could not avoid noticing was her dermatitis-ravaged skin.  Her face and neck were especially affected; she was constantly scratching.   Doctors assumed it was eczema and prescribed medications to soothe the symptoms but nothing rid her of the flare-ups completely.  Then in the spring of 2008, when we met for lunch,  the woman sitting across from me was not the friend I had previously known.  Clear-skinned and relaxed she explained that a doctor diagnosed her with celiac. It wasn’t eczema at all but a flare-up of the disease.  Once she became gluten-free, her dermatitis was under control. Needless to say, I was amazed.

I began to investigate (sort of toe tipping into the water) gluten-free recipes to see if a diet change would make managing my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis easier.  Since gluten sensitivity causes inflammation, I was curious if at least reducing gluten in my diet would ease the stress on my thyroid. Ten years ago, however, the problem was every gluten-free recipe called for a different flour blend.  There was little overlap; one blend would not give the same results when used in a different type of recipe.   At the time, I tried making the flour blends that the cookbooks recommended but they required so many ingredients and the taste left a lot to be desired so eventually I gave up.

In recent years, it has become economically advantageous for some companies to cater to the gluten-free diet.  First, only specialty grocery stores carried mixes and already baked products but now major chain stores carry them as well.  I liked the convenience of mixes because I no longer needed a specific flour blend for every item I wanted to bake.  In some cases, the taste was still an issue but I found my favorites and used those often.  While we were not totally gluten-free, these new offerings made it easier to include gluten-free snacks and baked products in our diet.

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Guest Post: Being a Grandfather

Being a father means that someday you will potentially become a grandfather. I asked my dad to give some of his thoughts on what it was like to become a grandfather. He very graciously gave some of his time to provide me with these wonderful, thoughtful, and sweet answers.

Read his thoughts on being a grandfather below.


On Fatherhood

Before I was a father, I was anxious about whether my child would be healthy and whole. Another big concern I had was if I would be a good Dad. I knew I was going to make mistakes, but I didn’t want to make so many that my child would be scarred for life. To deal with this concern, I resolved to apologize to my daughter for failing her no matter the cost to my pride and no matter how old she was at the time.

From an early age, even before she could remember, I apologized to my daughter. It was important to me to model behavior that showed respect for her person because that was something that was missing from my own childhood. I suppose I wanted to be able to guide her as best as I could, and when I made a mistake, I would admit to it so that she knew she could trust me.

Another important rule for me was to be truthful. I determined to not lie to my children, no matter what. It was disgraceful to hear parents lie to their kids. So I saw fatherhood as a huge responsibility but also one of great joy.

For me, fatherhood has been both one of the most rewarding joys as well of the most heartbreaking in my life. Heartbreaking not because my child failed me, but looking back with 60+ years of maturity, I see where I could have done better. Unfortunately, a rewind button doesn’t exist because I wish we could replay all the fun times and get better guidance to watch out for in the pitfalls of life.

I think I had more fun playing with my daughter as she was growing up because I got to watch her discover new things as the world opened up to her!

Some of my favorite experiences ranged from having tea with her while talking about Ms. Bissy (an imaginary character she created) to feeding fish with our feet in the water so they could nibble our toes. I loved making her laugh so hard she would have a coughing fit and her Mom would yell at me for it. She got me back because I got so terrified when teaching her to drive that I would plead, quietly, “get over, get OVER, GET OVER!”  as she inched closer to the shoulder. She would laugh at me in those moments and be proud of the extra gray hairs she added to my head on those days.

I enjoyed sharing my twisted, quirky sense of humor with her and her to encouraging her to laugh but she turned it against me on countless occasions. She bought herself an Xbox and asked me to play co-op in Halo. Not knowing the game, controls, concept, etc., I couldn’t understand why I kept dying. There weren’t any enemies visible. No rifle fire, no grenade, nobody around…and yet I was dying – blood on the screen. My daughter, who was playing the game behind me, kept beating me to death! My wife finally said, “It’s your daughter doing it!” I turned around and she busted out laughing. Score one for the kid!

I have regrets, but through the great joy of having her and entering her world through play,  I’m grateful for the privilege to be a part of her life.

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Guest Post: Thoughts on Fatherhood

I sat down with Ash and asked him to write about fatherhood. Questions ranged from his thoughts on fatherhood before we considered starting a family to how much they changed after Jai was born.

Read his perspective below.


I didn’t really have any idea of what fatherhood would look like.

I was more afraid of the amount of responsibility that being a parent entailed and I was concerned with what I could mess up than with any real ideas about being a parent. So before I talked with my partner, I hadn’t really been thinking about fatherhood.

After some conversations, once the idea of being a father cemented itself and I started really talking to other people about it, I really only had the expectation that everything would change once I saw my child.

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Guest Post: My Ingredients to Self-Made Confidence

In keeping with wellness month, I asked Terez from Inspireme.Love to let me share her post about the importance of self-confidence and how to achieve it as a means for personal wellness. It fits in nicely with the theme of this month, especially when it comes to promoting resolution success. Enjoy this inspiring post and check out all her other social media accounts below.

This post originally appeared on her Inspireme.Love blog back in March 2018.


Do you feel powerless? You’re desperately fighting to lock out all the hurt that consumes your life, but it seems like the more you harden to protect your heart the more wounded you become. When was the last time you lived an entire day free from low self-esteem, low self-worth, poor self-image, self-rejection, self-blame, and negative feelings about yourself? Just all of it? A full day where you were in control of your feelings, your thoughts, and weren’t riding the roller coaster of painful emotions? You were fearless, confident, and fulfilled. If you struggle with loving yourself or parts of yourself, or are constantly fighting the temptation to resent others who have what you desire, then pour yourself a cup of coffee girlfriend and get cozy, because you’re not alone on this one and we’re about to dig down into those deep-rooted wounds that make each day so hard.

I’m going to first tell you something about you that you may not believe at first, but I genuinely hope that you come to grips with it, despite any daunting past years of self-doubt you have been abused by. You are powerful. You are capable of transforming your pain into opportunity. You have the ability to break free from self-loathing. You have the strength to be happy. You have the courage to look fear in the face and show it who you are. You have the heart to love every bruised and beaten part of your mind, your body, and your spirit. You have the resources inside you that will transform your interior and exterior life into one of joy and peace. You are the answer to all the questions you’ve cried your heart out over. Stop accepting that you are nothing but damaged goods, you’re past help, and you’re just going to keep living day by day sinking further into this black hole as though it’s part of your identity. It’s not who you are. You my dear are a fierce lionhearted heroine that can slay anything that has the nerve to step in your way, make you question your essence, and threaten to influence your power. You’re just amazing, let’s put it that way.

If you feel like your life is an out-of-control mess, and if you were to be brutally honest with yourself, you’d find yourself admitting that you gave up on life and yourself a long time ago, take it from someone whose been there, you’re more than your emotions, experiences, and circumstances, and you have the power to make something astonishing of yourself. Do what I did and become your own damn boss. Take control. Here are my ingredients to self-made confidence that have empowered me to overcome anything that challenges me to turn on myself and live unfulfilled. You’ll find that once you are walking in confidence you will be living a very different life.

SELF-WORTH

Do you feel worthy and deserving of a good and happy life? Your answer reflects your self-worth. If you feel unworthy and undeserving then you must strive to grow your self-worth so that you feel at your core your value in who you are justifies having an abundant life. When one has low self-worth they may feel worthless, that they belong in an unhappy lifestyle, that they deserve to be shamed, that their mistakes can’t be forgiven, that they need punishment, that they have to hurt themselves, or that they don’t deserve love. When one lives with low self-worth it is a very dark and lonely life. One often tries to quench the pain by things that boost their ego, such as puffing one’s self up and exaggerating one’s self. They enlarge themselves greater than they actually feel about themselves, leaving them unfulfilled.

Common behaviors that demonstrate this are bullying, mocking, putting others down, turning people against someone, attention-seeking, rejecting confident people, taking pleasure in making someone feel bad about themselves, deliberately hurting someone’s feelings, bad mouthing someone, spreading rumors, refusal to celebrate someone’s victories, rejoicing in someone’s mistakes, turning down an opportunity to support someone, projecting one’s insecurities onto others, belittling, insulting, throwing pity parties, taking envious action against someone, and measuring one’s own worth with status, wealth, achievements, beauty, popularity, respect, love, and admiration from others. The list goes on and on. When one measures their worth with the exterior they are perpetually placing value on something that is ever changing, such as the opinions of others. The result? One lives in an endless swing of high inflation to plummets of deep depression. There is no such thing as stability or safety. One lives fear-driven, hiding their authenticity behind a mask that they tie their identity to. (Perhaps a shot of whiskey would do us more good than coffee. Go get it girl!).

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