Ginger Almond Chicken

This month, I feel like I’m working overtime to overcome new mommy sleepiness and springtime allergies. Sometimes I walk into a room and ask myself, “Now what was I doing?” I know none of my readers have that problem! :) This phase of life won’t last forever and I’m trying to enjoy every minute of it, especially snuggles with my sweet baby.

Meanwhile, in moments when my foggy brain cleared last week, I created a new recipe. I was ready for something new. Instead of plain roasted chicken thighs (which my husband could eat everyday of the week, God bless him), I wanted to experiment. How about some ginger? How about some almonds? How about some parsley for color? After all, presentation can stimulate a good appetite. Thus, I give you Ginger Almond Chicken.

Ginger Almond Chicken 8

We use Foster Farms chicken thighs most often, since they are locally raised and humanely treated. And now they offer organic chicken as well. But if you can find pasture-raised chicken from small local farms, that’s an even better, healthier option. Botany Bay Farm in Brush Prairie and Marion Acres in Hillsboro are two local farms that I recommend.

What I like about chicken thighs is that you can put ingredients underneath the skin to soak in different flavors. Sometimes, we just use one or two herbs or spices. Other times, we add fruit or vegetables, like sliced pears for sweet chicken or sliced zucchini for savory chicken. All of a sudden, chicken becomes much more interesting! Just pull back the skin and add your own distinct flavor, and then fold it back over the thigh.

I don’t have specific measurements for every ingredient in my Ginger Almond Chicken, but it’s tasty! If you try this recipe, then add ingredients to taste. It’s not hard to mess up; just don’t overdo the ginger. And don’t forget to eat the skin. That’s the best part. Enjoy!

ginger on chicken thighs      Ginger Almond Chicken uncookedIngredients

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Powdered ginger or fresh crushed ginger to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Parsley for color
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place chicken thighs in a 9 x 13 glass pan.
  • Pull back the chicken skin and sprinkle thin layer of ginger and sea salt on meat flesh. Fold skin back over thighs.
  • Sprinkle parsley over top of thighs.
  • Toss sliced almonds evenly over thighs.
  • Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes.
  • Serve Ginger Almond Chicken as a main dish for lunch or dinner. It’s delicious with rice, quinoa, or winter squash and other vegetables as sides.

Ginger Almond Chicken cooked

Ginger Almond Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
gluten and dairy free
Serves: 4 or 8 people (depending on how many pieces you eat!)
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Powdered ginger or fresh crushed ginger to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Parsley for color
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a 9 x 13 glass pan.
  3. Pull back the chicken skin and sprinkle thin layer of ginger and sea salt on meat flesh. Fold skin back over thighs.
  4. Sprinkle parsley over top of thighs.
  5. Toss sliced almonds evenly over thighs.
  6. Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes.
  7. Serve Ginger Almond Chicken as a main dish for lunch or dinner. It’s delicious with rice, quinoa, or winter squash and other vegetables as sides.


Posted in Dairy-Free, GAPS, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Real Food, Recipes | 5 Comments

My To-Do List Can Wait (I’m Alive and My Baby Is Here)

I looked intently into her deep blue eyes and burst into tears. She was reminding me, just by her very presence, that nothing was more important than her. Why was I feeling pressure to do dishes or laundry? She was mine, this beautiful baby girl laying in my arms. For years I prayed for her arrival and now here she was, in the flesh, no longer in my womb. What else could be more significant that bonding with her? Nothing else. With tears falling down my cheeks, I thanked God for this precious moment and that I was alive to enjoy it. Two weeks earlier I almost lost life and my opportunity to see my baby grow up.

I'm Alive and My Baby is Here

At the end of December I gave birth to our newborn daughter in an uneventful c-section delivery. It went smoothly and our hospital stay was fairly comfortable, as good as hospital visits can be. We were thankful for a capable and caring medical team that followed our birth plan with no questions asked. What a blessing. What was better? Our baby was healthy and strong (at 8 pounds 1 ounce and 21 inches!) and nursed easily from the first hour. I was hoping for a little girl, so I was overjoyed to bring her home and begin our new life together. (In a future post, I will share more details about my “gentle cesarean” surgery.)

On Day 12 of my postpartum recovery, the bleeding that was normal turned into a full-fledged uterine hemorrhage. (The exact cause of the extreme bleeding is unknown, but it could have been related an artery that fed my uterine fibroids. Read my series about fibroids here.) Thankfully, it was a weekend and my husband was at home. We raced to the emergency room when I turned ghostly white and almost passed out. After seeing the ER doctor and on-call obstetrician, I was rushed into surgery in an attempt to stop the gushing. I remember laying in a pool of my own blood when they wheeled me into the operating room. Little did I know how serious it was. It got worse. I lost 60 percent of my blood and required an immediate blood transfusion. The skilled surgeons were able to put-in a stop-gap measure until they could send me via ambulance to a larger hospital for a more advanced procedure. My husband said it was one of the scariest times of his life. He already lost his first wife to cancer and now he was facing the possibility of raising his newborn daughter alone without me.

The second surgery was successful, thank God! The abnormal bleeding ceased. I spent three days in ICU while doctors monitored my blood levels closely. I rested and reflected on what they called a “rare” delayed postpartum event and I relished short visits with family. I especially soaked in time with our baby girl, as I was not able to nurse her for almost two days. (God provided donor breast milk for our little one from unexpected outside sources – just one of the amazing stories of answered prayer on this life-threatening journey! Another story for another day.)

I went home, exhausted but alive. Two weeks later, here I was thinking about laundry and dishes. It’s incredible how our minds can so quickly forget the important things in life and seek out the mundane. Maybe I was seeking routine, just so I didn’t have to think about life and death.

She stopped my wandering mind in its tracks.

I’m alive and my baby girl is here. More tears.

Thank you God.

our baby 1 month

Everyone keeps telling me that this baby time goes so fast. Enjoy it while it lasts. I’m doing just that. I have managed to keep up on daily Facebook posts, but if you don’t see another blog post from me until March or April, now you know why. I’m enjoying time with my baby girl. And my husband. And I’m just trying to recover and figure out life with a newborn. Even though I’m gaining more energy everyday, the laundry and dishes can wait. It’s enough right now to plan and cook a few meals a week. On my death bed, I’m going to look back and thank the good Lord that I spent time with my family.

Can I persuade you to do the same? Go hug your loved ones and thank God you’re alive.

My baby girl is awake now and calling my name. Time to sing to her again. Her favorite these days is Somewhere Over the Rainbow. What a precious thought – she loves to hear her mama’s voice. :)

Posted in Perfectionism, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Rest | Leave a comment

Welcome to Our World, Dear Baby

I will be taking a break from my blog during January to give birth and bond with our precious baby. I’ll be posting more current updates on Facebook, if you’d like to keep up with the latest news. In the coming months, I’ll be blogging more about my low-intervention pregnancy, gentle cesarean delivery, and postpartum experience. We appreciate your prayers for a healthy baby and smooth transition to parenthood.

As always, thank you for being part of the Restored Roots community!


A week from now, my first child will be born in a new hospital in a dense metropolitan suburb surrounded by high-tech gadgets, medical doctors, and loving relatives. Two thousand years ago, the baby Jesus was born in a well-used animal stable in an isolated country town surrounded by stinky sheep, majestic kings, and lowly shepherds.

Two births. Two entirely different stories. This year at Christmas, I’m celebrating both. What an privilege for me to be reflecting on the special gift of my Savior’s birth when I’m nine months pregnant.

Welcome to Our World Dear Baby 2

I’m over twice Mary’s age and married almost five years. She was very young and a virgin.

I’m carrying a precious human boy or girl. (We’ll find out which one next week!) She carried God incarnate, the Creator of the world.

My baby will be adored. Mary’s baby was worshiped and will be forever.

My child will hopefully leave the world a better place. Mary’s child changed the entire course of history.

Our baby is born to bring life into our family. The baby in a lowly manager was born to die for the sins of the world.

Welcome to our world, my baby.

Welcome to our world, baby Jesus.

I love the Chris Rice song, Welcome To Our World. It captures the simple, yet profound truth that every human is longing to hear. There is hope for mankind because God was born into our sin-scarred world for our salvation. Immanuel, God with us. His purpose was to die and then be raised to life, demonstrating his power over sin and death. What great hope we have when we know the baby Jesus!

What’s also incredible for me to ponder is that the baby Jesus was born so that my baby could be saved too! The best my husband and I could pray for our precious little one is that he or she would come to know this perfect baby, the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

Here are my favorite excerpts from the song:Mary and Jesus

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting
Welcome Holy Child

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sins and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Welcome to our world

I’m looking forward to sharing with you about our baby’s birth. But even more, I pray that you have found hope, peace, and joy in knowing the most exceptional baby ever to be born.

Take three minutes to listen and soak in the wonder of God humbling himself to become human, so that he could demonstrate his great love for you and I.

Welcome him into your heart, as we celebrate his birth this Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas and safe and healthy New Year!

Posted in Christmas, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Spiritual Health | Leave a comment

How to Make Healing Bone Broth

Bone broth is one of those amazing super foods that can restore the body by healing the gut lining. It used to be a staple in the American diet a century ago, maybe even in your great grandmother’s kitchen. Thankfully, after decades of hearing about nothing but processed food, real whole foods like bone broth are gaining in popularity once again. From private residences to community gatherings, people are recognizing the benefits. You can even buy a cup at a bone broth bar in some cities across the country. We are fortunate to have Broth Bar in the “get back to nature” city of Portland.

In our home, bone broth is something we make weekly and drink almost daily, even in the summer time. But it’s especially nourishing this time of year during the cold winter months. Sometimes we drink it plain, but often times we eat it as soup with vegetables or cook it into main dishes. I originally started consuming broth as a way to heal my digestive condition, food sensitivities, skin problems, and adrenal and thyroid imbalances. It’s a major component of healing diets like GAPS and SCD and is popular in some circles of the Paleo movement as well. (I’ve personally been on the GAPS program for over three years now, and seen slow but continuous improvement in my health.)

How to Make Healing Bone Broth

Why should you like bone broth?

I can hear you saying, what the big deal? It’s just bones and water.

Good question!

Science is now demonstrating what our great-grandmothers knew all along – think homemade chicken soup! Bone broth has amazing healing properties, especially if prepared from grass-fed pastured animals. To learn more, I recommend the book Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. Sally Fallon and Kaayla Daniel, PhD, describe the history and folklore of broth, how it can successfully treat and sometimes cure common ailments, and lists pages and pages of nurturing broth and soup recipes. Here are just a few advantages of bone broth.                                         

  • Immediately absorbed (that’s why it’s so beneficial for people with malabsorption problems in digestive conditions like IBS, ulcers, celiac and Crohn’s disease)
  • Improves digestion by drawing water into the gut
  • Normalizes HCl (stomach acid) levels
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Heals the intestinal gut lining
  • Rich in minerals (phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, potassium), fatty acids (glycine, proline), marrow (chondroitin, glucosamine), and gelatin
  • Gluten-free, grain-free, and a wonderful food for people on a healing diet
  • Easy to prepare
  • Economical compared to buying from grocery store

beef bones uncooked

Where do you find bones?

When looking for bones from pastured animals, your best bet is to find a local source from a farmer or rancher. Ask your real-foodie friends, browse your local farmers’ market, or go to Eat Wild for a list of local farms in your area. If you live in the Northwest, there are many options.

Note: I featured beef bones in these photos, but the same principles apply to all types of bone broth, whether you choose meat or poultry.

What’s incredibly sad is that bones are often thrown away when animals are slaughtered. The health benefits go to waste! That’s why you can usually purchase boxes and boxes of bones inexpensively when sourcing from a local farm. (We bought our last box of beef bones for $1 per pound.)

** Broth Tip – Buy an extra freezer to store your bulk bone purchases. Use them up over the course of a year.

The second best choice is to go to the meat counter at your local butcher shop or real food store (like New Seasons or Whole Foods here in the NW) and ask for grass-fed bones. They will charge you quite a bit more per pound. That’s why I recommend finding a local farm first.

** Broth Tip – If you can find bones that have a little bit of meat left on them, it adds more flavor to the broth. Or, add some beef ribs or oxtail to your pot, as shown in the photo below.

beef ribs and oxtail uncooked

How do you make bone broth?

Bone broth has three basic ingredients: bones (preferably from pastured animals), clean filtered water, and an acid medium (vinegar). Herbs, vegetables, and salt are optional. However, I believe broth has more flavor when you add a good quality sea or Himalayan salt from the beginning.

** Broth Tip – Some experts say that beef bones should be browned in the oven first. It is not necessary and only done for “taste.” It does not make the broth healthier. We have never taken the time to brown our bones.

beef bones in slow cooker uncooked

Here is a basic bone broth recipe. For more flavor, some people prefer to add herbs (rosemary, thyme, and parsley) and vegetables (carrots, onions, and celery), but I usually don’t at this stage. I add herbs and veggies later when I make soup from the broth.

  1. Place pastured animal bones (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, or duck) into a large slower cooker, stock pot, or pressure cooker.
  2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar, less if using a small pot. We use apple cider vinegar. (Don’t skip this step. The vinegar draws the healthy minerals out of the bones!)
  3. Add salt to taste. (Optional)
  4. Cook for at least 8 hours on low between 180 – 212 degrees. We usually allow our chicken and turkey bone broth to simmer for 24 hours (after that, it can begin to sour). We cook our beef bones for longer, at least 48 hours and sometimes 72.

** Broth Tip – Some slow cooker pots cook too hot and destroy the gelatin. (You can discover this by allowing the broth to cool and watching for it to “gel” in the refrigerator.) If you lost the gelatin, you can add it back in. Add 1 tablespoon of powdered gelatin per cup of broth when it’s hot. Radiant Life or Great Lakes Beef Gelatin or are quality sources of gelatin.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Make Healing Bone Broth
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • Bones (preferably from pastured animals)
  • Clean filtered water
  • Acid medium (vinegar)
  • Salt (optional)
  • Herbs and vegetables (optional)
  1. Place pastured animal bones (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, or duck) into a large slower cooker, stock pot, or pressure cooker.
  2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar, less if using a small pot. We use apple cider vinegar.
  3. Add salt to taste. (optional)
  4. Cook for at least 8 hours on low between 180 – 212 degrees. We usually allow our chicken and turkey bone broth to simmer for 24 hours (after that, it can begin to sour). We cook our beef bones for longer, at least 48 hours and sometimes 72.

beef bones and broth in slow cooker cooked

** Broth Tip – If you broth turns out too heavy or thick for your liking (because of fatty bones), just add water to make it thinner. Before making a soup, take half of the broth out of the pot and store it in the refrigerator. It will last about a week. Then add the water and vegetables to finish cooking your soup.

How do you make soup from scratch?

Making homemade soup is very similar to making broth, with just a few extras steps. Here is a basic soup recipe.

  1. Place a whole chicken or beef bones with meat still attached into a slow cooker pot or stock pot.
  2. Fill the pot with water.
  3. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar, less if using a small pot.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sea salt.
  5. Cook for at least 8 hours (or overnight).
  6. Remove all the meat and bones and set aside. When cooled, pull apart or chop the meat into bite-sized pieces. If it’s a large chicken, then use half of the meat for other meals.
  7. Add chopped vegetables to the broth and cook until tender, usually 6-10 hours, depending on how hot your pot cooks. (Use a combination of carrots, onions, celery, cabbage, turnips, rutabagas, summer or winter squash, potatoes, greens, and herbs. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic are delicious individually or in careful combination. Try one herb at a time at first.)
  8. In the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking, place the meat back in the pot to warm. Serve and enjoy!

If you’ve never tried making your own broth, be brave! It may sound intimidating, but it’s really not that difficult. With some practice, your efforts will reward you with delicious soups and meals, and if consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet, even healing!

Please share your bone broth stories below, especially if you’ve experienced health benefits. I always like reading your comments.

Posted in Celiac Disease, Digestion, GAPS, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Real Food, Recipes | 6 Comments

I Finally Get to Be a Mom (What a Privilege!)

Since my baby shower, I’ve been reveling in nesting mode. Now eight months into my first pregnancy, my “home body” side has taken over. I’ve spent all the Target and Amazon gift cards we received to buy baby room decorations and make a special home for our little one. (This mama is very thankful for her generous friends.) It’s looking comfortable and cute, fit for a little prince or princess and his or her mother and father.

I’ve recently cried and laughed through episodes of Call the Midwife, an inspiring BBC drama about midwives working along side Catholic nuns to serve underprivileged mothers in 1950’s east London. (Netflix does have it’s advantages, including making long hours of cooking real food in the kitchen enjoyable.) I can’t seem not to cry every time a baby is born! It must be the hormones. But every birth is precious, even ones on television. This particular show is based on historical writings of a real-life midwife, after all.

My husband and I have been discussing the possibility of selling our home and moving into a larger house, but now I don’t know if I want to move. I feel like bonding with my baby has already started here and now in this home. But I know it’s far more about the relationship than the place. It’s about carrying a soul into the world and nurturing that young life. It’s about being a mom. And I finally get to have that privilege.

I Finally Get to Be a Mom 3

It’s been a long time coming. I’m almost 40 and this is my first child. I’ve waited for this baby, much like I waited to be married to a mature, godly man. I was almost 35 when we got married. Now, I’m so excited to meet our baby, some days I can hardly contain myself. I can feel gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) baby kicks everyday. Soon, I’ll get to meet this little person God has skillfully woven in my womb. Will we have a boy or girl? Will he or she look like Jim or me? Tall or short? Black or blond hair?

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a mom. I grew up thinking I’d be married and have children by my early twenties. During my college days, I had a Bible study leader who was 31 and just getting married. At the time, I thought she was so old! How could a woman wait that long to get married? Not to mention waiting that long for children! I’m sure God must have smiled down on me at my limited perspective. Little did I know what my life would look like.

I’ve also admired my own mother and appreciated the friendship we’ve developed into my adult years. I wanted to have that kind of relationship with my kids. But there were no kids. In fact, for a long time, there was no husband. How was I supposed to be a mom without being married?

When I was in my late twenties, full swing into my teaching career, I read Elizabeth Elliott’s classic Let Me Be a Woman. She writes the book as if speaking directly to her daughter and shares mature wisdom about life, singleness, and marriage. She recalls one of their conversations in which her daughter exclaims, “I just want to be a mom.” I stopped reading and cried out to God, because I could relate. I remember reflecting on that sentence for days after reading it. I just want to be a mom.

I can also remember walking on the beach in between stressful weeks of my public school teaching job on the Oregon coast, and praying for God to fulfill my healthy and natural desires for marriage and children. I prayed for my future husband and children again and again on those solitary walks. It was just me, my Lord, and the big ocean expanse.

God answered that prayer in April 2011, when I recited marriage vows to my dear Sir Jim. Then, six months later, we discovered I had large uterine fibroids. They were blocking any possibility for pregnancy. I was told that I may not ever be able to have children. We began our research and tried natural remedies to shrink fibroids, which proved to be unsuccessful. We were ready to move forward with fibroid surgery, but then another shock rocked our marriage. Jim lost his job and our health insurance with it. There was no way we could afford such an expensive surgery and hospital stay out of pocket. We had to wait two more years. My fibroid symptoms got worse, but we waited. We had no other choice. My opportunity to become a mom was put on hold, once again.

God answered more prayers in April 2014 and I was able to have a myomectomy surgery to remove the fibroids that plagued my uterus. By then, Jim had a stable job with health insurance that covered our expenses. (Read more about my uterine fibroids journey here.) Even after a successful surgery, I was still told there was no guarantee that we could have children. We would just have to wait and see.

In sharing my story, it sounds like I’ve been overwhelmed by waiting, like I was a discontented soul, frustrated with God’s direction for my life. In reality, He has given me much grace in my daily waiting, as well as in the extended years I’ve yearned for things I could not have. I can honestly say I have been content most of the time. That waiting turned into confident expectation of what God was going to do next in my life. In the months leading up to my pregnancy, I truly believed that God was going to answer our prayer for children. I just didn’t know when.

Of course, wonderful friends and family have also prayed for us and our desire to have children. Those diligent prayers have offered much hope. And their words have given me much encouragement. One of my good friends once told me she believed that God would give me the desire of my heart. Otherwise, he would have taken that desire away. Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Another friend’s teenage daughter spoke these wise words in her young age. “Something better is coming. God is just keeping you waiting so it seems like even more of a blessing when it finally gets here.”

Tracy and Jim pregnancy 6th moAfter a year of healing and more waiting, I conceived this precious child in April 2015. He or she is a miracle. (I see a pattern here. April is a big month for us! I think it just shows God’s amazing faithfulness in our lives!)

Remember my prayers for my future husband and children on those long beach walks? That was over ten years ago. And now, here I am about to give birth to my first baby with a good man by my side. God is so faithful and His timing is perfect.

That’s why our recent vacation to the Oregon coast was so very special. It wasn’t just me, my Lord, and the big vast ocean. It was me, my Lord, my husband, and my unborn child growing in my womb.

I finally get to be a mom.

I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation. I know it won’t be perfect and there will be challenges. I’m old enough now to view life without rose-colored lenses. But in between poopy diapers, getting up at 3:00am again and again, toddler tantrums, and yes, even future teenage rebellion, I know there will be smiles, giggles, hugs, and heart-felt conversations that will give me pause to reflect and thank my God for motherhood.

What a privilege.


What’s your mothering story? If you are not a mom, what are you waiting and praying for? No matter what stage of life or circumstance we find ourselves in, waiting is a part of the human experience. This side of heaven, we will always be longing for something. But knowing my Creator has certainly made that waiting easier, even very special at times. I hope and pray that you know the One who gives you purpose for this life and beyond!

Posted in Infertility, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Spiritual Health | Leave a comment

15 Meal Planning Tips for Busy Families

Meal planning is not just for super moms or the exceedingly organized working professional! Meal planning is for all, for families small and large. It saves you time, money, and lowers your stress. Planning ahead also encourages you to nourish your family with real homemade meals. When you think about what you are going to eat ahead of time, fast food or microwave dinners seem less of a temptation. And if you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that I espouse the benefits of eating real food all the time!

My 15 meal planning tips are a collection of how to get organized, in no particular order of importance. You will have to invest some precious time at first, but once you have a system in place, the pay off is worth it! Spend the time and create a routine that works for you. Let me know which tips are the most valuable.

15 Meal Planning Tips for Busy Families

  1. Notebooks with typed lists work well for organizing, but you can also use free apps like Evernote to organize your food lists, recipes, and menus. Evernote syncs your phone and computer automatically. Visit Evernote to sign up.
  1. Create a master list of all your favorite breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. (These are for main dishes, but you could create a section for side dishes as well.) Keep a Word document on your computer or create a note in Evernote and update it periodically as you find new meals that you like. Use a star or number system to rate which recipes your family likes the most – 5 stars, 4 stars or 10, 9, or 8, etc.
  1. Use Pinterest to pin your favorite recipes and categorize them in a way that makes sense to you – by breakfast, lunch or dinner, OR gluten-free, dairy-free, or Paleo, OR main dishes, sides dishes, or desserts. Sign up for a free Pinterest account here.
  1. Ask your family for input about their favorite meals. That makes everyone happy!
  1. When putting together your meal plans, think about meals in 3 parts – the main dish, a vegetable, and a starch or grain. Easy peasy!
  1. Create a master shopping list and keep it on your phone or tablet, so when you shop, you can check off items you need.
  1. If your family members have allergies to specific foods, create a food allergy list for every person and keep extra copies for babysitters, child-care workers, and school staff.
  1. When putting together your plans, keep track of the nights you have commitments that prevent you from preparing a fresh meal, like sports games, music lessons, or Bible study. Those nights are leftover nights! :)
  1. It’s important to keep healthy snack foods on hand for the entire family, so they can take care of their own needs in between meals. Foods that are easy to grab – fresh fruit, raw veggies, homemade muffins, real food snack bars, pre-cooked sausage – are good choices. Another idea – we almost always have chicken or beef vegetable soup available on the counter in a slow cooker to eat over several days.
  1. If you make school lunches for your kids, create a master list of school lunch ideas. Also, consider making them the night before, so your mornings are less stressful.
  1. Cook large dinners and create freezer meals for nights or weeks you know you will be extra busy, or for life-changing events, like a move or baby’s arrival. Don’t forget to label with the name and date!
  1. If you are concerned about food getting lost in your refrigerator, label your leftover containers with the date you cooked the meal. Masking tape and a fine-point sharpie pen work well. Do the same with dried spices when you purchase them. Throw them out after 6-8 months, as they lose their freshness by then.
  1. Don’t get stuck creating the “perfect” meal planning system – just use what works for you and your family. Search the Internet and try new systems if you don’t like your current one. Plug your planned meals into some kind of calendar – weekly, monthly, or a list by date.
  1. Involve your kids in meal planning and prep. Yes, it takes time to teach while cooking, but the benefits are worth it in the long term. Plus, you are giving your children valuable life-skills and health, and even preparing them for marriage! Young men and women that know how to prepare homemade meals are attractive.
  1. If you can’t buy organic all the time, save money by using EWG’s Dirty Dozen list to prioritize which vegetables and fruits have the most pesticides. You can find the most current list published by the Environmental Working Group here.

What other meal planning tips have worked well for you and your family?

Share in the comments below.

Thank you for reading!

Posted in Organizing, Real Food | 4 Comments

Paleo Coconut Banana Blueberry Muffins

Call me queen of the grain-free muffin recipe! I have several Paleo muffin recipes on my blog, including one with raspberries and rhubarb, zucchini and plums, and raspberries and pears. This new recipe with blueberries and coconut has to be my favorite! Maybe it’s because I love blueberries so much. But I think it’s because of the banana. There something about adding banana to coconut flour that makes it moist and sweet.

Paleo Coconut Banana Blueberry Muffins title 6

I’ve been craving muffins during my pregnancy, and this combination of ingredients fulfills my desire for pastry-like foods. And yet, this recipe is super healthy with fiber from the coconut flour, antioxidants from the berries, and potassium from the banana. Plus, there is no refined sugar! I’m still eating grain-free for now and feeling good. I can eat two or three muffins in one sitting and not feel like I’ve overloaded on carbs, because I haven’t. And all of these ingredients are real food, not like processed gluten-free muffins available on store shelves. My Coconut Banana Blueberry Muffins are easy to make and will be a treat for your entire family. This recipe would also be great to share with friends or family who are new to the Paleo diet lifestyle.

For this batch, I used 1 and 1/2 cups of blueberries. That’s why you see berries practically falling out of the muffins in the photos. So yummy!


  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup blueberries (or more if you are a blueberry lover)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt coconut oil and honey in preheating oven.
  • In a large bowl, mash banana and mix with eggs and vanilla. Stir in coconut oil and honey when liquid.
  • In a small bowl, mix coconut flour, coconut, baking soda, salt, nutmeg (or cinnamon), and ginger together.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  • Gently stir in blueberries.
  • Use paper liners or coconut oil to coat your muffin pan.
  • Using a spoon, scoop the batter into the muffin cups.
  • Sprinkle some coconut on top of each muffin for added flavor and presentation. (Optional)
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Set on cooling rack.
  • Serve muffins with organic butter or enjoy plain!

Paleo Coconut Banana Blueberry Muffins

Paleo Coconut Banana Blueberry Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 12 standard muffins
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened coconut
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup blueberries (or more if you are a blueberry lover)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt coconut oil and honey in preheating oven.
  3. In a large bowl, mash banana and mix with eggs and vanilla. Stir in coconut oil and honey when liquid.
  4. In a small bowl, mix coconut flour, coconut, baking soda, salt, nutmeg (or cinnamon), and ginger together.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  6. Gently stir in blueberries.
  7. Use paper liners or coconut oil to coat your muffin pan.
  8. Using a spoon, scoop the batter into the muffin cups.
  9. Sprinkle some coconut on top of each muffin for added flavor and presentation. (Optional)
  10. Bake for 25 minutes. Set on cooling rack.
  11. Serve muffins with organic butter or enjoy plain!

Enjoy my Paleo Coconut Banana Blueberry Muffins!

Posted in Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, Real Food, Recipes, Refined Sugar-Free | 5 Comments

Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 2) – Early Fall

With the first official day of autumn already behind us, I’m asking, where did summer go? I can feel the change of seasons in the air. The temperatures are definitely cooler and refreshing rain has dotted our landscape a few days this month. Our Back to Eden garden is still producing, but some of our crops are starting to slow. The summer squash leaves are browning and only a few sunflowers are holding their heads up for these last sunny days. It’s Oregon and the nonstop clouds and rain are coming. Then it will be goodbye to our first summer Back to Eden garden.

Since I’m 6 months pregnant and feeling it, we are not planning on planting any overwintering crops. We can always experience winter gardening next year. For now, we are reveling in the abundant harvest that our summer garden has supplied. It has been an interesting season of learning and growing in our knowledge about mulching with wood chips. After my article in July, Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 1) – Early Summer, we have come to more conclusions. I encourage you to read that post, as it gives a full overview of our initial successes and failures. Now that autumn has arrived, I wanted to review our experience of the summer months.

First Year Back to Eden Garden (Part 2)

Our First Back to Eden Garden – Early Fall

4 Out of 5 Stars

My rating earlier this summer would have been 3 and ½ stars but now that our garden has come to fully maturity, I’m feeling better about it’s success. We had difficulty with spring planting, as most of our seeds kept being eaten by slugs or smothered by the wood chips. But as starts turned into full plants, the summer sun helped produce thriving vegetation and lots of fruit. We had so much bounty, I started trading zucchini and yellow squash for used baby clothes! :)

The summer crops, like zucchini and patty pan squash, are slowing down. We are planning on pulling out several plants this weekend, as they look too brown and unsightly in our front garden. But the root crops, like turnips and carrots, and the green leafy vegetables, like kale and collards are looking fantastic. We’ll be harvesting and eating them well into the next month. The winter squash, like the spaghetti and buttercup you see in the photo above, will store quite nicely in our cold garage through the winter for meals into next spring. (It’s true that all winter squash with a hard outside shell will last for several months in cool, dry storage.)

chard Sept 2015

kohlrabi purple Sept 2015

turnips and rutabagas garden 2 Sept 2015

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Wood Chips

The Benefits:

  1. Weeds are a minimal nuisance. Just as I chronicled in my original post, weeds have not been a major problem. We’ve had a few here and there, but they have been easy to pull. What a relief, compared to past gardens full of hostile, entrenched weeds!
  2. Watering is easy and diminished. We only watered once a week this summer, even in hot 100-degree weather days. And now, we have stopped watering the gardens altogether, since the rain has visited a few times in September.
  3. Bugs are not an issue. In previous seasons, we’ve had major aphid infestations, especially on kale and chard leaves. We still joke about the aphid soup we ate from the “buggy” cabbage in our first garden four years ago! But this summer, we had little evidence of bugs. There are a few leaves with holes, but overall our plants look strong, better than in years past. The wood chips have nourished the soil, creating robust, hearty plants.
  4. Our vegetables are larger and healthier. Our kale leaves are long and luscious. And our squash! We continuously watched the summer squash for fear of monster zucchini! They grew so big and fast; we had to harvest daily. We also noticed the amazing water content in each sample. We would break open any summer squash and water beads would immediately form. So juicy! They have been delicious raw, as well as cooked. Again, we believe the wood chips are creating a biologically diverse and moist soil where vegetables can thrive. I liken it to building a healthy immune system in the human body.

summer squash Sept 2015
The Disadvantages:

To be honest, I don’t see any disadvantages from our experience this summer. The main problems came early on, when we were planting. Our seeds died more than not, and we struggled to get the garden off the ground, so to speak! Read my original post, Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 1), for more information about our early failures.

Our Back to Eden garden shined more this summer, compared to the spring months. I hope that upcoming plantings will go more smoothly as the wood chips degrade and become a part of the soil. Right now, the bulk is still 4-5 inches deep. As time goes by, the chips should recede and not cause any many planting hassles.

If our first Back to Eden garden has gone this well, I’m excited to see what future gardens will bring! Hopefully less work, and more beautiful vegetables. :) In the mean time, stay tuned for more gardening posts from Restored Roots!

sunflower Sept 2015

Have you mulched with wood chips? Have you seen the inspiring documentary film Back to Eden? Please share your experience and leave a comment below.

Posted in Gardening, Real Food | 15 Comments

Beginner’s Guide to Going Gluten Free

Has your doctor recently told you to go gluten free? Or maybe your doctor has no idea how to treat your symptoms and you’ve wondered if a gluten-free diet will help. From personal experience, I believe it does make a difference, and for some, it makes a HUGE difference! My post An Open Letter to People Who Think I’m on a Fad Diet (Why I Eat Gluten Free) gives many compelling reasons why the gluten-free lifestyle is a positive health change for many people. I know it’s not for everyone, but if you are curious how it could impact your life, I encourage you to try a gluten-free diet for at least a month.

Beginners Guide to Going Gluten Free 3

But first…

Ask your practitioner to test you for celiac disease before you change your diet. This is significant for several reasons. If you test positive for celiac, it validates the struggles you’ve had with your health. Some celiacs have told me it was an enormous relief to find a diagnosis. Secondly, you will know with certainty that a gluten-free diet is necessary for the rest of your life. And third, it also helps you deal with the social awkwardness of going gluten free. Then you have something concrete to tell your friends and family. “I have celiac disease and cannot eat gluten.”

If you do not test positive for celiac, I still encourage you to try a gluten-free diet. You may have some level of gluten sensitivity, like in my case. Even though I have the genetic markers for celiac, I don’t think I have celiac. (My original celiac test was inconclusive since I had already been gluten free for a year.) But I KNOW I have sensitivity to gluten, often called non-celiac gluten sensitivity or NCGS. The overwhelming positive changes I felt when going gluten free was enough evidence for me.

wheat gluten thumbs down2

Now to the practical! How do you do gluten free? Where do you start?

Some of the tips I offer will apply to the Portland, Oregon area only. But if you are reading this across the country, much of it will still be relevant.

  1. Most importantly, focus on what you CAN eat. Shift your perspective from what you can’t eat to a positive outlook. Think of all you are learning and how many different foods, especially vegetables, which God has created for us to eat. Enjoy them!
  2. Eliminate all gluten from your pantry and refrigerator. This includes wheat, barley, rye, contaminated oats, and processed foods that contain gluten. Some people can tolerate gluten-free oats. Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie is a good source of GF oats from their dedicated gluten-free facility. (Bob’s products are also sold at most major grocery chains.)
  3. Know the hidden sources of gluten and their names. Read labels like crazy. has a helpful list.
  4. Attend a gluten-free tour at New Seasons Market. This is a wonderful way to educate yourself about the gluten-free lifestyle and products from one of their nutritionists. It’s free. Just call the store and sign up. I highly recommend it!
  5. If you like to read, pick up the book Gluten-Free Cooking For Dummies. When we were dating, my husband-to-be dove into this book to learn about my “strange” diet. He found it quite helpful. There are many wonderful books about gluten-free living out there, but they tend to be health and science oriented. This one is practical.
  6. Shop the perimeter of your local grocery store. Avoid the center aisles where processed foods can sit for weeks and weeks! Find foods that are naturally gluten free, like vegetables, fruit, dairy, eggs, and meat. Better yet, buy from farmers’ markets and local farms. You will be experience better health overall if your groceries are made of real food that can spoil.
  7. Find good substitutes for bread and pasta. Gluten-free bread used to be tasteless! Fortunately, there are good options now. Franz, Rudi’s, and Udi’s all have very good breads that can be found at most major grocery chains. Costco has a GF version that my brother really enjoys. For pasta, try Ancient Harvest and Tinkyada. Instead of bread or pasta, consider eating winter squashes like acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and kabocha. We enjoy them baked in halves in the oven or cut up in cubes and steamed or fried on the stovetop.
  8. If you are a baker, learn which gluten-free flours mix well together. At first, shop for gluten-free flour mixes. As you gain more confidence, then you can try mixing your own GF flours. Rice, almond and coconut flours are our go-to favorites. Bob’s Red Mill offers a vast bulk section of gluten-free flours at their store that is less expensive than pre-packaged flour bags. Browse my recipes page to find gluten and grain-free recipes (most are dairy free as well!). You can also search for gluten-free baking recipes online.
  9. Experiment with other gluten-free grains, like rice, quinoa and buckwheat. Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) cooks just like rice and buckwheat flakes or grits make delicious hot cereal for breakfast. Buckwheat is not related to wheat, even though it’s in the name!
  10. Label everything that is gluten-free in your home. I encourage you to create an entirely gluten-free kitchen. It’s just plain easier! But if you live with family members who still crave wheat and are not ready to give it up, then label all of your GF items in the pantry and refrigerator. If you are celiac or highly sensitive to gluten, it’s crucial that you use two of everything to prevent cross-contamination. You will need separate toasters, cutting boards, wooden spoons, hand towels, sponges, and more. For more detailed information, read my helpful post Organizing Tips for Your Gluten-Free Kitchen. If you become overwhelmed, consider my kitchen organizing services! I was a professional organizer long before I was a blogger. :)
  11. Discover local gluten-free bakeries and restaurants for a special treat! We are so blessed to live in the Portland-metro area, where an abundance of gluten-free options surround us! Gluten-Free Portland has a list of our wonderful local restaurants.
  12. For more personal support, attend a Gluten Intolerance Group meeting in your area. The Portland branch meets on the second Saturday of each month from 10am-12noon. My husband and I appreciate the mutual encouragement of the gluten-free community at these meetings. Plus, there are always gluten-free snacks to sample! Learn more on the Portland GIG Facebook page.

GF certified seal

Be aware that processed food manufacturers have caught up with demands for gluten-free foods and offer numerous high-sugar, high-starch packaged goods that are not much better than their wheat counterparts. To keep your new gluten-free diet healthy, minimize the amount of gluten-free processed foods you eat and shop for whole foods. The transition may be difficult at first, but it does get easier! The time and effort you spend will pay dividends in your health.

Blessings to you in your gluten-free journey!

(The Gluten Summit is still worth the listen today! Click on the poster above to find out how you can learn from 29 experts in the field of health and nutrition science.)

Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten-Free, Gluten-Free Living, Wheat | 10 Comments

A Precious Unborn Life

I’m at 20 weeks, half way through my pregnancy! I haven’t felt our baby move or kick yet. I’m looking forward to that day. But I’m still enjoying seeing the changes in my body and feel really good most days. Now if I could just get our little one to stop pressing on tender nerves. My right leg falls asleep several times daily!

Jim and I are waiting to discover the sex of our child. He has convinced me it’s worth the anticipation. The surprise will make his or her birth that much more joyful! So, we have two sets of names picked out, one for a girl and one for a boy. I’m hoping for a girl, but will rejoice in the whatever life God blesses us with.

A Precious Unborn Life 6

In my initial pregnancy announcement, My Uterine Fibroids Journey (Part 3) – From Infertility to Healthy Pregnancy, I described our baby as a miracle, especially because I struggled with infertility for a number of years. But whether a mother has to wait many months or conceives right away, I’m convinced that every baby is a miracle! I have always believed unborn life is precious, but now that I’m pregnant, life in the womb seems more awe-inspiring and marvelous than ever before. It’s remarkable how God can create life from two different people and over nine months, weave together the most intricate, complex, and intelligent body and mind that lives on Earth – the human being. I love what ancient King David wrote in Psalm 139.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

What a privilege for me to carry a human soul into the world!

unborn life at 12 weeks

Life at 12 Weeks

Have you seen photos of babies growing in the womb? Check out these wonderful images that Buzz Feed posted from the organization Personhood USA, Top 10 Mind-Blowing Images of Human Life in the Womb. Absolutely amazing! Our little one looks similar to photo number 7, the one sucking her thumb. My baby has a unique set of fingerprints at 20 weeks, as well as detectable brain waves and functioning intestines and kidneys!

Lately, I’ve heard several incredible stories of babies born prematurely, at 32 weeks, 28 weeks, and one at 25 weeks! They all survived and grew up to be healthy children and adults, even with a tenuous beginning in this world. Can you believe that? Sometimes babies can survive outside the womb at 25 weeks of gestation!

I’m thankful we live in a time of advanced health technology that can recognize every stage of life, even unborn life in the womb.

I’m also astonished that some people do not respect unborn life in the womb. I’m not sure who or what convinced them that life does not begin at conception. I don’t understand how some health professionals (who took the hippocratic oath to save lives) now terminate life at 10, 15 and 20 weeks, the age of my baby. And I’m especially appalled by scientists who buy and sell baby organs and body parts for money.

How is my wanted pregnancy a baby, but an unwanted pregnancy is a blob of tissue?

Abortion is has always been a hot topic, but now more so because of recent news. Planned Parenthood sells aborted fetal body parts. It’s a gruesome and heart-sickening story. Investigative videos being released by The Center for Medical Progress show high-ranking officials in Planned Parenthood casually speaking about how the business of selling baby parts is conducted. You can watch the videos here. I have not personally watched the videos. I can’t bear it. I’ve decided to protect my own heart and health by concentrating on an attitude of life. I’m focusing on the birth of my precious baby.

At the same time, I cannot stay silent. I must speak out. I must shout it to the roof tops! Unborn babies are human beings and deserve a chance at life. They need our respect as a culture. They are precious, from the very moment God conceives their little hearts in the womb.

I know the abortion debate is complex. I know that underprivileged women struggle. I realize there are desperate circumstances in which women feel alone. It must be terribly difficult to keep an unwanted baby, or even decide to carry to full term for adoption. But there are options. There is support. Crisis Pregnancy Centers and Pregnancy Resource Centers are wonderful organizations that support women of all ages, colors, and financial backgrounds. We can do better as a nation. I believe we can support women, and at the same time, save precious babies. Abortion is not the answer.

For women who have already had an abortion, you are not alone either. While you may regret your past, there is hope for your future. There is healing and forgiveness in God’s loving arms. Jesus doesn’t condemn you; neither do I.

Do you believe in life at conception? If not, why not? When do you believe life begins?

Whatever you believe at this moment, consider this:

My unborn baby is a precious human life. He or she was created by God and will be loved by me and my husband, both now and when they are born.

Every child is precious, born and unborn.

My Unborn Baby is a Precious Life

Posted in Infertility, Pregnancy and Childbirth | Leave a comment